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Australia, South Korea on security council
Publication Date : 21-10-2012
For the first time, the two stable liberal democracies from Asia-Pacific have been elected as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC). Australia and South Korea, who will take up two-year terms early next year, will be able contribute to peace and stability in the world through their diplomacy and foreign policy orientation. Each country has a long history of helping the international community with efforts to forge peace.
The two countries are considered middle powers with friends all around. Now they can act together along with other UNSC members to try to ensure peace and stability. Australia earned its seat, after 27 years of absence, with relative ease because it is a reputable country that respects international norms and standards.
For decades, Australia has played active roles in peacekeeping and peace-building. The peace in Cambodia in 1992 was possible through the hard work and initiative of Australia. And an Aussie peacekeeping force helped to stabilise East Timor right after the young democracy gained independence in 2000. Elsewhere, Australia is always a part of multilateral endeavours to maintain peace.
South Korea, which will replace India, returns to the UNSC after 16 years. It has been an extraordinary few years for the country, given that the current UN Secretary General - Ban Ki-moon - also hails from Seoul. South Korea has also been an important democratic force in East Asia. After the end of Korean War, the country worked to make progress on its economy and nation-building.
After more than 30 years under a totalitarian system, it gradually transformed into a democratic state. In 1997, the country stumbled due to the regional eco?nomic crisis. But it was able to climb up the economic ladder once more time within a few years. Currently the country is one of the world's 11 largest economies. It has also become a highly influential state on the global culture scene, with Seoul considered a centre of trends among the world's younger generation.
It is hoped that their joint presence will make a difference in a world wracked by wars and conflicts. Of course, the permanent five is still important force in the global body. But together, Australia and South Korea can demonstrate how middle powers perceive and view international security.
Often times, the UN politics are too polarised between the US and friends on one side and China or Russia on the others. It is time that middle powers rise up and provide freshness in its approaches and views. The world urgently needs new energy and solutions to end current conflicts.
Thailand should learn from these two nations. Bangkok has already expressed its intention to bid for a non-permanent seat in 2017-18.
Thailand first joined the UNSC in 1986 when the region was still coping with civil war in Cambodia and refugees problems. But our diplomats must prepare itself well ahead of time because the competition among Asian countries will be fierce. This year, Australia beat Cambodia, Finland and Bhutan. Thailand could face the same fate liked our Asean friend Cambodia, which was defeated albeit the full backing from its Asean neighbours.