Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Foreign relations of Australia
Australia has been active as an independent nation in international affairs since World War II.
3 Australian Embassies, high commissions, consulates, multilateral missions and representative offices
Foreign policy actions
Its first major independent foreign policy action was to conclude an agreement in 1944 with New Zealand dealing with the security, welfare, and advancement of the people of the independent territories of the Pacific (the ANZAC pact). After the war, Australia played a role in the Far Eastern Commission in Japan and supported Indonesian independence during that country's revolt against the Dutch (1945-49). Australia was one of the founders of both the United Nations and the South Pacific Commission (1947), and in 1950, it proposed the Colombo Plan to assist developing countries in Asia. In addition to contributing to UN forces in Korea--it was the first country to announce it would do so after the United States--Australia sent troops to assist in putting down the communist revolt in Malaya in 1948-60 and later to combat the Indonesian-supported invasion of Sarawak in 1963-65. Australia also sent troops to assist South Vietnamese and U.S. forces in Vietnam and joined coalition forces in the Persian Gulf conflict in 1991. Australia has been active in the Australia-New Zealand- U.K. agreement and the Five-Power Defense Arrangement--successive arrangements with Britain and New Zealand to ensure the security of Singapore and Malaysia.
International agencies, treaties and agreements
One of the drafters of the UN Charter, Australia has given firm support to the United Nations and its specialized agencies. It was a member of the Security Council in 1986-87, a member of the Economic and Social Council for 1986-89, and a member of the UN Human Rights Commission for 1994-96. Australia takes a prominent part in many other UN activities, including peacekeeping, disarmament negotiations, and narcotics control. Australia also is active in meetings of the Commonwealth Heads of Government and the South Pacific Forum, and has been a leader in the Cairns Group--countries pressing for agricultural trade reform in the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations--and in the APEC forum.
Australia has devoted particular attention to relations between developed and developing nations, with emphasis on the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)--Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Brunei--and the island states of the South Pacific. Australia is an active participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which promotes regional cooperation on security issues. In September 1999, acting under a UN Security Council mandate, Australia led an international coalition to restore order in East Timor upon Indonesia's withdrawal from that territory.
Australia has a large bilateral aid program (about $1.3 billion for 1997-98, mostly in the form of grants) under which some 60 countries receive assistance. Papua New Guinea (PNG), a former Australian trust territory, is the largest recipient of Australian assistance. In 1997, Australia contributed to the IMF program for Thailand and assisted Indonesia and PNG with regional environmental crises. From 1997-99 Australia contributed to IMF program for Thailand and assisted Indonesia and PNG with regional environmental crisis and drought relief efforts.
Australia is party to the Australia, New Zealand, United States security treaty (ANZUS).
Australian Embassies, high commissions, consulates, multilateral missions and representative offices
Australia has diplomatic representatives in most countries. Australia has official relations with a number of countries, with these counties it maintains an embassy or in the case of Common wealth countries, a high commission. Australia has consulates in many coutries where there are no official government ties, these serve primarily to assist Australian travellers and business people. A number of Canadian missions provide consular assistance to Australians in countries in Africa where Australia does not maintian an office. Australian also maintains a Representative Office in the Palestinian Authority.
International disputes include:
- territorial claim in Antarctica (Australian Antarctic Territory)
- dispute of exact form and revenue distribution of the natural gas fields between the island of East Timor and Australia.
- Tampa affair, which is named after the MV Tampa, a Norwegian cargo ship which was at the center of a diplomatic dispute between Australia, Norway and Indonesia off the coast of Christmas Island in August 2001.
- The children overboard affair in which senior ministers including Prime Minister John Howard claimed that asylum seekers on board a boat off Christmas Island known as SIEV-4 in October 2001 had deliberately thrown their children into the water in an attempt to secure rescue. However, subsequent evidence revealed that claim to be false.
Several very large drug intecepts worth many millions of dollars have been intercepted in coastal ambushes of drug shipping. Tasmania is one of the world's suppliers of legal hemp products; government maintains strict controls over areas of opium poppy cultivation and output of poppy straw concentrate.
- 2003 U.S. Department of State website.
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