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STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE
Australia's involvement in peacekeeping operations
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STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE
Senator MARK BISHOP
Australia's involvement in peacekeeping operations
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STANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE
(Senate-Wednesday, 5 September 2007)
Rear Adm. Doolan
DOOLAN, Rear Admiral Kenneth Allan (Retired)
CHAIR (Senator Payne)
Major Gen. Clunies-Ross
CLUNIES-ROSS, Major General Adrian
PICKERING, Mr Tim
MALEY, Mr Michael Charles
PURNELL, Mr David Lyle
RAFALOWICZ, Mr Alex
APTHORPE, Professor Raymond James
BREEN, Dr Bob
HORNER, Professor David Murray
Senator MARK BISHOP
CONNOR, Dr John Stephen
LONDEY, Dr Peter David
- Rear Adm. Doolan
Content WindowSTANDING COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE - 05/09/2007 - Australia's involvement in peacekeeping operations
CHAIR —I welcome to the hearing our next witnesses, who are collectively described as the authors of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping and Post-Cold War Operations. Do you have any comments to make on the capacity in which you appear?
Mr Connor —I am a senior lecturer at the University of New South Wales at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
Dr Breen —My volume of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping and Post-Cold War Operations covers Australian peacekeeping in the South Pacific. I am appearing here to provide information in respect of that volume.
CHAIR —I understand that a copy of today’s opening statement has been provided to you. Do you have any questions regarding that document?
Prof. Horner —No.
CHAIR —The committee has before it a submission from Professor Horner, which we have numbered 6. It is of course now a public document. Do you need to make any amendments or alterations to that submission?
Prof. Horner —No.
CHAIR —Professor Horner, I was going to invite you to make a brief opening statement and then we would go to questions, unless others of your colleagues would also like to make opening statements.
Prof. Horner —I had intended that we jointly would speak for 10 minutes. I hope we all stick to the time—
CHAIR —Not nearly as much as I do.
Prof. Horner —under threat of death to my colleagues! We will give an opening statement and then we will be open to questions.
CHAIR —Thank you very much.
Prof. Horner —Thank you for the opportunity to appear today. For the past three years, I and my colleagues—Dr Breen, Dr Connor and Dr Londey—have been working on the four-volume Official History of Australian Peacekeeping and Post-Cold War Operations. This does not mean, however, that we are in a position to answer all the questions set out in your terms of reference. As we are required to research more than 50 peacekeeping type missions, we have begun at the beginning and, while we have made excellent progress, we have not yet begun examining the most recent missions. Furthermore, we have not necessarily researched all of the questions you have posed.
With that qualifier, I still think we might have something to offer the committee. As historians, we have set out to determine the shape of Australian peacekeeping over the past 60 years. We wanted to find out why Australian peacekeeping has waxed and waned. We have tried to work out whether the Australian missions have been successful and we have tried to determine why the government approved the missions. While we have a clear view on what is and what is not peacekeeping, we have not been rigid in deciding what missions to include. In any case, the catch-all phrase ‘post-Cold War operations’ allows us to cover just about anything.
Australia has been involved in many missions overseas that do not quite fit the narrow definition of peacekeeping but which need to be considered nonetheless. Some examples would be the training team in Uganda in the 1980s, the mine clearance training teams in several countries, the humanitarian mission in northern Iraq, the Maritime Interception Force in the Gulf region and the weapons inspectors in Iraq. These were generally arduous missions in difficult cultural, political and at times military environments.
I am now going to ask each author briefly to summarise the sorts of conclusions they have drawn from the period they have been researching. Dr Londey, the author of the first volume, will begin.
Dr Londey —My volume of the official history begins with 1947, when the first Australian peacekeepers went to Indonesia. It covers all Australian peacekeeping for the 40 years to the end of the Cold War and continues the story in the Middle East and Cyprus through to today. The story of peacekeeping in this period is a story of both innovation and failure. Despite the Cold War and the odd proxy war to which it gave rise, most conflicts in this period grew out of decolonisation issues. Today’s issues of so-called ‘failed states’ also often have their roots in decolonisation.
The United Nations charter set up a collective security regime to fight aggression of the sort seen in the 1930s. The messy conflicts of decolonisation do not fit this model at all. The rights and wrongs were often blurry and member states were not willing to commit large forces to this sort of conflict. Peacekeeping was an ad hoc development by people on the ground, who could see that even small numbers of military personnel, disciplined and well trained, impartial and committed to the UN ideal of the minimum use of force, could make a difference disproportionate to their cost. The idea was pioneered in Indonesia, where Australians were by chance the first UN military observers 60 years ago next week. Observers were next used in Greece, Kashmir, the Middle East and Korea. In 1956, the Canadians suggested a UN buffer force in the Sinai, and larger forces followed in the Congo, Cyprus and elsewhere. Australia was a consistent but small-scale peacekeeper, mainly sending reserve officers and civilian police until after Vietnam. Their contribution was valued but little attempt was made at home to learn from their experience. Peacekeeping developed organically as people on the ground worked out the problems they could solve and the best way to do it—and generally I suspect that Australians have worked well with this system because they come from a culture which encourages individual initiative and values solving problems more than following rules.
Prof. Horner —I will continue on, because mine is the next volume. My volume covers those missions that began at the end of the Cold War. These include the observers in Iran who went there in 1988, the engineers in Namibia in 1989, the engineers in Pakistan training Afghan de-miners, and the signallers in the Western Sahara. My volume also covers the Gulf War and all its ramifications. The Gulf War was not itself peacekeeping but the ships that deployed as part of the maritime interception force were a form of peacekeeping. After the war, Australians became part of the United Nations team of inspectors that went into Iraq, and also a humanitarian mission went into northern Iraq.
This period saw a major expansion in Australian peacekeeping from just 23 police and 13 military observers in 1988 to more than 2,300 military personnel during the next three years. There were several reasons for this: first, the thawing of the Cold War meant that the United Nations was able to begin more peacekeeping missions; second, there was a gradual change in government policy caused partly by the 1987 white paper, partly by the appointment of Senator Gareth Evans as foreign minister, who wanted Australia to act as an international good citizen, and partly by the passage of time since the Vietnam War. Gorbachev of the Soviet Union, President George Bush Snr and Prime Minister Bob Hawke spoke of a new world order in which the nations together would bring peace to the world. Of course this soon proved to be an illusion, and the breakdown of the new world order would lead to more conflicts and even more peacekeeping missions. In the period covered by my volume, Australia’s approach to peacekeeping had been transformed, but its response had been ad hoc. Procedures had yet to be developed and lessons learned. Australia had gone well beyond the old notions of peacekeeping and had discovered that it was hard to separate the desire to be a good international citizen from the imperative of adhering to the Western alliance.
