Chapter 4

Intergovernmental organisations headquartered in France

This chapter covers the evidence received on Australian engagement with intergovernmental organisations headquartered in France, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

The OECD is an international organisation with a goal to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all. Together with governments, policy makers and citizens, the OECD works on establishing evidence-based international standards and finding solutions to a range of social, economic and environmental challenges.1

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) advised that Australia is represented by an ambassador to the OECD, in addition to representatives from a number of other agencies.2 The Committee was informed of the recent issues raised by Australia's Ambassador to the OECD:
Understanding the economic, financial, social and environmental impacts of COVID-19 on OECD member economies, and policies to boost growth and employment during the recovery;
Tax policy, including digital tax;
Governance and future direction of the OECD, including [SecretaryGeneral] succession;
Preventing Terrorist and Violent Extremist Exploitation of the Internet (PTVEEI);
The Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI);
Response to environmental emergencies and wildfire management;
South East Asia Regional Program bureau (SEARP); and
Energy policy.3

Department of Home Affairs

Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs) stated that engagement with the OECD was a critical part of its global engagement:
The OECD provides the opportunity to share best practice and innovation to drive policy thinking across the breadth of departmental deliverables and key priorities. Access to respected research and data provides an independent analytical perspective that can inform the development of future policy options as well as the evaluation of existing policy settings.4
Home Affairs provided the top five priority areas of engagement where it will work with the OECD 'to develop global standards, principles and protocols associated with the capture, storage and transmission of data and information to protect the interests and activity of Australian nationals':
Avoiding radicalisation, fragmentation and alienation through the cohesive integration of migrants and refugees into communities and positive education on the benefits of cultural diversity.
Engagement across the OECD and with industry to establish principles and protocols that retain lawful enforcement access to encrypted information without unduly impacting citizens’ rights to privacy.
Ensuring online platforms are safe and working with industry to establish principles and protocols that prevent access to, or the use of, platforms to transmit or exchange abhorrent material related to terrorism or child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Trends and strategies to address irregular and/or illegal movement of people and goods across borders, leveraging the OECD’s capacity to collaborate on detection, deterrence and disruption activities as well as research into how temporary and permanent migration programs drive economic value.
Participation in the OECD High Level Risk Forum, which explores issues related to critical infrastructure security and resilience as well as hybrid threats.5
Home Affairs explained the reason these areas were prioritised:
Australia’s engagement with the OECD on the[se] topics … has been long standing and pre-date the creation of the Department of Home Affairs on 20 December 2017. The focus of engagement was refined to the five listed areas following … collaborative efforts between Home Affairs, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and others in September 2019 that sought to identify how engagement with the OECD enhanced the ability for agencies to achieve their strategic priorities.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade leads Australia’s Permanent Delegation to the OECD in Paris. Home Affairs’ officers based in London and Brussels participate in OECD committees and other forums on an ad-hoc basis, supported by officials in Canberra as appropriate. Home Affairs participates in the following OECD committees, forums and working groups:
Working Party on Migration;
High Level Risk Forum;
Network of Communication Officers on Migration; and the
Financial Action Task Force.6

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) works with a range of intergovernmental organisations located in France to progress Australia's agricultural, water and environment objectives, including the OECD. DAWE's participation in the OECD is primarily through the Agriculture, Fisheries, Environment Policy, and Chemicals committees.7
DAWE reported on its recent engagement with the OECD Environment Policy Committee (EPOC):
… Australia participates with the committee regularly, approximately every eight to nine months, so three times every biennium. We engage very collaboratively in that multilateral body, which, obviously, is based in Paris. Most recently, we engaged in a virtual EPOC meeting in late April, from 28 to 30 April. Some of the issues that we discussed in that meeting were around working collaboratively on resource efficiency, such as the circular economy, waste management, biodiversity and other issues that relate to the upcoming Convention on Biological Diversity Conference of the Parties, which will be held next year. There is a scheduled ministerial meeting to be held in 2021, with the date to be determined. Overall, our engagement is extremely collaborative and proactive …8
DAWE identified issues for closer cooperation with France in the OECD, including:
In particular, we could work more closely with France in the OECD in the Fisheries, Agriculture, Chemical and Environment Policy Committees including on issues such as providing sufficient and safe food for a growing and richer global population; more efficiently allocating resources for agriculture, non-agriculture and ecosystems and adapting to climate change.9

