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Government must take stand on mercenaries

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Joint Statement


Hon Arch Bevis

Shadow Minister for Defence

29 May 1997

Hon Laurie Brereton Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs


The Federal Opposition has called on the Government to ratify the United Nations Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries.

In a joint statement, the Shadow Defence Minister Arch Bevis and Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Laurie Brereton said recent events in Papua New Guinea had highlighted the urgent need for global action against mercenaries.

Mr Bevis said the Convention had been adopted by the United Nations in 1989 but had been signed by only 16 nations and ratified by only twelve.

The recent employment of a British-based mercenary organisation, complete with considerable military hardware, by the Government of Papua New Guinea is evidence that there is a highly professional mercenary industry at work on the world stage," Mr Bevis said.

"It is imperative that Australia now makes clear its opposition to the employment of mercenaries by ratifying the UN convention."

Mr Brereton said Australia should take a leading role in the international community in support of the Convention.

"The Shadow Minister for Defence and I will be moving a Private Member's motion calling on the Howard Government to ratify the Convention and sponsor a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly later this year," Mr Brereton said.

"If the Howard Government is genuinely concerned at the global spread of mercenaries they'll support our motion and demonstrate some leadership on an issue that so recently was destabilising in our region."

For further information contact

Arch Bevis 's Office John Crawford 06 277 4505 041 968 5789 Laurie Brereton's Office Philip Dorling 06 277 4717