Un Security Council
The government has actually borrowed billions to buy a vanity pulpit for Kevin Rudd.
But it’s not going to be occupied by him – unless of course there is another coup by the faceless men and the ALP decides after all the nasty things they said they want him back.
Until then Julia Gillard and Bob Carr will use their very expensive new toy, the vanity pulpit, to bore us with endless “initiatives” on world issues. The fact is the Russians and Chinese who actually run the Security Council will ignore each of them.
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Israel, Egypt, Syria, Russia. That was what President Obama and rival Mitt Romney talked about today at the last presidential debate. Kind of, at least.
They’re issues pretty distant from most of the things we care about here in Australia.
But their debate came just after our appointment to a temporary seat on the crucial (and flawed) international decision-making body, the UN Security Council. Subsequently, what the two candidates said about foreign policy today raised further questions about what role we’re going to play in the world in the next few years.
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Bob Carr is as good as threatening to lead a conga line Gangnam Style down George Street this morning after our bid for a two-year spot on the UN Security Council worked.
“It’s the world saying ‘we see Australia as a good country, a fine global citizen’,” said the beaming Foreign Minister. He just Tweeted: “Victory for Australia! Aus wins Security Council seat - big, decisive win with 140 votes in first round of voting.”
He also said on radio: “It’s always a thrill to see Australia win in an international forum where the competition’s intense.” A bit like the Olympics really.
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On Friday, Australia time, the United Nations in New York will decide on which of three states: Finland, Luxembourg or Australia, will be awarded a Temporary Seat on the Security Council.
Much has been made not only of the Government’s decision to seek the seat but also the process that surrounds contending nations’ efforts to lobby individual countries and their groupings. Conservatives have been particularly critical of an increase in Australian aid to Africa.
In truth, the decision of voting nations will not be determined by such vague machinations. The core issue is beyond whether we offered sufficient last minute aid to Africa, or whether Luxembourg secured Pacific island votes by attending five years meetings of the Melanesian Spearhead group. The real dangers of such analyses lies in what they are inclined to obscure.
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“We the peoples of the United Nations determined ... to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women ...”
These words were written in 1945 before the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, before the women’s movement of the 60’s and Betty Friedan, before Nelson Mandela and the end of apartheid. It is as if they reached into the future and illuminated a pathway to a better world.
The UN Charter - words to make you gasp.
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If the free speech heretics at the United Nations have their way, stifling blasphemy laws will be resurrected in the West.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last week expressed concern about free speech because sometimes it can be “used to provoke or humiliate.”
God forbid we allow lively debate to take place.
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Julia Gillard once said she would rather be at home watching children learning in a classroom than roaming the international diplomatic stage. This week she’d probably rather be anywhere than the bathroom of her suite at the Waldorf Astoria.
The PM has been struck down with a stomach bug right when she really didn’t need one. She’s just had to cancel dinner with Barack Obama.
Foreign Minister Bob Carr was sent in her place overnight to deliver a speech Gillard was too sick to give. Did you hear the introduction he got at the business lunch where Gillard was supposed to give a glowing report on our economy? The fellow doing the welcome didn’t even know how to say her name.
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Recently I visited Andorra, Albania and San Marino. The trip elicited sideways glances from odd spot type gossip columnists who, with an almost salacious air, suggested that it may have had something to do with Australia’s UN Security Council campaign.
I confess: guilty as charged.
Australia is running for the UN Security Council. It is a tight race. We are trying to win. We are campaigning hard. Each of these countries has a vote. We are seeking their support.
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Despite what Tony Abbott would have us believe, the striking thing about the build-up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth was not division between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd. It was the way they worked together.
The two rivals put differences aside to try to ensure that CHOGM is a success. And they will consider it a success if the Commonwealth leaders leave Australia with smiles on their faces.
That’s what it’s all about. Keeping all of the 53 delegations happy. Because folks, behind the talk about strengthening the Commonwealth’s commitment to democracy and human rights, the Gillard Government is approaching the summit as a $60 million PR exercise.
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The simplest possible outcome of the investigations into Israel’s deadly raid on an aid convoy would be failure to prove any of the Palestinian activists on board had links to terrorist networks or other violent radicals. At least it would make an open-and-shut case that Israel used disproportionate force by sending commandos onto the flotilla - but the early indications are this finding is unlikely.
If Israel can establish, as its officials have suggested, there were weapons on the convoy or that some of the activists had links to terrorists then it will be immediately able to throw a cloak of legitimacy around the operation, in which nine people were killed and one Australian was shot in the leg.
The international Palestinian activist movement must recognise the political risk of fraternising with extremists. If it turns out some unsavoury characters or cargo were on board, we are back to the familiar Middle East merry-go-round of blame.
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