WikiLeaks cable: US-NZ cooperation on climate, environment and human rights

Photo / Mark Mitchell
Photo / Mark Mitchell

This is one of the diplomatic cables about New Zealand held by Wikileaks.

January 29, 2008
SUBJECT: UNDERSECRETARY DOBRIANSKY EMPHASIZES STRONG US-NZ COOPERATION ON CLIMATE, ENVIRONMENT, AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Classified By: Pol/Econ Counselor Margaret B. McKean; Reason 1.4 (b) an
d (d)

1. (C) Summary. During her January 14 meetings with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) officials, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky highlighted the recent successful discussions in Bali, underscored USG support for a multilateral approach to climate change in the post-2012 period, and applauded the close bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and New Zealand on a range of issues covering the environment, Antarctica, human rights and democracy and governance. U/S Dobriansky also highlighted the strong premium the USG places on interfaith dialogue and public diplomacy programs to counter radicalism among youth. On
January 15, the Undersecretary met with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, New Zealand's Whaling Commissioner, who urged the US to use its influence with Japan to see a diplomatic resolution to Japanese whaling policy.

In all of her meetings, the Undersecretary paid tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary and expressed USG condolences at his passing. End Summary.

2. (U) Undersecretary Dobriansky was accompanied by S/P staff member Dean Pittman; Embassy Charge d'Affaires David Keegan and Pol/Econ Counselor also participated in MFAT meetings.

Meeting with MFAT CEO Simon Murdoch

3. (C) MFAT CEO Simon Murdoch met on January 14 with Undersecretary Dobriansky to preview the Prime Minister's views on a range of foreign policy issues in advance of the US' meeting with the PM on January 15. Murdoch led off with climate change and global warming, noting that the PM had attended APEC and the East Asian Summit (EAS) meetings in late 2007 and was struck by the prominence of climate change at both meetings -- the EAS had focused on energy security in 2006 but the recent meeting had seen a significant shift in priority to emissions reductions. The GNZ thought the Bali meetings had been constructive, and New Zealanders want to know what the climate change policy center of gravity in the US will be over the next several years. He added that for the Labour Party, the PM led a domestic policy review in the past year on New Zealand's approach toward climate change; with 2008 being an election year, the issue will remain very important to the Prime Minister. On Bali, Dobriansky characterized the outcome as a success, noting that she had met with Minister for Climate Change David Parker while in Indonesia.

4. (C) Afghanistan is also an important issue to New Zealand, and the PM believes the international community's strategy must focus on both a military approach as well as the development of political institutions, remarked Murdoch.On human rights matters, the US and New Zealand are largely of the same mind, continued Murdoch. The PM supported UNSG
Special Representative Ibrahim Gambari's participation at the EAS leader luncheon. Murdoch allowed that GOS PM Lee Hsien Loong had to "drag comments" on Burma out of the Indian and Chinese leaders. Within the region, Murdoch said that New Zealand has strong views on good governance. Democracy in the post-colonial period is rather fragile, as the second generation leaders in the Pacific islands struggle with
governance issues. Murdoch underscored GNZ appreciation for cooperation in this regard with the USG. Undersecretary Dobriansky noted that the USG values cooperation with the GNZ on the human rights situations in Burma, Fiji, and North Korea. Murdoch stressed New Zealand's concern for the future of the Pacific islands, which are increasingly turning away from Australia and New Zealand to seek ties with Taiwan, China, Cuba and others. The Undersecretary responded that the USG wants to collaborate with NZ on more practical approaches to democracy within the region, and is pleased that the GNZ has indicated a willingness to join the Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership (APDP). She added that she had appreciated that Phil Goff, while serving as foreign minister, has briefed her on his visit to Tibet, since as Tibet coordinator she could not travel there.

5. (C) Murdoch also emphasized the PM's support for counterterrorism (CT), particularly the soft side of the GNZ's CT approach that encompasses interfaith dialogue and the UN initiative on dialogue among civilizations. New Zealand is a firm supporter of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), intelligence sharing, and CT efforts in
Afghanistan. However, the GNZ -- and the PM in particular -- also considers religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue programs to be an important component of New Zealand's overall approach, which is conducted with Australia and Indonesia. Domestically, such soft support helps the PM within the non-centrist left of the Labour Party, added
Murdoch, which is very critical of US policy towards Israel.

