Australia has been actively involved in peace operations for over 70 years. We have provided military and police personnel to 62 United Nations and other multilateral peace and security operations since 1947. We continue this tradition today, with Australian peacekeepers currently serving in the UN Truce Supervision Organisation (UNTSO), and the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Middle East and the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
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 continues to deploy personnel to international stabilisation efforts in Afghanistan.
Acknowledging the strain on the peacekeeping system, we pledged at the September 2015 Leaders’ Summit on Peacekeeping to provide strategic air lift support for UN peacekeeping operations in crisis situations, where and whenever we can. We also pledged to build the capacity of UN troop contributing countries in our region and increase regional expertise on countering improvised explosive devices.
Australia is the 11th largest financial contributor to the UN peacekeeping budget.
Beyond keeping the peace
Addressing the root causes of conflict and building the foundations for peaceful, inclusive societies is critical to preventing and resolving conflict. Australia provides significant support for UN peacebuilding efforts through the UN Peacebuilding Architecture and through UN country programs which support political, security and development activities focused on contributing to sustainable peace and preventing countries’ relapse into conflict. The UN Peacebuilding Architecture, which consists of the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the UN Peacebuilding Fund and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office was established in 2005 to support countries trapped in the cycle of conflict and relapse. Australia committed $10 million over three years (2016-18) to the UN Peacebuilding Fund which provides fast and flexible funding to meet critical conflict prevention needs in fragile and conflict-affected settings. In our region, the Fund has supported peacebuilding projects in Myanmar, Papua New Guinea (Bougainville), Sri Lanka and Solomon Islands.
Australia is committed to enhancing the UN’s efforts to sustain peace in conflict-affected contexts. We have closely engaged with the 2015 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture to identify ways to improve the UN’s support for fragile and conflict affected states. Together with Angola, Australia led negotiations on parallel resolutions to the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, which give effect to the review’s findings and advance system-wide reform. The Sustaining Peace resolution sets the agenda for a new approach to conflict prevention.
Australia is a leading advocate for the international implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle, which addresses the responsibility of states to protect populations from the mass atrocity crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ethnic cleansing. This principle was agreed by world leaders in 2005. To strengthen advocacy and implementation of R2P, Australia is a member of the Group of Friends of R2P in both New York and Geneva, a co-facilitator of the Global Network of R2P Focal Points,and a partner of the Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes initiative. The Australian Government provides funding to: the Asia Pacific Centre for R2P; the Global Centre for R2P; and the Joint Office of the UN Special Advisers on the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect to advance R2P research and global outreach.
In 2015 DFAT commissioned the Asia Pacific Centre for R2P (at the University of Queensland) to undertake a Study on Australia’s Domestic Implementation of R2P (abridged version attached here), which was prepared in consultation with DFAT and other government agencies. The key goal of the Study was to ensure Australia maintains a strong capacity to identify and respond to emerging risks. The Study was positive about Australia’s contribution.
Study on the Domestic Implementation of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P)