27th OSCE Ministerial Council
Delivered by H.E Ambassador Richard Sadleir, Australia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and International Organisations in Vienna
3-4 December 2020
Australia would like to commend Albania as Chair-In-Office of the OSCE for its skilful leadership in what has been a difficult year for us all.
In times of increasingly complex transnational and global threats and challenges, the OSCE remains a key regional platform for dialogue and cooperation.
This year marks 25 years of the Asian Partners for Cooperation Group. Australia has been a proud Asian Partner since 2009, and we reaffirm our commitment to this group.
The OSCE is an important platform where we can work together to protect and strengthen the international rules-based order. And this order is fraying.
We remain concerned that some states continue to act in ways that are inconsistent with international law and established norms.
Since 1992, the OSCE has sought to negotiate a settlement to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Australia was concerned at the outbreak of fighting this year, including the shelling of civilian areas and the alleged use of cluster weapons.
Australia considers that the ceasefire of 10 November provides an opportunity to achieve a lasting settlement. We call on both sides to engage with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. The process and aftermath of the August 2020 Presidential election in Belarus poses a challenge to the OSCE and the rule of law.
Australia is concerned by the lack of transparency around the election, and the imprisonment of opposition candidates, journalists and peaceful protestors.
We urge the government of Belarus to respect the democratic aspirations of its people. We call for an end to violence and to respect the human rights of the Belarusian people.
An important component of the international rules-based order is ensuring wrongdoers are brought to justice.
The Australian Government is committed more than ever to pursuing truth, justice and accountability for the 298 victims of flight MH17 and their loved ones. We were deeply disappointed by Russia’s 15 October decision to terminate its participation in talks on State responsibility. Together with the Netherlands, we continue to urge Russia to return to the talks.
Australia continues to strongly support the criminal prosecution of the four individuals for their role in the downing of MH17. Australia has full confidence in the impartiality, independence and professionalism of the Joint Investigation Team and the Dutch legal system.
Rules, norms and accountability are the only way to achieve peace, security and prosperity. They are the only way to guarantee the rights of individual states.
As our Prime Minister Scott Morrison has emphasised, if we are to avoid a new era of polarisation, then in the decades ahead, there must be a more nuanced appreciation of individual states’ interests in how they deal with the major powers. Stark choices are in no-one’s interests.
Greater latitude will be required from the world’s largest powers to accommodate the individual interests of their partners and allies. We all need a bit more room to move. The multilateral system is critical to this.
Our international institutions also have an important role to play as circuit breakers. To provide the space and frameworks for meaningful and positive interaction to be maintained, as a bulwark against any emerging divide.
The OSCE provides such a space and enables us to agree to those frameworks. It promotes and protects international rules and norms. Closer OSCE engagement with its partners on shared security challenges will benefit us all.
Australia looks forward to working with the OSCE as an Asian Partner and congratulates Sweden on its appointment as chair for 2021.