Kevin Rudd was at the center of attention at the UN this week, mainly because he wasn't there. Nine candidates to be the next UN secretary-general addressed the General Assembly between Tuesday and Thursday. Star attractions included two former prime ministers: Antonio Guterres of Portugal and Helen Clark of New Zealand.
Australian diplomacy at the UN has kicked up a gear over the last two weeks. On 14 July the Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2165, drafted by Australia, Jordan and Luxembourg, setting up a new mechanism to facilitate humanitarian aid deliveries to Syria. And yesterday it approved Resolution 2166, tabled by Australia, demanding a 'full, thorough and independent investigation' into the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over eastern Ukraine.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott visited New York this week and, as leaders have to do when in the Big Apple, got together with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to discuss the state of the world. The meeting may focus some attention on Australia's two-year tenure as a member of the UN Security Council, which has otherwise only garnered sporadic domestic interest. At the start of this year the Lowy Institute asked me to assess Australia's performance in the Council to date.