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Speech to LawAsia Conference - Phil Goff

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Minister of Justice
Speech Notes

8 October 2001

Speech to LawAsia Conference
(delivered 4:10pm Christchurch Convention Centre)

Delegates, ladies and gentlemen: thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today at the conclusion of your conference. I congratulate LawAsia, the New Zealand Law Society and the Family Law Section for the first time hosting a combined event.

I have read with interest the full agenda you have had in front of you for the last four days, which includes issues currently before government. Globalisation means that increasingly the nations of the region and the world face common problems which transcend national boundaries and require collective responses. That makes conferences such as this even more useful and relevant.

I was asked to address New Zealand’s position in the context of Asia. However, on the day on which military force has been employed against terrorists and their backers in Afghanistan, it seemed to me that I should also and more particularly focus on the question of what measures should be taken in response to the threat posted by terrorist to national security.

The Asia – Pacific region is of fundamental importance to New Zealand. Asia in particular has in recent years become a major focus of our attention. In part this has been a response to our maturity as a nation as we have reached beyond the traditional links with Europe. It has also been a response to the increasing number of migrants from Asia to New Zealand, and the growing economic importance of Asia to us generally.

Nearly 40 percent of our trade is with Asia. Asian markets are now worth well over double our total exports to Europe, twice as much as our exports to Australia, and almost two and a half times the value of our exports to the United States.

Politically we take an active role in regional groupings such as the Asean Regional Forum which focuses on security matters in the Asia-Pacific region. Later this month the APEC Leaders meeting will convene in Shanghai, China. It will bring together leaders from the Asia-Pacific region, with trade liberalisation pre-eminent on its agenda.

It is perhaps though in the area of people-to-people linkages that our relationship with Asia is most significant. There is a long history of migration of people from Asia to New Zealand.

Asia has now become a significant source of migrants to New Zealand. My own electorate of Mount Roskill in Auckland is now 20 percent Asian. Migrants from Asia and the Pacific, not only bring their skills and expertise to New Zealand, they bring a new cultural perspective and diversity which melds to make us the unique country that we are today.

New Zealand continues to be a popular and growing destination for students from Asia seeking a high-quality education at a reasonable cost. Students from Asia who have studied in New Zealand will in the longer term represent one of the key “drivers” of our ongoing linkages with Asia, along with trade, investment and political relationships.

Asia is also now New Zealand’s second largest regional source of tourists and tourism is one of New Zealand’s largest earners of foreign exchange.

Today our relationship with Asia has a new dimension as we, along with other members of the international community, forge a response to the key issue which confronts the world at present, defeating terrorism.

This morning’s targeted attacks on Afghanistan against the al Qa’ida network and the Taleban leadership which has harboured bin Laden, respond to the terrorist attacks on the United States that were without precedent in terms of scale, organisation and the resulting tragic loss of life.

New Zealand has made clear our support for the international campaign against terrorism. The military action in Afghanistan while necessary, is but one part of the campaign to root out the al Qai’ida network and other terrorist groups associated with it.

New Zealand has no doubt that the terrorist attacks of 11 September are linked to the radical al Qa’ida network with which the Taleban has a close relationship. Al Qa’ida has shown its capability to co-ordinate and deliver death and destruction to thousand of innocent civilians. In a matter of minutes they killed over 5,000 ordinary citizens from 79 countries and threatened the livelihoods of thousands more in the wake of the massive destruction in New York and Washington.

This morning’s military attack is specifically a move against al Qa’ida and those who give refuge to support them. Military strikes however, are one facet of what will be a concerted international campaign against terrorism. The campaign will be long-term, not short-term. We are dealing with a fanatical and irrational organisations which are not nation states or bound by national borders.

The campaign will require a co-ordinated international response to bring the perpetrators to justice. The campaign and the military action which began today are not essentially about revenge or retaliation. The key reason for a strong and comprehensive response to the new generation of terrorism is self-protection, the need to prevent the reoccurrence of mass murder of civilians which intelligence information suggest are planned.

We also need action not only to suppress terrorist organisations, but also to tackle situations such as the Middle East crisis and other troubled areas throughout the world which facilitates recruitment by and support for terrorist groups. We must deal not only with the symptoms of terrorism but also with causes which give rise to terrorist actions.

