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Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

1.1.10 Security, nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation

Overview

The department pursues Australia's international security interests in a complex strategic environment shaped by new power dynamics, shifts of economic weight to Asia, and continuing aftershocks of the global financial crisis. In this context of transformation, we face enduring challenges such as international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and arms proliferation, and new threats to space systems and in cyberspace. We are addressing these challenges through multilateral networks, bilateral initiatives and enterprising project and advocacy activities. We have deepened Australia's multilateral and bilateral engagement on cyber and space security.

Consistent with Australia's strong record of global action on non-proliferation and disarmament, we have pressed forward with practical initiatives to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime. Our diplomacy over the last twelve months has included co-leadership with Japan of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative and our chairing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Preparatory Committee Meeting, setting the scene for the next review of the NPT, the cornerstone of global non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

Photo of The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Carr, attending the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Istanbul in June 2012, hosted by Turkey's Foreign Minister, Professor Ahmet Davutoglu (right). Second from the left is Ms Alison Edye, DFAT.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Carr, attending the Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Istanbul in June 2012, hosted by Turkey's Foreign Minister, Professor Ahmet Davutog16523.jpglu (right). Second from the left is Ms Alison Edye, DFAT.

We continued to make progress in calibrating our diplomatic response to the new capabilities and characteristics of terrorism. The Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, launched by the United States and Turkey in September 2011, is a major new cooperative initiative. We co-hosted with Indonesia the inaugural meeting of the Forum's South-East Asia Working Group in March 2012, focused on a key regional challenge – managing terrorist detainees. We continued support for regional programs to counter violent extremism, promote social cohesion and support dialogue and understanding between different religious groups.

Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

Australia has given new impetus to global efforts on non-proliferation and disarmament through its co-leadership with Japan of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI). The NPDI promotes practical measures to ensure wide commitment to non-proliferation and disarmament goals. During the year, the NPDI focused on measures to improve the transparency of nuclear weapons holdings, promote the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and advocacy for adherence to key nuclear non-proliferation agreements.

Photo of The then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, with Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr Zalmai Rassoul, and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Mr Zhang Zhijun, at the Munich Security Conference in February 2012.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Rudd, with Afghan Foreign Minister, Dr Zalmai Rassoul, and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Mr Zhang Zhijun, at the Munich Security Conference in February 2012.

We continued efforts to bolster support for nuclear non-proliferation norms and treaty frameworks. Australia's Ambassador for Disarmament chaired the NPT Preparatory Committee in May 2012, the first of three meetings that play key roles in preparing for the 2015 NPT Review Conference. The meeting re-affirmed NPT State Parties' commitments made at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.

Australia took an active role in international efforts to address the threat posed by nuclear terrorism. The department contributed to the participation of Prime Minister Gillard in the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit in March 2012, which renewed the international community's commitment to strengthening nuclear security and reducing the threat posed by nuclear terrorism. At the Summit, the Prime Minister announced Australia's ratification of the Nuclear Terrorism Convention.

National security and strategic policy

A strong United States presence in the region is key to continuing regional peace and security. The department was closely involved in enhanced defence cooperation initiatives with the US, announced by Prime Minister Gillard and President Obama in November 2011.

The department was closely engaged in Defence policy development processes, including the ADF Posture Review and Defence Planning Guidance. We also advised the Department of Defence on strategic and foreign policy considerations affecting sensitive defence and dual-use export proposals, including through the Advisory Panel on Prohibited Exports process.

Photo of Mr Peter Woolcott, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and to the Conference on Disarmament, chairs the 2012 meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in Vienna. Seated to his right is Ms Angela Kane, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and to his left Mr Thomas Markram from the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs.

Mr Peter Woolcott, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and to the Conference on Disarmament, chairs the 2012 meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in Vienna. Seated to his right is Ms Angela Kane, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, and to his left Mr Thomas Markram from the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs.

We supported then Foreign Minister, Mr Rudd, and Senator Carr in high-level strategic and national security coordination in the National Security Committee of Cabinet, as well as through the Secretaries Committee on National Security, the Strategic Policy Coordination Group, and the National Security Policy Coordination Group.

As space security has gained increasing prominence on the international agenda, Australia has intensified its efforts to build effective international norms for space. The department has been closely engaged in the development of a draft International Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. During the year, we strengthened bilateral dialogue with the United States on space security, established a trilateral dialogue with the United States and Japan to improve like-minded coordination and policy exchange, and held exchanges on space security with Russia.

Driving diplomatic efforts to develop international norms of behaviour for cyberspace is a new priority for the department. We have expanded Australia's cyber engagement in multilateral and regional forums, including the London Cyberspace Conference held in November 2011. Reflecting our activism in this field, Australia was selected by the UN to participate in the UN Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the context of International Security, which will commence in August 2012. At the regional level, the department has engaged in efforts to strengthen practical cyber security cooperation through the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).

Civil-military operations in complex environments continued to be a focus for the department, including current operations in Afghanistan and Solomon Islands. We expanded collaborative exercises with the ADF, AFP, AusAID and other government agencies, on post-conflict stabilisation scenarios in fragile states. In 2011, we participated in the biennial Australia–United States defence exercise 'Talisman Sabre', focusing on post-conflict transition issues.

