Julie Bishop looks to get Australia back on UN Security Council
Advertisement

Julie Bishop looks to get Australia back on UN Security Council

Australia is looking to get itself back on the United Nations Security Council just months after finishing a tumultuous two-year term that covered the MH17 crisis and the emergence of the Islamic State terror group.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop revealed in a speech on Wednesday night to the United Nations Association of Australia that she was keen for another term on the world's foremost multilateral decision-making body.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop.

Photo: Andrew Meares

"I am currently scoping the opportunities for our next term on the UNSC," she said.

Australia ended its two-year term – which was secured by the former Labor government in spite of only lukewarm enthusiasm by the Coalition – on December 31.

But with multiple crises emerging in the past 18 months, Ms Bishop has used Australia's influential position as a non-permanent council member to push key issues including the securing of the MH17 crash site and gathering international support to confront Islamic extremism in the Middle East.

Advertisement

Ms Bishop said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon told her last year that the world faced the "largest number of simultaneous conflicts since World War II".

"Now more than ever, we need effective international co-operation to meet those challenges," she said.

"The Security Council – and the UN system more broadly – is critical to that co-operation."

There are 10 non-permanent council seats, five of which change each year. Only one country from the Asia-Pacific region is eligible for election in each voting round, meaning Australia will likely have to wait several years at least before it could win support for another term.

Ms Bishop said Australia had driven a strong international response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, in which 38 Australian citizens and residents were among the 298 people killed.

A resolution authored by Australia condemned the downing of the plane – believed to be by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine – and called for a thorough investigation, as well as for military activities to stop while the bodies of victims were retrieved.

"I will never forget the moment when each member representative of the Security Council, particularly Russia, raised their hand to support the resolution," Ms Bishop said.

"The atmosphere was electric. Uncertain as to the outcome, it was a tense and sombre moment."

Australia also took the lead on international agreements to curb the flow of money and foreign fighters to extremist groups in Syria and Iraq such as the Islamic State organisation.

Ms Bishop said the past two-year term had enhanced Australia's reputation internationally and was "one of the finest manifestations of Australian values on the global stage".

But she acknowledged the Coalition had expressed concerns about Labor's bid for the council seat because the bid began too late.

The Department of Foreign Affairs had advised that many votes had already been decided, pushing up the cost to Australia of swaying votes its way, Ms Bishop said. She added there had been fears that "long-standing bipartisan policy positions would be compromised".

Follow us on Twitter

David Wroe is the defence and national security correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House