Department of Industry, Science and Resources

Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISER) outlined its engagement with the OECD. It currently has two counsellors located in Europe who engage with the European Union and OECD committees. It noted that:
Science, technology and innovation (STI) and digital economy policy in the OECD is advanced primarily through the Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy (CSTP), the Committee for Industry, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIIE) and the Committee for Digital Economy Policy (CDEP) along with a number of Working Parties.10
DISER advised that it also engages with the International Energy Agency (IEA), which is responsible for energy policy under the OECD umbrella. This membership 'provides Australia with access to the IEA’s extensive research and analysis, amongst other things'. The membership also allows Australia 'to influence global energy policies and governance, significantly contributing to Australia’s energy security and interests as a net energy exporter'.11

Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation

The Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation (AFRAN) advised:
Australian researchers are often engaged through the OECD’s programs and the organisation employs our PhD students and public servants who have analytic insights and expertise to support the organisations global goals. Both these outlets and other intergovernmental organisations based in France including the International Science Council, International Astronomical Union, International Water Council provide important avenues for Australian and joint French-Australian collaboration and influence globally and in regions of mutual importance. These organisations present an important avenue for Australian expertise and research impact, and participation in them is typically beneficial for seeding further interest in Australian-French cooperation and cultural exchange.12

Government of South Australia

The Government of South Australia advised that, through the Australian Government, the South Australian Department of Education has benefitted through participation in the OECD's education and skills work, including the Program for International Student Assessment, and the Teaching and Learning International Survey.13

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNESCO seeks to build peace through international cooperation in education, the sciences and culture. UNESCO develops educational tools to help people 'live as global citizens free of hate and intolerance' by means such as promoting 'cultural heritage and the equal dignity of all cultures'.14 This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972.15

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

DFAT informed the Committee that, in most cases, Australia is represented at UNESCO meetings by the Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Paris, who is also designated as Australia's Permanent Representative to UNESCO.16
DFAT advised that Australia and France collaborate through UNESCO:
… on areas of mutual policy interest including recognition of Indigenous culture and language, gender, the protection of journalists and preventing violent extremism through education.17
Australia's engagement at UNESCO involves attendance at meetings of its governing bodies, statutory meetings related to conventions Australia has ratified, subsidiary bodies to which Australia has been elected, and other intergovernmental meetings of experts, including:
General Conference; World Heritage Committee; International Oceanographic Commission; Committee on Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property; Conference of Parties to the International Convention against Doping in Sport; and the International Coordinating Council of the Programme on Man and the Biosphere.18
DFAT highlighted two recent priority areas where Australia has taken a lead role:
In July 2019, Australia played a leadership role in agreeing UNESCO’s Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education. This Convention will facilitate mobility and the recognition of student qualifications around the world, supporting Australia’s quality higher education sector.
In 2019, Australia co-chaired UNESCO’s International year of indigenous languages, increasing international awareness and understanding of Australia’s ancient and continuous indigenous culture, heritage and knowledge. In 2020, Australia is participating in an expert group assessing how to protect World Heritage Sites from climate change impacts. Australia is also engaging in UNESCO’s campaign to fight disinformation about COVID19.19

Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment

Australia is a founding member of the World Heritage Convention, which is administered by UNESCO. DAWE advised that:
Australia has played an active role in strengthening the integrity of the Convention and its processes through a range of successful policy developments and operational reforms.20
Australia currently serves on the World Heritage Committee, with the term ending in 2021. The World Heritage Committee consists of representatives from 21 of the States Parties to the World Heritage Convention:
The Committee is responsible for the implementation of the World Heritage Convention, defines the use of the World Heritage Fund and allocates financial assistance upon requests from States Parties. It has the final say on whether a property is inscribed on the World Heritage List. It examines reports on the state of conservation of inscribed properties and asks States Parties to take action when properties are not being properly managed. It also decides on the inscription or deletion of properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger.21
DAWE advised that Australia's priorities during its current term are 'nomination and state of conservation reform and updating the World Heritage Climate Change Policy'.22

Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation

AFRAN advised:
Australia has a long history of strong contributions to intergovernmental organisations headquartered in France, many of which stem from the academic community. UNESCO in particular relies in large part on volunteer hours, and these are often provided by later career Australian academics who play extremely active roles in scientific diplomacy and supporting foreign governments, most commonly in the Indo-Pacific region.23

