United Nations priorities for early 2013

Media release

1 January 2013

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today said Australia’s United Nations priorities for early 2013 would include talks on the future of international involvement in Syria, and Security Council consideration of responses to the North Korean rocket launch on December 12.

Australia takes up its two-year term on the Security Council from January 1, 2013 (2pm January 2 AEST). Senator Carr said the first substantive meeting of the Security Council would occur in the week beginning January 7.

Issues of significance which the Security Council is expected to address in early 2013 include:

“For the next two years Australia will have a direct hand in shaping solutions to the world's most pressing security challenges,” Senator Carr said.

“We’ll bring to the Council our unique experience in dealing with humanitarian crises and regional conflicts, born from past involvement in conflicts including Timor Leste, Bougainville and Afghanistan.”

Senator Carr said Australia would pursue a further UNSC response to North Korea’s rocket launch of December 12.

“North Korean militarism endangers our region, particularly South Korea and Japan,” Senator Carr said.

“Australians would expect that we take a leading role in talks on international reaction to this launch.”

“Another Australian priority for 2013 will be the ongoing crisis in Syria which has claimed 40,000 lives, left more than one million homeless and endangers Middle East security.

“Australia has proposed a plan to protect medical workers in Syria and boost access to hospital care. I have flagged with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon our intention to pursue this plan in appropriate international forums in 2013.

“Our plan already has support from Secretary Clinton and from European and Arabic Foreign Ministers.

“We’ll continue to push for action in the international community, to protect the lives of Syrian civilians through our medical plan, and to encourage a unified international response to this conflict.”

The Security Council oversees 15 peacekeeping operations with 117,000 personnel deployed worldwide and 13 political and peace-building missions across four continents. After the US, the UN has the largest number of troops deployed overseas. Deployments are authorised by the Security Council.

The Council also manages 13 sanctions regimes and eight subsidiary bodies covering issues such as weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, women and children and armed conflict, and women, peace and security.

Australia was elected as a non-permanent member of the Security Council on October 19. The term is for two years from January 1, 2013.

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