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Does Australia deserve a seat on the UN Security Council?



In March 2008, then prime minister Kevin Rudd announced that Australia would bid to be elected to a non-permanent seat for the 2013-14 term on the most powerful global security governance body, the United Nations Security Council. Australia last served on the Council in the mid-1980s. UN member states will elect new Council members in secret ballot in October this year, and Australia is directly competing with Finland and Luxembourg for two available seats. The government argues that Australia deserves a seat because of its positive international reputation; its record of significant contributions to dealing with a range of important global issue-areas, including through the UN; its growing global influence; its ability to represent the interests of small and medium sized countries; and because of its long absence from the Council.

This expert panel will debate whether or not Australia actually deserves a Council seat, consider the likelihood of its successful election, and assess what the positive and negative implications of the bid and potential seat might be for both Australian national interests and for global security.

This event is part of the Australia’s Role in the World series, which is a partnership initiative of the Australian Institute of International Affairs, the University of Melbourne and UN Youth Australia.  It aims to promote debate on global issues and Australia’s role in international affairs.

Expert panellists

The Hon Robert M Hill
Chancellor, University of Adelaide; Adjunct Professor of Sustainability, University of Sydney; former Senator representing South AUstralia; former Australian ambassador to the United Nations

Professor John Langmore
is an international political economist and author in the School of Social and Political Sciences.  Between 1963 and 1976 he worked in Papua New Guinea as a public servant and university lecturer where he led the preparation of the first national plan.  Between 1976 and 1984 he was an economic advisor to the Australian Labor Party and proposed the negotiation of the Accord.  In 1984 he was elected to the House of Representatives and was later re-elected four times.  He chaired the committee which planned the first comprehensive committee system for the House of Representatives.

He retired from parliament in 1996 to become Director of the UN Division for Social Policy and Development in New York for five years and then Representative of the International Labour Organization to the United Nations for two.  He was responsible for the organisation of the 24th special session of the General Assembly which was the first world conference to agree on the global target for halving serious poverty by 2015.  

Professor Langmore teaches a graduate subject on the United Nations and is developing another on international development strategy.  He has published extensively in books, journals and in the media, his most recent books being Dealing with America: the UN, the US and Australia and To Firmer Ground: Restoring Hope in Australia.

Melissa Conley Tyler was appointed National Executive Director of the Australian Institute of International Affairs in 2006.  She is a lawyer and specialist in conflict resolution, including negotiation, mediation and peace education.  She was previously Program Manager of the International Conflict Resolution Centre at the University of Melbourne and Senior Fellow of Melbourne Law School.

Ms Conley Tyler has an international profile in conflict resolution including membership of the United Nations Expert Working Group on Online Dispute Resolution and the Editorial Board of the Conflict Resolution Quarterly.  She convened the Third United Nations Forum on Online Dispute Resolution in Melbourne in 2004 and a Fulbright Symposium on Peace & Human Rights Education in 2005.

In 2008 Ms Conley Tyler was selected as one of the nation’s 1,000 “best and brightest” to participate in the Australia 2020 Summit convened by the Prime Minister to discuss future challenges facing Australia.  Later in 2008 she was selected by the Fletcher Alumni Association of Washington DC to receive its Young Alumni Award for most outstanding graduate of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy under 40.  She is a member of the International Advisory Council of the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy.

With more than 10 years' experience working in community organisations in Australia, South Africa and the USA, Ms Conley Tyler has a strong interest in non-profit management.  She has published on the use of benchmarking in the non-profit sector in Australia and was an Associate with the University of Melbourne's Centre for Program Evaluation.  She has worked in trusts and foundations and corporate partnerships for Sydney City Mission and community and corporate partnerships for Reconciliation Australia as well as working as a freelance fundraiser for a number of Australian non-profit organisations.  She has served on the Board of Directors of the Charities Aid Foundation Australia, one of Australia’s largest grant-givers, and the Committee of Management of the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture.

She is listed in Routledge’s Who's Who in International Affairs and International Who's Who of Women.

Andrew Hewett Executive Director, Oxfam Australia
Andrew Hewett is recognised as one of Australia’s leading voices on aid, development and international poverty. As the Executive Director of Oxfam Australia, one of Australia largest and leading aid organisations, Andrew is consistently in the public spotlight advocating for the world’s poor.

Andrew is an influential voice in Australia’s aid policy. He is the co-chair of MAKE POVERTY HISTORY, the largest anti-poverty movement in Australia, and leads more than 60 aid agencies, community groups and organisations that form this coalition.

Andrew is also the vice-president of the Executive Committee of the Australian Council for International Development, the peak council of overseas development agencies, and represents the sector to the Australian government.

Andrew has been Executive Director of Oxfam Australia since 2001, an international aid agency that works in 26 countries for solutions to poverty and social injustice.

As a speaker, Andrew’s passion for the causes for which he has devoted a lifetime resonates.  He speaks with energy, without jargon and has countless stories of the people in developing countries he has met.

He is able to inspire a range of audiences – corporate organisations, government, university and school students and the general public – and empower them to make changes for a more just world.

Moderated by Robyn Eckersley, Professor of Political Science, and Coordinator of the Master of International Relations Program, University of Melbourne

Thursday, 19 April 2012 | 6.30pm to 7.45pm
Public Lecture Theatre
Old Arts Building
University of Melbourne

Location map

Contact Tamsin Courtney in the Graduate School of Humanities & Social Sciences at or 03 8344 8985.

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