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Labour Foreign Affairs, Trade & Disarmament Policy



Labour considers that the goal of New Zealand’s foreign policy should be to advance our interests as a nation and the ideals and values of our people.

Through the United Nations, other international and regional organisations and our bilateral relationships with other nations, we seek to advance the cause of a more stable, secure and prosperous world.

Our peacekeeping and regional security role is vital for promoting a peaceful world in which we are safe.

Promoting access for our trade is vital to enhancing our living standards.

Supporting human rights, environmental standards, disarmament and sustainable development both advances our interests and those of people everywhere and is part of our obligations as a good international citizen.

Labour considers that the priorities for New Zealand’s international affairs policy include the following:

- Strengthening bilateral and multilateral relationships with a wide range of nations.

- Promoting sustainable world economic growth and trade opportunities including the progressive reduction of tariff barriers and the elimination of subsidies, which distort agricultural production.

- Advancing human rights and good governance, democracy and the rule of law.

- Protecting and enhancing the world environment.

- Maintaining New Zealand’s nuclear free status and promoting the elimination of weapons of mass destruction.

- Promoting disarmament, conflict prevention and the peaceful and just resolution of international disputes.

- Supporting developing countries with an emphasis on eliminating poverty by promoting sustainable economic development, social justice and good governance.

- Supporting peacekeeping and regional and international security measures, including the campaign against terrorism.

Labour’s foreign policy is based on traditional New Zealand values: opportunity, security, fairness, justice, respect for the environment, and the desire to live in a world without the threat of war.

New Zealand has a reputation for being an independent, principled and fair-minded nation.

Labour’s international relations policy builds on the respect in which New Zealand is held internationally.

The Labour led government has taken an active and responsible role in building stronger international relations and protecting the interests of New Zealand and our friends. The Labour led government has:

- Actively supported the new round of WTO trade negotiations that focuses on development and provides a mandate for market access negotiations in agriculture, non-agricultural products and services.

- Established a Closer Economic Partnership Agreement with Singapore and begun negotiating for a similar partnership with Hong Kong.

- Supported UN peacekeeping operations.

- Taken an active role in bringing and maintaining peace in Bougainville, the Solomon Islands, East Timor and Fiji.

- Supported the international campaign against terrorism.

- Launched a Pacific Strategy that makes the Pacific a priority in our international relations and charts New Zealand’s future engagement in the region.

- Launched an e-commerce initiative which is connecting New Zealand with potential customers around the world.

Labour will:

- Continue to make an effective contribution to international diplomacy.


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade together with Trade New Zealand and Industry New Zealand all have key roles in making the links to key overseas markets, scientific partners, investors and individuals that will help us achieve an innovative, creative and successful country.

Labour will:

- Ensure that these organisations work closely together and that they are adequately resourced to deliver the outcomes we want to move New Zealand forward.

Attracting Investment is essential to New Zealand’s future economic development.

Investment plays an important role in building up domestic capacity by bringing technology and contacts, spreading knowledge and creating links within a sector.

Labour will:

- Expand the overseas operations of Investment New Zealand in key target investment markets to facilitate increased investment especially into key industries such as biotechnology, information and communication technology and creative industries.

- Continue the proactive approach of Ministers at home and abroad in encouraging and facilitating investment.

- Strengthen coordination between the activities of Investment New Zealand and agencies that support investment growth, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and Trade New Zealand, to improve New Zealand’s profile as a country with good investment potential.

More Active Export Promotion will also strengthen New Zealand’s connections with the world. Considerable ministerial and diplomatic effort has gone into new market development. More open trade agreements have been advanced with Singapore and Hong Kong and through the Doha Round launched by the WTO initiative. In our next term of government we will build on the extensive work we have already done.

Labour will:

- Monitor and evaluate existing programmes to ensure they are meeting the needs of the market.

- Establish a ‘beach head’ programme in targeted overseas markets to:

- create incubators for small or medium sized businesses trying to establish themselves in offshore markets

- create forward marketing bases for new exporters in strategic offshore markets.

- Ensure closer coordination of the services of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology (FORST), Industry New Zealand and Trade New Zealand to ensure their services are delivered seamlessly.

- Further increase government support for overseas trade delegations or missions.

- Evaluate information collection and flows in and between all government organisations with trade responsibilities to ensure that policy makers and the business community are receiving relevant and timely trade information from key markets and industries.

- Work with New Zealand’s Pacific Island neighbours to develop export markets for their goods and services.

- Strengthen the economic relationship between New Zealand and Australia, and continue to work to increase harmonisation of the two economies to the benefit of both countries, in both the Trans-Tasman and global marketplaces.

- Progressively integrate Trade New Zealand and Industry New Zealand operations into one.

- Implement fully the opportunities of e-commerce in the export sector.

- Review the new Export Credit Office to maximize the value of the service and investigate the possibility of introducing some form of short-term export insurance for small exporters.