Mr Connor —My volume covers the 1990s, when Australian peacekeeping operations broadened to include more complex missions and humanitarian interventions. Many of these missions took place in the aftermath of long running civil wars or genocide, or sometimes both. The three main Australian deployments in the 1990s examined in this volume are Cambodia, Somalia and Rwanda. Three main themes arise in examining peacekeeping in this period. The first is the concept of humanitarian intervention. In April 1999, then British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a speech outlining what he called a new doctrine of international community, in which he argued interventions in Kosovo and elsewhere combined the humanitarian urge to help people in need with the national interest to ensure regional and international stability. To this end, Australia played an active role in the Cambodian peace process and the subsequent UN missions and promptly sent an infantry battalion to Somalia to ensure distribution of humanitarian aid but was slow to respond to the Rwandan genocide.
The second theme is that peacekeeping in the 1990s became a more complex operation. In Cambodia, Australian Electoral Commission staff helped run the country’s first free and fair election in 40 years. In Somalia, Australian soldiers helped restore the legal system in Baidoa, and Australian Federal Police officers tried to rebuild the Somali police force. In Rwanda, the Australian medical contingent helped re-establish the Kigali Central HHospital.
The final theme is that these peacekeeping missions took place in the aftermath of civil war and genocide. Peacekeepers do need to go to countries in which massacres have taken place or may be still taking place. How can they be prepared for these missions? When peacekeepers return to Australia, how can they be helped to come to terms with their memories?
Dr Breen —My volume covers Australian peacekeeping in the South Pacific. After the Second World War, Australia did not plan to be a regional peacekeeper or peace enforcer. We set up for neighbourhood watch, not neighbourhood intervention. In the past 15 years, after receiving short-notice invitations, Australians have intervened eight times with regional neighbours to help other neighbours to keep or enforce peace. What have we learned? Policy: Australia is and will continue to be the lead peacekeeper and peace enforcer in the South Pacific. We should encourage regional self-help. We should always include neighbourhood partners in our good neighbour operations. Peacekeeping operations are tools for emergency response and stabilisation as well as good offices for peace processes, but intervening forces should not become garrisons. Good offices should be patient but not permanent.
Training preparedness and coordination: a permanent South Pacific peacekeeping force is not needed; rather, just well thought out, practised neighbourhood responses. Most trouble occurs in cities and towns. Our disciplined forces need to train and prepare themselves and neighbourhood partners to secure urban areas. Our disciplined forces and government agencies should train to plan and deploy simultaneously, not sequentially.
The key lessons: success and the morale and effectiveness of Australian peacekeepers correlate directly with the level of cultural sensitivity and linguistic competence. Success is about engaging local civil society, especially women, clergy and traditional leaders in facilitating the peace process or creating the preconditions for one. Finally, the future of Australian neighbourhood peacekeeping should be police driven and community based, not ADF driven and intervention based.
CHAIR —Thank you very much. Is there anything further?
Prof. Horner —That is the end our short statement.
CHAIR —I will ask Senator Trood to begin, and then we will go to questions from other members of the committee.
Senator TROOD —I think this is for you, Professor Horner, to begin with. My question is about the scope of your project before I explore some of the very interesting themes that you have exposed. What about the more recent activities in which Australian defence forces have been involved overseas? You alluded to your having a very clear idea of what you meant and understood by ‘peacekeeping’, but are Australia’s activities in East Timor, Afghanistan and more recently in Iraq normally a part of that?
Prof. Horner —The title of our project, ‘Australian peacekeeping and post-Cold War operations’ was deliberately written in that way to allow us to do two things: to tell the story of Australian peacekeeping that goes back to 1947 and to deal with a whole range of operations that the ADF has been involved in since the end of the Cold War. When the cabinet submission was prepared, we gave the cabinet a great big long list of all the missions. Rather than go through and tick every mission, the cabinet gave us permission to do all peacekeeping missions since 1947 except for Iraq—which was then Iraq 2003—recent operations in Afghanistan, and East Timor. We can do missions which do not quite fall within a rigid definition of ‘peacekeeping’, so long as we do not do the three that were mentioned in that cabinet minute.
Senator TROOD —I see. I suppose it is none of our business or yours to speculate as to why that may have been the case.
Prof. Horner —I think a reasonable and perhaps non-controversial view would be that all three missions were ongoing missions at the time we went to cabinet, which was in the first part of 2004.
Senator MARK BISHOP —Which three missions are you not analysing?
Prof. Horner —Iraq from 2003 onwards—in other words, the present operations in Iraq—operations in Afghanistan from 2001 onwards and East Timor.
Senator MARK BISHOP —East Timor from 1997?
Prof. Horner —We have not been given permission to do East Timor from INTERFET 1999 on to the present.
Senator MARK BISHOP —Thank you.
Senator TROOD —So no part of the East Timor mission is included?
Prof. Horner —We have not been given permission to do any part of East Timor at all.
Senator TROOD —Do you have an expectation that there might be an opportunity?
Prof. Horner —East Timor is the largest peacekeeping mission that Australia has been involved in. We have been involved in larger operations, but in a pure peacekeeping sense the INTERFET operation and the subsequent operations are certainly the largest mission we have been involved in. It certainly leaves a huge gap in what we hope is a very comprehensive history of Australian peacekeeping, and it is one which I would have thought that the public would have an expectation of reading about. Writing official histories takes a fair bit of time, and, if we were given permission to work on East Timor now, it would be perhaps five years before anything would appear. So that would be something in the order of 12 or 13 years from the time of INTERFET, and that certainly is a fairly reasonable period of time to have passed.
Senator TROOD —Maybe we will contemplate that matter in preparing our report. You obviously have a wealth of knowledge in relation to a long period of time in Australia’s peacekeeping activities. The committee is interested in a wide range of themes, like training, the impulse to intervene, the effectiveness of missions and the extent to which there has been effective, or shortcomings in, interagency coordination. Things of that kind occur to me immediately as being themes which would be of interest. I am wondering whether you, Professor Horner, or your colleagues have been able to discern any broad themes in those general areas. We could just take, for example, the matter of agency responsibility in peacekeeping and the extent to which over this period of time there may have been a shift in responsibility from one agency to another, higher or lower levels of cooperation or more effective cooperation or integration in their activities. Do you or your colleagues have any observations on that broad theme?
