Global Issues : Sub-program 1.7
The International Security Division and the International Organisations and Legal Division administer this sub-program, with specialist support from the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO). The divisions’ areas of responsibility also include four Australian overseas posts: New York UN, Geneva UN, Vienna and Honolulu. The International Organisations and Legal Division also provides a base and services for Australia’s Ambassador for the Environment, Mr Ralph Hillman.
In August 1998, following the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office was established, combining the functions of the former Australian Safeguards Office, the Chemical Weapons Convention Office and the Australian Comprehensive Test-Ban Office. The Director General of ASNO, a statutory officer, produces a separate annual report. Copies are available directly from ASNO: telephone (02) 6261 1920.
n.a.: Not applicable.
Goals that the department pursued during the year were the restriction of budget levels in the United Nations and its specialised agencies to zero nominal growth and the implementation of the principles of results-based budgeting. Zero nominal growth budgets for 2000–01 were achieved for the International Telecommunication Union, World Health Organization and International Labour Organisation.
We maintained an active role in reform-oriented UN groups: the Geneva Group, which pursues administrative, personnel and budgetary reforms within the UN and specialised agencies; and the Group of Sixteen (G16), which is contributing to planning for the UN Millennium Assembly and Summit. Reform pressure was maintained through our position as Vice-Chairman of the Fifth Committee (administrative and budgetary issues) at the 53rd Session of the UN General Assembly. This also enabled us to contribute to a negotiated consensus result on the UN budget outline for 2000–01, which was within a zero growth framework. This was a good outcome given the opposition of a large majority of states to zero nominal growth.
At the 55th Annual Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the department worked with other like-minded delegations to secure the adoption of key reform recommendations proposed by the Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives.
At the Resumed Substantive Session of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), we worked with the US delegation to draft a resolution ensuring that ECOSOC reform issues, including financial and budgetary reform, remained a priority.
We also provided a platform for discussion on the reform of the UN electoral group system by holding a seminar on this issue in conjunction with the UN University in March 1999. The seminar, which successfully brought together key academics, permanent representatives to the United Nations, and UN Secretariat representatives, added to the momentum for change to the electoral group system.
In concert with delegations sharing similar views, we were instrumental in ensuring that the Commonwealth Secretariat accepted a comprehensive plan for its administrative and structural reform, and that the Joint Body Meetings in June 1999 endorsed this approach.
The success of the department’s work over recent years to promote national human rights institutions as valuable mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights became increasingly evident in 1998–99. Growing numbers of national human rights institutions are being established: for example in Fiji, the Republic of Korea and Thailand. Increasing support for this mechanism from both Asia-Pacific and Western countries was also evident in the co-sponsorship of relevant resolutions in UN forums and in funding for relevant UN technical assistance programs. In addition, Mr Downer’s proposal for a national human rights institution in Burma received a positive initial hearing.
Our bilateral human rights dialogue with China was consolidated in its second round in Canberra, and there was a broadening of our exchanges on human rights with a range of other regional states, including Thailand and Korea. These are long-term departmental engagements, but progress is apparent in the increased frankness of these exchanges, and in the better targeting and management of technical cooperation.
The department was instrumental in the development of an international work program on climate change that was agreed at the Fourth Conference of the Parties meeting in November 1998. This program will lead to rules for the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, which will meet Australia’s economic and environmental interests. We made maximum use of the Umbrella Group (Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Japan, Norway, Iceland, Russia and Ukraine, with Kazakhstan as an observer) to promote common national objectives in these negotiations.
We developed and promoted whole-of-government views for a negotiating session for a biosafety pp[pprotocol in February 1999. Along with a number of other countries, we determined that the proposed text was unworkable and that it failed to reflect either our national environmental interests, as a country with significant biodiversity, or our trade interests, as a WTO member. The negotiations are continuing.
As lead negotiator for the Government, the department contributed to finalising the text for the Prior Informed Consent Convention to reflect our negotiating objectives and advance national hazardous chemicals interests. Following the conclusion of negotiations in June 1999, the Government decided to sign the Prior Informed Consent Convention.
