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Nuclear issues

UN and other multilateral forums


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established in 1957 to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to global peace, health and prosperity, while safeguarding against nuclear proliferation. Australia was one of eight countries that envisaged the formation of the IAEA and it continues to play an active role in the Agency, including as the designated member from the South East Asia and the Pacific group on the Board of Governors. The IAEA's safeguards regime provides credible assurances that States are not misusing nuclear facilities or diverting nuclear material to non-peaceful purposes.

Australia contributes to the IAEA's technical cooperation program by paying in full our share to the Technical Cooperation Fund and through voluntary contributions under the Peaceful Uses Initiative. Australia also provides significant in-kind and practical contributions for example by hosting workshops and visiting fellows and scientists; and providing experts for IAEA-related projects and missions, particularly in our region through the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research, Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology in Asia and the Pacific.

Conference on Disarmament

The Conference on Disarmament (CD) was created in 1979 as the world's sole multilateral disarmament treaty negotiating body. The permanent agenda addresses ten issues, including nuclear weapons in all aspects, chemical weapons (removed after the CD completed negotiation of the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1992), other weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons. The CD has made an important contribution to international peace and security through development of the Biological and Chemical Weapons Conventions, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The CD has failed however, to agree on a program of work for more than 20 years. Australia has been looking for ways to break the impasse in the CD including through seeking progress in subsidiary body discussions.

Australia will next assume the rotating Presidency of the CD again in 2020.

United Nations (UN)

General Assembly of the United Nations First Committee

The First Committee meets annually to deal with disarmament, global challenges and threats to peace that affect the international community and seeks solutions to challenges to the international security regime.

The Committee works in close cooperation with the United Nations Disarmament Commission and the Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament.

United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA)

UNODA was originally established in 1982. It promotes nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as disarmament of other weapons of mass destruction and of conventional weapons such as landmines and small arms. It fosters disarmament measures through dialogue, transparency and confidence-building on military matters, and encourages regional disarmament efforts.

United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC)

In 1978, the first special session of the General Assembly devoted to disarmament established a United Nations Disarmament Commission (UNDC) as a subsidiary organ of the Assembly, composed of all Member States of the United Nations. It was created as a deliberative body, with the function of considering and making recommendations on various issues in the field of disarmament and of following up on the relevant decisions and recommendations of the special session. It reports annually to the General Assembly. Australia was President of the UNDC in 2018.

United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR)

UNSCEAR was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1955. Its mandate in the United Nations system is to assess and report levels and effects of exposure to ionizing radiation. Governments and organizations throughout the world rely on the Committee's estimates as the scientific basis for evaluating radiation risk and for establishing protective measures. Australia is a member of UNSCEAR.

Last Updated: 31 January 2019
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