Australia has been elected to serve as a non-permanent member on the United Nations Security Council for 2013 and 2014.
For the next two years Australia will have a direct hand in shaping solutions to the world's most pressing security challenges.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Bob Carr thanked Australia's regional and global partners for the confidence they had shown in Australia and underlined that Australia would play a constructive role across the breadth of the Council's peace and security agenda.
Australia's key priorities will include Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and North Korea. Australia will also work to ensure the effectiveness of UNSC sanctions regimes, including those targeting individuals associated with Al-Qaida.
Ms Gillard and Senator Carr congratulated Luxembourg, South Korea, Argentina and Rwanda, which were also elected to serve as non-permanent members for 2013-14.
The UN Security Council is at the core of the UN – it has primary responsibility in the global system for the maintenance of international peace and security. It has the power to make decisions that are binding on all UN Member States and to authorise coercive measures including sanctions and the use of force.
The Security Council's work matters to Australia – its decisions directly affect Australian personnel deployed under Security Council mandates, including in Afghanistan and East Timor.
The Council oversees 15 peacekeeping operations (with 117,000 personnel deployed) and 13 political and peace-building missions across four continents. After the US, the UN has the largest number of troops deployed in the world. These deployments are authorised by the Security Council.
The Council also manages 13 sanctions regimes and eight subsidiary bodies covering topics such as weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, women and children and armed conflict, and women, peace and security.
This will be Australia's fifth term on the Security Council since joining the UN as a founding member in 1945. Australia held the first Presidency of the Security Council in 1946. It has been 27 years since Australia last served on the Council in 1985-86.
Australia's re-election to the Council for the 2013-14 term reflects Australia's positive standing in global affairs and the significant contribution Australia makes to international peace and security.
Australia is the 12th largest contributor to the UN regular and peacekeeping budgets and has deployed 65,000 personnel to over 50 UN and other peace and security operations since 1947, including in East Timor, Solomon Islands and Bougainville.
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