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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6885


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 16/04/1986

Release Type: Press Conference

Transcript ID: 6885

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PM: Ladies and gentlemen, I thought you would appreciate
the opportunity of knowing in advance the contribution
that Australia will be aking this afternoon in the debate
in the Security Council on this issue. And we will be
distrib4ting to you a copy of the statement. I have been
engaged since I have been here in discussions with my
colleaggs. Mr Hayden, the Foreign Minister and agreed on
the position that Australia will be putting. I think it
is besticaptured, if you like the approach that will be
adopted in the Security Council by this sentence. " If
our vor4 this week is not to be a complete failure, yet
another sterile exchange without constructive end, it is
necessary that all of us, members of the Council and members
of the Jnited Nations, should turn our minds actively and
without further delay to the discharge of our responsibilities
to avoid further tensions and to bring our deliberations to a
constructive conclusion". The atatement points out the
wide po ers that the Security Council has under Chapter Six
of the Charter. Chapter Six is that which deals with
specif c settlement of disputes and they will be therefore
saying to the Security Council today that we have taken it
upon oarselves to ake absolutely specific recommendations
as to tow within the wide range of powers delineated in
Chapte Six, the Security Council should act. We are
urging themselves of those powers and try to use them
to sectre a peaceful reOlution of the dispute that exists.
We refer to the fact that on 14 January of this year the
Genera: Assembly. the full General Assembly, adopted by
a resolution on measures to prevent international
terror * sm and we have said it was absolutely necessary that
Libya ust binding commitment to and discharge of those
commit ena not to resort further to acts of international
terror La and in those circumstances a reciprocal commitment
from t e United States not to have further resort to force.
Now. l dies and gentlemen, that is the essential thrust of
the contribution that Mr Woolcott will be masking on behalf
of my Government in the debate in the Security Council this
afternoon. As I say, copies of that statement are available.
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5915 2.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawke, have you any reason to believe that
the Unit d States will support the Australian initiative?
PM: Well let me say this, that the President, in announcing
his act ion, invoked section 51 of the, Article 51 of the
Charter which Article is in these terms, and are very relevant
to your question. It says that nothing in the present charter
shall i pair the rights, individually or collectively of
member cations, to take action in self-defence. But it goes
on to s: y that until the Security Council has taken measures
necessa y to maintain international peace and security. So
the vet) section 51, which has been properly referred to by
the Unit ed States itself, logically goes on to the responsibility
of the security Council. taken those measures, which as 1
say, ar delineated in Chapter 6 to proceed then to a
peacefu resolution of the dispute.
JOURNAL ST: Prime Minister, in pratical terms, what happens
if the IN picks up on our initiative. What machinery then
goes into operation?
PM: We0l1, you will see that when read Chapter 6, and particularl
the firpt article 33, that they indicate a range of methods that
are available. Let me refer to them it says the parties
to any dispute, the continuation of which is likely to
endanger the maintenance o f international peace and security
shall first of all seek a solution by, and then they mention
methods of negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation,
arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies
or arrangements or other peaceful means of their own choice.
So that! is why you will find that in the statement that I
have authorised to be made to the Security Council, we don't
deem to! take it upon ourselves this is the particular way
which the Security Council should use the powers that are
designated. It is appropriate that the members of the Council
should jeddress themselves to the provisions of Chapter 6, dealing
with the specific settlement of disputes, and after debate
and discussion, choose that particular method which, to them,
seems most appropriate in the circumstances.
JOURNAIIST: Have we sounded this out with the American
OovernIent informally?
PM N The American Government will have be provided with
a copy of what we are going to say. But I want to make it
clear hot we believe, have believed, from the moment I made
the st temeout in the Australian Parliament that the basic
oblige ion on us and on all like-minded members of the
international community is now to concentrate on seeking
a pe ceful method of the resolution of the dispute. That
should be the pra-eminent thought of all parties. And
consis ently with the statement that I made in the Parliament,
my Oov rnument is now pursuing that same thrust in the Security
Counci We believe that it isa course of action which
should recommend itself not merely to the parties immediately
involv d, but to all members of the United Nations.
specific suggestion@, why should it be
taken eriously?
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59 1 5 3.
PM: Well, it would presumptuous for us to say that we know
exactly th are mentioned in the charter. We want to take the initiative
if you lik we are say: ng that we stand ready with other members of the
Security Council, and with co-operation with the SEcratary-
General tolparticipate in those ways. We don't presume to
say that we know, by putting ourselves in the minds of all
members, what particular method would best recommend itself
to the Security Council amongst the range of alternatives
that are mntioned in Chapter 6.
JOURNALISTi Can you say explicitly whether you think the
United Steae was wrong to take the military action that it
did. And secondly, will you be asking President Reagan not
to take any further military action against Libya even if
its diplomats and facilities abroad are attacked?
