Australian Year Book of International Law
Compiled and edited by
Legal Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
On 12 February 2003, Australia’s second White Paper on foreign and trade policy: Advancing the National Interest was launched. The following extracts are from the overview of Advancing the National Interest:
The purpose of Australian foreign and trade policy is to advance the national interest – the security and prosperity of Australia and Australians.
The task of Australia’s foreign and trade policy is to advocate and advance those interests in a way which is both effective and in accord with the values of the Australian people.
Australia’s world is an uncertain one. The challenges we face are complex and evolving. They flow to a significant extent from opposition to democracy and open society as well as resentment towards, and perceived inequities from, the process of globalisation.
At the same time, traditional security concerns remain. The Asia-Pacific region is still home to eight of the world’s ten largest armies and, after the Middle East, the world’s three most volatile flashpoints – the Taiwan Strait, the Korean peninsula and Kashmir.
The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States and 12 October 2002 in Bali have been defining events. They have changed Australia’s security environment in significant ways. They starkly demonstrated that threats to Australia’s security can be global as well as regional.
Likewise, economic globalisation is having a profound impact in shaping Australia’s world. By most measures, the economies of the world are now more deeply integrated than ever before. Globalisation brings opportunities, but it also tests countries’ institutions and governance. Countries that are managing globalisation well, like Australia, are following market-oriented and outward-looking policies. Globalisation has raised living standards in Australia and has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty in poorer countries.
But globalisation has increased countries’ vulnerability to transnational threats. Terrorists and criminal organisations are able to take advantage of the ease of international travel and modern communications technology.
Threats to Australia’s security come not just from our region, but also from more distant points on the globe. As a consequence, the strategies we pursue to advance our national interest must be bilateral, regional and, increasingly, global.
Australia will use the multilateral system to advance our national interests in key areas such as global and regional security, trade liberalisation, transnational threats, the promotion of human rights and the environment. We will, for example, continue to strive for an effective global response to climate change that does not unfairly compromise the competitiveness of Australian industry.
We will align ourselves creatively with other countries to maximise the leverage we bring to bear on shared interests and agendas.
Our strategies will build on Australia’s strengths and achievements as a multi-ethnic society and on the quality of the relationships we maintain around the world, which include:
• our major trade and investment links with Asia, the United States, Western Europe, New Zealand and the Middle East
• our close defence alliance with the United States and important intelligence links with key partners
• our strong people-to-people links stretching throughout the Asia-Pacific, including the United States and Canada, and to Europe and the United Kingdom.
We aim to make the most of all these relationships regardless of geography. An advance in any one relationship need not be at the expense of others.
This White Paper, therefore, sets out an integrated mosaic of challenges and strategies for Australian foreign and trade policy in the years ahead. It is a confident statement designed for uncertain times.
The core challenges and strategies begin with our basic security and prosperity.
On 3 December 2003, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, done at New York on 15 November 2000, Supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, done at New York on 15 November 2000, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis concerning the sovereignty of Australia follows:
Upon signature of the Protocol, Australia deposited the following declaration:
The Government of Australia hereby declares that nothing in the Protocol shall be seen to be imposing obligations on Australia to admit or retain within its borders persons in respect of whom Australia would not otherwise have an obligation to admit or retain within its borders.
On 10 March 2003, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council on the Special report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of support in East Timor. An extract from this statement follows:
Australia recognises the importance of ensuring the UN‘s significant achievements in Timor Leste are not undermined by a deterioration in the security situation. At the same time, we are also concerned to ensure that UNMISET and interested countries implement appropriate responses to address these current problems. Australia, for its part, remains committed to assisting the UN and the Timor Leste Government in responding effectively to the current challenges to ensure Timor Leste’s transition to a secure and self-reliant statehood.
On 23 June 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question on notice in relation to the situation in Aceh. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
The Australian Government supports the territorial integrity of Indonesia. It considers that a negotiated solution based on special autonomy offers the best prospect for a sustainable solution to the situation in Aceh within a united Indonesia.
On 15 April 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the future of Iraq. An extract from the release follows:
We have great confidence in the Iraqi people. We have no doubt that with Saddam and his odious regime gone they will finally be able to realise a bright and prosperous future for all the citizens of Iraq.
As a Coalition member we recognise our obligation to do what we can to assist the Iraqi people to achieve this goal, and to do so as quickly as possible. We are not going to Tallil to be prescriptive. Ultimately the structure of Iraq’s future government must be shaped by the Iraqi people.
At the same time, there is a need to move quickly to re-establish law and order and a functional administration. We believe the best way of achieving this is through the early establishment of an Iraqi Interim Authority in which Iraqis from all walks of life, religions and ethnic groupings are fairly represented.
We are keen to hear how Iraqis believe this should be achieved and to play our role in facilitating the process.
On 14 May 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question on notice regarding Iraq. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
The numerous Iraqi parties, both within Iraq and among Iraqi exiles, vary greatly in organisational capabilities, membership and influence. Following the liberation of Iraq, Australia supports the early transfer of authority for running Iraq from the interim post-conflict coalition administration to Iraqis as soon as practicable. Australia also supports the Iraqi people’s efforts to form a democratic and stable government.
On 6 March 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, answered a question without notice in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. An extract from Mr Howard’s response follows:
The Australian government continues to hope that both sides involved in the Israeli-Palestinian Issue will exercise restraint. Australia remains a strong and unwavering supporter of the right of Israel to exist secure and unmolested behind properly supervised boundaries. Australia also recognises the right and aspirations of the people of Palestine to an independent state.
On 21 October, a statement was delivered for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 58th Session by Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, on the Convention on the Jurisdictional Immunities of States and their Property. An extract from that statement follows:
We support the timely adoption of a convention by the General Assembly on the basis of the revised text of the draft articles on jurisdictional immunities of States and their property, and the understandings with respect to certain provisions of the draft articles, as annexed to the Report of the Ad Hoc Committee of 24-28 February 2003.
Forming the crux of the convention, the draft articles should be supplemented by a preamble and final clauses, including a general saving provision concerning the relationship between this and other international agreements on the same subject.
Given outstanding questions concerning these clauses, we would support the establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee with a mandate to prepare a preamble and final clauses acceptable to all States. The final clauses would include an article referring to the understandings as forming an integral part of the convention.
We would propose adoption by the General Assembly of a draft convention prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee in the following year.
On 14 May 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question on notice from Mr Michael Danby on Iraq. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
The Australian Government does not recognise any of the Kurdish “Parliaments”, “Governments” or “Congresses” – whether located in Iraq or elsewhere – and does not accord their representatives any special status. For reasons relating to the territorial integrity of UN member states, Australia does not support the creation of an independent Kurdish state unless it is agreed to by all other states whose territorial integrity would be affected by the creation of such a state. Australia considers the Kurds to be minorities in the countries in which they live and believes that their cultural and political aspirations should be met by working within existing territorial boundaries. The Australian Government stresses the importance of fully respecting international human rights norms in the treatment of Kurdish minorities.
On 13 May 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question on notice regarding Australia’s acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
Under the amended declaration of 22 March 2002, Australia continues to accept the jurisdiction of the Court, subject to the following exceptions:
• where the parties have agreed to other peaceful means of dispute resolution;
• where disputes involve maritime boundary delimitation or disputes concerning the exploitation of an area in dispute or adjacent to an area in dispute; and
• where a country has only accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the court for a particular purpose or has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the court for a period of less than one year.
The first exception is identical to that in Australia’s 1975 declaration. The second reflects the Government’s view that maritime boundaries are best settled for the long term by negotiation, not litigation. A negotiated boundary is one that by definition is acceptable to both sides, whereas litigation can lead to an outcome satisfactory to neither. The third underpins Australia’s view that actions relying on the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ should be undertaken on the basis of a long-term commitment to acceptance of that jurisdiction.
On 14 May 2003, the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, relating to the Unitisation of the Sunrise and Troubadour fields, done at Dili on 6 March 2003, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Timor Sea between northern Australia and East Timor contains proven petroleum resources in the seabed. The Treaty is applicable to the Sunrise and Troubadour petroleum deposits (collectively known as Greater Sunrise), which extend across the eastern boundary of the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) created under the Timor Sea Treaty. The latter treaty enables Australia and East Timor to develop jointly the petroleum resources in the JPDA, pending agreement on a seabed boundary.
The Treaty provides a comprehensive framework for the joint development of the Greater Sunrise field, lying in a defined Unit Area. It covers matters such as administration of the Unit Area, taxation, process for approval of a development plan, abandonment provisions, point of sale and valuation of petroleum recovered from the field, employment and training, safety, health, environment protection, customs, security and dispute settlement mechanisms. By Article 2, the Treaty is without prejudice to both Australia’s and East Timor‘s claims to the seabed in the Timor Sea.
The resource potential of the Timor Sea was initially the subject of the 1989 Timor Gap Treaty between Australia and Indonesia. Following the separation of East Timor from Indonesia on 25 October 1999, Australia entered into an Agreement with the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) (the February 2000 Agreement) to allow Australia and East Timor to benefit from the continuation of exploration and exploitation activities in the Timor Sea.
Recognising that the February 2000 Agreement would end upon East Timor‘s independence, Australia and UNTAET/East Timor began negotiations to develop a framework for the joint development of Timor Sea resources. Subsequently, the Timor Sea Treaty was signed in Dili on 20 May 2002, the date of East Timor’s independence. Legislation to enact Australia’s obligations under that treaty received the Royal assent on 2 April 2002, upon which day Australia and East Timor exchanged notes stating that their requirements for it to enter into force had been met.
On 17 June 2003, the Convention on the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, done at Honolulu on 5 September 2000, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
As a member of the Commission, Australia will participate in the management of fisheries resources important to the Australian fishing industry, especially those that migrate through our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) off the eastern coast of Australia. Australia will also be able to ensure that consistent fisheries management strategies are utilised across the Pacific. Ratification of the Convention will further enhance Australia’s international reputation as a responsible fishing nation.
The Convention aims to provide an effective management regime for the western and central Pacific Ocean. It was developed by delegates of Pacific Island countries and distant water fishing nations during a series of multilateral high-level conferences. The Convention will establish a Commission to administer regional fisheries management based upon the UNFSA model. It draws upon the principles of sustainable use, long-term conservation, the precautionary approach and effective monitoring, control and surveillance.
On 24 November 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Ian Macdonald, issued a joint press release concerning the Australian and French Agreement on Maritime Cooperation. An extract from the release follows:
Australia and France have today signed an agreement on maritime cooperation which paves the way for tougher action against illegal fishing operations in the Southern Ocean.
The treaty establishes a formal framework for cooperative surveillance and research activity by France and Australia in our respective territorial seas and exclusive economic zones in the Southern Ocean.
Australia and France share a common desire to protect the valuable fish resources found in our neighbouring exclusive economic zones in the Southern Ocean and the unique marine environment of those waters.
The treaty provides for cooperative surveillance activity and will ensure that both Australia and France have a more complete picture of activities in our respective remote waters.
Under the treaty, France and Australia have agreed to exchange information on the location, movements and licensing of fishing vessels and will work more closely together to fight illegal fishing.
The signing of this treaty follows the apprehension of the suspected illegal fishing vessel Viarsa 1 in August this year and demonstrates the seriousness with which Australia and other countries view the threat of illegal fishing.
The treaty also shows the high level of cooperation between countries on illegal fishing issues and sends a strong message to illegal fishing operators who seek to plunder the world’s oceans, completely disregarding the long-term damage they cause for the sake of a short-term profit.
On 24 November 2003, Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and law of the sea. An extract from the statement concerning illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing follows:
[I]llegal, unreported and unregulated fishing must be and will be stopped.
IUU fishing continues to threaten the sustainability of many of the world’s fisheries. It is a breach of the Convention. It is a contravention of the rights of other states. All states must cooperate to prevent it.
Australia is particularly pleased at the emphasis that the fisheries resolution places on cooperation to combat IUU fishing. For the first time, the resolution encourages States to implement vessel monitoring systems and trade monitoring schemes to ensure compliance with rules set by regional fisheries management organisations. These sorts of practical measures to ensure the implementation of legal arrangements are essential to effective fisheries management.
On 17 December 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, delivered a speech at the Customs Border Search Training Centre. Extracts from the speech follow:
As a Government and as a nation, we take matters of border security very importantly and very seriously. Illegal fishing in the southern ocean is more than a fisheries’ issue. It is really an attack upon Australia’s sovereignty. And as a result of some recent experiences … the Government has decided to enhance the existing patrol program with full-time armed patrols of the remote and ecologically sensitive southern ocean.
The program will provide the capacity to board vessels and use force if necessary and will help avoid the need to undertake long pursuits of illegal vessels in the future. Australian laws will also be enhanced to provide an even greater deterrent to illegal fishing and the organisers of illegal fishing operations. Penalties for illegal fishing, which the Government is currently legislating to increase to as much as $825,000, along with the greatly enhanced chance of protection and capture, should in future act as a much greater deterrent to illegal fishing operations in Australian waters.
On 24 November 2003, Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and law of the sea. An extract from the statement relating to the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement follows:
The Agreement is the touchstone of international efforts to achieve sustainable fisheries. It requires States to cooperate to ensure that highly migratory and straddling fish stocks are sustainably managed, and sets out a template for effective management of regional fisheries. Australia urges all states to become party to the Agreement as soon as possible, and to implement its provisions. In this context, Australia emphasizes the importance of following strictly the language of the Agreement when dealing with management concepts. Australia regrets that the fisheries resolution does not always do so.
In relation to the language on the precautionary approach to the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks, Australia would like to note for the record that we see the precautionary approach to managing fisheries as set out in Article 6 and Annex II to the UN Fish Stocks Agreement as applicable not just to straddling and highly migratory stocks. This approach, which operationalizes Principle 15 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, is an essential tool for sustainable fisheries everywhere. Many fish stocks have been reduced to a point where a cutback in effort consistent with Article 6 and Annex II would actually increase the economic yield, demonstrating that appropriate application of a precautionary approach can deliver both conservation and economic benefits to our societies.
On 4 March 2003, the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, done at London on 18 October 2001, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The purpose of the Convention is to ban the use of organotin compounds which act as biocides in anti-fouling paints on ships, specifically tributyl tin (TBT) based anti-fouling paints. TBT acts as a biocide preventing the growth of algae, barnacles and other marine organisms on the ships’ hull. This enables the ship to travel faster through the water and consume less fuel. For the last 20 years scientific investigations have shown that TBT-based paints pose a substantial risk of toxicity and other chronic impacts at both the species, habitat and ecosystem level. Effects of TBT-based paints have been reported on such ecologically and economically important marine organisms as oysters and molluscs as well as contaminating sediments in many port areas around the world. TBT is also highly toxic to a range of marine reef biota.
Implementation of the Convention is in accordance with Australia’s Oceans Policy, which commits Australia to banning the application of TBT-based paints to vessels being repainted in Australian docks from 1 January 2006, unless the IMO introduces an earlier date, in which case Australia would comply, noting Defence operational requirements. In addition, Cabinet specifically agreed to the phased withdrawal of the use of toxic organotin anti-fouling paint.
If Australia does not become a party to the Convention, the level of environmental protection in Australia will be lower than internationally adopted standards. Also, Australian ships trading to overseas ports would incur additional costs as a result of the need to have proper survey documentation confirming compliance with the Convention. Such documentation can only be issued by Administrations that have adopted the Convention.
On 29 October 2003, Ms Nicola Loffler, delivered a statement for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 58th Session, on the Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its 55th session: Chapter VI: International Liability for Injurious Consequences Arising Out of Acts not Prohibited by International Law (international liability in case of loss from transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities). An extract from the statement follows:
In respect of the topic of liability, Australia welcomes the resumption of the Commission’s work on the issue of ‘international liability’, following upon its consideration of ‘prevention of transboundary harm from hazardous activities’. We commend the efforts of the Special Rapporteur, Mr P.S. Rao, in concluding the first report on the legal regime for the allocation of loss in case of transboundary harm arising out of hazardous activities.
One particular issue on which the Commission has sought comment is the appropriate relationship between the State and an operator. Clearly, the specific procedural and substantive requirements that the State should place on an operator will vary from industry to industry. However, Australia is of the view that the requirements which a State should impose on operators should focus on contingency plans for responding to incidents that carry a risk of transboundary harm. The State should ensure that an operator is in a position to take prompt and effective response action with a view to minimising harm; and that the operator is required to maintain appropriate insurance for this purpose.
Regarding the scope of this topic, Australia supports the view that the definition and/or categories of compensable damage or harm to property and environment should not be unduly limited, particularly where the property or environment is within the jurisdiction or control of a State and the damage or harm results in direct loss to proprietary or possessory interests of individuals or the State.
Australia reserves its judgment on the final form of the work on this topic until the substance of the draft articles on liability has been determined. Nevertheless, given that international liability does not lend itself easily to codification and progressive development, and noting the diversity of civil liability regimes, Australia is of the view that the draft articles would be most helpful if they took the form of general rules supplementing the law of State responsibility, the laws and practices of existing systems of liability, and the remedies available under domestic and private international law.
Australia notes that while it may be difficult to articulate general principles of liability in this area, the guiding principle should be that the innocent victim should not bear the loss on its own and that primary responsibility for compensating such loss should rest with those in command or control of the activity at the time of the incident. Where the operator does not have the financial resources to provide adequate compensation, those resources should be supplemented by funds provided by the State, on the basis that it has authorised the activity, and/or industry, and insofar as it benefited from the activity.
On 24 November 2003, Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and law of the sea. An extract from that statement concerning the Convention on the Law of the Sea follows:
A year ago we celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Since then, we have moved closer to realizing the objective of universal adherence to the Convention, and Australia congratulates those who have acceded in the past year. We particularly welcome the recent ratification by Canada – a country with which we share many common perspectives on oceans issues, and with which we will continue to work closely. This year, after the celebrations, it is necessary to return to the hard work of implementation. This is the continuing challenge to which we must all respond – to ensure effective oceans governance through implementation of the Convention and related instruments.
As the omnibus resolution states, effective implementation of the Convention and related instruments can only be achieved through action at every level – national, regional and global. At the national level, Australia continues to work under the framework of its Oceans Policy – a policy to improve governance of the vast marine areas under Australia’s jurisdiction. Just recently we finalized the first draft regional marine plan for our South-East region – a plan which brings together conservation and use and signals a new era of governance for one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world. It will provide the template for sustainable development of all Australia’s ocean areas.
On 24 November 2003, Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and law of the sea. An extract from the statement concerning the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on Oceans follows:
The recommendations of the Fourth Meeting of the Informal Consultative Process on the issue of “safety of navigation and flag state implementation” were a major step forward. As an island state heavily dependent on trade, the vast majority of which is transported by sea, Australia attaches great importance to ensuring the safety of navigation. The current picture is not a good one – acts of piracy and armed robbery at sea and damage to the marine environment as a result of spills and groundings remain regular occurrences, sometimes with devastating effects.
The answer is better implementation of the Convention and related instruments. Action is required of all states, including flag states, coastal states and port states. States cannot continue to treat provisions of the Convention on effective flag state enforcement and the need for a “genuine link” between a vessel and its flag state with disdain. The paragraphs in the omnibus resolution which deal with the safety of navigation are a good step forward. Particularly important is operative paragraph 27, which urges flag states without the appropriate legal and administrative frameworks to either strengthen their controls or suspend their registers.
The recommendations of the Fourth Meeting of the Informal Consultative Process on the protection and management of vulnerable marine ecosystems, now reflected in the omnibus resolution, are also a step forward. Australia has an enormous range of such ecosystems within its jurisdiction, and has developed considerable expertise in their protection and sustainable management. We particularly welcome the focus on marine protected areas, coral reefs and pollution prevention.
On 14 May 2003, amendments to the Annex to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, done in London on 12 December 2002, including consideration and adoption of the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
Events since the 11 September 2001, the attack on the French tanker Limburg and the Bali bombing indicate that there is an urgent need to re-appraise the adequacy of preventive security measures by industry, including the maritime industry. If Australia does not implement the IMO security measures, Australian ports and cities will be further exposed to the risk of a terrorist incident, as other ports around the world tighten their own security. The implementation of these security measures domestically will significantly improve the preparedness of Australia’s maritime sector.
On 3 November 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services, Mr John Anderson, answered a question on notice concerning National Security and Maritime Safety. An extract from Mr Anderson’s response follows:
As a result of the heightened awareness of security issues surrounding the international maritime industry following the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) developed a new preventive maritime security regime to enhance security at ports, port facilities and on board ships. The Australian Government has actively supported the IMO action to strengthen global maritime security through amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention and its companion International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, which comes into effect from 1 July 2004.
On 9 September 2003, an Agreement between the European Community and Australia amending the Agreement between Australia and the European Community on Trade in Wine, and Protocol, of 1994, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
Annex I of the 1994 Agreement approved a number of oenological practices and processes authorised for wines originating in Australia, one of those being the use of cation exchange resins for wine stabilisation purposes. However, this was only provisionally authorised until 31 December 1998, for the purposes of allowing further scientific evaluation.
This proposed amendment would continue a practice that has been in operation since the signing of the original Agreement in 1994 and one that will be made permanent when all other matters currently under discussion are finalised. These discussions are currently scheduled for November of this year and will include setting phase out dates for the use of remaining EU geographical indications (GI) by Australian producers; arrangements for the protection of EU traditional expressions (TE); the use of GIs and TEs in existing and future trademarks; the use of labelling descriptors by Australian producers and procedures for the approval of current and new oenological practices.
The Australian wine industry strongly supports early action to ensure this wine making practice can continue to be used. The industry regards the derogation for cation exchange resins as important for its ability to competitively price wine sold into the European Community. Our current wine export trade with the European Union is over $1 billion per year.
On 8 October 2003, the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Economic and Commercial Cooperation, done at Almaty on 7 May 1997, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
The Agreement is intended to facilitate trade and economic cooperation between Australia and Kazakhstan. While recent levels of trade have been disappointingly low, Kazakhstan is rich in resources and is now enjoying strong economic growth. This Agreement will help position Australian traders for the future, as Kazakhstan works its way to realising its significant economic potential.
The Agreement provides a formal context within which future commercial disputes can be managed. Among other things, the Agreement encourages due regard for the protection of intellectual property and obliges each country to encourage alternative dispute resolution procedures. The Agreement also requires the Parties to grant each other Most Favoured Nation treatment in respect of duties, taxes or charges imposed in connection with the import or export of goods. These measures provide a framework of protection that is useful in Kazakhstan‘s commercial environment where linkages between business and government are strong.
The taking of binding treaty action in relation to this Agreement will be useful in strengthening the framework which commits Kazakhstan to facilitate and develop trade on a stable and predictable basis. It should also prove useful in an environment where linkages between business and government are strong.
Ratification could also support Australia’s broader foreign policy goal of further integrating Kazakhstan into the world economy. As supporters of trade liberalisation, Australia would like to see Kazakhstan function as a fully fledged market economy. Australia is participating in Kazakhstan’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations and has been encouraging greater progress in economic reforms aimed at achieving compliance with WTO trade rules. As part of the WTO accession process, Australia is conducting bilateral market access negotiations with Kazakhstan on goods and services.
On 9 September 2003, the Agreement, done at Mexico City on 9 September 2002, between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Mexican States, for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, and the accompanying Protocol, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
The proposed Treaty will complete Australia’s tax treaty network with North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) countries. It will add to Australia’s existing tax treaty network, expanding the international economic framework within which many of Australia’s international trade and investment activities occur.
