The resource-rich nation gave each delegate at the U.N. vote in New York on Thursday a candy version of one of its best-known animals.
“We knew everyone was going to be there for a long time and thought a little bit of a sugar high might help things,” said a spokesman for foreign minister Bob Carr.
Ratification of the arms trade treaty designed to regulate the global weapons business, nuclear disarmament, policies around climate change and illegal fishing and the ongoing conflict in Syria are among Australia’s key priorities when it begins its two year stint from January 2013, the spokesman said.
Australia won 140 votes and secured one of two temporary seats under the Western Europe and Others category being rotated in defeating Finland, with the other seat taken by Luxembourg. The council comprises five permanent members–Russia, Britain, the U.S., China and France–and 10 elected temporary members. Australia will join South Korea as a temporary member alongside permanent member China at a time when global economic power is shifting eastwards . Rwanda and Argentina took the other rotating seats.
But caught between economic dependence on China and a reliance on the U.S. to provide security in the Pacific, Australia faces a delicate balancing act in its new U.N. role.
“It will be noticed that we have entered into every major American-led war since World War II–the only country to have done so,” said John Lee, an international security expert at the University of Sydney. “We can’t play the role of ‘honest broker’ when U.S. interests are involved.”
Australia last year allowed the U.S. military rights to base 2,500 marines near the northern city Darwin, a decision that Chinese officials described as a legacy of the Cold War and the U.S.-led effort against communist states.
Still, its U.N. seat could see Australia play a more prominent role in the increasingly important Asia-Pacific region. Australia has a stake in ensuring tensions over territory in the South China Sea don’t boil over as that could affect its crucial trade routes for the shipment of industrial commodities to Asia.
“It’s absolutely right and proper that we should be addressing global issues,” said Michael Fullilove, executive director of the Lowy Institute for international Policy.
The Wall Street Journal