Brand New Zealand is an important concept in promoting awareness and understanding of New Zealand overseas. The current offshore perceptions of New Zealand need updating.

While the ‘clean green’ image of New Zealand assists in promoting tourism and agricultural products, we need more awareness of New Zealand as an innovative country at the leading edge of knowledge.

Labour will:

- Develop and promote a contemporary and future-focused Brand New Zealand which projects New Zealand as a great place in which to invest, live and visit.

- Continue to commit resources in conjunction with events such as the America’s Cup and Lord of the Rings to help promote an image of New Zealand as technologically advanced, creative and successful.

- Ensure that our overseas diplomatic and trade posts in targeted markets are properly resourced to promote Brand New Zealand and to undertake expanded outreach and constituency building activities in the areas of trade, investment and immigration.

Trade Promotion Under Fair International Rules

Labour is committed to a global trading system that is fair, free, and transparent. Labour recognises that trading and economic systems do not exist in a vacuum and that they have an impact on social, environmental and human rights issues.

Labour will continue to:

- Seek fair access for small countries to the markets of industrialised countries.

- Ensure that the rules of free and fair trade are consistent with the objectives of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), with decent environmental standards, and with human rights standards.

- Seek recognition that differential treatment for developing economies may be necessary in any global or regional trading system in order to allow environmentally and economically sustainable development.

- Seek to achieve the aims of international agreements, such as the Basel Convention, to prevent the trade and export of hazardous substances, particularly where developing countries are used as dumping sites.

- Seek stronger international guidelines and disciplines on both dumping and antidumping regulations, and other trade remedies.

- Investigate the development of initiatives to promote ethical trade through partnerships with business and non-government organisations.


Labour gives high priority to the promotion and extension of human rights in its international relations and in its internal policies for New Zealanders.

Labour will:

- Promote and seek to further the ideals expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights, through constructive engagement with regional partners and multilateral organizations.

- Give a high priority to ratifying human rights treaties with a minimum of reservations and ensure that New Zealand’s obligations under ratified treaties are met.

- Continue to actively promote the world-wide practical extension and application of human rights principles with particular emphasis placed on enhancing human rights and effective democracy in the Asia-Pacific region. New Zealand will be an advocate for human rights and democracy where they are under threat.

Labour will:

- Promote, where appropriate, the use of smart sanctions through the United Nations as a means of targeting the power structure and military infrastructure of countries that have repressive regimes.

- Seek inter-governmental dialogue on human rights through regular ministerial meetings and communication between Human Rights Commissions in our region.

- Promote more widespread observance of basic UN human, civil, economic and social rights standards and the development and strengthening of standards on such issues as cultural and group rights, labour rights, the rights of the child and the rights of indigenous peoples.

- Promote commitment to the rights of women internationally – including access to education and health services, political participation, the elimination of violence against women and freedom from international trafficking in women and children.

- Encourage international co-operation on initiatives to prevent or address major refugee flows


Labour will continue to ensure that New Zealand plays a major role in regional advocacy and as a leader in sustainable regional development and democratic governance in the South Pacific.

We will establish a New Zealand/ Pacific Islands Foundation, as a non-profit, apolitical organisation dedicated to promoting greater understanding between New Zealand and our Pacific Island neighbours.

Labour’s Overseas Aid and Development policy affirms that New Zealand Official Development Assistance will continue to be primarily focused on the Pacific.

Labour will continue to:

- Highlight the interests of Pacific Island nations in international fora such as the United Nations. The threat to Pacific Island nations from poorly addressed environmental problems, such as global warming, is acute.

- Work to ensure that adequate solutions to such problems are given high priority on the international agenda.

- Participate in, and support, the development of the Pacific Forum and South Pacific Commission as strong regional organizations.

- Work with Pacific governments to strengthen the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty.

- Work closely with Pacific nations to help resolve conflict, establish good governance and promote economic and social progress.

- Promote the Biketawa Declaration as the framework for regional action to address security and governance issues.

- Assess all development projects for their contribution to reducing poverty and inequality, and promoting human rights.

- Ensure New Zealand Official Development Assistance to the Pacific complies with the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.

- Support the development of sustainable industries, such as eco-tourism.

- Support the New Zealand Defence Force’s contribution to infrastructure projects in the Pacific and the role it plays in the event of disasters in the region.

- Adequately fund Radio NZ International to provide an efficient and professional service to the South Pacific, and to ensure adequate coverage of Pacific news in New Zealand, well co-coordinated procedures for disaster response based on forward planning, early warning, and rapid response.

- Place special emphasis on education to assist partner countries to develop their own knowledge and skills resources focusing on the provision of basic education, complemented by scholarships to tertiary institutions.

- Focus on provision of primary health care, health education and provision of basic hospital services in health programmes supported by New Zealand Official Development Assistance.


Labour strongly believes in working actively, creatively, and co-operatively with other countries through effective international organisations.

