Annual Report 2004-2005

Annual Report home |

Table of Contents |

Userguide |

Download versions

1. Overviews2. Performance3. Corporate4. Appendixes5. Financials6. Glossaries and Compliance Index

Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.1 > 1.1.1 International organisations, legal and environment

OUTPUT 1.1: Protection and advocacy of Australia's international interests through the provision of policy advice to ministers and overseas diplomatic activity

1.1.7 International organisations, legal and environment

On this page: Overview :: United Nations :: Environment :: Law of the sea and Antarctica :: International law :: Treaties and outreach :: Human rights :: People smuggling and trafficking


The department played a lead role in whole of government efforts to advance Australia's extensive international political, legal and environmental interests in multilateral and other forums.

The department, including through our Mission to the United Nations in New York, strongly supported UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's work to revitalise the UN system to deal with contemporary development, security and institutional issues. We gave our support through contributions to the Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, and to deliberations in New York in the lead-up to the September 2005 high-level UN Summit.

Following the devastating tsunami on 26 December 2004, the department successfully led Australia's international efforts to establish an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS) under the auspices of UNESCO's Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), with the secretariat to be located in Perth. We developed a legal framework to facilitate the delivery of Australian assistance following the tsunami.

The department-led Australian negotiating team made significant progress towards agreement with East Timor on sharing resource revenues in the Timor Sea. The agreement would greatly assist East Timor's economic development and bring economic benefits to Australia. With the Attorney-General's Department and Geoscience Australia, we prepared and presented Australia's landmark submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The submission defines Australia's sovereign rights to 3.4 million square kilometres of seabed and related resources beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The department coordinated a major international lobbying campaign in the lead-up to and at the 2005 International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting, which helped defeat attempts to reintroduce commercial whaling. We contributed to the Government's efforts to promote practical, technology-driven and economically sustainable approaches to managing global greenhouse gas emissions, including at an APEC Business and Climate Change Workshop in Seoul co-hosted by Australia's Ambassador for the Environment.

The Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues continued to work closely with Indonesian counterparts and relevant Australian departments and agencies to promote practical regional cooperation to combat people smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime through the Bali process. The Bali process has helped develop strong networks, habits of cooperation and improved capacity among regional operational agencies dealing with these difficult transnational issues.

The department, including through our UN Mission in Geneva, made a strong contribution to the work of the Commission on Human Rights and secured Australia's election for a further term on the Commission (2006–08). We led Australian delegations to two useful rounds of bilateral dialogue with China on human rights.

United Nations

The department, including through our UN mission in New York, strongly supported UN Secretary-General Annan's efforts to reform the UN system to make it more efficient and responsive to contemporary challenges. We helped shape the December 2004 report of the Secretary-General's High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which included former foreign minister Gareth Evans as a member, by providing constructive ideas directly to panel members and the panel's secretariat.

The Secretary-General drew extensively on the report in his March 2005 report, In larger freedom, for consideration by governments in the lead up to the September 2005 UN Summit of world leaders. At the request of the President of the UN General Assembly, Australia's UN Ambassador facilitated discussion of security issues in advance of the Summit.

The department continued to promote other core Australian interests in the UN system. We supported an appropriate UN role in the conduct of elections in Iraq. Through our mission in New York, we engaged productively with Security Council members on issues of importance to Australia, including: negotiation of viable arrangements in East Timor following the withdrawal of the UN Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET); the smooth withdrawal of the UN Observer Mission in Bougainville; and, through combined advocacy with others countries, the referral to the International Criminal Court of breaches of international humanitarian law in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The department secured Australia's election to a range of international organisations, at times in strongly contested campaigns. This has enabled us to influence the operation of these bodies in ways consistent with our national interests and our relevant international legal and human rights obligations. The bodies include: the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation; the Commission on Human Rights; the Commission on Narcotic Drugs; the Commission on Sustainable Development; the Program Coordination Board of the Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS; and the Governing Councils of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the Universal Postal Union.

With our assistance, distinguished Australian judge Justice Kevin Parker was re-elected to the panel of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.


Tsunami warning

The department led Australia's international efforts resulting in the establishment of an Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWS) on 28 June 2005, under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission within the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The UN secretariat of the IOTWS will be located in Perth.

With other relevant agencies, we coordinated the establishment of an Australian tsunami warning system, which will underpin Australia's contribution to the IOTWS and the facilitation of tsunami warnings for the South West Pacific.


The department coordinated a major international lobbying effort, including through Australia's diplomatic network, to promote the Government's pro-conservation agenda before and during the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in the Republic of Korea in June 2005. With IWC members sharply divided, we supported the Minister for the Environment and Heritage in helping to defeat Japan's attempts to reintroduce commercial whaling and to maintain an IWC focus on whale conservation.