In conjunction with the UN dialogue project, New Zealand has hosted a regional meeting that produced a report addressing disaffected youth; the report was presented to the EAS for funding consideration and commitment, said Murdoch.

6. (C) Undersecretary Dobriansky agreed that CT efforts should include hard and soft tactics and programs; the USG has a number of interfaith initiatives incorporated into US efforts in Afghanistan. Also important is the role of Muslim democracies, such as Indonesia, which are represented in the Community of Democracies, said Dobriansky. Dean Pittman added that the USG is working on a number of initiatives to
combat radical Islam, particularly among young people, as part of our "war of ideas." The United States would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with New Zealand on these efforts. The Undersecretary stressed that the USG welcomes other countries taking the lead on such issues and applauded GNZ efforts. She agreed that progress in Afghanistan will rely not only on assistance funds and military action, but also on education, an open media, political institutional development and many practical aspects of developing a democratic society, including academic exchanges. Murdoch noted that NATO will host a special meeting on Afghanistan in Bucharest at the 2008 NATO Summit in late April; the PM plans to attend and has been critical that the Europeans have not delivered adequately on the military side. Murdoch also said that the GNZ is considering how to "lift" the New Zealand civilian presence in Afghanistan to match the GNZ PRT
contribution but no decision has yet been made.

7. (C) Returning to the environment and climate change issues, Murdoch informed the USG visitors that New Zealand's foreign policy used to be centered on trade; while trade remains an important issue, the GNZ now also takes into account environmental concerns and resource depletion.
Concerning the latter, the GNZ is concerned about the future of the southern oceans due to overfishing, illegal fishing, seabed mining, bio-prospecting in and around coral reefs, and the increasing encroachment further south into Antarctic waters of commercial fishing.

Undersecretary Dobriansky said that the USG shares these concerns and wants to work with the GNZ on White Water to Blue Water initiatives, and overfishing and sustainable management of ocean resources. Murdoch responded that the US as a world leader in public-private partnerships, scientific research and responsible public policy can have an impact on rapidly developing countries that need tangible environmental policies. Murdoch offered that the USG support for the Antarctica program beginning in the 1950s was instrumental to the successful cooperation over the past half century; the GNZ could not have afforded it at the time and would not be able to continue now without USG help.

MFAT Roundtable

8. (C) In a follow-on roundtable meeting chaired by MFAT Deputy Secretary Carolyn Forsyth, GNZ officials discussed a range of environmental issues and good governance/democracy/human rights matters of importance to the bilateral relationship. In Antarctica, Forsyth noted the excellent US-NZ cooperation, discussed the wind energy generation proposal for McMurdo, and referred to NZ's contribution to the logistics pool. Trevor Hughes of MFAT's Antarctic Policy Unit discussed two key concerns of the GNZ in the Antarctic region: expansion/diversification in tourism and illegal fishing in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) zone. Regarding tourism, Hughes pointed out that the numbers
of tourists coming to Antarctica have grown exponentially -- now at 35,000 in the Treaty area; 10 years ago the numbers were only 10% of that figure. Hughes remarked that the GNZ has been grateful for the policy coordination between New Zealand and the US in Antarctic treaty meetings, and for the recent USG-proposed resolution to limit landings of groups of 500 or more people on the continent.

Environmental issues surrounding tourists are also of concern to the GNZ, continued Hughes, as the number of ships lacking ice protection is growing. In addition, 40% of the tour ships in Antarctica are flagged to countries that are not treaty partners, said Hughes, adding that the M/S Explorer, which sank off the coast of Antarctica in November 2007, was flagged to Liberia. Undersecretary Dobriansky agreed that tourism was an issue that needed to be addressed -- perhaps at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings; Pittman suggested that the next consultative group meeting in Kiev in June 2008 could look at enforceable protocols. Hughes noted that New Zealand places observers on all tourism vessels passing through NZ ports to ensure compliance with treaty obligations. He added that some South American countries run small hotels in Antarctica to fund their research programs.


