Australian Year Book of International Law
Compiled and edited by
Legal Branch, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
On 15 February 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a joint press statement announcing the commission of a new white paper on foreign and trade policy. An extract from the press release follows:
We have decided to commission a new foreign and trade policy White Paper, ‘Advancing the National Interest’. Since the Government issued Australia’s first foreign and trade policy White Paper, ‘In the National Interest’, in August 1997, our region and the world have experienced profound change including the East Asian financial crisis; the progressive strengthening of globalisation; the terrible events of September 11 and the resulting war on terrorism; and the launch of a new round of multilateral trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization. The new White Paper will address these and other major international shifts. ‘Advancing the National Interest’ will review the 1997 White Paper’s key themes and assumptions and undertake some new analysis on which relationships matter most to Australia in terms of our security, our trade and investment interests, our people-to-people links and other issues. The paper will also examine the strength of Australia’s credentials and attributes to succeed in a globalised economy and in an uncertain and fluid international environment.
On 5 November 2002, Ms Kym Taylor, of the Australian Mission to the United Nations made a statement to the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly concerning the Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its 54th session. An extract from the statement follows:
One area of particular interest to Australia is that of the issue of reciprocity and whether a State that has unilaterally made a promise can be legally bound without expecting reciprocity on the part of any other State. The Special Rapporteur cited the example of a State requesting extradition of an individual promising the requested State that the death penalty would not be applied to that individual. This example is of great interest to Australia. Our national law prohibits us from extraditing someone if they might face the death penalty. Accordingly, we would be anxious in such a case to preserve the enforceability of the unilateral act at international law without the need for any element of reciprocity. Australia agrees with the views of the majority of members and the Special Rapporteur that unilateral acts do exist under international law and can be binding on the author State, subject to certain conditions of validity. Australia also supports the view that even if unilateral acts are not per se law-creating or norm-creating mechanisms they could in theory, if sufficiently widespread so as to be evidence of State practice, result in the creation of customary international law.
On 13 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock issued a joint press statement in which they rejected the report of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention’s visit to Australia in May and June 2002. An extract from the release follows:
The Working Group’s report makes several recommendations relating to the detention of unauthorised arrivals, skating over the fact that it is the sovereign right of Australia to determine who will enter its borders and the circumstances of that entry. It is common knowledge that almost all people in immigration detention have passed through countries in which they could have sought protection en route to Australia. Immigration detention is an essential element underpinning the integrity of Australia’s migration program and the protection of our borders. Without immigration detention, it would not be possible to ensure that we are able to remove people from Australia if they have no lawful authority to be here.
On 30 January 2002, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard addressed the United Nations Security Council in New York. Extracts from that speech follow:
The renewal of the UNTAET mandate prefaces a new phase of UN involvement in East Timor. The Security Council must now give priority to preparation and planning for the post-independence UN mission. Decisions taken by this Council in the coming months will have a crucial bearing on the long-term success of East Timor. We cannot rest on the successes, great though they are over the past two years, for without continued support, those successes cannot be sustained. East Timor remains a small fragile country. A start to reconstruction has been made, but there is still a long way to go. Australia and other donors are committed to East Timor’s long term sustainable development. But there also needs to be an assurance of solidarity from the UN system.
I will inform the Council that Australia will continue to play its part, both through the United Nations and also bilaterally to support East Timor. We are committed to a substantial bilateral assistance program to reduce poverty and build capacity of the East Timorese people to govern their country successfully in a peaceful and democratic fashion. In the Timor Sea Arrangement, we have agreed on generous arrangement for revenue from the Timor Sea gas fields which will make a big contribution to East Timor’s future.
East Timor will, however, need more than the help and goodwill of its nearest neighbours. A seamless transition from UN administration to a functioning post-independence government is vital to success in the long-term. We should not undo the good work already done by skimping on resources. It is critical that the UN stay the course and Australia will play a significant part in the staying of that course and leaves East Timor well equipped to deal with the challenges of independence. This is the best guarantee of minimising the country’s longer term reliance on international support. Australia agrees that the UN’s role in East Timor is not open-ended. The Security Council must set in place an exit strategy that preserves the international community’s investment in East Timor’s future. And that in turn will secure East Timor’s capacity to function effectively over the long-term. I conclude by assuring you that Australia will continue to play a significant part for so long as that participation is needed. We will work closely with you to support United Nations efforts and the new East Timorese government.
The following is an extract from a press release issued on 20 May 2002, by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer:
The Australian people have long held a special affinity with East Timor. Its arrival on the world stage as an independent nation marks a special moment for our two nations. Australia looks forward to seeing our neighbour take its place in the international and regional communities. The coming of independence heralds a new phase in Australia’s relationship with East Timor. East Timor will face significant challenges as it strives for prosperity for its people and works to establish the institutions and governance systems of nationhood. Australia will remain committed to East Timor and to helping the new nation reach its stable, democratic and peaceful potential.
East Timor’s independence will allow our two nations to build on the already strong ties of friendship between us and to develop the partnerships, including the community and business links, that will add further depth to our post-independence relationship.
On 1 February 2002, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard commented at the World Economic Forum in New York on the situation in the Middle East:
It is necessary to, however daunting the task is, to try and find a solution to the hideously intractable problem of the Middle East. That can only be upon the basis of an absolute acceptance without qualification of the right of Israel to exist unmolested by secure and defensible boundaries, and equally to recognise the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for a homeland. It is a tragedy that what looked so bright and aspiringly hopeful in the Middle East only a little over a year ago has turned into now such an awful nightmare. But all of those who have any influence on that troubled part of our globe have an ongoing responsibility to do what they can to bring, however difficult it may seem, to bring about that peace, that will make a contribution.
On 25 September 2002, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question on notice from Ms Tanya Plibersek concerning the Australian government’s efforts in assisting the resolution of conflict over self-determination for Western Sahara. The Minister’s response follows:
The Government supports the early holding of a referendum to determine the wishes of the population of Western Sahara on the question of independence or incorporation into the Kingdom of Morocco, so long as that remains the only process endorsed by the UN for resolving the dispute. On 30 July 2002, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1429, extending the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 January 2003. We have urged Morocco and Polisario to co-operate with the UN to facilitate implementation of the UN Framework Agreement as soon as possible. I have made Australia’s views clear to the Moroccan Foreign Minister, most recently in a letter in August 2002.
On 2 September 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile addressed the Australia-Taiwan Business Council Joint Conference in Perth. Extracts from the speech follow:
Although Australia does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan under its one-China policy, the Australian Government is nevertheless committed to the economic relationship with Taiwan and supports a range of programs designed to support Australian companies in their commercial dealings in Taiwan.
To realise our shared economic potential, Australia and Taiwan need to work creatively on the longer-term direction of the bilateral relationship. There have been positive developments in this regard over the past year. At the Bilateral Economic Talks in May in Taipei, both sides agreed to undertake a joint investment study to look at the causes of the low levels of bilateral investments. The Chairman of the Taiwan Fair Trade Commission signed a Cooperation Arrangement with his counterpart, Professor Allan Fels, Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The Working Holiday Maker arrangement will deepen the people-to-people contacts on which the business relationship grows. In conclusion, my main message is that the Australian Government regards the commercial and trade relationship as a very valuable asset. We fully intend to continue to build on this very strong foundation. Australia and Taiwan need to work creatively on the longer-term direction for the economic and people-to-people relationship. We want to develop a long-term, mutually beneficial business partnership, and we are pleased at signs that Taiwan feels the same way.
On 18 June 2002, a new Australian Declaration under paragraph 2 of article 36 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice 1945, lodged at New York on 22 March 2002, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
Australia’s acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ under its previous 1975 declaration was very broad. It enabled countries to bring an action against Australia notwithstanding the fact that those countries may not have demonstrated a commitment to the process of compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. For example, they could lodge a declaration and then almost immediately commence an action against Australia. The new declaration limits Australia’s acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. This means that an action cannot be commenced against Australia in the following circumstances:
(a) where the parties have agreed to other peaceful means of dispute resolution; (b) where disputes involve maritime boundary delimitation or disputes concerning the exploitation of an area in dispute or adjacent to an area in dispute; and (c) where a country has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the court only for a particular purpose or has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the court for a period of less than one year. The first listed exception, where parties have agreed to other peaceful means of dispute resolution, was included in Australia’s previous declaration accepting compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ lodged in 1975. The purpose of this exception is to ensure that where countries involved have chosen another means of dispute resolution in relation to a particular type of dispute that choice is respected and cannot be disregarded. More than half the States that have accepted ICJ jurisdiction have made this exception including the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan. The exclusion of maritime boundary disputes from the declaration of acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ is consistent with the Government’s concurrent action of excluding sea boundary delimitation from the compulsory dispute mechanism procedure under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The exception concerning maritime boundary disputes is consistent with the Government view that such disputes are best resolved through negotiation rather than by a Court or Tribunal. Negotiation allows the parties to work together to reach an outcome that is acceptable to both sides. The Government is, and remains, committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes. Australia, as an island continent, has some of the longest maritime boundaries in the world. It has maritime boundaries with many countries and the Government is concerned that every endeavour should be made to reach an agreed resolution of any maritime boundary disputes through peaceful negotiation. The purpose of the third exception is to ensure that countries like Australia that have a broad and long term acceptance of the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice are not exposed to the possibility of litigation by countries that only accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the Court for a short time and for a specific purpose.
On 17 June 2002, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock answered a question without notice from Mr Alan Cadman concerning the impact on people-smuggling operations of the decision to excise further islands from the migration zone. Extracts from Mr Ruddock’s response follow:
Let me make the point that you need to have a comprehensive approach to dealing with people-smuggling issues. That is a point that we have always made, and we have been dealing with countries in our region to put in place a range of measures to enable us to work with them on dealing with these questions.
The fact is that the excision recommendations to the government in relation to the offshore islands between Exmouth and the Torres Strait and into the Coral Sea were made on recommendation by the People Smuggling Task Force. It was in the light of information that was given to us, some of which was published in the Indonesian press – and that has been made known – and some of which has been otherwise reported to us, that it is quite clear that people smugglers are still active in Indonesia. There are of the order of 2,500 people that might be able to traffick and ply representations that they can aid and assist them. There are people still active in trying to put together boats to travel to Australia and beyond. The advice was very clear: people were now looking at arranging for vessels to travel beyond Australia and into the Pacific.
The fact is that people are very exercised about the way in which people might be intent on travelling beyond Australia. The route they would most likely travel is through the Torres Strait where there are many islands and reefs. The expectation is that vessels in very poor circumstances might well founder near some of those islands or might run aground on a reef. They may reach an island and, in doing so, enter the migration zone and obtain the advantages that that brings rather than the disadvantage that occurs if they land on Christmas Island, Ashmore Reef or the Cocos Islands. So there was very clear advice that this was the most appropriate way to deal with what was seen as a new risk arising from changed circumstances. It was something which was in our hands to deal with and something that would be useful and effective as a deterrent in ensuring that the range of measures that we have already put in place were able to operate effectively.
On 10 December 2002, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock answered a question without notice from Mr Stewart McArthur concerning the effect of the excision of certain islands from the migration zone. Extracts from the answer follow:
The fact of the matter is that excision of places such as Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Ashmore Reef impacts only upon those people who seek to enter Australia without authority – that is, illegally. It has no adverse impact on Australians. It in no way derogates from our sovereignty. In fact, there are very positive reasons why excision has worked. We now know that people are looking at trying to come to Australia by other means or other routes. They are looking at alternative possibilities, including travelling into the Pacific. We know now that those sorts of prospects have been spoken of by the smugglers. We know that the Pacific solution is one way that we can deal with those issues effectively if boats are coming to or likely to sink near excised islands. We know that, if people are able to access Australia rather than Christmas Island, where they would be processed under the Pacific solution, it means longer processing times and more costly appeals. It also means that we cannot use the arrangements that we have put in place where we use the same processing arrangements that the UNHCR uses, which have far more rigour associated with them.
On 5 November 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning an agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member states and the People’s Republic of China on a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, signed in Phnom Penh on 4 November 2002. Extracts from this release follow:
I welcome the agreement between ASEAN member states and the People’s Republic of China on a Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, which was signed in Phnom Penh on 4 November 2002. The Declaration commits parties to promote peace and stability in the South China Sea, where there are a number of overlapping territorial claims.
Australia has been an advocate of a regional code of conduct for the South China Sea for several years. At the ASEAN Regional Forum in July 1999, I put forward some informal suggestions on what such a code might contain. I am pleased to note that the Declaration features several of these suggested elements. These include undertakings to refrain from inhabiting presently uninhabited reefs and to exercise self-restraint; and an implicit acknowledgement by claimants of the existence of other competing claims. The Declaration alone cannot resolve territorial issues at the heart of the South China Sea dispute, nor does it impose legally-binding or enforceable obligations on parties. This will require the continuing political commitment of parties if it is to contribute to maintaining peace and stability in the region. Australia will continue to encourage all parties to abide by their new undertakings in this Declaration.
On 18 June 2002, the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Republic of Chile relating to Air Services, done at Santiago on 7 September 2001, and the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Cook Islands relating to Air Services, done at Apia on 18 September 2001, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts common to both accompanying National Interest Analyses follow:
The purpose of the treaty is to allow direct air services to operate between Australia and [Chile] [the Cook Islands], which will facilitate trade and tourism between the two countries through freight and passenger transportation and provide greater air travel options for Australian consumers. The Agreement provides a framework for the operation of scheduled air services between Australia and [Chile] [the Cook Islands] by the designated airlines of both countries.
On 17 September 2002, the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand relating to Air Services, done at Auckland on 8 August 2002, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
In keeping with the principles of the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Trade Agreement and the Australia-New Zealand Single Aviation Market Arrangements (SAM) which entered into force on 1 January 1983 and 1 November 1996 respectively, the treaty allows air services to operate between and within the markets of Australia and New Zealand. This will facilitate the development of the Single Aviation Market between the two countries which will promote benefits for inbound tourism, freight operations and greater air travel options for Australian consumers.
On 8 September 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release in conjunction with the Minister of Communications of the United Arab Emirates, HE Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer concerning the United Arab Emirates-Australia Air Services Agreement signed in Dubai on that date. The Agreement formalised the agreement initialled on 3 November 1999 during discussions between the Aeronautical Authorities of the two countries. The following is an extract from the press release:
The Air Services Agreement will help to further develop the existing close ties between Australia and the United Arab Emirates. It includes both passenger and cargo flights, and allows carriers from both countries to operate agreed services to each country. It provides a framework for the introduction of additional passenger and freight services between Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
On 25 June 2002, the Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas, done at Rome on 24 November 1993, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the National Interest Analysis follow:
Acceptance of the Agreement will enhance Australia’s international reputation as a responsible fishing nation. In particular, it will enable Australia to apply internationally agreed standards for the responsible management by flag-states of vessels that fish on the high seas and provide a basis for greater cooperation between Australia and other States to improve high seas fishing practices. Australia’s fishing industries and communities are expected to benefit from acceptance of the Agreement through its deterrent effect on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities that have a negative impact on Australia’s harvest of fish stocks within and beyond the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ). The Agreement is consistent with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which Australia is a Party, and forms a central element of the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, which sets out principles and standards of behaviour for responsible fishing. The Agreement aims to improve the regulation of vessels that fish on the high seas. In order to ensure that vessels fish in a responsible manner on the high seas, it requires flag states to implement authorisation and recording system for high seas fishing vessels. The Agreement will assist in cooperative international efforts to reduce problems associated with the practice of re-flagging fishing vessels for the purpose of evading internationally agreed conservation and management measures for high seas fisheries. Australia has a strong interest in measures intended to deter re-flagging and IUU fishing. IUU fishing continues to represent a serious threat to the world’s marine ecosystems and threatens the Australian harvest of fish stocks within and beyond the AFZ. Australia has an outstanding international reputation as a responsible fishing nation however, the AFZ, especially the Southern Oceans, continues to be plundered by foreign IUU vessels. Acceptance of the Agreement will help to deter IUU and other unsustainable fishing activities, thus contributing to the protection of the Australian fishing industry and communities dependent upon this industry for their economic well-being. Acceptance of the Agreement would further enhance Australia’s international leadership on fisheries issues by building on our implementation of the UNFSA and leadership in developing the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate IUU fishing, a voluntary instrument adopted in 2001 under the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Entry into force of the Agreement would contribute to the conservation of living marine resources within and beyond the AFZ.
On 14 November 2002, The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp issued a press release concerning illegal trade in toothfish in the context of both the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Extracts from the release follow:
Australia has withdrawn its nomination of the toothfish onto the appendices of CITES and instead opted to accept a strong resolution to give further protection for the toothfish against illegal trade in the species. “I believe we have made significant progress towards our objectives. On withdrawing our nomination to list toothfish with CITES we succeeded through the process in putting toothfish and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing on the global agenda and gaining a strong resolution. This will not only help protect the toothfish from becoming endangered through illegal fishing, but will also protect endangered migratory bird species that are caught indiscriminately as bycatch by the toothfish pirates,” Dr Kemp said. This was recognised by CITES in committee in passing an unprecedented resolution that called for the CITES members trading in toothfish to:
• join CCAMLR if they are fishing for toothfish;
• implement CCAMLR’s catch documentation scheme;
• report to the CITES Secretariat on their use of, and verification requirements for catch documentation; and
• not undermine CCAMLR’s conservation measures.The resolution also called on CCAMLR to consider further cooperation with CITES. “The innovation of using the global reach of CITES to provide complementary support to CCAMLR which is a regional body which provides regional regulation of commercial fishing was too difficult for most countries to accept at its first exposure,” Dr Kemp said. “However, these are early days and what we are doing is trying to protect a species that is at risk of becoming threatened due to illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. To this end, Australia supports the strong commitment by all CCAMLR Members to do everything necessary to eliminate pirate fishing for toothfish and to ensure its conservation.”
On 10 December 2002, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and the law of the sea. The following is an extract from that statement relating to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing:
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing represents a serious threat to the sustainability of many of the world’s fisheries. We need to be clear – illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a breach of the Convention. All states must cooperate to prevent it. Coastal states cannot do it alone. IUU fishing is a global problem and consequently global cooperative action is needed to address it. Flag states, states of nationality, port states and market states must also act. The Plan of Implementation for WSSD calls on all states “to urgently develop and implement national and regional plans of action to prevent, deter and eliminate IUU fishing by 2004, and to establish effective monitoring, reporting and enforcement and control of fishing vessels”. Australia strongly endorses this call. In this context, Australia is disappointed that, in relation to IUU fishing, some states seem more zealous in exercising their rights, especially as flag states, than in fulfilling the obligations which come with those rights. This must change and change rapidly. The environmental and other damage being done by IUU fishing is too great to tolerate any longer. Australia believes it is time for the international community to act against those States which do not implement existing international obligations and whose flag vessels and nationals persistently support or engage in IUU fishing. The international community must urgently develop and apply fair, transparent and non-discriminatory measures to penalise “free-rider” States and prevent IUU fishing. These measures should be widely and consistently applied through relevant regional management organisations.
On 10 December 2002, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and the law of the sea. An extract from the statement concerning the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement follows:
The entry into force of the UN Fish Stocks Agreement late last year is a milestone in international efforts to achieve sustainable fisheries practices. The Agreement requires States to cooperate to ensure that highly migratory and straddling fish stocks are sustainably conserved and managed for the benefit of present and future generations and sets out a template for effective management of regional fisheries. It requires strong conservation and management measures which take into account not only the sustainability of target stocks, but also impacts on marine ecosystems. Australia urges all states to become party to the Agreement as soon as possible, and to implement its provisions. It is fundamental to achieving sustainable fisheries.
On 27 August 2002, an amendment, adopted on 18 October 2000, to the Limitation Amounts in the Protocol of 1992 to amend the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 1969, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The purpose of Resolution LEG.1(82) is to increase the limitation amounts applying to tanker owners in cases of pollution damage resulting from the escape or discharge of oil from tankers. The increase to the limitation amounts is in the national interest to ensure that they are maintained at a sufficient level so that tanker owners pay a fair share of the compensation costs resulting from oil pollution damage.
While it is important to provide limits to liability so that a tanker owner is not exposed to unlimited liability in cases of claims arising from an oil spill, the tanker owner should also be expected to pay a reasonable amount towards the cost of compensation for consequent damages.
It is in Australia’s interests that Australia should accept the proposed amendments to the limitation amounts to ensure that adequate compensation is payable in case of any oil pollution incident resulting from the escape or discharge of oil from a tanker in Australian waters.
On 27 August 2002, an amendment, adopted on 18 October 2000, to the Limits of Compensation in the Protocol of 1992 to Amend the International Convention on the Establishment of an International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage, 1971, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The purpose of Resolution LEG.2(82) is to increase the compensation limits payable from the International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund 1992 (the IOPC Fund) in cases of pollution damage resulting from the escape or discharge of oil from tankers where full compensation is unable to be obtained from the tanker owner. The increase in the limits is in the national interest to ensure that the full costs of compensation are recoverable in the case of a major pollution incident in Australian waters.
It is important to provide a limit to the amount that the IOPC Fund may be required to pay in the case of a major oil spill so that there can be some estimate of potential liabilities of the IOPC Fund. However, it is recognised that the limit on liability should be set at a level that is sufficient to cover compensation costs arising from almost all oil pollution incidents involving oil tankers. The amendments to the limits of compensation set out in Resolution LEG.2(82) will increase the existing limits to take account of the erosion of their value by inflation since 1992.
On 10 December 2002, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and the law of the sea. An extract from the statement relating to the Convention on the Law of the Sea follows:
It is with a sense of real satisfaction that Australia joins in the celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of the Law of the Sea Convention. The Convention is of fundamental importance to Australia – it defines our jurisdiction, our resources, and our environmental obligations. It is the foundation of our entire approach to the oceans under our jurisdiction, and beyond. Twenty years on, the Convention is indeed proving itself to be “the constitution for the oceans”. It remains the touchstone of all our efforts at oceans governance. With a number of accessions to the Convention yesterday, we are moving closer to universal application of the Convention.
On 25 March 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Attorney-General, Mr Daryl Williams issued a joint press release concerning changes to the terms upon which Australia accepts international dispute resolution mechanisms, particularly as they apply to maritime boundaries. Extracts from the release follow:
These changes relate particularly to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and to dispute settlement under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Australia has lodged a declaration accepting the ICJ and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea as venues for compulsory dispute settlement under the Law of the Sea Convention. Australia was an original party to the Convention and ratified it in 1994. Australia remains one of only 61 countries out of the United Nations’ 189 members that accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ. Of those, the majority have made various types of reservations to their acceptance of the Court’s jurisdiction. Under the Convention, Australia may choose the dispute resolution bodies it prefers and whether to exclude certain areas, such as maritime delimitation, from compulsory dispute resolution. Australia has made a declaration excluding the setting of maritime boundaries from compulsory dispute resolution. Australia’s strong view is that any maritime boundary dispute is best settled by negotiation rather than litigation. Australia’s maritime zones abut the maritime zones of Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, France (New Caledonia, Kerguelen Island and Antarctica), East Timor and Norway. Australia is yet to resolve boundaries with France, New Zealand and Norway in the maritime area adjacent to Antarctica. Australia has negotiated treaties on permanent maritime boundaries with Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and France (New Caledonia and Kerguelen Island). Negotiations are ongoing with New Zealand.
