Australia and its Commitment to the United Nations

Australia and its Commitment to the United Nations

Australia plays a big role in the United Nations (UN). For 70 years, the land down under served as one of the founding members of the UN. Its foreign policies are key pillars interconnecting with the challenges faced in the world today. In its 70th year in October 2015, Sydney’s Opera House was illuminated blue joining other landmarks such as Brisbane’s City Hall and Melbourne’s Federation Square.


Historical Background

In 1945, HV Evatt, the Australian Foreign Minister, was strongly seeking to increase the exclusive power of the General Assembly and remove the veto power from the permanent five in the Security Council. He also had a role in establishing the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) where most of the Australian values can be embodied, such as respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms, higher standards of living and conditions of economic and social development. Stanley Melbourne Bruce, Australian diplomat and former Prime Minister, led the preliminary work of ECOSOC where he was voted as the President of the Council of the League of Nations. One of his initial contributions was the dissemination of information of agriculture, nutrition and health. He had the understanding that through the international organization, he can integrate the following issues and maximize the international cooperation to achieve its ability to communicate to the people. He further focused on another development with the structural changes with the economic and social agencies of the League of Nations. Eventually, the legacies of the two Australian contingents paved way for Article 56 of the Charter which was known as the Australian Pledge.  [1]

Significant Contributions


Being a member of the UN means more than for the interests of Australia, but to help influence the events which directly affect the interests of Australia and other nations, mostly dealing with global issues. The agencies Australia is a member of are the following: UN Funds and Specialised Agencies, UN Industrial Development Organisation, World Tourism Organisation, Commission on Narcotic Drugs, Commission on Sustainable Development, Committee on Contributions, the Human Rights Committee, the International Law Commission, the UN Commission on International Trade Law, the UN Statistical Commission, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UN Aids, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), UNESCO, and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) [2]

International Security

Department of Foreign Affairs also cited the importance of UN to Australia where International security has engaged national interests. The concept of multilateralism applies in the state of Australia with its relationship with the UN where collective and cooperative actions are actively managed in collaborative efforts in international level. [3] The joint action helps maintain international peace and security, human rights, international trade and economic development and regularity of international relations. Australia recognizes these activities and believes they cannot defend and protect alone in mobile and resilient enemies. It is the same way how Australia acknowledges UN and other states will need cooperation in their own fight against terror, where full cooperation and contributions have also been established by Australia. [4] Its membership in the UN Security Council for the fifth time in a two-year term starting from January 1, 2013 brought about initiatives and actions such as responses towards conflict in Syria, downing of the Malaysian Airline flight MH17 and issues of human rights in North Korea. [5]

The recognized efforts in international peace and security are also explicitly seen in support of the peacekeeping systems where the Australian Federal Police have long associated. Its involvement in peace operations in Cambodia, Haiti, Mozambique, Somalia and Thailand have provided troops in participating in ground control.

In the 2015 Peacekeeping Summit, Australia committed for strategic airlift support in crisis situations, manage explosive devices and train soldiers in the affected regions. Its high support for global disarmament and non-proliferation led Australia in negotiation with Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. [6]

Financial Contributions

Australia is the 13th largest contributor financially and has funded the UN peacekeeping operations. [7] The below table shows the budget contributions for the year 2010 with over $40 million.


Human Rights and Equality

Australian’s commitment to human rights is integral in its pursuit of in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as one of the eight countries to lead its promotion. For the UNHRC 2018-2020, Australia has advocated its candidacy and will advance its national interests in gender equality. Natasha Despoja was appointed as Ambassador for Women and Girls that empowers women through Australia’s aid programs. In support of the indigenous people, such as the aborigines in Australia, the Australian Parliament apologized formally for their past mistreatment and injustices. Their continued contribution led to the establishment of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. [8] Below is a video to show more of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Climate Change and Environmental Issues

The Paris agreement on climate changes was a dynamic framework to promote responsible action on reducing emissions by 26-28 percent by 2030. Australian Government was part of the conference and played a role in its aid program and funding. The endorsement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 strengthened its platform to reduce disaster risks to protect the vulnerable areas. However, the UN report on climate change changed the Australian government’s perspective when the information mentioned it could harm tourism. It lobbied the Great Barrier Reef as ‘World Heritage Sites in Danger’. The government intervened and expressed concern the title ‘Destinations at risk’ had the potential to cause risks for tourism. [9]

The Great Barrier Reef as ‘World Heritage Site in Danger?’

Commitment to Global Cooperation

As an active participant in the UN, the Australian government and its contributions have made multilateralism system in full effect and acceptable. The globalization between UN and Australia suggests that it is integral to have firm commitment and cooperation to accomplish the Millennium goals and mission. Australia’s service and long distinguished record in the UN shows its consistency and comprehensive endorsement and delivery in its support of the same values of what Australians present in today’s and tomorrow’s setting.


[1] Ferguson, Senator Alan. “Australia and the United Nations.” Parliament of Australia – Chapter 11 Australia. Accessed October 19, 2016.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Thakur, Ramesh. 2006. “The United Nations in Global Governance: Rebalancing Organized Multilateralism for Current and Future Challenges.” United Nations. Accessed October 18, 2016.
[4] Moffat, Simon. 2007. “Globalisation, Terrorism and Cosmopolitan Australia.” Security Challenges. Accessed October 18, 2016. Retrieved from:
[5] Australian Government. 2016. “United Nations” Australian Government. Accessed October 19, 2016.
[6] Ibid.
[8] DFAT. 2016. “United Nations.” DFAT. Accessed October 19, 2016. 
[9] Slezak, Michael. 2016. “Australia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention.” The Guardian. Accessed October 19, 2016.

4 thoughts on “Australia and its Commitment to the United Nations

  1. I am wondering about the UN reactions regarding the Australian new laws regarding refugees and assylum seekers after the rise of the right wing in the government. Were there any actions or cooperation between the UNHCR and Austrailian government regarding these laws?. Because it is un human to send the assylum seekers back to the sea after they inter the country’s borders, yet the UN did not comment on that as of what I know.
    Nice post


  2. The information are clearly stated and interesting, the fact that the indigenous people rights is being guaranteed, is a major objective of UN goal which i appreciate more as an achievement on the part of UN.


  3. From what I know Australians were the first peacekeepers to serve under United Nations. Interesting reading on Human rights and security where Australian parliament is working on justice and fair treatment of indigenous people. Its like a resource curse that most of the time indigenous people are the one who are isolated and someone else takes over.


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