Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

NZ would be independent voice on UN Security Council - Ambassador

  File photo / Martin Sykes
File photo / Martin Sykes

New Zealand is promoting its decision to support the United Nations vote on Palestinian statehood - alone amongst its oldest friends - and its anti-nuclear credentials as evidence that it would have an independent and strong voice on the UN Security Council.

New Zealand's ambassador to the UN, Jim McLay, made reference to the vote in a speech last night to the Birkenhead Rotary Club where he canvassed arguments as to what value such a small country as New Zealand could add to the Security Council.

The United States and Canada voted against the resolution last year recognising Palestine as a non-member observer state at the UN. Britain and Australia abstained. The vote, on November 29, passed with 138 in favour, nine against and 41 abstentions.

The vote for two places in 2015 and 2016 will be held by secret ballot next year.

New Zealand faces competition from Spain and Turkey.

Mr McLay said that not being a "G-Anything" could have its disadvantages, it could also be a plus.

"We are almost unique in that we are not part of any political alliance; we are not members of the G8, G20, G77, Nato, the EU or any other group."

While New Zealand had many friends and could be like-minded with others including with Nato in Afghanistan "we are not G-Anything, which leaves us free to speak our mind on crucial issues".

New Zealand supported the United States and the European Union on issues like Syria and Mali, and shared the same position as the US on the Korean peninsular.

Like the United States, it supported the two-state solution in the Middle East, Israel and Palestine living side by side peacefully with agreed borders - "and we want that achieved by direct negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians."

New Zealand understood Israel's need for security guarantees as part of any settlement. Israel knew that and knew that New Zealand shared its and US concerns about Iran's nuclear programme.

"We were, however, the only one of the US and the UK, Canada and Australia and New Zealand to vote for the UN resolution recognising Palestine as a UN non-member observer state."

Mr McLay also pointed to the differences with the United States over nuclear issues - "Twenty-six years ago, we broke with the US over nuclear ship visits; we helped establish the world's second Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the South Pacific; we

Are a found member of the New Agenda Coalition which seeks nuclear disarmament, and we belong to De-Alerting Group, which wants to decrease the operational readiness of nuclear weapons."

Mr McLay, a former Attorney-General and former National Party leader, is back in New Zealand to update the Government on the bid for the Security Council seat.

Prime Minister John Key is almost certain to attend the United Nations general assembly in September to further promote New Zealand's bid.

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- NZ Herald

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