Counter-proliferation and export controls

Building on international momentum for measures to address illegal trade in conventional weaponry, we have led efforts to develop a robust, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty. Australia is one of the seven original co-sponsors of the Treaty, along with Argentina, Costa Rica, Finland, Japan, Kenya and the United Kingdom. The Treaty would impose controls on cross-border dealings in all conventional weapons. The department has strengthened the participation in the Treaty process of those African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, affected by illegal weapons trade.

The department continued to drive Australia's strong engagement in global and regional efforts to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their precursor materials. Through the ARF Inter-sessional Meeting on Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, hosted by Australia in March 2012, we promoted best practice in preventing the proliferation of WMD in the region. During the year, we conducted further outreach to ARF members to strengthen regional cooperation on WMD non-proliferation and improving export control arrangements.

We worked to increase adherence to the Anti-Personnel Landmines Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions throughout the year, focusing particularly on the Asia-Pacific region. Australia continued to provide substantial mine action assistance and strong support for the humanitarian aspects of the conventions through its promotion of land clearance, victim assistance and stockpile destruction initiatives.

In its role as permanent chair and secretariat of the Australia Group, the department continued to drive efforts to prevent proliferators from exploiting differences in national export control systems to obtain the materials and technology for the production of chemical and biological weapons. At the June 2012 plenary meeting, we helped forge a common stance in addressing Syria's proliferation activities.

Complementing efforts with the export control regimes, Australia worked to strengthen the effectiveness and enhance implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Adherence to treaty commitments and strong export controls are crucial to stemming the spread of pernicious weapons. During the year, Australia worked to strengthen controls on trade in sensitive chemical and biological materials, while reinforcing the norms established by the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.

Counter-terrorism

Transnational terrorism, including al Qaeda-led, associated or inspired terrorism, remains an enduring security threat for Australia. Terrorism is changing in its geographic spread, security consciousness, and modes of operation. Developing measures to address the threat posed by terrorism, including the possibility of a terrorist attack involving WMD, is a key priority for the department.

The Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, launched by the United States and Turkey in New York in September 2011, represented a major new cooperative initiative on counter-terrorism. We co-hosted with Indonesia the inaugural meeting of the Forum's South-East Asia Working Group, held in March 2012 in Semarang, Indonesia. The meeting focused on managing terrorist detainees, a key challenge for the region.

The department promoted multilateral counter-terrorism cooperation in the region by participating in the Seventh Trilateral Strategic Dialogue Counter-Terrorism consultations with the United States and Japan.

We continued our support for regional programs to counter violent extremism, promote social cohesion and support dialogue and understanding between different religious groups. Support for Indonesia's program of reform in its prisons system and for local initiatives to build tolerance and cohesion in the southern Philippines and southern Thailand remained key priorities. During the year, the department hosted bilateral counter-terrorism talks with Indonesia and Malaysia. We also supported regional workshops on biosecurity; the management of risks posed by home-made explosives; and co-sponsored a Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism workshop on combating nuclear smuggling.

In South Asia, we provided ongoing support for local initiatives in Pakistan to counter the influence of intolerance and extremism, including through substantial support for a UN project to promote reform and capacity-building in Pakistan's prison system. The Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism, with Australia's Chief of the Defence Force, met senior Pakistan officials to coordinate counter-terrorism objectives, including initiatives to help address pre-cursor explosive chemicals.

The department continued to strengthen counter-terrorism partnerships in the Middle East through engagement with the Friends of Yemen process, and policy consultations with key partners. We assisted African countries to strengthen counter-terrorism capabilities through supporting workshops on border security in Kenya and Nigeria, and a workshop on security challenges in Ghana for Sahel countries.

We pursued Australia's objectives in countering the growing piracy threat in the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia through discussions with regional countries. In October 2011, Mr Rudd co-hosted with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, a Forum on Indian Ocean Piracy in the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

The department actively supported capacity-building activities by the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). We led a program to assist PIF countries in meeting obligations under relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Australia contributed to South-East Asian security through capacity-building assistance to address the potential for use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear materials in terrorist attacks. We also supported programs to counter violent extremism and discourage radicalisation within South-East Asian communities. The department provided substantial support to the sixth meeting of the Regional Interfaith dialogue held in Semarang, Indonesia.

Outlook

Against the background of a changing regional and global security landscape, the department will continue to work for a safer region, and world, for Australia and Australians.

We will continue to press for further progress on nuclear disarmament and stronger non-proliferation measures, including at NPDI ministerial meetings in New York in September 2012 and in the Netherlands in the first-half of 2013.

To advance our interests in cyberspace, we will pursue efforts to develop norms for cyberspace, including in the United Nations context and the London Cyberspace process.

In addition to helping shape the development of the International Code of Conduct on Outer Space Activities, we will work to strengthen the capacity of regional partners to contribute to the development of international space norms by hosting an ARF Space Security Workshop.

The department will continue its efforts to secure a comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty to reduce the flow of conventional weapons to non-state actors.

The department will support the development of nuclear policy towards India, as key nuclear suppliers, including the United States, continue to encourage India's acceptance into the broader non-proliferation regime.

We will pursue our interest in countering piracy through the hosting of a major international conference in Perth in July 2012, which will consider measures to address piracy off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Guinea.

We will continue to respond to the changing nature of terrorism. A particular challenge will be to address the increasing diversity and sophistication in terrorist attack methodologies, for example, the greater resort to kidnapping for ransom.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade