Peacekeeping and peacebuilding

Australia has provided more than 65,000 personnel to more than 50 UN and other multilateral peace and security operations since 1947. Of these, over 30,000 have participated in UN peace operations and more than 20,000 in UN-mandated operations. We are a reliable contributor to the UN's peacekeeping budget, always paying in full and on time.

We continue this tradition today, with more than 3,500 Australians serving in peace and security operations across the globe. This includes continuous participation in the Middle East (UN Truce Supervision Organisation, UNTSO, since 1953) and in Cyprus (UNFICYP, since 1964).

In our own neighbourhood, Australia has played a leading role in successful regional missions in Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste and Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Australia was instrumental in the diplomacy that led to the Cambodian Peace Settlement. We made a major contribution to the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia, including sending the first military contingent and providing the commander of the military component of the mission. Australia has also contributed to Commonwealth missions in Zimbabwe and Uganda and the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai.  Australia is contributing to international stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan. We are the largest non-NATO contributor to the International Security Assistance Force.

Beyond keeping the peace

Australia has been integrally involved in global efforts to build and restore peace for more than 60 years. As a capable and dependable partner, Australian expertise is sought after in developing the frameworks for promoting human rights, protecting the most vulnerable and preventing a return to conflict.

Australia's long-term commitment to peacebuilding efforts through the UN system has most recently been demonstrated by our active engagement as a member of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission in 2010. Australia contributes to the UN Peacebuilding Fund and supports the peacebuilding initiatives in Africa identified as priorities by the UN Peacebuilding Commission. In Burundi for example, our assistance included support for the conduct of free and fair elections in 2010. We have also contributed to peacebuilding priorities identified by Sierra Leone in its agriculture sector.

As a member of the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict, Australia supports the Secretary-General's recommendation that the issue be included in the mandates of all relevant Security Council sanctions committees. We support stronger and more effective measures to protect children from harm and exploitation during armed conflict, including rehabilitation efforts. We continue to support UN efforts to advocate for the release of child soldiers and to educate former child soldiers, including UNICEF's work to protect children in conflict zones.

Australia is a leading advocate for the international adoption of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine. R2P is an expression of the irrevocable collective commitment to ensure that never again will the world be confronted with the horrors of genocide and other mass atrocities. We are a member of the Friends of R2P grouping at the United Nations and we support projects and research that aim to advance R2P.

We support strengthening the Joint Office of the UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, to enable it to perform a broader early warning and assessment role in relation to mass atrocity crimes.

Australia has taken a leading role in international initiatives on the protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations. Australia is working with the African Union and the United Nations Secretariat to strengthen protection of civilian capabilities in peace operations. The protection of civilians was the subject of a symposium co-hosted by Australia and the African Union in Ethiopia and at the third International Forum for the Challenges of Peace Operations held in Australia in 2010.