Gillard addresses UN General Assembly
(Translation of this article appears in Arabic section)
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has addressed the UN General Assembly in New York, making Australia's case for a seat on the Security Council.
Ms Gillard used her maiden address to the assembly to champion Australia's track record as a donor of international aid and a solid contributor to peacekeeping efforts.
She said Australia embraced the "high ideals" of the United Nations and took a practical approach to achieving change.
The ballot for the seat takes place on October 18.
Ms Gillard used her first speech to the assembly to highlight Australia's interest in global peace and security.
The Prime Minister took aim at Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, saying that he needs to be brought to justice.
"We must do everything we can to end the suffering of the Syrian people and to rebuild Syrian society, those who are committing crimes against humanity must be held accountable," she said.
"The international community must unite behind the joint special representative for Syria. We urge the members of the Security Council to do so and to act decisively."
Ms Gillard also expressed concern about Iran's "nuclear weapons program" and reaffirmed Australia's support for Israel.
"Iran still refuses to take the urgent steps necessary to build confidence that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful," she said.
"In contravention of successive IAEA and UN Security Council resolutions, Iran moves closer to having the capacity to produce weapons-grade material.
"A nuclear-armed Iran would be a major threat to regional and global security, especially given the shocking and aggressive statements about Israel."
Ms Gillard singled out the UN's Millennium Development Goals for praise, saying they had transformed "one billion lives".
She said Australia would "act decisively" where the world had fallen short of its development goals.
The Prime Minister said Australia's development spending on education had doubled in the past five years and by 2015 would be the world's largest education donor.
Australia would also fight for gender equality in education, said Ms Gillard, who also highlighted Australia's role in the Pacific Islands.
"A decade ago, 100 million children did not get to go to school. This number has been reduced by fully one-third - 33 million human futures entirely remade," she said.
"I'm especially pleased to join as an education champion in support of the Secretary-General's education first initiative, to mobilise global support to help achieve education for all children by 2015.
"I am honoured to lend it Australia's support. We will increase gender equality.
"Australia will provide $320 million over 10 years to support women's political participation, to expand women's leadership, to extend local opportunities in the Pacific."
Ms Gillard also highlighted the success of Australia's multicultural society.
She told the assembly that Australia was one of the world's "most successful, multicultural and multi-faith societies".
But she also took the opportunity to decry the recent violence over the film Innocence Of Muslims.
"The Australian experience proves a deeply important fact - there is nothing natural or inevitable about violent conflicts over religious belief. We must reaffirm this again today," she said.
"Denigration of religious beliefs is never acceptable. Australia seeks to be an example of freedom for all faiths.
"However our tolerance must never extend to tolerating religious hatred and incitement to violence, whether these lead to attacks against members of religious minorities or diplomats."