Australia and the United Nations
Australia was a founding member of the United Nations (UN) in 1945 and has been actively engaged in the organisation since its formation. The UN is seen by the Australian Government as a means to influence events which directly affect Australia's interests but over which they have little unilateral control.
Australia has a permanent diplomatic mission to the UN in New York City along with missions in Geneva, Vienna and Nairobi. The Australian Mission is headed by an Ambassador and Permanent Representative and staffed by officers from the Department of Foreign Affairs, AusAid, the Australian Defence Force, the Australian Federal Police, as well as local employees. The Mission provides the core of Australia's delegation to UN conferences and meetings in New York, including regular and special sessions of the United Nations General Assembly. It also participates in the ongoing work of the UN's other organisations, such as the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council, and follows the activities of the UN's specialised agencies and programs.
Australia is the twelfth largest financial contributor to the UN. Australia contributed more than US$87 million in the years 2004 to 2006, with a regular budget of US$22.9 million, peacekeeping costs of approximately US$60 million, and over US$4 million contribution to International Tribunals.
Australia has been an elected member of the United Nations Security Council on four occasions in the past (1946-7, 1956-7, 1973-4, and 1985-6), and is currently elected to serve a term in 2013-14. H. V. Evatt, a former Opposition Leader of Australia and prominent figure in the Australian Labor Party, was President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.
Australian involvement in UN peacekeeping operations
Australians were the first peacekeepers to serve under United Nations auspices when they sent military observers to Indonesia in 1947 during the independence struggle. About 65,000 Australian personnel have partaken in more than fifty peacekeeping operations, in about 25 different conflicts. Operations include military observation, monitoring cease-fires, clearing landmines, humanitarian aid and the repatriation of refugees.
Since 1947 Australians have joined peacekeeping operations in Cambodia, Korea, Namibia, Rwanda, and Somalia among others. All three services of the Australian Defence Force, as well as police officers and civilians, have been involved in peacekeeping activities.
The most significant recent involvement from Australian peacekeeping troops is in the newly formed country of East Timor. Australia initially offered between 1,000 and 1,300 infantry, three Royal Australian Navy ships (HMAS Manoora and HMAS Kanimbla already stationed nearby, and HMAS Tobruk) along with other support capabilities. Australia's involvement in East Timor is through UNMISET, the United Nations Mission of Support to East Timor, and UNOTIL, the United Nations Office in Timor Leste and UNMIT, the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste.
Seven Australians have commanded or led multinational peacekeeping operations. Nine Australian peacekeepers have died on UN missions.
|UN Operation name||UN Operation title||Location||Dates of Australian involvement||Number of Australians involved||Australian role|
|None||UN Consular Commission||Indonesia||1947||4||Military observers|
|UNGOC||UN Good Offices Commission||Indonesia||1947–1949||About 45 ADF personnel||Monitor ceasefires and ensure the peace between Dutch and Indonesian nationalists|
|UNCI||UN Commission for Indonesia||Indonesia||1949–1951||About 45 ADF personnel||Monitor ceasefires and ensure the peace between Dutch and Indonesian nationalists|
|UNCOK||UN Commission on Korea||Korea||1950||2||Military observers|
|UNMOGIP||UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan||Kashmir||1950–1985||Up to 18||Military observers and air transport|
|UNCURK||UN Commission for the Unification and Rehabilitation of Korea||Korea||1951||1||Military observer|
|UNCMAC||UN Command Military Armistice Commission||Korea||1953–present||Originally 6, with 2 continually serving. Estimated 68 total||Armistice monitoring|
|UNTSO||UN Truce Supervision Organization||Israel and neighbouring Middle East countries||1956–present||Up to 13. Estimated 700 total||Military observers|
|ONUC||Operation des Nations Unies au Congo (UN Operation in the Congo)||Congo||1960–1961||Army medical team of 3 seconded to the International Red Cross||Medical team|
|UNTEA||UN Temporary Executive Authority||Western New Guinea||1962–1963||4 Army pilots, 7 RAAF ground crew and 2 Sioux helicopters||Cholera eradication program|
|UNYOM||UN Yemen Observation Mission||Yemen||1963||2||Military observers|
|UNFICYP||UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus||Cyprus||1964–present||15 Australian Federal Police officers. Estimated 1000 in total||Law and order|
|UNIPOM||UN India-Pakistan Observation Mission||India and Pakistan||1965–1966||3; 1 seconded from UNTSO, 2 seconded from UNMOGIP||Military observers|