Prof. Horner —I will try my colleagues in a minute. Undoubtedly there has been improvement in interagency cooperation over what, for us, is a very long period of time for research. Remember that, although the history is 60 years, it really did not crank up until about 20 years ago, so we are really only looking at about the last 20 years. Initially it was the ADF going off to do things on almost an ad hoc basis. We have seen over the last 20 years an improvement in interagency cooperation, particularly with the involvement of the Australian Federal Police—Dr Breen may be able to talk about that in relation to the Pacific in particular—and other agencies such as the Australian Electoral Commission, which went into Namibia; AusAID; and so on. These peacekeeping missions have grown not just in size and complexity but also in the number of Australian government and non-government organisations that have been involved in them. It is almost in some ways hard to keep ahead of the game. Every time it seems as though procedures have started to be worked out, the next mission is one step more complex than the one beforehand. Maybe Dr Breen would like to talk about the police in the Pacific.
Dr Breen —I guess we started our interest in the Pacific in reacting to a crisis in Vanuatu in 1980. The option considered by government in 1980, when there was a secessionist rebellion on the island of Espiritu Santo, was to hold back and reflect but not to actually introduce the possibility of an Australian military intervention. At a Pacific forum conference, Sir Julius Chan, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and Walter Lini, the new PM elect of the soon to be independent Vanuatu, presented the fait accompli that the PNG DF were going to provide a force to go in. The Australian government was presented with this fait accompli and was forced then to look at its loan personnel and how they might logistically support such an intervention, and did so. So it was indirect military assistance only.
Subsequently, the responses to the Fijian coups in 1987—there were two coups in 1987—again saw the Australian government looking at its options and quickly ruling out a military intervention and effectively just putting forces on standby for evacuation. That, I guess, became a crisis response from then on to the prospect of a breakdown in law and order that might affect Australian nationals—again purely a military response.
In 1987, however, a thought went through government that the ADF was a fairly heavy, conventionally trained instrument for the sorts of problems that might arise in the South Pacific, that maybe a lighter touch was needed and that the use of conventional military forces, albeit probably largely heavily armed light infantry, might not be a good look for Australia. Ideas were put forward that this might be an opportunity for the then Federal Police to muscle up and maybe present a sort of riot control capability for government. But in 1987, that idea went nowhere.
In 1994, after four frustrating years of getting no substantial progress in the Bougainville crisis—you will recall that was triggered by the closure of an Australian-owned mine in Panguna in Bougainville; the PNG government responded to that with security forces that proved to be part of the problem, due to their behaviour, rather than part of the solution—Australia, in conjunction with New Zealanders, who had unique abilities to deal with the problem because they were not as closely involved with Bougainville or Papua New Guinea’s history, put a military force on the water that went to protect a peace conference—once again a purely military response.
However, a new dimension entered whereby at the operational tactical level diplomats first appeared. James Batley spent his time confined in rather austere conditions on HMAS Tobruk. Political advice was handy to the commander, so this became a partnership that then matured when later on—in this particular case led by the New Zealanders—in Bougainville in 1997 when an Australian diplomat was there at the tactical level providing advice immediately to the military commander.
At that time there was another experiment: the inclusion of civilian monitors trained at the last minute for peace monitoring roles. I was involved in the preparation of those first groups, who were public servants from Canberra who would go from information rich and first world Canberra to a monitoring site near a Bougainville village. They were from AusAID, the Federal Police, Defence and Foreign Affairs. Mixing those groups in and getting them to work cohesively with the military marks the first attempt by a number of agencies to take a more than crisis time interest in longer term commitments to work together to get an effect on the ground. So there I would place, as a historian, when we first saw—by the fact that that mission lasted for not months but years—people starting to get to know each other. I think the Australian government then benefited from those longer term contacts between departments and those cooperative arrangements. It came to be seen as an improved model of whole-of-government response, which was the response to the Solomons in 2003.
There—and this was very much a surprise, and I was there to see it first-hand—the government had decided to lead with a sort of UN-like SRSG, a civilian, with a police led operation with the ADF in support. That formula, though again forged in necessity, was inspired by good work from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in their paper, which was written by Ellie Wainwright, suggesting that our response to the Pacific needed to be a multi-agency one and that just having a military option for evacuation was probably only a limited thing to have within the government’s range of options.
I would think again that, similar to the initial entry into Bougainville, the habit not only of Australian agencies working together well and improving through habit their arrangements for peacekeeping but also of involving our regional neighbours—which was brand new and only recent—led to a more neighbourhood approach to peacekeeping or law and order issues and other issues related to keeping the peace in the Pacific.
Lastly I should mention that it was AusAID coming in amongst this group with targeted aid that helped a lot. If you are trying to improve the circumstances of people on the ground in a post-conflict situation it is difficult to do it without the ability to assist their immediate living conditions and circumstances. AusAID was a very valued partner in Bougainville in providing that sort of leverage, influence and incentive for people to stick with the peace process, which was producing results for them.
Senator TROOD —I cannot wait for your volume, Dr Breen, because I am sure that the detail that you have just elucidated will be there in all of its glory. That will be a very interesting volume indeed. The picture that emerges from your remarks is one of missions becoming increasingly complex and increasingly demanding on the Australian government and requiring increasingly sophisticated responses from Canberra. But the picture that also seems to emerge is one of evolutionary responses—adaptations to circumstance—rather than anybody sitting down at any one time and saying: ‘We seem to be doing more of this. We should be asking ourselves a question about whether or not we are going in the right direction or whether or not cobbling and muddling through’—or whatever particular phrase suits the circumstances—‘is the right way to proceed.’ Is that a fair assessment of the evolution of Australian peacekeeping experience?
Dr Breen —In terms of both personal experience and historical research, we have been making it up as we have been going along since we first struck our initial problems in the South Pacific, and it has been necessity and quite often, thankfully, the application of focused attention by smart people at the time that have drawn together new elements to suit a new situation. But, no, from the late 1980s there has not been a top-down guidance on how these things were to come together. I think the government has responded and the instruments of power have responded to circumstances as they arose. To a degree there is a reticence because every time you move into the area of a multi-agency engagement with the region that is more lasting and deeper than, say, being a bit of a fire brigade when things break down, neo-colonialism is often put forward. And there are certainly elites in the South Pacific who see us as a big brother, with all that that may allude to, for our efforts to assist them forward as they meet their challenges.
The short answer is that we have, so far, been making it up as we are going along. Fortunately, our circumstances now are that there is broad experience in a number of these agencies of government—the ADF, AusAID, Foreign Affairs and the Federal Police—which means that we now are at a point where it is business that we can do in a much better coordinated manner.
