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Monday, July 28, 2014

Australia for more foreign affairs transparency - in New York

Positive comments all round in a Lowy Institute assessment Australia in the UN Security Council including for a push for greater transparency in international dealings. On the home front next?
Australia’s efforts to promote openness over sanctions have been a part of a broader strategy to raise the Security Council’s transparency.‘Transparency’ is not the diplomatic pabulum that it might sound like. Always an exclusive club, the (permanent 5 members) have notably increased their grip on the Council in recent years, conducting most essential negotiations in private.[ See Bruno Stagno Ugarte et al., Security Council Working Methods: A Tale of Two Councils? (Security Council Report, March 2014).] This sidelines the non-permanent members and alienates states outside the Council. In mid-2012 an alliance of small states led by Switzerland launched a General Assembly resolution demanding greater openness, but the P5 put aside their Syrian differences to crush the initiative. As Australia joined the Council, the transparency advocates were still recovering from that fight. Despite the risks of offending the P5, Australia soon emerged as an advocate of transparency within the Council. It worked well with the “Accountability, Coherence and Transparency” (ACT) Group, a coalition of states formed in May 2013 to restart the fight for a more open Council after the 2012 debacle. A diplomat from one of the leading ACT members describes Australia as an “excellent” partner.

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