The key objectives of the proposed Treaty are to: (i) improve Australia’s relations with Mexico, (ii) facilitate trade and investment, (iii) combat fiscal evasion and protect Australian tax revenues, and (iv) maintain Australia’s position in the international tax community. The proposed Treaty aims to achieve these objectives by harmonising aspects of the two tax systems. The provisions facilitate cross-border activities in trade, investment, transport, employment, pension payments, residential transfers, while also improving the integrity of the tax system.
The proposed Treaty’s reductions in dividend withholding tax (DWT) rate limits and royalty withholding tax (RWT) rate limits, and its locking-in of limits to interest withholding taxes (IWT) will remove obstacles to international investment and trade and improve the Australian tax system’s international competitiveness. The proposed Treaty provisions for clarification and allocation of taxing jurisdiction (including clarification of capital gains taxation) and exchange of information will improve tax system integrity and reduce uncertainty for taxpayers. They will also assist in overcoming fiscal evasion, and in this way protect Australian tax revenues.
Taxation provisions in the proposed Treaty balance the need for maintaining the international competitiveness of the Australian taxation system while appropriately protecting Australian revenue. The direct cost to Commonwealth revenue as a result of the withholding tax (WHT) reductions is likely to be more than offset by reductions in Australian tax relief claims for Mexican taxes. However, the proposed Treaty also has more general benefits of promoting investment and trade flows.
The international economic significance of Mexico means that an Australia-Mexico treaty is important for providing the framework for future economic relations between the two countries.
On 9 September 2003, the Convention between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and on Capital Gains, done at Canberra on 21 August 2003, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
The key objectives of the proposed Treaty are to: (i) promote closer economic relations between Australia and the United Kingdom, (ii) facilitate investment and trade, and (iii) combat fiscal evasion and protect Australian tax revenues. The proposed Treaty harmonises aspects of the tax systems to facilitate cross-border activities while also improving the integrity of the tax system.
The proposed Treaty will replace the existing double taxation treaty between Australia and the United Kingdom that was signed in 1967 and modified in 1980. Consistent with the Government’s response to the Review of International Taxation Arrangements (RITA), the proposed Treaty moves towards a more residence-based tax treaty policy and updates an important part of Australia’s aging treaty network. This brings it into line with international norms, as set out in the OECD‘s Model Tax Convention, and with the direction set in the recent Protocol to the Australia-US Double Tax Convention.
The proposed Treaty reduces dividend withholding tax (DWT) and royalty withholding tax (RWT) rate limits, applies a nil interest withholding tax (IWT) rate limit to interest paid to a financial institution, preserves Australia’s rights to tax capital gains, and locks-in these arrangements. These changes recognise Australia’s position as a competitor for capital flows and a capital importer needing to appropriately tax capital, and enhances exchange of information (EOI).
The proposed Treaty package will produce a positive economic outcome for Australia. Gains include a larger and faster growing Australian economy with flow-on effects on employment, trade and investment, and a more outward focus for Australian business. The expected withholding tax (WHT) cost to revenue of the proposed Treaty ($A100 million pa.) is expected to be more than offset by a consequential increase in future corporate taxes and GDP-boosted gains to revenue.
On 17 July 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, delivered a speech to the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers concerning ‘Trade Negotiations and the Auto Sector’. Extracts from the speech relating to free trade agreements follow:
We have adopted a strategy of competitive liberalisation – a strategy that sees multilateral, regional and bilateral trade policy approaches as complementary and mutually reinforcing.
It is a strategy to maximise our trading opportunities with individual countries, to ensure that our exporters achieve greater access to overseas markets as quickly, as broadly and as deeply as possible.
Our efforts to reach free trade agreements with some of our major trading partners is a good example of this pragmatic approach.
We are open to such deals if we consider they will deliver high quality trade-liberalising results and will do so more quickly than is possible in the WTO system.
From Australia’s perspective, there are four key criteria that such free trade agreements need to meet if they are to contribute positively to the global trade reform effort.
First, they must free virtually all two-way trade in goods as soon as possible.
Second, they must eliminate to the maximum extent feasible barriers to expansion of trade in services.
Third, they must establish a transparent and predictable environment for investment.
And fourth, they must establish a legally-binding framework for resolving differences and allowing the overall trade and economic relationship to develop into new areas.
On 17 February 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a joint press release with the Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr George Yeo, concerning the signing of the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). An extract from the release follows:
SAFTA is a comprehensive agreement that is fully consistent with our shared interests in a strong and effective World Trade Organization and complements our active cooperation in the WTO. Both our countries have made commitments in SAFTA that go beyond our existing liberalisation obligations in the WTO, and we see it as a stepping stone towards further progress at the multilateral level.
In addition, SAFTA is consistent with our countries’ APEC commitments to broader trade and economic reform objectives and is a positive initiative to advance the Bogor goals of free and open trade and investment.
When Singapore and Australia agreed to start talks on an FTA on 15 November 2000, the global economic landscape was beginning to change from a positive outlook to a less certain one. Notwithstanding the economic and regional uncertainties however, we believed that progress on trade liberalisation should not be allowed to falter. More open trade in a rule-based environment will lead to economic growth and prosperity, bring more transparency to the business framework and strengthen consumer and investor confidence.
SAFTA takes this agenda forward through its commitments on tariff elimination, market access for service suppliers, transparent customs procedures, promotion of fair competition, access to government procurement markets, increased integration of capital markets, easier entry for business visitors, mutual recognition agreements and co-operation in the education sector.
On 4 March 2003, the Singapore – Australia Free Trade Agreement, done at Singapore on 17 February 2003, and the Associated Exchange of Notes, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
SAFTA will deliver substantial benefits to Australia across a range of areas as set out in the next section. The initiative to negotiate SAFTA also reflected Australia’s broader trade and economic interests in the Asian region. Singapore shares Australia’s outlook on the value of trade liberalisation and expanding trade and investment links with regional neighbours. Australia believes that the conclusion of a substantive and comprehensive FTA between the two countries will signal strong support for multilateral, regional and bilateral initiatives, help create an open global and regional trading environment and promote strength and stability in the region.
On 19 October 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, issued a press release in relation to the Australia Thailand Free Trade Agreement. Extracts from the release follow:
Today’s successful conclusion of negotiations on an Australia-Thailand Free Trade Agreement represents a significant breakthrough with substantial benefits for Australian exporters.
More than half of Thailand‘s five thousand tariffs will be eliminated as soon as the Agreement enters into force. Virtually all the remaining tariffs will be eliminated by 2010.
Over $700 million of Australia’s current exports to Thailand will benefit from the tariff cuts under the Agreement. Many Australian companies currently locked out of the Thai market will now enjoy new export opportunities.
The FTA also provides a strong foundation for expansion in the services sector including the operation of Australian education institutions in the Thai market. It will substantially improve the environment for two-way investment.
This Agreement, with the second largest economy in South East Asia, is a further symbol of Australia’s close economic integration with the countries of East Asia. The Agreement is Thailand‘s first with a developed country. It positions Australian exporters to take advantage of a rapidly growing Thai economy and will also strengthen the linkages between Australia and the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).
On 24 October 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release in relation to the Australia-China Trade and Economic Framework. An extract from that release follows:
“The new Framework reflects the Government’s strong commitment to further trade and investment linkages with Australia’s third largest trading partner. China is the world’s fourth largest merchandise trader and sixth largest economy,” Mr Vaile said.
The Framework sets a clear agenda for the bilateral trade and economic relationship over the coming years. It includes a commitment by both governments to undertake a detailed joint study into the feasibility and benefits of a free trade agreement (FTA) between Australia and China.
The Framework also cover a wide range of activities on issues and in sectors aimed at improving commercial and policy linkages. These cover sectors such as energy and mining, agriculture, textiles, clothing and footwear, services, investment, education, ICT, and policy issues including food safety, health, customs cooperation and intellectual property rights.
“This package widens and deepens bilateral trade and investment linkages. I am confident that it will deliver improvements to the overall business environment to both country’s mutual benefit,” Mr Vaile said.
On 17 July 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release in relation to the conclusion of the new Australia-Japan Trade and Economic Framework. Extracts from that release follow:
“The new Framework reflects the Government’s strong commitment to further developing trade and investment linkages with Australia’s largest export market and our most important economic partner in East Asia,” Mr Vaile said.
“This sets a clear direction for trade and economic relations between Australia and Japan. It confirms that comprehensive free trade is squarely on the bilateral agenda and it reinforces the importance of global trade liberalisation, which remains a key priority for both Australia and Japan,” he said.
Given the sheer significance of Japan as a trade and economic partner for Australia, Mr Vaile welcomed the provisions in the framework for the two countries to consult on their FTAs with other countries.
Mr Vaile said “Following on from our FTA with Singapore and along with our FTA negotiations with United States and Thailand, this new Framework demonstrates the priority the Government attaches to developing economic linkages with our key trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region to their full potential.”
On 5 June 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, addressed the New Horizons in Trade Conference in Adelaide. Extracts from his speech follow:
Our most important bilateral initiative is our negotiation for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
This FTA offers us extensive market access gains for our farmers, manufacturers and service industries, especially where there remain considerable barriers in the US market.
In particular, we see gains for Australian beef, dairy, sugar and canned fruit products, as well as fast ferries, magnesium and electronic commerce.
This FTA offers us a potential windfall in investment terms, as the Agreement is likely to “turn heads” in the United States to the opportunities in the Australian market.
We want the FTA to lift US barriers to investment, especially in financial services, and to ease US residency requirements in the legal, accounting and architectural professions.
This FTA also offers an opportunity for much greater business integration, as Australian and US companies realise synergies in innovation, research and development, material sourcing, product development, marketing and information technology.
Access to the world’s biggest government procurement market through the FTA will be a huge bonus for Australian companies wishing to work with US firms in winning US government contracts.
An FTA with the United States offers us not just direct economic and commercial benefits, but also an enormous strategic opportunity, in both economic and trade policy terms.
We have an opportunity to negotiate deeper integration with not only the world’s largest economy, but also the world’s pre-eminent strategic power.
We have an opportunity to underpin our economic relationship with a treaty level agreement on a par with our long-standing political and security relations.
We also have an opportunity to shape US attitudes and positions, as influential as they are, in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations and for the multilateral trading system itself.
In particular, we can help forge a renewed trade negotiating partnership with the United States on the need for global agricultural policy reform, particularly in Europe and Japan.
Multilaterally, this FTA can set benchmarks and raise ambitions in the Doha Round of negotiations, and demonstrate how a comprehensive agreement can support the multilateral trading system.
Regionally, this FTA can demonstrate the benefits of a genuinely liberalising agreement to other countries contemplating similar arrangements.
In our own region, an FTA with the United States will send a powerful message about the type of liberalisation we want to see.
Bilaterally, this FTA can create proper structures for handling policy differences, and developing the economic relationship further.
On 14 May 2003, an agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for the Promotion and Protection of Investments, done at Canberra on 12 November 2002, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the National Interest Analysis accompanying the agreement follows
The Australian Government recognises the importance of promoting the flow of capital for economic activity and its role in expanding economic relations and technical cooperation between countries. The Agreement, by guaranteeing certain treatment for investments, will encourage and facilitate bilateral investment by citizens, permanent residents and companies of Australia and Sri Lanka, in accordance with the internationally accepted principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, equality, mutual benefit, non-discrimination and mutual confidence. The Agreement will put Australian investors in a better position to benefit from the investment opportunities in Sri Lanka by providing them with a range of guarantees relating to non-commercial risk.
Australia is already the second largest investor in Sri Lanka and if the peace process remains on track, coupled with Sri Lanka’s expected economic recovery, Australia is well-placed to take advantage of the increased investment opportunities that are likely to ensue.
On 7 March 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, delivered a speech to the Asia Society at Hanoi on ‘APEC and Other Regional Initiatives: Creating Markets for Prosperity’. Extracts from this speech follow:
Some commentators suggest that these bilateral and sub-regional trade arrangements will undermine the momentum of the multilateral trading system. They are wrong, they will add momentum.
Australia’s approach to preferential trade arrangements is simple. We are open to concluding such arrangements where they can deliver gains that cannot be achieved in a similar timeframe elsewhere, and where they support and complement the multilateral trading system. I believe that genuinely comprehensive liberalising FTAs in no way detract from multilateral trade negotiations – indeed, bilateral and multilateral trade liberalisation can in fact be mutually reinforcing.
WTO rules provide a basis for bilateral liberalisation – and FTAs that genuinely liberalise bilateral trade can contribute to broader WTO goals. Indeed, FTAs contribute positively to the multilateral framework of rules in areas such as trade facilitation, while following the letter and the spirit of WTO principles.
Our regional FTAs are fully consistent with our WTO commitments and do not in any way detract from multilateral liberalisation. Our FTA with Singapore, for example, includes a framework on services that is more liberalising than that in the WTO. And as our FTAs are comprehensive and not designed to be exclusive, they complement wider multilateral trade objectives – and even help drive them by raising the bar for WTO negotiations.
On 12 November 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, delivered a speech at the Australian-American Association. An extract from that speech follows:
Australia’s overall international economic strategy is to pursue opportunities for market opening at the multilateral, regional and bilateral levels.
Those opportunities must complement each other –and ultimately must support the global trade negotiations now under way at the World Trade Organisation.
Of course, we are working hard, as a first priority, to achieve a positive outcome in the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations, particularly on agriculture, despite the recent setback at Cancun.
But we are also pursuing regional trade liberalisation and bilateral free trade agreements where these offer the prospect of significant gains ahead of what will be achievable in the WTO process.
On 19 November 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, addressed the World Financial Services Conference in Sydney. An extract from that speech follows:
We remain very strongly committed to the multilateral negotiation process. The ideal is to see a successful world trade round based on the Doha understandings. And it is ideally speaking in Australia’s interest to see broad multilateral trading agreements liberalising and removing trade barriers that impede access for Australian goods and services to see those sorts of arrangements achieved. But we have taken the view that consistent with that goal, and on the basis that bilateral trading agreements don’t compete with that goal, that it is in Australia’s interest to endeavour to negotiate bilateral free trade agreements and to put special emphasis on our trading associations with certain countries.
On 6 October 2003, Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Report of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law. An extract of the statement follows:
Australia would also like to welcome the progress of the Working Group on Transport Law on the draft instrument on the Carriage of Goods by Sea and the completion, at the 11th negotiating session in New York, of a first reading of the text. Australia strongly supports the move to create a modern international instrument on the carriage of goods by sea that could gain widespread international acceptance. Of particular importance to Australia are the moves to embrace electronic commercial shipping documents for the first time in an international instrument and to abolish the nautical fault defence.
Also of particular importance is a provision to allow access to the temperature records held by the carrier for temperature-controlled goods. Australia appreciates the support of other delegations for the inclusion of such a measure. Australia also notes the continued consideration by the Working Group on Security Interests of the preliminary draft guide on secured transactions, and welcomes the holding of the first joint session between this Working Group and the Working Group on Insolvency Law. With regard to electronic commerce Australia welcomes the continued consideration by the Working Group of a preliminary draft convention dealing with selected issues on electronic contracting. Australia also supports the Working Group’s continued work on removing possible legal obstacles to electronic commerce in existing international instruments relating to international trade.
Similarly, Australia would like to express its support for the work of the Working Group on Arbitration, and to welcome its continued work on draft rules relating to interim measures of protection in international arbitration.
On 1 April 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning the European Community World Trade Organization challenge to Australia’s quarantine system. An extract from the release follows:
“Australia has a world-class quarantine system that is science based and transparent. Whereas the EC‘s system is not transparent and some of their decisions are clearly not science-based, as has been clearly determined by previous WTO action,” Mr Vaile said.
“The EC‘s double-standards on agriculture continue to be exposed. It is not surprising that on the same day the deadline of 31 March in the Doha negotiations on agriculture was missed as a result of the totally inadequate position taken by the EC, they challenged our quarantine system as a distraction.
“The EC are obviously also worried by Australia’s challenge to the EC’s sugar regime in the WTO. Our case will show how European subsidies distort the world sugar market to the detriment of developing countries and efficient producers in developed countries like Australia.
“Australia will not be distracted from continuing to press ahead with agricultural trade reform in the WTO.
“The EC‘s efforts would be better directed towards weaning its farmers from subsidies and getting on with the process of agriculture reform as was agreed by all ministers in Doha.
“If this dispute over our quarantine measures proceeds, we will vigorously defend our system.”
On 21 January 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning the ruling of the World Trade Organization’s Appellate Body in favour of Australia’s complaint against the United States of America subsidy program known as the ‘Byrd Amendment’. Extracts from the release follow:
“The Appellate Body confirmed Australia’s view that linking subsidy entitlements to the existence of dumping or subsidisation of goods by other countries was contrary to WTO rules,” Mr Vaile said.
“The outcome of the Appellate Body’s review of the WTO panel’s findings last September is very pleasing. It demonstrates once again the value of the WTO rules in protecting Australia‘s broader trade interests and the importance of the WTO dispute settlement system in reinforcing those rules.
“This dispute also demonstrates once again the Government’s resolve to protect the interests of Australian exporters using the avenue, whether bilateral or multilateral, which we believe will provide the best outcomes for Australia.”
On 3 October 2003, the Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Minister for Trade, Mr John Anderson, issued a press release concerning the Australian World Trade Organization challenge to European Union rules on geographical indications. An extract from the release follows:
Australia’s challenge to the European Union‘s legislative rules for descriptions of certain foodstuffs and agricultural products will be heard by a World Trade Organisation (WTO) dispute settlement panel, Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Trade Minister John Anderson announced today.
Last night, the WTO formally established a dispute settlement panel to hear Australia’s challenge, and a challenge by the United States, to the EU‘s rules on geographical indications (GIs).
“Australia and the United States have had consultations with the EU over the way the EU registers and protects GIs, but there has been little progress to date on resolving the issues of concern to us,” Mr Anderson said.
“Consequently, Australia and the United States have exercised their WTO rights and sought dispute settlement panels to hear their respective challenges to the EU‘s rules. The complaints will be heard by a single panel.”
GIs identify a product as originating from a specific geographical area where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to that geographical origin. The legislation being challenged by Australia does not apply to the registration and protection of GIs for wines and spirits. The GIs at issue in this dispute are for products such as cheese, beer, wool, processed meat, fruit and cork.
“Australia remains open to settling this dispute at any time, but we will continue formal dispute settlement proceedings to protect our legitimate WTO rights should this prove necessary,” Mr Anderson said.
“While the dispute highlights some of the difficulties inherent in the EU‘s approach to GIs in the Doha Round, the dispute is about the EU’s implementation of its existing WTO obligations.”
On 14 May 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning a World Trade Organization dispute challenging the European Union’s moratorium on genetically modified organisms. An extract from the release follows:
Australia will seek to join Argentina, Canada, Egypt and the United States as a third party in their WTO challenge to the European Union‘s moratorium on approvals for the import of genetically modified organisms (GMO), Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today.
The EU moratorium means that imports of GMOs are being blocked by decisions on GMOs that have no scientific basis.
“Australia’s trade interests and our interest in maintaining the role of the WTO in enforcing rules on science-based decision making are at stake,” Mr Vaile said.
“Australia’s agricultural exporters depend on fair trading rules underpinned by science-based decision making, and these rules must not be undermined,” said Mr Vaile.
“This case is critical to Australia and all agricultural exporters. More than thirteen countries have so far indicated an intention to participate in the challenge. These include both developed and developing agricultural exporters such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico, New Zealand and Uruguay. We must work together to break trade barriers such as this.”
Australia will seek to participate as a third party in the dispute. This allows Australia’s interests to be taken into account and reflects Australia’s substantial trade interest in the systemic issue of science based decision making.
“By taking this step Australia is using the WTO‘s dispute settlement system as it is intended, in order to uphold our trade interests” said Mr Vaile.
On 8 July 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning a World Trade Organization> dispute challenge to European Union sugar subsidies. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia will join Brazil and Thailand in requesting a World Trade Organisation panel to examine whether EU sugar export subsidies comply with world trade rules, Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today.
“The EU is currently exporting highly subsidised sugar, distorting world markets to the detriment of sugar exporters worldwide, including Australia,” Mr Vaile said.
“We have joined Brazil and Thailand in seeking an investigation because we believe aspects of the EU‘s support for its sugar regime are clearly contrary to WTO rules.
“Australian sugar producers depend on the world market for approximately 80 per cent of their incomes and are probably more exposed to world price movements than any other sugar exporter. Australia’s sugar industry fully supports the Government’s action and has provided valuable input to the development of our case.”
“The Uruguay Round subsidy obligations required countries to reduce subsidised exports. The EU‘s current subsidised sugar exports are more than they were before the Uruguay Round. Sugar was excluded from the latest EU reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy and some EU sugar interests are already calling for an extension of the present regime from 2006 to 2011, despite a current review scheduled to conclude in 2004,” Mr Vaile said.
“Australia has assured ACP countries our WTO action is not an attack on their preferential quota access of approximately 1.3 million tonnes into the EU market. Our challenge will not prevent the EU from honouring its treaty commitments to ACP sugar exporters.”
On 1 July 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning duty-free market access for Least Developed Countries. Extracts from the release follow:
The world’s 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and East Timor will receive duty-free and quota-free access to the Australian market from today, Trade Minister Mark Vaile said today.
The new legislation, passed last week, gives effect to the Prime Minister’s announcement last October at the APEC Leaders’ Meeting in Los Cabos, of duty-free and quota-free access for goods originating in LDCs. The government has also extended the preferential access to East Timor.
“Australia has provided generous preferential market access for the world’s poorest countries for many years, and now LDCs and East Timor will have duty-free and quota-free access for all products from today,” Mr Vaile said.
“Australia’s initiative is comprehensive and unqualified. It does not exclude sensitive sectors or provide phasing-in arrangements for items such as agricultural products, which are often missing from the packages provided to LDCs by other major developed countries.
“Australia continues to address trade and development issues in a number of international meetings and fora, including the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the May 2002 UN Conference on Least Developed Countries.
On 27 June 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning a market access agreement between Australia and Cambodia. An extract from the release follows:
Australia and Cambodia trade relations are set to develop with the conclusion of a market access agreement which will assist Cambodia join the World Trade Organisation, Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today.
“The finalisation of market access negotiations between Australia and Cambodia highlights the commitment of our countries to trade liberalisation, and the crucial role of the WTO in providing a framework to protect and advance the interests of small and medium-sized countries,” Mr Vaile said.
“While Australia’s current trade with Cambodia is not extensive, the negotiations have created a good foundation for developing our trade further. As Cambodia reforms and develops its economy, there will be growing commercial opportunities for Australian firms.
“This is another very positive development in Australia’s relationship with Cambodia. Cooperation in trade is an important component to the overall wellbeing of the relationship between our two countries.”
The agreement covers current and prospective Australian export interests in goods and services and will take effect when Cambodia joins the WTO, after it has concluded similar negotiations with other WTO members.
On 26 March 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning Australia’s trade policy framework. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia remained at the forefront of global trade reform through the World Trade Organisation, including hosting an informal meeting of ministers in Sydney to push the Doha Round.
“Publication of our initial offer will honour the Government’s commitment to conduct Australia’s GATS negotiations in an open and transparent manner,” Mr Vaile said. “It is important to note Australia will not be making any offers in the negotiations in the areas of public health, public education, nor on the ownership of water.”
