Joint Ministerial Statement for the 10th Australia-UK Ministerial Meeting
1. On 20 July, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt and the UK Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson, hosted Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP and Australia’s Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, in Edinburgh for the annual Australia-UK Ministerial (AUKMIN) talks.
2. We committed to strengthening our dynamic partnership for the 21st Century. We cooperate closely around the world. Australia set out its vision for an Indo-Pacific region which is open, prosperous and inclusive. The UK reiterated its ‘all of Asia’ approach to broadening and deepening cooperation across this important region. Our countries share a vision for the future, based on shared values and close bonds between our peoples. As such the UK and Australia will work tirelessly together and with other like-minded partners to protect and promote the rules-based international system, particularly in the face of escalating challenges to it.
3. The rules-based international order remains the bedrock of global security and prosperity. The UK and Australia will intensify efforts to strengthen international rules and norms, including through the UN and the Commonwealth, seeking reform where necessary and championing universal human rights, democracy, rule of law, the protection of the environment, open economies and free trade. We will promote and protect the international rules-based trading system, with the WTO at its heart, working together to defend and uphold international trade rules, strengthen multilateral trade institutions and facilitate sustainable global economic growth.
4. We oppose overt and covert actions that undermine the rules-based international order, including Russian actions such as the nerve agent attack in Salisbury and malicious cyber activity including NotPetya malware, and its role in the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. We are united in our efforts to respond to any such actions, including to deter further hybrid and chemical weapons attacks. We remain in close consultation as the Amesbury investigation progresses.
5. We will strengthen cooperation to promote and protect human rights, including tackling modern slavery, promoting disability inclusion, and increasing global health security. We recognise and commit to the full realisation of the rights of all women and girls as pivotal to achieving this shared aspiration. Our support for the Human Rights Council remains steadfast and we will work together to strengthen it and make it more efficient.
6. We will cooperate to advance global prosperity and sustainability. On climate change, we remain committed to driving ambitious climate action, and to supporting Paris Agreement implementation including through robust guidance, and the provision of finance for climate-resilient development. We will work together to improve the international climate system including by working closely on the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility. We will focus on ocean and coral reef conservation including support through the International Coral Reef Initiative and work together to combat the illegal wildlife trade. We will work to raise awareness and share knowledge on blue carbon and climate action in priority regions.
7. We face a myriad of shared security challenges. Terrorists have attacked and threatened our interests at home and overseas. As part of the Global Coalition, we are working to secure the lasting defeat of Daesh in Iraq and Syria. We cooperate extensively to counter terrorism including by building capacity in South-East Asia and to address the challenges posed by foreign terrorist fighters. We will work to end the growing threat posed by chemical weapons as shown in the attacks in Syria, Malaysia and the UK. We welcome the Decision of the Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention on 27 June and will work in the coming months to build on this and further strengthen implementation of the Convention. We reaffirm our support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty. We will deepen exchanges on managing risks to our critical infrastructure and institutions. We call on others to join us in responding to hostile state activity, including cyber attacks. We will broaden cooperation within the Five Eyes partnership and with other partners as we seek to tackle these challenges and uphold the rules-based system.
8. We remain committed to freedom of navigation and overflight and the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). We support an effective Code of Conduct (CoC) in the South China Sea that reinforces the rights of all states under UNCLOS and respects the interests of non-parties to the CoC. The CoC should reinforce existing regional architecture and strengthen parties’ commitments to cease actions that would complicate or escalate territorial disputes, including militarisation. We urge all parties to refrain from any actions which raise tensions and hinder the chances of peaceful settlement of the disputes. The UK congratulates Australia and Timor-Leste for their effective use of the first conciliation under UNCLOS to resolve their maritime boundary dispute.
9. The 100th Anniversary of the end of the Great War is a solemn reminder of the joint sacrifice of our armed forces, who are still working together today. We continue to cooperate to ensure international security and stability across the globe. We seek negotiated settlements for the humanitarian catastrophes in both Syria and Yemen. In Afghanistan, we will continue to build the capacity of defence and security forces and strengthen the Afghan Government’s anti-corruption capacities. On Iran, we continue to support the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and urge Iran to uphold its commitments.
10. We will continue to work together to promote prosperity, peace, openness and the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific region. North Korea’s illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programmes remain a threat to the region and beyond. We will maintain pressure until North Korea takes concrete, irreversible and verifiable steps towards complete denuclearisation. We have strengthened security engagement in this region through bilateral and multilateral joint exercises and enforcement of UNSC Resolutions sanctioning North Korea. In 2018, our armed forces will continue to conduct exercises alongside the other members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA). We will seek opportunities for deeper maritime security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific.
11. As demonstrated by the selection of a British design for Australia’s Hunter Class frigates, the interoperability of our military forces continues to expand. We will continue to deepen our Anti-Submarine Warfare Strategic Partnership. Our defence science and technology areas plan to work together with industry and academia on advanced materials.
12. In Burma/Myanmar, we will continue to encourage a positive trajectory towards lasting peace and democracy. We call on the Burma/Myanmar government to implement its MoU with UN agencies, beginning with immediate unimpeded access for UN and other international humanitarian organisations to northern Rakhine. The Burmese/Myanmar government should create conditions for the safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees and ensure accountability for human rights violations through a credible, transparent and independent mechanism with international involvement.
13. Sustainable Development Goal 9 recognises the global significance of resilient infrastructure. Principles-based and sustainable infrastructure investment will be critical to the economic prosperity and stability of all regions. We support all regional infrastructure investment which promotes fair and open competition and is transparent and non-discriminatory, upholds robust standards, meets genuine needs and is value for money, and avoids unsustainable debt burdens. Enhancing the pipeline of financially viable infrastructure projects and attracting private sector capital will be essential to meeting the region’s infrastructure needs. Through our engagement in multilateral fora and with partner countries in the region we will work together to advance these goals.
14. At CHOGM in April, we committed to launching an Enhanced Partnership for the Pacific to support regional stability, security and resilience. Australia welcomes the UK opening three new diplomatic missions in the Pacific, which will make it the best-represented European country in the region. Together, we will leverage innovations from civil society and business to improve the delivery of aid and investment and support regional economic growth, including through Australia’s innovationXchange. The UK will explore options to partner with Australia and others in the region.
15. We have reaffirmed our commitment to pursuing an ambitious bilateral FTA once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. We noted the UK’s aspiration to potentially seek accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We have also agreed on a number of initiatives to enhance our economic partnership, following discussion this week at the UK-Australia Leadership Forum. In particular, we will pursue more strategic collaboration between our universities via the Leadership Forum and Australia-UK Education Dialogue. The UK welcomes Australia’s new national space agency and looks forward to collaborating on projects to address global environmental challenges. Recognising that cultural understanding is the bedrock of strong relationships, we undertake to nurture the extensive partnerships between our people and institutions and to promote cultural collaboration and understanding with partners in our regions.
16. We continue to strengthen cooperation between the UK and Australian Diplomatic Services and welcome the successful co-location on 9 March 2018 of the British Consulate in Bali. We look forward to exploring options for further collaboration, including through sharing of best practice on corporate issues and closer working between our Diplomatic Academies.