The department also played a critical role in developing and promoting Australia’s case to the World Heritage Committee on the proposed listing of Kakadu as ‘in danger’.
The department continued to address misunderstandings related to Australia’s policies and programs for Indigenous peoples in UN and other forums, including the Commission on Human Rights, the Working Group on Indigenous Populations (WGIP), and the Working Group on the Draft Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (WGDDRIP). Positive outcomes included the WGIP’s recognition of Australia’s leading role in Indigenous education, and support by a number of states in the WGDDRIP for Australia’s position on the use of the term ‘self-determination’ in the draft declaration.
Meetings of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, including the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Science Conference held in Sydney in December 1998, were used by the department to promote Australia’s expertise and achievements in the areas of education, culture, natural and social sciences, communications and youth activities. The communiqué and report of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Science Conference were the basis of regional preparation for the UNESCO World Conference on Science in June 1999.
With substantial input from the department, two regional forums—the Asia-Pacific Group on Refugees, Migrants and Displaced Persons, and the UN Asia-Pacific Workshops on Regional Cooperation for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights—agreed on technical programs and further consultation on regional issues related to human rights and refugees.
At the South Pacific Forum Regional Security Committee meeting in June 1999, a proposal for the establishment of a Financial Intelligence Unit for the Pacific Region was tabled, following departmental negotiation and Australian lobbying at the November 1998 Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering Typologies Workshop. This proposal is designed to assist financial intelligence exchange in our region and lead to increased detection of criminal activity.
The department supported seven successful Australian candidatures in multilateral elections.
In October 1998, Justice David Hunt was elected to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, contributing to Australia’s continuing participation in bodies concerned with human rights and humanitarian law. The department played a leading role in organising his campaign.
Dr John Zillman was elected President of the Executive Council of the World Meteorological Organization in May 1999. The department worked closely with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology on this campaign. We also worked with Environment Australia on Australia’s election in May 1999 to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, and provided assistance with Australia’s election to the International Civil Aviation Organisation Council, the UN Committee on Contributions, the International Telecommunication Union Council, and the Administrative Council of the International Institute for the Unification of Private Law (UNIDROIT).
In a strongly contested election for Deputy Director-General of the International Organisation for Migration, with a prevailing strong sentiment for a developing country candidate, Australia’s candidate, Ms Jenny Bedlington, was defeated by one vote in the sixth round of voting. Australia was also unsuccessful in elections for the International Telecommunication Union Standardization Bureau and for the position of Director of the International Maritime Satellite Organization, where Mr David Sagar was defeated by a similarly well-qualified and highly regarded candidate.
The department also played a leading role in 1998–99 in support of Mr Michael Palmer’s candidature for Secretary-General of Interpol and Mr Gareth Evans’ bid to become Director-General of UNESCO. Shortlisting for the Secretary-General of Interpol will take place in July 1999; the election for the Director-General of UNESCO will be held in November 1999. Five other candidatures—to the UNESCO Executive Board, the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, the International Maritime Organization, the Postal Operations Council of the Universal Postal Union, and the Council of Administration—are ongoing.
The department held regular interdepartmental meetings to discuss issues relating to the United Nations, specialised agencies and the Commonwealth, and convened consultations with other stakeholders on environmental and human rights issues. These forums provided opportunities to inform, and to seek contributions from, key stakeholders in developing Australian positions related to international organisations and negotiations.
We also offered stakeholders opportunities to participate in Government delegations attending multilateral negotiating sessions relating to the Persistent Organic Pollutants Convention, Prior Informed Consent Convention, Biosafety Protocol, Climate Change Convention and the Executive Committee of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Programme.
We were involved in establishing the Australian National Commission for UNESCO for the term 1999–2001. This body consults and provides advice to Government and stakeholders on all matters relating to UNESCO and its programs.