Senator TROOD —Setting aside the question of Australia’s relations with the Pacific region and just focusing on the interagency cooperation and the extent to which we have built up a capability which seems in many cases not to have failed us—we have managed to find ways and mechanisms for addressing problems and in many ways the record is not a bad one, although some of these missions are incomplete—does your assessment or conclusion necessarily preclude the possibility that it is time to think top down or to look at these missions more broadly and ask ourselves: are we in fact doing it right? Do we have the kinds of capabilities we need? There is a premise here that the necessity for this might be provoked by the expectation that we are going to continue to do this kind of thing or that the tempo of these kinds of missions is going to increase. If we could be confident that that was not going to be the case then I suppose the need is not pressing. If, however, we thought we were going to continue more or less as we are or, indeed, have more of these expectations put upon us in the future, then I wonder whether or not you share the view that there is a need to address this whole question of peacekeeping and the way in which we respond to it more comprehensively and in detail than we have thus far been able to do outside the operational environment.
Dr Breen —When you consider the trajectory of the South Pacific, and Australia’s role, this is where you get into the semantics of: when does peacekeeping finish and the whole business of engaging with your region in a whole lot of other ways begin? I think I will confine my comments, especially given the inquiry’s scope, to the fact that our instruments for peacekeeping, which range from our engagement with our region to what is called peace building, are as good as they have ever been. Our diplomats do a fine job. On our knowledge of the region, I would probably feel, with my contact with Foreign Affairs, that including the South Pacific in a career should be an enhancement to that career. Sometimes it is felt that the main game is elsewhere on the globe, but I think our region is important enough to warrant a weighting being given to diplomats who have been there. On peacekeeping, when required and when agreements have been reached after conflict, again I think our instruments are in good shape.
The response to putting people on the ground—and we have good young people who we end up putting on the ground who have done us very well over the years—is as good as it can be. I personally would feel that, over time, our emphasis should be on culture and language. I see in most of the submissions you have received thus far that no-one is missing that point about culture and language. If we are going to go to someone else’s country it is like going to someone else’s home for dinner: you would like to speak the language and you would like to know how to behave. That should apply.
On peace enforcement, we have shown quite recently that we can do that. If we keep ourselves confined to what we are endeavouring to do as a nation, it settles things down, it stabilises. But concurrently, not sequentially, we should make sure we engage as soon as possible with civil society, which has often been hit for a six in these settings, in order to reassure and build confidence. I think it goes beyond peacekeeping, peace enforcement and peace building to the area of engagement—as neighbours, we should engage with our neighbourhood to try to look at the deeper problems. Our emphasis is probably a little more towards the security and emergency response area. More broadly than this inquiry, I guess, I would suggest that we need to engage with civil society in a deeper way, to go to the problems that cause us to need to go and do these things. But in terms of the instruments that we choose to use, and the combining of those, I think we are in quite good shape.
Dr Londey —In some ways, making it up as you go along can be a good way to approach these problems because every situation is different. It is going to be very hard to set up a body of doctrine which exactly tells you how to cope with situations which are always complex situations of conflict in societies with very deep roots and which are very deeply rooted in the nature of that individual society. It is very important to learn from experience but I think a lot of the innovations in peacekeeping have over the years happened from the people on the ground seeing a need, trying something out and finding out that this does not work but that does work.
The basis on which military observers have worked for the last 60 years was more or less set out at a meeting in March 1948 when the observers had been in Indonesia for six months and they had a meeting, obviously swapped notes, discussed what they were doing and came up with a set of guidelines. It was not in a vacuum. It was not somebody in New York saying, ‘How should military observers work?’ It was people in Indonesia saying, ‘This is what we can see is going to work in this situation.’
This is the sort of thing that General Nimmo did in commanding observers in Kashmir. Similarly, I think, he responded to the situation and saw what would work with the parties. The UN tried out civilian police in the Congo, thought that worked quite well and then used them in Cyprus. Often what is important is that individuals are in these situations, gain the experience and see things that work or, in some aspects of the Congo, things that do not work such as getting dragged into the local civil war.
One of the reasons I would perceive us as having been successful in East Timor was that we had a lot of people who had been in Somalia, Cambodia and Rwanda. They had seen a lot of things; they had a lot of experience of things working and not working and they, as individuals, were able to bring that experience to the situation. Presumably now, we still have a large body of people who will be able to carry their experience forward. But the pressure is always going to be on them as individuals to see what is working, for example somebody such as David Hurley making decisions in Baidoa in Somalia about what level of disarmament should be tackled. It is hard to see that somebody in New York, Washington or Canberra could have been making those decisions as well as somebody in Baidoa who is in daily contact with the leaders of clans and understands the situation intimately. So it seems to me there are dangers in trying to set out a very prescriptive format for how these operations will work. It is great to have a databank of knowledge and experience and partly that is carried in the heads of the individuals, the people who have been in the operations, and partly it will be in things such as the official history, which will be a great set of information about what has and has not worked in the past.
Prof. Horner —Could I comment on your proposition, Senator?
Senator TROOD —Yes.
Prof. Horner —There might be something in it. I do not really have the expertise to know fully how it would work in relation to the Pacific but it is quite a different matter for missions further afield. In the Pacific or in our near region we are likely to be the principal power and therefore we can make those plans. Elsewhere, beyond our Australian region, we are going to be fitting in to a UN or other coalition in which our best laid plans will be quite irrelevant as they ask us for something and we provide that. So it only really applies to close to home operations.
Senator TROOD —I agree with your observations, Dr Londey and Professor Horner, about not being too prescriptive. I recognise the fact that each of these missions is different and they make different demands on the Australian community broadly defined. I think there would be a danger if we were to become prescriptive and create capacity which has certain expectations built into it. It has to be a capability which is adaptable to the circumstances, I agree with that; save for the fact that one of the things that do emerge—and I think Dr Wainwright made this point in her evidence to the committee—is that in many of these cases prevention is much better than responding after the event. Insofar as having capabilities for seeing the problems that you referred to, Dr Breen, in relation to the broader questions of governance et cetera, and insofar as the Australian government can develop that kind of capability, then it might preclude the need for more severe and intrusive commitments later on. Perhaps I could leave it there for the moment.
Senator HOGG —Thank you, Senator Trood. That was the very point I was going to raise.
CHAIR —This brain thing we have going here is very disturbing!
Senator HOGG —We seem to be at one! It is the issue of prevention rather than cure. Whilst I accept your point, Professor Horner, that it varies as you get further away from the Australian region, are you in your research looking at the causes and whether peacekeeping or peacemaking was preventable by addressing the causes in the first instance? In other words, are we addressing this the wrong way around? Are we looking at setting up a reactionary set of force and circumstances rather than something that is proactive in the first instance to eliminate the situation from occurring? If so, what should we be doing?
