1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2012  
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Int Relations


Australia’s alliance with the United States is indispensable to Australia’s strategic, defence and security interests. Australia co-operates with the United States, United Kingdom and a wide range of other regional and international partners, bilaterally and in regional and international forums, to combat international challenges such as non-proliferation, counter-terrorism and transnational crime. Regionally, Australia co-chairs with Indonesia the Bali process on people-smuggling, trafficking in persons and related transnational crime.


Australia attaches high priority to countering the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and achieving the goal of disarmament, as well as addressing non-traditional security issues such as terrorism and emerging issues such as cyber and space. Australia holds bilateral security dialogues with the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, France, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the EU.

Australia participates actively in the major WMD export control regimes. Australia chairs the Australia Group, which sets export controls on chemical weapons precursors, biological agents, and related technology and equipment. Australia is a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which aims to prevent civilian nuclear trade from contributing to nuclear weapons programs, and of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), which seeks to prevent the proliferation of unmanned systems capable of delivering WMD. Australia provides practical technical assistance to regional countries to help them improve export control measures so they meet relevant international obligations and strengthen national structures. To enhance counter-proliferation capabilities, Australia worked bilaterally with regional partners and through the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was established to develop practical measures to disrupt illicit trade in WMD.

With Japan, Australia established the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) – a cross-regional ministerial level group to promote and support implementation of the outcomes of the May 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

Australia works to strengthen adherence to, and compliance with, the major weapons treaties – the NPT, the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Countering the proliferation of certain types of conventional weapons is also a priority, and Australia works to promote the effective implementation of the Mine Ban Convention.

Australia supports strengthening of the safeguards, safety and security programs of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Australia’s position on the IAEA Board of Governors helps us to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime. Through active participation in the IAEA and other forums, Australia contributes to international efforts to resolve concerns over the nuclear activities of Iran, the DPRK and Syria.

Australia works to counter access to, and the effects of, illicit small arms and light weapons, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. At the 2012 UN Negotiating Conference on an Arms Trade Treaty, Australia will advocate for the establishment of international criteria and standards for the global trade in a range of conventional arms.


Terrorism in the region and globally threatens the security and safety of Australia and Australians. Australia has concluded 17 bilateral counter-terrorism memoranda of understanding or documents of intent (with Turkey, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Fiji, Cambodia, PNG, Indonesia, India, East Timor, Brunei, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and France) to facilitate co-operation in this area.

Australia’s counter-terrorism co-operation, as highlighted in the February 2010 Counter-Terrorism White Paper, is broad ranging and increasingly complex. Australia continues to support regional partners in strengthening their counter-terrorism capabilities in key areas such as law enforcement, legal frameworks, intelligence, border control and transport security, defence engagement, terrorist financing and money laundering, and countering violent extremism.

Australia also works to build political support and technical capability for more effective counter-terrorism efforts in regional and multilateral forums. Australia’s Ambassador for Counter-Terrorism hosted the sixth Trilateral (Australia, US, Japan) Strategic Dialogue Counter-Terrorism Consultations in December 2010. Australia has deepened its engagement on counter-terrorism efforts with the UN and contributes to capacity-building activities in South East Asia, South Asia, East Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific.

Reducing the threat of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) terrorism is also an important objective. Australia is an active member of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism. Australia’s practical capacity-building work in the region promotes awareness of, and strengthens the security measures around, CBRN sources to deter potential access by terrorists.


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Statistics contained in the Year Book are the most recent available at the time of preparation. In many cases, the ABS website and the websites of other organisations provide access to more recent data. Each Year Book table or graph and the bibliography at the end of each chapter provides hyperlinks to the most up to date data release where available.