Australian Disarmament Delegation
Australia is a steadfast partner in UN efforts to safeguard international security. Australia believes that disarmament and arms control serve our national security by promoting global and regional stability. We are party to all major disarmament treaties, including those prohibiting weapons of mass destruction and inhumane conventional weapons. Australia is committed to realising the vision set out in these treaties and is a key donor on combating the effects of landmines, cluster munitions and the proliferation small arms and light weapons.
Geneva is an international centre of disarmament diplomacy. The principal multilateral negotiating body on disarmament, the Conference on Disarmament, is based in Geneva. In addition, many disarmament and arms control meetings take place here, such as meetings under the Biological Weapons Convention, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Because of this, many non-governmental organisations, think-tanks and lobby groups on disarmament are headquartered in Geneva.
The role of the Ambassador for Disarmament and the Disarmament Delegation is to promote and advocate for Australia’s objectives on disarmament and arms control. The Disarmament Delegation contributes to the negotiation of new treaties and instruments, as well as promoting full adherence and implementation of existing treaties and instruments. The Delegation represents Australia in Geneva-based fora, as well as in disarmament-related meetings outside of Geneva. The Disarmament Delegation monitors Australia’s financial contributions to mechanisms assisting the implementation of these treaties, such as the Implementation Support Unit of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Sponsorship Fund of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
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The Australian Disarmament Delegation works in the following areas:
Conference on Disarmament
The Disarmament Delegation represents Australia at the Conference on Disarmament, the principal multilateral negotiating body on disarmament. Australia has been a member of this body since its inception in 1978. In 2009, as one of the Presidents of the Conference, Australia played an active role in the Conference. The Delegation is committed to efforts to commence substantive work in the Conference, including negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty which is an essential step for a world without nuclear weapons.
UN General Assembly First Committee
The Disarmament Delegation, along with the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, represents Australia at the UN General Assembly’s First Committee (Disarmament and International Security). The Delegation actively pursues Australia’s interests in the annual session of the First Committee in October in New York. In recent years, the Delegation has led efforts on key resolutions, facilitating negotiation and conclusion of the Arms Trade Treaty, advocating entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and combating illicit brokering.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Australia is a strong and consistent supporter of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has been a State party since 1973. Australia’s Ambassador for Disarmament and the Disarmament Delegation represent Australia at meetings under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Ambassador for Disarmament was Chair of the 2012 meeting of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference.
As a member of the ten-member country Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative, Australia is a strong advocate of implementation of the Action Plan agreed by consensus at the 2010 NPT Review Conference.
Biological Weapons Convention
Australia signed the Biological Weapons Convention on the day that it was opened for signature (10 April 1972). The Disarmament Delegation represents Australia at meetings of experts and States parties under the Convention, and has consistently presented pragmatic ideas to its strengthen implementation. As Chair of the Western Group, the Disarmament Delegation (Deputy Permanent Representative) plays an active role in supporting the objectives of the Convention.
Landmines, Cluster Munitions and other Conventional Weapons
Australia has been a state party to the Anti-Personnel Landmine Convention since 1999. In 2009 Australia co-chaired with Argentina the Convention’s Standing Committee on Mine Clearance and Mine Risk Education. Australia was also Vice-President of the Convention’s Second Review Conference in Cartagena, Colombia, in 2009. Australia is currently Coordinator of the Convention’s Sponsorship program.
Australia is also a state party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and has ratified all five Protocols. In 2009 Australia acted as Coordinator on Victim Assistance under the Convention’s Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War. Australia is currently Coordinator on Improvised Explosive Devices under Amended Protocol II.
Australia became a state party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions on 1 April 2013.
Australia is a major donor to humanitarian efforts to limit the effects of conventional weapons. The Ambassador for Disarmament is a member of the Bureau and Council of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining.
Conventional Arms Trade
Australia is a strong supporter of the UN Programme of Action on the Illicit Transfer of Small Arms and Light Weapons. Australia is leading efforts in the Asia-Pacific to curb the uncontrolled proliferation of such weapons. The Disarmament Delegation supports these efforts at the global level and represents Australia at meetings under the Programme of Action, both in Geneva and New York.
Australia was one of the states that led efforts towards an Arms Trade Treaty. The Disarmament Delegations in Geneva and New York worked towards achieving this landmark instrument, including through the Ambassador for Disarmament’s role as President of the Final UN Conference for the Arms Trade Treaty in March 2013.
The Disarmament Delegation is also engaged in a range of other security-related issues, including space security, cyber security and international humanitarian law.
For further information on UN activities in the area of disarmament in Geneva see http://www.unog.ch/disarmament
For further information on Australia’s involvement in disarmament issues see http://www.dfat.gov.au/security/index.html
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