On 18 June 2002, Australian declarations under articles 287(1) and 298(1)(a) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1982, lodged at New York on 22 March 2002, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
UNCLOS provides for the compulsory settlement of disputes between Parties over the interpretation and application of the Convention. Article 287(1) of UNCLOS allows States to nominate their preferred dispute resolution mechanism from the following: (a) the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) established in accordance with Annex VI of UNCLOS; (b) the International Court of Justice (ICJ); (c) an arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VII of UNCLOS; (d) a special arbitral tribunal constituted in accordance with Annex VIII of UNCLOS for specific categories of disputes. …
The declaration made by Australia under Article 278(1) chose the following means for the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation or application of UNCLOS, without specifying that one has precedence over the other: (a) ITLOS; and (b) the ICJ. If another country involved in a dispute with Australia has not accepted either of these mechanisms, the default mechanism of an arbitration panel consisting of five members in accordance with Annex VII of the Convention would apply. Australia chose the ICJ and ITLOS as its preferred means of dispute resolution because there are advantages in taking disputes to existing, internationally recognised forums. Arbitral tribunals are not pre-existing bodies and have to be constituted before dispute resolution can be commenced. This can be a time consuming and difficult process. Also, the parties to the dispute have to pay the full cost of both the tribunal and the arbitration. Australia already contributes to the cost of the ICJ and ITLOS and no additional costs are incurred by taking a dispute to the Court or the Tribunal. UNCLOS (Article 298(1)) also allows States to exclude certain specified categories of disputes from compulsory dispute settlement. Australia has excluded one of those categories – disputes concerning sea boundary delimitation and historic bays or titles – from compulsory dispute settlement. As a result, any sea boundary disputes between Australia and another State cannot be subject to compulsory dispute settlement under UNCLOS. Of the 29 States that have nominated their preferred dispute resolution mechanism, 11 States have made an exception in relation to sea boundary disputes. Notwithstanding that declaration, disputes concerning maritime boundaries could still be heard by a conciliation commission under UNCLOS. The results of conciliation are not binding. The Government’s view is that maritime boundary disputes are best resolved through negotiation, not litigation. Negotiations allow the parties to work together to reach an outcome acceptable to both sides. The Government is, and remains, committed to the peaceful settlement of disputes. Compared to other countries, Australia, as an island continent, has some of the longest maritime boundaries in the world. It has maritime boundaries with many countries and the Government is concerned that every endeavour should be made to reach an agreed resolution of any maritime boundary disputes through peaceful negotiation.
On 10 December 2002, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and the law of the sea. An extract from the statement concerning the United Nations Informal Consultative Process on Oceans follows:
The UN Informal Consultative Process on Oceans has made a major contribution to the General Assembly’s consideration of oceans over the past few years, deepening our understanding of key issues, enriching our discussions, and facilitating improved implementation of the Convention. Australia welcomes the decision to continue this process for another three years. We also look forward to the establishment of an effective inter-agency coordination mechanism which can ensure an integrated approach to oceans governance at the global level.
On 14 May 2002, amendments to the Annex to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, done in London on 12 December 2002, including consideration and adoption of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The amendment to Chapter V is a change of date for compliance with a safety of navigation provision in SOLAS regarding the installation of automatic identification systems on ships. The amendments to Chapter XI-1 require better information on ship identity, through the permanent marking of a ship’s identification number in a visible place on board a ship, and the issuing of a continuous synopsis record for each ship by its flag state. Amendments to maritime safety provisions in SOLAS are made regularly by the IMO and implemented in Australia through Marine Orders under the Navigation Act 1912. Chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code establish a preventive maritime security regime to enhance security on board ships and at ports. The Australian maritime sector will benefit from the IMO security measures which are aimed at reducing the risk of a terrorist incident on board a ship or at a port facility. Australia’s major trading partners, in particular the US, are quickly moving to adopt the security measures in Chapter XI-2 and the ISPS Code domestically.
New legislation will be required in Australia to implement these amendments. Events since the 11 September 2001, the attack on the French tanker Limburg and the Bali bombing indicate that there is an urgent need to re-appraise the adequacy of preventive security measures by industry, including the maritime industry. If Australia does not implement the IMO security measures, Australian ports and cities will be further exposed to the risk of a terrorist incident, as other ports around the world tighten their own security. The implementation of these security measures domestically will significantly improve the preparedness of Australia’s maritime sector. Failure to accept the IMO maritime security measures could seriously disadvantage Australia’s trading interests, particularly to the USA. This is because international shipping companies may be reluctant to put their ships into ports that have not implemented the security measures for fear of being subject to delays at ports which have implemented the measures. Overseas ports that have implemented the measures may delay or refuse entry to ships coming from ports that do not comply with the measures.
On 26 April 2002, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp issued a press release concerning the Seoul Ocean Declaration. Extracts from the press release follow:
The Seoul Ocean Declaration focused on the sustainability of marine and coastal resources in the Asia-Pacific Region. The meeting discussed sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, marine environment protection and improving the scientific basis for resource management in the APEC region. “The Pacific Ocean is at the very heart of APEC. It is appropriate and timely that Ministers from the region should meet to discuss the importance of our ocean environment for food security, economic prosperity and social and environmental well being. “This regional meeting will contribute to strengthening cooperation on sustainable oceans management and development,” Dr Kemp said.
Dr Kemp committed Australia to an ecosystem based approach to fisheries management. “Some have said that whale numbers should be reduced because some whales eat fish,” Dr Kemp said. “Sustainable fisheries are very important. But so too are all aspects of our marine biodiversity. The decline in fish stocks is not the fault of the whales. It is human actions that are at fault. We must have an ecosystem based approach to the management of fisheries that recognises that whales should not be the scapegoats for the overexploitation of fisheries.” Dr Kemp affirmed Australia’s commitment to improved arrangements for conservation of the biodiversity contained in the deep oceans and areas beyond national jurisdiction.
On 1 March 2002, the Acting Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Mr Warren Truss, and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr Sharman Stone issued a joint press release expressing Australia’s opposition to moves by Japan to expand its scientific whaling program. Extracts from the release follow:
“Australia has consistently opposed the Japanese ‘scientific’ whaling program, which has continued despite mounting international criticism. This ‘research’ is unnecessary and can be inhumane, and its products end up as whalemeat for sale in Japanese markets,” Mr Truss said. Mr Truss and Dr Stone said they were dismayed by news suggesting the Japanese Government not only wants to increase its take of minke whales, but that Japan now intends to expand its operations to hunt the endangered sei whale in the North Pacific.
“We voted with a clear majority in the International Whaling Commission last July for a resolution calling on Japan to end its scientific whaling program. The prospect of it being expanded flies in the face of international opinion,” Dr Stone said. “There is no scientific justification for whales to be killed in order for them to be studied. Australian researchers are developing and using methods to study living whales, including by collecting and analysing faeces. This allows us to study whales’ feeding habits throughout their life, rather than drawing conclusions based only on their last meal.” Mr Truss and Dr Stone said Australia would oppose the proposal, and continue to seek an end to all lethal scientific whaling.
On 12 November 2002, amendments, done at Bonn, Germany on 24 September 2002, to appendices I and II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, done at Bonn on 23 June 1979, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the National Interest Analysis accompanying the amendments follow:
The treaty action is the addition of twenty-one species to Appendix I and twenty species to Appendix II of the Bonn Convention, including the eight species nominated by Australia. The proposed treaty action is in the national interest as Australia is committed to international whale protection and conservation. Australia works within the International Whaling Commission (IWC), the principal body for whale conservation, management and research, to seek a permanent global ban on commercial whaling and to establish a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary as part of this strategy. The Bonn Convention complements and supports Australia’s efforts in the IWC, in relation to the migrations of great whales. The amendments reinforce Australia’s broader campaign to protect migratory whale species.
On 25 September 2002, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, issued a press release concerning the amendments done on 24 September 2002 to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The following comments relate to the successful listing of six great whale species as part of these amendments:
The successful listing of these marine species, gives Australia and our South Pacific neighbours an opportunity to establish a regional Memorandum of Understanding on the conservation and management of all CMS-listed marine mammals to be found at various times during their migrations in the South Pacific region. “Actions we could take include developing whale watching guidelines, establishing a regional whale protection zone, developing non-lethal research programs as well as by-catch mitigation strategies,” Dr Kemp added. “Such a Memorandum of Understanding would be the first South Pacific regional initiative to specifically address migratory mammals under the CMS. This memorandum would identify actions to restore the conservation status of all marine mammals species found in the South Pacific Ocean, including whales, small cetaceans and dugongs.”
On 27 August 2002, amendments done at Shimonoseki, Japan on 24 May 2002, to the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, done at Washington on 2 December 1946, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. The amendments maintained the moratorium on commercial whaling, and renewed quotas for aboriginal subsistence whaling in certain parts of the Northern Hemisphere. On 3 December 2002, a further amendment to the Schedule to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, renewing a quota for aboriginal subsistence whaling in the Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas of the Northern Hemisphere, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract common to the National Interest Analyses for both sets of amendments follow:
The Convention is a multilateral treaty which regulates the conservation and utilisation of whale stocks. Although negotiated at a time when the primary focus was to ensure international control of the post-war development of the commercial whaling industry, the Convention and the Commission created by it have proven more recently to be an effective vehicle for some major conservation measures. These include the 1982 decision to implement a moratorium on commercial whaling and the establishment in 1994 of the Southern Ocean Sanctuary. Australia has been a strong advocate of conservation measures within the Commission since the closure of the last Australian shore-based whaling operation in 1979. The Commission is considered the most appropriate forum for pursuit of international efforts to improve the conservation of whales. The special meeting’s amendment accords with Australia’s long-held position – to ban commercial whaling, but to permit limited hunting of whales by aboriginal subsistence cultures to meet demonstrated traditional, cultural and dietary needs.
On 7 May 2002, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp issued a press release addressing the issue of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. Extracts from the release follow:
“It is time the pro-whaling bloc of the International Whaling Commission recognised the level of support in the South Pacific for the establishment of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary to protect vulnerable species of whales in their breeding areas and their migratory routes,” Dr Kemp said. Australia and New Zealand are co-sponsoring a proposal at the 54th meeting of the International Whaling Commission to declare the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary. The South Pacific Whale Sanctuary would stretch south from the equator to meet the boundary of the existing Southern Ocean Sanctuary, and from the edge of the Indian Ocean Sanctuary (mid-way along Australia’s southern coastline) roughly 7,000 km east to the Pitcairn Islands. Australia declared its waters as a whale sanctuary under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. “The Australian Government will continue to seek increased protection for whales when the International Whaling Commission meets in Shimonoseki, Japan in two weeks time,” Dr Kemp said.
On 10 December 2002, HE Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, delivered a statement to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning oceans and the law of the sea. Extract from the statement concerning the World Summit on Sustainable Development follows:
Australia was pleased that oceans issues were afforded the prominence they demand at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). The section on oceans and coasts in the WSSD Plan of Implementation is an indication of how far the international community has come in its consideration of oceans issues in the past twenty years. The Plan of Action provides a detailed blueprint for action at the national, regional and global level to ensure marine environmental protection and the conservation and sustainable management of the world’s oceans. Australia is taking action to put in place a framework for integrated oceans management. Following the adoption of Australia’s Oceans Policy in 1998, and the subsequent creation of Australia’s National Oceans Office, work on a draft of the first regional marine plan, covering a significant portion of Australia’s EEZ, is almost complete. It ushers in a new era of governance for one of the largest exclusive economic zones in the world. It will provide the basis for biodiversity, conservation and the sustainable management of all Australia’s ocean areas.
On 24 October 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC). Extracts from the release follow:
I welcome today’s commitment by Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation members to foster investor and business confidence and sustained economic growth in the region through good governance and strong economic legal infrastructure. As a contribution to APEC’s work on governance, I am pleased to launch the Australian-prepared report ‘Strengthening Economic Legal Infrastructure in the APEC Region: Supporting Trade, Investment and Economic Development’. The report, funded under the Australian aid program, highlights the importance of strengthening economic legal infrastructure, including corporate governance practices, to create a more stable environment for trade and investment. Increasingly, international investors are assessing the legal infrastructure and governance practices of economies and directing their investment to those which best meet their needs.
Strengthening governance has potentially significant pay-offs. Improvements in governance can lead to a 2½to 4-fold increase in per capita income and to a 15 to 25 percentage point increase in literacy over the long term, according to World Bank research.
While APEC members have done much to improve governance, recent events resulting in market uncertainty bear out the need for regular review of governance systems and practices.
On 14 September 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release concerning a closer economic partnership agreement between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Australia and New Zealand. Extracts from the release follow:
The Ministers signed the Joint Ministerial Declaration on the AFTA-CER CEP, which introduced a formal and structured approach to promoting trade, investment and regional economic integration between ASEAN and CER [Closer Economic Relations]. The Ministers agreed to set a target of doubling trade and investment by 2010 to ensure that the CEP was ambitious and results-oriented, with a practical focus on increasing trade and investment for the benefit of business and the wider communities in all ASEAN and CER countries. Reduced impediments to trade and lower business costs in the region would stimulate higher economic and employment growth. The Ministers noted the progress made in the implementation of the CEP Initial Work Programme. They encouraged ASEAN and CER sectoral bodies to increase their collaboration and accelerate work on finalizing work plans, complete with targets and timeframes, to implement the CEP Work Programme. The Ministers recalled that, under the CEP Initial Work Programme, priority has been given to elimination of technical barriers to trade and non-tariff barriers, customs cooperation, capacity building, trade and investment promotion and facilitation, standards and conformity assessment, electronic commerce and small and medium enterprises. The Ministers agreed to establish the AFTA-CER CEP Implementation and Coordination Group (ACCICG), which would be responsible for: i) coordinating and directing the work programme under the CEP; ii) providing for the exchange of views on regional and multilateral economic and trade issues; and iii) identifying new areas of cooperation; and endorsed its terms of reference.
On 22 March 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Mr Ian Campbell issued a joint press release concerning a consumer protection arrangement signed by Australia and the European Commission. An extract from the release follows:
“This marks an important achievement for Australia. Australia is the first foreign government to sign a consumer protection arrangement with the EC,” said Minister Downer. “Consumers from Australia and the EC will only benefit from this increased international cooperation,” said Senator Campbell. The Arrangement was first proposed in 1998 and has been negotiated in consultation with Commonwealth and State & Territory consumer protection agencies. It aims to improve information sharing on important cross-border issues such as e-commerce and product safety. It also allows for joint activities in areas of mutual interest. “As consumer transactions increasingly move outside of national borders, it is important that consumer protection agencies work with their overseas counterparts to combat instances of consumer detriment,” said Senator Campbell. “Due to the global nature of modern consumer protection activities, Australia has a growing need to receive up-to-date information on consumer awareness and enforcement activities being undertaken by the European Commission. Under this Arrangement, both countries will be able to learn from each other on effective ways to address the important consumer issues facing both Australian and European citizens,”
On 27 August 2002, the protocol, done at Canberra on 23 January 2002, amending the Convention between Australia and Canada for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, done at Canberra on 21 May 1980, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. An extract from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follows:
A key objective of the Protocol is to update the Convention to align it with current tax treaty policies and practice. Since the Convention was signed in 1980, both Australia and Canada have modified various aspects of their respective tax treaty practices. Such variations have occurred due to changes in the domestic tax law of both countries or to accord with OECD tax treaty practices. For Australia, the main impact of the Protocol (which is to be read as an integral part of the Convention) will be on Australian enterprises investing in and trading with Canada. The Protocol will assist in enhancing the already substantial bilateral framework for trade and investment relations with Canada and is likely to reduce the administration and compliance costs to business and individuals required to deal with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Canadian Customs and Revenue Agency (CCRA). In particular, the maximum rates of tax allowed to be imposed by the source country on dividends and interest have been reduced and comprehensive Real Property and Alienation of Property Articles (Articles 6 and 13 respectively) have been included to deal with capital gains tax matters. Latest international practice as set out in the OECD Model Tax Convention on Income and on Capital (“the OECD Model”) is also incorporated into the Convention. The Protocol amending the Convention does not significantly alter the balance of taxing rights between the two countries.
As with all double tax treaties, the underlying objectives of the Convention are (i) to promote closer economic cooperation between Australia and Canada by eliminating possible barriers to trade and investment caused by the overlapping taxing jurisdictions of the two countries. The Convention provides a reasonable element of legal and fiscal certainty within which cross-border trade and investment can be carried on; and (ii) to create a framework through which the tax administrations of Australia and Canada can prevent international fiscal evasion.
On 27 August 2002, a second protocol and exchange of letters, done at Genting Highlands, Malaysia on 28 July 2002, amending the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of Malaysia for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income of 20 August 1980, as amended by the First Protocol of 2 August 1999, were tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Second Protocol and Exchange of Letters ensure that the “tax sparing”… provisions of the Agreement reflect changes made to the Malaysian tax incentives legislation and extend the operation of those provisions to 30 June 2003 at which time they will expire permanently. They include an anti-avoidance rule to limit Australia’s recognition of the tax sparing concessions to active income; exclude from receiving treaty benefits persons who benefit from the Labuan offshore business activity regime; and update the Agreement to reflect Australia’s current treaty practice in relation to a number of existing Articles, including those dealing with Associated Enterprises, Dividends, Royalties and Other Income. The Second Protocol and Exchange of Letters represent a satisfactory outcome for Australia, especially in relation to the exclusion of Malaysia’s tax haven of Labuan, which was one of the main objectives of the negotiations. Having regard to the overall benefits that will accrue to Australia, there was a good case for accepting the 30 June 2003 expiry date for tax sparing. The proposed tax sparing is limited to concessions relating to active income (which will generally be derived by Australian residents in the form of exempt dividends), and, for the most part, relates to activities that have already been undertaken. The revenue cost of extending the tax sparing provisions to 30 June 2003, at which time they will expire permanently, is therefore not likely to be significant.
On 12 March 2002, a protocol, done at Canberra on 27 September 2001, amending the Convention between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, done at Sydney on 6 August 1982, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
This Protocol will amend the Convention, Australia’s existing tax treaty with the US. The Convention was signed in 1982 but largely reflects positions agreed by both countries in the early 1970s. Changes are required to the Convention to better meet Australia’s current economic policy objectives.
In negotiating the Protocol both the US and Australia had particular policy objectives to achieve and the end result represents a mutually acceptable agreement. It should be noted that this Protocol includes some major departures from Australia’s long standing treaty practice. While these departures involve a reduction in revenue the benefits are widely spread around the economy, with the most direct benefits accruing to business. Under this Protocol, the reduction in rates of DWT [dividend withholding tax] in particular, as well as IWT [interest withholding tax] and RWT [royalty withholding tax], will provide significant benefits to Australian business. For many years, major Australian companies have raised concerns about the lack of competitiveness of Australia’s tax treaty with the US, especially the high level of US DWT permitted under the Convention. Accordingly, they support the reduction in withholding tax rates under the Protocol. A reduction in US DWT rates would also be consistent with recommendations regarding Australia’s tax treaty policy made by the Ralph Review of Business Taxation. Indirect revenue benefits may arise from increased trade and investment between Australia and the US, as well as from a reduction in US tax payable by Australian residents thus reducing Australia’s obligation to provide a credit for this tax. Further, clarifying Australia’s right to tax US residents in respect of capital gains is an important tax base protection measure. The Protocol will also improve arrangements for taxing gains accrued on assets held by departing Australian residents by reducing compliance difficulties and providing relief from double taxation. This will address business concerns about the potential for double taxation arising from the application of capital gains tax to expatriates departing Australia. These concerns have hindered the ability of Australian companies to attract and retain skilled expatriate staff. Such concerns may also have affected headquarters location decisions to Australia’s detriment.
On 15 October 2002, an exchange of letters, done at Hanoi on 1 November 2000 and Canberra on 5 August 2002, constituting an Agreement to amend the Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income, done at Hanoi on 13 April 1992, as amended by an Exchange of Notes done at Canberra on 22 November 1996, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. The following are extracts from the National Interest Analysis that accompanied the exchange of letters:
The Exchange of Letters enables the tax sparing concessions which were part of the Agreement negotiated between Australia and Vietnam to continue as intended. The Exchange of Letters honours our commitment as agreed, and is in the spirit under which the Agreement was negotiated. Hence they will assist in:
• promoting the flow of investment, trade and skilled personnel between Australia and Vietnam;
• improving the integrity of the tax system; and
• developing and improving bilateral relations with Vietnam.…
The Agreement (as updated by the Exchange of Letters) will help promote the already substantial flow of investment, trade and personnel between Australia and Vietnam by continuing the existing tax sparing arrangements that are designed to encourage investment into Vietnam. The Exchange of Letters will also encourage the flow of investment, trade and skilled personnel by providing a reasonable element of legal and fiscal certainty within which cross-border trade and investment can be carried on.
The Exchange of Letters will improve the integrity of the tax system by updating the existing Agreement to ensure it accommodates both countries’ domestic law. The Exchange of Letters will also enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of Australia’s tax treaty network.
On 29 August 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer delivered a speech at the Australian APEC Studies Centre conference on ‘The Impact of an Australian-United States Free Trade Agreement: Foreign Policy Challenges and Economic Opportunities’. Extracts from that speech follow:
A … criticism is the suggestion an FTA negotiation will simply result in us losing the family farm – of whittling away our sovereignty and having to cast aside particular public policy instruments. Some of these concerns are rooted in an uninformed view that trade liberalisation undermines public policy and is an affront to national sovereignty per se. I guess that would be true if we wanted to close our borders completely and maintain some sort of autarkic economic and dictatorial political regime.
Other concerns more realistically emanate from a calculation that the United States will seek to put on the table any number of items about which they have expressed concerns – such as through their section 301 trade remedy regime. I think we should expect that they will do just that – just as we will list our own set of items for negotiation with the United States. That is part and parcel of the opening shots of any negotiation. The government, however, is not about to negotiate away carefully built public goods that protect our sovereignty and are overwhelmingly in the interests of Australian consumers and workers.
On 1 May 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release concerning an agreement between Japan and Australia to consider options for deeper economic interaction between the two countries. Extracts from the release follow:
“The leaders of our two countries have today demonstrated a strong wish for a closer economic relationship and the establishment of a clear process to look further at possible mechanisms to achieve this,” Mr Vaile said. “I look forward to taking the process forward to maximise the benefits to Australia from a closer relationship with Japan.” Mr Vaile emphasised that there was still much work to do to realise a bilateral trade and economic agreement, but noted that both Prime Ministers had expressed their aspiration for a bilateral free trade agreement in the longer term. “Deeper economic linkages between Australia and Japan, particularly a free trade agreement, would create a wide range of new opportunities in the Japanese market, including in high growth areas such as services and elaborately transformed manufactures. “It would also strengthen our strategic economic relationship with the world’s second largest economy and by far the largest economy in the Asian region.” Mr Vaile stressed that liberalisation of agriculture would be a core issue in any free trade agreement.
On 1 November 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release relating to the finalisation of a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore. Extracts from the release follow: “The Singapore-Australia FTA (SAFTA) is Australia’s first FTA since the conclusion of the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations Agreement nearly twenty years ago.” Mr Vaile said. “SAFTA will be a comprehensive agreement, promoting greater economic integration and bilateral relations between our countries, it shows that FTAs can deliver concrete outcomes in a shorter time frame than is possible in the WTO, while complementing and reinforcing the multilateral process,” Mr Vaile said. In addition to eliminating tariffs on goods, SAFTA establishes a more open, predictable and transparent framework for bilateral trade and investment across a wide range of areas. These include trade in services, investment, telecoms regulation, competition policy, government procurement, technical standards, intellectual property, electronic commerce and customs procedures. “Australian service suppliers and investors in sectors such as legal, financial and professional services, telecoms, education and environmental services will be the main beneficiaries of the FTA.” Mr Vaile said. SAFTA also provides a framework for mutual recognition of technical standards and professional qualifications that will benefit business in very practical ways.
On 21 November 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, issued a press release concerning negotiations for a Closer Economic Relations Free Trade Agreement with Thailand. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia and Thailand have agreed to step up the pace of negotiations in a bid to complete a Closer Economic Relations Free Trade Agreement by June 2004, Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today.