Labour will:

- Continue New Zealand’s active involvement in the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Pacific Forum, the WTO, APEC, and other international bodies to which New Zealand belongs.

- Promote greater co-ordination between the major international institutions, such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the ILO, the WTO and the World Bank and encourage decisive action by them to develop a better climate for more equitable policies for world trade and development.

- Actively contribute to the work of the ILO and the OECD, and support the universal application of ILO conventions.

- Promote the establishment of clear international disputes resolution mechanisms in international agreements.

- Encourage decisive action by international institutions to investigate and prosecute crime across international borders.

United Nations

Labour believes that the United Nations is essential to achieving lasting global security and stability, and of ensuring environmental and economic sustainability.

Labour supports greater democratisation of the United Nations and strengthened powers for the General Assembly. The current veto power of the five permanent members of the

Security Council should be abolished. The size and membership of the Council should also be reviewed to better reflect the post Cold War world.

Labour supports peacekeeping as a vital means for maintaining world security and stability, and believes that New Zealand, like all member states, has a moral obligation to make as full a contribution to such actions as is reasonably possible.

Through New Zealand’s participation in the United Nations, Labour will continue to actively pursue the following objectives:

- Promotion of the rule of international law.

- Promotion of democratic principles in international relations and the pursuit of democratic ideals and human rights for member states.

- Environmentally sustainable development and fair standards of living for all the world’s people.

- Global stability, peace, and disarmament.

- Effective enforcement of United Nations principles.

International Law and Treaties Labour will continue to:

- Promote the development of international law and international legal jurisdiction, including disputes resolution procedures for international agreements.

- Promote greater use of the International Court of Justice and universal acceptance of its compulsory jurisdiction.

- Support and seek to strengthen adherence to the jurisdiction of, and effectiveness of, the International Criminal Court, to cover all war crimes and crimes against humanity.


Labour will ensure that New Zealand remains at the forefront of the drive for international disarmament, both nuclear and conventional.

Nuclear disarmament

Labour will:

- Maintain New Zealand’s Nuclear Free status.

- Promote a nuclear free Southern Hemisphere and support the strengthening and extension of nuclear free zones in other parts of the world.

- Promote and take a lead in negotiations to prohibit all nuclear weapons and provide for their elimination under strict and effective international control.

- Work actively with the New Agenda group of like-minded governments to achieve disarmament.

- Promote bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

- Promote the principle that nuclear powers that have tested in the Pacific must be required to fully restore the environment and compensate for ill-effects on human beings.

- Continue to work with nuclear transport states to keep shipments of nuclear waste outside of New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone and to promote acceptance by those states of full liability and payment of compensation in the event of any accident.

- Seek a treaty to establish an enforceable and verifiable ban on the reprocessing or exporting of weapons-capable fissile nuclear material, and place all such materials under secure international control.

- Work through the United Nations to achieve disarmament and the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction.

- Support an enhanced role for the United Nations Secretary-General and for the Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs to initiate and expedite disarmament initiatives.

Non-nuclear disarmament

Labour will:

- Promote universal adherence to the Anti-Personnel Land Mines convention and provide adequate resources for de-mining initiatives and victim rehabilitation and education in afflicted countries.

- Promote an international initiative for stronger international monitoring and stricter end-user certification for conventional arms transfers.

- Advocate reduction of research and development funding for conventional armaments technologies.

- Promote international respect for, verification of, and compliance with, the Chemical Weapons Convention.

- Seek to strengthen the verification procedures of, adherence to, and respect for, the Biological Weapons Convention.

- Continue to make full declarations each year to the United Nations of New Zealand’s arms purchases and exports.

- Actively discourage arms exports to organisations or regimes that use arms for oppressive purposes.

- Promote strengthened United Nations talks and treaty negotiations on conventional arms reduction.

- Support initiatives, including United Nations resolutions, to prevent the militarisation of space and implement international controls on missile technology.

- Promote peace and disarmament education and research initiatives and work closely with New Zealand’s peace and disarmament groups.


Environmental issues transcend national boundaries and must be addressed through international cooperation and resolve. The Labour led government has aimed to harmonise its objectives for trade and the environment, with both serving the overall objective of

sustainable development and will continue to work through international organisations and instruments to achieve our goals. (For details see Labour’s Environment policy)

World Summit on Sustainable Development

Labour is committed to New Zealand’s active participation in the World Summit on Sustainable Development and wants to see practical and focused outcomes from the summit which respect all three pillars of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. Our priority areas include trade and market access, attention to issues facing Small Island Developing States, energy, health, including reproductive and population health, and oceans and fisheries management.

Biodiversity/ Conservation

Labour will:

- Support the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which addresses the safe transfer, handling and use of living modified organisms that may have an adverse effect on the biodiversity with a specific focus on transboundary movements.

- Continue to advocate the moratorium on whaling and for the absolute protection of whales in the International Whaling Commission other than for subsistence whaling by indigenous communities.

- Promote the concept of a South Pacific Whale Sanctuary.


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