|UNDOF||UN Disengagement Observer Force||Israel and Syria||1974||Several redeployed from UNTSO. None currently||Military observers|
|UNEF II||UN Emergency Force II||Sinai||1976–1979||46 RAAF detachment operating 4 UH-1 helicopters||Ceasefire monitoring between Israel and Egypt|
|UNIFIL||UN Interim Force in Lebanon||Lebanon||1978||A few through detachment from UNTSO||Military observers|
|UNIIMOG||UN Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group||Iran and Iraq||1988–1990||Up to 16 in Iran only||Military observers|
|UNBRO||UN Border Relief Operation||Thailand/Cambodia border||1989–1993||2 Federal Police||Law and order, and police training|
|UNTAG||UN Transition Assistance Group||Namibia||1989–1990||613 in two rotations; 28 electoral supervisors||Engineering support and election supervision|
|UNMCTT||UN Mine Clearance Training Team||Afghanistan and Pakistan||1989–1993||10 teams of 6-9 Army field engineers. Estimated 95 total||Demining|
|UNSCOM||UN Special Commission||Iraq||1991–1999||Between 2-6 ADF personnel on 3-6 month tours. Estimated total 96||Inspection of Iraqi chemical, biological and nuclear weapons capabilities|
|MINURSO||Mission des Nations Unies pour un Referendum au Sahara Occidental (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara)||Western Sahara||1991–1994||5 45 person contingents. Total 225||Communications|
|UNAMIC||UN Advance Mission in Cambodia||Cambodia||1991–1992||65||Military observers, signals and support|
|UNTAC||UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia||Cambodia||1992–1993||Up to 1,215 ADF personnel||Force Communications Unit|
|UNOSOM I||UN Operation in Somalia||Somalia||1992–1993||30||Movement control unit|
|UNITAF||Unified Task Force||Somalia||1992–1993||About 1,200. 1 Royal Australian Regiment Battalion Group, HQ group, and HMAS Tobruk||Protecting delivery of humanitarian aid, law and order, and establishing functional legal, social and economic systems|
|UNPROFOR||UN Protection Force in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia||Former Yugoslavia||1992||Several||Military observers and liaison|
|UNOSOM II||UN Operation in Somalia II||Somalia||1993–1995||36 Movements and Air Traffic Control Staff, 12 man Ready Reaction Security Team (mainly SAS) and HQ staff. 50 personnel per tour, about 250 in total||Movement control unit, HQ staff, security|
|UNAMIR II||UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda||Rwanda||1994–1995||More than 600 in 2 contingents||Medical, infantry protection, support troops|
|ONUMOZ||UN Operation in Mozambique||Mozambique||1994||15 police, 4 ADF||Police and demining|
|MINUGUA||UN Verification Mission in Guatemala||Guatemala||1997||1||Military observer|
|UNAMET||UN Mission in East Timor||East Timor||1999||50 police, 6 military liaison officers||Facilitating referendum|
|INTERFET||International Force East Timor under UN mandate||East Timor||1999–2000||5,500||Establishing security, facilitating humanitarian aid and reconstruction|
|UNTAET||UN Transitional Administration in East Timor||East Timor||2000–2002||Up to 2,000||maintaining security, facilitating reconstruction|
|UNMEE||United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea||Ethiopia and Eritrea||2000–present||2 ADF officers, 16 in total||Training mission personnel and mapping|
|UNMISET||UN Mission of Support in East Timor||East Timor||2002–2005||Up to 1,600||Maintaining security, facilitating reconstruction|
|UNMOVIC||UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission for Iraq||Iraq||2002–2003||A few trained, not deployed||Weapons inspectors|
|UNAMA||UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan||Afghanistan||2003–2004||1||Military advisor|
|UNMIS (Operation Azure)||United Nations Mission in the Sudan||Sudan||2005–present||15||Military observers, logistics, air movement controllers|
|UNOTIL (Operation Tower)||United Nations Office in Timor-Leste||East Timor||2005–present||About 17||Military and police support|
Australia-UN relations in 2008
In March 2008, senior United Nations officials travelled to Canberra to meet Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, elected three months earlier. According to The Age, the aim was to "repair relations". Hilde Johnson, deputy director of UNICEF, stated that Rudd was showing "stronger support" for the United Nations and multilateralism than his predecessor John Howard had. During Howard's Prime Ministership, UN high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson had criticised Australia's human rights record. Johnson stated that the new Australian government had "explicitly said there's going to be a change, that the government will engage strongly and pro-actively with the UN". For the Australian government, Bob McMullan said that his country's "relationship with the major multi-lateral organisations has deteriorated in a manner that is quite contrary to Australia's long-term interests and needs to be repaired".
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