Government of South Australia

The Government of South Australia noted the benefits of Australia's engagement with UNESCO. In particular it pointed to the designation of the Naracoorte caves as part of the Australian Fossil Mammal Sites World Heritage Site, and its pursuit of World Heritage Listing for the Flinders Ranges. The designation of Adelaide as a UNESCO City of Music and membership of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network was described as:
… acknowledgement of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of the city's music culture, its international reach, its history and its aspirations.24

World Organisation for Animal Health

Australia and France also have membership of the World Organisation for Animal Health (formerly the Office International des Epizooties), known as OIE. OIE is an intergovernmental organisation responsible for improving animal health worldwide. It is recognised as a reference organisation by the World Trade Organisation with its headquarters located in Paris.25
The current Australian delegate to the OIE is the Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp, who also serves as the President of the OIE World Assembly of Delegates. DAWE noted that:
Membership in the organisation allows Australia to engage with France and other member countries to influence the global animal health agenda and achieve positive global outcomes on these issues.26

Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement secretariat

DAWE advised the Committee of its support for the establishment of secretariat of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) in La Réunion.27 SIOFA is covered in more detail in Chapter 5.

World Water Council

DAWE noted Australia's involvement with World Water Forum (WWF), organised by the World Water Council (WCC), of which the department is a member:
The WWC is an international non-profit organisation based in Marseille that aims to address increasing concerns about world water issues through cooperation and discussions between intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, government ministries and agencies, local and regional authorities, and private/public/academic groups and businesses.28
The WWF is a non-binding, non-UN process, multi-stakeholder platform, bringing together a diverse range of stakeholders to discuss critical water issues, develop proposals to address these issues and secure political commitment to implement the resulting proposals.29
Held every three years, DAWE advised that since 2003, Australia 'has actively participated and sent delegations to the previous six forums …'30

International Organisation of Vine and Wine

DAWE is also a member of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), based in Paris, and has been involved with the body, and predecessor organisation since 1978. DAWE advised that the OIV is:
… an inter-governmental organisation which deals with technical aspects of the wine industry (grape growing, winemaking and consumers). It is not an international standard setting body – but makes recommendations as to the parameters for standards.31

  • 1
    See OECD, (accessed 2 July 2020).
  • 2
    Mr Dougal McInnes, Acting First Assistant Secretary, Europe and Latin America Division, DFAT, Proof Committee Hansard, 26 June 2020, p. 16.
  • 3
    Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Answers to questions taken on notice, 26 June 2020 (received 14 July 2020).
  • 4
    Department of Home Affairs (Home Affairs), Submission 18, p. 5.
  • 5
    Home Affairs, Submission 18, p. 5.
  • 6
    Home Affairs, Answers to questions taken on notice, 24 June 2020 (number 1)(received 10 July 2020).
  • 7
    Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), Submission 16, pp. 7-8.
  • 8
    Ms Dayle Stanley, Director, International Environment Policy Section, Trade and Market Access Division, DAWE, Proof Committee Hansard, 26 June 2020, p. 22.
  • 9
    DAWE, Submission 16, pp. 7-8.
  • 10
    Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISER), Submission 20, p. 4.
  • 11
    DISER, Submission 20, p. 4.
  • 12
    Australian-French Association for Research and Innovation (AFRAN), Submission 7, p. 9.
  • 13
    Government of South Australia, Submission 17, p. 5.
  • 14
    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO in brief – Mission and Mandate, (accessed 14 July 2020).
  • 15
    United Nations, Office of Legal Affairs, Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, (accessed 27 July 2020).
  • 16
    DFAT, Answers to questions taken on notice, 26 June 2020 (received 14 July 2020).
  • 17
    DFAT, Submission 19, p. 4.
  • 18
    DFAT, Answers to questions taken on notice, 26 June 2020 (received 14 July 2020).
  • 19
    DFAT, Answers to questions taken on notice, 26 June 2020 (received 14 July 2020).
  • 20
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 9.
  • 21
    UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Committee, (accessed 16 July 2020).
  • 22
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 9.
  • 23
    AFRAN, Submission 7, pp. 8-9.
  • 24
    Government of South Australia, Submission 17, p. 5.
  • 25
    See World Organisation for Animal Health, About us, (accessed 16 July 2020).
  • 26
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 9.
  • 27
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 9.
  • 28
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 9.
  • 29
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 9.
  • 30
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 9.
  • 31
    DAWE, Submission 16, p. 10.

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