In his speech, Mr Vaile outlined the Government’s strategy of competitive liberalisation, the most ambitious trade agenda in Australia’s history.
“It is a strategy of maximising our trade opportunities with individual countries, in our wider region, and globally. It is a strategy that demonstrates that what we do, bilaterally and regionally, can complement and stimulate the multilateral trading system, and the current Doha Round of global trade negotiations. And it is a strategy that ensures that our exporters achieve greater access to overseas markets as quickly, as broadly and as deeply as possible.
On 7 April 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, delivered a speech to the Citrus Growers’ Annual Conference on ‘The Status of Agricultural Negotiations in the WTO’. Extracts from the speech follow:
The Doha Round will be crucial for liberalising trade in agriculture and food, still the most protected area of global trade.
We have continued to state that there will be no Doha Round outcome without an outcome on agriculture.
Why? For two principal reasons.
The first is the new found role and influence of developing countries in the negotiations, and because of the mandate achieved at Doha.
Developing countries now make up more than 100 out of the 145 WTO members. They are overwhelmingly agricultural economies.
They are no longer prepared to keep opening their markets to developed countries for industrialised products and services until the developed countries give them fair access for agricultural products.
The second is the mandate for the agriculture negotiations that all WTO members agreed at the Doha meeting. It requires that the Round succeed in:
• improving market access for agricultural products;
• substantially reducing domestic support; and
• reducing – with a view to phasing out – all forms of export subsidies.
On 3 November 2003, Mr Warren Snowdon, Parliamentary Adviser to the Australian Delegation on behalf of the Cairns Group of Countries, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee on International Trade and Development. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Cairns Group urges all WTO Members – especially the major developed countries – to reaffirm their commitment to the integrity of the Doha Development Agenda and re-engage in the negotiations without further delay. All WTO Members will lose if we fail to grasp this critical opportunity for long-overdue agricultural reform.
The Cairns Group calls on WTO members to recall the ambitious reform mandate they agreed to at Doha and the needs of the developing countries whose concerns were highlighted at Cancun. It urges an immediate return to the negotiating table with a view to delivering substantial outcomes in line with the Doha mandate. That will require:
• a date for eliminating all forms of export subsidies on all products;
• substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support, as measured against spending by the major subsidising countries;
• substantial improvements in market access for all products; and
• effective mechanisms with respect to key elements of Special and Differential Treatment, recognising the particular needs of developing countries, including food security, rural development and poverty alleviation.
The Cairns Group notes that developing country agricultural policies do not lie at the heart of the current severe distortions in world agriculture markets. The weight of the adjustment must be borne by those primarily responsible for those distortions.
Developing countries, and not just Cairns Group developing countries, are prepared to make a contribution to this process. However, where many of their people live on the margin of existence their capacity to absorb adjustment shocks to their domestic market should be obvious to all. Their need for improved opportunities through a fair and market oriented agricultural trading system should be equally obvious.
Reforming the rules for agricultural trade is the essential pre-condition to improving the development prospects of millions of the world’s people. Urgent action is needed to grasp this historic opportunity for reform that will allow developing countries to unlock the full potential of their agriculture sectors, improve the welfare of their people and provide impetus to the world economy as a whole. An enhanced trading system will also have a positive impact on current crucial global issues.
On 12 November 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, addressed the Local Government Community Services Association NSW State Conference in Port Macquarie on ‘Making Globalisation Work for Development’. Extracts from that speech follow:
The current Doha Round of WTO trade negotiations presents a major opportunity for developing countries to secure better trading conditions, and fairer trade rules, that will help underpin development.
In fact it is deliberately designed to give developing countries a better deal in world trade – that’s why it is called the Doha Development Agenda.
Australia is working hard in the Doha Round to reduce global trade barriers, particularly for agriculture, where many developing countries are most efficient.
We were instrumental in the launch of the round in 2001 and have continued to show leadership in advancing negotiations, particularly as chair of the Cairns Group.
All Members have agreed we need to recommit to achieving conclusion of the negotiations. Australia is working to revitalise the round by encouraging others to build on the valuable work we did in the lead-up to and during Cancún.
All in all, I remain optimistic about the capacity of the multilateral trading system to deliver consistent and fair rules, and a level playing field, for developing and developed countries alike.
On 27 May 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, addressed the Australian Council for Overseas Aid Roundtable on Trade and Development in Canberra on ‘Making Trade Work for Development’. An extract from his speech follows:
[T]he mandate for a new round of negotiations agreed at Doha reflects the priorities of developing countries, as much as it does developed economies.
This is only natural, given both the numbers, and increasingly the share of global trade, of developing countries in the WTO.
Those priorities include:
• Capacity-building – help from developed countries – so that developing countries can participate in the multilateral trading system;
• Special and differential treatment that acknowledges the status and needs of developing countries;
• Removal of trade-distorting measures – such as export subsidies – in developed countries, especially in agriculture.
In short, there is much at stake in this round for developing countries.
On 24 June 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release in relation to the Doha round of negotiations. Extracts from the release follow:
Trade Minister Mark Vaile said the prospects for success in the Doha round to liberalise global trade, particularly in agriculture, required a clear indication from the European Union this week that it is willing to embark on a meaningful reform process.
“The level of reform the EU is seeking, while modest, is a step in the right direction. It is essential that the reforms lead to the EU tabling a new and improved initial offer on agriculture. The rest of the world can’t be held hostage to the EU’s modest internal reform processes,” Mr Vaile said.
The WTO is working towards the full Ministerial Conference at Cancun, Mexico, in September. Ahead of the Cancun meeting, trade ministers of key WTO countries will have a final opportunity to seek to bridge differences at a final informal ministerial meeting in Montreal in July.
“All parties to the negotiations, both developed and developing, need to work together to move the issues forward. There was a useful and frank exchange at the meeting on issues of particular importance to developing countries, such as access to medicines and special and differential treatment. I am hopeful that these issues can be further progressed ahead of the Ministerial meeting at Cancun in September.”
On 31 August 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release in relation to developing countries’ access to medicines. Extracts from that release follow:
Trade Minister Mark Vaile today welcomed the breakthrough achieved in Geneva last night in World Trade Organization talks on enabling poorer countries better access to affordable pharmaceuticals.
“As the WTO Director General Supachai Panitchpakdi has noted, this is an historic agreement. It is a further demonstration that the WTO is able to respond to the public health problems faced by developing countries, and to make its contribution to broader domestic and global action to address this crucial social issue,” Mr Vaile said.
The decision will enable poor countries which lack manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector to make use of so-called compulsory licensing, which allows production of a patented pharmaceutical product without the consent of the patent holder under certain circumstances. It follows on from the declaration on intellectual property and public health that was adopted at the WTO Doha Ministerial meeting in November 2001, which reinforced the existing flexibilities under WTO intellectual property rules that can assist developing countries to access cheaper medicines.
Mr Vaile said that this was an important breakthrough for those poorer countries facing serious public health problems.
“I have consistently said, particularly since the Sydney WTO informal ministerial meeting in November last year, that all WTO member countries had a moral obligation to resolve this issue. The problems poorer countries face in dealing with ravaging diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are immense. After many months of work, all WTO members have agreed an outcome that will allow these countries better access to affordable medicines.”
On 1 April 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release in relation to Australia’s Initial Offer in Services Trade Negotiations. Extracts from that release follow:
Australia has submitted its initial offer under the World Trade Organisation services trade negotiations in Geneva, Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today.
“Australia’s offer aims to support our exporters and to encourage our trading partners to be forthcoming on services trade liberalisation. Australian services exporters will receive significant benefits in world markets if services negotiations in the WTO succeed,” Mr Vaile said.
“The offer covers elements of financial services, telecommunications, computer services, legal services, mining services, environmental services, landscape architectural services, maritime transport services, and air transport (ground handling) services.
“These are all priority sectors for Australian exporters during these negotiations.
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. An extract from the statement relating to human rights generally follows:
Recognition by governments of the inherent dignity and the inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace. Australia is committed to engaging with all governments to achieve these goals through the promotion of their necessary preconditions – democracy, good governance and the rule of law. We commend those countries that have been able to implement concrete improvements at the national level. We must continue to work together to ensure the protection and promotion everywhere of these universal human rights principles.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. An extract from that statement follows:
In a troubled world, Australia stands by the principle set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”. Australia is committed to working cooperatively with governments around the world to promote democracy, good governance and the rule of law, which history has shown are the necessary preconditions for the enjoyment of human rights. We commend those countries that have been able to make tangible improvements in human rights, and urge all governments to strive to find ways to advance the human rights of their people.
On 16 April 2003, Ms Amanda Gorely, Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, delivered a statement to the 59th Session of the Commission on Human Rights concerning the promotion and protection of human rights. An extract from that statement follows:
Around the world, governments and people alike have come to understand that the quality of governance has a profound impact on the enjoyment of human rights. This includes economic, social and cultural rights on the one hand, and civil and political rights, on the other. Good governance is equally important in both the economic and political realms. This reflects the fact that economic success and development depend in large measure on the quality of governance. Sustained growth and poverty reduction has been achieved by countries that have taken steps to improve their policies, institutions and systems of governance.
Acceptance of the importance of good governance by the international community was manifested by the unanimous support for the resolution on good governance at the last two sessions of CHR. While noting that good governance varies according to the needs and circumstances of different societies, the resolutions emphasise that strengthening good governance at the national level, including through the building of effective and accountable institutions which will promote growth and sustainable development, is essential for all governments regardless of the level of economic development.
Australia seeks to promote good governance internationally. Our engagement with partner countries on good governance means supporting a country’s own efforts to grapple with what are culturally appropriate approaches to good governance issues. We provide practical assistance towards institution and capacity building, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.
Australia’s fundamental approach to promoting human rights is founded on the belief that constructive, cooperative dialogue, linked to practical technical assistance, is the most effective way of bringing about real changes to the lives of people. Australia currently has three formal human rights dialogues – with China, Vietnam and Iran – and also engages other countries within our region in informal dialogues – such as our human rights initiative in Burma. Through the open exchange of ideas and information that these dialogues facilitate, Australia seeks to promote the development of accountable and transparent political, judicial, and other institutions.
Australia has been actively supporting human rights and good governance through the United Nations. We have provided financial support for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to continue work on establishing and promoting national human rights institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia has and will continue to sponsor a number of resolutions, both here at CHR and at UNGA, emphasising the need for transparent, participatory and accountable governments, responsive to the needs and aspirations of their people, as the foundation on which good governance rests.
On 3 April 2003, a response to the report of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on its mission to Australia was delivered by HE Mr Mike Smith to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Australian Government has expressed its disappointment with the Working Group’s report on immigration detention in Australia.
Australia was offered a very short period of time – a week in which to provide comment on the report and this was only, we understand, after it had been adopted by the Working Group around two months earlier. The Australian Government provided extensive comments; however, the Working Group was not prepared to alter the report in the light of them. In doing this, it acknowledged that this might well have resulted in factual errors remaining uncorrected. Australia believes it is incumbent on United Nations bodies, such as the Working Group, not to knowingly perpetuate such inaccuracies. Had the Working Group allowed more time for consultation and been more prepared to correct these inaccuracies, it may have led to a report which has more credibility than the one presented today.
The Working Group may wish to re-examine its consultative processes with the states it visits in order to minimise inaccuracies or misrepresentations of policy or legal issues.
The Australian Government takes its international obligations very seriously and our approach to immigration detention is not inconsistent with them.
Australia has a long and distinguished history of migration and an enviable record in welcoming not only migrants seeking economic improvement and family reunification, but also refugees and others in humanitarian need. Australia remains firmly committed to this and in 2002-2003 we will receive the largest annual migration program for a decade. Our success as a migration country is built on community recognition of the value of migrants to Australia and on the integrity of the program. Immigration detention is one element underpinning this integrity. It assists in maintaining the Australian community’s faith that our borders are controlled, that we are able to determine who is attempting to enter Australia, and that we have the capacity to respond to those in greatest need.
Australia does not detain asylum seekers; it detains people who arrive without legal authority. In fact, most asylum seekers are not detained. Detention allows appropriate identity, character, health and security checks to be undertaken. It also ensures that people are available while any request to stay in Australia is assessed and for removal should they be found to have no legal authority to remain. Where a detainee makes an asylum request, every effort is made to ensure a quick and thorough assessment of claims. If a person who has been detained temporarily is found to engage Australia’s protection obligations he or she is released promptly.
Australia’s detention of unauthorised arrivals is not arbitrary, nor is it indefinite. Detention occurs within a clear legal framework and is administered in accordance with a publicly available set of standards. It is time limited by specific events. The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs is able to release a person from detention in certain circumstances. Alternative detention arrangements outside an immigration detention centre are also used when circumstances warrant, particularly for women and children and unaccompanied minors.
Detainees can and do challenge the lawfulness of their detention before Australian courts, and there have been cases where the courts have ordered the release of detainees on the grounds that their continued detention would not be lawful. Detention is also subject to scrutiny by the Australian Parliament, independent bodies such as the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, and other bodies, such as the Immigration Detention Advisory Group.
Detainees can make complaints regarding their treatment and have them considered independently. They are provided with information on how to do this. They can also access United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Red Cross or consular staff if they so wish. Detainees are provided with access to legal advice on request. Legal aid is available in certain circumstances for detainees to challenge the legal basis of detention and detainees may also seek separate, privately funded, legal advice. All protection visa applicants in immigration detention are provided with publicly-funded assistance to prepare, lodge and present their initial applications for protection and, if required, their applications for merits review. The providers of this assistance are fully trained and registered migration agents and the majority of them are lawyers. Access to translation and interpreting services is also provided.
The Government has invested substantially in ensuring that the physical conditions and the services available within detention centres are of a high standard. A significant investment has also been made to ensure that detention centre staff treat detainees with respect and dignity.
On 10 April 2003, HE Mr Mike Smith, Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, on behalf of Australia, delivered a statement concerning the rights of the child to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Extracts from that statement follow:
Millions of children throughout the world continue to live in poverty stricken conditions, and experience daily a lack of adequate food, shelter and access to health and education facilities. The continued subjection of children to the worst forms of child labour, sexual and other physical abuse and exploitation, and their use and abuse in armed conflict shows us how far we still have to go. We need to take action together to protect and support child rights, including through helping each other.
Development cooperation programmes benefit children through poverty reduction – aiming to improve access to the basic health, nutrition and educational services that every child needs to survive and thrive.
Australia has contributed generously to activities addressing the needs of children in the Asia Pacific region, supporting initiatives to address the needs of children in humanitarian emergencies, street children, families separated by conflict and the problem of the trafficking of women and children.
It is our responsibility to ensure a better future for today’s children and that the human rights of all children and young people are promoted and fully protected. Our countries believe this is a profound responsibility and look forward to continuing to work with UN bodies, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and with other countries to develop and implement further effective measures to improve the situation of children.
On 8 October 2003, the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, done at Geneva on 17 June 1999, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
The Convention … commits ratifying ILO member States to take immediate and effective measures to secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including slavery, trafficking, involvement in prostitution and pornography, and a range of other hazardous and exploitative activities. The Convention applies to all persons under 18 years of age.
Ratification of the Convention would be consistent with Australia’s policy positions on the protection of universal human rights, and would demonstrate to the world Australia’s abhorrence of the worst forms of child labour and commitment to their eradication.
During the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, on 10 April 2003, Mr Gerry McGuire, Representative of Australia, delivered a statement concerning the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Australian delegation supports efforts to better recognise, protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the world and believes that the International Decade is an important means to this end.
The inaugural meeting of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2002 was a significant event. Indigenous peoples now have an effective representative body of their own within the UN, which will allow their voices to be heard. Australia anticipates that the Permanent Forum will play a valuable role in coordinating UN activity on Indigenous issues, ensuring that the interests of Indigenous peoples can be integrated into the broader UN agenda.
Australia believes that states should support appropriate measures that will allow the Permanent Forum to function effectively and take forward its mandate. In this regard, Australia welcomes the establishment in January 2003 of a Secretariat to the Permanent Forum within the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. This is an important practical step towards addressing the needs of Indigenous peoples through the offices of the Permanent Forum. We hope that the Secretariat will be adequately funded to assist the Forum to discharge its mandate.
Another key focus of the Decade has been the elaboration of a Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (DDRIP). Australia recognises the critical importance accorded by many of the world’s Indigenous peoples to an instrument articulating their human rights and is an active participant in this process.
Australia commends the efforts of all parties to date in compiling the DDRIP and reiterates its commitment to an agreed international articulation of the rights of Indigenous peoples. However, we recognise that many States have expressed concerns about significant parts of the DDRIP text as drafted by the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP). In light of the limited time-frame for the continuation of the DDRIP Working Group, Australia believes that all parties involved in discussions on the draft should intensify their efforts to agree on a final text before the end of the Decade in 2004.
Australia’s support for the activities of the Indigenous Decade is based on our strong interest in ensuring member states, and the UN
protect and promote the rights of Indigenous peoples. At the same time, we have pursued diplomatic initiatives as part of a broader commitment to treaty body reform and a practical and workable international human rights
committee system. We firmly believe all UN mechanisms, including those dealing with Indigenous issues, need to be effective and efficient.
In this context, we remain concerned with the clear overlap between various existing UN bodies dealing with Indigenous issues. At a time when the budgetary situation is tight, these mechanisms need to be streamlined. Australia, therefore, supports the review of UN Indigenous mechanisms as mandated by ECOSOC with a view to rationalising activities, avoiding duplication and promoting effectiveness.
Australia appreciates the contributions made to the area of Indigenous rights by the WGIP since its inception in 1982. However, in light of the establishment of the Permanent Forum, the continuing work on the DDRIP, and the decision to create a new Special Rapporteur on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous people, Australia is confident that the WGIP is no longer needed and that the work originally undertaken by it can be continued, with increased coordination, elsewhere within the UN.
On 25 November 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the Australian periodic report under the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. The text of the release follows:
I have today tabled Australia’s latest report under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Convention in Parliament. The report will be lodged today with the United Nations in Geneva.
The report focuses on developments since the last reporting period, which ended in June 1998 and addresses issues raised by the CERD Committee during its consideration of Australia‘s 10th, 11th and 12th Reports in March 2000. It updates the Committee on reform of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC), human rights education, reconciliation, Indigenous disadvantage, land rights and native title, Indigenous criminal justice, citizenship, and multiculturalism in Australia.
Australia takes its obligations under the Convention seriously and is committed to the effective operation of both the Convention and the Committee.
The Government launched its treaty body reform initiative in 2001 to improve the operation of the Treaty Body Committees and to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights. With 1400 reports overdue in the UN human rights treaty body system, we have paid particular attention to streamline reporting to the treaty bodies.
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. An extract in relation to the human rights situation in Afghanistan follows:
We note that progress in improving the situation of all citizens of Afghanistan, but particularly the position of women, has been patchy. Australia urges the Transitional Administration to address the human rights of women as a matter of priority. While we recognise that this is difficult and sensitive, it must be done.
On 5 March 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the appointment of Australia’s Ambassador to Burma. An extract from this release relating to the human rights training in Burma follows:
In the area of human rights, the Government’s Human Rights Initiative is being expanded in 2003. The Government will undertake a three-year program in Burma focused on practical approaches to human rights issues and the rights of women and children in particular. Given Burma’s severe humanitarian situation, Australia has also taken an active role in providing humanitarian assistance, particularly on health problems.
On 2 June 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the detention of Burmese National League for Democracy leaders. An extract from the release follows:
I am very concerned that Aung San Suu Kyi has been taken into custody, along with other senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD), and that the NLD’s headquarters have been closed. These actions were taken by the Burmese authorities ostensibly in response to incidents which occurred last Friday in northern Burma.
There can be no justification for the continued detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and her supporters and I urge that they be released immediately.
On 11 August 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question on notice in the House of Representatives in relation to ‘constructive engagement’ with Burma. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
The Government’s approach to relations with Burma is grounded in an assessment of the national interest, and takes into account Burma’s location in the South-East Asian region and its membership of the Association of South-East Asian Nations; Burma’s role as a major source of illegal drugs entering Australia; the serious humanitarian problems affecting Burma’s population, in particular vulnerable groups such as women and children; and the lack of respect for human rights in Burma. We will continue to use all opportunities to call for progress in political reconciliation, democratic reform and greater respect for human rights. Activities under the Government’s Human Rights Initiative have been deferred; nevertheless, we will continue to seek opportunities to promote awareness, and observance, of internationally-respected human rights standards in Burma. We will continue to provide assistance aimed at alleviating the humanitarian situation in Burma.
Along with other members of the international community, Australia wishes to see a Burma which is stable, democratic and prosperous, where human rights are respected.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. Extracts from the statement relating to Burma follow:
Events in Burma this year have deepened our concerns about the lack of progress in improving its very serious human rights situation.
Restrictions on citizens’ freedom of association, assembly and expression should be lifted. Australia also urges the government to take concrete steps towards national reconciliation. We note the government’s seven point roadmap for elections but see the need for an implementation timeline. We renew our support for the work of the Special Envoy, Tan Sri Razali Ismail. Australia continues to be particularly concerned about the use of forced labour and child soldiers in Burma.
On 19 March 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the establishment of a tribunal in Cambodia for the prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders. The text from the release follows:
I welcome the announcement that the Cambodian Government and the United Nations have reached agreement on the terms for a tribunal to try Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocities committed between 1975 and 1979. The negotiated text requires endorsement by the UN General Assembly and I urge member countries to support it.
This is a significant step forward in helping to close the chapter on one of the darkest eras of recent history.
Australia has strongly supported the formation of a credible UN-sponsored Khmer Rouge Tribunal. We were at the forefront of international efforts to restart negotiations between Cambodia and the United Nations following the United Nations’ withdrawal in February 2002.
The Australian Government provided $266,000 to fund research and policy advice to foster the Khmer Rouge Tribunal process. Australia will also provide assistance to a Khmer Rouge Tribunal once it is established.
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. An extract from the statement relating to the human rights situation in China follows:
We acknowledge China‘s efforts to build greater transparency and accountability into its legal and administrative systems. We also acknowledge China’s progress in recognising social and cultural rights. But we are concerned by action in the judicial system against individuals and groups exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly. We are deeply concerned that many have been charged with terrorism for exercising those rights. We particularly urge China to ensure the rights of its ethnic minorities, including the Uighurs and Tibetans. Australia believes that its bilateral dialogue with China is the most effective way to deal with differences over human rights, and that it can achieve more.
On 28 July 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the seventh round of the bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with China. Extracts from the release follow:
Australian officials will today attend the seventh round of our annual Human-Rights Dialogue with China.
The talks in Beijing will cover judicial administration, civil and political freedoms, the rights of women and children and the treatment of Falun Gong members and other disadvantaged groups in China. We will also raise individual cases of concern.
Another item on the agenda will be the Australian Government’s concerns about the human rights situation in Tibet. Following the talks, the delegation will visit Lhasa to express these concerns directly to the Tibetan authorities and to investigate the human rights situation on the ground.
Australia is confident that this year’s dialogue will again be frank and constructive, demonstrating both countries’ commitment to the talks and the overall strength of our bilateral ties.