PM; The p sition of the Australian Government is made quite
clear in theN Parliament and in this statement. We have indicated
the fact that there is a very considerable body of evidence
which establishes that Libya has been involved in the direction
and support of international terrorism against innocent
civilians ' including Americans. And that was deplored. And
we have indicated that we understand that in those circumstances
why the reaction has taken place. But we, in fact, are saying
that the use of force is not going to resolve this issue. And
that is what we are saying and we are not going to be, as I
said in my' departure from Australia, I am not going to be put
into some squalid auction of levels of support for or against
particular positions because that may help you to write a
headline. 1 It doesn't help to resolve the dispute. And that
is what we are about.
JOURNALISI: Mr Hawks, what did Mr Hayden mean yesterday when
he said tIat Australia was willing to play a mediating role
in the dispute between
PM: No, that position has been reflected in the statement that
we are together authorising and will be made by Mr Woolcott
in the Seurity Council. and that is Australia doesn't seek
itself totake on specifically a role of mediator. What we
do insist though, as I have said, we regard ourselves as
having a 1rime responsibility as a nation, our prime responsibility
as a nation is to put in the Security Council the pre-eminence of
positive 4pproache. to settling this dispute. And we are saying
that we sqand ready as a member of the Security Council to,
and tha U ited Nations, we stand ready to play our role along
with othess. We don't seek a special role for ourselves.
JOURNALIS t Prime Minister, having drawn attention, or having
about to draw attention of the Security Council to Chapter 6
and all t ose various alternatives, does Australia have a
favoured osaition, when the debate starts what are we going
to say? fre vWe going to say 9/
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PM: We ar, going to say what I have said here, and you will
see when y , u read the statements that my observations or
synthesis . f it, if you like, accurately reflects what is there.
And that i that we don't think, it would be presumptuous to
say in adv tce, this is the best way. We say here are a range
of options that are available, mentioned in ARticle 33. Let's
as members of the Security Council, address ourselves to the
issue in terms of the available options. And we would find
ourselves informed by that discussion and debate. What we
want to doA and what we think we have the obligation to do,
is to say get the focus right. We are not concerned about
trying to dwell upon the past, but to say look the way through
is by looking to Chapter 6 and all of us addressing our minds
to the obligation which the Charter imposes upon us all to
look to that method. And I remind you, as I have said, that
Article 51', which has been invoked, by its very language, refers
back to that obligation.
JOURNALIST: Mr Hawks, among those options would you see any
merit in t'ho Security Council setting up a small group of
nations to' actively try to find some route to settlement.
PH: If that appears from the discussion as the most likely
way. I mean, it is pointless trying to say in advance that
this is the best way. You have got to get the feel of the
people involved, see what may recommend itself as the most
likely method. This is why Article 33 doesn't say look here
is the wa. bacausa they recognise that different disputes are
likely to lend themselves to different methods of resolution.
And so you need to be there to be part of the debate, the feeling.
the view of people as to what particular method would be the
most appropriate. If that particular method was the one that
emerged, then certainly we would see that as appropriate. And if
it were t e wish of those involved, Australia would stand ready
to play whatever part was asked of it. We seek not to impose
ourselveslupon the Security Council as the mediator. But what
we do insist upon is our right, and what ve believe is our
obligation to put before the Security Council, the collective
responsibility of that body under the Charter now to find
a peacefuI resolution of this matter.
JOURNALIS~ t Do you think the United States might find it
presumptuous of Australia to suggest mediation in the first
place. PM: I cso't see that the United States, or anyone for that
matter, a n find it presumptuous that where Section 51 has
been Invo ad that Australia or anyone else should point out
the logic l implications. If you look at Section 51 it takes
you straipht back to Chapter 6.
JOURNALIS: Prime Minister, you have seen the evidence as I
undorstan you have had long experience negotiating, do you
believe It is possible for the United States to negotiate
with Gadd fi. a man that the President has called a madman.
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PH: You v 11 see, let ms len, so to the particular section of
the contri ution that we will be making, which I think picks up
your point Where our Ambassador to the United Nations will
be develop ng the points I have made, he says " I do not necessarily
wish to ma e firm proposals as to the exact method" as I have
been sayin here, that the Council itself might employ. But
we identif a number of relevant points. And there is this
observatio " Finally, Mr President, I note that the parties
themselves could bring the dispute to a speedy end
by making and strictly observing genuine and binding commitments
to the Security Council about their future conduct. These
commitments would include. on the one hand, a pledge concerning
the strictest respect for and adherence to the terms of UNCA
resolution 40/ 61,' that is one to which I have referred, of January
of this year, " whichunequivocally condemns terrorism and calls
on all stIteoe to refrain from organising, instigating, assisting
or partic pating in terrorist acts. They would include on
the other and a reciprocal commitment to refrain from recourse
to armed force. The Council could examine urgently how such
commitmentj might be undertaken by the present parties and by
all states concerned". So you can see what has been saidthere
is that it would be appropriate to expect a readiness to
negotiate apd to involve itself in such discussions on the
part of the United States in a situation where that binding
commitment were given by Libya.
JOURNALISTJ Sir, your aides are quoted here by Radio Australia
as saying that Libya and the United States might be persuaded
to 5egotia~ e through the auspices of an acceptable intermediary.
My questiok is. why would Libya consider Australia to be an
acceptable intermediary?
