International aid agency Oxfam Australia has welcomed Australia’s election to the United Nations Security Council, saying it will provide an historic opportunity to help improve the lives of people affected by conflict and insecurity.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said Australia has a real chance to contribute to international peace, but with membership lasting just two years, it needed to move quickly to set its priorities for action.
“Australia now has a seat at the most powerful table at the United Nations,” Mr Hewett said.
“For the next two years, Australia will play a major role within the international community in helping to make the world a safer place for all.
“But Australia needs to hit the ground running with a clear vision if it wants to make a real difference to the peace and security of women, men and children around the world.”
Oxfam is urging Australia to ensure the Security Council works to better protect civilians affected by armed conflict, including supporting UN efforts to improve peacekeeping around the world.
“Australia should push the Security Council to act with the same determination to protect all people affected by conflict and insecurity – no matter who they are or where they live,” Mr Hewett said.
Oxfam is also calling on the Government to use its position on the Council to address the global spread of conventional arms and their negative impact on peace and security.
“Australia should help to promote the control of conventional arms – such as guns, grenades, and tanks – which are killing and injuring thousands of people every day,” Mr Hewett said.
Oxfam Australia applauded the Australian Government’s recent commitments to use an Australian seat on the UN Security Council to push harder for the successful negotiation of an Arms Trade Treaty.
The aid agency also commended Australia’s recent initiative to push for all sides involved in the conflict in Syria to protect medical facilities and personnel in the country, and said Australia should pursue creative solutions to break Security Council deadlocks and help negotiate a peaceful outcome.
Oxfam is encouraging the Australian Government to consult with key non-government organisations, academics and humanitarian affairs experts to detail its Security Council agenda before taking its seat on the Council on 1 January 2013.
For interviews or more information contact Oxfam Australia media coordinator Chee Chee Leung on 0400 732 795 or firstname.lastname@example.org