In a Joint Statement both Ministers welcomed the progress made in the negotiating sessions held to date and made it clear that they were committed to concluding a comprehensive free trade agreement as quickly as possible. “Setting a target date of mid-2004 for the completion of negotiations signals our determination to move forward quickly and decisively,” Mr Vaile said. “The ultimate aim of the negotiations is the elimination of tariffs and other barriers to trade and investment with Thailand. This would be a major boost for the competitive outlook for Australian firms with interests in the Thai market and one that would open up a wide range of new commercial opportunities.” The Ministers also agreed to an ‘early harvest’ action plan. Both sides have agreed to give priority to starting and accelerating work in a number of areas. These include negotiations on investment protection and promotion, examination of the scope for mutual recognition arrangements in selected areas and strengthened cooperation in the area of competition policy. “This package demonstrates that both governments are committed to achieving a comprehensive and trade-liberalising agreement that will strengthen commercial and business relations between our countries,” Mr Vaile said.
On 29 August 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer delivered a speech at the Australian APEC Studies Centre conference on ‘The Impact of an Australian-United States Free Trade Agreement: Foreign Policy Challenges and Economic Opportunities’. Extracts from that speech follow:
An FTA would fulfil extensive commercial as well as long term strategic interests for Australia. And, because of the sheer size and reach of the United States, it also would realise spin-off benefits far and beyond the actual text of the agreement.
[T]here would be straightforward economic gains. Many of these are set out in a report by the Centre for Independent Economics at ANU, which, amongst other things, estimates a possible $4 billion net gain per annum to Australia’s GDP from an FTA. Second, there would be a very significant ‘head turning’ effect from an FTA in attracting investment, with subsequent gains in employment and productivity. Third, an FTA would result in greater business integration, as Australian and US companies realise synergies in innovation, research and development, material sourcing, product development, marketing and – especially – in information technology. On this point, let me say that it is vital that we tie ourselves into the opportunities that are inherent in the US business system – a system for which change is a constant theme.
Fourth, an FTA could be an important factor in what Bob Zoellick has coined “competitive liberalisation”, whereby what we do bilaterally has an important ‘demonstration effect’, ratcheting up other trade negotiations, in particular at the WTO, but also regionally. Fifth, an FTA would help engender a broader appreciation – in both countries – of the bilateral security alliance and the manner in which ANZUS, together with the web of US alliances in the region, helps to underpin the stability and prosperity of East Asia and the Pacific. This last point is important – and one on which I will expand further.
Namely, an FTA would be an opportunity to render our economic relationship with the United States on the same sort of footing as our political relationship, which is expressed overwhelmingly – and highly successfully – through our security alliance. It has often been said that our trade and economic relations lack the maturity and depth of our political and security relations – especially in terms of a structure to guide and manage potential problems, and actual disputes once they arise. An FTA offers the opportunity to put in place the kind of structures that can help avoid such disputes in the first place – in particular by raising our profile, by engendering a greater appreciation of Australian interests in places such as the US Congress, and by generating closer economic integration. So a proposal for something as important as a Free Trade Agreement with the United States deserves vigorous and thorough debate – a contest, here in Australia, that has begun, and continues here at this conference.
On May 23 2002, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison addressed the National Farmers’ Federation Annual Conference in Canarvon, Western Australia, on behalf of the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile. Extracts from that speech follow:
This [a Free Trade Agreement with the United States of America] is the government’s highest bilateral trade priority – it offers the most potential gain for Australian exporters – including, I would argue strongly, farmers. Some of our agriculture producers and representatives – and, it now seems, the opposition – are sceptical of FTAs, and have been particularly critical of the proposal for an FTA with the United States. I can’t, for the life of me, understand this line of reasoning. In fact, I think it would be irresponsible of me not to accept the challenge of negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with the world’s most powerful nation. First, there is the potential for market access gains to the world’s biggest market. We have never said that an FTA would be easy to negotiate. Quite the contrary. But we already are an open market for agricultural products – unlike the United States. A negotiation would offer us the opportunity to protect and improve market access for our agricultural products to the US market. Second, we cannot discount the possibility that the WTO round will not deliver a result – in agriculture, or in any other sector for that matter. The WTO now has over 140 members and a more complex agenda than ever before. We need to keep pushing for greater market access in every possible forum, not just multilaterally. Third, turning our backs on a possible FTA does not mean that we can preserve the status quo in international markets. Indeed, if we do nothing, things will probably get worse for us. The US Administration has said, for example, that negotiating the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement – which will undoubtedly include agriculture – is a high priority. Our South American friends would get preferred and improved access to the US market – at out cost. So the message is that we can go backwards by standing still – if others are negotiating FTAs and we simply watch. Fourth, the argument put by some academics that we can’t walk and chew gum at the same time and therefore should focus exclusively on the Doha multilateral negotiations rather than an FTA with the United States – or with Singapore, or Thailand, or in our prospective trade agreements with Japan and China – is nonsense – pure and simple. I’ve ensured that our trade negotiating resources have been strengthened so that we can do all these things effectively.
In short, an Australia/US FTA has the potential to remove trade barriers, attract new investment, forge commercial links, and to minimise competitive disadvantages we face as a result of US agreements with other countries. That goes as much for agriculture as it does for other sectors of our economy. To walk away from that opportunity, simply because it looks hard, or for want of progress in other negotiations, would be foolhardy at best.
On 12 March 2002, an agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt on the Promotion and Protection of Investments, done at Cairo on 3 May 2001, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the National Interest Analysis accompanying the agreement follow:
The Australian Government recognises the importance of promoting the flow of capital for economic activity and its role in expanding economic relations and technical cooperation between countries. The Agreement, by guaranteeing certain treatment for investments, is intended to encourage and facilitate bilateral investment by citizens, permanent residents and companies of Australia and Egypt, in accordance with the internationally accepted principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, equality, mutual benefit, non-discrimination and mutual confidence. The Agreement will put Australian investors in a better position to benefit from the investment opportunities becoming available in Egypt by providing them with a range of guarantees relating to non-commercial risk.
The Agreement would be an important safeguard for Australian companies who wish to participate in major Egyptian projects.
On 18 November 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release concerning an Australia-Mexico Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Extracts from the release follow:
Trade Minister Mark Vaile and Mexican Minister for Economy Dr Luis Ernesto Derbez signed on Saturday a Declaration signalling the conclusion of negotiations on an Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. They welcomed the increased certainty the Agreement will bring to investors from both countries, and reiterated their intention to sign the formal Agreement as soon as possible. “We welcome the timely conclusion of what I understand was a very streamlined negotiation,” Mr Vaile said. “It reflects not only a keen desire to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, but also highlights the close and warm relationship that we have developed with Mexico. “This Agreement will serve to enhance investor confidence in both of our systems and further intensify our fast-growing trade and investment relationship.”
The Agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka for the Promotion and Protection of Investments was done at Canberra on 12 November 2002. Extracts from the National Interest Analysis concerning the agreement follow:
The Agreement is intended to encourage and facilitate bilateral investment by citizens, permanent residents and companies of Australia and Sri Lanka, consistent with the Australian Government’s foreign investment policy. The Agreement does not limit either Government’s ability to pass laws pertaining to pre-establishment investment or to regulate sensitive sectors. The Agreement would be an important safeguard for Australian companies that wish to participate in major projects in Sri Lanka. It would send a positive message to Australian business about investing in Sri Lanka by offering most favoured nation treatment in regard to the treatment of Australian investments, by providing guarantees about expropriation/nationalisation and by establishing mechanisms for resolving disputes over investment matters. The investor-State dispute resolution procedures included in the Agreement provide an avenue by which Australian investors can redress wrongs without recourse to the local legal system (for example, by recourse to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes). No formal dispute resolution procedures have ever been invoked against Australia in relation to the nineteen investment protection and promotion agreements (IPAs) currently in force for Australia.
On 12 March 2002, an agreement between Australia and Uruguay on the Promotion and Protection of Investments, done at Punta del Este, Uruguay, on 3 September 2001, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. The following is an extract from the National Interest Analysis accompanying the agreement:
The Agreement is intended to encourage and facilitate bilateral investment by citizens, permanent residents and companies of Australia and Uruguay. The Agreement would be an important safeguard for Australian companies that wish to participate in major projects in Uruguay. Uruguay is considered to have a relatively open and transparent investment regime.
A number of large Australian companies (including P&O and North) have considered investing in Uruguay but have not so far proceeded. There is also the possibility of a very large (US$750 million-US$1 billion) investment by an Australian mining company in a project involving Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. The Agreement will send a positive message to Australian business about investing in Uruguay.
On 12 March 2002, the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The PACER provides Australia with the opportunity to pursue greater gains from trade if and when a free trade agreement is negotiated between Forum Island Countries (the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji Islands, Kiribati, Republic of Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Republic of Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu) and another developed country or a country with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) higher than the lowest of a developed Forum member. Such negotiations may commence with the European Union in September 2002. In the absence of such negotiations by the FICs, the PACER will oblige them to commence FTA negotiations with Australia (and New Zealand) eight years after the entry into force of the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA). However, our current expectations are that the PICTA will enter into force at approximately the same time as the PACER.
There is no such comparable provision in any other trade agreement between Australia and FICs. It represents a significant advantage for Australia. Without ratification of the PACER, Australia would be denied an enhanced opportunity to negotiate better market access to Pacific markets for Australian businesses and industry, while any other country, including developed countries like members states of the European Union, could enjoy duty free access to FICs for their goods.
On 29 August 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer delivered a speech at the Australian APEC Studies Centre conference on ‘The Impact of an Australian-United States Free Trade Agreement: Foreign Policy Challenges and Economic Opportunities’. Extracts from that speech follow:
Some critics have suggested that negotiating an FTA with the United States – and likewise with our other trading partners such as Singapore or Thailand – will detract from the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations underway at the World Trade Organisation. They argue, firstly, that it will divert scarce negotiating resources and, secondly, that it risks creating bilateral commitments that are at odds with our commitments made at the WTO. These arguments are wrong. We have ensured there are adequate negotiating resources to negotiate at the WTO, and our bilateral agreements. It is in both US and Australian interests for any FTA to be comprehensive, and thereby entirely consistent with our WTO obligations and commitments. Otherwise we risk the proliferation of third party FTAs that are not WTO consistent. It is also in both US and Australian strategic interests, as Bob Zoellick set out in his policy of “competitive liberalisation”, that what we do in an FTA helps drive the WTO negotiations, as well as what we do in, for example, APEC. There is an important opportunity here to ‘raise the bar’, if you will, not just bilaterally, but regionally and multilaterally. The argument about diverting attention from the WTO round, frankly speaking, also assumes that the WTO round will succeed. Obviously, our hope is that it will. But we have no such guarantee: try as we might, we have to be prepared for the contingency that the round falls short, or takes much longer than an FTA negotiation.
On 17 September 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release concerning a World Trade Organization panel’s ruling in favour of Australia’s complaint against the United States of America subsidy program known as the ‘Byrd Amendment’. Extracts from the release follow:
“I welcome the panel’s findings. It confirms our view that the Byrd Amendment provides a double remedy against dumped or subsidised imports, and unfairly disadvantages Australian exports to the US and to third country markets which are neither dumped nor subsidised,” Mr Vaile said. “The Byrd Amendment, formally known as the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000, provides for anti-dumping and countervailing duties collected by the US to be distributed to competing US manufacturers of the same product who supported the imposition of anti-dumping or countervailing duties.
“The case demonstrates the value of WTO rules in protecting Australia’s broader trade interests. In its first full year of operation, the legislation affected only a few industries, including those involved in the manufacture of steel and pasta products, but $US206 million was paid to those industries. There was a significant risk that in time a much wider range of industries would have been affected, with a corresponding increase in the amounts to be distributed.”
On 16 August 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release concerning a World Trade Organization dispute challenge to European sugar subsidies. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia is joining forces with Brazil in WTO action against the European Union (EU) sugar regime, Trade Minister Mark Vaile announced today.
“The global market for sugar has been difficult for Australian producers, and the EU sugar subsidies exacerbate the difficulties in third country markets. “We are pushing for reform of world trade so that our producers can compete and maintain their place as an efficient, world class export industry. “In taking this WTO dispute action, we are laying down a marker on the impact of these subsidies on Australian producers. “The Government shares the concerns of Australia’s sugar industry. “We will be looking for support from other exporting countries, aside from Brazil, on this action. Industry is also in close contact with members of the Global Sugar Alliance, the sugar industry alliance pushing for reform of world trade in sugar.”
Mr Vaile said the action will be a test case of Uruguay Round agricultural subsidy disciplines, disciplines that Australia and other members of the Cairns Group are seeking to tighten in the Doha Round negotiations. “The EU’s reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy do not include the EU sugar regime. Australia’s WTO action will force the EU to consider the concerns of other sugar exporting countries.”
On 31 July 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile addressed the Asia Pacific Council. Extracts from his address concerning the Doha round of negotiations follow:
With the experience of Seattle, WTO members have better prepared the ground for a consensus to liberalise trade – which resulted of course in the successful launch of a new round at Doha in November 2001. This was a major achievement for Australia and the Cairns Group as we had been pursuing the launch of a new multilateral round for many years.
We remain fully committed to the WTO negotiations, as the best way of pursuing global trade liberalisation. We have dedicated sixty-six of seventy-two officials in the newly created Office of Trade Negotiations to this task. We want significant improvements in market access – in agriculture, services and industrial products – as quickly and productively as possible. So far, the discussions have focused on procedural issues. The substantive negotiations have not yet begun.
On 20 November 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release concerning a Sydney meeting of 25 trade ministers on the Doha round of trade negotiations. Extracts from the release follow:
The Sydney meeting demonstrated strong political will to meet the negotiating deadlines for market access. Upcoming deadlines include agreement on a way forward for agriculture and industrial goods negotiations by March and May 2003 respectively, and initial offers on market access in services by March 2003. “Increasing market access opportunities is the core business of the WTO. It is Australia’s highest trade policy priority. I was very encouraged that all members represented at the meeting, both developed and developing, agreed the Doha round must deliver substantial trade liberalisation in agriculture, goods and services to the benefit of all members,” Mr Vaile said. Discussions amongst ministers also led to a strong commitment to advance other issues of major concern to developing countries including capacity building for trade policy, special and differential treatment and implementation of existing WTO commitments by the end-2002 deadline. “Enhancing the powers of developing countries to gain from the WTO is the central idea behind the Doha agenda, and the Sydney meeting demonstrated developing countries are pursuing their interests effectively. The major developed economies showed they are prepared to work with developing countries to improve their trade capacity and meet the Doha deadlines for achieving that outcome,” Mr Vaile said.
On 12 November 2002, Mr Laurie Brereton, Parliamentary Adviser to the Australian Delegation on behalf of the Cairns Group of Countries, delivered a statement to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly Second Committee on international trade and development. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Cairns Group would like to reiterate that fundamental reform of world agricultural trade is the key to achieving the development objectives set out at Doha for the first Development Round of the WTO. Its predecessor, the Uruguay Round, irrevocably established that agriculture is an integral part of the international trading system. This heralded a significant change in the treatment of agriculture, and was the first step on the path to ensuring that agriculture could no longer be subject to unfair trade distorting behaviour. Since the Uruguay Round implementation period concluded, however, almost no progress has been made towards actually reducing massive subsidisation and protection. Total support and protection for farmers in OECD countries exceeded $310 billion in 2001, and significant market access barriers remain in place. Export subsidies in all their forms continue to deny unsubsidised agricultural producers trading opportunities, even in third [world] countries. By lowering the world price, such subsidies may also have an impact on prices in domestic markets, including in developing countries, and may undermine the competitiveness of local producers in those markets.
The time has arrived for political leadership by those countries with the greatest adjustments to make. This is one of the last chances that the WTO Membership has to correct deep-seated inequities in the international trading system. Failure to act will have serious consequences for the future of global trade. Without a successful outcome in agriculture, the whole Doha process will be at risk. Cairns Group members continue to follow the path of reform agreed to in Doha and expect other major participants to do the same. Agricultural trade reform is a pre-requisite to adjusting deep imbalances in the international trading system; it will promote growth, sustainable development and poverty alleviation, and it will strengthen the economies of even the major subsidising countries. Global agricultural trade reform is a fundamental step toward achieving development and poverty alleviation in developing countries. To achieve real agriculture reform, the outcomes of agricultural negotiations in the three pillars, market access, domestic support and export competition are closely interlinked. Reform must occur on all fronts and comprise the phasing out of all forms of export subsidies, substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support and substantial improvements in market access for all agricultural products. To improve the welfare of people in developing countries, reform must include the fullest liberalisation of market access for products promoted as alternatives to illicit narcotic crops. It should also include tropical products produced by developing countries. Special consideration should also be given to addressing the particular concerns of developing countries, including food security, rural employment and development, as was mandated by WTO Ministers at Doha. There is now widespread recognition in the international community that reform of agriculture is an essential pre-condition to improving the welfare of people in developing countries.
On May 23 2002, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Mr Chris Ellison addressed the National Farmers’ Federation Annual Conference in Canarvon, Western Australia, on behalf of the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile. Extracts from that speech follow:
Now, there are some critics who say that this government concentrates too much on agriculture. They say that the international trade agenda is a broad one and that agriculture, being a difficult area, shouldn’t be allowed to hold back other sectors. Of course, manufactured products and, increasingly, services are critical to the future development of this country. But those who make the claim fail to understand the dynamics of the multilateral trading system – the key to success in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations is agriculture. Without progress on agriculture there can be no progress in other key areas such as services exports and automotive goods trade. Why? because of developing countries. Developing countries now make up more than 100 out of the 144 WTO members. They are overwhelmingly agricultural exporters. And they are very unhappy that key developed countries insist they open their markets to industrial products, services and intellectual property rights while shutting them out in the areas in which they enjoy comparative advantage – especially agriculture and textiles. I made it clear last week that there will be no Doha Round outcome without an outcome on agriculture. And everybody who is directly involved knows it. So our emphasis on agriculture is not just because Australia produces and exports a lot of agricultural produce efficiently, or that agricultural markets globally are a mess, or that we have a record in fighting the good fight. It is because without progress on agriculture, there will not be progress on any sector or other issue in the multilateral trade negotiations. Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed – there will be no early harvests.
On 11 April 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile, addressed the Boao Forum on Hainan Island, China, on the subject of trade and the Asia-Pacific. Extracts from that address follow:
The Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations is an opportunity for all members to advance their trade and economic prospects. This is especially important for the many developing countries in our region. Some are calling the Doha round the “development round”, because it is an opportunity to address the needs and concerns of developing country members. Developing countries now have a much higher profile in the WTO. China, in particular, along with all WTO members in our region, will have an important role in ensuring that the ambitious deadline of 1 January 2005 is met. Australia is committed to helping developing countries participate meaningfully in the Doha Round of negotiations. The Doha declaration calls for extensive trade-related technical assistance and capacity building activities to help achieve this objective. Indeed, Australia was among the WTO members who recently pledged 30 million Swiss Francs to the WTO Global Trust Fund to support these activities. And we have contributed substantially to assisting WTO members who do not have permanent offices in Geneva. Australia has also been working extensively within APEC to deliver a broad range of trade-related technical assistance to further support developing country members in the WTO.
On 8 November 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile delivered a speech to the International Development Law Organisation Trade Law Conference. Extracts from the speech follow:
[T]here was a new recognition at Doha that the concerns of developing countries have not been heard sufficiently in the past. At the beginning of the Uruguay Round there were 86 contracting parties to the GATT, the predecessor to the WTO. Now there are 144 WTO members, with the majority of the additional 58 members being developing economies including, of course, China. The reality facing the WTO now is that rich countries can no longer make demands of developing countries without taking into account their concerns – and their bargaining power. In addition, it is clear that through their use of the dispute settlement system, developing countries recognise the WTO rules give them the power to enforce the commitment made by their trading partners. So the mandate for a new round of negotiations agreed at Doha reflects the priorities of developing countries, as much as it does developed economies. Those priorities include:
• Capacity-building – help from developed countries – so that developing countries can participate in the multilateral trading system;
• Special and differential treatment – through measures such as tariff preferences and extra time to meet agreed commitments – that acknowledges the status and needs of developing countries;
• Developed countries implementing their WTO commitments, especially in opening up their markets to products from developing countries, such as textiles and footwear; and
• Reform of market access and trade-distorting measures – such as export subsidies – in developed countries, especially in agriculture.…
Helping ensure that developing country WTO members are able to participate in the multilateral trading system is not just a gesture. It also is in Australia’s interests, for two basic reasons. First, because the more countries that trade, the more wealth there is to go around, and the more evenly it will be distributed. Second, because Australia shares strategic interests in the global trade negotiations with many countries that have yet to fulfil their potential in participating in the system.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. Extracts from the statement relating to human rights generally follow:
In the increasingly insecure global environment, we must not forget the fundamental principle that recognition by governments of the inherent dignity, and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. While we are heartened by a growing appreciation around the world that the observance of human rights must be built on the bedrock of good governance and strong and accountable democratic institutions, there is still a long way to go. Australia remains firmly committed to engaging with governments everywhere to further promote this understanding.
On 10 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release marking the 54th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Extracts from the release follow:
In the past five decades, Australia has served a total of 21 years on the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. Earlier this year, we were elected to serve a further three-year term from 1 January 2003. Membership will further boost our ability to influence the multilateral human rights agenda. Our human rights credentials are widely recognised internationally and regionally and we are proud of our record of making a difference in their observance at grass-roots levels. Our regional efforts include helping our neighbours construct human rights institutions as evidenced by Australia’s assistance to the Indonesian Human Rights Commission Komnas Ham and ongoing funding to the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions. We maintain the view that constructive cooperative dialogue is the best way to promote human rights bilaterally. Many other countries are now seeing the benefits of such dialogue – an approach pioneered by Australia – and are following our example.
On 13 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock issued a joint press release rejecting a report by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on its visit to Australia in May and June of 2002. Extracts from the joint release follow:
The report is a very disappointing effort. It contains fundamental factual errors, misrepresents Australia’s policies and demonstrates significant confusion about the relationship between international and Australian law. Australia had submitted a lengthy document detailing the errors. However, the Working Group indicated that it did not intend to amend the report, even though it was aware of the existence of factual errors. This brings the credibility of the entire report and its conclusions into question. It again demonstrates the fundamental flaws in the UN human rights committee system.
The Working Group’s report makes several recommendations relating to the detention of unauthorised arrivals, skating over the fact that it is the sovereign right of Australia to determine who will enter its borders and the circumstances of that entry. It is common knowledge that almost all people in immigration detention have passed through countries in which they could have sought protection en route to Australia. Immigration detention is an essential element underpinning the integrity of Australia’s migration program and the protection of our borders. Without immigration detention, it would not be possible to ensure that we are able to remove people from Australia if they have no lawful authority to be here. It would also not be possible to ensure that people who arrive without proper authority are available for health, security and identity checking. The report makes recommendations about the length of detention. People in immigration detention are under administrative detention, they are not in prison. They are generally free to leave detention and return home at any time. The vast majority of unauthorised boat arrivals still in mainland detention have been found not to be refugees and are available for removal. A significant number are not cooperating with those removal efforts and are prolonging their stay in detention. There is no recognition in the report of the role Australia plays every year in the resettlement of thousands of refugees from vulnerable situations around the world. Detention plays a major role in maintaining the integrity of our borders and our ability to respond to refugee resettlement needs. It is also important in maintaining public confidence in our immigration system. As a signatory to all of the UN’s core human rights instruments, the Government takes its international obligations, including its human rights obligations, very seriously. It does not accept that our system of immigration detention is inconsistent with our international obligations. Yet again, a UN human rights body has produced a report misguidedly critical of Australia at a time when greater focus on egregious human rights abuses elsewhere in the world would have been more appropriate.