Prof. Horner —Again, the same principle that I talked about applies. There is not very much that we in Australia can do about some internal conflict in Africa, but there is plenty that we might be able to do about things closer to home. It really depends on what capacity the Australian government has to influence—
Senator HOGG —But there may well be policy failures in terms of the direction of our aid. There may well be policy failure in terms of—and I am not talking about direct intervention—the type of assistance that we give in terms of governance and a whole range of issues. Are you trying to identify those issues as part of your study of the causes—particularly in your case, Dr Breen, in our closer region—and thereby see if there have been policy failures previously that we need to address rather than focus solely on the peacemaking, peacekeeping, peace enforcement or whatever else it might be?
Dr Breen —Part of my responsibility for the reader is to set a context in which the Australian government takes action, and typically a history is the story of its actions. But the opportunity I also have is to look at what has gone on before: to look at some of the relationships that we have had with what becomes a trouble spot to see whether there were warning signs, whether these troubles could have been anticipated, whether political leaders and leaders of other agencies—for example, our intelligence agencies—were picking up on these difficulties and whether something preventative could have been done. It is interesting because, looking through files, you see that we have actually been very preventative over our history. Our diplomats and on occasions, directly eyeball-to-eyeball, our politicians have been quite forthright with our near neighbours and members of the elites of our near neighbours, telling them frankly and clearly about the sorts of things that were being done that could lead to further complex problems.
We come now to the issue of sovereignty: advice given by a neighbour and whether or not it is taken. In our history of being, if you like, the superpower, or the power in the Pacific, I do not think that we have left much unsaid that needed to have been said to those who have been, by virtue of their circumstances, elected and given responsibility to run their sovereign countries. So, in terms of the history of advice, I think Australia has done as best as it could and, in some instances, has been quite blunt, and appropriately so, in anticipation of things that could have gone worse. However, once you have taken a position on sovereignty, how do you shape events before crisis when that leadership has basically said, ‘Thank you for your advice,’ and then continued on? That is the tough bit of business.
History will show, my volume will show, that there were certainly preventable things. The problems in Bougainville, for example, originated well and truly before the first peacekeeping operation and the milestones to that tragedy and a decade’s worth of a civil war on our doorstep are all signposted. Hindsight, an exact science, shows what could have been done. I have not seen anything of a major nature that can inform us now on how we might do something differently in the future, except for an element that emerged at a symposium recently. We have been correct in our professional friendships at the higher level in our region. But where was the love and where was the heart that came with being a neighbour? We had some dialogue on that and the message was: if it is not in Australia’s interests, we do not care. If it is not in Australia’s direct national interest in the South Pacific, why should we make that extra effort to do something about it?
I think that caring, although it sounds a bit naive in the hard world of diplomacy and politics, is a dimension that is worth exploring. At the community level—speaking of prevention—there is a lot of outreach, for example, into East Timor. A lot of Australians are making bridges into East Timor, yet we find that at the higher levels things are pretty sour considering our neighbourly gesture towards East Timor at the end of the nineties. So maybe in a preventable sense our greatest assets in Australia, in a broad sense, are our community values and attitudes and outreach. It is not the business of government to tell our citizens what to do in respect of the neighbourhood but maybe they could encourage certain things that might start reinforcing a lower and community level contact with the South Pacific that we had in certain ways in the past but do not have as much now.
If I were to offer this afternoon a suggestion of something new in terms of prevention, I would suggest that we look more closely at how peace can be kept in a neighbourhood sense by neighbouring families, neighbouring communities, neighbouring shire councils and neighbouring parishes. That appears to be one of the noticeable things in East Timor—which does not have a large population. Community-level Australians are recognised for their generosity, yet sometimes our lack of care further up is noticeable.
Senator FORSHAW —I would have said, and I think it has been said by many, that one of the things that we as a country have been doing for quite some time is trying to assist in developing better systems of governance within our region. I would suggest that this is so more in the Pacific and the island states than, say, in East Timor simply because East Timor has gained its independence more recently. Countries such as Fiji and the Solomons have a long history of programs, both government and non-government funded and run. If you look at the countries that have had some problems in recent times, they are all ones where we have made a big effort over the years, which suggests that that work has not been terribly successful in filtering down from the political and organisational leadership in those countries to the community level. We bring many people here and we send people over to those countries to run training programs, whether about elections or governance et cetera. I am just interested in your observations. How do you do it at the community level other than through aid groups if the systems have broken down despite all this effort that has been put in? The UNDP has done a fair amount of work in this regard too, I think.
Prof. Horner —We could certainly chance our arm at some of those things but it is really a bit beyond what we are into with our official history and the period we are researching.
Senator FORSHAW —Yes, I appreciate that. A valid thing is if you notice that the political structures are changing, and more rapidly changing, in some of these countries. I have met politicians who have come to Australia, and then two years later they come again and they are in a different party. Without reflecting on any particular country, they might have 17 or 20 parties and there might be one or two people in each, which is certainly a bit foreign to our way of thinking. We are putting in a lot of support effort. There has been more money allocated in recent budgets to do this work. If civil order breaks down, it is essentially because the system of governance is not working, the parliament is not working or whatever the authority structure is is not working.
Dr Londey —Sometimes we are trying to introduce a culture of government which is just completely alien, in a sense, to the local culture. It seems to me that one of the problems of peacekeeping, in a way, is that it gets caught up where there is a bit of an intersection between what we count as breakdown, which may just be one society working the way that that society works, and that breaking out into actual physical conflict. Then we feel, ‘Well, there should be peacekeepers there to at least end the conflict.’ Obviously we can go and try to influence people to run their societies the way we would like to, but I think it gets a little blurry at times.
The peacekeepers have to create a space to allow the local people to set things up the way they want to, but at the same time, clearly, not just Australia—we have our own view about how nearby societies should run—but the United Nations go and try to set up structures, and those structures may or may not work easily in that society. There is a very blurry line between the different levels of peacekeeping. I am not saying that peacekeepers should not go beyond simply creating a secure area, and they will go and start setting up institutions, especially in societies where institutions have been broken or damaged by the conflict, but it is easy then to drift, in a sense, beyond that into trying to set up institutions which have not ever existed in that society or institutions which will work in a way different from how they have in the past. It is a problem for the United Nations, which in some ways is meant to represent a sort of global view of how society should operate and has lots of formulations of that view, but often those formulations are at odds with how the particular societies they are working in naturally operate. There is a problem of a very enormous blurry line there.
Senator MARK BISHOP —I have just a quick question for you, Dr Breen. In your introductory comments, you referred to the correlation between linguistic, cultural and community capabilities and the success rate of the mission. Firstly, can you just develop that point. Secondly, in that comment, how do you define ‘success rate’? Thirdly, is the recent attention by both ADF and AFP to language, culture and gender issues that they have outlined in their submissions sufficient, and are they on the right track?