Departments participating in key international conferences were also provided with advice and briefings. These conferences included the World Health Assembly, the International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference, the International Labour Organisation Conference, and the Commonwealth Law Ministers’ Meeting. In addition, the department coordinated briefings for other significant international meetings, including the 53rd Session of the UN General Assembly, the Commonwealth Senior Officials’ Meeting, and meetings of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and the UN Economic and Social Council.
Drawing substantially on proposals we developed and advanced, the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) meeting of senior officials agreed to develop procedures for an enhanced role for the ARF Chair in resolving disputes, and to determine principles on which the ARF can conduct preventive diplomacy. This agreement has opened the way for the first substantive discussion on preventive diplomacy in the ARF.
The department encouraged confidence building among ARF members by co-hosting, with the Department of Defence, an ARF seminar on the production of defence white papers. We also developed a proposal for a seminar for ARF defence officials on the law of armed conflict, to be held in November 1999.
The department provided timely analysis and policy recommendations on strategic and security issues through participation in the Secretaries Committee on National Security. We similarly supported the National Security Committee of Cabinet: the Government’s key decision-making body on foreign policy, defence and intelligence matters.
We established an ‘open source collection unit’ to provide comprehensive coverage of the Indonesian media. Acknowledged by users as a high-quality, targeted service covering political, economic, bilateral and multilateral issues, it responded effectively to requirements for information on developments in Indonesia.
The initiation of dialogues with Russia and Thailand, and agreement on a new dialogue with France were evidence of our continued development of a network of politico-military and regional security dialogues with key regional and global countries. Through these dialogues, the Government helped to shape the perceptions held by dialogue partners of the regional and global security environment.
The department led Australian policy development in relation to key strategic issues, including:
We also contributed to the Government’s efforts to stem illegal immigration, including through the Secretary’s participation in the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Coastal Surveillance. The report of this task force in June 1999 recognised the central role of heads of mission in relevant overseas posts in coordinating Australian Government actions. Such activities included the collection of information on people smuggling, making representations to host governments, and disseminating information on Australian policies within local communities.
The department contributed to a coordinated Government approach on strategic policy issues through our key role at senior officials’ level in the Strategic Policy Coordination Group, which also includes the Department of Defence and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
We continued to contribute significantly to the negotiations on a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention. In September 1998, at Mr Downer’s initiative, Australia convened a ministerial meeting in New York which galvanised political will, across regional and political divides, to push for an early conclusion of the protocol. The meeting was the key influence in securing vital additional negotiating time in 1999. By establishing a national consultative group of biotechnology industry and academic representatives, and carrying out practical activities such as a trial inspection of a commercial biotechnology facility, we were able to inject into the negotiations credible proposals for verification provisions, in line with Australia’s national security interests.
The department led the intergovernmental processes leading to ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by Australia on 9 July 1998. This treaty bans all nuclear weapons test explosions and is a key component of international efforts to address the global threat posed by nuclear weapons proliferation. We also actively encouraged other countries to sign and ratify this treaty, and played a key role in helping to build the framework for the associated verification system. As part of our obligations under this verification system, the first major upgrade of an Australian monitoring station, in Warramunga in the Northern Territory, was completed in June 1999, bringing it up to the standard required under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
With significant input from the department as the lead agency on Australia’s landmines policy, Australia ratified the Ottawa Convention on Landmines in January 1999 and enacted legislation to enforce Australia’s obligations under the convention. This convention bans the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.
Australia’s Ambassador for Disarmament in Geneva was appointed Special Co-ordinator on Landmines in the Conference on Disarmament in calendar year 1998. Australia’s aim was to secure a negotiating mandate for a ban on transfers of anti-personnel landmines. Unfortunately, the inability of this conference to reach agreement on its work program for 1999 has meant that we were unable to resume this role in the first half of 1999. This stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament is linked to differences over nuclear disarmament and outer space issues.
