HERE is a job ad for an escape from the daily grind. Salary in excess of $220,000, move to New York, plush apartment, every day a new challenge.
Only one catch – the interview panel is made up of the whole world. Literally every country on the planet gets a say. And the job may not even exist.
Australia’s campaign for the Security Council is nearing crunch time ahead of a vote in October, and, hoping to not come last in a three-man race that will have two winners who snare a seat, the Foreign Affairs Department has begun advertising for senior diplomats to work in United Nations headquarters.
”The department is making no assumptions about the outcome of the [UN Security Council] elections or … government consideration of budgetary matters,” is the bold warning that heads an internal memo circulated last week inside the foreign service.
But the team running the campaign has determined Australia must show it is ready to immediately take a place on the world’s top table for global peace and security.
A total of eight new jobs are on offer to bolster Australia’s representation in New York, including two senior executive roles and a clutch of mid-level diplomats.
But before they are dispatched, Australia must first secure the support of two-thirds of UN members, 129 countries, to win one of two seats in a stiff battle with Finland and Luxembourg.
Cautious or measured optimism is the usual way insiders describe progress in the campaign, wary not to be overly confident given Australia lost a bid for a seat in 1996 it had expected to win.
Besides, the 16-year break since Australia last ran a race of this type and the knowledge countries can change their mind at the last minute – once dubbed, rather undiplomatically, the ”rotten lying bastards” – makes the level of support hard to judge.
”The black spots are the ‘Stans, the central Asian countries,” said an official with knowledge of the campaign.
Australia has special envoys fanned out across the globe to drum up support, including to Africa and Latin America.
More than $25 million has been devoted to the bid – generating controversy in the era of public service cuts.
The campaign even boasts a souvenir pen, embossed ”Australia Candidate for the Security Council 2013-14” alongside a bouncing kangaroo.
Every nation with paid-up UN dues gets a vote for the 10 temporary members on the 15-member council, with the world’s most populous country, China, counting equal to the Pacific fly-speck Tuvalu.
Finland, which has been campaigning since 2002, is expected to be a walk-up winner for one of the seats reserved for ”Western European and other” nations, with a two-year term to begin in January.
Usually Australia – the world’s 18th largest economy – would be expected to dominate a minnow like Luxembourg, with a population of barely 500,000.
But the tiny nation entered the race more than a decade ago and has the backing of its powerful European Union allies – and is the only founding member of the UN never to hold a Security Council seat.
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