On 9 May 2002, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Mr Larry Anthony delivered a statement to the 27th Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on Children. Extracts from the statement follow:
Over the past decade, the Convention on the Rights of the Child has helped raise awareness of children’s rights, and provided a framework for addressing the needs of children. However, many fundamental challenges to the well being of children remain. Millions of children throughout the world continue to live in poverty stricken conditions, and experience daily the lack of adequate food, shelter and access to health and education facilities. The continued subjection of children to the worst forms of child labour, sexual and other physical abuse and exploitation, and their use and abuse in armed conflict reminds us how far we have to go in protecting child rights and giving all children a better future. The Australian government is committed to enhancing children’s health and educational outcomes and supporting all families with children.
In seeking to implement the goals of the World Summit on Children Australia continues to face a number of challenges. We are working hard to ensure better health and education outcomes for all children, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. We are also promoting gender equality through out Beijing plus Five Action Plan. This approach is complemented by the work of our independent Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, which plays an important role in public human rights education, including the human rights of children
On 15 October 2002, Mr James Choi, Second Secretary for the Australian Delegation, addressed the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. Extracts from the statement follow:
As a strong supporter of the promotion and protection of the human rights of children, Australia welcomed the convening of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children in May this year. The Special Session provided a unique opportunity for us all not only to reaffirm and restate our commitment to improving the situation of children but to focus on practical means for achieving the goals of the World Summit on Children. The Special Session outcome document, “A world fit for children”, is a significant step forward in terms of a new global agenda for children. This new global agenda for children presents us with a blue-print for collective international action to improve the situation of children in the priority areas of promoting healthy lives, providing quality education, protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence, and combating HIV/AIDS. It is now up to us to take concrete steps to implement this agenda in order to create a world fit for children and to secure the rights guaranteed to each and every child under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
On 15 October 2002, Mr James Choi, Second Secretary for the Australian Delegation, addressed the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child. An extract from the statement relating to child soldiers follows:
Australia is pleased to advise that we will soon sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The widespread and increasing involvement of children in armed conflicts currently taking place around the world is a matter of great concern. Australia was an active participant and a strong supporter of the Protocol throughout its negotiation. Signature of the Protocol demonstrates Australia’s continuing commitment not only to the promotion and protection of children’s rights in this area but also to the broader objectives of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The adoption of the Protocol is a critical step towards prevention of the use of child soldiers and improving protection of children in the context of armed conflict. It is also important that the standards set by the Protocol are backed up by effective measures on the ground. Australia has taken a practical approach to addressing the situation of children who have found themselves caught up in armed conflict either as child soldiers or refugees, or who have been subject to civil disorder and famine which often follow in the aftermath of armed conflict. In recent years, Australia has contributed funding to projects in countries such as Rwanda, Angola, Sierra Leone, Uganda and Sri Lanka. These projects have supported activities such as trauma counselling services, unaccompanied children centres, child soldier demobilisation and reintegration programs and community resettlement programs.
On 16 September, the Minister for Foreign Affairs announced that Australia will provide a further $400,000 for the rehabilitation of child soldiers in Sri Lanka. This assistance is part of a broader package of $7.5 million for humanitarian objectives in Sri Lanka including action on mines, food aid, rehabilitation and conflict reduction.
On 22 October 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, Ms Danna Vale issued a joint press release concerning Australia’s signing of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. An extract from the release follows:
The Protocol, which entered into force on 12 February 2002, establishes a new international standard for the protection of children in armed conflict and reflects fully Australia’s preferred position. It raises the age for participation in hostilities from 15 to 18 years and raises the age for voluntary recruitment into national armed forces from 15 to a minimum of 16 years. The minimum age for recruitment into the Australian Defence Force is 17 years.
During the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Mr James Choi, Second Secretary for the Australian Delegation, delivered a statement concerning the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Australian delegation supports efforts to better recognise, protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples throughout the world. We believe that the International Decade is an important means to this end. The inaugural meeting of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May 2002 was a significant and important event. We now have an effective and representative body within the UN that allows the voice of indigenous peoples to be heard. The Permanent Forum will play a valuable role in coordinating UN activity on indigenous issues and ensure that the perspectives and interests of indigenous peoples can be integrated into the broader UN agenda.
Member states, through resolutions at the Commission on Human Rights, the Economic and Social Council and the UN General Assembly, have confirmed their support for the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Consistent with the mandate we have given the Permanent Forum, we believe that states should support appropriate measures that will allow it to function effectively and take forward its mandate. Australia sees it as essential that the Permanent Forum be provided with an operational Secretariat for its next meeting in May 2003. Another key focus of the Decade has been the elaboration of a draft declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples. Australia recognises the critical importance accorded by many of the world’s indigenous peoples to an instrument articulating their human rights. Australia is an active participant in the inter-governmental working group that is taking forward negotiations of this instrument. We urge all parties to engage constructively in negotiations, with a view to developing a suitable and effective instrument by the end of the Indigenous Decade. Australia’s support for the activities of the Indigenous Decade is based on our strong interest in ensuring that we, as member states, and the UN protect and promote the rights of indigenous peoples. At the same time, Australia continues to believe that all UN mechanisms, including those dealing with indigenous issues, need to be efficient and effective. In that context, we remain concerned with the clear overlap between various existing UN mechanisms dealing with indigenous issues. At a time when the budgetary situation is tight, we believe that these mechanisms need to be streamlined. Australia therefore supports the review of UN indigenous mechanisms as mandated by ECOSOC. We believe that this review needs to be initiated by an impartial body in an expeditious manner.
On 29 October 2002, Mr James Choi, Second Secretary for the Australian Delegation, delivered a statement at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the topic of elimination of racism and racial discrimination. Extracts from the statement follow:
Australia is a unique and successful multicultural democracy. By promoting cultural diversity and tolerance, Australia has created a harmonious and inclusive society that is firmly opposed to racism in all its forms. The Australian Government is unequivocal in its opposition to racism and is committed to strong action to address it. It remains our firm view that the international community can only combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance effectively if we implement forward looking, positive and concrete measures at the national, regional and international levels. This was the approach we took to last year’s World Conference Against Racism. We were deeply disappointed that our desire to achieve practical outcomes was impeded by divisive political discussions. While we have made clear our strong reservations about the process, Australia recognises the Declaration and Programme of Action contain a number of conclusions and recommendations which are important and valuable. Australia is committed to implementing such recommendations as part of our broader and continuing commitment to the global fight against racism. We look forward to continued cooperation with fellow UN member states for this purpose. Australia has demonstrated that it is open to cooperation with UN mechanisms in our efforts to address racism issues domestically. To this end, Australia invited the Special Rapporteur on Racism to visit Australia, and facilitated an extensive program of meetings to provide him with a broad spectrum of views. It was therefore disappointing to note that the Special Rapporteur’s report presented to the Commission on Human Rights contained a number of serious errors of fact and failed to adequately comprehend complex issues such as the process of reconciliation with Australia’s indigenous people. It was equally disappointing that the Special Rapporteur chose not to take into account any of the extensive comments or corrections that the Australian Government passed over prior to the report’s release. We further note, with disappointment, the misrepresentation of Australia’s concerns in the Special Rapporteur’s report to the General Assembly as merely clerical in nature, and the selective reproduction of only a few of our corrections in the corrigendum referred to in this report. In conclusion, Australia remains committed to fighting the scourge of racism. In these increasingly uncertain times, the Australian Government will further encourage its people to take a stand against racism, prejudice and intolerance and to help build a peaceful, productive environment for future generations.
On 30 September 2002, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock delivered a statement at the 53rd session of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees Executive Committee meeting. Extracts from the statement follow:
Australia, as one of the earliest signatories to the Convention [Refugees Convention], and a country that has continuously maintained an active program of international refugee resettlement since the Second World War, wants to see the international system of protection work. In recent times this has led us to make some hard choices. We have had a measure of success in dealing with flows of unauthorised arrivals brought to our shores by people smugglers – some of them are refugees leaving protection in other places to seek a migration outcome and others are not in need of protection. We have expended considerable effort and resources in ensuring that protection is provided to those who need it, the work of people smugglers is disrupted and those not in need of protection returned to their home country. We have been prepared to do this in the face of considerable criticism. Why? First, because this approach ‘saves lives’. It removes the incentive for people to leave places of protection and risk their lives in dangerous journeys with people smugglers. Secondly, it ‘saves space’ for those refugees we cannot see and whose voices are not heard – refugees who have no capacity to move, who cannot afford a people smuggler, and whose only prospect of a durable solution is resettlement. I do not suggest it is easy to make this choice. I understand the compassion that draws focus and attention to asylum seekers we see and hear – those who arrive on our shores or through our land borders. Australians are compassionate people, but we are prepared to make hard choices. We may feel sorry for all people in less fortunate circumstances but Australia alone cannot help all of those who need help. We must choose. And we must retain community support for a resettlement program that assists those most in need.
Australia chooses to adopt policy positions that allow us both to meet our protection obligations towards refugee arrivals and continue to resettle some of those who do not have a choice. Mr Chairman, we welcome the increased focus of the international community on these hard choices – the hard choices we have to make if we are to find solutions for the millions of people still waiting, reliant on the continuing generosity of host countries for asylum. Collectively, we must:
• provide greater assistance for countries of first asylum;
• more creatively utilise aid and development linkages to support protection and create durable solutions;
• build coalitions of source, destination and transit countries to provide holistic solutions to particular flows of people;
• preserve and expand resettlement; and
• deal more effectively with the secondary movements of refugees and the impacts of the asylum/migration nexus.Piecemeal and sporadic efforts are inefficient and unacceptable. While refugee caseloads languish waiting for the sustained attention of the international community, the international protection system remains threatened. People smugglers prey on refugees and prosper, and States’ resources are wasted. But most importantly, refugees’ lives are on hold.
On 30 August 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release on the occasion of a visit to Australia by the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for Burma, Mr Razali Ismail. An extract from that release follows:
Australia will provide a further $3 million over three years to support health projects delivered by Australian non-government organisations under our Burma Community Health Program. The program aims to contribute to the improved health of the Burmese people through community-based primary health care activities, with a focus on HIV/AIDS prevention and care. Projects funded under the program in the past have included village health outreach clinics and mobile health teams for remote townships. Alongside Australia’s efforts to improve the humanitarian situation of Burma’s citizens, we maintain our key goals of advancing democracy and political reconciliation and promoting greater respect for human rights. The freeing of the NLD General Secretary Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in May was a positive step in that process. We encourage the Burmese Government to build on this by making further efforts to advance the process. Australia remains concerned about the many Burmese citizens who have been and remain imprisoned for their political beliefs. While about 350 political prisoners have been freed since January 2001, and the Australian Government has welcomed this, we will continue to impress upon the Burmese Government the importance of freeing all political detainees.
On 8 May 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning human rights training in Burma. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia will conduct two more human rights workshops in Burma in July, as well as funding judicial training for two Burmese judges. Like the seven human rights workshops Australia has conducted since 2000, these activities are designed to improve the lives of ordinary Burmese citizens and to encourage the Burmese Government to make advances with political reconciliation. Over time, they will make a modest contribution to preparing the ground for the eventual return to democracy in Burma.
The Government is also funding the participation of two Burmese judges in a three week course on judicial and domestic implementation of international human rights law. The course, conducted by the International Development Law Institute, will include training on judicial administration and reform. The Government will continue to look at ways to expand the Human Rights Initiative as part of its efforts to promote democratic reform and human rights in Burma.
On 8 February 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release relating to the holding of multi-party local elections in Cambodia. Extracts from the release follow:
I congratulate Cambodia on the holding of its first multi-party local elections in more than 30 years. These elections mark an important and historic step towards democracy at the grassroots level.
International observers shared generally positive assessments of the peaceful conduct of election processes on polling day and the large voter turnout. However, the Australian Government is concerned over the intimidation and violence in the lead-up to the elections which threatened to undermine the integrity of the election processes. It is important that these problems be addressed and improved upon for the future – as these elections are just one step in the direction of greater democratisation in Cambodia. The Australian Government strongly encourages Cambodia in its ongoing efforts to further implement democratic processes and supports the establishment of local councils as a vital next step towards decentralisation and implementation of sustainable local development.
On 18 February 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question without notice by Mr Gregory Hunt in the House of Representatives concerning the establishment of a tribunal in Cambodia for the prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders. An extract from Mr Downer’s response follows:
The Australian government, as members know, is very committed to the long-term restoration of peace, stability and democracy in Cambodia, and we are very committed to the establishment of a credible international tribunal to bring to trial the Khmer Rouge leaders for atrocities committed during the 1970s. The Australian government very much regrets the decision that was made by the United Nations on 8 February to withdraw from negotiations with Cambodia on the establishment of a Khmer Rouge tribunal. We were particularly disappointed with the suddenness at which the decision was made and the lack of consultation with key players, including ourselves and other countries that belong to what was called the Friends of Cambodia Group, including the United States, France and so on. We have strongly supported the establishment of this tribunal. We provided over a quarter of a million dollars to fund research and policy advice in setting it up. We are prepared to provide additional financial support and legal expertise once the tribunal is established. I very much hope in the next few days, after a number of countries, including ours, have made representations to the United Nations, which is what we are doing at the moment, that the United Nations will resume negotiations with Cambodia and we may see this tribunal established. All members of this House would agree that no member of the Khmer Rouge should be able to escape from the terrible deeds that they committed during the 1970s. This tribunal is an opportunity to bring those people to justice and it is very important that the United Nations just does not abandon altogether discussions with the Cambodians but continues to work with them, so we will certainly be encouraging that.
On 22 August 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release in response to a decision of the Funtua Sharia Court of Appeal in Katsina State in Nigeria on 19 August to uphold the sentence of death by stoning of Amina Lawal, a thirty-year-old mother of three, for alleged adultery and bearing a child out of wedlock. Extracts from the release follow:
The Australian Government is universally and consistently opposed to the use of capital punishment in any circumstances. The death penalty is an inhumane form of punishment which violates the most fundamental human right: the right to life. If this sentence were to be carried out, it would be received with outrage in Australia and in the wider international community. I note that there are at least two more avenues of appeal open to Ms Lawal, and that the Nigerian Minister of Justice has indicated that the Federal Government of Nigeria will support Ms Lawal’s appeal against the Upper Sharia Court’s decision. The Federal Government of Nigeria has on several occasions expressed its opposition on constitutional grounds to the re-introduction of Sharia law in 12 Nigerian provinces since 1999. The Australian Government supports the Nigerian Government in this stance to the extent that Sharia law can result in cruel and inhuman forms of punishment such as death by stoning and flogging.
On 23 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the decision by the People’s Supreme Court in Ho Chi Minh City to uphold a death sentence imposed on an Australian citizen following her conviction for drug trafficking. Extracts from the release follow:
I am disappointed that on 23 December the People’s Supreme Court in Ho Chi Minh City upheld the death sentence imposed on Australian citizen, Le My Linh, following her conviction for ‘transporting’ heroin. Ms Le has seven days to lodge a request for Presidential clemency. The Australian Government will support her application for clemency, and will continue to make vigorous representations to Vietnamese authorities on Ms Le’s behalf.
Our opposition and concern about this sentence does not diminish Australia’s respect for Vietnam’s sovereign rights, nor our continued support for firm penalties against drug trafficking offences.
On 16 August 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the sixth round of the bilateral Human Rights Dialogue with China, which took place in Canberra on 14 August 2002. Extracts from the release follow:
As in previous rounds, there was an extensive discussion of human-rights issues of concern to the Australian Government and community, especially in the area of reform of the Chinese legal system, China’s treatment of ethnic and religious minorities and women’s and children’s rights. The treatment of Tibetans and Uighurs, the Falun Gong movement and members of unregistered Christian churches was specifically raised.
The Chinese delegates to the Dialogue briefed Australia on legislative changes in China designed to improve the legal protections for civil and political freedoms and help China move towards eventual ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These included recent efforts to improve the competence of lawyers and judges through a standardised, universal examination system; enactment of a new marriage law to provide women with more protection against domestic violence and further work towards amendments of the criminal evidence law that would make confessions extracted under torture disallowable as evidence in criminal prosecutions.
It is clear some important differences remain between our two countries on certain issues, particularly in relation to the treatment of political dissidents and outlawed groups and cultural and religious freedom. The Government will continue to press China on these issues both in the Dialogue and at other appropriate opportunities. Nevertheless, the Government is encouraged by the growing quality and substance of the Dialogue in evidence this year and looks forward to further progress.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. Extracts from the statement relating to the human rights situation in China follow:
We acknowledge China’s continuing efforts to build greater transparency and accountability into its legal and administrative systems, and also its progress in guaranteeing social and cultural rights. We are pleased at the development of our bilateral human rights dialogue with China and the positive approach China is taking to it. At the same time, we are concerned by the use of its judicial system to take action against individuals and groups that appear to have done no more than exercise legitimate human rights, including the right to freedom of expression, assembly and belief. We also urge China to ensure the rights and freedoms of its ethnic and religious minorities.
On 15 May 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning East Timor’s accession to formal independence. Extracts from the release relating to the human rights situation in East Timor follow:
A crucial part of any functioning democracy is the safeguarding of human rights. The Australian government has been concerned to see the perpetrators of human rights abuse in East Timor brought to justice. We have welcomed Indonesia’s ad hoc human rights tribunal on East Timor. And we are looking to see the trials proceed with independence and integrity. Likewise, Australia has welcomed the establishment of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor. One of the key objectives of the Commission is to provide a legal mechanism for reconciliation and re-integration at the community level. The work of the Commission is still at a very early stage but progress is encouraging – and we are pleased to have supported its work, and the work of the serious crimes unit in East Timor.
…Settling the refugee situation in west Timor will be crucial to East Timor’s future stability as a nation. Australia has been helping refugees to return either voluntarily to East Timor, or to resettle elsewhere in Indonesia, in a program worth $13 million since 1999.
On 19 June 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning an agreement between Australia and Iran to establish a human rights dialogue. An extract from the press release follows:
I am pleased to announce that Australia and Iran have agreed to establish a mechanism that will enable our two countries to cooperate on regional and international human rights issues and to discuss the human rights situation in our respective countries. The establishment of this dialogue reflects a practical and constructive approach to addressing human rights issues. We plan to conduct the first round later this year. We will also consider possible technical cooperation activities, including human rights education and training for the judiciary.
On 26 May 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release announcing the holding of an inaugural dialogue on human rights issues with Vietnam in Hanoi on 27 May 2002. Extracts from the release follow:
The dialogue, titled ‘International Organisations and Legal Issues, including Human Rights’, has evolved out of a long-term commitment to constructive discussion of human rights issues with Vietnam and is a substantial and very welcome development in our relationship with Vietnam. Australia has welcomed Vietnam’s willingness to engage on legal and human rights issues with Australia, which demonstrates the level of maturity in our bilateral relationship. We hope to develop this engagement further through practical cooperation in relevant areas. The dialogue will cover human rights and other international organisations and legal issues, such as cooperation in combating people smuggling, reform of UN treaty bodies and international conventions on terrorism. The dialogue is a further example of the Government’s practical and constructive approach to addressing human rights issues in our region. It builds on Australia’s dialogue on human rights with China and our program of human rights workshops in Burma. These activities underpin the Government’s view that, in order to make a real difference to human rights in the region, we need to work with other governments in a constructive manner.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. Extracts from the statement relating to Indonesia follow:
The tragic and barbaric bombings in Bali highlight some of the challenges Indonesia faces. Australia welcomes the special autonomy packages for Aceh and Papua and stresses that peaceful rather than military approaches are the only way to secure a durable political solution within a framework of a united Indonesia. We remain concerned about on-going human rights abuses committed by all sides in these provinces. Australia welcomes the government initiated Malino peace agreements that have brought some stability to Central Sulawesi and Maluku and urges impartial and responsible implementation of the agreements by the security forces. We continue to urge Indonesia to bring to justice those responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor. It is essential that the remaining trial processes be taken forward independently and with credibility and integrity. Australia continues to urge Indonesia to implement legal, judicial and defence force reform, and will continue our practical support for improvements in the legal system.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. An extract from the statement relating to the human rights situation in Iran follows:
Australia is encouraged by positive developments in some areas in Iran, in particular President Khatami’s promotion of the rule of law, the high level of democratic participation, the high levels of female educational achievement and steps to address discrimination against religious minorities. We welcome Iran’s acceptance of visits by Special Rapporteurs of the Commission on Human Rights. There are also issues where we have continuing concerns: continued flagrant violations of due process, particularly during pre-trial detention; the resort to televised ‘confessions’; on-going attempted suppression of freedom of the press, and failure to respect the religious and cultural rights of the Baha’i community.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. An extract from the statement relating to human rights abuses in Iraq follows:
Australia is appalled by Saddam Hussein’s record of human rights abuses. A ruthless and pervasive internal security apparatus keeps the Iraqi people in a climate of fear, intolerance, uncertainty and deprivation. Iraq’s regime routinely tortures and ill-treats detainees. Suspected political opponents and their relatives are arrested arbitrarily. In southern Iraq the regime has undertaken a campaign to drain and poison the marshes, home to many Iraqis. In northern Iraq the regime has used chemical weapons against Kurds. We demand the Iraqi Government cease the repression of its people.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. Extracts from the statement relating to human rights issues stemming from the conflict in the Middle East follow:
We remain deeply disturbed by the loss of life and injury resulting from the violent confrontations in the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Israel. We urge both sides to bring about an immediate cease-fire, with the Palestinians taking strong action against terrorists and the Israelis withdrawing from Palestinian-controlled areas. Developments in the Middle East have been deeply discouraging, but the outlines of a resolution to the conflict are clear: two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side within secure and recognised borders.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. Extracts from the statement relating to human rights issues in Sudan follow:
Australia remains concerned at the humanitarian and human rights situation in Sudan and calls upon all parties to the conflict to engage with the international community in working towards improving conditions for the long-suffering population.
On 13 October 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, issued a press release on the implementation of bilateral ‘smart sanctions’ against Zimbabwe is response to flawed Zimbabwe elections. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia cannot remain unmoved by the tragic situation unfolding in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe has continually failed to respond to the international community’s profound concern about human rights abuses and subversion of the rule of law in Zimbabwe. Accordingly, as the Prime Minister and I have foreshadowed publicly – and as the Prime Minister has to his colleagues in the Commonwealth leaders’ Troika on Zimbabwe, Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo – the Australian Government has decided to implement a package of bilateral measures targeted against the Mugabe Government. These “smart sanctions” will comprise:
• a ban on travel to Australia by Zimbabwean ministers and certain senior officials;
• a freeze on the Australian assets of such ministers and officials;
• suspension of Australian non-humanitarian aid to Zimbabwe;
• prohibition of defence sales and suspension of all defence links;
• down-grading of cultural links; and
• suspension of bilateral ministerial contact.It gives Australia no pleasure to announce these measures. Australia has consistently sought to promote and defend the Commonwealth’s fundamental democratic values. We did so in supporting Zimbabwe’s independence in 1980. We do so again today in support of ordinary Zimbabweans of every race. The measures I am announcing today are designed to influence the current government to return to good governance and the rule of law, while avoiding harm to the people of Zimbabwe. In the course of this year, the Australian Government has committed $26 million in humanitarian assistance to southern and eastern Africa, including Zimbabwe, to combat the effects of drought and governance failures on the rural poor. Australia now joins a large group of countries who have imposed similar targeted sanctions against the Mugabe Government in the wake of the flawed Zimbabwe presidential elections in March this year. I call on those in authority in Zimbabwe to take careful note of our actions and to work with us to restore Zimbabwe to full compliance with Commonwealth principles.
On 6 November 2002, a statement on human rights questions was delivered to the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the Australian delegation by Mr Peter Tesch. An extract from the statement relating to the human rights situation in Zimbabwe follows:
Australia continues to have grave concerns about human rights abuses against supporters of the democratic and legally-constituted opposition in Zimbabwe. The Mugabe Government’s harassment and intimidation of the judiciary and the independent media, and credible reports of arbitrary arrests and torture of members of the Movement for Democratic Change, bear all the hallmarks of a regime prepared to subvert democracy and the rule of law in order to maintain its grip on power. Australia has now joined a range of other countries in implementing bilateral sanctions targeted against members of the ruling elite in Zimbabwe. We call on the Government of Zimbabwe to commence good-faith negotiations with the opposition, to act on the recommendations of the Commonwealth Observer Group report that found that the March 2002 presidential elections were not free and fair, and to engage with the international community in efforts to set Zimbabwe on the path towards political reconciliation and economic recovery.