Climate change

Led by the Ambassador for the Environment, the department promoted the Government's objective of a more effective, equitable and inclusive response to climate change. We supported the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and contributed strongly to deliberations in two forums—the Tenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Buenos Aires in December 2004, and the Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable hosted by the United Kingdom in March 2005. We continued our prominent international role as chair of the Umbrella Group (Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Ukraine and the United States), an influential group in international climate change negotiations.

The department engaged in other multilateral initiatives to promote the development and adoption of strategic climate change and energy technologies, including carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, renewable energy, energy efficiency and methane capture and use. We supported Australia's bilateral climate change arrangements with the United States, the European Union, Japan, New Zealand and China. With other agencies, the department supported the creation of the Asia–Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, which aims to develop climate change solutions that protect the environment, promote economic development and reduce poverty.

The Ambassador for the Environment, with her counterpart from South Korea, co-hosted the first APEC Business and Climate Change Workshop in Seoul in April 2005. The workshop attracted 104 participants from 24 countries, including regional industry leaders and key climate and energy policy-makers. It was welcomed for its practical focus on climate change approaches compatible with sustainable economic growth.

Other international environment negotiations

The department led Australia's engagement in several major international environment negotiations and forums, securing outcomes that advanced Australia's environment and trade interests. We supported the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Trade at the UN ministerial meeting for the 10-year review of the Barbados program of action for the sustainable development of small island developing states (Mauritius, January 2005). We highlighted our support for the sustainable development of Pacific island countries at the meeting.

We led Australia's delegation to the second meeting of the parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (Montreal, May–June 2005). Our close consultation with like-minded agricultural exporting countries contributed to meeting outcomes that did not impose new burdensome documentation or legal requirements on Australia's wheat trade.

Law of the sea and Antarctica

Photo - See caption below for description
An Australian observer team conducting inspections under Article VII of the Antarctic Treaty in the Ross Sea region of Antarctica in January 2005. Left to right are: Dr Conall O'Connell (Deputy Secretary, Department of the Environment and Heritage); Chris Moraitis (Senior Legal Adviser, DFAT, and leader of the Australian observer team); Brian Stone (US National Science Foundation representative, in charge of McMurdo Station); and Andrew Jackson (Manager, Antarctic and International Policy, Australian Antarctic Division). Photo: C O'Connell
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department supported Mr Downer in leading policy formulation and negotiations on Australia–East Timor maritime boundaries and revenue-sharing issues. The aim was to provide the legal and fiscal certainty to allow development of the Greater Sunrise gas reservoirs for the benefit of both countries. Following the last formal round of talks in May 2005, Australia and East Timor are liaising on an agreement that would defer the question of permanent maritime boundaries while providing East Timor with an increased share of Greater Sunrise revenues. With revenue already flowing from the Joint Development Petroleum Area, such an agreement would further assist East Timor's economic development.

Following the successful conclusion of negotiations on an Australia–New Zealand maritime boundary in April 2004, the Minister for Foreign Affairs signed the agreement with his New Zealand counterpart in July 2004. This has settled our longest outstanding maritime boundary.

The department worked closely with the Attorney-General's Department and Geoscience Australia to finalise (November 2004) and present (April 2005) Australia's submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS). The submission defines Australia's entitlement to an extended shelf in ten areas, including the Australian Antarctic Territory. The CLCS process is a critical step towards securing international recognition of Australia's sovereign rights over large areas of seabed beyond Australia's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Australia's submission is the largest and most comprehensive of its type to date. Through extensive international consultations, the department allayed concerns of a number of states about the Antarctic elements of Australia's submission, thereby preserving our important Antarctic interests.

We made a strong contribution to the Government's efforts to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in Australian waters, with the aim of ensuring sustainable management of fisheries resources and protection of Australia's sovereign interests in its EEZ. We continued negotiating a number of draft bilateral fisheries cooperation and enforcement agreements (including with France and South Africa). We used our diplomatic network to promote international action to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity, including through representations on a number of suspected illegal fishing vessels. We successfully advocated the establishment of a centralised vessel-monitoring system, adopted at the November 2004 meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.

The department continued to promote Australian interests in the Antarctic, playing a key role in negotiating an international liability regime for damage to the Antarctic environment. The regime was adopted in Stockholm in June 2005. Under it, we led an Australian team to inspect United States and New Zealand Antarctic bases and review their compliance with Antarctic Treaty obligations. We also hosted a visit to Australia by the newly appointed Secretary of the Antarctic Treaty Secretariat.

International law

The department developed a cooperative decision-making legal framework for the provision of Australian assistance to regional states in response to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. We were instrumental in establishing appropriate legal frameworks for the deployment of Australian personnel to Iraq and Sudan. We provided legal advice and expertise on challenges to the legal framework of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the Enhanced Cooperation Program in Papua New Guinea.