On 11 August 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question on notice concerning the United Nations Human Rights Commission’s resolution on Cuba. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
People have been arrested and sentenced under that part of the Cuban penal code that protects the political system. Australia shares others’ concerns about the state of human rights and political freedoms in Cuba and has co-sponsored various UN resolutions condemning Cuba’s human rights record. Australia’s vote in favour of the proposed Costa Rican amendment to this year’s CHR resolution on Cuba reflected our concern about the state of human rights in Cuba
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. An extract from the statement relating to the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea follows:
The human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea gives cause for serious concern. Australia welcomes increased efforts by the DPRK to provide reports to this Commission on the Conventions on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Rights of the Child, and the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. We urge the DPRK to engage more fully with the international community as Australia believes dialogue on human rights is the most effective way to deal with differing perspectives.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. An extract from the statement in relation to Indonesia follows:
Indonesia continues to face challenges in building a civil society with democratic institutions while confronting the problems of terrorism and separatism. Commitment to economic, legal, administrative and military reforms aimed at creating effective civil governance is vital for security and prosperity in all countries. Australia acknowledges that Indonesia has a right to deal with groups which use violent means to pursue political goals, but urges Indonesia to keep open channels for further dialogue with separatist movements and respect the human rights of all Indonesian citizens. Australia believes that the best prospect for a sustainable solution to separatism in Aceh and Papua lies in effective and speedy implementation of the agreed terms of special autonomy within a united Indonesia. We continue to urge Indonesia to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor and to cooperate with justice processes underway in East Timor.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. An extract from that statement in relation to the human rights situation in Iran follows:
Australia supports the efforts of President Khatami and others to promote the rule of law and protect human rights and freedoms in Iran. We welcome the human rights dialogues which have been established with us and the European Union and Iran’s acceptance of visits by UN special rapporteurs and working groups. We welcome the release earlier this year of the remaining Iranian Jews convicted of espionage. And we congratulate Shirin Ebadi on being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Ms Ebadi has been a tireless advocate of human rights in Iran. We hope this award will give further encouragement to all those in Iran working for the promotion and protection of human rights. However, we remain concerned at violations of due process in the judicial system. Attempts to suppress freedom of the press and heavy-handed response to public demonstrations are also unacceptable. The case of Ms Zahra Kazemi is of particular concern. While we welcome the Government’s prompt investigations of this matter we will be looking for greater transparency in the follow-up processes. We urge Iran to reform its judiciary and do more to uphold the religious and cultural rights of minorities, including the Baha’i and Jewish communities.
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. An extract from that statement in relation to Iraq follows:
Egregious human rights violations have been the hallmark of Saddam Hussein’s regime for the past quarter-century. This regime has ruthlessly attacked its own people with chemical weapons. This regime has tortured, brutalised and de-humanised its own people, particularly its minorities. Successive Australian governments have voiced their deep concern over the years, including through regularly co-sponsoring resolutions condemning Iraqi human rights abuses in this forum and in the United Nations. Australia has been, and is, committed to securing a future where the Iraqi people can live without fear and embrace freedom, justice and peace.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. Extracts from the statement concerning human rights issues stemming from the conflict in the Middle East follow:
Australia urges Israel and the Palestinian Authority to implement the Quartet’s Roadmap to Middle East peace. The tragic loss of life and injury has gone on for far too long. There must be an end to the terrible suicide bombings and we have been appalled by the rising death toll of innocent civilians on both sides. The recent increase in violence underscores the necessity of a return to the Roadmap. Israel and the Palestinian Authority must resume cooperation in order to end the violence and realise the Roadmap’s goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognised borders.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. An extract relating to the human rights situation in Nigeria follows:
Australia welcomes a Nigerian state court decision on 25 September to acquit Amina Lawal who had been sentenced to death by stoning following her conviction on adultery charges under Islamic criminal law. Australia opposes capital punishment and regards death by stoning as a cruel, inhumane and degrading form of punishment. We call on Nigeria to continue to ensure its judicial processes conform to international human rights standards that outlaw such forms of punishment.
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. An extract in relation to the human rights in Sri Lanka follows:
Australia welcomes developments in the South Asian region, in particular the ceasefire agreements in Sri Lanka. … Australia welcomes progress during the subsequent rounds of peace talks between the Government and the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]. We hope these advances are matched by developments on the ground. Australia is concerned by reports that the LTTE still recruits child soldiers and welcomes UNICEF’s work on this key issue. We urge all parties in Sri Lanka … to avoid human rights abuses and negotiate in good faith towards durable peace settlements.
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. An extract relating to human rights in Sudan follows:
While encouraged by on-going peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army), Australia is concerned by the situation in Sudan. We urge Sudan to cooperate fully with international agencies and humanitarian organisations to alleviate the suffering caused by the prolonged civil war.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. An extract relating to Uganda follows:
Australia is very concerned by the continued deplorable treatment of children by the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda. In spite of a ceasefire announced in March, the LRA continues to abduct children to fight its war, forcing them to commit atrocities against other civilians. We urge the LRA to cease immediately its child abductions and the Ugandan Government to continue efforts to bring this awful conflict to an end.
On 31 March 2003, a statement on the violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms in any part of the world was delivered to the 59th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for the Australian Delegation by HE Mr Mike Smith. Extracts from the statement in relation to Zimbabwe follow:
We condemn the shocking violence perpetrated by the Mugabe regime against the opposition and civil society, including the beating of children and the sexual assault of women by soldiers. We condemn the use of violence and intimidation as a tactic in election campaigns, and the distribution of scarce food supplies in favour of supporters of the ruling party. Australia calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to address its overwhelming political, economic and humanitarian problems.
On 10 November 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement on human rights questions to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. An extract from the statement relating to the human rights situation in Zimbabwe follows:
Australia remains gravely concerned over sustained human rights abuses occurring in Zimbabwe. The Mugabe regime continues to harass, intimidate, and physically attack those that oppose it, in particular supporters of the Movement for Democratic Change, the legitimate and legally-constituted opposition party. Repressive and anti-free speech legislation remains on the books, supporting the regime’s expanding efforts to stifle all public dissent, including the September 2003 forced closure of the country’s only independent newspaper and frequent Mugabe critic. The Government’s policies continue to impoverish the people of Zimbabwe, half of whom are now in need of food handouts. Australia calls on the Mugabe Government to heed the calls from inside and outside Zimbabwe to begin genuine political dialogue with the opposition and establish a framework for political reconciliation and economic recovery, and to return to democratic values.
On 5 March 2003, the Honourable Jackie Kelly MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, delivered Australia’s statement to the Commission on the Status of Women. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Australian Delegation looks forward to opportunities to help build stronger cooperation so that together we can continue to achieve real improvements in the lives of women and girls around the world.
Australia is very concerned about the continuing escalation of trafficking against women and girls around the world, and continues to support international, regional and national efforts to tackle this serious crime. Last year, Australia co-hosted with Indonesia a regional ministerial conference on people smuggling and trafficking in persons in Bali. The Government also funds a range of anti-trafficking projects including one that provides information exchanges for early warning systems and the apprehension and prosecution of traffickers in Asia.
Australia will continue to support efforts aimed at ensuring that women in Australia and around the world have the adequate protection and support to give them access to the full range of opportunities and choices in today’s world.
The Australian Government recognises that there are still many challenges ahead, particularly in regard to violence in the lives of women and girls and other human rights violations. Much more needs to be done to eradicate and better respond to these crimes that are a daily reality around the world – trafficking, female genital mutilation, gender-based persecution particularly during armed conflicts, “so called” honour crimes, domestic violence and sexual assault.
On 29 October 2003, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, HE Mr John Dauth, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council on women, peace and security. Extracts from the statement follow:
Despite international efforts, violence against women in situations of armed conflict continues. Women and girls remain overwhelmingly the main victims of armed conflict.
During times of conflict, women and girls are also especially vulnerable to sexual crimes such as systematic rape, forced pregnancy and sterilisation, sexual slavery and abuse. People trafficking – a crime usually involving women and girls – is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world today, and often occurs as a direct result of conflict. Eradicating violence, and the effects of violence, against women in conflict and post conflict situations requires determined and continuous efforts from the international community.
Women continue to be significantly under-represented in peace-building, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction despite Resolution 1325’s acknowledgement of their important role in these areas.
Australia remains committed to the sustainable implementation of Resolution 1325. We commend the significant first steps that have been taken toward this objective, including through the appointment of a Gender Adviser in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the development of gender action plans in the Department for Disarmament Affairs and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
On 21 January 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release announcing Australia’s election as Vice-Chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The full text of the release follows:
I am pleased to announce that Australia yesterday was elected as a Vice-Chair of this year’s session of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).
I intend to use our membership of CHR, and particularly our position as Vice-Chair, to advance the Government’s initiative on reform of the human rights treaty bodies. Another priority during our membership will be to improve the functioning of CHR itself. We will encourage an atmosphere at CHR in which issues of serious concern can be discussed fully. We will continue to focus on practical measures to promote and protect human rights on the ground. Capacity building will be an important part of this. Specifically, we will continue to promote good governance and the development and maintenance of effective national human rights institutions.
We have for some time been concerned with the growing politicisation of CHR. In particular, we are concerned at the number of issues being put to a vote. This is divisive and does nothing to improve the human rights situation on the ground. We will work hard to encourage a return to consensus as the primary means of decision-making. This will maximise the CHR’s effectiveness in addressing human rights concerns and contributing to the development and implementation of human rights.
On 21 October 2003, Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, addressed the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Sixth Committee on the International Convention against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings. Extracts from that statement follow:
Australia continues to support the elaboration of a Convention Against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings, and welcomes this further opportunity to discuss the appropriate scope of such a convention.
Australia supports the urgent development of a convention to institute an international ban on human reproductive cloning. My delegation is concerned that attempts to develop a convention to ban all forms of human cloning at once may in fact delay a ban on human reproductive cloning. Australia will therefore support proposals for a convention which would ban human reproductive cloning as soon as possible, but which leave some flexibility concerning other forms of human cloning.
The Belgian draft resolution would allow an early international ban on human reproductive cloning. It would also allow States to support proposals for a ban or moratorium on, or strict regulation of, other forms of human cloning, while leaving some flexibility as to the exact manner in which that is done. In Australia’s case, this flexibility would allow us to take account of any recommendations which may arise from the review of our Act.
Australia would prefer an international consensus on this issue. In our view, there is little to be gained from a vote on the question of a mandate to commence negotiations on an international instrument to address human cloning. However, should this eventuate, Australia has a preference at this stage for the Belgian proposal. But we urge all States to continue to work together to find a mutually acceptable solution.
On 14 May 2003, the International Labour Organization Conventions No 83: Labour Standards (Non-Metropolitan Territories) Convention 1947, No 85: Labour Inspectorates (Non-Metropolitan Territories) Convention 1947, and No 86: Contracts of Employment (Indigenous Workers) Convention 1947, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The proposed binding treaty action is denunciation of the three International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions listed above. The denunciations will take effect within the relevant twelve month window of opportunity for each Convention (commencing 15 June 2004 for Convention No. 83; 26 July 2005 for Convention No. 85 and 13 February 2003 for Convention No. 86).
It would be appropriate for Australia to denounce Conventions No. 85 and No. 86 as they have been declared “not applicable” to Norfolk Island by the Australian Government after consultations with the Government of Norfolk Island (Norfolk Island was the only Australian territory to which they could have been applied). Therefore, the ILO does not require Australia to report on their implementation. Convention No. 83 lacks wide support (it has only been ratified by Australia and the United Kingdom out of the ILO’s 175 member States) and the ILO no longer promotes its ratification. By denouncing these Conventions Australia will indicate to the world community that it no longer supports the retention of these Conventions in the international labour code.
Australia has taken the view in recent years that it should not remain party to outdated ILO Conventions. This is in accordance with a proposed amendment to the ILO Constitution adopted in 1997, which will allow the abrogation or repeal of any ILO Convention that had “lost its purpose” or that “no longer made a useful contribution” to attaining ILO objectives. Australia formally accepted this amendment on 11 October 2001, but it has not yet received a sufficient number of acceptances to come into effect.
On 9 September 2003, the International Labour Organization Convention No 155: Occupational Safety and Health, 1981, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Convention provides that each member State shall formulate, implement and periodically review a coherent national policy on occupational safety and health in the working environment. It provides that such a policy shall be formulated after consultation with the most representative organisations of employers and workers. The objective of the policy shall be to prevent accidents and injury to health arising out of, linked with or occurring in the course of work by minimising, as far as possible, the causes of hazards inherent in the working environment.
Ratification of the Convention at this time demonstrates Australia’s commitment to occupational health and safety in international forums. Even without ratification Australia is still one of the leaders in occupational health and safety performance as compared with other countries that have ratified the Convention. Ratification of the Convention evidences acknowledgement at the highest levels of government Australia’s commitment to the workplace health and safety of Australians. Ratification further indicates Australia’s determination to improve occupational health and safety outcomes and achieve the targets set, with the agreement of the States and Territories, business and unions, in the National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 2002-2012.
On 2 December 2003, an exchange of letters constituting an Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Italian Republic on the Civil Registry Documentation to be Submitted by Australian Citizens Wishing to Marry in Italy, done at Rome on 10 February and 11 April 2000, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
Under Article 116 of the Italian Civil Code, Australians wishing to marry in Italy must produce a statement from the Australian Government that there are no impediments to the marriage under Australian law. There is no agency in Australia that can provide such a statement. The Agreement therefore sets up an alternative system for Australians based on the submission of appropriate declarations by the Australian wishing to marry in Italy.
The purpose of the action is to make it simpler for Australians who wish to marry in Italy. It will also reduce the workload of the Australian embassy in Rome in dealing with the relevant Italian authorities.
On 17 June 2003, the Agreement on Medical Treatment for Temporary Visitors between the Government of the Australia and the Government of the Kingdom of Norway, done at Canberra on 28 March 2003, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
This Agreement provides residents of either country with reciprocal access to the public health system of the other country for any immediately necessary treatment that is required before returning home. It contributes to a safer travel environment for Australians visiting Norway by giving them access to immediate and necessary health care, which covers the traveller for pharmaceuticals, public hospital, and “out-of-hospital care”.
In particular, this Agreement:
• assists persons with pre-existing medical conditions who are perfectly fit to travel overseas but are unable to obtain travel insurance to cover their health needs;
• assists the aged who find it difficult to obtain travel insurance to cover their health needs;
• creates a safer environment for tourists, working holiday-makers and business people, which in turn strengthens ties between the two countries; and
• promotes goodwill by creating a welcoming environment for all visitors.
On 14 May 2003, the Agreement on Social Security between Australia and the Kingdom of Belgium, done at Canberra on 20 November 2002, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
The Agreement will bring economic and political benefits to Australia. It will assist in maximising the foreign income of Australian residents and there will be a flow-on effect of these funds into the Australian economy. The Agreement will also reinforce Australia’s political, business and strategic interests. The Agreement will further strengthen bilateral relations between Australia and Belgium and provide choices in retirement for individuals who have migrated (or who will migrate) between Australia and Belgium during their working lives.
The Agreement provides for enhanced access to certain Australian and Belgian social security benefits and guaranteed portability of these benefits between the countries. Portability of benefits allows for the payment of a benefit from one country into another country. This is an underlying principle of Australia’s bilateral agreements on social security where the responsibility for providing benefits is shared. Under the Agreement, residents of Australia and Belgium will be able to move between Australia and Belgium with the knowledge that their right to benefits is recognised in both countries.
For Australia, the Agreement will cover age pensions and disability support pensions for people who are severely disabled. For Belgium, the Agreement will cover old-age pensions, invalidity pensions and survivors’ pensions.
The Agreement provides that both countries will share the financial responsibility for providing these benefits. This means that individuals may be eligible for benefits from both countries if they meet certain eligibility criteria and they have lived and/or worked in both countries during their working lives. Residents of Australia and Belgium will be able to move between Australia and Belgium knowing that their right to benefits is recognised in both countries and that each country will contribute fairly to support those who have spent part of their working lives in both countries.
[Editors note: the above extracts are also common to the following Agreements:
• the Agreement on Social Security between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Chile, done at Canberra on 25 March 2003, tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 14 May 2003;
• Agreement between Australia and the Republic of Croatia on Social Security, done at Zagreb on 13 May 2003, tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 17 June 2003; and
• the Agreement on Social Security between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, done at Vienna on 19 December 2002, tabled in both Houses of Parliament on 14 May 2003.]
On 12 August 2003, the agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium on ‘Working Holiday’ Arrangements, done at Canberra on 20 November 2002, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Agreement will allow eligible Australian and Belgian nationals to remain in the territory of the other country for the purpose of holidaying and – if they wish – to work, subject to certain conditions. This is expected to increase travel between the two countries for the purposes of holidaying.
Under the Agreement, Australian and Belgian nationals aged between 18 and 30 years may stay in the territory of the other country for the purpose of holidaying for a period of up to twelve months. During that period they are able to seek work to augment their financial resources if that work remains incidental to their holiday. In Australia, Belgian nationals may work for up to three months with one employer. Working holiday makers must abide by the laws of both Australia and Belgium and Belgians holidaying in Australia must meet health and public interest requirements.
Australia’s program of bilateral arrangements regarding working holiday makers (the WHM Program) enhances the cultural and social development of young people, promotes mutual understanding between Australia and other nations and is an important part of the tourist industry. It is not possible to estimate reliably the increase in the number of working holiday makers who will travel between Australia and Belgium due to the Agreement. Nonetheless, the Agreement is expected to be a substantial addition to the WHM Program.
Working holiday makers have a positive effect on the Australian economy. It is estimated that they spend around $1.3 billion annually. A recent study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research of the University of Melbourne showed that about 8,000 effective full year jobs are created by the annual intake of 80,000 working holiday makers. It is hoped that after a few years of operation the number of Belgian Working Holiday Makers coming to Australia under the Agreement will be approaching 1,000 a year.
On 24 November 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Immigration, Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Senator Amanda Vanstone, issued a joint press release concerning the signing of Working Holiday Maker Agreement with France. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia has today signed a Working Holiday Maker agreement with France opening up new opportunities for young Australians to experience the French lifestyle and culture.
The program provides young Australians with a chance to gain valuable skills overseas, thereby increasing Australia’s competitiveness in the global market. And it encourages young people from France to come to Australia on working holidays.
France is the 17th country to join Australia’s reciprocal scheme administered by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
The program boosts tourism to Australia and benefits industries that rely heavily on casual labour at peak times, especially the hospitality, horticultural and rural industries.
France‘s inclusion in the program underlines the close relationship between the two countries and creates exciting opportunities for young Australians and young French people to experience each other’s culture.
More than 88,750 visas were issued under the scheme last year.
Under the arrangement between Australia and France, people aged between 18 and 30 can apply for working holiday visas for up to 12 months. Work undertaken in Australia must be incidental to the main purpose of holidaying and employment for more than three months with any one employer is not allowed.
On 12 August 2003, the Agreement between Australia and the Kingdom of Belgium on the Gainful Employment of Certain Dependants of Diplomatic and Consular Personnel, done at Sydney on 19 November 2002, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
The Agreement is in the National Interest because it will assist in enabling the highest quality of official representation in Belgium by Australia and in Australia by Belgium.
Under the Agreement the spouse and certain other family members of Australian diplomatic and consular officials serving in Belgium, and of Belgian diplomatic and consular officials serving in Australia, may engage in gainful employment for the duration of the officer’s assignment in the receiving State.
In order to encourage other States to provide employment opportunities to spouses and family members of Australian officials serving overseas, the Australian Government offers reciprocal opportunities to dependants of foreign officials. These reciprocal arrangements benefit Australia by encouraging high quality foreign representation in – and by – Australia. The lack of opportunity for spouses and family members of diplomatic and consular officials to engage in gainful employment is a significant disincentive for officers to serve in particular countries. It is in Australia’s interest to limit such disincentives to enable the Government to have the best possible representation overseas. The Australian Government also has an interest as an employer in assisting its employees to balance their work and family responsibilities.
On 29 October 2003, Ms Nicola Loffler, delivered a statement for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 58th Session on the Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its 55th session: Chapter V: Diplomatic Protection. An extract from the statement follows:
In respect of Diplomatic Protection, Australia welcomes the work of the Professor John Dugard as Special Rapporteur, and thanks him for his fourth report on diplomatic protection. As expected, the report on diplomatic protection contains a wealth of detailed and scholarly analysis focusing on the complex issue of the diplomatic protection of legal persons.
Australia supports the Special Rapporteur’s approach to the difficult task of formulating workable rules on the subject of diplomatic protection of corporations and of shareholders in such corporations. We note in this regard that draft articles 17-19 prepared by the Commission, with the assistance of the open-ended Working Group, endorse the primary rule expounded by the International Court of Justice in the Barcelona Traction case, and certain exceptions to the rule which reflect the realities of foreign investment.
Australia would like also to offer comments on a matter on which the Commission has sought guidance from States. With respect to the issue of the diplomatic protection of members of a ship’s crew by the flag State, we reiterate our support for the exclusion from the scope of the draft articles a right of the flag State to bring a claim on behalf of the crew or passengers. As Australia has stated previously, we believe that this issue is covered adequately by the law of the sea, including relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
On 13 May 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a joint press release announcing the re-opening of the Australian Mission in Baghdad. An extract from the release follows:
We are pleased to announce the re-establishment of an Australian Mission in Baghdad.
Australia is firmly committed to developing its bilateral relationship with Iraq, and participating in the continuing development of Iraq. Iraq will be an important power in the Middle East in years to come, a region of significant strategic importance to Australia. The office will include representatives of DFAT, Austrade, DIMIA and Defence to enable Australia to advance its commercial, security, immigration and humanitarian interests in post-conflict Iraq.
The Australian Representative Office will help advance important Australian trade interests. Australia already has strong commercial interests in Iraq, supplying 90 per cent of its wheat market, and Australian business has expressed interest in opportunities in a range of other sectors.
On July 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the signing of a consular agreement between Australia and Vietnam. An extract from the release follows:
My Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Dy Nien and I have today signed a bilateral Consular Agreement to give Australians greater certainty about the consular services available to them in Vietnam.
The Agreement is good news for Australians of Vietnamese origin and marks a major step forward in our relationship.
It reaffirms that all Australian citizens who enter Vietnam on an Australian passport are entitled to protection and consular assistance from Australian embassies and consulates.
Under the Agreement, Australian officials must be:
• Notified of the arrest and detention of Australian citizens within three working days;
• Granted consular access to Australian detainees within two working days of notification; and
• Allowed consular visits to Australian detainees at least once a month thereafter.
The Agreement also clarifies the term “consular functions”, provides a timeframe for the provision of information on the deaths of Australian citizens and delineates estate responsibilities and the terms of assistance to Australian vessels and aircraft.
Under the Agreement, annual consultations must be held to review the consular relationship and other consultations on individual consular matters may be held as required.
On 31 October 2003, Ms Nicola Loffler, delivered a statement for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 58th Session on the Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its 55th Session, Chapter VIII: Reservations to Treaties. An extract from the statement follows:
Australia notes that the Commission has sought comments on draft guideline 2.6.1 dealing with the issue of “objections” to reservations.
Australia agrees with the views expressed by the Special Rapporteur and other members of the Commission that any definition of objections included in the draft guidelines should be consistent with the relevant provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and have regard to the practice of States. In addition, Australia agrees that the concept of “intention” is a key factor in determining whether a reaction to a reservation amounts to an objection, and that this should be reflected in the definition of objections.
