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Race for the UN Security Council

Kevin Rudd, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia addresses the UN GA, courtesy of UN Photos/Marco Castro

The race for the 2013/14 election for non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council is raging among a group of countries, including several EU countries, Australia, Switzerland, and Turkey.

Luxembourg and Finland are the official EU candidates and enjoy the support of the EU member states and have the advantage of not having been regular UN SC members. Luxembourg was never elected and Finland was elected twice, the last time in 1989-1990. In an attempt to win more votes for the election, the two countries have engaged in ‘cash-diplomacy‘ by increasing their aid money abroad, especially in Africa, amongst countries that form the most influential grouping in the UN General Assembly.

Recently, Australia also declared itself a candidate for the council. Some analyst says that Australia’s chances are low. It already lost against two EU members (Sweden and Portugal) in 1996, it does not have the EU’s support, it entered the race later than its opponents, and is less engaged in a cash-diplomacy than Luxembourg or Finland. According to the Lowy Institute, Luxembourg and Finland respectively gave $137 and $237 million in aid money to Africa while Australia only gave $80 million.

At first glance it seems that Luxembourg and Finland have a better chance to win the race to the UN SC. But if we look a bit more closely, the election might actually be much tighter. » More

ISN Quiz: Australia’s Regional Reach

Test your knowledge of Aussie foreign affairs, the topic of our latest Special Report.

[QUIZZIN 35]

Australia’s Regional Reach

An Aussie Icon, photo courtesy of: digitalreflections/flickr

Although it has a booming economy and holds a strategic position in the Asia-Pacific, Australia is often overlooked as a regional powerhouse. As geopolitical power shifts East, Australia’s foreign policy posture will become more prominent and the pressures to get policy right will grow. This week the ISN takes a closer look at Australia.

The Special Report contains the following content:

  • An Analysis by Fergus Hanson that examines the strategically important but still weak Australia-Indonesia relationship.
  • A Podcast with Andrew Shearer of the Lowy Institute in Sydney on the challenges and opportunities that Australia faces as China and India rise.
  • Security Watch stories on the recent elections in Australia, as well as the US-Indonesia-Australia triangle and Obama’s postponed visit.
  • Publications, housed in our Digital Library, including a Lowy Institute paper on Australian investment in China and a paper on US-Australian Civilian Nuclear Cooperation by the Congressional Research Service.
  • Primary Resources, including a report on the Northern Territory Emergency Response in Australia.
  • Links to relevant websites, including Australia’s Defence White Paper from 2009.
  • Our IR Directory featuring relevant organizations, including the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

Campaigning at the Expense of the World’s Weakest

photo: Kiss the boy/flickr

This week the tiny nation of East Timor found itself caught up in the vicissitudes of Australia’s domestic politics. In her first policy speech as prime minister, Julia Gillard proclaimed the country’s interest in a regional solution to an apparently regional problem. She announced a plan to create a regional hub for processing refugees on East Timor as a means of deterring mainly Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers from paying criminal syndicates for passage to Australia.

The Prime Minister stated she had discussed the issue with East Timor’s president Jose Ramos-Horta. She had, however, neglected to include East Timor’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in the discussion, who then allowed his own party to join in a unanimous condemnation of the plan in parliament (considering the only thing Timorese politicians seem to agree on is their lack of love for Australia, there was probably never a big chance of the plan going anywhere anyway.) » More

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