Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

230424 - UNSC open debate: Maintenance of international peace and security: Effective multilateralism through the Defense of the Principles of the UN Charter


24 April 2023

Statement by H.E. The Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Australian Mission to the United Nations

Australia welcomes the opportunity to speak on this important topic.

Australia is a country that shares common ground with so many of the world’s peoples.

We are a land that is home to the oldest continuous culture on the planet, and to people from more than 300 ancestries.

We see ourselves reflected in the world, just as the world can see itself reflected in us.

And we want to see the interests of all the world’s peoples upheld along with our own.

Our interests lie in a world that operates by rules, standards and norms. Where a larger country does not determine the fate of a smaller country. Where each country can pursue its own aspirations, its own prosperity.

We want to live according to our own laws and values, determined by our own citizens, respecting but not deferring to others.

In order to maintain those sovereign choices, the small and medium countries of the world, including Australia, must work together.  

The purposes and principles enshrined in the UN Charter are fundamental to our aspirations. And they are critical to the multilateral system being able to effectively address the global challenges we all face.

We want to see all countries uphold the UN Charter.

Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine renders stark our interest in living in a world where no country dominates, and no country is dominated.

The attack on Ukraine is an attack on all small countries.

It is an assertion that a larger country is entitled to subjugate a smaller neighbour – to decide whether another country can even exist.

We cannot accept a situation where large countries determine the fate of smaller countries.

Aside from terrible damage and loss of life in Ukraine, Russia’s invasion is compounding human suffering. It is propelling the global crisis in food and energy security that is having such a terrible impact on the populations of so many Member States.

It reminds us all how much is at stake if we fail to protect the UN Charter.

We cannot be passive when big powers flout the rules.

We must continue to work together to hold Russia to account.

Australia’s vision is for a multilateral system that delivers security, stability and prosperity for Australia, our region and the world.

Being genuinely committed to the United Nations means being genuinely committed to reforming the United Nations to keep it vital.

We are committed to working with each other to this end.

The UN Security Council’s inability to respond to Russia’s attack on Ukraine has once again highlighted the importance of reform.

Member States must have confidence that the Security Council can respond effectively to threats to, and breaches of, international peace and security.

It was never intended that the Security Council veto power would be used to enable unchecked abuse of the UN Charter – by the very countries that were given the veto.

The UN75 Declaration and Our Common Agenda report demonstrate the broad political support for a multilateral system that is equitable, inclusive, efficient, and effective.

The Summit of the Future is an opportunity to consider whether the UN we have now is both the UN we want, and the UN we need, for the future.

We look forward to engaging in this process with countries genuinely committed to reform.