Australia would like to comment also on draft guideline 2.1.8 concerning the function of the depository of the treaty in relation to manifestly impermissible reservations. As stated in previous sessions of the Sixth Committee, Australia considers that the role of the depository should be aligned with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, particularly Article 77 of the Convention. The depository should be impartial and neutral in the exercise of its functions and should be limited to transmitting reservations to the parties to the treaty. In Australia’s view, the depository should not be assigned a role of expressing a view on the impermissibility of a reservation.
On 8 October 2003, the Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, done at Geneva on 17 June 1999, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis relevant to the Australian treaty-making process follows:
Australian Government treaty-making policy provides that Australia cannot become party to a treaty where the laws in any Australian jurisdiction, Commonwealth, State or Territory, would be at variance with obligations to be assumed under the proposed treaty when it enters into force for Australia. Any legislation required for Australia to meet its treaty obligations must be in place before Australia consents to be bound by the treaty.
On 27 November 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, addressed the Commonwealth Round Table in Australia. Extracts from that speech follow:
The Commonwealth, with all its inevitable shortcomings, remains in many ways a unique international institution. The diversity of its membership is quite astounding and unlike many other groupings it does not exist to promote the interests of a particular region – members span the globe, they hail from both hemispheres and from all continents. It embraces a multiplicity of religions, ethnicity and culture. The richest and the poorest, some of the largest and indeed many of the smallest countries in the world belong to the Commonwealth.
What does draw and continue to keep us together is the history and the strength of our common democratic institutions. Shared political values lie at the heart of our association. When the Commonwealth Heads of Government met in Coolum in Australia in March of last year, we reaffirmed our commitment to those values – to democracy, to the rule of law, to good governance, to freedom of expression and the protection of human rights. Protecting and advancing these values is central to our Commonwealth heritage and when we unite in pursuit of these values, the Commonwealth family has been able to achieve quite momentous change.
The Commonwealth has played an important role in supporting and nurturing the institutions that underpin democracy – helping to build the skills and infrastructure necessary for good governance. Australia sees this as one of the principal functions of the modern Commonwealth. Effective state administration is necessary for the provision of public services, effective public expenditure management, efficient judiciaries and a determined effort against corruption – for what we might term the essential building blocks of development.
The Commonwealth has demonstrated that it is not only capable of identifying unacceptable behaviour but also of taking action, providing assistance and, when the problem has been addressed, readmitting the offenders back into the Commonwealth family. It has in the past been willing to make strong and difficult decisions – and those actions have strengthened its standing and thereby its capacity to act. It played a crucial role in dismantling apartheid in South Africa and more recently in the return of civilian government in Nigeria and the restoration of democracy in Fiji. It has been successfully working with Pakistan to see a return to democracy in that country. By maintaining its focus on democracy and human rights, it has made a real difference to the lives of citizens in many Commonwealth countries.
As we face the challenges of today, we should not forget the Commonwealth’s solid, indeed proud record of achievement in these areas. Reflecting on those successes will, I hope, give us the courage of our convictions and ensure that we maintain a consistent approach to those who violate Commonwealth principles.
Australia, under successive governments of both political persuasions, has taken pride in being part of the global community of Commonwealth nations, and in their own ways, different prime ministers of this country have contributed to the activities, the affairs and the deliberations of the Commonwealth. It is a forum for building bridges between the poorest and the most disadvantaged nations and developed countries and for encouraging democracy and good economic governance. Its very name – the Commonwealth – reflects our shared commitment to a future where all our members are able alike to enjoy prosperity and contribute positively and constructively to world affairs.
The principles of the Commonwealth, enshrined in the Harare declarations of ten years ago, are universal principles which apply across every continent of the world, without qualification, and Australia wants to see the Commonwealth stand by those principles without qualification or equivocation.
On 20 September 2003, the Minister for Trade, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. An extract from this release follows:
Australia wants a more focused, efficient UN
system, less bogged down in sterile debates and more capable of responding to contemporary challenges. I will promote the need for UN reform and support the Secretary-General‘s call for a fundamental review of the UN’s organs.
Events in our own region recall the UN Charter
‘s vision of strong regionally based responses to security-related challenges. Consistent with that vision, I will highlight Australia’s actions in Solomon Islands and Bougainville as examples of the important role of coalitions of the willing in addressing international security challenges.
On 24 September 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, addressed the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Extracts from his speech follow:
Seldom has this forum been confronted with so many dimensions of uncertainty: so many challenges to global peace, security and orderly economic reform. Seldom has its own capacity for regeneration to deal with them been so insistently put to the test.
But a combination of pragmatism, vision and reforming innovation is necessary if, as I’ve already warned, this organisation is to avoid frittering away its credibility and influence by failing to exercise its power effectively.
In the words of Secretary-General Annan, we “should not shy away from the need to improve and, where necessary, change the structure and function of the United Nations and other international institutions” to make sure they remain effective in promoting security and peace.
Mr President, I alluded to the global challenges which confront us. First among them is the emergence of “the age of terror”. Where once it was possible to view terrorism as the lamentable legacy of a few unsafe regions, today almost no country has been left untouched.
Mr President, in confronting these challenges – such as security, governance, poverty, terrorism and pandemics – collective action is likely to yield the best results, since not even the most powerful among us can bear the burden alone.
Effective regional action also remains important. Australia has built with its neighbours a network of bilateral counter-terrorism arrangements. These enhance practical, operational-level liaison between regional security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies that have seen terror attacks prevented, networks disrupted and terrorists arrested.
Mr President, the virtues of collective action are self-evident. But collectivity ought not serve as a mantra which is an obstacle to effective action. Sometimes the most effective means of preserving security, and indeed international law, occur alongside the traditional mechanisms of multilateral diplomacy.
Australia is a strong supporter of multilateral institutions and processes, but only insofar as they are a means to an effective end. The major global disarmament and non-proliferation treaties remain critical to setting norms of international order. But ultimately those instruments must be enforced.
Nevertheless the role of the UN in international affairs is under critical scrutiny, and with good reason. The UN, through its member states, needs to do much more to adapt to the evolving global environment.
Australia has long been an advocate of a more focused, efficient UN system. The Secretary-General‘s reforms to date, in particular the Brahimi peacekeeping changes, have been a valuable start. Radical and fundamental change is now needed. The Secretary-General rightly states that the General Assembly is bogged down with an unwieldy agenda and repetitive and sterile debates. We need to ask ourselves, if much of the activity of the General Assembly – or indeed ECOSOC – did not occur, what practical difference would it make, and would anyone notice?
Again, as Australia has long argued, the composition of the Security Council is out of step with geopolitical realities. The permanent membership of the Security Council should be expanded to reflect the current realities – with the addition of Japan, India, Brazil, Indonesia and an African nation.
We support an overhaul of the UN architecture, particularly in light of new security threats.
The functioning of all the major UN organs need to be re-examined – as does the interrelationship between them.
Old shibboleths – such as the excessive homage to sovereignty even at the expense of the preservation of humanity and human values – should not constrain us.
We must end absurd duplication of efforts. We should refocus the UN on areas where it can and should make a difference. We must be imaginative and bold.
On 5 November 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Reform. Extracts from Mr Downer’s release follow:
I welcome the announcement by the United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, of the high-level panel he is establishing to examine the policy challenges facing the UN and the institutional structures needed to meet them.
The UN has a vital role to play in the maintenance of international peace and security. It must remain central to the conduct of global cooperation. The international community needs to look critically at how we can make its organs and processes relevant to the challenges we face today.
Australia has long been at the forefront of those arguing that we need a focused, efficient UN which reflects current geopolitical realities.
The Government strongly supports the Secretary-General‘s efforts to promote reform and, in particular, his initiative to establish the review panel. We share his hope that the process will lead to “far-reaching institutional reforms”.
Australia stands ready to contribute to an ambitious outcome.
On 16 October 2003, Mr Warren Snowdon, Parliamentary Adviser to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations, delivered a statement at the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Comprehensive Review of Peacekeeping Operations. Extracts from the statement follow:
No United Nations task is more important than peacekeeping and the organisation’s reputation lives and dies by the quality and effectiveness of its peacekeeping efforts.
While we have seen improvements, the situation with UN Peacekeeping is still a work-in-progress. I say this not as a criticism, but simply to observe that many challenges lie ahead. There can be no resting on one’s laurels. DPKO needs to live by an ethos of continuous improvement. It is the hallmark of any successful organization. In partnership with DPKO, this Committee and the C34 can facilitate the maintenance of this ethos.
My delegation agrees that successful peacekeeping involves partnership between many players – principally the UN Secretariat and Member States. Regional organizations, multinational forces and coalitions of the willing are also increasingly important. It is essential that we do not regard the roles of these players as competitive or mutually exclusive, but rather as complementary.
The Secretary-General in his report on the Implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration has commented favourably on the useful division of labour that can exist between robust multinational forces and Blue Helmets. INTERFET, which Australia led, was a very case in point – and is an example that Mr Guehenno has also noted.
We consider that while these various actors often have different functions, there is an underlying unity of effort. For this reason there is a case to be made for a broader definition of who are and who are not peacekeepers. Countries that do not feature highly as contributors to Blue Helmet operations, can be substantial contributors to peacekeeping. We therefore need to reconsider if it is useful to talk of a “commitment gap”. It may be more useful to expend our energies working out the best possible way to coordinate and bring together different capacities – wherever they may come from.
Speaking for Australia, there certainly is no commitment gap. We remain one of the top ten contributors to UN Peacekeeping operations. We have led a multinational force and have contributed to others. And more recently, we have led a regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands, in partnership with other countries of the Pacific Islands Forum, to help restore law and order in that neighboring country. The joint statement of the Pacific Islands Forum to this Committee, being delivered by the New Zealand Ambassador provides more details.
There remains nevertheless serious capability gaps which need to be addressed. Some of these can be met through better management and greater commitment. The ability to rapidly deploy civilian experts and law and order experts is an area which needs more attention. But there are also areas where my delegation believes we need to change our way of thinking. One such area is the acquisition and use of field intelligence. This has been a vexed issue in the C34, but it is one that we can no longer avoid if we are serious about protecting UN Personnel, Peacekeepers and also innocent civilians.
On 3 July 2003, the Minster for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a joint press release in relation to Australia’s support for small states in the World Trade Organization. An extract from the release follows:
Australia is committed to assisting small nations, including Pacific island states to develop sufficient institutional capacity to further their trade interests at the WTO.
In recognition of this, the Australian Government provided initial funding of $500,000 in 2002 to support the work of the Agency for International Trade Information and Cooperation (AITIC), an inter government organisation that provides personalised information, advice and technical assistance to small states to facilitate their active participation in the WTO.
AITIC, which is based in Geneva, has a proven track record in helping to sustain developing countries’ participation in the new WTO round.
The Australian Government has agreed to provide a further $500,000 in 2003 to continue this good work. This additional assistance is a concrete indication of Australia’s strong and ongoing commitment to small states’ interests.
Australia has a long history of providing development assistance to Pacific Island nations. Our support for AITIC, along with the ongoing efforts of the WTO, will help small Pacific Island nations to enhance their trade engagement with the international community through the World Trade Organisation.
On 28 February 2003, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, addressed the Institute of Public Affairs Conference, Kyoto: Economic Impacts and Alternative Mitigation Strategies, on ‘Australia’s Approach to Climate Change’. Extracts from that speech follow:
Australia’s key objective is to ensure that understanding of the threat posed by climate change is based upon sound analysis and sound science. Global climate change is a serious issue, and Australia is keen to ensure continued and enhanced high standards of scientific integrity, credibility and usefulness of the IPCC as the authoritative international source of advice on climate science.
Australia’s approach to climate change, including our active domestic policy response, is based upon the reality that climate change is occurring – but not any presumption about precise temperature rises.
One thing we do know for certain is that even slight increases in temperatures can have major consequences for Australia, especially in certain regions. If the world’s nations are to address the greenhouse effect, and human society’s contribution to global warming, then only a global response can be effective. Australia’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is of the order of one percent. Unless the world’s major emitters of greenhouse gases are part of the solution, then the future looks grim.
It is the Government’s intention not only to meet the Kyoto target, but more importantly, to put in place the longer-term framework that will enable continuing reduction of emissions in the decades beyond.
The truth is that Kyoto itself will achieve little. 75 per cent of global emissions are not covered by Kyoto. It is estimated that Kyoto will probably reduce global emissions by around one per cent by the end of the first commitment period. This compares with a need, on the best science currently available, to reduce global emissions by some 60 per cent by the end of the century. Clearly this, rather than Kyoto ratification, is the important issue.
This explains why the Government has decided that it is not in Australia’s interests to ratify the Kyoto treaty at the present time. Developing countries, whose emissions will exceed those of the developed world in this decade, currently have no legal obligations of the kind imposed on developed countries that ratify, and the United States administration has made it clear that it has no intention of ratifying the treaty.
It is a serious weakness of the existing arrangements that there is currently no pathway for the involvement of developing countries.
If Australia were to ratify, Kyoto would create obligations for Australia that are not imposed on many of our regional trading competitors. If these arrangements continued over the longer term, industries could be driven overseas by competitive pressure to countries that might not have as stringent environmental standards as Australia. Such a situation would mean an increase in global greenhouse emissions, not the reduction we are all seeking.
If Australia were to ratify today, we would be sending the message that we were prepared to impose legal obligations and significant costs on our industries that they may not face in the longer term if they were to transfer their operations to countries which have rejected such obligations, and which for the most part have so far shown no interest in moving to such a regime post-Kyoto. We are not prepared to start shipping Australian industries and jobs overseas, even though some of the States are apparently prepared to do just that.
On 2 June 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard
, addressed the Minerals Council of Australia annual dinner. Extracts from Mr Howard’s speech follow:
We remain very strongly committed to achieving the greenhouse gas emission target set for Australia under the Kyoto Protocol. But having said that, can I say that we remain unwilling to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol in its present form because we do not believe that that would be in Australia’s long-term interests. We are opposed to signing it in its present form because it would impose obligations on Australia which would not be imposed on countries against which we must directly compete. Australia is in an unusual position. It is a highly developed country which is a net exporter of energy. We do not, like countries such as Norway, have the benefit of the European Union bubble. We do not have the benefit of less developed countries in terms of the obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. And for us to sign the Protocol in its present form would, in the Government’s continuing judgement, place unfair fetters on many industries, not least industries in your own sector.
It remains possible, as the Government is doing, to achieve the emission targets set out under Kyoto and we are very full on in our commitment to achieve that. We’ve already committed nearly a billion dollars to provide incentives for industry and communities to reduce their greenhouse emissions and to encourage the development of low emission technologies. We are developing a climate change forward strategy, and details of that will be announced later this year. But we must, all of us, be realistic in this area. Fossil fuels will continue to underpin Australia’s economy for many years into the future. Cheaper energy will continue to underpin our competitiveness. There is great scope to reduce greenhouse gases in the years ahead without undermining our competitiveness. For example, options such as coal gasification and ? can make a big impact, and at the same time protect our competitiveness. High energy industries will continue to improve their energy efficiency over time, and vehicles and households will become more efficient. And the Government should continue to work with industry to support these advances.
On 24 October 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, issued a joint press release regarding the collaboration between China and Australia on climate change. Extracts from the release follow:
Officials from Australia and China held a workshop in Beijing in September where they agreed on a Joint Declaration on Bilateral Cooperation on Climate Change, which sets out cooperation in the following areas:
• Climate change policies
• Climate change impacts and adaptation
• National communications (greenhouse gas inventories and projections)
• Technology cooperation
• Capacity building and public awareness
“Today’s announcement reinforces Australia’s commitment to practical action and strong international engagement on climate change,” Dr Kemp said.
“It recognises that climate change is a serious issue for Australia and China and both countries will benefit from working together on it.
A Joint Declaration on Bilateral Cooperation on Climate Change with China is anticipated to deliver trade benefits since China is a large potential market for Australian greenhouse technologies, products and expertise.
Dr Kemp said the Joint Declaration with China reflects Australia’s commitment and pro-active approach to addressing climate change at bilateral, multilateral regional as well as domestic levels.
“Australia’s own greenhouse programs are expected to deliver annual emissions abatement of 67 million tonnes by 2008-2012 – the equivalent to taking all today’s cars, trucks and buses off the road. Without these measures, greenhouse emissions would have been 123 per cent of the 1990 level by the end of the decade,” he said.
The latest projections analysis shows Australia is on track to meet its 108 per cent target agreed to at Kyoto. On current measures, Australia will reach around 110 per cent of 1990 greenhouse emissions levels by the end of the decade and the Howard Government is currently developing a climate change forward strategy to help bridge the gap to the Kyoto target and position Australia for the longer term.
On 17 October 2003, Ms Rebekah Grindlay, Third Secretary to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations General Assembly on the Convention on Biological Diversity. Extracts from the statement follow:
Australia is a committed member of the CBD and takes the objectives of the CBD and our obligations under it extremely seriously. We were pleased with the important work done on the issue of alien invasive species that threaten ecosystems, habitats or species in the lead up to the sixth meeting of the Conference of the Parties, held in April 2002.
Australia lodged a formal objection to the adoption of the alien invasive species draft decision and the associated Guiding Principles at COP-6. This was on the basis of concerns about references in the text which we believe present strong and unacceptable risk of increased trade protectionism. Changes to these references in the text do not in any way affect our ability to meet the environmental objectives. Australia did not take this decision to lodge an objection lightly or easily.
Australia does not consider the draft decision on alien invasive species to be validly adopted as it was gaveled through in the face of Australia’s formal objection.
On 9 September 2003, the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade, done at Rotterdam on 10 September 1998, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The objective of the Treaty is to promote shared responsibility and cooperative efforts among Parties in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment. Ratification will not affect Australia’s national capacity to use, restrict or otherwise regulate chemicals domestically; all decision-making remains with the Australian Government.
The Treaty aims to facilitate information exchange between Parties on hazardous industrial chemicals and pesticides. Information is exchanged on Parties’ import decisions and health and safety data on the chemicals listed under the Treaty. Additionally, for a chemical restricted or banned by a Party in its territory on human health or environmental concerns, the Treaty requires that that Party notify the importing Party prior to the export.
Australia would benefit from ratification because it would: enhance Australia’s capacity to influence international efforts to address chemicals issues; increase Australia’s access to information on hazardous chemicals; provide an efficient and effective mechanism to assist countries, particularly developing countries in our region, including Pacific Island states, to adopt and maintain sound chemical management, consistent with Australian policy in the region; and demonstrate Australia’s commitment to supporting effective and balanced approaches to global cooperation on the environment. Ratification would also help promote and protect Australia’s environmental, health and trade interests by participating in decisions under the Treaty, including to ensure that our particular national circumstances are taken into account.
The Treaty procedures would benefit Australia as they provide basic information and the means to obtain further information needed to make national health and environmental decisions concerning the future use of identified chemicals of concern, without having to mandate bans or phase-out of chemicals.
Globally the Treaty would be especially helpful to developing countries, whose assessment capabilities and regulatory regimes may not be as sophisticated as those of more industrialized nations. By sharing information, the Treaty endeavours to help countries importing those chemicals to understand more fully and to manage the risks associated with their use. In this way, ratification would provide an efficient and effective mechanism to assist countries, particularly developing countries in our region, including Pacific Island states, to adopt and maintain sound chemical management, consistent with Australian policy in the region.
On 9 September 2003, the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), done at Stockholm on 22 May 2001, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The objective of the Treaty is to protect human health and the environment from the effects of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The Treaty sets out a range of control measures to reduce and, where feasible, eliminate releases of POPs into the environment, including emissions of by-product POPs. The Treaty also aims to ensure the sound management of stockpiles and wastes that contain POPs. The Treaty will initially cover control measures on 12 POPs, listed in Annexes A, B and C. Under Article 8, further chemicals may be added to the Treaty.
The Australian Government is committed to protecting people and the environment from potential hazards associated with POPs. Australia has already ceased to produce, import or use nine of the ten intentionally produced POPs covered by the Treaty. The Government is also implementing programs to address the unintended production of by-product POPs, which still occurs. There are also some stockpiles of POPs-contaminated waste in Australia and it is still possible that some contaminated products may enter the country.
Ratification of the Treaty would: build on and be consistent with existing state and federal systems that aim to protect the health and environment of Australians from the adverse effects of POPs; enhance Australia’s capacity to influence international efforts to address chemicals issues; provide an efficient and effective mechanism to assist countries, particularly developing countries in our region, including Pacific Island states, to adopt and maintain sound chemical management processes to deal with health and environmental concerns related to POPs, consistent with Australian policy in the region; and demonstrate Australia’s commitment to supporting effective and balanced approaches to global cooperation on the environment.
On 9 September 2003, amendments, done at Berlin on 19 June 2003, to the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, done at Washington on 2 December 1946, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the National Interest Analysis follow:
The amendments to the Schedule to the Convention maintain the moratorium on commercial whaling. This is in the national interest because Australia is a strong opponent of commercial whaling.
The Convention is a multilateral treaty which regulates the conservation and utilisation of whale stocks. Although negotiated at a time when the primary focus was to ensure international control of the post-war development of the commercial whaling industry, the Convention and the Commission created by it have proved more recently to be an effective vehicle for some major conservation measures. These include the 1982 decision to implement a moratorium on commercial whaling and the establishment in 1994 of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary.
Australia has been a strong advocate of conservation measures within the Commission since the closure of the last Australian shore-based whaling operation in 1979. The Commission is considered the most appropriate forum for pursuit of international efforts to improve the conservation of whales. This year’s amendments accord with Australia’s long-held position – to pursue a permanent international ban on commercial whaling.
On 19 June 2003, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, issued a press release on scientific whaling. An extract from the release follows:
Australia has consistently argued, based on sound science, that so-called scientific whaling is an affront to the Commission in light of the non-lethal research methods available and the global ban on commercial whaling which has been in place since 1986.
The IWC called on Japan to stop “scientific whaling” in the Southern Ocean and North Pacific, and on Iceland to shelve its plans to commence a similar program. This sends a strong message that to understand whales it is better to conserve, not kill whales.
On 7 August 2003, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, issued a press release expressing Australia’s opposition to moves by Iceland to recommence its scientific whaling program. Extracts from the release follow:
Dr David Kemp, today expressed his grave concerns regarding Iceland’s announcement that it would expand the number of whales to be caught for commercial profit under the guise of “scientific” whaling.
“Overnight in Reykjavik, the Government of Iceland announced it would shortly begin a program of lethal research on minke whales,” Dr Kemp said.
“This is deeply regrettable. It comes barely six weeks after leading whale researchers condemned the proposal and the International Whaling Commission (IWC) passed a resolution calling for Iceland’s program to be shelved.”
“Australia is a world leader in developing non-lethal research methodologies, such as DNA testing of whale faeces, which has been shown to be a more effective research method, and we remain totally opposed to commercial whaling – including that conducted under the guise of science.
On 22 May 2003, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, issued a press release concerning Australia’s attendance at the 55th meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Berlin. An extract from this release concerning the South Pacific follows:
Australia, along with New Zealand, will once again propose the establishment of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.
“It is especially pleasing to me that support for the Sanctuary has increased both within the region and within the IWC with the proposal attracting more co-sponsors than ever before,” Dr Kemp said.
“However, the misguided pro-whaling countries, deaf to the desires of the people of the South Pacific, will still have a blocking minority for this proposal so I call on them to be sensitive to what is wanted by the people who have the most to gain from the establishment of the Sanctuary and vote accordingly.