PH: Well,. there is a total lack of logic if I may say so in
your quest on because we are not saying that we are maying
that we ar the acceptable intermediary.
I made it $ uite clear in what I have said here, it is in this
statement. And neither is there any implication in that that
we are the acceptable intermediary. I don't why you jumped to
that concl ldon.
JOURNALIBT: Prime Minister, if ve were asked by the UN Security
Council to act as a mediator, would your Government accept that?
PM: We have got some rules that travel well across the ocean
about not aeverin$ hypothetical questions, but in this case
I am prepared to add to what I have said before. And that is
that we vill be saying In the statement that we stand reedy
to play a role, any role, that is asked of us by the United
Nations, through the security Council, in its consideration
of the matter. We are not saying that we are any more appropriate
than auyoee else, But as a nation which has consistently confirmed
the centr lity of the peaceful resolution of international
disputes, we stand ready to play a part vit h others, if asked.
We don't oek to elevate ourselves to some position of primacy
in this matter. We will do whatever is asked of us. But where
we do as& rt a position, and as Ambassador Woolcott will be today,
is to say It Is absolutely essential that the Security Council
now direc s its attention to the future to see how we can remove
the o. 4res miPAtrPA Wheth have siVn rise to this current crii.
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JOURNALIST: Does Australia have the qualifications to act
as a mediatcr?
PM: Wall,
keep coming
putting out
What we are
avenues mani
is one, thai
in thea-view
others upon
play a role don't know how many times I have to do this. People
back and saying Australia as a mediator. Please
and I am not going to say it again, we are not
ilves | orvard and saying AustTalia is the mediator.
saying is that mediation or one or other of the
: ioned in Chapter 6, Article 33, of which mediation
they must be addressed by the Security Council. If,
of the Security Council, they would wish to call with
Australia to assume some role, we stand ready to
JOURNALISTi When do you expect the Security Council to arrive
at a deciaisn?
PMi I am n
o nthis aft
afternoon. to decision Dt sure Paul. The debate will certainly be going
ornoon. We will be making our contribution this
I can't say with certainty when they will come
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, have we consulted other members
of the Secu ity Council before taking this issue?
PM: The basic discussion as to the form of the statement has
been between myself and the Yoreign Minister, the Ambassador
to the United Nations. Mr Woolcott, has beean involved in some
discussion on the phone with my representatives. Now how far
he may have been involved in discussions with others on the
Security Council I am not in a position to say.
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oI mr Hawks, you came here to talk about trade.
Is this Li yen taking up valuable time and do you think
this is go ng to affect those trade discussions at all?
PM: It is obviously valuable time that has been involved,
but I want, to emphasise and I appreciate the question very
much Greg I want to emphasis* that we've bought a very
substantia body of experts and officials ( they are not
mutually * ealusive, you know) with us. And we also have here
in Washington people who have been working on those issues.
That work has bean continuing through this We will be
in a positrion to be totally well equipped to deal with what
you rightly say is the major purpose of our visit here. There
will be no; interference with, or diminution of, the work that
is to be d'one on that major purpose of the visit.
JOURNALISi: Do you think that job would be made easier if
Australia was more overtly supportive of the US position on the
Libyan attack?
PMt I don't think anyone would respect, including the United
States. would respect us if we formulated positions in regard
to issues if we said what we thought they would like to hear.
And in a argaining framework the United States accepts what
is the fact that we are a good friend and a reliable ally
under the! relationship and the commitments which found it.
And ve will make a statement and adopt a position which we
regard as correct. I have done that from the moment that I made
the state; ent in the Parliament and it is also reflected in the
statement to be made to the Security Council. The positions
that we wtll be putting to the United States in regard to
the issue of agricultural trade stand in their own right. We
have a compalling case to put. And one which I believe will
be unders ood and I would hope acted upon sympathetically by
the Unite States.
JOURNALIS Prime Minister initiative that is being put
it i a f irly obvious solution, I suppose, and it might have
occurred lo some other country to approach the United Nations...
Given the work load that you already have on your plate the
problems of agricultural trade why do you feel it necessary for
Australia to raise at the Security Council given the nature of it
PM: When you are a member of the Security Council we sought to
Ve, we are that membership gives you responsibilities. We
don't say., well, we sought to become a member of the Security
Council so we can walk around the world and say, look, how
clever we are. We got elected to the Security Council.
Meubership of the Security Council gives you obligations,
imposes ociligations upon you. We vill discharge them.
JOURNALI& T: But the Government has copped some criticism the
loreign binister has copped some criticism for attempting to find
solution1, for example, the Cambodian situation.
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MN I doa' think he has copped any lasttng criticism
Tither from-the countries In the region most directly
involved or in a broader sense internationally. And I
certainly a* not conscious of any criticism of Australia's
position. * one ' has been conveyed to us in recent terms
because of he position that we have adopted In regard to
seeking tempting to find a solution in that extremely
difficult r~ gion to which you refer. I'm not conscious of
any continuing criticism. And I go back to the point.
if you are toint to be a member of the Security Council you
can't ' have bat membership and not accept the obligations
that it rigfrtly imposes upon you.
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Transcript 6885