On 2 April 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release announcing Australia’s election to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights for a three-year term, commencing January 2003. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia attaches high importance to the role played by the Commission in advancing the cause of human rights around the world. Our membership will strengthen the constructive role that Australia has played in advancing human rights, particularly our work in recent years to help countries improve their human rights performance through the development of national human rights institutions and through good governance. This result also underlines the high regard in which Australia is held as a balanced, pragmatic and reasonable interlocutor on human rights issues.
On 23 September 2002, Professor Alan Pettigrew, adviser to the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 57th Session, delivered a statement on the International Convention Against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings. Extracts from the statement follow:
Australia, like a number of other States, is currently going through the process of elaborating domestic legislation to address both human reproductive cloning and other forms of cloning activities.
Australia supports the elaboration of a Convention against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings. We welcome this opportunity to discuss the appropriate scope of the proposed Convention and, in particular, whether the Convention should prohibit therapeutic cloning in addition to human reproductive cloning. The Australian Parliament is currently debating draft legislation which would prohibit within Australia human reproductive cloning, practices which would be covered by the term ‘therapeutic cloning’, and other practices related to developments in reproductive technology which are currently considered to be unacceptable. The Prohibition of Human Cloning Bill 2002 was passed unanimously by the Lower House of the Australian Parliament. It must also be passed by the Upper House of Parliament. Parliamentary debate has indicated broad support in Australia for a comprehensive ban on human cloning, although the issue will not be finalised until the upper house concludes its consideration of the Bill. Australia’s draft legislation provides for a review, to be completed in three years time, which will consider changes in community standards and scientific developments. Australia supports the proposed Convention providing for a ban on human reproductive cloning. Cloning for reproductive purposes is ethically unacceptable and should be universally condemned. A ban on so-called ‘therapeutic cloning’ would also be supported by Australia if the Convention provided for a review to consider changes in community standards and scientific developments over time and used terminology which more openly reflects practices that States might find unacceptable. As outlined in Australia’s draft legislation, such practices include creation of a human embryo by a process other than by fertilisation, and creating a human embryo for purposes other than for achieving pregnancy in a woman. Australia is mindful that the term ‘therapeutic cloning’ may encompass a range of procedures, only some of which States may find unacceptable. Should States agree that the proposed Convention prohibit therapeutic cloning, agreeing on a precise definition will be one of the first challenges for States in negotiating the text. Australia looks forward to contributing actively to the elaboration of the proposed Convention.
On 12 March 2002, the Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children, done at The Hague on 19 October 1996, was tabled on both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
Ratification of the Convention would help resolve current problems in Australian family law in relation to:
• Removal of jurisdictional uncertainty: conflict in jurisdiction between Australian courts and overseas courts in children’s matters has been a longstanding area of difficulty. In some cases Australian and overseas courts have made conflicting parenting orders in relation to the same children. The jurisdictional rules laid down in the Convention will remove uncertainty for litigants and the courts in determining the appropriate forum to determine disputes as to parental responsibility;
• Finality in litigation: in the absence of reciprocal recognition arrangements, it is open to a parent to ignore orders made by Australian courts and re-litigate residence and contact issues in the other country to the disadvantage of the child and the other parent in Australia. To a limited extent these difficulties have been overcome by bilateral arrangements on recognition of parenting orders. Some countries have refused to negotiate bilateral arrangements with Australia in this area. Ratification of the Convention will extend the number of countries in which Australian parenting orders will be entitled to direct recognition and enforcement;
• Recognition of parental responsibility acquired by operation of law: many countries do not recognise the parental responsibility of a father who is not married to the child’s mother. The Convention provides for recognition in other countries of the rights and responsibilities conferred on fathers under Australian law;Cross border access cases: parents seeking access to their children living in other countries often face significant problems. The Convention includes a number of provisions designed to assist in these cases by clarifying which State has jurisdiction, which State’s laws are to be applied and by promoting cooperation between relevant State authorities. Another major objective of the Convention is to address the problem of international cases involving protection of children from abuse and neglect. It is in the best interests of children that there be internationally agreed rules determining which child protection authorities have jurisdiction in relation to a child. The absence of agreed rules may mean that authorities in one country fail to act because they assume authorities in another country have taken responsibility for protecting a child. There is also an increasing need for formal co-operation procedures between child protection authorities in different countries. Some categories of cases which commonly come to the attention of Australian authorities are : overseas authorities making requests to transfer child protection measures for children immigrating to Australia; cases in which children subject to foreign protection measures are brought to Australia without notice to Australian child protection authorities; cases in which care proceedings are on foot in Australia but the child is removed to another country prior to the conclusion of the proceedings; overseas authorities asking Australian authorities to check on the welfare of a child visiting Australia on an access visit and provide a report; and parents in Australia seeking the transfer to Australian authorities of children in the care of overseas child protection authorities. The Convention will help to solve these problems by clarifying which country’s child protection authorities have jurisdiction in relation to a child, and by promoting and facilitating contact and cooperation between the child protection authorities of member States.
On 12 March 2002, the Exchange of Notes Amending the Agreement on Social Security between the Government of Australia and the Government of New Zealand, done at Canberra on 28 March 2001 was tabled in both houses of Parliament. Extracts from the National Interest Analysis follow:
The initial request to amend the Agreement was made by New Zealand. Recently passed New Zealand legislation requires its international treaties to contain references to the manner in which information is exchanged and overpayments are to be raised by the administering competent institution in relation to benefits paid under the terms of treaties such as this social security agreement. New Zealand officials have indicated that without amendments they cannot implement the Agreement. In addition during negotiations for the Administrative Arrangements New Zealand negotiators realized they had left out critical paragraphs that overcome domestic legislation that restricts payments outside New Zealand. This oversight would have meant that despite other clauses, New Zealand domestic law would have had made payments into Australia impossible. Given the two critical amendments required by New Zealand Australian negotiators took the opportunity to make the provisions for paying Australian Carer pension more explicit as well as the period of residence in Australia needed before qualification. Finally while the two countries had initially imagined that a common exchange rate was going to be required, discussions after the agreement was signed meant that the use of agreed exchange rates was made redundant. Therefore the clauses relating to the use of agreed exchange rates were deleted.
On 12 March 2002, an agreement between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America on Social Security, done at Canberra on 27 September 2001, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Agreement will bring economic and political benefits to Australia. It will assist in maximising the foreign income of Australian residents and there will be a flow-on effect of these funds into the Australian economy. The Agreement will also serve to reinforce Australia’s political, business and strategic interests. The Agreement will further strengthen bilateral relations between Australia and the US and provide choices in retirement for individuals who have migrated (or who will migrate) to Australia or the US during their working lives. The Agreement provides for enhanced access to certain Australian and US social security benefits and greater portability of these benefits between the countries. Portability of benefits allows for the payment of a benefit from one country into another country. This is an underlying principle of Australia’s bilateral agreements on social security where the responsibility for providing benefits is shared. Under the Agreement, residents of Australia and the US will be able to move between Australia and the US with the knowledge that their right to benefits is recognised in both countries.
The Department of Family and Community Services estimates that, through the Agreement, approximately 4,000 people residing in Australia and the US will benefit by being able to claim payments to which they currently do not have access. For Australia, the Agreement will cover access to age pensions, disability support pensions (DSP) for people who are severely disabled, carer payments in respect of the partners of persons who receive DSP or age pensions, and pensions payable to widowed persons. For the US, the Agreement will cover old-age benefits, disability benefits and survivor benefits.
On 15 September 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Bhutan. Extracts from the release follow:
I am pleased to announce that Australia and Bhutan have agreed to establish diplomatic relations pursuant to Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Australia and Bhutan will appoint Ambassadors soon in accordance with international practice. I am confident that establishment of formal diplomatic relations will consolidate the friendly relations shared by our two countries and enhance our political contacts, cooperation and business, cultural and community links.
Diplomatic relations offer the opportunity to further develop our partnership and strengthen our interaction in areas of common interest.
I expect education and training to remain of primary interest but health, HIV/AIDS, environment, tourism and agricultural development are all areas for possible future bilateral cooperation. I envisage that Australia’s High Commissioner to India will be accredited as Australia’s non-resident Ambassador to Bhutan.
On 2 March 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and Cameroon. The full text of the release follows:
As CHOGM begins, I am pleased to announce that Australia and Cameroon have agreed to establish diplomatic relations pursuant to Article 2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Both Australia and Cameroon will move soon to appoint Ambassadors in accordance with international practice. I envisage that Australia’s High Commission in Lagos will be accredited to Cameroon. I hope that the establishment of diplomatic relations with Cameroon will build upon the friendly relations between our two countries and enhance our business, cultural and community links. The establishment of a diplomatic relationship between our two countries offers the opportunity to work in partnership in a range of fields of common interest, including agriculture, infrastructure services, mineral exploration and the environment. It also offers further opportunities to work together in international forums, including in the Commonwealth.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question on notice from Mr Duncan Kerr on 4 June 2002 concerning measures taken against Australian Falun Gong supporters outside the Chinese Embassy. Extracts from his response follow:
On 16 March 2002, I signed certificates, provided for under regulations made pursuant to the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities (DPI) Act 1967, that certified – in part – that the presence of certain prescribed objects – namely banners erected as part of a protest conducted by members of the Falun Gong and instruments used to make amplified noise as part of the same protest – on land opposite or near the Chinese Embassy impaired the dignity of the mission. The certificates further provided that the removal of the prescribed objects would be an appropriate step to prevent the impairment or the continuation of the impairment of the dignity of the Chinese Embassy.
The nature of the protest was impairing the dignity of the Chinese Embassy. The longstanding Canberra picket had involved a range of large, staked, banners that had been set up without a permit and were in breach of Commonwealth and ACT laws. The behaviour of Falun Gong protesters in Melbourne on 8 March 2002 – in which they protested inside the grounds of the Chinese Consulate – was also unacceptable. It was a clear breach of the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Act 1971. The Act implements Australia’s obligations under the Vienna Conventions, including protecting foreign missions against intrusion or damage and to prevent disturbance of the peace, or impairment of the dignity of the mission.
On 20 May 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release announcing the appointment of Australia’s first ambassador to East Timor. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia today announced the appointment of James Batley as Australian Ambassador to East Timor. Mr Batley will be Australia’s first Ambassador to an independent East Timor. The Australian people have long held a special affinity with East Timor. Its arrival on the world stage as an independent nation marks a special moment for our two nations. Australia looks forward to seeing our neighbour take its place in the international and regional communities. The coming of independence heralds a new phase in Australia’s relationship with East Timor. East Timor will face significant challenges as it strives for prosperity for its people and works to establish the institutions and governance systems of nationhood. Australia will remain committed to East Timor and to helping the new nation reach its stable, democratic and peaceful potential.
East Timor’s independence will allow our two nations to build on the already strong ties of friendship between us and to develop the partnerships, including the community and business links, that will add further depth to our post-independence relationship.
On 30 October 2002, Ms Kym Taylor delivered a statement for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 57th Session on the Report of the International Law Commission on the work of its Fifty-Fourth Session, chapter IV: Reservations to Treaties. An extract from the statement follows:
Australia welcomes the ongoing work of the Commission, and especially the work of the Special Rapporteur, Mr. Alain Pellet, in drafting the Guide to Practice on reservations to treaties. Australia appreciates that the Guide is not intended to be a set of binding rules, but rather a “code of recommended practices”. Nevertheless, Australia agrees with the Special Rapporteur that the Guide should be drafted rigorously and carefully. Australia also agrees that the Guide should incorporate the relevant customary and treaty based rules so as to be of maximum utility to users. Australia notes that the Commission has sought comments on two issues. The first regards the practice of States in communicating reservations to treaties. Australia’s practice is to send the text of its reservations by facsimile or e-mail, with confirmation subsequently provided in a hard copy. Consequently, Australia supports the current wording of paragraph 4 of draft guideline 2.1.6. The second concerns whether, following a finding by a treaty monitoring body that a reservation is “impermissible” or “inadmissible”, the State or international organization must take action by totally or partially withdrawing the reservation. Australia notes that, following discussion in the Commission, the Special Rapporteur withdrew this proposal. Nevertheless, as this issue is likely to arise again in future discussion, the Commission has sought States’ comments. Australia could not support the proposal, as it would represent a new development in international law. Australia notes that the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties leaves the issue of deciding on the permissibility or admissibility of reservations to States. Australia endorses the comments of those members of the Commission who expressed the view that it is uncertain as to whether any or all treaty monitoring bodies have the power to decide whether a reservation is impermissible, whether such findings or recommendations are binding on States, and whether States are required to act on such findings or recommendations. Consequently, and at the very least, the proposal should not be included in the Guide to Practice, as it would be inconsistent with the stated aim and purpose of the Guide. Australia would also like to briefly comment on draft guideline 2.1.8 [2.1.7 bis] concerning the function of the depositary of the treaty in relation to manifestly “impermissible” reservations. Australia is of the view that to allow the depositary to intervene through expressing a view as to the “impermissibility” of a reservation represents a progressive development of international law. Australia notes that this issue has been commented on previously by members of the Sixth Committee. Australia’s view is that the role of the depositary should align with the provisions of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, in particular Article 77 of the Convention. Accordingly, the depositary should be impartial and neutral in the exercise of its functions and its role should be limited to transmitting reservations to the Parties to the treaty.
On 20 August 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning changes to the Australian treaty-making process. The text of the release follows:
I am pleased to announce changes to the treaty-making process that will provide greater transparency and public accessibility. Firstly, the timeframe for parliamentary consultation with interest groups will be extended. Secondly, more official information on treaties and the treaty-making process will be made available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s website. Public submissions to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT) have almost doubled in the past three years and the increased workload has threatened to detract from the quality of the committee’s reports. In response to this, treaty actions to be considered by JSCOT will now be divided into two categories: those of major political, economic or social significance which are likely to attract considerable public interest and debate. The timeframe for consultation on these will be increased from 15 sitting days to 20 sitting days. Based on parliamentary sitting patterns, this effectively boosts the real consultation time from five to eight weeks. The remainder of the treaty actions, representing about two-thirds of those currently under consideration, will continue to be dealt with within the current 15 sitting day period. Our second initiative is the formation of an Australian Treaties Database with a powerful search engine and report-generating capacity. The database will also summarise key treaty action dates and will be linked to treaty texts in the Australian Treaties Library. It can be found at www.info.dfat.gov.au/treaties. The database will be a valuable research tool for officials, students, academics, the legal professional and the public. These initiatives are part of the on-going process to facilitate parliamentary scrutiny of the treaty-making process and public accountability and reflect the Government’s determination to ensure continuous improvement.
On 27 February 2002, the Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard issued a press release on the occasion of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held in Coolum, Queensland, from 2-5 March 2002. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia is looking forward to agreement on measures that strengthen the Commonwealth’s support for good government and democracy. I will be encouraging leaders to agree on clearer procedures for the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the political teeth of the Commonwealth, to follow when dealing with serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values, including good governance and human rights. I will also be working hard to encourage leaders to support a stronger economic role for the Commonwealth. We want to ensure we focus the Commonwealth’s relatively modest resources effectively on sustainable economic development and economic good governance, and on advancing small states’ interests in areas such as debt relief and trade negotiations. I will be supporting moves to make Commonwealth organisations more streamlined and effective. Australia wants to see a Commonwealth more clearly focussed on areas where it can contribute to improvements in the life of Commonwealth citizens.
On 24 September 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release following the release of a report by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan entitled ‘Strengthening of the United Nations: An Agenda for Further Change’. Extracts from the release follow:
In my statement to the United Nations General Assembly on 13 September, I said the United Nations cannot and should not try to do everything. I said it must be selective and focused, matching its activities to its capabilities and to the priorities that UN member states set. I am pleased that the Secretary-General’s report is cast in precisely these terms. His proposal to re-assess the UN’s activities against the goals of the millennium declaration will help sharpen the organisation’s focus and ensure that its limited resources are allocated more efficiently. Amongst other priorities, the report proposes important changes in the area of human rights, aimed at streamlining reporting requirements and improving the quality and consistency of reports by UN committees on the performance of individual states. These are the sort of practical steps that the Government has been advocating through its diplomatic initiative on treaty body reforms. The report also outlines major changes to the way the UN does its work with proposals for a global communications strategy, a rationalization of the UN’s network of information centres, greater use of the internet for communications, more targeted publications with more on-line delivery, fewer but better reports for member states and integration of the UN’s nine separate conference service operations into one global operation.
On 25 June 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, and the Attorney-General, Mr Daryl Williams issued a joint press release announcing Australian intentions to host a human rights treaty workshop. An extract from the release follows:
Australia will host a workshop in Geneva on June 25-26 to focus on improving the operation of the United Nations human rights treaty committee system. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer, and Attorney-General, Daryl Williams, announced that Australia will also fund a study by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to identify “best practice” reporting guidelines. The workshop is the second in a series of three workshops announced by the Government in April 2001 as part of its diplomatic initiative to increase the political momentum to review and improve the operations of UN human rights treaty bodies. Under the theme “Towards Best Practice”, the workshop will focus on practical, achievable measures to improve and strengthen the system. It will include participants from 24 countries, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and a number of treaty committee members. The workshop will examine developments and next steps towards achieving more consistent working methods by the Committees and more user-friendly reporting guidelines for States. Australia’s contribution of $50,000 to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to fund a study to identify “best practice” reporting guidelines will provide valuable support for this process. The workshop will also examine measures to better harmonise and coordinate the work of the treaty committees with other international human rights monitoring mechanisms and improvements to the individual communications mechanisms, particularly the screening of complaints. The Government’s diplomatic initiative is achieving positive results. The increasing dialogue between countries and the treaty committees is welcome. It is also encouraging that the first inter-committee meeting will take place from 26-28 June and will consider improved and more consistent working methods. We hope to see these efforts bear fruit in the adoption of measures that reduce the administrative burdens on the system. The Government is committed to enhancing the effectiveness and credibility of UN human rights monitoring. Australia’s successful election to the Commission on Human Rights will enable us to continue to play a leading role in this process.
On 22 October 2002, Mr Bruce Scott, Parliamentary Adviser to the Australian Delegation delivered a statement at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on the Comprehensive Review of Peacekeeping Operations. Extracts from the statement follow:
As we look ahead, we consider there are still a number of refinements which need to be made to peacekeeping operations, both in the management of operations in New York and, more importantly, in the conduct of operations in the field. I shall discuss these refinements in a moment. Before I do, however, let me say that my delegation considers that there is a need for fresh thinking regarding where and how this committee, and also the C34, can best add value as we move forward with new aspects of peacekeeping reform. This is particularly important at the close of one phase of the peacekeeping reform process. We are now at a juncture where it is easy to become preoccupied with minutiae and fall into the habits of ritualised reviewing our report, labouring over paragraph by paragraph negotiations and possibly missing the bigger picture. Our point of departure should be the proposition that the C34 is most effective where it can work creatively and cooperatively with the UN Secretariat, which already has a good deal of direction from us, and many implementation challenges on its plate. It should be our aim to avoid adding unnecessary administrative and reporting burdens on the Secretariat, or adding new recommendations before existing ones have been worked through. Rather, we should perhaps see our role at this stage, primarily as a group capable of providing broad direction and advice as well as to assessing frankly but constructively progress that has been made. To undertake these roles, it would be helpful if the Secretariat were to consider periodically, and certainly ahead of substantive sessions of the C34, what are the key issues on which they would value C34 input and guidance. Responding to this could form an important part of the C34’s work, without, however, excluding other issues that may require attention. These include the refinements I mentioned earlier. For example, we need to work on the recruitment process and succession planning within DPKO. We note that the D2 Police Adviser position has had to be re-advertised; the MILAD replacement has yet to be named and the Dl position Director of the Best Practices Unit has not been filled. Gaps in such key position can erode the ability of DPKO to respond quickly and effectively to new challenges. We also need to turn our attention to ensuring that efforts at conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace-building are coordinated. This issue is being looked at in a number of contexts, including ECOSOC and the Security Council – notably through its Africa Ad-Hoc Working Group. But the C34 also needs to be cognizant of the issue. We need to ask whether the structure and methods of peacekeeping operations need to be re-examined or further developed to ensure that they contribute to a maximum degree possible to supporting both conflict prevention and peace-building. In this regard, we would consider that two areas deserve our focused attention. The first is DD&R. The success or failure of peace operations frequently depends on how effectively DD&R is conducted. We need to have a repertoire of best practice in this area. DD&R needs to be high on our planning agenda in mandating and designing new peacekeeping operations. The “R” part of DD&R also needs close attention. It is here that the transition between peacekeeping and post-conflict recovery can succeed or fails. It would be useful to know from DPKO, DPA and perhaps UNDP, whether they are comfortable with the doctrine and guidance they have on DD&R. What inputs would be seen as valuable on this question from the C34? Another important area requiring further work is Rule of Law and the Justice Sector. It is increasingly obvious that these issues need to be dealt with holistically. We are not convinced that this is happening to the degree necessary. We also remain concerned that with the Police Advisor position still vacant, we may not see the required progress on CIVPOL issues. I would like to highlight the continuing issue of the Best Practices Unit. We will discuss this matter in detail in the C34, but I wish to flag the importance my delegation places on it being adequately staffed and able to contribute in an active way to peacekeeping planning and management.
On 30 September 2002, a statement was delivered for the Australian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly 57th Session by Mr Michael Bliss, Second Secretary for the Delegation, on the scope of legal protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel. Extracts from the statement follow:
As the report before us testifies, the Ad Hoc Committee on the Scope of Legal Protection under the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel made considerable progress during its first meeting in April. The task before the Committee was to consider the recommendations made by the Secretary-General in his report on measures to strengthen and enhance the protective legal regime for United Nations Personnel, and my delegation was pleased with the constructive way in which the Committee approached that task.
The first of the short term measures recommended by the Secretary-General was the recommendation that key provisions from the Convention be included in status of forces or status of mission agreements between the United Nations and the state in whose territories peacekeeping operations are deployed, as well in host country agreements. Australia is of the view that this is a crucial step, as it is the status of forces and mission agreements which set the framework under which a particular operation or mission is conducted. Writing into these agreements the responsibilities contained in the Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel is a very practical and immediate way of enhancing the legal protection of those personnel covered by such agreements. Therefore we were pleased that this found broad support in the Committee. A number of points which emerged in our discussions during the Ad Hoc Committee are worth emphasizing, and should be addressed in a resolution of the General Assembly:
• The Secretary-General has the authority to seek the incorporation of key provisions of the Convention already, and has been asked to do so in annual consensus resolutions of the General Assembly over at least the past five years. Therefore the Secretary-General should seek to do so in every SOFA, SOMA or host country agreement;
• It is worth identifying what we mean by “key provisions of the Convention”. The Australian delegation agrees that this includes, at a minimum, Articles 6 and 8 of the Convention;
• Every effort should be made to conclude these agreements as soon as practicable;
• Host countries should also be encouraged to agree to the incorporation of the key provisions of the Convention in such agreements;
• The Secretary-General should be requested to report regularly to member States on efforts to incorporate key provisions of the Convention in SOFAs, SOMAs and host country agreements.As the report notes, in relation to the Secretary-General’s recommendation that a procedure be devised for initiating a declaration of an exceptional risk to the safety of UN and associated personnel, the Committee agreed that the Secretary-General already has the authority to initiate such a declaration. The Secretary-General can recommend to either the General Assembly or the Security Council that it adopt a declaration of exceptional risk, and so trigger the application of the Convention’s protective regime to a particular situation. However Australia would support a specific provision in a resolution of the General Assembly inviting the Secretary-General to do so where appropriate, in order to clarify the situation. It might also be worth recalling that any other competent organ of the United Nations – such as the President of the Security Council or the President of the General Assembly – as well as any member State, is entitled to request that a declaration of risk be issued. As the report makes clear, the recommendation that the Secretary-General be given express authority to certify or attest to certain matters under the Convention did not find general support during the Ad Hoc Committee’s discussions. It is clear that the Secretary-General already has, by virtue of his position, the authority to attest to facts relevant to the Convention. However such a certification should be limited to matters of fact rather than law, and could not be of automatic binding evidentiary value for national courts within a member State.
