Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

220221 - Our Common Agenda: Frameworks for a Peaceful World - promoting peace, international law and digital cooperation 


21 February 2022

Statement by H.E. the Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations on behalf of Canada, Australia and New Zealand

CANZ welcomes the opportunity to contribute to this third thematic consultation and believe that proposals in this cluster should collectively drive implementation of the full suite of targets under SDG 16.

Maintaining peace and security is at the heart of the UN Charter.

The UN was created to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war” – a mandate which has placed human rights, disarmament, peacebuilding and conflict prevention at the core of the UN’s work globally.

As we confront new challenges to building and sustaining lasting peace, the Secretary-General is right to recognise that “our collective peace and security is increasingly under threat from emerging risks and dangerous trends” for which traditional approaches are inadequate.

It’s against this backdrop that we broadly welcome the Secretary-General’s proposal for a new agenda for peace, including his appeal to update our vision and step up our ambition for disarmament, and to take a holistic approach to addressing all forms of violence.

We also welcome the Secretary-General’s calls for UN peacebuilding efforts to be underpinned by predictable and sustained financing.

Investments in conflict prevention and peacebuilding are critical to:
• addressing the root causes of violence;
• staving off an escalation that heightens the risk of atrocity crimes;
• preventing a recurrence in conflict affected areas;
• helping countries affected by conflict attain the SDGs; as well as
• promoting human rights and gender equality.

Yet despite these benefits, we continue to rely on extra-budgetary and voluntary funding for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

In addition to investing in peace, we must examine the structures we have established to foster it.

CANZ welcomes the proposal to strengthen the role of the Peacebuilding Commission, including its capacity to address cross-cutting issues, and commits to engaging substantively in these discussions.

Our delegations believe that the UN has a role to play on cyber security issues.

Together, we have been strong supporters of the framework for responsible State behaviour, which has been developed over more than 10 years.

However, we do not believe that the UN needs to create new work streams to address some of the cyber security issues identified in the report.

Rather, we believe that these issues should continue to be addressed at the UN Open-Ended Working Group on ICTs, which has a mandate to further examine rules, norms and principles of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace.

Similarly, we are strong supporters of multilateral efforts to promote the peaceful, secure, and sustainable use of space. Our collective engagement, both at the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and the Open-Ended Working Group on reducing space threats, concretely contributes to this.

While opposed to creating parallel intergovernmental discussions, we are interested in the Secretary-General’s proposal for a further dialogue on outer space. It is important that multi-stakeholder perspectives be considered.

The scale of the challenges facing us in the space domain – and the consequences of failing to address them – mean we should explore every opportunity to build momentum.

As we approach the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we are reminded of the enduring nature of the rights enshrined in the Declaration and the ongoing need to defend them.

CANZ remains steadfast in its support for the Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights and supports efforts by the UN system to strengthen human rights mechanisms, recognising the positive steps already taken in this regard, while calling for greater efforts to overcome persistent challenges, including efforts to weaken or undermine existing mechanisms.

Digital technologies and other frontier issues have the power to reshape our world and we remain open to further examination – as proposed in the report – of how existing international human rights law and frameworks can be upheld and applied to these emerging issues.

The Global Digital Compact proposal has the potential to be a positive approach to addressing the challenges and opportunities that have emerged and that will continue to evolve from global digital transformation. We, as members of the Freedom Online Coalition, also see the Coalition playing an effective role in multi-stakeholder consultations on how to develop the Compact.

CANZ countries remain strong supporters of the rule of law and a human rights-based approach, at the national, regional, and international levels.

The rule of law underpins the international rules-based system that remains so essential to our collective peace and security.

Our acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice reflects the importance CANZ attaches to the role of the Court and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law.
Individual accountability for the most serious crimes of international concern is equally critical to achieving sustainable peace and reconciliation.

In this regard, CANZ recognises the instrumental role played by the International Criminal Court, the ad hoc tribunals, hybrid courts and other international accountability mechanisms, as well as the role of national jurisdictions in the pursuit of justice for atrocity crimes.

In this spirit, we note the proposal for a global road map for the development and effective implementation of international law and welcome its emphasis on compliance issues. We encourage the Secretary-General to provide further information on the proposal, including the intended format and outcomes of the dialogues proposed to take place in this Assembly.

In closing, this cluster covers many significant issues that require further considered discussion and elaboration. We have touched on a few today but look forward to engaging constructively and collaboratively with all members on proposals aimed at promoting peace, international law and digital cooperation.