Australia urges UN reform, warning of 'existential' risk of great power conflict
Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Friday argued for UN reform, warning that great power conflict was an "existential threat" to the entire world.
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"Often small countries, vast distances from major powers, have borne the brunt of a race for dominance, with legacies of those contests casting shadows across the generations.
"But the modern arms race forever transformed the scale of great power competition, and pushed all of humanity to the brink of Armageddon," said Wong, addressing the UN General Assembly in New York.
Calling for reforms in the UN Security Council and said they must ensure greater permanent and non-permanent representation for Africa, Latin America, and Asia, including permanent seats for India and Japan.
"And we must demand more of the permanent members, including constraints on the use of the veto," she said.
On the Russia-Ukraine war, Wong demanded a joint response against Moscow, which she said was on the one hand promising grain to vulnerable nations but also destroying Ukrainian grain silos along the Black Sea coast.
"If we waver in our response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, we would be validating the most fundamental of breaches of international law ... Who might be the next victim of state-based aggression?" she said. Indo-Pacific disputes
The top Australian diplomat also warned that the Indo-Pacific region was home to unprecedented military build-up as tensions rise between countries with overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
She pointed to North Korea's ongoing nuclear weapons program and ballistic missile launches, threatening Japan and South Korea and destabilizing the region.
"When you add dangerous encounters in the air and at sea, including between nuclear powers, we are faced with a combination of factors that give rise to the most confronting circumstances in decades," added Wong. Climate change
Wong also warned that climate change was accelerating faster than combined efforts to stop it.
"Already, African agricultural productivity has dropped by a third," she said, adding that in many countries, including Australia, floods or fires have overwhelmed communities.
"Nowhere is the climate threat more profound than in the Pacific. Kiribati, Tuvalu, and Marshall Islands are only a few meters above sea level," she said.
Pointing out that while the UN Charter's first article speaks of maintaining peace and security, there can be no security if the sea itself envelopes countries.
She called on all developed countries to increase their rechanneling of resources to boost long-term investment for resilience building and disaster response.