United Nations Ambassador Jim McLay dismisses suggestions that New Zealand will be in the pocket of the United States on the Security Council. "All I can say is 'watch us'." New Zealand had always been independent at the United Nations, he told the Herald, and would continue to be, as it promised in its campaigning for the seat. The criticisms have come from the left but MPs of all persuasions, writing for the Herald today, are urging New Zealand to maintain its independence in the face of pressure from larger countries on issues facing the council. "If we have to step on powerful toes to make a case then the next two years would be a good time to do so, " writes NZ First leader Winston Peters, "as we tried to do in the case of Rwanda when we last served [1993 - 94]. "What I want is that at the end of our term, governments and people everywhere might recall that New Zealand stands for decency, humanity and that it speaks for those who don't always have a voice in times of crisis." The US State Department each year assesses how closely other countries vote the same as it on issues. In 2013, New Zealand voted the same way as the US 46 times and the opposite way 26 times and was rated 63.9 per cent the same, compared with Israel at 94.7 per cent and Australia at 80.9 per cent.
What sort of member should NZ be?David Shearer Labour foreign affairs spokesman, former UN worker David Shearer
Last time New Zealand was on the Security Council, in 1993-1994, I was working for Save The Children in Rwanda. New Zealand took the boldest stand against the genocide of any country. It made a huge impression on the ground. This is a pivotal time to be on the council. The world faces challenges like climate change, disease outbreaks like Ebola and conflict in the Middle East. The Security Council can be slow and reactive in its responses to conflict. New Zealand will be proactive because that's our way. We should measure each situation on its merits and act according to human rights and humanitarian law. We're fair-minded, and refuse to play to the agendas of the strong and powerful. Our other responsibility is to be a voice for small nations. This means supporting Pacific island nations grappling with the effects of climate change. Winston Peters NZ First leader, Foreign Minister 2005 - 2008 Winston Peters
I'm pleased we are going to be on the Council. The Security Council can't just be for the big boys or the rich ones. The international agenda is already hugely crowded; Ukraine, Syria, Ebola and terrorism/extremism in all its forms to name just a few. And we don't know what next will arrive in our lap once we are on the Council. So we'll have to be deft, smart and incredibly professional to keep on top of it and make a difference. We must also think hard about where we can take a lead for the better. Two things stand out for me: Security Council reform and speaking on behalf of our Pacific friends. Security Council reform is long overdue. It must become more representative, transparent, [and] look and sound like the world of today, not 1945. And to our smaller, vulnerable neighbours, issues of climate change, fishing resources and sustainable development are absolutely crucial to their future wellbeing. Kennedy Graham Greens MP, former diplomat Kennedy Graham
Small countries have an interest in strengthening "universal peace" as envisioned in the first article of the UN Charter. We should work to strengthen the UN's peacekeeping standby force arrangement to improve its rapid deployment capability. We should [work] to strengthen international law. A protocol could be developed for more rigorous use of the "Responsibility to Protect" principle, with its six criteria, for referring a situation to the International Criminal Court to prosecute leaders for major crimes. And the council should, under its binding powers, refer territorial disputes to the International Court of Justice for binding decisions. We should push the council to declare climate change a threat to peace and security. The 19th century-style negotiating structure is failing to prevent dangerous climate change. Ebola has been declared a threat; so should climate change. Peter Dunne, United Future leader Peter Dunne
New Zealand was elected to the Security Council as an independent voice of small nations. It will therefore be important that we be seen to fulfil that role, and act as a genuine moderator, like we did during the Rwanda crisis when last on the Security Council. We cannot afford to just fall meekly in line with the permanent members like the United States and its allies, especially on issues like Iraq. New Zealand should also use its position to give renewed status to the Asia/Pacific region generally, but particularly on climate change and its likely effects on Pacific states. Beyond that, New Zealand could use its term to promote a significant humanitarian issue, like the international repeal of the death penalty. It will be vital that the New Zealand delegation be well supported to ensure that we can carry out the role competently and credibly, and quickly gain the respect of other members of the council.
Falling into lineUN voting coincidence with US 2013:
Israel 94.7 Canada 89.9 Australia 80.9 France 77.9 Britain 77.5 Germany 70 South Korea 67.7 Japan 67.2 New Zealand 63.9 Turkey 61.6 Russia 44.8 Brazil 43 Philippines 42.5 Singapore 42 South Africa 40.3 China 40 Pakistan 35.3 Indonesia 35.1 India 27.4 Cuba 23.1 Iran 18.3 Source: US State Department Read earlier stories in this series here: tinyurl.com/younguncouncil