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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 79

Question No. 47


Dr Everingham asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 3 May 1983:

(1) Has his attention been drawn to his predecessor's reply to parts (3) and (4 ) of my Question No. 4680 (Hansard, 21 October 1982, pages 2,563-4); if so, does the reply imply that Australia has abandoned any attempt at specific policies or proposals for United Nations Charter reforms and that it prefers to wait for a consensus of other nations.

(2) Will the proposals of President Carter mentioned in the question be promoted for public support by Australians as envisaged in UN resolutions calling for member nations to support the UN World Disarmament Campaign or will the Government wait to see what the attitude and interpretation of UN blocs is and react accordingly to indicate that Australia stays in company with like- minded countries.

(3) Does the Government intend that Australia regain its initiative of the early years of the United Nations when Mr Frank Forde and Dr H. V. Evatt called for UN powers of enforcement of peace-keeping jurisdiction.


Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The reply to Question No. 4680 was of course a reply by the previous Government .

(1) and (3) Australia would support any constructive proposal for reform of the United Nations Charter and, as stated in the reply to your previous question on this matter, spoke in favour of the principles enunciated in President Carter's report in the General Assembly. However as a matter of fact any agreement to reform the Charter will require widespread support from member states of the organisation, including the permanent members of the Security Council, and we must bear this in mind.

Australia has been an active supporter of UN peace-keeping activities. In addition to financial contributions we have provided personnel and equipment to operations in Cyprus, Kashmir and the Middle East. Australia is also a member of the General Assembly's Special Committee on Peace-Keeping operations which was set up to review the whole question of peace-keeping.

There is, however, no doubt that the United Nations' record on peace-keeping is not entirely successful. The Security Council, the primary organ for the maintenance of international peace and security, finds its resolutions often ignored. Those provisions of the Charter dealing with collective action for peace and security have been rendered largely ineffective. Member States have contrived to avoid bringing particular problems to the Security Council, or to do so too late for the Council to have any effective impact. Obviously the attainment of the ideals which the original participants held for the ability of the United Nations to keep the peace has proved elusive. Nevertheless, the Secretary-General has proposed a number of measures to face what he himself has described as a crisis in the multilateral approach to solving world problems. These include a more systematic use of the Security Council which, when alerted by the Secretary-General, could attempt to identify and isolate disputes before they degenerate into armed conflict. The Secretary-General has also proposed that Member States use their collective influence to ensure respect for decisions of the Security Council.

Australia supports the Secretary-General's ideas, and spoke accordingly before the 37th Session of the General Assembly. They presuppose, however, a measure of co-operation among the permanent members, and until this consensus develops, have little chance of being implemented.

(2) The Government supports the goals and objectives of the world disarmament campaign and its policies on disarmament will be determined by a thorough and detailed assessment of Australia's interests. The Government has already given indications of positive directions on its policies on disarmament. These policies reflect principled concern for peace and security and for the achievement of effective balanced verifiable and negotiated disarmament measures . The Government's attitude to the positions taken by blocs in the United Nations will be based on these principles.