NOT JUST ANY OLD WIN
Tony Abbott says “a win’s a win” but this wasn’t just any old win.
This was a “big decisive juicy win” as Bob Carr announced, with what can only be described as pure relish.
At the United Nations in New York last night, 140 out of 193 nations voted for Australia to have a seat on the UN Security Council, and Australia’s regard in the international community skyrocketed.
It’s a diplomatic coup, says Carr, which gives Australia the opportunity to shape, influence, nurture and advise in matters of global significance.
“Big deal!” tweeted Rupert Murdoch: “Australia gets temporary non- veto seat on Security Council. Cost big fortune in foreign aid all over the place No Aussies care”
Foreign Minister Bob Carr casts his vote for Australia’s winning bid for a seat at the UN Security Council at UN headquarters in New York. Image via news.com.au.
Carr said the move endorses Australia ”as a good global citizen”. The world is saying we respect Australian values, we respect Australian professionalism. We want Australia to help.”
The Security Council is the world’s most important body governing global peace and security, and the last time Australia sat on it was in 1985-86 when the Cold War was the world’s most serious geo-political issue.
Australia’s stint will begin on January 1 and will last for two years. During that time, we may elect a new Prime Minister in Tony Abbott, who has been critical of the $24 million spent over five years on the campaign to secure a seat on the Council.
Mr Abbott previously said he would dump the bid if he were elected Prime Minister, but he’s backflipped on that now.
Today he said: “I welcome the win. It was an expensive win and I think it probably owes as much to Kevin Rudd as to (Prime Minister) Julia Gillard, but nevertheless a win’s a win. Let’s hope we put the next two years on the security council to good use.”
Quite. Australia has its seat at the big round table on the world stage: what is it going to do with it? What constitutes “good use?”
Carr says Australia’s time in the Council would be a chance to promote issues that affect Australia, such as policies on asylum seekers, and issues around climate change in the Pacific, but also guide and advise the five permanent members of the Council on global matters.
International aid agency OXFAM had this to say before the vote: “Australia has the potential to play this constructive role. To rise to this challenge if elected, Australia needs to have a clear vision for what it wants to achieve.”
“If elected, Australia should focus on ensuring the council effectively and consistently protects people affected by conflict and insecurity no matter who they are or where they live. That does not mean responding in the same way everywhere, but it does mean responding with the same determination.
“To make this kind of contribution, Australia needs to have the courage and integrity to look beyond narrow foreign policy interests, towards solutions that can best maintain international peace and security for all.”
“It would mean taking bold steps to improve the transparency and accountability of the Security Council and the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions to protect people on the ground.
Certainly the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping missions have been questioned in the past, as the UN has repeatedly come under criticism as being a toothless tiger that acts too slowly.
But there are lofty ideals at stake here. As Carr, at his statesmanlike best, said this morning: “The UN isn’t going to lead humankind to heaven but, in the words of one of its great Secretary-Generals, it might just stop us descending into hell.”
And then there’s Rupert Murdoch’s opinion. He thinks Australians don’t care.
Do you care? Is this one big ego trip for Australia on the international stage, or have we arrived?