9. (C) On illegal fishing and destructive fishing practices, Carolyn Forsyth was pleased that the US and NZ cooperate in the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization; she applauded the Organization's establishment of interim measures during the April 2007 meetings in Chile.

New Zealand assesses the oceans and fish stocks as in a poor state and there is increasing pressure in the southern oceans. Trevor Hughes pointed to specific problems in the Antarctic seas and damage to toothfish stocks, offering that Hong Kong and Spanish fishing syndicates are the worst offenders and that most of the fishing masters aboard the illegal fishing boats are of Spanish nationality. He added
that the illegal fleets are using gill netting in the Indian Ocean region below Australia but are being monitored by Australian and French authorities; he worries as they are pushed from that zone the fleets will move to the Ross Sea.

Undersecretary Dobriansky responded that one approach to addressing the problem would be the actual implementation of the 2006 UNGA resolution on destructive fishing practices. She agreed with the GNZ analysis of the illegal fishing problem, noting that improved surveillance and information sharing is needed. (Note: The New Zealand media on January
17 reported that a blacklisted fishing vessel flagged to Sierra Leone and operated by a Spanish company was reported in the Ross Sea CCAMLR zone; the GNZ reported the incident to CCAMLR. End Note.)

Climate Change and Sustainability

10. (C) Turning to climate change and Bali, Carolyn Forsyth said that the GNZ was pleased there was agreement under the UNFCCC and glad the USG is part of the new negotiations. She noted the differences between the US and NZ concerning deforestation. Developing countries have moved to the point of quantifiable, verifiable emissions measures, she observed, and New Zealand hoped the Major Economies Meeting under US
auspices would feed into UNFCCC. Dobriansky offered that the US was pleased that developing countries are part of the negotiating process post-2012 and that the Major Economies Meeting would complement and not compete with the overall UNFCCC process.

She underscored that there is united bipartisan support in the U.S. for the major economies initiative. The Undersecretary emphasized USG support for the elevation of mitigation and adaptation discussions and the financing of technological transfers. She agreed that differentiation discussions are also timely as there are significant differences between large, middle-income countries such as Brazil and small island states. In looking at the longer term global goals, inclusion of the major
economies is crucial, as China is overtaking the US in emissions, added Dobriansky. She noted that the Ad Hoc Working Group meeting in March/April 2008 will be important.

Pittman underscored the importance of countries such as New Zealand adding their voices in support of a climate change agreement that includes all major emitters, not just
developed countries.

11. (SBU) Carolyn Forsyth discussed sustainability in New Zealand, and the GNZ's goal of becoming the first society to be truly sustainable. The policy is multifold, drawing in businesses, government procurement, waste minimization, and households. Six government agencies are scheduled to become carbon neutral by 2012, noted Forsyth. Yvonne Lucas from the Ministry of Economic Development explained that the GNZ is
placing emphasis on both the public and private sectors; there is great activity on energy efficiency and improved environmental outcomes, but the GNZ is still wrestling with coordination issues. Undersecretary Dobriansky congratulated GNZ officials for their sustainability approach, noting that New Zealand can be a model for other countries.

She applauded New Zealand for hosting UN Environment Day in June, and announced that the US would host the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) in March and would welcome GNZ participation. In a subsequent meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark (septel), Dobriansky on behalf of the Secretary invited her to attend.

Pacific Islands

12. (C) Moving to Pacific island governance issues, MFAT Pacific Director John Adank briefed the Undersecretary on GNZ views towards the southern Pacific region. The succession of coups in Fiji has been worrisome, said Adank, and the GNZ has seen the challenges of reinstating democracy in the lead up to the March 2009 elections. The international community should ensure the Fiji interim government puts in place the necessary milestones to achieve successful elections; the GNZ worries that the interim government is trying to change the
constitution before the elections, noted Adank. The Pacific Island Forum results from Tonga in 2007 were not encouraging, he added. New Zealand and others should promote an environment whereby the Fijian people believe elections will take place; the current environment on the island suggests the military is firmly in control, said Adank.