It is important that the international community moves on all fronts to combat terrorism. That means stopping its funding and by not giving refuge to those who commit terrorist acts.

It means exchanging intelligence which is critical to the detection and prevention of terrorist acts. It means the suppression of terrorist activities under the law where that can be achieved and force where terrorists are operating outside the scope of justice systems.

The Asia Pacific region has not been immune to the impact of last month’s terrorist attacks. Politically we have seen a rapid shift in regional alliances as coalitions are built to bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice. We have already seen a change in the relations among some of the major powers in the region.

Despite recent strains in the US/China relationship, China has been supportive of the US position and this has helped warm the relationship. The same can be said for another major player in the region: Russia.

The full economic impact of the attacks on the Asia Pacific region remains unclear. The United States represents a significant export market for many countries in the region. Tourism to and from the United States is also a major earner of foreign exchange. Some economists project that the direct economic impact of the attacks, measured in tens of billions of dollars, may be small compared to the indirect effects, especially on confidence, financial markets and investors, which are projected to be much longer and more profound.

Certainly before 11 September, many countries in Asia were already beginning to feel the effects of the slow-down in the US economy. The Asian economic crisis four years ago could have lasted much longer had it not been for the strength of the US economy at the time. The terrorist attacks will undoubtedly put even more pressure on these already fragile economies.

The impact of last month’s terrorist attacks, and the response now underway has a significant legal dimension.

Two United Nations Security Council resolutions, passed unanimously, have put a multilateral umbrella over a range of measures to combat terrorism including this morning’s military response.

The resolutions reaffirm the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence set out in Article 51 of the UN Charter. They call on all states to cooperate through bilateral and multilateral arrangements to prevent and suppress terrorist attacks and take action against the perpetrators of such attacks.

These resolutions are binding and spell out a wide range of measures of specific actions to be carried out by member states in the areas of information exchange, suppression of terrorist activities, addressing the financial resources of terrorism, preventing the cross-border movement of terrorists, bringing terrorists to justice and strengthening national terrorism legislation.

New Zealand has long been at the forefront of countries that have tried to outlaw various forms of terrorism, through our ratification of the majority of international treaties against terrorism.

Currently before Parliament we have the Terrorism (Bombing and Financing) Bill. This gives New Zealand jurisdiction if a perpetrator is discovered in this country and obliges us to either prosecute that person or extradite them. The legislation aims to stop terrorists finding refuge in any country. It also aims to cut off the financing of terrorists and their organisations. It will make it an offence to provide funding to terrorist groups, and will provide mechanisms to seize their assets. Our intention is to have legislation passed before Christmas, which encompasses the requirements of the Conventions and the measures required by Security Council Resolution 1373.

New Zealand will continue to take every action necessary to address the scourge of terrorism but if these various international instruments are to be effective, they require the support and adoption of all countries.

The fight against terrorism also has an important legal dimension in other areas. Attention to addressing the financial sources of terrorism will mean increased international attention to tax havens and money laundering. Those jurisdictions which do not conform to international standards will find themselves under increasing pressure to do so.

The Asia Pacific region has in recent years proved susceptible to money laundering and other criminal activities such as people smuggling and drug trafficking which transcend national boundaries, and which are often related to terrorist organisations.

The rapid emergence of these problems demand that we tackle them in new ways, and collectively, because they are beyond any one country to resolve alone.

In other areas, New Zealand is committed to strengthening the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Conventions and measures designed to stop proliferation of nuclear weapons material. Each of these measures are vitally necessary to reduce the risk that these materials might fall into the hands of terrorist groups with the appalling consequences which might follow.

The establishment of the International Criminal Court in 2002 will also be another important step in helping ensure that terrorists who commit crimes against humanity can be held to account for their actions.

One positive from the recent tragedy may be the renewed incentive for countries to adopt multilateral action to solving problems which cannot be resolved unilaterally.

It is in the interest of all countries that the instruments providing an effective legal response to terrorism and transitional crime come into force as soon as possible. In doing so, it will demonstrate, beyond doubt, that the international community is united in its determination to win the fight against terrorism.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the opportunity to address your conference.

I hope the conference has been an informative experience and has helped strengthen the links between the countries and people represented here.


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