The short term measures that I have mentioned will, if pursued and fully implemented, go some way towards strengthening and enhancing the protective legal regime for United Nations and associated personnel. However these alone will not be sufficient. Even if the key provisions of the Convention are incorporated into SOFAs, SOMAs and host country agreements, these agreements apply only to a subset of UN operations. Language in a General Assembly resolution inviting the Secretary-General to initiate a declaration of exception risk only clarifies the existing situation, and provides no guarantee that such a declaration would be made. Therefore more is needed.
Australia shares the view expressed by many during our discussions in the Ad Hoc Committee that, in order to improve the protective regime for UN and associated personnel, the key issue to be addressed is the “declaration of risk” requirement set out in Article 1(c)(ii) of the Convention. As my delegation has said before, dispensing with this arbitrary requirement would ensure that the protective regime of the Convention applies to all UN and associated personnel which require its protection – that is all operations established by the competent organ of the United Nations in accordance with the UN Charter and conducted under UN authority and control. This is in keeping with the nature of the Convention as essentially an instrument requiring states to criminalise attacks against individuals. There are a number of suggestions as to how this might be done, and these should be further considered. There is also the question of clarifying which individuals and organizations are covered by the term “associated personnel”. The Australian delegation looks forward to building upon the very useful work of the Ad Hoc Committee during this meeting of the Sixth Committee. We have ideas on short term measures to consolidate, and there is a need for further discussions on longer term measures to improve the protective regime of the Convention. We should work cooperatively towards those objectives.
On 15 August 2002, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a joint press release concerning a revision of Australia’s climate change action agenda. Extracts from the release follow:
Four elements underpin the development of Australia’s forward climate change strategy:
• Australia will strive for a more comprehensive global response to climate change;
• We will work towards one, which involves all major emitters, while contributing responsibly to the global effort.
• In international negotiations we will continue to work towards a pathway for the involvement of developing countries. For an effective global response the United States will be a key player.
• Australia will position itself to maintain a strong and internationally competitive economy with a lower greenhouse signature;
• The Government will facilitate Australia’s energy-intensive and trade-exposed sectors to respond to the challenges posed by greenhouse. For example, we will continue to encourage the development of promising low emissions technologies such as coal gasification, geological sequestration, coal gas to liquids and the hydrogen economy, based on the work of centres such as the CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development, the CRC for Clean Power from Lignite and GeoScience Australia. Over $13m has already been committed to these projects, and there will be a strong focus in our work under the Climate Action Partnership agreement with the US on technology development.
• Domestic policy settings will balance flexibility with sufficient certainty to allow key decisions on investment and technology development, and also emphasise cost effectiveness;
• Government policies will continue to ensure that clear signals are provided of the need for the economy to move to a lower greenhouse signature while businesses retain flexibility to plan efficient pathways to achieve that.
• The Government will work closely with key business leaders, States and Territories, and with groups such as the National Environment Consultative Forum, to ensure the best way forward for Australia, at the lowest cost and delivering maximum benefits.
• Australia will implement policies and programs that assist adaptation to the consequences of the climate change that is already unavoidable.
• As a first step, research will be undertaken to improve our understanding of likely impacts on Australia, and on mitigation and adaptation options. The Government is working with States and Territories on studies into key sectors such as agriculture and tourism, and natural systems such as water resources in the Murray Darling Basin. Studies have already been completed on wheat cropping and native pasture.
• Australia is also working with other countries in the Pacific to assist them to make effective responses to climate change.…
Climate change is important and must be tackled in a way that is fair and economically efficient encompassing all major global greenhouse gas emitters. It is clear that the Kyoto Protocol does not at this time provide an effective framework. It will make only a modest contribution – around 1% – to reducing the growth of global emissions. Even as a first step, it does not provide a clear path towards developing countries’ commitments and the US has indicated that it will not ratify. Together, these countries already produce most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, the Government has taken the decision not to ratify the Kyoto Protocol because under present arrangements, excluding both developing countries and the United States, it is not in the national interest to do so. If Australia were to abandon our long expressed and clearly articulated requirement for a more comprehensive global response it would send a signal to investors that Australia was prepared to expose itself to binding legal commitments that could in the future impose costs not faced by neighbouring regional economies. For Australia this is not a trivial matter. Investment in greenhouse intensive industries such as natural gas, alumina and aluminium production, coal, paper and metals processing is of great significance to our economy. Furthermore, our processing industries are relatively energy efficient. Any greenhouse penalty not shared by our competitors could see Australia lose plants offshore, with no benefit to the global greenhouse effort.
It remains in Australia’s interest to have an effective international response to climate change and we will continue to work in international forums and cooperate with major strategic and trade partners to address climate change.
On 7 March 2002, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp addressed the Ian Clunies Ross National Sciences and Technology Award Presentation Dinner on science, technology and sustainability. Extracts from Dr Kemp’s speech follow:
The new Climate Action Partnership with the United States – agreed on my visit to Washington last week – emphasises three imperatives
• the need for a deeper scientific understanding of the problems we confront;
• practical measures involving the development of new, effective, technological solutions; and
• the effective engagement of industry as well as the developing countries in what is truly the most global of issues.…
One of the weaknesses of Kyoto in what is known as the first commitment period up to 2012 is the absence from the arrangements of the United States and developing countries, whose contributions of greenhouse gases during the next decade will be greater than those from developed countries. Even the Europeans accept that there will be no second commitment period without the participation of the major developing countries, and without the US no approach can be genuinely global. All of us understand that technology will be crucial to meeting climate objectives in a way that is consistent with legitimate expectations about living standards around the world. It was in this context that we saw in President Bush’s statement an opportunity for Australia to engage with the United States. The statement puts technology front and centre in efforts to reduce the American impact on global warming. The Bush approach also recognises that developing countries will have aspirations for economic growth and that companies that take early action at home or abroad to reduce their emissions should have the opportunity to have those reductions officially reflected in a register.
So in our agreement with US on a Climate Action Partnership we have put as a high priority work on internationally harmonised carbon accounting systems. These will be very important for companies that operate internationally, in Kyoto and non-Kyoto countries, and that will seek recognition for greenhouse gas abatement actions that they have undertaken, wherever they have taken them. We have to work hard to make sure that accounting rules put in place in the next few years in Kyoto and non-Kyoto countries do not make it harder to achieve a genuinely global approach in the longer run. Australia has already done some world leading work on carbon accounting through the Greenhouse Office, and the Americans indicated their interest in this work as they begin developing standardised and transparent registration for their enterprises. Again, it is important that work on the fundamental issues of the underlying climate science and the technology to deal with climate change is accelerated, not slowed in the years ahead. We aim, under the Partnership, to pursue opportunities for our scientists and enterprises to engage with American counterparts on these key issues.
On 1 November 2002, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp issued a press release regarding the outcome of the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Extracts from the release follow:
A declaration was agreed by all Parties and Dr Kemp confirmed that Australia would continue to work for the development of an effective global regime that involved all major emitters, including developing countries. The Delhi Declaration is a small step forward from the status quo and recognises that most of the work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a level needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change remains to be done. The most encouraging feature of the Conference was the recognition by developed countries, and some developing countries, that the world needs to begin to move beyond Kyoto, if it is to formulate an effective response to climate change in the years ahead. The Declaration states that “parties should promote informal exchange of information on actions relating to mitigation and adaptation to assist Parties to continue to develop effective and appropriate responses to climate change”.
Australia continued to espouse its long-held position that there is a need to develop a pathway to engage developing countries in future climate change action.
On 3 December 2002, the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
It is in Australia’s political, economic, social, cultural and environmental interests to adopt international ‘best practice’ with regard to the management of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste that is codified by the Joint Convention. This is particularly the case given the potential for nuclear terrorism in the post-September 11 environment. The objectives of the Joint Convention are to:
• achieve and maintain a high level of safety worldwide in spent fuel and radioactive waste management, through the enhancement of national measures and international cooperation, including where appropriate, safety-related technical cooperation;
• ensure that during all stages of spent fuel and radioactive waste management there are effective defences against potential hazards so that individuals, society and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of ionising radiation now and in the future, in such a way that the needs and aspirations of the present generation are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs and aspirations;
• prevent accidents with radiological consequences and to mitigate their consequences should they occur during any stage of spent fuel or radioactive waste management.The Joint Convention is an internationally recognised ‘best practice’ approach to managing spent fuel and radioactive waste. Australia is well regarded by the international community in terms of our approach to nuclear issues, and ratification of the Joint Convention would further demonstrate that Australia follows international standards with respect to the management of radioactive waste and spent fuel. Ratification will assist all Australian jurisdictions by providing an incentive to pursue the highest international standards in the systematic and secure management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. Failure to ratify the Joint Convention may call into question Australia’s commitment to the highest level of safety in the management of spent fuel and radioactive waste. It may also indicate that Australia is not prepared to take the required steps to ensure that there are effective defences against potential hazards so that individuals, society and the environment are protected from the harmful effects of radiation. Widespread adherence to the Joint Convention has attained even greater importance since the events of 11 September 2001, and the consequent urgent need to ensure that governments have in place the necessary physical and regulatory infrastructure to prevent terrorists gaining access to radioactive materials.
On 28 February 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning a breakdown of peace in Colombia. The text of the release follows:
The Australian Government is concerned about the collapse of the peace talks between the Colombian Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the deterioration in the security situation. The escalation of violence and human rights violations are matters of grave concern. In particular, I note the reported kidnapping last weekend of Mrs Ingrid Betancourt, a candidate in the May Presidential elections. Mrs Betancourt and five legislators, including the President of the Colombian Senate’s Peace Commission, are being held by the FARC. These people and all others held against their will by the FARC and other rebel groups should be released immediately. In December 2001, I designated the FARC and the two other rebel groups operating in Colombia – the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) – as terrorist groups and Australian law now prohibits any dealings in the assets of these groups. The Government recognises the efforts of the Colombian Government and the international community to secure lasting peace and remains hopeful that this will be achieved.
On 14 November 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the United Nations draft settlement plan on Cyprus. The full text of the release follows:
I welcome the United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s draft settlement plan on Cyprus, which he presented to the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr Glafcos Clerides, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr Rauf Denktash, on 11 November 2002. The document, which provides a basis for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus dispute, has also been conveyed to Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom in their capacity as guarantor powers under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.
I share the United Nations Secretary-General’s hope that this initiative will help the parties to focus on the decisions that they should take in the coming weeks to bring about a settlement to the Cyprus dispute. I am pleased that both Mr Clerides and Mr Denktash have indicated that they will evaluate the proposals in a constructive way. At this important time, I urge all parties to make every effort to bring about an end to the division of Cyprus. The Australian Government continues to support the United Nations Secretary-General in his efforts to achieve a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus dispute that meets the needs of all Cypriots. The Australian Government’s appointment of a Special Envoy for Cyprus underlines its deep concern about the long-standing division of Cyprus. To this end, the Australian Special Envoy for Cyprus, the Hon. Jim Short, remains engaged in support of the efforts of the Secretary General.
On 2 January 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the situation between India and Pakistan. The text of the release follows:
I have today urged the Governments of India and Pakistan, through their respective High Commissioners to Australia, to continue to work actively to defuse the tension that has developed between their countries. As a friend of both India and Pakistan, Australia takes an active interest in the peace and stability of these two countries and in the impact of their relationship on the stability of the region. We are encouraged that there appears to have been a slight lowering of tension between the two countries in the past few days. I have urged both countries to continue to talk to each other to reduce the threat of military action. We fully understand that the vicious terrorist attack on India’s Parliament has caused considerable anger across all segments of Indian society and that there is pressure for retaliation against such terrorist acts. Australia condemns the attack, and terrorism wherever it occurs, in the strongest possible terms. We nevertheless believe it is in neither India’s nor Pakistan’s interests to allow the current tensions to escalate into armed conflict. As nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan also bear a particular responsibility to their own peoples, to the region and to the international community. We welcome Pakistan’s detention of JEM (Jaish-e-Mohammed) leader, Masood Aszhar, and another 20 or so leading JEM and LET (Lashkar-e-Taiba) figures. We urge Pakistan to continue its efforts to ensure that militant organisations and individuals cannot use Pakistan’s territory to strike against India.
On 4 June 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question without notice from Mr Anthony Smith in the House of Representatives concerning the situation in Sulawesi and Maluku. Extracts from Mr Downer’s response follow:
The government remain concerned about sectarian violence in Indonesia, and particularly the violence that has taken place in Maluku, Sulawesi and also Ambon. We deeply regret the loss of life and property; we condemn the violence committed by both sides—Christian and Muslim. We welcome the Malino agreements brokered at Indonesian government initiated peace talks, and we urge all parties to adhere to those agreements. The government are encouraged by the uneasy peace which is holding in central Sulawesi. Over 8,000 weapons have been surrendered and 124 places of worship destroyed in the conflict are to be rebuilt, so that is encouraging. We also welcome recent action taken by the Indonesian government against extremist elements in Ambon, including the arrest of the Laskar Jihad and the FKM leaders. However, we continue to urge authorities to uphold law and order impartially and to protect human rights, as well as to facilitate access for humanitarian relief to affected areas.
On 10 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question without notice from Ms Julie Bishop concerning developments in the peace process between the Free Aceh Movement and the Government of Indonesia. Extracts from Mr Downer’s response follow:
It is hardly surprising that the government warmly welcomes the peace agreement between the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement, which is known as GAM. The agreement is an important step forward, we hope, in bringing to an end the hostilities that have plagued Aceh now for very many years. The agreement does provide for the cessation of hostilities, an international cease-fire monitoring group and participation in the 2004 elections in which GAM members will be able to run for election. Australia would urge all leaders and their communities to embrace this new chance with the optimism it deserves. Clearly, we are not sure, but we very much hope that the agreement will prove to be the success that it deserves to be.
…The Australian government will do what it can to assist this peace process. We will contribute $2 million towards the implementation of the peace agreement at this stage. Our contribution will help fund an international cease-fire monitoring group. The group will have a key role in monitoring the adherence of the parties, the Indonesian government and GAM, to their undertakings under the peace agreement. Foreign Minister Wirayuda has written to me already thanking Australia for its contribution and noting his government’s continuing commitment to ending the conflict in Aceh. We are pleased to be part of an international effort which is supporting the excellent efforts of both parties as they move towards reconciling the conflict that has affected so many people for so long. Let me just reiterate, in conclusion, the commonly spoken position of the Australian government that we support Indonesia’s unity, we support Indonesia’s territorial integrity and we support its efforts to resolve its internal difficulties through both dialogue and negotiation. The peace agreement and the special autonomy law for Aceh are important steps towards securing a durable political solution but within the framework of something that we strongly support—and that is a united Indonesia.
On 16 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the peace process in Ireland. The full text of the release follows:
I welcome British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s recent statement in Belfast urging all parties in the Northern Ireland peace process to move forward and fully implement the Good Friday Agreement. I encourage all parties involved to make concerted efforts to break the current stalemate and put the peace process firmly back on track under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, in time for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, due in May 2003. I am optimistic that this is a realistic objective. Considerable progress has already been achieved since the Good Friday Agreement came into effect in 1998. Promising economic foundations have been laid, providing a real opportunity to renew the momentum for the peace process and to secure long term prosperity. While the way forward will not be smooth, the progress already made should be capitalised upon and not allowed to dissipate. Goodwill from all sides will help resolve the differences. The Good Friday Agreement in 1998 was achieved by all parties working together. I encourage them all to resume this co-operation to achieve the full implementation of the agreement.
On 17 July 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer delivered a speech at the opening plenary session of the Fourth Australia-Korea Forum in Hobart on global and regional challenges. An extract from the speech relating to the Korean Peninsula follows:
We believe that a strong balance of deterrence and engagement with the DPRK is the best means of ensuring the stability of the Korean Peninsula. Australia strongly supports the ROK’s engagement policy with the DPRK. A framework within which the DPRK and the ROK can reconcile their differences and cooperate more closely is the best way to bring about peace and security. As such, Australia is a strong supporter of the US-DPRK Framework Agreement, and the work of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) in reducing the risk of nuclear proliferation on the Peninsula. Australia is the largest single non-executive contributor to KEDO – having provided $22 million to date. In our belief that dialogue and engagement will help to secure peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula, Australia has resumed diplomatic relations with the DPRK. The new DPRK Ambassador is expected to arrive in Canberra soon. His arrival will enable us to use our ties with the DPRK to greater effect.
On 26 February 2002, H.E. Mr John Dauth, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations delivered a statement at an open debate at the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Extracts from his address follow:
Australia has repeatedly called at the highest levels for an immediate end to the violence and an early and effective resumption of negotiations. The importance of this does not fade. There is no military solution to the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, just as there is no real alternative to a negotiated settlement. Australia condemns all acts of terrorism: aimed at innocent civilians, terrorism is morally reprehensible; undermining peace, it is tragically futile. It will never solve the differences between Israelis and Palestinians. Australia has consistently expressed its support for efforts to build peace in the region. As we stated as recently as November last year in our statement to the General Assembly, we remain committed to a negotiated settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and the principle of land for peace. We remain strongly committed to the territorial integrity of Israel, and the right of the people of Israel to live in peace within secure and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force, as affirmed in Resolution 242. We are equally committed to the application of this principle to all states in the region. Australia has consistently recognised the proper right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. We expect that a comprehensive, just and durable resolution of the region’s conflict necessarily will meet the legitimate aspiration of the Palestinians for a homeland of their own in accordance with the principles of Resolution 242.
Australia has consistently supported international efforts to achieve peace and security, and will continue to do so. Like other, we too have been encouraged by the ideas attributed to Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. But, violence must be halted, and lead to a durable cease-fire in order to rebuild the confidence necessary for a return to negotiations. International efforts must be directed at assisting building the confidence of both sides. The present situation is difficult, but we do have a viable set of principles to guide the parties back to the path of a negotiated peace. The recommendations of the Mitchell Report and of the Tenet plan are the vital, and necessary, steps to end the current violence. The Australian Government urges the unconditional resumption of security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and urges both sides to exert full and complete efforts to implement all the recommendations of the Mitchell Report.
On 12 April 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning Maoist violence in Nepal. The text of the release follows:
Australia roundly condemns the recent expansion of the Maoist campaign of attacks against civilian infrastructure targets in Nepal. For some months, communication facilities, repeater stations and the apparatus of local government have been targeted. Since the beginning of April, however, the attacks have widened to include the destruction of food storage facilities supplying food to the famine hit regions of Humla and Jumla, hydroelectric power stations, drinking water reservoirs and pipelines in Okhaldhunga, water supply lines in Dailekh and three bridges on the road in Bardiya. These attacks add to the pattern of Maoist violence against the people of Nepal that has included hostage taking, torture, execution and terrorising of the general public in support of the Maoists’ political goals. Australia has repeatedly condemned these acts and called for their immediate cessation. The latest attacks can only be interpreted as a deliberate attempt to undermine the development of Nepal and the economic livelihood of its ordinary people. As usual, it is the poor who suffer the most. The Maoists demonstrate disregard for civilian life and deprive the people of the most basic necessities such as food and water. Australia calls upon the Maoists to immediately cease these activities, lay down their arms and return to the negotiating table in order to join the political mainstream to resolve Nepal’s political and economic problems in partnership with other parties and groups.
On 25 March 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the Bougainville peace process. Extracts from the release follow:
I sincerely hope that the PNG Parliament will give strong, bipartisan support to legislation to give legal effect to the Bougainville Peace Agreement at this week’s final vote. This is a truly historic opportunity to bring to an end one of the region’s longest running conflicts and to build a peaceful and prosperous future for the people of Bougainville. A successful vote will launch Bougainville on the final phase of its path to peace. It will signal to Bougainville and the region that the national Government is determined to bring peace to the province. It will open the way for the people of Bougainville to establish a new autonomous Government. I was greatly encouraged by the Papua New Guinea Parliamentarians’ overwhelming support of the Bougainville peace agreement when they first voted on the legislation in January. This ringing, unanimous endorsement demonstrated their confidence in the peace process and the terms of the settlement negotiated by the parties. It proved to be the catalyst for one of the most significant demonstrations of weapons disposal we have ever seen in the region with more than 920 weapons handed in to UN and Peace Monitoring Group representatives since the program began in December 2001, including 204 high-powered, military-style weapons. Further weapons containments are scheduled over the next 24 hours.
The peace process is an inspiration to the region. All parties have a vital role in demonstrating their continued commitment to a settlement. I sincerely hope the PNG Parliament will give its full and final support to the legislation and launch the peace process into its final phase. The war is over. But Australia, along with its Peace Monitoring Group partners, will continue to contribute substantially to the peace process and to the reconstruction of Bougainville.
On 19 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the Solomon Islands. Extracts from the release follow:
In Solomon Islands, I stressed the need to tackle the dire problems of lawlessness, corruption and economic decline currently facing the country. In my meeting with Prime Minister Sir Allan Kemakeza, I expressed my continuing deep concern about law and order, including recent threats to Ministers and senior officials. I highlighted that economic difficulties could not be addressed without considerable progress on law and order. I praised Prime Minister Kemakeza’s resolve, in the face of significant personal risk, to pursue solutions but noted my disappointment at the significant obstacles blocking his success including corruption and self-interest by some politicians, public servants and police. I reiterated that Australia would not intervene directly but would continue to make every effort to help the leaders and people find lasting solutions. I also called on the Governor-General Father Sir John Ini Lapli and held discussions with the Governor of the Central Bank, National Peace Council members and Australian community representatives. In these calls, I noted that the onus was on all Solomon Islanders to facilitate the peace and reconciliation process, highlighting the constructive role being played by the National Peace Council with significant support from Australia. The situation in Solomon Islands is very fragile. While Australia remains willing to assist, and to encourage other donors when appropriate, the Government and people of Solomon Islands must demonstrate a real commitment to addressing the difficulties facing their country. Unless concrete action is taken, there will be a limit to further assistance from development partners such as Australia.
On 24 October 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the Solomon Islands Peace Council. Extracts from the release follow:
I am pleased to announce Australia’s support for the newly formed Solomon Islands National Peace Council (NPC). The establishment of the NPC is a further step towards restoring peace. The NPC’s role will be to implement a new range of reconciliation and national unity activities, as well as concluding some of the important work of the Solomon Islands Peace Monitoring Council (PMC).
The NPC will continue some of the successful PMC programs, such as weapons-free villages campaigns and mediation of disputes. Over time, it is expected to adopt a program that will include activities in support of national unity and the rule of law, civic education and provision of advice to the Government. The PMC, and now the NPC, play a very valuable role in the indigenous peace and reconciliation process in Solomon Islands. The Solomon Islands Government has appointed seven provisional Councillors to the NPC – all continuing from the PMC – for a transitional period of three months. The Councillors are all respected leaders, recognised by the community for their efforts to work for peace and to bring groups together. Over the next three months Australia will provide the NPC with up to $300,000 to support the transition from the PMC to the NPC and the development of the structure and work program of the NPC. Australia will also provide a policy adviser to the NPC, continuing a position that provided support to the PMC.
