On 1 January 2013, Australia commenced a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. This is the fifth time Australia has sat on the UNSC since the organisation held its first session in January 1946, over which Australia presided. The other terms were in 1946 – 1947, 1956 – 1957, 1973 – 1974 and 1985 – 1986.
Over its 2013-2014 term, Australia met its commitment to serve with distinction.
Australia’s term on the Council was marked by a deteriorating global security environment. During this period the Council faced a larger number of simultaneous security and humanitarian crises with a broader impact than at any time since the Second World War.
Australia established a strong reputation as an active, pragmatic, and outcomes-focused Member of the Council. This hard-fought and well-earned reputation was based on our ability to build consensus for action to address highly complex security issues and in support of our direct national interests. Australian leadership of the Council’s response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was a prominent example.
Australia put the need to protect civilians and establish robust humanitarian responses to conflicts at the forefront of decision making by the Council. Australia worked to make peacekeeping missions mandated by the Council more effective, including through a new focus on the contribution which policing can make to building sustainable peace in conflict-affected societies.
Australia brought an innovative approach to the work of the Council. It brought about ground-breaking initiatives on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, strengthened international cooperation to counter terrorism and improved the implementation of sanctions. It led the Council in managing the security transition in Afghanistan and worked tirelessly to bring the appalling human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the Council. Australia authored and led negotiations on a resolution on small arms and light weapons, the first of its kind.
Australia leaves the Security Council having made a positive and distinctive contribution to the Council’s work in maintaining international peace and security. Australia has enhanced its reputation as a country which can use its influence and relationships to make a difference in the world.