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Australian Peacekeeping

Peacekeeping and related peace operations

Australia has been a long-standing supporter of United Nations (UN), and other multilateral peacekeeping and peace-related operations. Australia continues that tradition today and is an active contributor of personnel and financial support to UN and other multilateral peace operations throughout the world. Australia is also an active participant in global efforts to further improve global peace operations. Australia’s contributions to global peace operations are a demonstration of its commitment to the UN Charter and efforts to resolve disputes through the international system.

Australia’s historic involvement in peace operations

This year marks a milestone in the history of UN peacekeeping operations, with UN member states commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first UN peacekeeping operation authorised by the UN Security Council.

Australia has a long and very proud history of supporting UN peacekeeping operations. It could be argued that Australia may be the first nation state to have personnel on the ground in any modern peacekeeping operation if the 1947 UN Consular Commission to Indonesia is taken into account, during which Australia (then a member of the UN Security Council) helped monitor observance of the ceasefire between Dutch and Indonesian forces. Indeed, in recognition of this, Australia celebrated 60 years of Australian peacekeeping efforts in 2007.

Reflecting Australia’s tradition of good global citizenship, Australia’s contributions to peacekeeping have not been restricted to our region. Since our first peacekeeping operation in 1947, Australia has made contributions to UN and multilateral peacekeeping operations in Africa, Europe, Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the Asia–Pacific region.

Australia’s current UN peacekeeping and other UN peace operation commitments

Australia’s assessed share of financial contributions to UN peacekeeping operations is currently 1.787 per cent of the total (the 12th highest of all UN Members). In 2007–08, Australia’s annual share of the UN peacekeeping budget amounted to approximately –USD 100 million.

In August 2008, Australia’s deployments of Australian military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping and other UN peace operations were as noted below:

Current Australian Deployments to United Nations Peacekeeping and Other UN Peace Operations
TOTAL 75 38 113
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA)* - 1 1
UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI)** - 1 1
UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) 15 - 15
UN Truce Supervision Organisations –Middle East (UNTSO) - 13 13
UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) 50 4 54
UN Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) 10 15 25
UN – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)*** - 4 4

* Denotes UN political mission directed by UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)

** UNAMI is a UN political mission. It is not directed by DPKO

*** The deployment of Australian personnel to Darfur is subject to the approval of the Government of Sudan. A further five Australian peacekeepers will be deployed over the coming weeks pending this approval.

Data provided by AFP and Department of Defence

Australia’s current contribution to other multilateral peace operations

Australians are also deployed with other multilateral peace operations, contributing critically to peacekeeping functions in those countries, notably in East Timor (the International Stabilisation Force, ISF) and the Solomon Islands (Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, RAMSI).

Australia leads the ISF that was invited by the East Timorese leadership to help restore stability following the unrest experienced in April/May 2006. The ISF operates independently from, but in support of, the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). As at June 2008, the ISF was comprised of approximately 750 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members alongside 170 New Zealand Defence Force troops.

Since its introduction in 2003, RAMSI has helped to restore security and stability. RAMSI was debated and unanimously endorsed by the Solomon Islands Parliament, welcomed by the President of the UN Security Council and commended by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

RAMSI is working with the Solomon Islands Government to build Solomon Islands’ capacity to govern its own affairs and was recently commended as an outstanding example of regional cooperation at the meeting of the Forum Ministerial Standing Committee on RAMSI held on 22 February 2008.

Australian federal police, defence personnel and civilian advisers are deployed to RAMSI along with personnel from other contributing Pacific Islands Forum nations.

In particular, the AFP and ADF continue to assist the Solomon Islands Police Force, through the Participating Police Force (PPF) and the Combined Task Force (which provides security and military support to the PPF), to maintain law and order. Approximately 208 AFP and 140 ADF troops are deployed in Solomon Islands.

In keeping with the mission’s broader objectives of strengthening government institutions, reducing corruption and re-invigorating the economy, Australia also contributes 132 civilian advisers whose work focuses on improving economic governance, the machinery of government, law and justice.

Australia also contributes ADF personnel to the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai, Egypt. The mission of the MFO is to supervise the implementation of the security provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace and employ best efforts to prevent any violation of its terms.

Current Australian policy on peace operations

Peacekeeping and other related peace operations are a vital element in Australia’s contribution to international peace and security. Australia therefore plays an active role in international discussions to reform and improve the UN peacekeeping system. For example, Australia actively participates in the UN General Assembly’s Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and associated sub-committees and working group.

Peace operations: increasing demand and complexity

Recent years have seen an increase in the demand and complexity of peacekeeping and peace related operations. This evolution is likely to continue as the UN is increasingly called upon to handle complex conflict situations.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is making efforts to strengthen the UN peacekeeping system to meet the increased demand for and complexity of such operations. Australia supports these efforts to strengthen the UN’s capacity in conflict prevention and peacebuilding (see further below).

Protection of civilians

The plight of civilians in modern conflict remains dire. The death and displacement of innocent civilians, the recruitment of child soldiers, and the use of sexual violence as a deliberate weapon of war, all remain appalling, and unacceptable, aspects of modern conflicts.

Australia recognises the vulnerability of civilians in armed conflict and welcomes the increasing focus on the protection of civilians in UN and other peace operations. Australia supports calls for the full implementation of paragraph 16 of Security Council resolution 1674 (2006) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. In particular, Australia supports full implementation of paragraph 16 to ensure that peacekeeping missions are provided with clear guidelines regarding what missions can and should do to achieve protection goals; that the protection of civilians is given priority in decisions about the use of resources; and that protection mandates are implemented.

Australia’s involvement in peace-building and preventative diplomacy activities

Australia supports the UN Peace Building Commission (PBC), and is providing $3 million in funding to the Peace Building Fund, which supports the work of the PBC, over the period 2005–08. The PBC is the UN body responsible for peacebuilding and post-conflict recovery.

As part of regional pre and post conflict peacebuilding, the AFP undertakes police capacity building within the law and justice sector of many developing countries in the Asia–Pacific including those emerging from conflict, such as East Timor and the Solomon Islands. This police capacity building supports the links between human security and development. The 2008 budget announcement of $75 million for policing initiatives over four years will result in the AFP managing police capacity development assistance focussing on the Pacific. This development assistance will be in addition to the wide range of initiatives undertaken by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) that are aimed at preventing conflict and promoting peace in unstable environments.

The Australian Government is also in the process of establishing the Asia–Pacific Centre for Civil-Military Cooperation, which will provide research and advice on civil-military coordination and cooperation for peacebuilding, stabilisation, reconstruction and international disaster relief. It will also act as the liaison point for equivalent international organisations, provide pre-deployment training, and assist in the development of common guidelines for the administration of deployable civilians.

Australia also supports the UN Secretary-General Ban’s proposals to strengthen the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) in the UN Secretariat. The DPA is the UN’s lead department for preventative diplomacy and peacemaking.

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