Australia’s national security and its economic interests are inextricably linked to the security and stability of the Asia Pacific region. The key components of Australia’s security strategy are maintaining a strong national defence capability, the security alliance with the United States, developing bilateral defence and security relationships with the countries throughout the Asia Pacific, and strengthening multilateral security links in the region, especially the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Regular bilateral security dialogues with countries in the Asia Pacific, and with key partners beyond the region, provide an opportunity to share views on a wide range of regional and global security issues, promote transparency and reinforce Australia’s commitment to working cooperatively with regional countries on security issues. Australia has increased the number of countries with which it has such dialogues, as part of its long-term strategy of promoting shared security perceptions in the Asia Pacific region.
The ARF is an important means of encouraging a sense of strategic community in the region. It complements the central role of bilateral links in dealing with global and regional security issues, and has an important role in encouraging regional support for international regimes against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their missile delivery systems. One of the features of the ARF in 2000 was the participation for the first time of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Australia has been very much part of the process of seeking to engage the DPRK more constructively with the regional and international community, including through an exchange of high-level visits. Australia announced the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK in May 2000.
Global issues can also have significant security implications for Australia. The risk of global conflict diminished considerably with the end of the Cold War, but other potential threats remain. Conflicts in Europe, the Middle East and South Asia have the potential to disrupt global security.
Australia has made a major contribution to the significant progress in establishing international regimes to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and of missiles. Australia’s future efforts will be concentrated on ensuring that these regimes are implemented and remain effective and, where necessary, are strengthened. Australia will continue to encourage adherence to the international regime banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. These efforts will continue to be complemented by Australia’s commitment to practical measures such as landmine clearance, victim assistance and mine clearance technology programs.