Dr Breen —The correlation—and that is almost a statistical term—comes from research that I did on the morale of peacekeepers. Sending so many young people away, often into cultures and circumstances that they would be unfamiliar with, the question was: how did they maintain their morale? I found—and I will be short—that, if an individual had some form of understanding of the culture and therefore knew initially how to interact, they felt better about it and certainly those who saw them arrive, fully armed, for example, had a better attitude to them. Secondly, it goes without saying that there is no more persuasive and useful way to make contact than through language.
Success is at what I call the ‘cultural cutting edge’. If you are creating a secure environment—for example, after you have had to go in with your military forces or police forces—then success will be when the local people have the confidence in you to continue on and rebuild their lives from whatever has been the setback. Therefore I would see that the measure of success in our neighbourhood, in the Pacific area and East Timor, is whether our peacekeepers make contact in a way that quickly restores the public’s confidence in their security and therefore has the knock-on effect of getting them back to being productive, to going home, to planting crops, to getting the kids off to school. From the peacekeepers’ end, if they are culturally sensitive and linguistically competent they facilitate that process much faster.
On the other side of it, I guess, is the morale of our people. Peacekeeping can be a shock and there can be trauma as a result of peacekeeping, and that should be always understood. In East Timor, although casualties were minuscule, the after-effects on people’s mental health have been significant. If, firstly, they have cultural and linguistic capabilities and also they are able to relate back to their families at home that what they are meeting and engaging with is worthy, just and commendable then, in the separation from their families, their morale and the morale of their families is much higher. The sense of it comes from their contact with families—if, in a way, their family contacts them through other families in the area of operations. I have a quick anecdote. If a peacekeeper shows photographs of his or her family to a local, the door opens immediately—that is, if there is that understanding that this person actually comes from a family. Quite often there will be a genuine gratitude—and I found this in East Timor and Bougainville—that you have come so far from your family to do this. The rapport culturally is immediately quite substantial. It sounds a bit corny, I know, but it is quite substantial and real. And that actually improves the demeanour and morale of the peacekeeper, the peacekeeper’s family and those whom they have been sent to help.
I have been following the action, so to speak, from the early nineties, when I was quite lonely talking about peacekeeping and the need for language and culture and these sorts of things and started to design programs for the ADF before they went overseas, and I think that, certainly in terms of the literature and what is written about the intent of organisations now, it is routinely understood. This is part of what I talked about before. The groups coming through now have been on operations. They know you have to have the language and they know you have to have the cultural understanding—they know from experience. Some of the young majors that I got to know in Somalia are now the brigadiers of the ADF. They have no problem in being convinced of the need for culture and language. So we have a generational improvement of itself, if you see what I mean.
Senator MARK BISHOP —So that language familiarity, gender awareness, cultural training and community participation are, in your assessment, becoming part and parcel of the routine work of both ADF and AFP?
Dr Breen —Yes, very much so. We have recently been out to the IDG and received a brief out there. I have known through my contact with AFP monitors in Bougainville, and through seeing them again and keeping in touch, that the AFP have been on a very steep learning curve, and they are to be congratulated on how far they have come in such a short amount of time. I can say, hopefully without fear of being criticised by my ADF colleagues, that they have been faster than the ADF in coming to terms with the working parts required to engage the region in a way that is coercive but certainly culturally appropriate and therefore has a chance of being more successful than some of the abrupt interventions that have characterised approaches in other parts of the world to what you do with peacekeepers and how they interact.
The last point I would make about culture is that you really have to behave yourself on these operations. If you look at the history of the Australian armed forces, our behaviour at a social level in some of the places we have gone to has not been all that endearing to the local population. When it was decided that we would have dry operations—no alcohol on peacekeeping operations—that was a terrifically positive decision. It meant that internally our forces behaved themselves. It meant that externally they behaved and interacted positively with the local population.
As for fraternisation, there was none of that. Again, that is a departure from the history—if you have read it—of our overseas troops. These operations emphasised being a guest in someone’s country and behaving appropriately. I think it has to be understood by our troops that that is a winning card, a very positive thing. It requires a certain amount of discipline but, again, it goes back to family respect. You are there to help families, so you behave yourself. You are not there to party on in nightclubs.
Senator MARK BISHOP —No. But your conclusion is that, over the last 10 or 15 years, right through the officer cadre these lessons have been learnt, they are being applied and they are put into practice in the field.
Dr Breen —Yes. And though my knowledge of the AFP is more recent due to this project, I am very confident that they have come to understand—on my last point, for example—that the elite lifestyle of partying on in front of an impoverished population is not a good look. There has to be a better balance, if you are a guest in a country, as to how you behave. Though I would be reluctant to generalise, I might add that I worked for six months inside the UN as a volunteer and got to understand from the inside the culture of what they call ‘mission hoppers’—people who are part of the international community who do good work but, in my view, could be more effective if they were more attentive to the look they create for the local peoples.
Senator MARK BISHOP —They are not perfect.
Dr Breen —No-one is.
Senator MARK BISHOP —Thank you, Dr Breen, that commentary is very useful.
Senator HUTCHINS —During the course of the inquiry, we have had concerns expressed by non-government organisations about the blurring line between peacekeeping, peace building and all that. They are concerned about their role vis-a-vis the ADF and the AFP. Have you seen how this is playing out in the field? Is this becoming more of a difficulty for both the NGOs and the ADF and the AFP when they go in and do these missions? The ADF and the AFP are servants of the state whereas the NGOs are not.
We have also heard evidence that there is growing use of security contractors, particularly in Iraq at the moment. Is that changing the nature of how we should be keeping an eye on our own forces? I am not sure if we have security contractors, but I understand that the Americans do. Is this going to become an increasing situation in peacekeeping operations?
Prof. Horner —I will look at the security contractors first. I am not sure that there are very many places where security contractors are being used in peacekeeping situations—as distinct from what is going on in, say, Iraq at the moment. There are a multitude of security contractors in Iraq, but I am not sure you would say that what is going on in Iraq is peacekeeping.
Senator HUTCHINS —For some it might be.
Prof. Horner —In very simple terms, peacekeeping is about going into a situation where there has been conflict and where a peace of sorts has been brokered. It is the job of the peacekeepers to stand between the two sides to observe and make various things happen. Those activities need to be done by disciplined people who are operating under certain rules of conduct. I am not sure that they are things that are necessarily done by security contractors.
Having said that, proposals have been put forward that the United Nations itself might put together a United Nations military force. However, while those proposals have been put forward many times, they really have not come to very much at this stage. In terms of security contractors, there is not a huge amount to be said there in respect of the pure peacekeeping function; on the other hand, there is a huge amount to be said for contractors providing a whole range of services. In fact, many of the services that are provided in peacekeeping-type missions are provided by contractors. So that is a fairly routine and normal activity. That is happening not just in peacekeeping but in other military operations as well.