With the Attorney-General's department, we assisted the repatriation of Mr Habib and helped ensure an improved judicial process for Mr Hicks. We are continuing to support ministers in seeking an expedited legal process for Mr Hicks.

Working with other areas of government, financial institutions and non-government organisations (NGOs), we continued our lead role in implementing Australia's international obligations in relation to terrorist financing, consistent with Australian law. We discussed means of increasing international cooperation and oversight to combat terrorist financing with Ambassador Heraldo Munoz, chair of the UN Security Council's 1267 Committee on sanctions against Al Qaida and the Taliban, during his October 2004 visit to Australia, which the department organised. We contributed to a positive international review of Australia's compliance with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations on money laundering and terrorist financing.

The department ensured that Australia's obligations under new or strengthened sanctions regimes established by the UN Security Council, including in relation to Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire, were implemented in domestic law.

Treaties and outreach

As part of the department's public outreach program highlighting the role of treaties and treaty-making, we co-hosted a special symposium to mark the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, at which Mr Downer gave the keynote address. We also organised an informative and popular exhibition in Parliament House on the Antarctic Treaty.

We continued to facilitate parliamentary scrutiny of treaty-making, providing comprehensive support to the Commonwealth Parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) in its review of 20 new treaties prior to their entry into force.

Human rights

At the 61st session of the UN Commission on Human Rights (CHR), the Australian delegation, led by our UN Ambassador in Geneva, promoted practical improvements to international observance and implementation of human rights standards. Australian-run resolutions on good governance and national human rights institutions were adopted by consensus. We won acceptance of improved access to CHR for national institutions. We also contributed to good outcomes on resolutions dealing with the human rights situations in Sudan, North Korea, Cuba and Myanmar, but were disappointed that the Commission failed to take action in regard to egregious human rights abuses in other countries.

Despite improvements to the operational efficiency of CHR, introduced during the Australian presidency at its 60th session, its inability to take action on a number of serious human rights situations brought its substantive flaws into sharp relief at a time when the UN Secretary-General has proposed significant reform of the UN human rights machinery. The department, through our UN missions in New York and Geneva, is working with others to promote practical proposals to strengthen the UN human rights machinery to make human rights abusers more accountable for their actions.

Bilateral human rights dialogues

The department led delegations to bilateral dialogues with China and Vietnam. The dialogues continued to provide important forums for frank and constructive exchanges on human rights and for identifying areas where Australia can help dialogue partners implement international human rights standards, including through technical cooperation (see sub-output 1.1.1 for more information on the China dialogue).

Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination

Australia's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva led Australia's delegation appearing before the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in March 2005. As a leading proponent of reform of the UN human rights treaty bodies, we welcomed the improved procedural efficiency and cooperation that marked our appearance before the Committee, although we were disappointed by some ill-informed comments by a few members. We will be responding to the committee's concluding observations by early 2006.

Representations and consultations on human rights

Australian overseas posts made representations on individual human rights cases and issues of concern throughout the year. The department continued its regular human rights consultations with Australian and international NGOs, which enable a valuable two-way flow of information and advice on human rights issues of public interest.

Human Rights Manual

In August 2004 the department published the third edition of the Human Rights Manual. The manual provides extensive information on international human rights instruments and their history and is a valuable public diplomacy tool in describing current government policy.

People smuggling and trafficking

Working closely with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and other Australian agencies, the Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues led Australia's efforts to improve regional cooperation against people smuggling and trafficking through the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime (co-chaired with Indonesia). More information on the Bali process can be found at

Flowing from regional agreement at the June 2004 Senior Officials' Meeting, the Bali process developed a dynamic and diverse program of regional, sub-regional and national activities during the year involving foreign ministry, immigration, justice, law enforcement, development assistance and family/women's affairs agencies. Bali process workshops took place in different regional countries. They focused on practical cooperative measures and capacity-building with respect to: operational law enforcement cooperation; raising public awareness of the need to protect victims of trafficking; targeting the people smugglers and traffickers; information exchange on lost and stolen passports; and developing coordinated inter-agency national action plans to eradicate trafficking in persons. These activities have helped develop strong networks, habits of cooperation and improved capacity among regional operational agencies dealing with these difficult transnational issues.

The department worked with other agencies to implement and publicise the Government's Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons.

We remained an active member of the inter-agency People Smuggling Task Force. Through our network of overseas posts and in close cooperation with other relevant departments, we continued to work with host government authorities to disrupt and respond to people smuggling operations. The department helped extradite one alleged people smuggler from Thailand.

Return to top of page

Next page: Security, nuclear, disarmament and non-proliferation
Previous page: Trade development/policy coordination and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2004–2005
Home | Table of Contents | Userguide | Download versions
Overviews | Performance | Corporate | Financials | Appendixes | Glossaries and Compliance Index

Australian Government
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Home | Copyright | Disclaimer | Privacy


Valid XHTML 1.0 Valid CSS