Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is being urged to establish an independent Conflict Prevention Unit and to lead the Government in taking a more active role in preventing international armed conflicts.
The New Zealand Alternative – a new policy development and advocacy group – today released a report which draws on interviews with 30 experts, including former Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Foreign Minister Sir Don McKinnon.
The group's Director, Thomas Nash, said Ardern should deliver concrete foreign policy initiatives that would give effect to the values of "peace, prosperity and fairness" she promoted in her United Nations address last month.
"The Prime Minister rightly aspires to lead a transformative government," he said.
"To make that happen, we encourage her to follow up her foreign policy ambitions with solid policy initiatives."
The report points out conversations about New Zealand and the world tend to be dominated by a small group of people and focused on a narrow range of subject areas.
"Certain areas, such as trade policy, alliances and security, and intelligence doctrines, are shielded from mainstream critical debate."
NZ Alternative wants New Zealand to take a more active part in conversations about the country's role in the world.
"We recommend that the Government establish an independent unit focusing on peace mediation and mediation support."
The Unit – which the group recommended be called the Conflict Prevention Unit – would gather, develop and maintain New Zealand's capacity to contribute to international peace mediation and conflict prevention efforts.
The report also recommended: "a commitment to peace mediation and conflict prevention is made alongside an accompanying redoubling of efforts to decolonise Aotearoa New Zealand".
"The establishment of a Conflict Prevention Unit must be accompanied by an ongoing commitment at all Government levels to decolonisation: understanding and addressing the negative effects of colonisation, and re-centering the views of Māori in order to redistribute public power in the present."