Undersecretary Dobriansky mentioned that the USG had found Cape Verde to be a useful partner to the Timor Leste electoral process as both were small islands. Adank said a major concern is the Fiji interim government's promotion of a People's Charter and a review of the Fijian constitution, which only an elected government should do. He added that PM Clark had sent a detailed letter outlining the GNZ's views on the Charter to Frank Bainimarama. Both Adank and Dobriansky agreed that women's participation in elections was important.

Carolyn Forsyth added that Pacific Island politicians do not always see themselves as accountable to the people they represent. Dobriansky updated MFAT officials on the Mali Community of Democracies discussion surrounding the Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership.

Tibet

13. (C) Undersecretary Dobriansky outlined the interactions between the Dalai Lama and Chinese officials over the past six years, and noted that these meetings still had not translated into practical results. The Dalai Lama would like to see three issues addressed by the GOC: environmental sensitivity, economic development that aids Tibetans and not just Han Chinese, and an immigration policy that preserves Tibetan culture and religion, which is threatened by the influx of Han Chinese into Tibet. The Dalai Lama would also like to make a pilgrimage to Beijing as well as Tibet, said Dobriansky. MFAT Director for Asia David Taylor asked Dobriansky if there was a way in which the GNZ and USG might work together in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics to pressure
Beijing vis-a-vis Tibet; the Undersecretary promised to reflect on the question and get back to New Zealand officials.

Burma

14. (C) On Burma, Undersecretary Dobriansky underscored the importance of this issue to the USG and the President's personal commitment to continue the pressure on the military regime. Carolyn Forsyth noted that Rangoon's leaders had made some initial concessions after the crackdown but there was little interest in genuine reform. Nigel Moore of MFAT offered that New Zealand had put in place visa sanctions in 2003, was considering economic sanctions (although these would have little to no tangible impact), and that China, India and the ASEANs were key to applying pressure to Rangoon's leadership. Although New Zealand has not favored UN Security Council involvement up to this stage, PM Clark is now considering support for UNSC action. Undersecretary Dobriansky said that within the Council there exists greater support than one year ago, and that the USG has pressed both
China and India.

North Korea

15. (C) The Undersecretary thanked the GNZ for its help on North Korea. MFAT's David Taylor noted that the GNZ ensures that human rights issues figure in their conversations with North Korean officials and that FM Winston Peters raised human rights during his visit to Pyongyang in November 2007. GNZ officials asked for an update on USG actions to remove North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list and if
there had been a lifting of any trade sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

PKO and CT Issues

16. (C) Wayne Higgins, Director for International Defense Relations at the Ministry of Defense, briefed the Undersecretary and Dean Pittman on the status of GNZ peacekeeping deployments in Afghanistan, Timor Leste and the Pacific region, Lebanon, and other parts of the globe. Higgins noted that New Zealand's armed forces have focused on "niche" contributions, but that the GNZ is commited to international peace and security. Pittman noted USG appreciation for the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) contribution in Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan, and asked if the New Zealand public remained supportive of New Zealand's work in Afghanistan; Higgins replied affirmatively and added that Singapore had contributed medical and dental officers to the Bamiyan PRT, just as New Zealand the GOS had worked in Timor Leste.

Pittman pointed out that New Zealand was aready very active in support of international peacekeeping efforts and said it would be a natural for the GNZ to join the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI). Finally, Undersecretary Dobriansky discussed TIP issues and prospects for US-NZ cooperation on TIP issues of mutual concern through the establishment of a joint working group. MFAT officials said that New Zealand is "on the same page" as the US with respect to trafficking in persons, and New Zealand is placing a great deal of emphasis on TIP in their immigration and labor departments.


