Policy Update

Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs critical of WHO but reconfirms commitment to multilateral organizations

In a recent speech addressing Australia's global engagement in a time of COVID-19, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, spoke at length about Australia's commitment to multilateral institutions. Payne said that Australia plans to continue to work with multilateral institutions, which have played a key role in the global response to COVID-19.

Payne highlighted the World Health Organization (WHO) in particular, which she said Australia would like to see become stronger, more independent, and more transparent. She outlined the government's intention to focus its contributions on global institutions that are fit-for-purpose and have a strong focus on the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia plans concentrate its efforts on preserving three aspects of the multilateral system:

  1. Rules that enable international trade and investment and protect sovereignty;
  2. Norms that support the rule of law, universal human rights, and gender equality; and
  3. Standards that regulate international health, transport, telecommunications, and other issues that underpin the global economy and are key to a post-COVID-19 recovery.

The Minister’s speech was given following a review of multilateral organizations announced by the Australian Prime Minister in November 2019.

Speech - Minister for Foreign Affairs