New York: Foreign Minister Penny Wong will use her first major speech to the United Nations to call for a shake-up of the Security Council, arguing that nations from Africa, Latin America and Asia should have greater permanent representation on the powerful committee.
Reminding the UN that Australia wants a seat on the council in 2029, Wong will outline Australia’s ambition to be a significant player on the world stage, warning that smaller countries should not allow their fate to be decided by global superpowers.
“How do we acquit our responsibilities to constrain tensions — to apply the brakes before the momentum for conflict in our region or beyond becomes unstoppable?” she says, according to a copy of the speech provided in advance.
“Australia is resolved to these tasks, in all our diplomacy, in the UN and beyond. It is why we seek a seat on the UN Security Council for 2029-2030. It is why we seek reform of the Security Council, with greater permanent representation for Africa, Latin America and Asia, including India and Japan.”
The council has met 20 times this year to discuss Ukraine but has been unable to take meaningful action because Russia is a permanent member and can veto any moves against it.
In a sign of the UN’s paralysis, Russia’s top diplomat, Sergey Lavrov, walked out of the council meeting convened in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s threat to unleash nuclear weapons and his announcement that he would mobilise up to 300,000 army reservists — the country’s biggest conscription drive since World War II.
Wong, in her speech, also urges China, “a great power”, to use its influence to rein in Russia, and will pledge to aggressively push back against Putin’s “weak and desperate nuclear threats”.
“Aside from terrible damage and loss of life in Ukraine, Russia’s invasion is compounding human suffering, propelling the global crisis in food and energy security,” Wong says.