Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

NZ UN seat campaign run 'on a shoe string'

New Zealand is seeking a seat on the UN Security Council - but is up against bigger countries with bigger budgets. Photo / Thinkstock
New Zealand is seeking a seat on the UN Security Council - but is up against bigger countries with bigger budgets. Photo / Thinkstock

Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand is running its campaign for the Security Council on a shoe string budget compared to its rivals, Turkey and Spain, but still had some creative tricks up its sleeve.

New Zealand is up against Turkey and Spain for the two seats - much larger countries with more funding behind their campaigns.

Mr Key said it was likely they were spending significantly more than New Zealand to try to secure the required 128 votes.

"They may well really ramp up their aid in certain countries they want to get over the line to vote for them. We are running a very old fashioned campaign."

He said there were things New Zealand could do to help attract votes, but that did not involved spending significant amounts of money. Examples included increasing New Zealand's representation in areas such as the Middle East, and 'agricultural diplomacy' - such as offering up expertise in the wool industry for Lesotho.

"So we are not dramatically spending huge amounts of money in comparison to some of the campaigns we've seen."

He said although it was more frugal, New Zealand would still be spending millions of dollars over the entirety of the campaign - but the pay off was worth it.

"It gives New Zealand engagement and relevancy with a lot of countries round the world. It helps the development of your country."

He said that could also result in a financial benefits in the long term - by building links with rapidly growing regions such as Africa which could result in trade relationships.

"We at the moment focus on Asia, that makes sense. But if you roll the clock forward a decade or so, I'd be surprised if New Zealand wasn't doing a lot more business with Africa."

He said there was little that could be done about others using aid to try to secure votes and it would be hard to police if any rules were put in place to govern conduct during such campaigns. While New Zealand did not tie its aid programme to an obligation to support it, he was hopeful that those countries would, although the other countries also gave aid to many of the same countries.

At the Pacific Islands Forum last month, the leaders did agree to support it - and the Pacific is the region most of New Zealand's aid goes to.

Early this morning, Mr Key spoke at a breakfast meeting hosted by Samoa's Prime Minister because New Zealand is helping fund Samoa to host a Small Islands Development conference, including providing a cruise ship as accommodation.

- NZ Herald

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