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A former part of the British colonial empire that remains closely tied to English-speaking Western countries Britain, the United States and Canada, Australian foreign policy has long been consistent with those of its “brother” countries, although with a greater emphasis on Southeast Asian affairs given its geographic proximity to that region. As with the United States, Britain, and Canada, Australia has been active member of international organizations since the end of World War II, including being a founding member of the United Nations. As a long-time member of the U.N., with a foreign policy historically closely aligned to the Western alliance, it has been an active member of the U.N., including participating in numerous U.N. peacekeeping missions over the past 60 years. In fact, as the first holder of the rotating presidency of the United Nations Security Council, Australia has been often been in the lead in efforts at containing or preventing conflict from spreading.
Located in the Far East, yet characterized by demographics directly stemming from its history as a penal colony for the British Crown (often at the expense of its indigenous aboriginal population), Australia – and, to a lesser extent, New Zealand – is an “odd-man out” in a region characterized by ethnicities more closely associated with the region’s history. Its relationship to the United Nations has often been influenced by its unique geographic situation, especially with regard to the outbreak of conflicts on the Korean Peninsula, in former British colonies in Malaya and Singapore, and especially in the nearby archipelago of Indonesia, where it has been active in carrying out U.N.-sponsored operations, particularly in the newly-independent territory of East Timor. Because of the history of conflict, and consequent crises involving tens of thousands of refugees, throughout Southeast Asia, Australia has been a leading U.N. member in working with the U.N.’s subordinate organizations in that region, including the World Health Organization, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program, and the U.N. Trust Fund for Indigenous Populations.
Australia has been an active member of the United Nations since that organization’s creation. It views its obligations to the U.N. seriously, due in no small part to its recognition of the U.N.’s humanitarian contributions in Australia’s own front yard.
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