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Reader riposte: Australia's UNSC bid

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COMMENTS

7 September 2012 14:04

Alison Broinowski writes:

There are a few other factors that may count against Australia's bid for election to the UN Security Council that Thom Woodroofe and Graeme Dobell don't mention in this otherwise comprehensive list. First, memories of the Howard years, when we reported late, insultingly, or not at all to relevant UN bodies on human rights, refugees, and indigenous affairs, may remain, particularly in the minds of countries that anticipate an Abbott Government: by comparison, Finland shines, and Luxembourg has no adverse record.

Second, we have, according to Bob Carr, caught up with seven or eight ratifications and signatures of UN conventions and protocols that Australia refused to sign under the Howard Government, but our record on rights of the child, cluster bombs, and refugees remains imperfect.

Third, and this, according to Gareth Evans, holds the key to our election, is our vote on Palestinian aspirations for membership of UN agencies, leading up to UN membership itself. We opposed under Howard, abstained under Rudd, and last year the Gillard Government took Australia back to opposing Palestine's campaign, in the company of US, Israel, the federated States of Micronesia and Palau.

The Government's stand on the Palestinian question should be spelled out and publicly discussed. If Evans is right, the $24 million we have spent on the Security Council bid will be wasted, and for what? On the other hand, if Australian foreign policy is so out of step with the global majority, and so responsive to the wishes of the United States (and indeed Israel), why would UN member states want to waste a seat on Australia? A country that is unwilling even to inquire into why we went to war in Iraq and with what consequences, and to change the war powers of the prime minister to prevent us committing such disastrous errors again, hardly sets an example of independent thinking.

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