Helen Clark UN Millennium Summit Address
Rt Hon Helen Clark
Prime Minister of New Zealand
The Millennium Summit of the
United Nations Plaza
10:00 am New Zealand time
Wednesday 6 September 2000
I congratulate the Presidents of Finland and Namibia on their election to preside jointly over this historic Millennium Summit.
I also thank the Secretary-General for bringing us together as leaders from around the world to address the challenges we all face in the twenty-first century.
New Zealand is proud to reaffirm at this Summit our longstanding commitment to the principles and work of the United Nations. We have been a committed member since the very beginning of the organisation. Our then Prime Minister, Peter Fraser, played a significant role in the framing of the United Nations Charter. The Charter has stood the test of time as a framework for the conduct of relations between states and for the promotion of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms.
New Zealand places great importance on the rule of law and on the peaceful settlement of disputes. We have participated actively in the development of international law. This year we have responded to the Secretary-General's request to member states to sign or ratify as many of the 25 core treaties as possible. We have also undertaken a full review of the extent of our participation in the international legal framework with a view to becoming party to more treaties.
As a first step in that process, at this summit we are carrying out seven fresh treaty actions, including signature, ratification, or accession to five of the 25 core treaties. This week are:
ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
acceding to the Convention to Combat Desertification;
signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women;
signing the two Optional Protocols to the convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflicts and on the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography; and
signing the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism.
We are also announcing our intention to become party to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by mid-2002 and to the International Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist bombings.
By these actions we hope to demonstrate how seriously we take the treaty making process and international law.
New Zealand's key preoccupations in the United Nations' work in the coming years will be on issues of disarmament and security, human rights, the environment, and development.
Our passion for nuclear disarmament is well known. In the 1980s we declared ourselves nuclear free because of our belief in the immorality of nuclear weapons and because we knew that nuclear war would be a catastrophe for our planet. We have also dedicated ourselves to the hard, slow, painstaking work of advancing disarmament at the multilateral level. Years of working with others for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty paid off. Now our goal, working with our partners in the New Agenda grouping, is nothing less than the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
The peacekeeping work of the United Nations is also a priority for New Zealand. My government deplores the murders yesterday of United Nations relief workers in a West Timor refugee camp. I am gratified that New Zealand peacekeepers were able to evacuate many others to safety. I join other leaders in calling on Indonesia to act now to end this violence.
We welcome the Report of the Panel on United Nations Peace Operations and look forward to a strengthened United Nations peacekeeping capacity.
On human rights we will seek in particular to protect and promote further the rights of women and of indigenous people. I also believe the United Nations itself can play an even greater role in the promotion of women to leadership roles within its own organisation.
Meeting our commitments under the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change is a major challenge for New Zealand, but it is one we are determined to meet. The consequences of unchecked climate change are particularly severe for our South pacific neighbours.
On development, the priority surely for the twenty-first century must be the needs of Africa.
In Africa, conflicts have disrupted too many nations. Crisis and poverty together have held back economic development. On top of that the HIV/AIDS pandemic has taken a heavy toll on human life.
The problems confronting Africa are a litmus test for the effectiveness and political will of the United Nations, its member countries, and of African governments as 'We the Peoples' implies. A better combination of programmes for debt relief, access to world markets for Africa's products, practical assistance for economic development and HIV/AIDS prevention, and good governance can make the difference for Africa.
Thank you for the opportunity to set out my country's priorities for working through the United Nations to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.