The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

Media Release

FA146 - 6 December 2005

International MANPADS Initiative

I am pleased to announce that Australia will take forward an international diplomatic initiative to address the threat to Australia's civil aviation interests overseas from shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, or Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS).

MANPADS have been used in attempted terrorist attacks overseas. One of the most recently attempted attacks, which narrowly failed, was by Al Qaeda in 2002, against an Israeli chartered aircraft leaving Mombassa in Kenya.

Our campaign will be conducted bilaterally and in relevant multilateral fora and will be sustained over the next few years. As Chair of APEC in 2007, Australia has a unique and timely leadership opportunity to encourage key Asia-Pacific and other governments to put in place more effective controls over the manufacture, storage and transfer of MANPADS. This would build on a commitment by APEC Ministers in Busan, Korea on 18-19 November 2005, where APEC Ministers agreed each to conduct an assessment of one international airport's vulnerability to MANPADS attack by the end of 2006.

Australia has already played a leading role in international efforts to counter the proliferation of shoulder-fired missiles. In 2004, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted an Australian-sponsored resolution on MANPADS, which encourages UN member states to introduce or strengthen measures to ban the transfer of MANPADS to non-state actors, including terrorist and criminal groups. This year we were again the lead sponsor of a strengthened version of the resolution, once again adopted unanimously.

In addition to APEC, we will take our MANPADS initiative forward within the ASEAN Regional Forum, and in the Vienna-based 39-member Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls for Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies, which Australia will chair in 2006.

Media inquiries : Ministerial 02 6277 7500, DFAT Media Liaison 02 6261 1555

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