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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 78

Question No. 41

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

Will the Government propose to nuclear armed powers that they renounce their veto powers if a more equitable voting procedure is adopted at the United Nations, for example a 3/4 majority vote of the General Assembly and, where appropriate, of the Security Council, with the majority vote representing nations which have 3/4 of the world population and contribute 3/4 of the revenue required by the proposed resolution, and/or a majority of a democratically chosen disarmament, arbitration and peace-keeping authority; if not, why not.

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

The Australian Government takes a constructive, positive approach to the question of making the United Nations more responsive to the needs of its member states. As a practical matter however there is little likelihood of securing the necessary degree of agreement to amend the organisation's charter to remove the power of veto from the permanent members of the Security Council, since such a proposal would require the assent of the permanent members themselves.

Charter reform has been a difficult exercise, although Australia participates in consideration of this question and will continue to do so. The United Nations can only function effectively on the basis of consent. If major parties to a dispute refuse to heed the demands of the United Nations, including the Security Council, experience has shown that the United Nations' ability to resolve the problem is limited.

Countries like Australia have a duty to encourage member states to accept a greater role for the United Nations and the related arbitral and juridical process, but until this acceptance has become more widespread, moves for substantive amendments to the charter are unlikely to be successful.