Mr Connor —In respect of NGOs and peacekeepers, it is a very difficult situation. On the one hand NGOs want to have neutrality, which is understandable; on the other hand, in certain situations when you get to that issue of security, NGOs may not be able to do their work in providing humanitarian aid without the assistance of peacekeepers. A very good example of this is in Somalia, where the security situation had become so bad before the UNITAF—a non-UN mission that came in there—arrived. The harbour in Mogadishu was unusable because of piracy. If you are trying to move food aid into inland areas, you could not do it by road, which is the sensible way of doing it if you are trying to carry a lot of material. We were having to do it by air because stuff would be hijacked on the road. Once the UNITAF force arrived—which an Australian battalion was involved in—that security was there and those troops were able to escort convoys, which made a difference.
The International Red Cross at first did not want to have anything to do with this because of the issue of neutrality but, after a month or so, actually changed their minds because, if you transport food by road, you can get more stuff in and you can get it cheaper than if you have to transport it by air. So it is a very difficult situation. Sometimes there is a desire for neutrality, but sometimes there is a practicality if you are trying to help people.
Senator HUTCHINS —In the end, who makes that call—the NGO, the ADF, the cooperation?
Mr Connor —A point that is made all the time is about the ad hoc nature of a lot of these things. It is individual circumstances on the ground. The local heads of NGOs talking to local military commanders and local police commanders seems to be the way it happens.
Dr Breen —Normally the link between NGOs and an arriving peace enforcement force is security. NGOs will come to meetings for all those good reasons of being told how secure certain areas are for them to operate, but it is certainly a relationship of necessity and not perceived to be a shared role. At that cutting edge where, at the tactical level, in practical terms there is a military force in a village and there are NGOs wishing to work there—and I have been involved personally on these operations—there has not been much tension. In Bougainville, for example, local peace monitors engaged with AusAID-funded contractors in a most positive and productive way.
There are institutionally, though, NGOs who approach the military as one-size-fits-all. The military is composed of people with different attitudes to us: ‘Their being here is an unfortunate necessity; the sooner they go the better.’ That obviously is not a welcoming approach. Australian peacekeepers felt a great degree of disappointment—especially if they wanted to be part of the team that was fixing up the circumstances of local people who have had a tough time—because they wanted to respond in a human way rather than just having their guns cocked ready to shoot. So it goes both ways. I am not prescribing anything to NGOs but, in respect of Australia’s role in peacekeeping—whether our uniform be police or military—there is a very different mindset from some years ago. I have not read the submissions from the NGOs, except for some very pleasing information there about the style of outreach and complementarity they see with peacekeeping, but if they have current concerns I would hope that they can see that things are changing in a positive way.
The other area they may be concerned in—my last point—is: who gets the money to do things? I do not think the military want money to do things. They are in the emergency humanitarian relief area when the necessity is immediate and it is in a hostile environment where getting aid and sustenance to people is difficult; therefore the military will be the conduit. The military are not setting up another uniformed NGO empire there. I know that, with medical facilities that the military often bring, there is a feeling by medical NGOs that they intrude in areas that they should be contracted to do. I do not get the impression that that is a real issue, if you know what I mean, in the sense that NGOs can provide it. I have always seen Australian peacekeepers and the ADF step aside to allow them to do the job if they are up to it and they are prepared to deploy their people under the same austere conditions under which the military work.
CHAIR —Professor Horner, may I just follow up on a question that Senator Trood asked about the East Timor issue. This brochure on the official history says, in relation to East Timor, ‘if approved later’. Does that mean that you have made a further application to examine East Timor or you are awaiting further—
Prof. Horner —I believe we did make a second application for East Timor and it was denied.
CHAIR —I see.
Prof. Horner —We have not updated that sheet yet, because it was fairly recent, and we have some considerable changes to make to that sheet which are not really relevant to what we are talking about today.
CHAIR —I understand. But, in relation to that, are those rejections made with or without reasons provided?
Prof. Horner —I was told that the reason was the same reason as previously. Since I had not been told what the first reason was—
CHAIR —That left you as much in the dark as we are. Indeed. Thank you for that. That does give us something that we may follow up. I note from your submission, though, that you do indicate that you have approval for the writing of a fifth volume—
Prof. Horner —Yes.
CHAIR —which is to cover offshore humanitarian operations.
Prof. Horner —What I have called overseas humanitarian operations. That is one of the changes that need to be made to this. We have engaged a historian, Dr Steve Bullard, to start work on the project, and he began 10 days ago. He is presently trying to work out what the task is. His first task is to make a list of all these missions, and I think he is up to 40 at the moment. That volume will cover overseas deployments of the ADF and/or the police to deal with natural disasters: tsunamis, earthquakes, cyclones and those sorts of natural disasters.
CHAIR —Operation Sumatra Assist, Operation Pakistan Assist, and those sorts of things.
Prof. Horner —Yes, exactly.
CHAIR —You will certainly have to extend the title, then, to ‘Official History of Australian Peacekeeping and Post-Cold War Operations and Overseas Humanitarian Operations’.
Prof. Horner —We have already talked about this.
CHAIR —That will be a mouthful!
Prof. Horner —We might have to revamp this. The problem is that this is the title that has been approved by cabinet, and we need the cabinet approval because that makes it the official history.
CHAIR —Yes, I understand. Thank you for that.
Senator MARK BISHOP —Each witness, I think, read from a formal statement. Are hard copies of those statements available?
Prof. Horner —We can make them available, yes.
CHAIR —Thanks, Professor Horner, that would be helpful. Senator Trood looks as if he is languidly champing at the bit. I am not sure whether that is a contradiction in terms or not.
Senator TROOD —I am languidly champing at the bit, Madam Chair.
CHAIR —I should not use horse analogies at the moment, of course, but do go on.
Senator TROOD —No, it is a very inopportune time to do that. Mr Connor, I was struck by your opening remarks in relation to the tumultuous 1990s and by the observation you made about Cambodia, Somalia and Rwanda. In particular, we were involved in two of those and not in another. I was just wondering whether or not you have been looking at the reasons why we chose one operation and not another. I suppose it applies to all of the work that you are doing—whether or not there is a common theme running through here in relation to what I would regard, from my own work, as the strategic culture of Australia’s peacekeeping activities; whether or not there are common determinants of the occasions when we become involved; whether, as you said, Dr Londey, most of them are unique—they are different kinds of circumstances; or whether or not there is something that frequently unites the motivations that are behind Australian policy in getting involved in any of these actions. I would be grateful if one or all of you could address that theme for me.
