We worked with like-minded countries, including through the Geneva Group, to push the United Nations to adopt more effective administrative structures—the UN Development Programme and the International Labour Organization made some progress.
We engaged across government to develop an ambitious 2030 emissions reduction target for Australia. We negotiated successfully for an unprecedented global climate agreement in Paris in December 2015.
Australia reaffirmed its commitment to advancing human rights internationally, including through our appearance before the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva in November 2015. We officially launched Australia’s candidacy for the 2018–2020 term of the Human Rights Council. We increased our efforts to secure the world-wide abolition of the death penalty, co-sponsoring the Sixth World Congress against the Death Penalty and establishing partnerships to support regional advocacy.
The department actively pursued the inclusion of indigenous issues in several UN resolutions, including at the Commission on the Status of Women. We commenced implementing our first Indigenous Peoples Strategy, launched on 10 August 2015.
The UN peacekeeping system is under increasing strain and in urgent need of support. In 2015–16, we provided $233 million for UN peacekeeping missions and, at the September 2015 Leaders’ Summit on Strengthening UN Peacekeeping hosted by President Obama, the Foreign Minister pledged Australian strategic airlift support, additional training for regional troop-contributing countries and further funding for counter-improvised explosive device training for peacekeeping forces.
The department also contributed to efforts to reform and enhance the capability of such operations. Our successful co-chairing of negotiations secured parallel UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that gave effect to the recommendations of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review.
Our leadership produced UN resolutions promoting the role of National Human Rights Institutions and creating a new International Day of the Tropics.
We supported the Prime Minister’s participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta and helped to secure strong outcomes, including the creation of a new countering violent extremism unit and the election of a new credible Secretary-General. We supported participation by the Foreign Minister in the 70th session of the General Assembly high-level segment, at which she announced Australia’s 2029–2030 Security Council bid.
Our legal advice shaped Australia’s efforts to promote peaceful, rule of law-based resolution of disputes in the South China Sea and supported military operations against Daesh in Iraq and Syria in accordance with international law. The department continued to support the Timor Sea treaty framework.
Our advice assisted treaty negotiations across government, including conclusion of the Australia–Ukraine Nuclear Cooperation Agreement. Working closely with international partners, we began negotiations for a new global treaty on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.
The department tabled 19 major treaty actions in parliament and referred five minor treaty actions for consideration by the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT). We facilitated signature by Australia of 11 treaties. We marked the 20th anniversary of Australia’s treaty-making reforms by co-hosting a public exhibition at Parliament House and presenting at a JSCOT seminar to mark the event.
The department provided solutions to legal challenges posed by our innovative approach to international development. Program areas were able to pursue new investment vehicles, structures and partners and achieve a more sustained development impact while effectively managing risk and protecting public resources.
The department worked to promote respect for and strengthen the international rules-based order. We drove outcomes at the 32nd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent on sexual and gender-based violence, health care in danger and detention in non-international armed conflicts. Maintaining our strong drive for accountability at international law, we co-led international efforts to secure justice for victims of the downing of MH17.
We engaged bilateral partners on key legal issues and shaped emerging areas of international law including the regulation of Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems, cyber security and threats. We continued efforts to promote global implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
The department developed an innovative legal mechanism to immediately suspend the application of the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 to Iran. As a result, Australian businesses were not disadvantaged when the international community lifted sanctions against Iran in January 2016—earlier than anticipated. We continued to deliver targeted outreach to promote compliance with sanctions and foreign bribery laws.
We contributed to efforts to ensure a successful UN General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem in April 2016, and secured outcomes focused on improving global access to controlled drugs for medicinal purposes and strengthening international cooperation to tackle abuse of methamphetamines, including ‘ice’.