Australia needs to help fill a leadership vacuum on the global stage amid an American retreat, a former foreign affairs bureaucrat argues.
And a spot on the United Nations Human Rights Council is a good way to start.
That's the view of Sally Weston, a former Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade official, in a new report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute on Friday.
On Monday the UN will hold elections for two positions on the rights council from 2018-2020.
What was a three horse race between France, Spain and Australia has narrowed further after Paris withdrew its candidacy.
If Australia's bid is successful it will be the first time it has served on the council.
"Particularly in the light of the US withdrawal, Australia, together with like-minded states, needs to step into the emerging vacuum rather than leave that space to states with markedly different world views," Ms Weston said in the report.
She reflected on Australia's successes during its recent stint on the UN Security Council and its leadership on issues such as the Syrian humanitarian crisis and the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Ms Weston urged the federal government to do a better job at publicly explaining Australia's engagement with the UN and why it's in the national interest to participate.
There was also merit in strengthening ties with non-traditional partner countries such as Caribbean Community and African Union to help curry favour for future candidacies on UN bodies.
This approach was also consistent with Australia acting as a sustainable global player rather than being preoccupied with our immediate geographic region, Ms Weston said.
Australia is making a bid for a spot on the UN Security Council for 2029-2030 and will be up against Finland.