On 24 November 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, answered a question on notice concerning the protection of albatrosses and petrels. An extract from Dr Kemp’s response follows:
On 6 November 2003 the Australian Government witnessed the ratification of the Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels, the Convention for Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. This historic Agreement will enter into force in February 2004, and will allow members to implement an action plan to protect critical habitat, control non-native species detrimental to albatrosses and petrels, introduce measures to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in long-line fisheries, and support research into the effective conservation of albatrosses and petrels.
Other forums where the Australian Government is pursuing protection for albatrosses and petrels include: the Ecologically Related Species Working Group of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna; the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources; and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its Committee on Fisheries.
To incorporate the substantial improvements in our understanding of seabird by catch and its mitigation, the threat abatement plan is currently being revised, in consultation with the fishing industry, fisheries managers and non government conservation organisations.
On 4 March 2003, amendments, done at Santiago in November 2002, to Appendices I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, of 3 March 1973, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
The listing of species on Appendices I and II entails regulation of international movement of those species in accordance with Articles II, III, and IV of the Convention. Listing on Appendix I means that international commercial trade in the listed species is generally prohibited, while Appendix II listing means that international trade is permitted but monitored. The amendments are in the national interest, being consistent with Australia’s commitment to international cooperation for the protection and conservation of wildlife that may be adversely affected by trade. Although seahorses are in trade in Australia, the listing of seahorses does not impose new obligations on Australian business, as Australian laws regarding these species are already equivalent to CITES obligations. The other amendments do not affect Australia as they concern species that are not in trade in Australia.
On 13 March 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the United Nations Secretary-General’s plan for the reunification of Cyprus. The text of the release follows:
I am disappointed that the latest talks hosted by the United Nations Secretary-General in The Hague on 10 March 2003, in an intensive effort to broker a lasting peace for all Cypriots, have been unsuccessful.
A unique opportunity has been lost. However, I am heartened that the UN Secretary-General‘s plan remains on the table and Greek Cypriot President, Tassos Papadopoulos, and Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, have expressed their willingness to continue talks.
I urge both leaders to work towards the eventual reunification of Cyprus for the sake of all Cypriots. I share the desire of many Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for peace and reunification.
On 13 February 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, delivered a speech at the Korea Re-Examined Conference on ‘Dealing with North Korea
’. Extracts from the speech follow:
Today I want to address a very real concern for Australia and South Korea – and that is the potential for instability in our region caused by the behaviour of North Korea.
North Korea has pushed its history of brinkmanship to new heights in recent months.
The Korean peninsula lies at a strategic cross roads between China, Japan, the United States and Russia, and for the wider East Asian region, including Australia.
The consequences, therefore, of a security breakdown on the Korean peninsula would be immense – not only for the immediate region of North East Asia, but also for Australia and the major powers.
Our top four trading partners, for example – Japan, United States, China and South Korea – would be directly affected by any security crisis.
And the costs of reconstructing the peninsula after a security breakdown or conflict – in anybody’s language – would be enormous.
Australia has acted quickly and consistently to find a diplomatic break-through to the current deadlock.
The heart of the challenge posed by North Korea is its part in the greatest threat to international security facing us – that of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
North Korea has expelled IAEA inspectors. It has shut down nuclear monitoring equipment. And it has announced it will withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
North Korea has also now moved to re-open its nuclear re-processing plant at Yongbyon, shut down since 1994.
North Korea remains bound by its non-proliferation obligations to disclose its nuclear program and have it verified as legitimate under the IAEA inspections regime.
Our aim is to ensure that North Korea abandons its weapons of mass destruction programs once and for all.
Ultimately, we would all like a situation where the Korean peninsula is free of internal tensions, and the threat of conflict is removed entirely.
In the meantime, managing North Korea
‘s WMD ambitions and ensuring the stability of the Korean peninsula is paramount.
On 27 March 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the Kashmir Massacre. The text of the release follows:
The Australian Government deplores the cold-blooded and cowardly massacre of 24 villagers by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir on 24 March. There can be no justification for this atrocious act which has claimed so many innocent lives. I reiterate in the strongest possible terms the Government’s condemnation of terrorism wherever and whenever it occurs.
This latest attack is particularly disturbing, adding to the seemingly endless cycle of violence in Kashmir. Constructive efforts to bring peace to this war-torn region must be found. The resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan is a vital first step in working towards a negotiated settlement. I strongly urge both countries to create the necessary conditions to bring this about as a matter of urgency.
We express our sincerest sympathy and condolences to the Government of India and the families of the victims of this latest violence in Kashmir.
On 7 May 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the relationship between India and Pakistan. An extract from the release follows:
I welcome the news that India and Pakistan are to resume full diplomatic relations and restore air links. This is the latest in a series of moves by the two countries, beginning with Prime Minister Vajpayee’s speech in Srinagar on 18 April, which has eased the state of tension between them.
The leaders of both countries are to be applauded for their courage in initiating and fostering this positive trend. I hope that the Indian and Pakistan governments will now take further, concrete steps to broaden and strengthen their bilateral engagement, to rebuild mutual confidence and to create an environment in which the more difficult issues in their relationship can be addressed.
On 12 April 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, addressed the 39th Annual Congress of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils in Sydney. An extract of the speech concerning the situation in the Middle East follows:
[T]he world’s current focus on the region brings renewed vigour in a sense to the peace effort. And this opportunity must not be squandered. And it places responsibilities on the Israelis and it places responsibilities on the Palestinians. We urge both sides to embrace the road map developed by the United States after close consultation with Russia, the European Union and the United Nations. Each side needs to feel confident that the other genuinely seeks peace. I warmly welcome the decision of Chairman Arafat to appoint Mahmoud Abbas to the newly created position of Prime Minister. He must however be allowed an effective negotiating mandate, as otherwise the gesture of his appointment could be seen to be merely symbolic.
It is crucial to the peace process that the murderous suicide bombings against Israel cease. And I again urge Ariel Sharon, the Prime Minister of Israel, to use the mandate of his re-election to respond positively to all opportunities to achieve a peace settlement. And I ask him to understand the view of the Palestinians that the expansion of Jewish settlements is provocative.
The Australian government will do everything it can to encourage both sides, to inch towards a settlement of this terrible and bloody conflict, which has caused anguish to the people of Israel and to the Palestinians and to many people who share the hope of a freer part of the world around the world.
On 22 May 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, delivered a speech at the Institute of Diplomacy in Amman, Jordan on ‘Australia and the Middle East: Enduring Interests’. Extracts from this speech in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict follow:
We understand that until we see a viable Palestinian state standing side by side with a secure Israeli state, the Middle East will remain a region of uncertainty, rather than, as it should be, a region of great prosperity.
The Australian Government warmly welcomed the release of the long-awaited “Road Map” to Israeli-Palestinian peace. Our close contact with the US Administration over recent months has left us in no doubt of their determination to pursue the “Road Map” process unequivocally and unflinchingly.
In many respects it is a more difficult task than the military campaign in Iraq. It must overcome decades of bitterness and it will require vision, determination, and a spirit of reconciliation so often absent in the past, to bring this about. But in the same way that Iraq saw a decisive application of US military force, we are confident that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute will see the decisive application of US diplomatic force.
At the same time we understand that the “Road Map” is not a panacea, that the road to peace will not be easy, and that on-going violence will be an obstacle at every turn – as recent events have demonstrated only too sharply. Suicide-homicide bombings deliberately undermine this effort and destroy the atmosphere required to underpin negotiations.
Even with considerable US effort it will still require those of good will on both sides to seize the opportunity the “Road Map” represents. We urge them to do so and not to give in to the extremists. No one can afford more squandered opportunities or squandered lives.
And in the same way that Australia played a proportionate role in the Iraq campaign, we are prepared to play an appropriate, practical role to support efforts toward Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
Indeed I would like to announce tonight, as a tangible expression of our support for the “Road Map”, a further commitment of one million dollars in assistance to the Palestinian people. This brings Australia’s aid commitment to the Palestinians to about 10.6 million dollars in 2002-2003.
On 2 December 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Advisor to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the situation in the Middle East. An extract from that statement concerning the Palestinian question follows:
Australia has consistently supported efforts to resolve the tragic Israeli-Palestinian dispute. There can be no military solution to the conflict, just as there is no alternative to a negotiated settlement. We are strongly committed to Israel’s right to live in peace and security within internationally recognised boundaries. Australia has also consistently supported the emergence of a viable Palestinian state living at peace with its neighbour Israel. Our position is based on Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and the principle of land for peace. Australia is a strong supporter of the Roadmap to Middle East peace and we welcome Security Council Resolution 1515. We call on both sides to return to negotiations and resume implementation of the Roadmap without delay. The Roadmap sets out the path to Palestinian statehood. But to realise this legitimate aspiration, the Palestinian Authority must take firm action to end the violence.
On 3 September 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the situation in Nepal. The text of the release follows:
I am very disappointed by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) decision to break off peace talks with the Government of Nepal and end the seven-month ceasefire.
This is a major backward step that will do nothing to bring about a lasting settlement in Nepal.
Instead the Maoist’s unilateral decision to break off the talks may lead to further violence and bloodshed, prolonging the conflict and the suffering of the Nepalese people.
Australia calls upon the Maoists to immediately renew their commitment to the ceasefire and the negotiation of a permanent settlement.
On 15 December 2003, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council on Bougainville. Extracts from the address follow:
Australia welcomes the opportunity to address the Security Council as it considers progress on Bougainville. Australia remains a strong supporter of the Bougainville peace process. Importantly, our support has included leadership of the four-country regional Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) and, more recently, the small civilian Bougainville Transition Team (BTT). Both of these bodies have worked closely with the United Nations Political Office on Bougainville (UNPOB), particularly in implementing the agreed weapons disposal plan.
The peace process has now moved well beyond the fragile ceasefire agreement that was signed in 1998. Australia acknowledges recent developments in the peace process, including in-principle agreement by former combatants to destroy their weapons during an Australian-funded meeting on Nissan Island; agreement on many of the practical challenges facing Bougainville through the Kuri Resolution on Implementation of Autonomy; and the recent delegation of policing powers. We look forward to more progress at this week’s meeting of the Peace Process Consultative Committee.
The peace process has now reached a point at which the parties are talking about moving beyond immediate post-conflict issues to the issues involved in restoring democratic good governance. Peace is now becoming self-sustaining. In consultation with our regional partners, and with the support of parties to the peace process, we will therefore withdraw the Bougainville Transition Team at the end of the year. We will remain involved, but our support will now flow more directly through our bilateral cooperation with Papua New Guinea.
Australia notes the final extension of UNPOB’s mandate granted by the Security Council last year, and agrees that UNPOB should now be brought to an end. The international community must, though, remain involved. In particular, we note that the UN was recently asked to remain on Bougainville by the parties and has a clear role under the Bougainville Peace Agreement in verifying and certifying the weapons disposal process.
Australia endorses Papua New Guinea‘s requests for a smaller, more focused UN presence. Such a presence could support the conclusion of the weapons disposal process; facilitate the finalization of Bougainville‘s constitution; and encourage planning for early, free and fair elections. It should be transitional in nature and could, in the first instance, be headed by UNPOB’s current director, Noel Sinclair.
We are particularly aware of the challenge of maintaining law and justice, including an effective and credible police force. On 11 December this year, Australia and Papua New Guinea entered a new era of cooperation through which Australian police and officials will work side-by-side with Papua New Guineans to help the PNG government address key challenges. As part of this package of enhanced cooperation, Australia has offered to send a police team of up to 20 personnel to Bougainville. They are available to start work on Bougainville within weeks.
These personnel will work alongside members of the Royal PNG Constabulary to help restore confidence in the police force on Bougainville, to enhance its policing capacity and to assist with the future training and development of new recruits. We will also provide some basic policing equipment, and will work closely with New Zealand to strengthen other key components of the law and justice sector including improved police training, courts, correctional services and community policing.
Australia urges all parties to remain seized of the serious challenges facing Bougainville, and to move swiftly to conclude the peace process and prepare for free and fair elections. Australia remains committed to providing the parties with ongoing support. We hope the international community and, in particular, the United Nations will also stand ready to assist in these endeavours.
On 10 June 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer delivered a speech at the launch of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute report on ‘Our Failing Neighbour: Australia and the future of Solomon Islands’. Extracts from this speech follow:
[T]he situation in Solomon Islands is one of the most troublesome issues we face in our immediate region.
It provides us with a difficult set of issues which we, our friends in Solomon Islands and our other partners – particularly New Zealand – have been grappling with for a number of years.
We are facing a comprehensive and seemingly inexorable grinding down of the country’s institutional and economic fabric.
This is occurring in spite of substantial efforts on the part of ourselves and others, who have been tireless in supporting peace, reconstruction and good governance.
We rightly insist on the need for Pacific island countries to take full responsibility for their futures.
They are sovereign states.
The only solutions that will work are those of which the island countries have full ownership.
But that does not mean to say that Australia will sit back and watch while a country struggles.
On 29 October 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release announcing the appointment of the new High Commissioner to the Solomon Islands. An extract from this release follows:
Australia has been at the forefront of the international community’s efforts to help Solomon Islands address the serious challenges to law and order and economic stability over the past few years. The Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), deployed on 24 July 2003 at the request of the Solomon Islands’ Government, is a major undertaking reflecting Australia’s preparedness to help a close friend and regional partner. RAMSI has made significant progress in addressing the key challenges to the Solomon Islands Government’s ability to govern and in helping stabilise its budget.
On 18 March 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, addressed the House of Representatives on Iraq. Extracts from the address follow:
The government has now authorised our defence forces, which were predeployed to the gulf to acclimatise and contribute to the campaign to persuade Saddam Hussein into compliance, to take part in coalition operations. There is no more serious decision for any government than to commit its forces to military conflict abroad. Under our system, this decision lies with the executive of government, the cabinet. Nevertheless, it is appropriate that the parliament, at the first opportunity, have the chance to debate this motion. It is essential that the reason for that decision be made plain to the representatives of the people and that they have a full opportunity to debate them and to have their views recorded.
In 1991, the world judged that the Iraqi
regime was a dangerous aggressor. In the interests of world peace and regional security, the community of nations required Iraq to surrender its offensive arsenal, its chemical and biological weapons, and abandon its nuclear weapons program. Iraq agreed to comply. We have waited 12 years for it to give action to that commitment.
In the final analysis, the absolute conviction of the government is that disarming Iraq is necessary for the long-term security of the world and is therefore manifestly in the national interest of Australia. The events of the last four months, Iraq’s history, and its 12 years of defiance have convinced the government that the only way to deal with this challenge is by force. Sadly, the government is not surprised that it should have come to this. Force has been the only language that Saddam Hussein’s regime has ever understood.
Perhaps it is enough to note that, in 1991, the Security Council thought it necessary to pass resolution 688, which demands that the Iraqi regime cease its repression of its own people. In April last year, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution condemning: ... the systematic, widespread and extremely grave violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law by the Government of Iraq, resulting in an all-pervasive repression and oppression sustained by broad-based discrimination and widespread terror. The regime’s hallmarks are summary and arbitrary executions, the use of rape as a political tool, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrest and detention, widespread and systematic torture and maintaining of decrees prescribing cruel and inhuman punishment as the penalty for offences. These points demonstrate that the short-term future for many, if not most, Iraqi civilians is neither secure nor peaceful, regardless of whether Iraq is subject to military action or not.
We reject totally the argument put by France and by some other countries that the presence of inspectors will lead, over the passage of time, to disarmament. We cannot and will not ignore the experience of the last 12 years. We believe that the time has come to disarm Iraq, by force if necessary. We are participating in the US led coalition to achieve this objective.
It is important to understand that the decision taken by the government is in accordance with the legal authority for military action found in previous resolutions of the Security Council. We supported, and would have preferred, a further Security Council resolution specifying the need for such action. We did so to maximise the diplomatic, moral and political pressure on Iraq, not because we considered a new resolution to be necessary for such action to be legitimate.
Our legal advice, provided by the head of the Office of International Law in the Attorney-General‘s Department and the senior legal adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, is unequivocal. The existing United Nations Security Council resolutions already provide for the use of force to disarm Iraq and restore international peace and security to the area. This legal advice is consistent with that provided to the British government by its Attorney-General.
Security Council resolution 678, adopted in 1990, authorised the use of all necessary means not only to implement resolution 660, which demanded Iraq withdraw from Kuwait, but also to implement all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area. Resolution 687, which provided the cease-fire terms for Iraq in April 1991, affirmed resolution 678. Security Council resolution 1441 confirms that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations, a point on which there is unanimous agreement, including by even the Leader of the Opposition.
Iraq‘s past and continuing breaches of the cease-fire obligations negate the basis for the formal cease-fire. Iraq has by its conduct demonstrated that it did not and does not accept the terms of the cease-fire. Consequently, we have received legal advice that ‘the cease-fire is not effective and the authorisation for the use of force in Security Council resolution 678 is reactivated. It follows, so I am advised, that referring to the use of such force against Iraq as “unilateral” is wrong. Any informed analysis of the Security Council resolutions leads to this conclusion.
Australia and the other members of the coalition are therefore still acting under the authority of the United Nations Security Council resolutions. We continue to regard the United Nations as the most important framework the world has to achieve a secure and peaceful world and our commitment to the UN is perhaps personified by the 1,200 ADF personnel who are currently serving in the blue beret all around the world.
The government remains extremely disappointed that the Security Council has been unable to demonstrate the necessary resolve to confront Iraq
‘s continued defiance of the United Nations. We consider that it is critical for the United Nations to remain fully engaged on the issue of Iraq and to take responsibility for coordinating the humanitarian and reconstruction support which will be required once the military conflict has been resolved. Just as we believe action against Saddam Hussein’s regime is in our nation’s best interest, so too we believe it is clearly in our interest to help rebuild a stable and prosperous Iraq. To that end the government will make a significant contribution to that reconstruction effort.
We hope that Iraq will be able to establish a government which has the support and reflects the will of its people. This is the only way to ensure that the wealth generated from the oil reserves, which belong to the people of Iraq, is directed to achieving their wellbeing and prosperity. Australia will do everything in its power to encourage the establishment of a representative government.
This decision has been taken by the government in the belief that it is in the long-term interests of this country. It has been taken against a background of a world environment changed forever by the events of 11 September. The world now faces new and previously unknown menaces. Old notions of aggression and responses to aggression do not necessarily fit our new circumstances. Yet one thing remains constant—the responsibility of governments to protect its citizens against possible future attacks, wherever they may come from. It is in that spirit, against that background and in that context that the government has taken the decision it has.
On 18 March 2003, the Memorandum of Advice on the Use of Force Against Iraq, provided by the Attorney General’s Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. The full text of the advice follows:
We have been asked whether, in the current circumstances, any deployment of Australian forces to Iraq and subsequent military action by those forces would be consistent with Australia’s obligations under international law. The short answer is ‘yes’. Existing United Nations Security Council resolutions provide authority for the use of force directed towards disarming Iraq of weapons of mass destruction and restoring international peace and security in the area. This existing authority for the use of force would only be negated in current circumstances if the Security Council were to pass a resolution that required Member States to refrain from the use of force against Iraq.
Under Article 2(4) of the Charter of the United Nations (the Charter), “all members of the United Nations are to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations”.
The well-recognised exceptions to this requirement to refrain from the use of force are the right of self-defence in Article 51 of the Charter and action authorised by the Security Council pursuant to Chapter VII of the Charter. Other justifications have been put forward such as “humanitarian intervention”. Given our view that authority for the use of force in Iraq in current circumstances is found in existing Security Council resolutions, it is not necessary to consider in this advice self-defence or other possible bases for the use of force.
Following Iraq‘s invasion of Kuwait, the Security Council adopted Resolution 678 (1990) (SCR 678). Operative paragraph 2 of SCR 678 provides as follows:
“Authorises Member States co-operating with the Government of Kuwait, unless Iraq on or before 15 January 1991 fully implements, as set forth in paragraph 1 above, the above-mentioned resolutions, to use all necessary means to uphold and implement resolution 660 (1990) and all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security in the area.”
Operative paragraph 3 of SCR 678 provides:
“Requests all States to provide appropriate support for the actions undertaken in pursuance of paragraph 2 above.”
SCR 678 and the other resolutions of the Security Council mentioned below were adopted under Chapter VII of the Charter. Acting pursuant to the authority given in SCR 678, armed action was taken against Iraq in 1991.
Following that action, the UN adopted SCR 687 (1991) on 3 April 1991. Operative paragraph 1 of that Resolution provides:
“Affirms all thirteen resolutions noted above, except as expressly changed below to achieve the goals of the present resolution, including a formal cease-fire.”
The resolutions affirmed included SCR 678.
SCR 687 required Iraq to “unconditionally accept the destruction, removal, or rendering harmless, under international supervision, of all chemical and biological weapons and all stocks of agents … all ballistic missiles with a range greater than one hundred and fifty kilometres…”. It also required Iraq to yield the chemical and biological weapons to a Special Commission and to destroy the missiles under the supervision of the Commission.
Paragraphs 33 and 34 of SCR 687 provides:
“33. Declares that, upon official notification by Iraq to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council of its acceptance of the above provisions, a formal cease-fire is effective between Iraq and Kuwait and the Member States co-operating with Kuwait in accordance with resolution 678 (1990);
34. Decides to remain seized of the matter and to take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the region.”
Between the adoption of SCR 687 and the present day, the Security Council has found that Iraq has failed to comply with its obligations under SCR 687. This culminated in the adoption by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter of SCR 1441 (2002) on 2 November 2002. In its preamble, this resolution recalled that SCR 678 authorised Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement SCR 660 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to SCR 660 and to restore international peace and security to the area. It also recalled that SCR 687 “imposed obligations on Iraq as a necessary step for the achievement of its stated objective of restoring international peace and security in the area”. Furthermore, the preamble provides:
“Recalling that in its resolution 687 (1991) the Council declared that a cease-fire would be based on acceptance by Iraq of the provisions of that resolution, including the obligations on Iraq contained therein.”
The operative paragraphs of SCR 1441 include:
“1. Decides that Iraq has been and remains in material breach of its obligations under relevant resolutions, including resolution 687 (1991), in particular through Iraq’s failure to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and the IAEA, and to complete the actions required under paragraphs 8 to 13 of resolution 687 (1991).
“2. Decides, while acknowledging paragraph 1 above, to afford Iraq, by this resolution, a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations under relevant resolutions of the Council …. … “4. Decides that false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure by Iraq at any time to comply with, and co-operate fully in the implementation of, this resolution shall constitute a further material breach of Iraq’s obligations and will be reported to the Council for assessment in accordance with paragraphs 11 and 12 below. … “12. Decides to convene immediately upon receipt of a report in accordance with paragraphs 4 or 11 above, in order to consider the situation and need for full compliance with all of the relevant Council Resolutions in order to secure international peace and security.
“13. Recalls, in that context, that the Council has repeatedly warned Iraq that it will face serious consequences as a result of its continued violation of its obligations.
“14. Decides to remain seized of the matter.”
Since that Resolution was adopted, Dr Blix, the Executive Chairman of UNMOVIC has briefed the Security Council on a number of occasions. In his briefing on 7 March 2003, Dr Blix was positive about advances in Iraqi co-operation. However, he noted that co-operation “cannot be said to constitute “immediate” co-operation. Nor do they [initiatives] necessarily cover all areas of relevance.” The claimed destruction of all WMD remains unverified. There is no doubt that Iraq remains in breach of its obligations under Security Council resolutions. SCR 1441 confirms a continuing breach of SCR 687 and other relevant resolutions. Dr Blix’s conclusions confirm the failure to comply with and co-operate fully and immediately in the implementation of SCR 1441.