On 16 September 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release regarding the Sri Lankan peace process. Extracts from the release follow:
I welcome the opening today of peace negotiations in Sattahip, Thailand, between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The peace negotiations are an important step towards what I hope will be a permanent end to the conflict that has caused immense suffering to all of Sri Lanka’s ethnic groups. In support of the current peace process Australia will contribute A$7.5 million towards humanitarian objectives in Sri Lanka including mine action, food aid, rehabilitation and conflict reduction. As part of this assistance, the Australian Government has decided to provide A$400,000 specifically for the rehabilitation of child soldiers in Sri Lanka. I call on the LTTE to release all child soldiers and to cooperate fully with efforts to assist former child soldiers in overcoming their traumatic experiences and re-joining their families and communities. An additional amount of up to A$1.5m will also be provided through the bilateral program for community-based peace building initiatives in conflict affected areas.
On 6 November 2002, the Minister for Trade, Mr Mark Vaile issued a press release concerning conflict diamonds. An extract from the release follows:
Australia has joined international efforts to prevent illegal trade in rough diamonds from financing war and civil conflict in Africa.
On 5 November 2002, Australia joined an arrangement – known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme for Rough Diamonds – in Interlaken, Switzerland, that aims to reduce the trade of so-called ‘conflict’ diamonds.
Conflict diamonds are rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments. Australia has participated in the development of this United Nations General Assembly sanctioned Scheme in consultation with the Australian diamond industry and non-government organizations. We have also played an active role in encouraging other governments to join the Scheme. The Scheme is a positive step in reducing the ability of rebel movements to acquire the arms that have fuelled civil wars and conflicts in several African nations. The Scheme will ban trade in rough diamonds with non-participants. Rough diamond import and export shipments will need to be accompanied by a certificate declaring that the shipment has been handled in accordance with the scheme. Australia is a major supplier of rough diamonds, with exports totalling more than $600 million in 2001. This arrangement balances the need to prevent trade in conflict diamonds while facilitating the legitimate rough diamond trade.
On 10 April 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release on the 30th anniversary of the signing by Australia of the Biological Weapons Convention. Extracts from the release follow:
The dangers posed by biological weapons have been underscored by last year’s anthrax attacks in the United States and revelations that some terrorist groups such as Al Qa’eda have tried to acquire chemical and biological weapons. Evidence that Iraq has renewed its development efforts is particularly worrying. On this anniversary, I urge all countries to work actively and constructively in preparation for the resumption of the Fifth Review Conference of the Convention in November this year. I also urge countries which have not yet acceded to the BWC to do so without further delay. Reinforcing the BWC with measures to improve compliance and to implement more fully the obligations it contains has been a long-standing priority for the Australian Government. I was deeply disappointed when negotiations for a BWC protocol failed last year and again when the Review Conference was suspended without agreement. Australia is working actively towards a successful and forward-looking conclusion to the Review Conference. I call on the Conference to adopt practical proposals to enhance international cooperation against the pernicious use of disease as a weapon. These proposals include improved national controls to prevent the illicit acquisition of pathogens or equipment which could be used in biological weapons and enhancements to the BWC’s Confidence Building Measures.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Extracts from the statement concerning biological weapons follow:
Australia is strongly committed to preventing the spread of chemical and biological weapons. We were disappointed that efforts last year to conclude a protocol to strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) proved unsuccessful and that the Fifth BWC Review Conference subsequently failed to agree on a forward program. In light of these setbacks, it is vital that momentum towards strengthening the BWC is renewed at the resumed Review Conference in November. Australia urges all states to increase their efforts to achieve practical and effective international measures promoting effective implementation of the BWC.
On 16 November 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a joint press release with Canada and New Zealand concerning the Biological Weapons Convention Fifth Review Conference. An extract from the release follows:
We, the Foreign Ministers of Australia and Canada and the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control of New Zealand, welcome the successful conclusion of the Fifth Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in Geneva. In particular, we welcome the decision to convene more frequent meetings of states parties to work together to promote common understanding and effective action on a number of key issues. We believe that these multilateral efforts will help us to achieve our common goal of strengthening the effectiveness and implementation of the Convention. We also reaffirm our shared conviction that:
• Biological weapons are repugnant;
• The BWC remains a relevant and vital pillar of the global disarmament and non-proliferation framework, essential both to the campaign to rid the world of the scourge of biological weapons and to the pursuit of international peace and security;
• Biological weapons must not be developed, produced, retained, stockpiled, otherwise acquired, used or transferred by states or any non-state entities under any circumstances whatsoever;
• Bioterrorism, in any of its manifestations, is abhorrent and unacceptable.Australia, Canada and New Zealand look forward to continuing to work within and to strengthen the BWC. We commit our Governments to participate actively in all BWC meetings leading up to the next review conference in 2006 and to accelerate the universalisation of the Convention.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Extracts from the statement concerning chemical weapons follow:
We are pleased that the difficulties which hampered the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have been resolved and that the OPCW is pursuing its objectives with renewed vigour. We reiterate our earlier calls for all states that have not signed and ratified the CWC to do so as soon as possible to ensure its enhanced effectiveness through universal membership.
On 18 June 2002, the Amendment to article 1 of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, which may be deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects of 10 October 1980, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Convention, also frequently referred to as the Inhumane Weapons Convention, is an important instrument of international humanitarian law. It consists of an umbrella Convention and four annexed Protocols placing prohibitions and/or restrictions on the use of specific categories of conventional weapons, considered to be indiscriminate and to inflict superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering on both combatants and civilians. The proposed amendment attracted overwhelming support from States Parties to the Convention, and was born of a general recognition that a significant proportion of civilian casualties result from internal armed conflicts. There was also widespread support among non-government organisations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) which called on the Review Conference to agree to such an amendment. Australia’s delegation to the Conference of States Parties, which included officials from DFAT and Defence as well as a representative of the Australian Red Cross, strongly supported the proposed amendment and participated actively in its formulation. Our support for this amendment is fully consistent with Australia’s commitment to limiting the impact of armed conflict on civilian populations, as illustrated by Australia’s leading role in global mine action programs and support for the Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel mines. Amended Protocol II of the Convention, dealing with Mines, Booby-traps and Other Devices, incorporated this extended scope when it was agreed at the First Review Conference held in 1996. It is logical to extend this expanded scope to the umbrella Convention and the remaining Protocols (I, original Protocol II, III and IV). As a High Contracting Party to Amended Protocol II Australia has already committed itself to applying the provisions of this Protocol in non-international armed conflict and there appears no valid reason why the remaining Protocols should be treated differently.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. An extract from the statement concerning the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons follows:
Australia was pleased with the positive outcomes achieved at the Second Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Convention Weapons (CCW) last December. Work this year at the experts level has demonstrated the adverse humanitarian consequences of explosive remnants of war (ERW) and we feel confident that states will agree to raise the tempo of consideration of ERW next year.
On 11 October 2002, Mr Peter Tesch, of the Australian mission to the United Nations delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council concerning small arms. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Report of the Secretary-General on Small Arms is a timely contribution to international efforts to combat the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons. The Report usefully identifies ways in which the Security Council, in fulfilling its role in maintaining international peace and security, can help to control and eradicate the illicit small arms trade, building on the 2001 UN Program of Action. Some of the Report’s recommendations are particularly meritorious. Reflecting Australia’s extensive experience in dealing with post-conflict situations in the South and South West Pacific, Australia strongly endorses recommendations 7 and 8, encouraging the inclusion of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DD and R) activities in Council mandates and budgets for peacekeeping operations. We also strongly endorse recommendations 5 and 11, calling for the strict enforcement of all Council resolutions on sanctions, including those imposing arms embargoes, and for effective monitoring mechanisms to oversee the rigorous and effective application of embargoes. It is in these two areas in particular – inclusion of DD and R activities in peacekeeping mandates and rigid enforcement of arms embargoes – that the Council can make a practical and positive impact on international efforts to combat the illicit small arms trade. Australia also commends the Report’s recognition of the important role of strengthened national export control measures in ensuring effective regulation of small arms exports. Effective national export controls, including end-use certification, are the first line of defence against illicit transfers and help to prevent exports that may start out as licit ending up in illicit hands. While the role of the Council is important, the prime responsibility for combating the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons lies with Member States. The 2001 UN Program of Action provides a comprehensive and dynamic framework for Member States to follow in combating the illicit small arms trade at the national, regional and international levels. Good progress has been made in promoting regional-level cooperation, in particular. The provision of capacity-building assistance to states with development needs is an important means of enhancing regional cooperation. Australia is strongly committed to continue assisting countries in the South Pacific region to combat the problems posed by small arms through the institution of better governance and accountability. In the lead up to the biennial meeting on small arms in mid-2003, Australia urges Member States to renew their efforts to implement the UN Program of Action. We must maintain a strong collective resolve to address effectively the humanitarian and security dimensions of the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons, as identified in the Secretary-General’s Report.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. Extracts from the statement follow:
The Ottawa Convention on anti-personnel landmines continues to grow in strength with a total of 130 countries having ratified or signed the Convention. Australia calls on those states which have yet to accede to do so as soon as possible, and to refrain from using anti-personnel mines in the interim.
On 11 November 2002, H.E. Mr John Dauth, Australian Ambassador to the United Nations delivered a statement at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Extracts from the statement follow:
Australia is strongly committed to the three pillars – nuclear safety, verification and technology – which form the basis of the Agency’s mandate. Australia believes that the global implementation of an effective system of strengthened safeguards delivers universal security benefits. In Australia’s view, the Agency’s verification and promotional activities are mutually reinforcing in nature. Strengthening the credibility of the Agency’s verification system promotes confidence in nuclear science and technology. A priority for Australia is achieving wide application of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol on strengthened safeguards.
The Agency has a central role to play in responding to the threats of nuclear terrorism. We commend the Agency for responding quickly to this threat including through projects funded by the newly created Nuclear Security Fund. As a contributor, Australia urges those member states that have not already done so to contribute to the Fund, financially and through in-kind measures. The security of nuclear and radioactive materials must be a priority for all countries. Australia welcomes the Agency’s progress in strengthening the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. There is an obvious need to further improve the control of high activity sources to protect against the risk of radiological terrorism. Australia supports the work of the Agency to amend the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. We call on all delegations participating in this process to work constructively to achieve a consensus on outstanding issues.
On 25 November 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the formal adoption of the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation. An extract from the release follows:
I welcome the formal adoption of the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC) at an international conference in The Hague on 25-26 November. The Code of Conduct aims to curb the spread of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Australia is among more than 40 countries expected to have joined the Code when it is formalised this evening. The Code reflects a growing international consensus that ballistic missile proliferation can seriously undermine regional and global security and that Governments have a responsibility to ensure they do not contribute to the spread of such missiles in any way. Many countries with questionable commitment to non-proliferation are also developing WMD-capable missiles of increasing range and sophistication. Some of these countries are actively assisting others with such programs. Although treaties and international arrangements are in place to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, efforts to stop the spread of missiles capable of delivering such weapons have lagged. No multilateral treaty controlling ballistic missiles exists as yet. The Code will help fill this gap. Under the Code, States make politically binding commitments to curb the proliferation of WMD-capable ballistic missiles and to exercise maximum restraint in developing, testing and deploying such missiles. Given similarities between the technologies used in ballistic missiles and civilian rockets, the Code also introduces transparency measures such as annual declarations and pre-launch notifications regarding ballistic missile and space launch programs. Australia is a strong supporter of international missile non-proliferation efforts and is already a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) which coordinates export controls on missile-related technologies. We will continue our efforts, particularly in our region, to raise awareness about ballistic missile proliferation and urge those Governments that have not already done so to subscribe to the Code.
On 12 February 2002, HE Mr John Dauth, Australian Ambassador to the United Nations delivered a statement to the United Nations Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations. Extracts from the statement follow:
We should all be encouraged by the progress that has been made to date in reforming the way in which the United Nations goes about peacekeeping. As a result of the Brahimi report and detailed consideration of its implications in this committee and elsewhere, we now have a clearer understanding of what it takes to plan, manage and conduct successful peacekeeping operations. We also have a far better appreciation of what it takes to complete the task of such operations and to exit responsibly. We have made substantial resource and personnel commitments to enhance DPKO’s capability to carry out its mandate effectively. This is particularly appropriate as DPKO enters its tenth year. But our task is by no means complete. Many challenges remain and I will highlight some of these. They all have this common element: how to ensure that reforms genuinely optimise our capacity to plan, deploy, conduct and conclude peacekeeping operations.
Consolidation is a particularly useful idea for us at this stage of the committee’s work. After the plethora of useful recommendations from the Brahimi report and elsewhere – including from our own committee – we should be careful not to overload the reform agenda. Our priority should be to implement the reforms already agreed, and to allow a period for evaluation and assessment.
The Best Practice Unit is a critical element in accelerating the learning process. Making the lessons learned from UN missions operational and accessible through the development of manuals is a practical way to proceed. We are pleased, therefore, that DPKO is now developing such a manual for multi-dimensional peacekeeping operations.
On 8 March 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer addressed the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia on the topic of ‘Australia and the United States: Shared Interests’. Extracts from that speech relating to security in the Asia-Pacific region follow:
The first and the most important component of our relationship with the United States is the security relationship…it is a treaty, the ANZUS Treaty; it is a security relationship which has served us extraordinarily well. Now, some people say it’s a treaty about stopping other countries invading Australia or stopping people invading the United States, and if you look at the treaty on its face value there’s something in that argument. But there is, in modern times, a much more profound meaning to the ANZUS Treaty than that, and it’s that the ANZUS Treaty is one of those arrangements – and there are others with Japan and South Korea and so on – which binds the United States into the security architecture of the Asia-Pacific region, and in particular East Asia. And I don’t think Australians should lose sight of the simple point that we have a very strong vested interest in ensuring that the United States remains active in the security architecture of East Asia. If you took the United States out of East Asia, out of the security architecture of East Asia, then I think the consequences for regional power rivalries and conflicts would be extraordinarily severe. There is no doubt, to take an obvious example, that there would be enormous consequences on the Korean Peninsula, and there are many others that I won’t go into now where I think… that … now the points of tension which I think could erupt quite dangerously if the United States were to withdraw from the security of the region. And I don’t think we should lose sight of that point. And it’s the ANZUS Alliance as well as the United States alliance with Japan and South Korea and the security arrangements it has with the Philippines and Thailand which binds the United States into the region, and we have a vested interest in ensuring the United States remains actively engaged in the architecture of the region and is welcomed into the region.
On 3 February 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer addressed the Munich Conference on Security Policy on the topic of Asia-Pacific region’s security policy. Extracts from the speech follow:
We think the ASEAN Regional Forum can and should do more. I am encouraged that Forum officials subsequently agreed to a series of activities aimed at building the counter-terrorism capabilities of the Forum’s members. To this end, two anti-terrorism related seminars are already planned, one in Thailand, the other in the United States. The challenge, as always, is to translate words into action. It is therefore pleasing to note, for example, that the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia are discussing a trilateral anti-terrorism initiative (focusing on border control and information exchange). Another example of practical cooperation is the information exchange that has resulted in further arrests and investigations in the Philippines and Indonesia, following the arrests of suspected terrorists in Singapore and Malaysia.
On 16 October 2002, H.E. Mr John Dauth, Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council on Iraq. An extract from the statement relating to Iraq’s non-compliance with Security Council resolutions follows:
This issue is about one thing and one thing only: Iraq’s continued failure to meet its commitments to the international community embodied in at least nine Security Council resolutions. Almost twelve years ago the international community, through the Security Council, acted resolutely to expel Iraq from Kuwait. And in the aftermath of that conflict the Security Council further set out, in plain, unambiguous terms, what the Government of Iraq had to do to ensure that it no longer posed a threat to its neighbours or to global security. For over a decade Iraq has avoided most of these obligations – obligations that were agreed by the Security Council under the mandatory provisions of the UN Charter. To this day the Government of Iraq has failed to comply with 23 out of 27 obligations contained in nine Security Council resolutions. People ask why Iraq? The answer is simple. Iraq today poses a clear danger to international security because it has sought to acquire weapons of mass destruction and has a well established record of using them against its neighbours, and indeed against its own people. Iraq’s defiance of the international collective will threatens the very basis of our system of collective security. It threatens the global non-proliferation regime that so many, including Australia, have worked so hard to build. If Iraq is allowed to violate both the will of the UN and the commitments embodied in key arms control instruments it would gravely damage the international system. It would encourage the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to other countries and even to other regions. It would encourage some to believe that treaty obligations – such as those taken on by Iraq in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention – can be flouted with impunity.
But if it lies in the Government of Iraq’s gift to end this situation once and for all, the international community also has a responsibility. In recent months we have, on the surface at least, seen something of a change of approach by Iraq to the question of inspections – to be sure a change which is yet to be tested. Indeed Australia congratulates the officials of UNMOVIC and the IAEA on the practical steps they have taken toward the resumption of inspections. But this change has only come about because of concerted international pressure. Because the government of Iraq is finally starting to understand the looming consequences of continued defiance. We must not, as we say in Australia, drop the ball now. The members of the Security Council have a profound responsibility to ensure that the international community’s recent pressure on Iraq does not go to waste. We urge them to pass a new and robust Security Council resolution which provides the strongest possible basis for unconditional and unfettered inspections of Iraq. For it is only through such inspections that the international community can be completely satisfied that Iraq no longer poses a threat to international security and this almost 12 year long saga can be brought to an end. Australia considers that the United Nations has been patient. It has worked hard to satisfy Iraq’s concerns about the previous inspection body, UNSCOM, by designing a new and more streamlined inspection body, UNMOVIC. And the Secretary General had been unstinting in his efforts to encourage Iraq to comply with Security Council resolutions. But we cannot afford to let Iraq’s defiance stymie these efforts endlessly.
The risks presented by inaction are very real ones. It is the risk that an Iraqi Government, which has shown no compunction about using WMD in the past, will once again be able to threaten its neighbours and the world, but this time with a full suite of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. It is the risk that a regime that has been indiscriminate in its support for terrorist groups will one day hand one of these groups either a chemical, biological or nuclear weapon or pass on the knowledge to build one.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. An extract from the statement relating to weapons of mass destruction generally follows:
We must also remain resolute in our collective determination to strengthen multilateral mechanisms to meet the threat posed by WMD and their delivery systems. We consider the continuing close engagement by member states in multilateral processes of vital importance to promoting security objectives. Multilateral mechanisms raise the bar against WMD proliferation by establishing norms and facilitating verification of compliance and they complement plurilateral, regional and national non-proliferation efforts and arrangements.
On 13 June 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning a decision by the Australia Group to strengthen export controls in certain areas and hence limit the spread of chemical and biological weapons. Extracts from the release follow:
I welcome the decision by Australia Group countries to tighten their export controls on materials, equipment and technology which could be used in chemical or biological warfare. Australia, as permanent chair of the Group, continues to play a pivotal role in international efforts to tackle this grave threat to global security. The agreement last week by the Group’s 34 participants aims to prevent the inadvertent or illicit spread of chemical and biological weapons, including to terrorist groups. All members of the Group, which includes countries from Europe, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific, are parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention. These conventions legally oblige state parties not to aid the development and production of such weapons. Export controls play a central role in fulfilling this obligation.
On 17 October 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s uranium enrichment program. The text of the release follows:
The Australian Government is gravely concerned about the DPRK’s admission that it is operating a secret nuclear weapons program involving uranium enrichment. This program, admitted by the DPRK during the 3-4 October visit to Pyongyang by the US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Jim Kelly, threatens to undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. This is an extremely important issue for the region and Australia. Acquisition of nuclear weapons by the DPRK would be contrary to the interests of all regional countries. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to this breach of the DPRK’s obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework. Australia has been a strong supporter of the Framework as a mechanism for freezing the DPRK’s nuclear program. The DPRK signed onto the Framework on the basis that it would freeze its nuclear program and not engage in further nuclear proliferation activities. In my meetings with DPRK representatives, I have consistently urged the DPRK to implement commitments made under the Agreed Framework and the NPT and emphasised the importance of full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). To help the DPRK develop a better understanding of IAEA requirements, Australia has provided training in nuclear materials accounting. I call upon the DPRK to comply fully with its nuclear non-proliferation obligations and to engage constructively with the international community on these and other issues of concern relating to its missile proliferation and conventional forces. Australia shares the international community’s concerns about the DPRK’s nuclear program. Early and full compliance with its non-proliferation obligations is very much in the DPRK’s interest, including its prospects for economic development and normal relationships with neighbours and other countries, including Australia. We will continue to work in close consultation with our regional and international partners to address concerns over the security situation on the Korean Peninsula and to support cooperation and reconciliation between the two Koreas.
On 16 May 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the implementation of ‘smart sanctions’ on Iraq. The full text of the release follows:
I welcome the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous adoption on 14 May of Resolution 1409, which authorises the implementation of a new ‘smart sanctions’ regime on Iraq from 30 May 2002. Australia has strongly supported this improved sanctions regime, which will go a long way towards addressing the problems posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) ambitions. The system will tighten controls on WMD-related materials while facilitating a smoother flow of civilian goods into Iraq. This in turn will help improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq. The new system will simplify the current procedures for exporting to Iraq with consequent benefits for the many Australian companies that participate in the Oil-for-Food program. Australia urges Iraq to respond positively to the new sanctions regime and to take the opportunity to engage seriously with the United Nations in consultations for the re-admission of weapons inspectors.
On 17 September 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer made a statement in Parliament concerning Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. Extracts from the speech follow:
The Government’s view is that there is good reason to be extremely worried about the current status of Iraq’s programs. Any reasonable person would have to share that view. Indeed, while in New York I was struck by the broad consensus which exists regarding Iraq’s WMD capabilities.
The onus is now squarely on Iraq to allow immediate and unfettered inspections leading to the complete and permanent disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The Security Council cannot allow Iraq to resile from today’s commitment, as, unfortunately, it has done in the past.
We have a fundamental interest in global security. And we need to understand the ramifications that could flow from Iraq continuing to defy the authority of the Security Council and successfully pursue its program for weapons of mass destruction. It would do enormous damage to the system of collective security so painstakingly built up over the past 57 years since the end of World War II. It would encourage proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to other countries and even to other regions. It would encourage some to believe that treaty obligations – such as those taken on by Iraq in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Biological Weapons Convention – can be flouted with impunity. Because it is in our security interests, Australia has been at the forefront of UN and other work to develop and strengthen agreements to impede the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We lead the Australia Group, which imposes controls on chemical and biological agents, and we are at the forefront of efforts to strengthen the NPT and in 1996 brought the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to life via the UN General Assembly. For these reasons, we contributed strongly to UNSCOM. Over 110 Australians served with UNSCOM during its seven years of operation, making Australia the fourth largest national contributor. Hence we have a major stake in the effectiveness of these expressions of collective will. Australia also has an important stake in the stability of the Middle East. An Iraq with the capability to menace the region with weapons of mass destruction would be destabilising and would have major economic consequences for the world and for Australia, given the vital role that secure supplies of Middle Eastern oil play in the global economy. Let us be clear. Chemical and biological weapons are not ordinary weapons. They are designed to cause mass casualties and they are indiscriminate. They kill or incapacitate in horrendous ways. In the hands of malign or unpredictable leaders, they are weapons of terror. They have no place in conventional warfare. They have no place in modern civilisation.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. An extract from the statement relating to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty follows:
The CTBT is a key element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation framework. Australia is determined to continue to work actively to bring the Treaty into force. In this respect, I draw your attention to the Joint Declaration Australia, Japan and the Netherlands launched in New York last month in support of the CTBT. The Declaration encouraged ongoing support for the development of the CTBT’s verification machinery, adherence to the treaty, and set out an action plan to expedite entry into force of the Treaty. We encourage other UN members to associate themselves with the declaration before it is submitted to the Secretary-General. With 166 signatories and 94 ratifiers, there should be no doubt that the CTBT represents widespread recognition of a powerful international norm against nuclear testing. In this regard, Australia is pleased that a voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing continues to hold. We strongly urge all nuclear weapon and capable states to continue to uphold this moratorium.
