PENNY WONG, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, cautioned that the Indo-Pacific region is experiencing unprecedented military build-up and the world is facing an existential threat of conflict between great Powers — a consequential risk for every Member State. With dangerous encounters in the air and at sea, including between nuclear Powers, the world faces “the most confronting circumstances in decades”, where military power is expanding but measures to constrain conflict are not. Noting rising tensions over the South China Sea, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continuing to destabilize and threaten the region with its nuclear weapons programme and ballistic missile launches, she urged all stakeholders to deploy collective statecraft to prevent catastrophic conflict. She encouraged modest steps to reduce military risk and open communication lines at all levels, as well as clearer arrangements among all maritime countries equally to prevent unsafe actions at sea. “Australia is contributing to a strategic equilibrium”, she said, and aims to reinforce the region’s existing economic and security architecture.
More broadly, her Government is renewing Australia’s commitment to a world without nuclear weapons. Australia is working to strengthen the Non-Proliferation Treaty and urging progress on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, alongside efforts with IAEA to ensure the peaceful use of technology and nuclear security risks. On the Security Council, she urged greater permanent and non-permanent representation for Africa, Latin America, and Asia, including permanent seats for India and Japan. As Australia seeks a seat from 2029 to 2030, she also expressed support for regional leadership on peacekeeping, including Fiji’s proposal for a new Pacific Peacekeeping Network and the call from African States for United Nations assessed contributions for African Union-led peace operations. Regarding the Russian Federation’s “illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine” and “cynical games on food security”, she emphasised, other permanent members and all Member States “must be unyielding in our response to Russia’s grave violation of Article 2 of our shared UN Charter.”
She expressed her Government’s determination to make Australia a renewable energy superpower, with 82 per cent of the country’s electricity generation becoming renewable within this decade. Australia is also supporting the region’s renewable energy transition, helping countries build resilience and access more climate finance — including through its Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific. As a member of the Pacific Island Forum, she noted, Australia “believes in Pacific sovereignty and solidarity”. With the Pacific Ocean covering one fifth of the Earth’s surface and several States only metres above sea level, “there can be no security if the sea itself closes in.” Alongside climate change, the world must address “systemic shortcomings and funding needs” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. She expressed support for reforms to international development financing, including the multidimensional vulnerability index and the Bridgetown Initiative. Australia has rechannelled $3 billion of its IMF Special Drawing Rights to support vulnerable countries, she said.
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