A further draft Security Council resolution was tabled by the US, UK and Spain on 24 February 2003. A UK/US draft amended Resolution was tabled on 7 March 2003.Reasons
In our view, Iraq‘s past and continuing material breaches of SCR 687 have negated the basis for the “formal cease-fire”. Iraq, by its conduct subsequent to the adoption of SCR 687, has demonstrated that it did not and does not “accept” the terms of SCR 687. Consequently, the cease-fire is not effective and the authorisation for the use of force in SCR 678 is reactivated.
We do not believe that the authorisation contained in SCR 678 has expired or that, coupled with SCR 687, it was confined to the limited purpose of ensuring Iraq‘s withdrawal from Kuwait. Nor do we believe that the Security Council has either expressly or impliedly withdrawn the authority for the use of force in SCR 678 in all circumstances.
Operative paragraph 2 of SCR 678 set out above itself contains no limitations in terms of time. Nor is the purpose for which the authority to use force was given confined to restoration of the sovereignty and independence of Kuwait. The authority to use force also was to uphold and implement “all subsequent relevant resolutions and to restore international peace and security to the area”. That purpose holds as good today as it did in 1990. There is no finite time under the Charter in which the authority given in a Security Council resolution expires. Nor is there any indication in resolutions subsequent to SCR 678 that the authority for the use of force contained in that resolution has expired. Indeed, subsequent resolutions indicate to the contrary.
Given the existing authority for the use of force, suggestions that there is a legal requirement for a further resolution are misplaced. Also, suggestions that the use of force in Iraq in the absence of a further Security Council Resolution would be “unilateral” are wrong.
It has been suggested that a number of relevant UN Security Council Resolutions refer to further action being taken by the UN Security Council, thus precluding UN Member States themselves from taking further action. In this respect, reference has been made to operative paragraph 34 of SCR 678 that states, in part, that the Security Council may “take such further steps as may be required for the implementation of the present resolution and to secure peace and security in the region”. In our view, this does not remove the authority given to Member States in SCR 678.
As at the date of this advice, the Security Council is considering a further draft resolution tabled by the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain. The content of that resolution is not settled. However, failure to adopt that resolution would not, in our view, negate the existing authority to use force. As noted above, in current circumstances that authority would only be negated by a Security Council resolution requiring Member States to refrain from using force against Iraq.
On 26 March 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question on notice concerning the United Nations role in the rehabilitation of Iraq. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
[I]t will be very important for the United Nations to put behind it the rancour we saw in the lead-up to the military disarmament of Saddam Hussein. There is no question that the United Nations will need to be involved in post-conflict Iraq. It will certainly need to be involved at the humanitarian level. It will need to assist with transitional arrangements to ensure that broader transitional arrangements work, and it will need to be involved with the process of rebuilding Iraq including, very importantly, the mobilisation of international funding for Iraq. After all, Iraq will not just have suffered from military conflict but from sanctions which have been in place for more than a decade and from the simply abominable regime of President Saddam Hussein.
We also believe that the United Nations should have a role in the administration of Iraq and that possibly there should be the appointment of somebody such as a special representative of the Secretary-General. There is, for example, one in East Timor at the moment. Although East Timor is an independent country, there is still present there a special representative of the Secretary-General. There is a variety of different ways that that position can operate. If a new Security Council resolution is required to achieve these things, then let me make the point that the Australian government believe it is enormously important that the Security Council not be politicised by some of the council members and that the Security Council ensure that it addresses – … the difficult humanitarian situation in Iraq and there not be any political game playing on the Security Council. After hostilities cease, rehabilitating Iraq will be an enormous and pressing task, as I have mentioned. We will do all we can to support the Iraqi people’s efforts to establish sound political and economic institutions based on the rule of law and democratic principles. We are focusing on assisting Iraqis to build the capacity to govern themselves. Assistance to governance will help to provide sound policies, stable institutions and the accountable systems that are a prerequisite for sustained growth and reduced poverty. We will also be assisting to create an environment conducive to private sector growth and investments in infrastructure and human capital.
Our role does not end there. We will also continue to assist efforts to work with the United Nations, as well as the United Kingdom and the United States, in a number of other different ways. We have deployed officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AusAID to participate in contingency planning for post-conflict Iraq with the United States Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. That office is based at the moment in Kuwait. Agricultural and economic experts will join the same office shortly. These experts will later be placed in Iraq itself to directly assist the Iraqi people in their reconstruction efforts.
On 26 March 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, answered a question on notice in the House of Representatives on the United Nations role in the rehabilitation of Iraq. An extract from Mr Howard’s response follows:
[I]n order for the United Nations to play an effective role in the post-conflict situation, it will need to display a greater degree of unity than it was able to muster in the pre-conflict stage. I want to say very emphatically on behalf of the Australian government that it remains our view that the United Nations failed to match the world’s need in relation to Iraq and it was left to others to match the need of the world. I hope that the role of the United Nations will be constructive.
On 28 May 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the repeal of sanctions against Iraq. An extract from the release follows:
The Government has today made regulations implementing Security Council Resolution 1483 on transitional arrangements for post-conflict Iraq. The Iraq (Reconstruction and Repeal of Sanctions) Regulations will commence upon gazettal on Thursday 29 May 2003.
The Regulations remove Australia’s domestic measures imposing restrictions on trade with Iraq. Restrictions will only be maintained in relation to trade in arms and related materiel. The Security Council‘s decision to lift sanctions lays the foundations for Iraq’s reintegration into the global marketplace. As governance and institutions consolidate, Iraq will begin to recover its economic potential. The Government’s early passage of these regulations will enable Australian companies to re-engage with a market that promises to become one of the most dynamic in the Middle Eastern region.
The new Regulations provide for the return to Iraq of financial resources belonging to the former regime. This is an important measure prescribed by the Security Council to retrieve the enormous sums of money removed from Iraq by Saddam Hussein and other senior members of his regime and their families, as well as other assets of the regime located overseas, for use in the reconstruction of Iraq. Under the Regulations, the Minister for Foreign Affairs is empowered to make arrangements for the transfer of such financial resources to the Development Fund for Iraq established by Security Council Resolution 1483 and located the within the Iraqi Central Bank. The Regulations make it an offence for a person in Australia or an Australian overseas who holds such financial resources to use or deal with them other than in accordance with instructions from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Any person or institution that holds financial resources described in this paragraph should contact the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
On 9 October 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee General Debate. An extract from the statement in relation to biological weapons follows:
The threat posed by the proliferation of biological weapons is real and increasing. Australia is committed to renewed efforts to strengthen implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and we urge all States to participate actively and constructively in all BWC meetings leading up to the next review conference in 2006.
On 1 December 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the Protocol to the Inhumane Weapons Convention. The text of the release follows:
Ninety-two countries around the world have agreed on new steps to protect civilians against injuries from unexploded munitions left behind after conflicts end.
A meeting of Parties to the Inhumane Weapons Convention
adopted an international Protocol this week which will commit Parties to remedial measures once they have signed on.
These measures include clearing explosive remnants of war such as grenades, shells and other unexploded ordnance, educating civilians on the risks of such war remnants, alerting civilians to dangerous areas, providing relevant military information to humanitarian organisations involved in clearance programs and reducing the risk posed by unexploded munitions by improving their reliability.
Thousands of people, mainly innocent children, suffer appalling injuries each year from explosive war remnants. Many more are prevented from pursuing their livelihoods because of the dangers they pose.
Australia played a prominent role in international efforts to develop the new Protocol and has donated more than $88 million to the clearance of landmines and unexploded war remnants over the past few years.
The new Protocol is now open for signature.
The Inhumane Weapons Convention was negotiated in 1980 and signed by Australia in 1983. This major agreement restricts or prohibits the use of weapons such as landmines, booby traps, blinding laser weapons and incendiary devices.
On 28 February 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the destruction of global landmine stockpiles. Extracts from the release follow:
The first day of March 2003, is the deadline for the destruction of millions of landmines around the world. Landmines are a terrible weapon, largely because of their horrific and deadly impact on ordinary people long after conflict is ended.
Australia and the other 44 original States Parties signed up to the deadline for the elimination of their landmine stocks under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (the Ottawa Convention).
I therefore welcome the news that almost 30 million landmines have been destroyed in the lead-up to that deadline.
As a strong supporter and one of the first members of the Ottawa Convention, Australia destroyed its operational stocks of approximately 135,000 landmines shortly after ratification in 1999.
Australia has also actively encouraged international efforts to meet the 1 March deadline, including by co-chairing the Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction established under the Ottawa Convention and providing technical and financial assistance for stockpile destruction in states in the Asia-Pacific.
The Australian Government is adamant that anti-personnel landmines have no place in any country’s armoury. Any military usefulness is far outweighed by the devastation landmines continue to cause civilians long after conflict.
Australia will continue to play a leading role in international efforts to find a comprehensive and lasting solution to the global landmine problem. In 1996 we committed $100 million over 10 years for demining efforts overseas.
Australia’s support for the universal adherence to the Ottawa Convention reflects its strong commitment and proactive approach to international disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.
On 9 October 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee General Debate. An extract from the statement concerning small arms follows:
In the area of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Australia has been active in promoting implementation of the UN Program of Action. A continuing priority for us will be to work with regional partners to assist Pacific Island countries strengthen small arms controls and enforcement capacity – an important element of international efforts to combat the illicit trade.
On 7 July 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the First Biennial Meeting of States on the Implementation of the Program of Action of the 2001 United Nations Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Lights Weapons in All its Aspects. An extract from the statement follows:
Building on the success of its efforts at home, Australia is committed to working with regional partners and civil society to address the challenge of small arms proliferation in our region. In particular, Australia has taken an active part in efforts to develop model legislation on weapons control in the Pacific region.
At a meeting Australia co-hosted with Japan in January 2003, Pacific Island states agreed to advance efforts to conclude the model legislation for a regional approach to weapon control. A model Weapons Control Bill will now be tabled at the Pacific Island Forum Leaders meeting to be held in Auckland in August 2003, with a strong recommendation that member countries adopt it.
Furthermore, the Australian Defence Force has been assisting Pacific Island countries to implement more effective stockpile management practices and to improve the physical security of armouries. For example, Australia has funded the construction of four new PNG Defence Force armouries and upgraded three existing armouries in an effort to improve small arms security. We will discuss the stockpile management issue in greater detail during this meeting’s thematic debate.
Australia supports increased transparency as a confidence-building measure in regional and international contexts and is pleased to announce it will increase the transparency of its defence exports – our export report will include a specific category on small arms exports.
On 4 November 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Australian Mission to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Extracts from the statement follow:
Australia is strongly committed to the three pillars which form the basis of the Agency’s mandate, namely: safety and security, science and technology, and safeguards and verification. Australia believes that the global implementation of an effective system of strengthened safeguards will deliver substantial security benefits. In Australia’s view, the Agency’s verification and promotional activities are mutually reinforcing in nature. Strengthening the credibility of the Agency’s verification system promotes confidence in nuclear science and technology.
A priority for Australia is achieving the widest possible application of the IAEA‘s Additional Protocol on strengthened safeguards. The Additional Protocol represents the new verification standard for NPT safeguards. This means that the IAEA safeguards system should come quickly to be regarded as comprising both classical safeguards and the Additional Protocol. Australia urges states yet to sign and ratify an Additional Protocol to do so as soon as possible.
Australia was the first Member State to ratify an Additional Protocol, and was pleased to be the first country in which integrated safeguards are being applied. Australia welcomes the application of integrated safeguards in Norway and Indonesia.
The safety and security of nuclear and radioactive materials must be a priority for all countries. Australia has contributed to regional and international efforts to enhance the understanding of how safety culture can be implemented in nuclear organisations. A particular focus for Australia is promoting improvements in the international safety regime for research reactors. Australia also continues to promote constructive dialogue between shipping and coastal states on the safe transport of radioactive material. And Australia has contributed to the review of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials.
Australia welcomes the adoption of the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. The Code establishes the basis for countries to commit to international best practice in these areas, integrating the traditional issues of safety with the increased importance of security.
On 9 October 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee General Debate. An extract from the statement in relation to the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation follows:
Australia is keen to see the “Hague” Code of Conduct firmly established as a universal and viable confidence-building measure to help prevent ballistic missile proliferation. Ballistic missiles are the weapon of choice for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction – their proliferation directly affects the security interests of all states. Australia is pleased that 109 states have now subscribed to the Code, although we remain disappointed that so few states in the South East Asian region have done so.
On 3 March 2003, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Extracts from the statement follow:
As my delegation stated at the last Fourth Committee debate on peacekeeping, the broad outlines of the Brahimi recommendations either have been or are in the process of being implemented. Against this background, we need to consider carefully where the attention of the C34 should now be focused. This question is relevant both to our committee, but also to DPKO. The priorities Mr Guehenno identified in his presentation to the Fourth Committee last October, and which are now reflected in the latest Secretary-General‘s report, provide us with a useful point of departure.
By focusing on these priorities or strategic objectives we have the opportunity to lift our gaze out of the weeds, so to speak, and get a clearer perspective of the path ahead. We need to keep this perspective in mind, particularly when we turn to the text of the C34 Report. The core value added of our committee should be to work with DPKO to set the broad strategic directions, and to monitor and make sure that we are achieving measurable progress.
It would, however, be counter-productive for the C34 to seek to micro-manage DPKO or the Secretariat more generally. We certainly want the Secretariat to be accountable to Member States, but we should aim to achieve this with the least burden. This is consistent with the Secretary-General‘s reform objectives, one element of which is to cut down on the number and length of Secretariat reports.
On field implementation, I would like today to signal two areas which from Australia’s perspective require particular attention. Both were dealt with extensively at the challenges Seminar which was held in Australia last year:
First, the need for principles and standard procedures to improve accountability in peace operations. The lack of clear disciplinary and accountability guidelines for UN peacekeepers needs to be fixed. We would like to see consideration given to the development of common principles and elaborated guidelines for accountability. These could draw on lessons learnt in previous peace operations and would of course also need to reflect the very different legal traditions and constitutions of contributing and host Member States.
Second, the challenge that rule of law issues pose for complex peacekeeping operations. We are very pleased to see that the Executive Committee on Peace and Security Task Force has issued a valuable report on rule of law strategies. We would appreciate assessments from DPKO on how these strategies are being implemented and whether it considers that we are now properly placed to deal with this issue in planning new missions and improving existing ones.
In this context, we would underscore the urgent need for improvements in the capacity of UN peacekeeping operations to deliver effective support for newly developing police forces where that is part of a mandate. This is of particular relevance to UNMISET, where the success of the mission could very well rest on the quality of assistance that is given to the Timor-Leste police service.
On 12 August the protocol, done at Sydney on 30 June 2003, concerning the Bougainville Transition Team made pursuant to the Agreement, done at Port Moresby on 5 December 1997, between Australia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, New Zealand and Vanuatu, concerning the Neutral Truce Monitoring Group for Bougainville, as amended by the Protocol, done at Port Moresby on 29 April 1998, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Bougainville conflict was one of the most serious and damaging conflicts to have taken place in the South Pacific region since the Second World War. Australia has been a strong and consistent supporter of the peace process in that province of PNG, having led the regional Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) since its deployment in 1998. The decision to withdraw the PMG reflects provisions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, and progress made to date in its implementation. The decision to deploy the BTT follows requests from the PNG Government and Bougainvillean leaders for a continued regional presence on Bougainville.
The success of the PMG, and the decision to deploy the BTT, demonstrates Australia’s ongoing commitment to peace on Bougainville, and the continued capacity of the South Pacific community to work together to meet challenges to peace and security in the region.
The Protocol seeks to provide the same legal protection to members of the BTT as is currently provided to members of the PMG, while seeking to retain coverage of members of the PMG until they withdraw around mid-August 2003. It was necessary to finalise the Protocol and for it to enter into force as soon as possible to provide a legal basis for the activities of members of the BTT, which was deployed at very short notice to ensure a continuity of presence beyond the PMG. It creates the Bougainville Transition Team and provides for the phasing out of the Peace Monitoring Group created in the original Agreement, as amended.
On 10 March 2003, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement in the United Nations Security Council on the Special Report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Mission of support in East Timor. Extracts from that speech follow:
Australia does not consider that recent internal security developments in Timor Leste warrant a freeze in Peace Keeping Force numbers at this time. We are concerned that a freeze would not address and may deflect attention from the more urgent issue of developing Timor Leste’s law-enforcement capacity.
It is imperative that UNMISET address the shortfall in Timor Leste’s policing capabilities and UNPOL weaknesses. The recent security incidents make clear that law enforcement will be a continuing challenge for Timor Leste, including beyond the period of UNMISET’s mandate. We would therefore support a temporary freeze in UNPOL numbers and an amended schedule for the handover of policing authority from the UN to Timor Leste. This would allow a major reorientation of UNPOL’s approach and a redirection of resources to focus seriously and systematically on capacity building within the Timor Leste Police Service. We also consider that the final report of the Joint Assessment Mission on policing, which was released publicly last week, provides the framework for a renewed UN-led effort in police development. Australia is willing to make a strong contribution to these efforts and encourage other interested countries to do likewise.
While Australia does not support a freeze in the Peace Keeping Force draw-down, we accept that security is an ongoing challenge. We would not wish the international community to unintentionally signal to elements within Timor Leste that our focus on and commitment to security in Timor Leste is wavering. Australia therefore supports a slower drawdown of the Peace Keeping Force than envisaged to ensure that the international community’s commitment to Timor Leste’s security is well understood. We would welcome a further UN proposal on a less sharp adjustment to the phasing and numbers of the Peace Keeping Force drawdown. However, we reiterate that this approach would only work if it is accompanied by a vigorous and sustained effort to address the shortfalls in Timor Leste’s policing capacity.
On 28 April 2003, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council Open Session on East Timor. Extracts from that speech follow:
Australia welcomes the Secretary-General‘s latest report on the UN Mission of support in East Timor, UNMISET.
The Secretary-General‘s report is timely. We have reached a critical stage in the life of the UN mission and in the UN’s role in East Timor. Now more than ever, the UN needs to focus on what the mission will leave behind in terms of solid and sustainable indigenous capacity in civil administration, law and justice and defence and security. We therefore strongly support the extension of the mandate for a further twelve months. This additional time will facilitate the Mission achieving its stated objectives and intent.
In policing, a good deal of essential and basic foundational work remains to be done. Australia is pleased that the Mission is re-doubling its efforts to accelerate the development of East Timor‘s institutions of law enforcement. It is crucial that commitments made on paper are translated into solid and lasting progress on the ground. The Security Council‘s 4 April amendments to the UNMISET draw down plan should help provide a secure backdrop for a renewed UN-coordinated effort in this crucial area and Australia stands ready to assist. A concerted effort in police force development from now until the end of the mission will be essential to the UN’s ultimate success in East Timor.
On 12 August 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, in the House of Representatives, delivered a Ministerial Statement to Parliament on the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). Extracts from the statement follow:
Our leadership of the regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands reflects both a national interest and an international expectation.
A failed state would not only devastate the lives of the peoples of the Solomons but could also pose a significant security risk for the whole region. Failed states can all too easily become safe-havens for transnational criminals and even terrorists. Poor governance and endemic corruption provide the conditions that support criminal activities.
If Australia wants security, we need to do all that we can to ensure that our region, our neighbourhood, is stable – that governance is strong and the rule of law is just.
That is why we have joined with the other nations of our region to lend a helping hand. Failure to act would have sent the wrong signal to those who are endeavouring to maintain stability in other parts of the Pacific.
On 25 June, the Australian Government decided to undertake a regional assistance mission to the Solomon Islands provided there was a formal request, that necessary legislation was enacted to authorise the presence of external personnel, and that the initiative was supported by the Pacific Islands Forum.
This last requirement was met when the initiative was unanimously endorsed at the meeting of the Forum’s foreign ministers held in Sydney on 30 June.
On 4 July, the Solomon Islands Governor-General, Sir John Lapli, acting on the advice of Prime Minister Kemakaza’s Cabinet, wrote to me formally requesting the assistance package. On 11 July, the parliament of the Solomon Islands supported a motion endorsing the programme of strengthened assistance. On 17 July, it unanimously passed the enabling legislation giving powers and immunities to those police and military personnel engaged in the operation.
With all our conditions met, the Australian government agreed to deploy the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands on 22 July. The code name for the operation captures our aims and our intentions – the meaning is as clear in English as in Pidgin – Helpem Fren. The nations of the Pacific are coming together to reach out to a neighbour in need.
The assistance mission is at this stage essentially a police-led operation designed to reintroduce law and order, and get guns and other weapons out of communities. Once the situation has stabilised, we can begin to implement the necessary governance and economic reforms and ensure that the Solomons has a firm foundation on which to build its future security and prosperity.
Of primary importance will be the work we undertake with the people of the Solomons to rebuild the police force, judicial institutions, correctional services and the other essential machinery of government.
Together we will work to stabilise the Solomons’ finances and ensure the delivery of basic government services.
The government hopes that there will be no need to resort to the use of force. But we need to be confident that our police contingent is adequately protected and that our military personnel could protect themselves and innocent civilians should it be necessary to do so. Recognising this, the parliament of the Solomon Islands has passed legislation to allow members of the assistance mission to use such force as is necessary to protect themselves, protect other persons or property, and to achieve the purposes of the mission.
Our immediate goal is to stop the violence so that the people of the Solomons can rebuild their lives and their institutions. The message is clear and I believe it has been heard – the time for guns is over. The people of the Solomons want the threat of illegal firearms permanently and unambiguously removed from their community.
Our commitment in the Solomon Islands signals an important change to Australia’s policy. Australia respects the sovereignty of its neighbours. Direct intervention, even by a friendly multilateral force, should always be a last resort.
Over the past years, we have made every effort to assist the people of the Solomons manage their own affairs. The descent into lawlessness over recent months finally became acute. The Solomon Islanders and ourselves both recognised that criminal gangs and corrupt individuals had taken control of their future. Their very existence as a community, as a nation, had been placed in peril.
In these circumstances we jointly concluded that intervention was not only appropriate, but necessary.
Regardless of the means, the objective has remained consistent – to return control of their own affairs to the people of the Solomon Islands.
On 18 March 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, in the House of Representatives delivered a statement on Iraq. An extract from the statement in relation to the ANZUS Treaty follows:
We make no apology for our strong alliance relationship with the United States.
The ANZUS alliance is the bedrock of our security. American leadership and military power contributes to a stable security environment in the region.
At a time of global uncertainty and major threats to regional stability, in particular on the Korean peninsula, it has never been more important to stand together against the common threats involving the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.
On 9 July 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, delivered a speech at the Proliferation Security Initiative on ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Greatest Threat to International Security’. An extract from the speech follows:
Regrettably, the United Nations Security Council‘s record on defending non-proliferation standards is patchy at best. The Security Council’s inability over many years to deal resolutely with the threat posed by Iraq‘s weapons of mass destruction was a great disappointment to the many nations who look to the Security Council to help maintain international peace and security. The Security Council must step up to the mark. The Council should leave no doubt that its actions will live up to the statement by its President on 31 January 1992 that the proliferation of all weapons of mass destruction constitutes a threat to international peace and security.
