–Russian veto shows UN needs reform: Bishop

April 17, 2018


2018-04-17 16:06:20

Russia’s ability to block investigations into chemical weapons attacks in Syria shows the United Nations needs reform, Australia’s foreign minister says.

Julie Bishop has been talking to other UN countries about how to reform the security council, which gives each of the five permanent members a veto on decisions.

“In an example like this, the resolution was for an independent investigation into the use of chemical weapons against civilians,” Ms Bishop told reporters in London on Tuesday.

“To have that blocked by a permanent member of the security council raises obvious concerns.”

Russia, the United Kingdom, China, France and the United States can all veto each others’ decisions in the security council.

“Australia has been part of discussions with a number of UN countries to reform the United Nations more generally, but also to look at this issue of the UN Security Council veto,” Ms Bishop said.

The US, UK and France launched airstrikes in Syria in retaliation over the deadly suspected poison gas attack in the Damascus suburb of Douma last weekend.

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons entered Douma on Tuesday having been blocked by Syrian and Russian authorities the previous day.

“It’s self evident that the three permanent members who voted for an independent investigation, carried out by the UN into the use of chemical weapons, were those that took action to send a very clear message that this won’t be tolerated,” Ms Bishop said.

Australia has backed the mission, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling it “a calibrated, proportionate and targeted response”.

But Ms Bishop said Australia is not expecting to be asked to do more in Syria.

Russia has also blocked other investigations into previous suspected chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The Foreign Minister is at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, where she also held meetings about cyber security, again involving Russia.

“We stand in solidarity with the United Kingdom and others in what appears to be a malicious cyber attack emanating from Russia,” she said.

Ms Bishop said Australia had not been targeted.

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