Prof. Horner —I would just like to reiterate the last couple of sentences of my opening presentation: that is, in the period I am dealing with, and I think it applies beyond the period I am dealing with, there are these two thoughts, which are not quite competing because they can run together, about being an international good citizen—in other words, doing good around the world—and about the imperatives of the Western alliance. These can overlap. So you can find the United States encouraging Australia to be involved in a peacekeeping mission for some reason or it can work the other way where there might be something to do with the Western alliance that we want to be involved in that has aspects of a peacekeeping mission about it. So it can work back the other way. Perhaps my colleagues might like to talk further about that.
Dr Londey —I would like to say something about the earlier period. In the several decades that my work covers the motivations vary. Under the Labor government until 1949—and then I guess again under Gareth Evans later on—there was a tremendous interest in working with the United Nations. So Australia in the 1940s got involved in the United Nations efforts to solve problems in Indonesia, Kashmir, Palestine and Korea. So we were involved in all of those things because we believed in the multilateral approach. Our sending of peacekeepers tended to follow our political involvement in the problem. In the case of Indonesia it was a local problem. In Kashmir it was a Commonwealth problem—and especially under the Menzies government the fact that it was a Commonwealth problem made it an Australian problem too.
Under the Whitlam government, again we were keen to get involved in peacekeeping. Although, because of the needs of force balance and so forth, we did not actually get into any, we were putting our hand up and asking to get involved. Then under Malcolm Fraser, because of his tremendous interest in southern African issues, we ended up in missions to both Rhodesia in 1979-80 and then 10 years later, really as a sort of result of that, to Namibia. So, by and large, we have consistently ended up in peacekeeping missions that have followed on from the political interests of the government. Perhaps in the nineties more abstract concerns came in.
Senator TROOD —I think we are talking about the political interests of the time for whichever government might have been in power.
Dr Londey —Yes, that is right. It varies from government to government. Very often, to follow up a much earlier question, we were involved in the diplomatic efforts to solve conflicts before we ever sent peacekeepers there. We actually provided the UN special representative in Kashmir, Sir Owen Dixon. He tried to negotiate a settlement before we had peacekeepers there. So peacekeeping almost always followed other political interest in these situations.
Senator FORSHAW —So were they bipartisan commitments, do you recall?
Dr Londey —The only commitment which was really a matter of conflict between the parties was the helicopters we sent to the Multinational Force and Observers in 1982. That was a non-UN operation. It was an American led operation which followed the Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt. Because the other Arab states opposed the Camp David accords and the Russians wanted to maintain favour with the Arab states, the Russians said that they would veto a UN force. There had been a UN force in the area which people assumed would just continue, but instead the Americans set up a thing called the Multinational Force and Observers. They were very keen to make it multinational to make it look like it was not just an American intervention. The Fraser government was keen to contribute to that. The Labor opposition painted it in effect as following the Americans into what could be another Vietnam or something—and possibly some rather lurid analogies were drawn in that—so it became a matter of enormous public debate. There was an Age poll that showed that 92 per cent of the population had an opinion on whether we should send some helicopters to the Sinai. That was an astonishing level of public involvement in an issue of peacekeeping, I think. Apart from that it has been more or less bipartisan all the way.
Senator FORSHAW —Who ended up going into that multinational force?
Dr Londey —We did, and various South American countries did—Colombia, Venezuela and Argentina, I think. We sent a joint Australian and New Zealand unit. There had been Italian boats there, and I think the French also contributed. The force had its administrative headquarters in Rome and its operational headquarters in the Sinai. I think in that case they needed Australia in a way because, unlike UN forces—which often have, say, 20 countries involved and thus clearly become an impartial expression of multinational will, in a sense—the MFO was running on a dangerously low number of countries in a dangerously low spread, so they were very, very keen for Australia to get involved.
Mr Connor —To follow the story into the 1990s, there was an echo of that political dispute over the sending of the MFO to Sinai in the early days of the Cambodian mission, when the then Liberal opposition raised concerns about the dangers of sending peacekeepers to Cambodia. At that stage there were some polls with concern about Cambodia because of the fear of what the Khmer Rouge would do. Would they abide by any peace agreement or would there be a war which Australians would be caught up in? It was an echo of that earlier dispute. There might have been a bit of tit for tat, perhaps. Generally, even in the 1990s, it was a case of government foreign policy interest and regional interest—and with Cambodia that is an obvious thing. You can see the desire to get rid of the main security concern in the region—this long-running civil war. Australia has a long-running involvement in trying to get the peace sorted out there and then being an important part of the peacekeeping mission.
Somalia is that aberration where you cannot see how Australia had any interest, apart from a humanitarian interest. But I think that was the case with people who were involved in that mission. It was that aberration, as it were.
With Rwanda and Bosnia, which were the other big peacekeeping missions of the 1990s, you can see a reluctance on the part of the Australian government to get involved in things outside Australia’s region. In Rwanda, there was a delay in the Australians deciding to go, but that is something that the rest of the world was doing as well. There was a reluctance to get involved in a peacekeeping mission after the disaster in Somalia. Unfortunately, we do not know how many people died as a result of the delay in sending a peacekeeping mission into Rwanda. Then you come to Bosnia. We sent a small number who were involved there, but the Australian government made the decision that this was outside Australia’s region of interest and that it was really a thing for the European Union and NATO to do, to look after. So there was no shortage of peacekeepers in Bosnia. There were other issues involved there, but whether or not Australia sent peacekeepers to Bosnia was not a reason for the lack of peace in that area.
Senator FORSHAW —Chair, could I just make a request? Would we be able to get copies of papers that are being delivered at the conference you are having next week? That is, if it is acceptable to the authors and so on.
Dr Londey —We would rather you came to the conference!
CHAIR —Unfortunately, Dr Londey, we are rather constrained by the sitting timetables.
Senator FORSHAW —Parliament is sitting, and it just seems to me that there may well be some very interesting things at the conference. The chair’s address would be—
CHAIR —Riveting, I am sure.
Prof. Horner —Obviously, I cannot speak for the authors of the papers, but with their agreement, yes.
Senator FORSHAW —That is what I mean. I just think that there might be some very interesting material presented that would be useful for us. We will not plagiarise it.
Prof. Horner —I might need to talk to the secretariat about that, because I am conscious of the status of papers that are given to the committee. They then become publicly available—
Senator HOGG —They can be confidential.
CHAIR —It depends on the context.
Senator FORSHAW —I am not wanting you to do anything that embarrasses the conference. If they become publicly available—
Senator TROOD —They do not have to.
Senator FORSHAW —But the conference may make them publicly available at some stage.
CHAIR —I now conclude the proceedings. I thank our witnesses for appearing this afternoon. It has been of great interest to the committee, and we appreciate both your submission and your attendance here today.
Committee adjourned at 4.29 pm