On 4 February 2003, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, in the House of Representatives, delivered a Ministerial Statement to Parliament on Iraq. An extract from that statement in relation to weapons of mass destruction generally follows:
The world has developed over time a series of treaties, conventions, protocols and control regimes both to prevent the proliferation of chemical, nuclear and biological weapons and, where possible, to eliminate such of those weapons as may exist.
Australia is vehemently opposed to the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We do not possess these weapons and we wish to ensure that they do not become an acceptable part of every nation’s arsenal. They are too dangerous. Their destructive power is hundreds of times greater than conventional weapons – terrible as they may be. Their destructive force is not easily contained or controlled and their effects can span the generations. These are no ordinary weapons.
Every time a nation is allowed to undermine the international treaties and agreements put in place to restrict or prohibit the spread of chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, the world becomes more dangerous for all nations.
On 9 July 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, delivered a speech at the Proliferation Security Initiative on ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction: The Greatest Threat to International Security’. An extract from the speech relating to weapons of mass destruction generally follows:
The mainstay for stopping the spread of WMD remains the system of treaties, export control regimes and other instruments built up over several decades. Aside from significant security benefits, they provide legitimacy for the international community’s non-proliferation efforts. Treaty regimes must have the strongest possible kit of legal and practical tools for verifying compliance. And parties to those multilateral treaties must be resolute in dealing with cases of non-compliance. Stronger disincentives are needed for those tempted to cheat on their treaty obligations and clearer incentives for those who comply in a genuinely transparent manner. We must isolate those cheats and expose them to the criticism of the international community. All states must also be vigilant in ensuring they do not supply or assist in the delivery of items that could advance proliferators WMD and missile programs – suppliers of sensitive items have a particular responsibility.
In the nuclear field, Australia considers that application of the International Atomic Energy Agency‘s strengthened safeguards system – the Additional Protocol – in recipient states should quickly come to be required by suppliers as an essential pre-requisite for nuclear supply. Governments must ensure that domestic regulatory frameworks are effective. Customs, law enforcement and intelligence are particularly important in detecting and responding to proliferators. For instance, we need adequate screening arrangements to limit the risk of contributing to WMD and missile proliferation through business and education exchanges.
On 6 June 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release concerning the 2003 annual meeting of the Australia Group. An extract from the release follows:
I welcome the decisions taken by the Australia Group at its annual meeting in Paris (2-5 June 2003) to further strengthen export controls on goods and technologies that could be used in chemical and biological weapons (CBW) programs.
Under Australia’s leadership, the Group agreed on measures that will make a significant contribution to the fight against the spread of CBW. These include
• the addition of 14 human pathogens that could potentially be used in WMD programs to the Australia Group Biological Control List;
• the endorsement of a cooperative program of action to engage countries in the Asia-Pacific region on CBW-related export control issues;
• the approval of a practical guide for compliance and enforcement officers to help detect, identify and prevent illegitimate transfers of items controlled by the Australia Group;
• new procedures for improving transparency and enhancing information sharing among members.
I welcome the continued high priority placed by members of the Australia Group on preventing the spread of CBW in the fight against terrorism, and their commitment to strengthening export control measures.
On 12 February 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question without notice in the House of Representatives concerning the North Korea nuclear issue. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
[S]ince October Australia has played an active role—we ought to and we have—in international efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear situation.
This is an enormously important issue. It is one that we are playing a significant role in and are trying to work through. It is appropriate that Australia should do that, as a significant country in the Asia-Pacific. We will continue to work at trying to find a constructive outcome to the problem of North Korea.
On 13 February 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, delivered a speech at the Korea Re-Examined conference dinner on ‘Dealing with North Korea. Extracts from the speech follow:
Our concern about the threat posed by North Korean weapons of mass destruction programs is threefold:
First, North Korea‘s actions, unnecessarily and without basis, are raising tensions on the Korean peninsula, and with the principal players in the region, including South Korea, the United States, Japan and China.
Second, North Korea‘s actions risk undermining a global consensus to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and the regimes that are in place to uphold and enforce those norms.
Third, North Korea‘s actions are a form of blackmail, to which we must respond firmly and unequivocally, in order to dissuade further such behaviour by North Korea, or indeed by other countries or groups.
Australia is playing an active role in efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the problems posed by North Korea.
On 4 November 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Australian Mission to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency. An extract from the statement in relation to the North Korea Nuclear issue follows:
Recently, the international community has been faced with significant and worrying challenges to the nuclear non-proliferation regimen. Like other countries, Australia expressed deep concern at the announcement by the DPRK of its withdrawal from the NPT and its removal of its nuclear facilities from Agency safeguards. We noted that continued pursuit by the DPRK of nuclear weapons in the face of concerted international opposition would serve only to isolate that country further from the international community and from the economic and other benefits it so desperately needs. Nuclear weapons will diminish, not enhance, the security of the DPRK.
Australia strongly supports efforts to reach a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear issue. We welcome the process of multi-party dialogue that began in Beijing in August this year and appreciate the positive role played by China in helping bring this dialogue into being. In Australia’s view, such talks hold the key to progress towards a peaceful resolution.
On 4 November 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of the Australian Mission to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency. An extract from the statement in relation to Iran follows:
Similarly, Mr President, we have been encouraged by recent developments in respect of Iran‘s nuclear activities, arising from the agreement reached between the foreign ministers of Iran, Britain, France and Germany late last month. Iran’s declared willingness to conclude a safeguards-strengthening Additional Protocol with the IAEA and to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities are important and welcome. But more important, and more welcome still, will be determined action on Iran’s part to fulfil its undertakings. It is in Iran’s own interests to heed the clear message from the international community and co-operate fully with the IAEA.
On 28 February 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the on- site inspection program under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. An extract from the release follows:
Australia’s strong support for the Test-Ban Treaty is based on the view that a complete and effective ban on nuclear testing will help prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and constrain their development.
On 9 October 2003, HE Mr Peter Tesch, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations General Assembly First Committee General Debate. An extract from the statement in relation to the Proliferation Security Initiative follows:
Given the increasing threat posed by WMD proliferation, it is incumbent on us to strengthen these arrangements through a range of complementary measures. Foremost is controlling the transfer or illicit trafficking of WMD-relevant materials and technology. All states must be vigilant in ensuring they do not supply or assist in delivering items that could advance proliferators WMD or missile programs.
Making better use of existing tools will help. But the reality is that the existing WMD regime is not, by itself, enough to stop determined proliferators. For this reason, Australia, while continuing to support and engage actively in existing WMD instruments, has joined with others in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).
The PSI is developing practical ways to further impede illicit trafficking in WMD, their delivery systems and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. The interdiction principles agreed between PSI members complement existing non-proliferation regimes and are entirely consistent with international laws. Australia strongly encourages the many states committed to preventing the spread of WMD to lend their support to this important initiative.
On 15 October 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question without notice regarding the prevention of trafficking of weapons of mass destruction. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
I can only say that I am very pleased that support for the Proliferation Security Initiative is strong and growing. Over 50 countries have now expressed their support for the aims of the initiative, and such strong support does reflect something that has changed in the international community in recent times, which is the determination of the international community to address the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. There used to be a rhetorical commitment, but what we are really seeing now is a very practical commitment to try to stop the trade in these dreadful weapons systems.
On 20 October 2003, Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the establishment of the International Criminal Court. An extract from the statement follows:
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is now a reality. Australia strongly supports the Court, and the progress it has made. We firmly believe the Court will deter people from committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity; and will make a valuable contribution to the punishment of those who do commit these egregious crimes. At the national level, we have put in place all necessary domestic legislation, and we have paid our contributions in full and on time. We urge all states parties to do likewise.
Australia now looks forward to the Court beginning its judicial work. At the same time, my delegation welcomes the Prosecutor’s comment that the number of cases which appear before the Court will not be a measure of its efficiency. The Court is complementary to individual States’ legal systems; an important principle which should be followed strictly. Australia agrees with the Prosecutor’s sentiment that the absence of trials before the Court, if this were a consequence of States’ legal systems functioning effectively, would indeed be a major success for the ICC.
Nonetheless, there will sadly be situations in which the ICC must become involved. The Court’s budget for its second financial period aims to give the Court capacity to investigate one “major situation” during that time, and to undertake “preliminary examination” of a second situation.
Australia supports this aim. However Australia thought that the Assembly of States Parties’ consideration of the budget did not always give sufficient weight to the recommendations of the Budget and Finance Committee. The Committee suggested a modest reduction of five percent to the then draft budget. Australia was impressed by the work of the ICC‘s specialist financial body, and firmly believes that its expert recommendations should not be rejected lightly.
On 17 October 2003, Senator Sue Knowles, Parliamentary Adviser to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the 58th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on measures to eliminate international terrorism. Extracts from the statement follow:
Strong cooperation between governments is critical in combating international terrorism. Much can and should be done at the regional level. In this context, Australia has established a network of bilateral counter-terrorism arrangements with other governments in the Asia-Pacific region which facilitate practical, operational-level cooperation between police, security and intelligence agencies, as well as customs, immigration, transport and financial authorities. We are also helping countries in the region build their capacity to fight terrorism in areas such as law enforcement, border management, transport security, intelligence, anti-terrorist financing, and the development of legal regimes.
In December last year, Australia and Indonesia co-hosted a Conference on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing to raise awareness, build capacity and encourage action on these issues in the Asia Pacific region. Thirty-one regional countries plus representatives from key international organisations, the private sector and non-governmental organisations were in attendance. The Conference complemented work being undertaken by the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering, which Australia currently co-chairs with the Republic of Korea.
In February next year, Australia will co-host with Indonesia a regional ministerial conference on counter-terrorism in Bali. The conference will focus on practical ways in which governments in the region can work together to strengthen their efforts to combat terrorism, especially in the critical areas of law enforcement and information sharing.
Australia is pursuing counter-terrorism initiatives in regional forums such as APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the Pacific Islands Forum. In APEC, for example, we are promoting programs in border management and energy security and are helping regional countries implement their commitments under APEC’s Secure Trade in the APEC Region (STAR) initiative.
While these regional actions are essential to combat terrorism, there must also be concerted action at the global level. The United Nations must continue to play a key role in denying terrorists the opportunity to commit their appalling crimes. Australia strongly supports the work of the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee and also commends the excellent work of the 1267 Sanctions Committee whose consolidated list is an important counter-terrorism tool. The time has come for the Counter-Terrorism Committee to be put on a firmer organisational footing. Our strong preference is to establish a small, permanent secretariat within the UN Secretariat funded from existing resources to support the work of the Committee.
Australia continues to strongly support efforts to finalise the draft comprehensive convention against terrorism, and the draft convention against nuclear terrorism. Negotiations during the Sixth Committee and in the Ad Hoc Committee on Terrorism have usefully identified the differences between delegations on these draft instruments – we must now all work to overcome these differences as soon as possible.
On 8 September 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question without notice on bilateral counter-terrorism agreements. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
These arrangements do provide a very important framework for practical cooperation on intelligence, security and defence relations between Australia and countries in the region—and cooperation at the regional level, as well as more broadly, is absolutely fundamental to ensuring that we are successful in the war against terrorism
On 18 June 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release announcing the signing of a Counter-Terrorism Agreement with Cambodia. An extract from the release follows:
The Cambodian Foreign Minister and I are signing a Memorandum of Understanding today to boost our countries’ cooperation in the fight against international terrorism.
The bilateral agreement provides a framework for increased cooperation between security, intelligence, law enforcement and defence officials.
Cooperation also will intensify between officials from other relevant agencies such as customs, immigration and transport.
As a result, intelligence exchanges on terrorism matters will increase and our efforts on law enforcement, combating terrorist financing and controlling our borders will be enhanced.
The agreement also provides for counter-terrorism training and education and technical assistance programs.
Australia and Cambodia enjoy a longstanding bilateral relationship with substantial people-to-people, economic, development and security links.
As the White Paper on Foreign Affairs and Trade states, the war against terrorism underlines the importance of Australia’s defence and law enforcement relationships, especially with countries in our region.
In deepening our relationship with Cambodia, this agreement will also help protect Australians and Australia’s interests at home and abroad. This is one of the Government’s highest priorities.
On 25 August 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the Australian-East Timorese Counter-Terrorism Agreement. An extract from the release follows:
The East Timorese Foreign Minister, Dr Jose Ramos-Horta, and I today sign a Memorandum of Understanding to boost cooperation between our countries in the fight against international terrorism.
The arrangement provides a framework for increased cooperation between security and law enforcement officials, as well as officials from other relevant agencies such as customs, immigration and transport.
As a result, information exchanges on terrorism matters will increase and our efforts on law enforcement and controlling our borders will be enhanced. The arrangement also provides for counter-terrorism training and education and technical assistance programs.
Australia will continue to stand by East Timor and help build its capacity, in partnership with its neighbours, to deal with traditional and non-traditional security challenges.
Australia and East Timor enjoy a close bilateral relationship with substantial people-to-people, economic, development and security links. This counter-terrorism arrangement will deepen our relationship with East Timor and will also help protect Australians and Australia’s interests at home and abroad. This is one of the Government’s highest priorities.
The campaign against terrorism underlines the importance of Australia’s defence and law enforcement relationships, especially with countries in our region.
On 28 August 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the Australian-Indian Counter-Terrorism Agreement. An extract from that release follows:
India‘s Minister of External Affairs and I today sign an agreement to join forces in the battle against regional and global terrorism.
The Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Combating International Terrorism will forge closer cooperation between our respective security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies. This is the eighth counter-terrorism arrangement the Australian Government has signed, as we work to build broad regional co-operation in the vital battle against terrorism.
On 4 March 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the signing of a Counter-Terrorism Agreement with Papua New Guinea. An extract from the release follows:
Australian efforts to combat terrorism throughout our region have been boosted with the signing of a counter-terrorism arrangement with Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea‘s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, and I signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Counter-Terrorism at the annual Australia-PNG Ministerial Forum, held today in Adelaide.
The arrangement provides for increased cooperation in the areas of security, law enforcement, defence, customs, immigration and transport.
Importantly, it also allows for joint investigations of terrorist activities and border control issues. Joint action can also be taken to fight money laundering, terrorist financing, smuggling and the illegal trafficking in weapons and explosives.
The security of both countries will be enhanced by the resulting exchanges of information and intelligence, joint operational and training activities and capacity-building initiatives.
Our close historical ties and the extensive personal relationships between Australians and Papua New Guineans underpin a common interest in peace and stability in a region free from terrorism.
The MOU on Counter-Terrorism is a positive development in our bilateral relations and will build on the already close links between our respective operational agencies.
On 4 March 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release in relation to the signing of a Counter-Terrorism Agreement with the Philippines. An extract from that release follows:
The Philippines Foreign Secretary Blas Olpe and I today are signing a Memorandum of Understanding to boost our countries’ cooperation in the fight against international terrorism.
The bilateral agreement builds on our already strong relationship and provides a framework for increased cooperation between security, intelligence, law enforcement and defence officials.
Cooperation also will intensify between officials from other relevant agencies such as customs, immigration and transport.
As a result, intelligence exchanges on terrorism matters will increase and our efforts on law enforcement, combating terrorist financing and controlling our borders will be enhanced.
The agreement also provides for counter-terrorism training and education and technical assistance programs.
Australia and the Philippines enjoy a longstanding bilateral relationship with substantial links through commerce, defence and security cooperation, development assistance and people to people ties.
On 17 February 2003, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, delivered a speech to the Australian Industry Group on ‘The War on Terror: Implications for Business and Industry’. An extract from the speech in relation to regional security follows:
[W]ith few exceptions, the countries of our region face real challenges in developing the capacity to confront, and defeat, terrorism.
So we will continue to work hard in our region – particularly in South East Asia – to strengthen intelligence, law enforcement, and counter-terrorism capabilities.
We are negotiating agreements designed to enhance counter-terrorism cooperation with the Philippines, India and Fiji to add to those we already have with Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
We are providing a $10 million, four-year assistance package for Indonesia to support the development of its counter-terrorism capabilities.
We have jointly hosted with Indonesia a conference to combat terrorist financing and money laundering.
And we are active in regional groupings such as the Pacific Islands Forum, the ASEAN Regional Forum and the APEC Forum, to ensure that these bodies maintain focus on one of the most important issues of our times.
On 4 April 2003, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations, delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. Extracts from the statement in relation to the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) follow:
It is vital that the international community adopts a comprehensive, coherent and cooperative approach to fighting terrorism. Security Council Resolution 1373 provides both the obligation and the framework for such an approach. The CTC in turn has played an important role in the realisation of that obligation.
In particular, the CTC has ensured that the flow of information between states and organizations highlights methods of best-practice, fosters cooperation and facilitates the provision of international assistance that is critical to achieving our goal of reducing the threat posed by international terrorist networks. The adoption of the Ministerial Declaration under UNSCR 1456 has underlined the importance of the CTC and these aspects of its role.
We commend the CTC‘s recent focus on strengthening the role of regional and international organisations in counter-terrorism activities, reflected in the special meeting held here in New York on 6 March. The counter-terrorism work of regional and sub-regional organisations is central to building the capacity needed to fight terrorism. In the same way that the CTC is a hub for action by UN member states, regional organisations have an important role in disseminating information, providing and facilitating assistance, and developing effective regional counterterrorism strategies. We encourage all UN members to fully support the counter-terrorism work of the regional organisations they belong to and to actively look for ways to improve the effectiveness of that work. By doing that, members will not only enhance the safety of their own regional neighbourhoods but also strengthen the broader international counter-terrorism network.
The task of monitoring the implementation of Resolution 1373 is likely to continue for some time. In this context, we want to acknowledge the Committee’s valuable role in helping to coordinate the availability and provision of broader counter-terrorism capacity-building assistance for those countries in need. It is vital that every member state that needs help developing counterterrorism legislation and law enforcement capacity, for example, is able to get access to the assistance they require. Australia urges UN member states to strongly support the CTC‘s work in that area.
On 24 November 2003, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, answered a question without notice on people smuggling. Extracts from Mr Downer’s response follow:
[T]he sheer scale of the crime of people smuggling does demand a serious response. It is estimated that four million people are smuggled or trafficked across international borders each year. We are working very actively with other countries, in particular the countries in our region, to shut down this criminal activity. We do not want to leave in place incentives for this activity to continue.
I particularly refer to the regional cooperation arrangements we have had in place with Indonesia since 2000. They have allowed the International Organisation for Migration to care for potential illegal immigrants and the UNHCR to process asylum claims. Since 2000, more than 3,900 people have been processed in this way. That is 3,900 people who could have come to Australia illegally if it had not been for the cooperation that we have had. The SIEV14 case again demonstrated that regional cooperation arrangements are working. Those arrangements ensure that bona fide refugees have access to international protection, but they also ensure that smugglers are going to be thwarted. Our arrangements with Indonesia, as well as our offshore processing centres in Nauru and on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, have sent a clear message to the people smugglers that Australia is closed to this evil business. The fact that only two boats have made it to Australia in the last two years is an illustration of the enormous success of the policy.
On 3 December 2003, the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, done at New York on 15 November 2000, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The TOC Convention provides a global approach to preventing and combating transnational organised crime. The purpose of the Convention is to criminalise offences committed by organised criminal groups, to combat money laundering, and to facilitate international cooperation in the fight against transnational organised crime.
The TOC Convention encourages States to adopt comprehensive measures to combat transnational organised crime. It provides a standardised approach to criminalisation and ensures States Parties have systems in place to facilitate law enforcement cooperation. Ratification of the TOC Convention will therefore strengthen Australia’s law enforcement cooperation with other countries.
Ratification of the TOC Convention will also support Australia’s work as co-chair of the Regional Ministerial Conferences on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime. As co-chair of these conferences with Indonesia, the Australian Government has taken an active role in promoting regional cooperation to break down the criminal networks responsible for transnational crime. Australia and Indonesia issued co-chair statements after both Regional Ministerial Conferences encouraging states to consider ratifying the TOC and its People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons Protocols.
On 3 December 2003, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, done at New York on 15 November 2000, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, done at New York on 15 November 2000, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Protocol supplements the Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (the TOC Convention), which entered into force generally on 29 September 2003. The proposed ratification of the TOC Convention by Australia is the subject of a separate proposed treaty action and national interest analysis.
The Protocol forms a key element of a global approach to prevent and combat transnational organised crime established by the TOC Convention. The purpose of the Protocol is to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, especially women and children, through a comprehensive international approach including measures to prevent trafficking, punish traffickers and protect the victims of trafficking.
Ratifying the Protocol is in Australia’s interests as it highlights Australia’s domestic efforts in the international arena, demonstrates Australia’s commitment to working with other destination and source countries and ensures that Australia’s approach to trafficking is consistent with the approach of other parties.
On 3 December 2003, the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (People Smuggling Protocol), done at New York on 15 November 2000, supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime, done at New York on 15 November 2000, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Protocol forms a key element of a global approach to prevent and combat transnational organised crime established by the TOC Convention. The purpose of the Protocol is to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants, to promote cooperation among State Parties to that end, and to protect the rights of smuggled migrants.
Ratification of the Protocol will strengthen Australia’s domestic efforts to combat transnational organised crime. In conjunction with ratifying the TOC Convention and the Protocol Against Trafficking, the Protocol under consideration forms part of a comprehensive package to combat transnational organised crime that will further strengthen Australia’s efforts in the region to address terrorism and increase cooperation in combating people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime.
Ratification of the Protocol will have the benefit of demonstrating Australia’s commitment to the prevention of transnational organised crime and, in particular, its commitment to ending the appalling trade in human beings. Ratification may also assist in achieving Australia’s overall aim of combating terrorism throughout the region as such a stance may further promote regional cooperation in this area.
On 23 October 2003, a statement was delivered for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 58th Session by Mr Michael Bliss, Counsellor for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations in New York, on the scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety and Security of United Nations and Associated Personnel. Extracts from the statement follow:
The adoption of short-term measures to improve the scope of legal protection of UN and associated personnel is welcome. As a result of our work in the Sixth Committee in the past two years, the inclusion of key provisions of the Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel in status of forces, status of missions, and host-country agreements is now standard. Similarly, the adoption by the Security Council of Resolution 1502 last month is a useful step forward. But this, while useful, is not sufficient. It is also necessary to extend the scope of legal protection for UN and associated personnel beyond that contained currently in the Convention.
This committee has done much in the fight against impunity – not only through the elaboration of the statute of the International Criminal Court, but also through the elaboration of practical and effective “prosecute or extradite” regimes for various terrorist offences. Now, we have the opportunity to combat impunity for those who commit attacks against UN and associated personnel. It is an opportunity we should take.
Although differences remain, there is a broadly shared view that an expanded scope should not necessarily extend to all UN and associated personnel – rather, reference to some element of risk may be appropriate in defining the scope of coverage. My delegation would prefer to incorporate this notion of risk by reference to particular types of designations of missions, rather than the specific situation that they face, but we know there are different views on this. For my delegation, the key will be to ensure a clear and objective threshold for application of an expanded scope of legal protection.
The question of how other provisions of the Convention, including Articles 7, 8 and 9, would apply under an expanded scope will also need to be considered. In this, my delegation’s starting point will be to ensure that the existing regime is not weakened.
There appears to be general agreement that any expansion of the scope of the Convention should not disturb the existing legal regime. My delegation fully supports this objective, and so would support an optional protocol as the appropriate instrument by which to effect an expansion of the scope. We heard broad support for this approach, and believe that we should focus on this model in our future work.