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Tuesday, 23 August 1983
Page: 80

Question No. 48

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

(1) Does the United Nations Charter specify conditions for sanctions to be applied to member states in breach of international law.

(2) If so, were these conditions operative during Australia's sanctions against the Soviet Union following that country's undertaking military operations in Afghanistan; if not, why not.

(3) Does the nuclear-armed nations' veto power in the Security Council effectively prevent sanctions, peace-keeping force deployment or any other discipline, remedy or penalty being applied by the UN against any nation.

(4) Is the major threat to survival of life beyond this century, the nuclear arms race.

(5) What steps has Australia taken to try to replace the veto power with enforceable arbitration of international disputes, including policies expressed by the late Mr Frank Forde and the late Dr H. V. Evatt at the United Nations.

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

(1) Yes.

(2) Australia's decision to impose sanctions on the Soviet Union was taken by the previous Government independently of the United Nations.

(3) Articles 41 and 42 of the United Nations Charter empower the Security Council to employ a range of measures to give effect to its decisions in the event of it determining that a threat to international peace and security exists . These measures include complete or partial interruption of economic relations, the severance of diplomatic relations and the closure of communications links. Should these measures be ineffective the Council may resort to military action.

The Permanent members of the United Nations Security Council can exercise power of veto over calls for such measures. This Government, like those of other member States of the United Nations, must abide by these conditions. Although the power of veto of permanent member states can present disadvantages, it is a fact of life that the cooperation of the major powers can only be expected if they believe their interests are being protected or served.

(4) The Government is deeply concerned at the threat to survival of mankind posed by the size and scale of nuclear arsenals. The Government considers that the most effective way of addressing these questions is to give its strong backing to the negotiating process between the super powers and the other nuclear weapons states with the objective of achieving limits, reductions and ultimately the abolition of nuclear arsenals.

This is a period of intense rivalry and competition between the super powers and indeed between states in various parts of the world and any machinery or mechanism in the United Nations has to proceed from this basis.

(5) See reply to question 47 (3).