On 8 April 2002, H.E. Mr John Dauth, Australian Ambassador to the United Nations delivered a statement to the First Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference. An extract from the statement relating to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material follows:
Australia welcomes the progress made on strengthening the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and urges agreement on the text of a revised convention at the earliest possible date.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. An extract from the statement relating to the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty follows:
Australia invites all states to support fresh attempts to achieve a breakthrough on commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). The negotiation of an FMCT is a priority disarmament and non-proliferation objective. It is disappointing that, despite repeated endorsement of proposals to negotiate a FMCT, after several years we are still no closer to the start of formal negotiations. We are encouraged that the Netherlands and other countries have undertaken informal discussions on FMCT issues. In the meantime, Australia and other cut-off treaty supporters calls upon all relevant states to uphold moratoria on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes.
On 7 October 2002, H.E. Mr Michael Smith delivered a statement for the Australian delegation at the 57th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. An extract from the statement follows:
The proliferation of nuclear weapons remains one of the most serious challenges to global security. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) serves as the cornerstone for global efforts seeking to curb the spread of such weapons and to work toward the goal of nuclear disarmament. Australia was particularly gratified by the recent announcement by Cuba that it would accede to the NPT, marking an important step toward universalisation. We take this opportunity to urge the three states which remain outside the treaty to reconsider their position, and to take steps toward NPT accession.
On 8 April 2002, H.E. Mr John Dauth, Australian Ambassador to the United Nations delivered a statement to the First Preparatory Committee for the 2005 NPT Review Conference. Extracts from the statement relating to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons follow:
The terrible events of 11 September last year in this city and Washington DC have focused renewed international attention on the gravity of the risks posed to all of us by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, including to non-state actors. These developments have further highlighted the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s critical importance.
Article VI commitments are a central obligation of the Treaty. Useful progress has been made on nuclear disarmament, even though this progress may not have been entirely uniform or consistent. But we expect further action on nuclear disarmament, and remain fully committed to working, by balanced and progressive steps, towards the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Universalisation of the Additional Protocol on strengthened safeguards is a key non-proliferation priority and should be supported strongly by the PrepCom. Australia is helping a number of regional countries to ratify and implement Additional Protocols.
NPT parties must adhere fully to their NPT and IAEA safeguards commitments. The IAEA is still unable to resume its verification and monitoring activities in Iraq under relevant Security Council resolutions. We call upon Iraq to move immediately to cooperate fully and without condition with UNMOVIC and the IAEA to achieve full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions, and its obligations as a party to the NPT. We remain concerned about the lack of cooperation from the DPRK in fulfilling the obligations under its NPT safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The IAEA’s verification task in the DPRK is complex and likely to take 3-4 years. The DPRK must move quickly to cooperate fully with the IAEA to ensure that it benefits fully from the peaceful nuclear cooperation offered to it through the KEDO light water reactor project.
The NPT remains the world’s best defence against the spread of nuclear weapons. It is the only global treaty dedicated to the containment of nuclear weapons and their eventual elimination. The Treaty delivers substantial benefits to all states. Continued strong support for the NPT is a pre-condition to further progress on the Treaty’s goals.
On 20 June 2002, the Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, issued a press release concerning Australia’s ratification of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An extract from the release follows:
I announce today the intention of the Government to propose ratification of the 1998 Rome Statute providing for the establishment of an International Criminal Court. This decision has been reached after considerable consultation and discussion among Coalition ranks. The Government believes that the International Criminal Court can make a valuable contribution to the future punishment of persons who commit acts of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. I am satisfied that with the stipulations to be incorporated in a declaration to be made at the time of ratification that the decision to ratify does not compromise Australia’s sovereignty. It is proposed that the declaration reaffirms the primacy of Australian law and the Australian legal system and declares that no person can be arrested on a warrant issued by the Court or surrendered to the Court without the consent of the Commonwealth Attorney-General. Additionally, the declaration will provide that it is Australia’s understanding that the offences of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under the International Criminal Court Statute will be interpreted and applied in a way that accords with the way they are implemented in Australian law. The matters dealt with in the Declaration will be incorporated in the Australian legislation implementing our obligations under the International Criminal Court Statute. Importantly, the legislation will provide that no prosecution is to be commenced, or proceedings conducted, without the consent of and in the name of, the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General’s powers to consent to arrest, surrender or prosecution will also be broadly drafted to allow as wide a discretion as possible, limiting the grounds for judicial review of the exercise of those powers. In accordance with the Treaty Australia will have the right to withdraw from the Treaty on 12 months notice. While it is not the intention for such action to be taken without proper consideration it is important that the Australian people understand that the ability to withdraw is available.
On 22 October 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question without notice from Mr David Jull in the House of Representatives concerning terrorism. Extracts from Mr Downer’s response follow:
I think all of us in this House would agree that the terrorist threat is the greatest challenge that we face as a nation. It is international in scope and is indiscriminate in its application towards victims. We are targets of terrorism for what we stand for, as are other Western countries. Our values and freedoms, nevertheless, are non-negotiable and we will defend them with unrelenting vigour. But the struggle against terrorism cannot be conducted in the way a traditional conflict is fought. Terrorism’s global reach—its transnational nature—requires that we work with our regional partners and our allies in a closely coordinated and cooperative way. The government is pursuing this and pursuing the challenge of meeting the terrorist threat at a number of levels and in a number of ways. First of all, it is clearly important that work continues to place restrictions on the financing of terrorist activities. There are United Nations resolutions and conventions, and there have been a range of different initiatives to try to ensure that individual countries take decisive action against the financing of terrorism. With Indonesia, the Australian government will be co-hosting a regional conference to combat terrorism financing and money laundering in Indonesia in December. That conference will be jointly opened by Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda and by me on behalf of Australia. The second thing I would mention is that to fight terrorism it is very important to enhance the cooperation between intelligence agencies and law enforcement bodies in our respective countries. We have traditional relationships with a number of intelligence agencies, but in recent times the government has been promoting and getting signed memoranda of understanding on counter-terrorism which provide for cooperation between intelligence agencies, with Indonesia, as is well known, and also more recently with Malaysia and Thailand. We are also talking to the Philippines about concluding a similar memorandum of understanding, and the Philippines experience of terrorism is well known to all in this House. Thirdly, we have to keep working with our regional partners and with other countries to develop domestic legislative frameworks to counter terrorism. This was a particular focus of a regional technical workshop we co-hosted for Pacific island countries in Honolulu in March this year—some time ago. I make the point that to deal with the problem of terrorism each country has to have effective laws which protect civil liberties and human rights and, at the same time, effective laws that are able to deal with the crime of terrorism and the operation of terrorist organisations. The fourth point I would make is that there need to be effective border controls in order to regulate the flow of people into and out of countries. That was a feature of a regional workshop we co-hosted in Bangkok in April this year for ASEAN Regional Forum countries.
Finally, it is well known that the close cooperation between Australia and the United States is fundamentally important to our capacity to continue effectively the fight against terrorism. The alliance with the United States is crucial to the efficacy of our efforts in the fight against terrorism and is deeply beneficial to the overall international effort to fight terrorism.
Terrorism is not just a regional problem, not just a problem for the Middle East and not just a problem for South-East Asia. This is a global problem and it requires a global response. Our cooperation with our allies such as the United States and working with other countries in the region are going to be central to our capacity to deal with this.
On 31 October 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer delivered a speech at Chatham House, London, on the global strategic environment from an Australian perspective. Extracts from the Minister’s speech concerning terrorism follow:
[S]overeign states themselves have to take responsibility for addressing the problem. It can’t just be left to multinational or multilateral organisations and it can’t just be left to one country. For example, as we address in our part of the world the issue of terrorism, the Indonesian Government, the Australian Government, the Malaysian Government, the Singaporean Government, the Philippines Government, all have to take decisive measures themselves internally first and foremost to address this problem. … But there is, of course, a substantial role for international co-operation. And there must be international co-operation because this is a trans-boundary issue. One area where there needs to be co-operation is in intelligence sharing. … Recently we have signed with a number of countries in South East Asia memoranda of understanding on terrorism. We did this before October 12. We signed in February of this year a memorandum of understanding on counter-terrorism with Indonesia. I signed an agreement in the middle of the year with Thailand, a very similar agreement. We have an agreement I’ve also signed with Malaysia. We are in the process of concluding a similar agreement with the Philippines. This is just one illustration of what Australia is doing, but I do think that countries more generally, particularly those afflicted by the problems of terrorism, which is going to be most countries of the world, they need to work very closely together through intelligence sharing and co-operation, and putting sometimes in place frameworks to do that, such as memoranda of understanding on counter-terrorism. I think there is also a role for capacity building, to ensure that law enforcement authorities, customs authorities, immigration authorities, have a greater capacity to detect and deal with people who may be or are involved with terrorism. And, in particular, developed countries can provide some direct assistance to developing countries in that area to enhance their capacity to address that problem.
On 13 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning changes to arrangements for freezing terrorist assets. Extracts from the release follow:
UN Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001), passed following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, obliges member states to freeze terrorist assets. The deaths of so many young Australians in the 12 October Bali bombings are a painful reminder of the continued relevance and urgency of this obligation. Since 15 October 2001, the Government has used a mechanism contained in the Charter of the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations 2001 to implement this obligation. These Regulations are now replaced by a new Part 4 of the Charter of the United Nations Act 1945, and the Charter of the United Nations (Terrorism and Dealings with Assets) Regulations 2002. Under the revised mechanism, anybody holding financial or other assets of persons or entities listed as terrorists by the Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Commonwealth Gazette is prohibited from using or dealing with those assets. It is also a criminal offence to give assets of any kinds to such persons or entities. The penalty for these offences is five years imprisonment.
This revised mechanism further demonstrates the Government’s ongoing commitment to review and revise its anti-terrorism measures in the light of international developments and experience and in consultation with key stakeholders in the community.
On 18 June 2002, the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, done at New York on 9 December 1999, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The purpose of the Convention is to suppress acts of terrorism by depriving terrorists and terrorist organisations of the financial means to commit such acts. It does so by obliging State Parties to criminalise and take other measures to prevent the provision or collection of funds for the purpose of committing terrorist acts and to cooperate with other State Parties in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of terrorist financing. Ratifying the Convention is in the national interest because it will dramatically increase the effectiveness of our criminal prohibitions on terrorist financing and ensure that terrorist organisations are unable to obtain resources to support their activities. It will also demonstrate Australia’s commitment to cooperating with global counter-terrorism measures. Although Australia has had legislation in place to criminalise the financing of hostile acts against foreign States by Australians or persons using Australia as a base since the 1970s, there has been limited international assistance in these matters. Australia’s legislation was in many respects unique and thus the capacity for Australia to receive international assistance in the investigation and prosecution of these offences was severely inhibited by the “dual criminality rule” that generally applies to such international cooperation. In addition, many States had in place banking secrecy regulations and procedures to prevent cooperation in international investigation of purely fiscal offences which both impeded law enforcement efforts and provided the capacity for terrorists to develop sophisticated financing mechanisms with relative impunity. The Convention removes some of these obstacles. Australia’s participation in the Convention will therefore aid Australia’s efforts in combating the financing of terrorist acts and organisations.
On 12 March 2002, the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings, done at New York on 15 December 1997, was tabled in both Houses of Parliament. Extracts from the accompanying National Interest Analysis follow:
The Convention forms part of a framework of international treaties intended to combat the worldwide escalation of acts of terrorism. Terrorist attacks by means of explosives or other lethal devices have become increasingly widespread, and a review of the scope of the existing international legal provisions on the prevention, repression and elimination of terrorism found that existing multilateral legal provisions did not adequately address these attacks. The purpose of the Convention is therefore to enhance international cooperation between States in devising and adopting effective and practical measures for the prevention of such acts of terrorism, and for the prosecution and punishment of their perpetrators. It also serves to reaffirm the unequivocal condemnation by States of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, wherever and by whomever committed, including those which jeopardise the friendly relations among States and peoples and threaten the territorial integrity and security of States. Australia already has extensive domestic legislation designed to combat the kinds of acts covered by the Convention. Acceding to the Convention will dramatically increase the effectiveness of these domestic measures, through providing a mechanism for cooperation with other countries in investigating and prosecuting terrorist crimes committed in or against Australia or by Australians.
On 24 October 2002, the Attorney-General, Mr Daryl Williams and the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison issued a joint press release outlining new Australian legislation outlawing the murder of Australians overseas. Extracts from the press release follow:
As announced by the Prime Minister today, the Government will move to amend the Criminal Code to create new provisions making it an offence to murder, commit manslaughter or intentionally or recklessly cause serious harm to an Australian outside Australia. The legislation will ensure that Australia can effectively cooperate with the broadest possible range of countries to combat transnational crimes and prosecute the people responsible for such atrocities as the Bali attacks. In particular, it will ensure there are no legal loopholes in terms of prosecuting terrorist acts involving murder overseas. It also strengthens legislation in our new counter-terrorism package, which already has extra-territorial effect. To extradite a suspected offender from a foreign country there must be ‘dual criminality’ – that is, the conduct must constitute an offence in both Australia and the other country. Other countries may not have specific counter-terrorism laws, but they will have murder laws. This new offence will fulfil the pre-condition for extradition that there is dual criminality and enable extradition for murder. The measures announced today will improve Australia’s long term ability to target those who are prepared to kill innocent Australians overseas.
On 17 September 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question without notice in the House of Representatives from Mr Petro Georgiou concerning terrorist threats to Australian interests in South-East Asia. Extracts from Mr Downer’s response follows:
[T]he Australian government has been working very closely with regional governments on this whole question of terrorism—not just the United States and other governments beyond the region. We have signed memoranda of understanding on terrorism with Indonesia and Malaysia, and we are in the process of negotiating a like MOU with Thailand. Australia and Indonesia are going to host a joint conference in Bali in December of this year to combat terrorist financing and money laundering. I met a couple of days ago with the Indonesian Foreign Minister, and both of us are very much looking forward to cohosting this conference, which will be a region-wide conference. It will involve a large number of countries from around the region to reinforce the strength of our regional commitment to work together to deal with the problem of terrorism.
On 4 October 2002, HE Mr John Dauth, Australian Ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations delivered a statement to the United Nations Security Council concerning threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts. Extracts from the statement relating to regional cooperation in terrorist issues follows:
Within our own region, Australia continues to encourage greater cooperation to combat terrorism. As set out in detail in the Pacific Islands Forum statement, delivered by my colleague the distinguished Ambassador of Fiji, the Nasonini Declaration on Regional Security was adopted by the Pacific Islands Forum on 17 August 2002 and recognised the need for immediate and sustained regional action in response to terrorist threats. Australia also sponsored with the United States, New Zealand and the Forum Secretariat, a counter terrorism workshop for Pacific Island countries in March. Australia and Indonesia announced in September that we will co-host a regional Conference on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, in December this year. The conference will augment and contribute to existing initiatives being undertaken by the CTC and other organisations. Australia and Indonesia believe that the meeting will enable countries in our region to strengthen further their individual efforts to prevent and counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism, particularly by identifying capacity-building needs to meet existing and new obligations. Australia has also been active in the ASEAN Regional Forum context. Together with Thailand we chaired an ARF Workshop on Terrorism Prevention in Bangkok in April 2002. We were pleased to be part of the ASEAN Regional Forum’s Declaration on Terrorist Financing at its Ministerial Meeting on 31 July 2002, as well as in the creation of an Intersessional Mechanism on Terrorism. In addition to these regional initiatives, we consider that bilateral cooperation between governments is also critical in combating terrorism, especially in the exchange of information and intelligence to identify terrorist threats at the earliest possible stage. Australia is seeking closer law enforcement cooperation with partners in our region and has negotiated MOUs on counter-terrorism cooperation with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.
On 26 September 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release concerning the ratification by Thailand and Australia of a transfer of prisoners treaty. Extracts from the release follow:
The agreement with Thailand is Australia’s first bilateral treaty allowing for the international transfer of prisoners and signals the start of the International Transfer of Prisoners scheme in Australia.
Ratification of the treaty opens the way for Australians held in Thai prisons and Thais imprisoned in Australia to apply to return to their home country to serve out the remainder of their prison sentence. Australians returned under these arrangements would remain in prison to serve out their sentences but would do so in circumstances that would reduce the hardship caused to their families and significantly enhance the prospects of rehabilitation. The Commonwealth Government has also made arrangements for Australia’s International Transfer of Prisoners scheme to extend to more than 50 other countries through the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. Transfers will be possible between Australia and the countries that are Parties to the Convention from 1 January 2003.
On 5 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question without notice in the House of Representatives from Mr Robert Baldwin on the issue of people smuggling. Extracts from his response follow:
Australia makes no apology for the tough approach it takes to stopping criminals who run people smuggling syndicates and who target Australia. It is important to our whole-of-government approach to this issue that we make sure we send a simple message to the people smugglers that they cannot make money by landing people in Australia. A very important component of that has been the establishment of offshore processing centres in Nauru and Manus Island, which is part of Papua New Guinea. We are very appreciative of those two governments for the cooperation they have shown in making this policy of supporting offshore processing centres workable. There is no doubt that amongst the measures which have successfully stymied the people smugglers has been the existence of the offshore processing centres.
Another critical aspect of the government’s policy is, as I have said on many occasions in this House, strengthening regional cooperation. We are doing that not just in the ways I described yesterday to the House, but also by providing technical capacity in source, transit and destination countries so that they have a better capacity to deal with this problem. For example, Australia is working with China to draft model legislation which will provide assistance for countries seeking to develop legislation criminalising people-smuggling under their domestic laws. We are providing $1 million in aid funding for the Jangalak reception facility in Kabul, Afghanistan, to house up to 600 recent returnees. The facility will provide vocational and technical training to help the returnees in their reintegration into Afghan society. We are providing border control training programs for 18 Pacific Island countries to improve their capacity to detect and deter people smugglers and traffickers. Over the past year, Australian officials have carried out similar training for 763 officers of the Royal Thai Police. We are supporting a $4.7 million project designed to establish cross-border arrangements for return and reintegration of victims of people trafficking in Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Thailand. It is by virtue of our cooperative approach in the region, including through our varied and substantial technical assistance programs, that we are making such an extremely effective contribution to stopping the problem of people smuggling. The government recognise that to beat criminal people smuggling syndicates we need to build regional cooperation. But we cannot put all of the responsibility for this problem onto the shoulders of our neighbours. We have to be prepared to take measures ourselves; not just ask our neighbours to do it for us. This government have been able to achieve both of those things with substantial success.
On 8 March 2002, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock issued a press release concerning an agreement with Cambodia on illegal immigration. Extracts from the release follow:
The Australian Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, has described a new agreement signed this week between Australia and Cambodia to fight people smuggling and to combat irregular migration as a welcome development.
The agreement, signed by Mr Ruddock and the Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Co-Minister for the Interior, Mr Sar Kheng, enhances the existing cooperation between the two countries. “This agreement demonstrates and acknowledges the strong relationship that Australia has with Cambodia,” Mr Ruddock said. “It is a good example of the types of arrangements that we have established with a number of countries to combat the problem of people smuggling. People smuggling is a global problem and only by working together with other governments can we hope to solve it. “It is both Cambodia and Australia’s international responsibility and in our national interests to identify, prevent and punish illegal activities relating to the movement of people, including smuggling, trafficking in women and children and fraud. “It is only by cooperating through agreements such as this that the global burden can be eased and a stop brought to the insidious trade in human beings,” Mr Ruddock said. This new agreement outlines ways in which the cooperation between our two countries can be enhanced, including strengthening cooperative efforts in regional fora and continuing joint cooperative activities designed to build expertise and provide assistance for the immigration work of both countries.
On 10 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer issued a press release regarding the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Nauru. Extracts from the release follow:
On 9 December I signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Nauru’s President Rene Harris on Cooperation in the Administration of Asylum Seekers and Related Issues. This MOU, which replaces the one we signed on 11 December 2001, reaffirms our joint efforts to combat people smuggling. It will ensure our cooperation continues to the mutual benefit of Australia and Nauru. Under this MOU Nauru has agreed to accept a maximum of 1500 persons to be accommodated at the two processing facilities in the country at any one time. Currently there are 708 asylum seekers in the Nauru processing centres and this number is expected to decline to approximately 300 by mid-April. Australia will continue to meet all costs associated with the transfer, processing and accommodation of the asylum seekers, in addition to meeting the operating costs of the processing centres. The MOU maintains existing guarantees that Australia will ensure no persons will be left behind in Nauru.
I was very pleased to meet again with President Harris to sign this MOU. Australia remains committed to working with others in the region to combat the illegal activities of people smugglers. Nauru, through its valuable cooperation over the last sixteen months, continues to make a very important contribution to this end.
On 12 December 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, and the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock issued a joint press release concerning a Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. Extracts from the release follow:
Australia signed an important Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime in New York this morning. The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (‘the People Trafficking Protocol’) aims to address a growing trend in transnational organised crime to physically move people through deception, coercion or force for the purpose of their exploitation. While Australia already has strong measures in the Commonwealth Criminal Code to criminalise trafficking in persons, the Protocol strengthens international norms against people trafficking and provides the basis for enhanced co-operation between States to combat this crime. The decision to sign the People Trafficking Protocol is part of the Government’s strategy to combat people trafficking through a range of regional and international co-operative measures.
On 2 August 2002, the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Mr Philip Ruddock issued a press release concerning an agreement with South Africa on people smuggling issues. Extracts from the release follow:
The Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, signed a Joint Ministerial Statement (JMS) with South Africa today (Friday 2 August), providing a framework for mutual cooperation on migration, refugees, irregular migration and people smuggling issues. Mr Ruddock signed the agreement in Capetown, South Africa, with the Minister for Home Affairs of South Africa, the Hon Mangosuthu Buthelezi. “The key element of the agreement allows for Australia to return to South Africa all third country nationals who have transited South Africa for at least seven days before arriving illegally in Australia and claiming asylum,” Mr Ruddock said. It was the first readmission agreement that Australia had signed.
South Africa will return to Australia people who have arrived in similar circumstances. “This action supports the principle of the international protection system that asylum-seekers should make their claims for asylum at the first available opportunity,” Mr Ruddock said. Mr Ruddock said the agreement was an important step in the international fight against people smuggling. “It will make no sense for smugglers to move people to Australia from South Africa as they will end up straight back where they started,” Mr Ruddock said. “It is only by nations working together in this way that significant progress will be made against the illegal movement of people organised by people smugglers.” The agreement also provides for the development of practical cooperation between Australia and South Africa on interception, information exchange and transit arrangements.
On 25 June 2002, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Alexander Downer answered a question without notice from Ms Margaret May concerning secondary movements of asylum seekers. Extracts from his response follow:
This is increasingly an issue of very real concern to the international community. Not surprisingly, Australia is at the forefront of international efforts to address this issue, as a failure to address the question of secondary movements very substantially undermines the effectiveness of the international protection system. The Bali people smuggling conference held at the end of February, which was cochaired by Indonesia and Australia, galvanised regional support to combat people-smuggling, including addressing the issue of secondary movements in a significant way. I note that New Zealand is now coordinating one of the two expert working groups established in Bali to explore how this specific problem can be addressed more effectively. I am pleased to note that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is now increasingly addressing the issue of secondary movements. I met last week with the regional director of the UNHCR. Secondary movement was one of the issues we discussed, and I congratulated him on the higher profile this issue is taking in UNHCR. I know the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs shares that view as well. All of this is an increasing acknowledgment that the issue of secondary movement must be addressed. The vast majority of unauthorised boat arrivals in Australia are not directly fleeing persecution. In most cases, they have bypassed the opportunity to seek protection in countries they transited on the way to Australia, or have not been prepared to await the outcome of regular migration processes. As we have so often said in this House, Australia must send an unambiguous message to people smugglers that they cannot subvert our laws and our borders. That is something that Australia can get right, and it does not have to rely on the action of others.