Through the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, we ensured Australia met its domestic obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. This included facilitating two facility inspections by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Again with the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, we played an active role in promoting the effective operation of the OPCW, particularly in the area of industry verification and in amending the Chemical Weapons Convention to facilitate the use of saxitoxin for public health emergencies. Australia’s contributions to the OPCW outreach activities have been well received in the region.
Participating countries acknowledged Australia’s constructive contribution to the Third Preparatory Committee for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2000. The preparatory committee established a solid foundation for the review conference.
The department, including through the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office’s work on verification aspects, made an important early contribution to the identification of issues to be addressed in a future Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. Australia’s substantive contribution has been recognised by other countries. However, the stalemate in the Conference on Disarmament over its work program prevented progress on our objective of seeing substantive negotiations commence on such a treaty.
We also played a constructive role in the Senior Officials’ Task Force established to encourage India and Pakistan to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172. Among other things, this resolution urges India and Pakistan to refrain from further nuclear tests, sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, engage constructively in negotiations for a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, and implement unilateral moratoria on the production of fissile material. In addition, we initiated the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research Conference, held in September 1998, which focused on the implications of South Asian nuclear testing for the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime. These activities have helped to convey to India and Pakistan the views of the international community—in particular, the request that India and Pakistan adhere to UNSCR 1172.
Our influence on the development of nuclear safeguards was advanced with the appointment of the Director General of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, Mr John Carlson, to the Standing Advisory Group on Safeguards Implementation. This group provides high-level advice to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency on safeguards development. The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office’s support program for IAEA safeguards also made practical contributions to the strengthening of IAEA verification activities.
Leading the preparation of the Government’s policy on small arms was a further activity of the department during the year. The policy will be released in July 1999.
We continued to provide leadership as permanent Chair of the Australia Group. This group, which harmonises export controls implemented by participating countries on materials relevant to chemical and biological weapons, resulted from an Australian diplomatic initiative in the mid-1980s following the use of chemical weapons in the Iran–Iraq war. In the face of questions about the continuing need for the group, given the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and moves to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, the annual meeting in October 1998 was successful in reaffirming the commitment of participants to the group’s important role in global non-proliferation efforts.
In support of the Nuclear Suppliers Group—the key multilateral nuclear export control regime—the department broadened the scope of Australia’s regional dialogue to 20 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. This dialogue promoted awareness of, and adherence to, the Nuclear Suppliers Group Guidelines and encouraged participation in the International Seminar on Nuclear Export Controls in April 1999. We took the lead in securing agreement for the Nuclear Suppliers Group to provide a report to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in 2000 on steps taken by the group to increase the transparency of its activities.
We were also involved in the continuing review of the Wassenaar Arrangements, the principal international control regime for conventional weapons and dual-use technologies. Here we pressed the need for greater transparency in defence exports, particularly to regions of concern.
We supported the Department of Defence by participating in seminars with Australian defence industry representatives in Canberra and State capitals. These seminars explained Australian export controls on defence items, and enhanced industry awareness of procedures and foreign policy considerations in decisions on defence exports. We also reduced delays in processing defence export applications by streamlining procedures.
The department, with the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, continued to administer Australia’s network of bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements. These agreements ensure that Australian uranium exports are used exclusively for peaceful, non-explosive purposes. In this context, we participated in nuclear policy consultations with Japan, the Republic of Korea, Canada and the United States to discuss the implementation of relevant bilateral safeguards agreements. We also made substantial progress on several new bilateral nuclear safeguards agreements.
We finalised domestic legal requirements for an Implementing Arrangement
under the existing Australia–Euratom Nuclear Safeguards Agreement which
will facilitate the shipment of Australian-derived plutonium from Europe
to Japan. The department, through the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation
Office, ensured Australia met its obligations under bilateral safeguards
agreements. The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office
accounted for Australian-obligated nuclear material under bilateral agreements
and nuclear material in Australia, and met all International Atomic Energy
Agency reporting and safeguards inspection requirements. It also ensured
appropriate physical protection arrangements were in place at nuclear
facilities and uranium mines.