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Goff Speech: Regional and international security

Regional and international security

Phil Goff Statement to the 10th Asean Regional Forum Phnom Penh, Cambodia Wednesday, June 18

Mr Chairman, Foreign Minister Hor Namhong,

Firstly, thank you for the efficient arrangements Cambodia has made for hosting this conference, and for the generous hospitality extended to all of us.

As the 10th occasion at which the nations of Asia-Pacific have come together with a focus on addressing important questions of regional security, this is a landmark conference.

Dialogue and confidence building have been important achievements.

The region is a better place for it.

But even more important is the development of our collective ability to prevent and resolve conflict and crisis situations.

There are many issues on the security agenda for Asia-Pacific. Since our last conference, the Bali bombing has been a further tragic reminder to us all of the threat posed by international terrorism.

I congratulate Indonesia on its effective response and holding those responsible to account. Effective international cooperation has prevented more incidents of that nature and we will need to continue to take measures collectively if we are to defeat this threat to our security.

I want to refer to three specific security issues where we need the collective will of nations to resolve crisis situations, which otherwise will continue to damage the people of the countries involved, and threaten regional stability and progress.

Discussion around this conference table indicates the decision of North Korea to reactivate its nuclear programmes and renounce its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the International Atomic Energy Agency is a paramount concern.

No one benefits, no one becomes safer through the nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

Effective control over weapons of mass destruction; preventing their spread, and progressively reducing existing weapon stockpiles is vital to human survival.

New Zealand has long been committed to these goals. This is not, as North Korea asserts, a bilateral matter between it and the United States.

It affects us all. New Zealand welcomed the trilateral meeting in Beijing in April and thanks China for its role.

We hope that future talks will involve other immediate neighbours, including the Republic of Korea and Japan.

This issue should be resolved peacefully and by dialogue, but it must be resolved by North Korea unequivocally accepting its obligation not to develop nuclear weapons.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) needs to send this message clearly, and that our willingness to assist North Korea in its development requires its renunciation of nuclear weapons as a prerequisite.

New Zealand was an early contributor to the Korean Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) and will be again, but not while development of nuclear weapons continues.

The second critical issue is that of Myanmar. New Zealand welcomes and endorses the call by ASEAN for the immediate release of Aung San Su Kyi.

But much more needs to be done including the release of other political prisoners.

More than 12 years after blocking the democratic will of the people of Myanmar, the military regime needs to genuinely engage with the NLD and other groups on a clear roadmap for the progressive restoration of democratic governance.

The ambush of Aung San Su Kyi’s convoy is not a good sign that the SPDC intends to do this, which is why pressure from this conference is necessary and important.

Military governments everywhere have failed to provide effective governance and social and economic progress.

That failure also impacts on neighbouring countries and the region. No system, which so lacks transparency and accountability, can serve the needs of its people.

The third issue relates to the Solomon Islands, already touched upon by Australia. The situation in that country has reached crisis point, and if unresolved will affect security in the Pacific.

Inability to resolve a chronic law and order problem and prevent intimidation, extortion and violence has not only removed the rule of law there but has also ruined its economy and removed its ability to provide its own social services. Donors are reluctant to assist in these circumstances.

The Government of the Solomon Islands has sought Australian and New Zealand assistance, and its request is being considered in the context of the wider Pacific Islands Forum.

The situation in the Solomon’s is made worse, as was previously the situation in Bougainville, by the ready availability of weapons, which are now controlled by criminal groups.

If the situation deteriorates further, a failed state could also become a haven for transnational criminal activity and terrorism. This situation highlights the need for ARF Ministers to reaffirm our commitment to cooperation in arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, which are fundamental to our security.

Thank you.

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