On Wednesday, the second day of NMUN, we were visiting the Australian Mission to the United Nations. Mr Andrew Rose and Ms Fleur Davies were so kind to spend almost two hours answering all our questions on Australia’s international relations and, moreover, they also gave us some helpful tips for the diplomatic behaviour within discussions.
Andrew Rose is the Legal Advisor and works mostly within the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly. Fleur Davies is the Counsellor of Development; her main working field is the work with the Australian Government’s Overseas Aid Program (AusAID), system-wide coherence, humanitarian assistance, and the challenge to reach the Millennium Development Goals. Therefore, we could ask our questions to two experts in a wide range of topics, which was a good final preparation for the upcoming discussions in our committees.
Before they started to answer our questions in various topics, we got a little introduction on the work of the Mission, where four Australian agencies are represented: The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, AusAID, The Department of Defence and the Australian Federal Police, whose main task is to help implementing police in post conflict situations. This shows, and it was stressed again, that one main focus of the Australian work within the United Nations is peacekeeping.
In the following hour, we were able to ask all the questions we had and, furthermore, some of Australia’s strategies and policies became even more clear and understandable for us. For example, Mr Rose and Ms Davies explained the importance of the CANZ Group (Canada, Australia and New Zealand) to Australia’s engagement at the UN.
An interesting aspect of Australia’s foreign policy is its relationship to China. A new and better partnership with China began with the change of the government in 2007, especially because Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is fluent in Mandarin and spent some years at the Australian Embassy in Beijing, which is helpful for a new growing partnership of the two countries. This new partnership is of an enormous importance for the negotiations for a new post-Kyoto framework. A new agreement will only help, if a solution works globally and is signed by all large countries, especially by China, as it is the largest emerging market worldwide.
Furthermore, Australia’s support for freer trade was underlined. Our speakers explained that subsidies and protectionism do not only harm the global community but also each country itself. Therefore, Australia strongly supports the Doha Round to minimise especially agricultural subsidies.
A focus was also laid on the different reforms within the United Nations. Firstly, we talked about the difference between the UN Reform and the Reform of the Security Council. Australia strongly supports a reform of the UN system, as they hope that a new system, with agencies delivering coherently, will be more efficient and effective than the current structure. Regarding a reform of the Security Council and the distribution of future permanent and non-permanent seats, as they said, they have a realistic perception of the time frame, in which a change like this will be likely to take place. Secondly, Australia is taking a leadership role in the field of Humanitarian Reform, as they will be next year’s chair of the OCHA Donor Support Group.
The last topic we talked about was the ‘Responsibility to Protect’, which is highly supported by the Australian Government. The strategy is based on three pillars: First, the responsibility of each country for the protection of its own people. Second, the responsibility of the international community to assist. And third, the intervention if a country fails to protect its people.
Within the two hours, we definitely got a more precise idea of the work of Australian diplomats and we were even more committed to represent Australia and its interests. And with all the tips we got regarding diplomatic behaviour, we were ready to convince all other delegations of the Australian interests. After this session we were perfectly prepared to start negotiations and discussions in the upcoming meeting. We thank Mr Andrew Rose and Ms Fleur Davies for this great final preparation on the interests of Australia.