17. (C) Carolyn Forsyth briefed Undersecretary Dobriansky about GNZ efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and how these dovetail with counterterrorism security outcomes. New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia began a regional interfaith program in 2004 following the first Bali bombing; meetings in the Philippines and most recently (May 2007) in New Zealand have followed. Forsyth underscored that the meetings are not about religion; rather, participants seek to empower
moderates and marginalize radicalism. One of the positive outcomes of the regional meetings has been improved Muslim networks between countries and discussion about a Muslim intra-faith meeting. New Zealand hopes to implement the action plan put forward during the May 2007 meeting, she said. Looking to the UN Alliance of Civilizations (AOC) initiative, Forsyth mentioned that the absence of a USG
contribution garnered some criticism from speakers to the October 2007 meeting in Spain. The GNZ interest in the AOC is largely confined to practical projects on media, education, and youth. Dobriansky responded that the USG also appreciates the practical elements of the AOC but has noted politicization within the Initiative. She said that the USG
has a number of lessons learned from US-led interfaith initiatives that may be relevant to the GNZ; both she and Pittman agreed that S/P would discuss these initiatives with the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, particularly the War on Ideas and ways to move Muslim youth away from radicalism.

US Dobriansky Meets Whaling Commissioner Palmer

18. (C) NZ International Whaling Commissioner (and former PM) Sir Geoffrey Palmer, accompanied MFAT Environment Division Director Jan Henderson met with US Dobriansky and Dean Pittman on January 15 to discuss GNZ concerns with the IWC and Japanese whaling policy. Palmer urged the USG to use its influence with Tokyo to seek resolution of Japanese whaling policy and the GOJ's role within the IWC, which
Palmer characterized as a "dysfunctional" organization that has lost credibility as an international body among many diplomats due to Japanese vote buying and a membership that includes landlocked countries with no interest in whaling.

In New Zealand, Palmer underscored that the anti-whaling movement is strong and the new Rudd government in Australia has taken a tougher stance on whaling by threatening legal action at the International Court of Justice. New Zealand believes that a legal case at the ICJ will probably not succeed and a diplomatic solution is needed; the Japanese government needs to get something out of any GOJ decision to
curtail its so-called scientific research approach to whaling, said Palmer, who added that the scientific loophole needs to closed.

19. (C) Undersecretary Dobriansky offered that the USG and GNZ have good collaboration on whaling and both share a pro-conservation approach to the issue. She agreed to meet with US Commissioner Hogarth as well as Deputy Secretary Negroponte to discuss and solicit ideas. Palmer said that with New Zealand in an election year and public opinion
staunchly opposed to whaling, no NZ politician can support any level of whale slaughter; privately, he conceded that there may be a sustainable harvest that can be applied to some whale species. He applauded the work of Remi Parmentier and the Pew Environment Group and noted that even Greenpeace is not opposed to a deal with the Japanese; the Latin
American countries are firmly opposed to whaling. Palmer proposed that the GNZ and the USG work towards what would comprise a resolution during the March 6-8 IWC Intersessional meetings in London in the lead up to the annual IWC meetings in Chile in June. Dobriansky said that she would confer with Washington officials and Japanese experts on her return to Washington.

US Dobriansky Meets Human Rights Commission Chairman

20. (SBU) Also on January 15, Undersecretary Dobriansky met the Chairman of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, Rosslyn Noonan, in Auckland. At Dobriansky's request, Noonan reviewed the independent commission's mandate to advocate human rights and encourage harmonious relations among groups within New Zealand as well as to receive and seek to resolve complaints. Since 2001, it has placed a particular emphasis on the concerns of Maori over inequitable implementation of
the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, signed between the Crown and Maori chiefs. The Commission participates in UN Human Rights Commission meetings separate from the New Zealand Government.

While international activities have not been a major part of its efforts, it has worked to strengthen the capacity of the often small and understaffed human rights commissions in the Pacific. This year the Commission will undertake, at the request of the GNZ, a project with the Philippine military and police to enhance their adherence to human rights principles in carrying out their duties. The New Zealand
Police will assist by providing specific training to the Philippine police in handling violence against women. In response to U/S Dobriansky's question about whether the commission had established a counterpart relationship in the U.S., perhaps with the Civil Rights Commission, Noonan said that they had contacts with NGOs and state and local commissions. She agreed it would make sense to reach out to
the federal level as well.

21. (U) Undersecretary Dobriansky and S/P policy officer Dean Pittman have cleared this message.

MCCORMICK

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