Prime Minister Speech: Institute of International
Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister
Address at New Zealand Institute of International Affairs 70th Anniversary Dinner
The Wellington Club Wellington
Wednesday 23 June 2004
It is a pleasure to be here tonight to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.
On such an occasion it’s natural to reflect on what might have transpired at your inaugural meeting in 1934 ! Such an occasion would have been focused on a very different set of international circumstances compared with those we face today. The consequences of the ‘Slump’ and militarism in Europe and Asia were no doubt to the fore.
We do know that attendees at that event included both Walter Nash and Alister McIntosh, both of whom subsequently guided many years of New Zealand’s international relations. We can be sure that the meeting would have been convened in the same spirit which informs the Institute seventy years on – an abiding interest in the world around us, and a desire to shape a distinctly New Zealand perspective on international events.
The challenge for New Zealand today is to navigate its way through a particularly dynamic phase in international relations.
The Cold War is well past. So too is the phase we knew as the “post-Cold War” era.
The shakedown of state-to-state relations which followed the collapse of the Soviet Union has largely occurred. Superpower tensions, and the threat of a US-Soviet nuclear exchange, now appear to be, thankfully, things of the past.
There are no clearer signs that this is so than the apparent ease with which the two former adversaries now deal with each other, and the historic integration of the former Warsaw Pact countries into the European Union in May this year.
But alas, the end of East-West ideological conflict has not resulted in a settled or a predictable international outlook. New challenges – and new opportunities – confront the international community.
Some experts now describe this phase, with a singular lack of imagination, as the “post post-Cold War” era. I am not so sure that any one label can quite capture the complexity of the foreign policy environment in the new millennium. Look at what we are confronting:
more states than ever before are competing for influence and attention on the world stage. the consequences of the horrific attacks of September 11, and subsequent acts of terror like those in Bali and Madrid, ricochet through the international community, leaving no nation untouched and reaching into a plethora of foreign and domestic policy areas. a week out from a political transition, Iraq is crucially poised between its terrible past, its awful present, and, we must hope, a better future. But huge challenges remain there for that country to redefine itself, and for the international community. the presence of or ambition for weapons of mass destruction continues to underlie regional and global tensions. The multilateral disarmament and arms control regime is under pressure as a result of the actions of both state and non-state entities. against a background of complex post Cold War strategic relationships and power structures, the United Nations faces significant challenges, in particular to its role of promoting international peace and security. a European Union of 25 members has now become a reality. closer to home, the Pacific region continues to face problems and stresses. in East Asia China’s re-emergence as a major economic and political power in the region is helping to drive far-reaching changes in the region’s economic and political architecture. the current international trade environment remains changeable and the outlook uncertain, with progress on the WTO Doha Round sporadic.
None of these factors leaves New Zealand untouched. Each of them, in different ways, relates directly to our national interests. That, and our strong commitment to multilateralism, is why we are an active and engaged foreign policy player. As a small and independent nation operating in a context of change, we have interests to protect and promote, as well as a strong interest in the building of a more just, peaceful, and environmentally sustainable world.
The complexity of the world we face, compared with 1934, is staggering. Continuities remain – including with our historical or “baseline” relationships – but they are outweighed by the differences, and by the extent to which we are externally engaged.
A survey of our foreign policy actions over the last 12 months underlines the breadth and depth of our response to the issues New Zealand faces.
The Pacific has been a special priority, commensurate with the serious nature of the issues facing the region and with our role as Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum. The Auckland Leaders’ meeting in August 2003 faced up to the urgent need for a refreshed mandate and vision for the Forum, resulting in a comprehensive review of the organisation. Leaders met again in April this year, and in the Auckland Declaration agreed on a wide range of measures to build closer and deeper regional co-operation.
A process to do that has been set in train and the Forum’s new Secretary-General Greg Urwin has been tasked to carry it forward. The review is shaping the Forum’s work for the next decade and beyond.
Eleven months on from its deployment, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands has made significant progress on disarmament and re-establishment of the rule of law, allowing the military presence to be reduced. Many challenges, however, still lie ahead for Solomon Islands, particularly in economic and social development and in building sound governance practices. We will continue to play our role there; indeed the Solomons are now our largest bilateral aid partner.
The Pacific cannot be considered immune from the ripple effects of terrorism. Remoteness, peacefulness, and even neutrality or non-alignment do not insulate one from them. That is why last month we convened a Pacific Roundtable on Counter-Terrorism, in Wellington. It looked at regional responses to the issues, and at how to meet new international requirements. These can be onerous, but adherence to them is essential. Non-compliance could condemn Pacific Island states to exclusion from the trade and tourism flows vital to their development. Our government has committed $3 million annually to a special fund for strengthening security in the Pacific, by providing advice, training, and technical assistance.
New Zealand continues to play an active role in counter-terrorism area in the wider world. The New Zealand Special Air Service has been redeployed to Afghanistan to assist in the interdiction of Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives, and the frigate Te Mana is patrolling the Arabian Sea.
We also support and staff a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamian, Afghanistan. As a failed state Afghanistan had become a haven for, and source of, extremism. Our government believes New Zealand should play a part in preventing that happening again,
Twenty first century terrorism has given a new dimension to an old problem – the threat of weapons of mass destruction and their proliferation. The possibility may be remote that terrorists would procure a weapon of mass destruction. But the callous approach to human life we saw on September 11 suggests that, if they could, they would have no hesitation in crossing this boundary.
Revelations this year that AQ Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, had been operating an international black market in nuclear-weapons materials highlight the risks that a weapon of mass destruction might fall into the hands of terrorists, or of states which are not fully complying with international treaties.
So what can New Zealand do?
We are playing an active role in addressing the proliferation threat.
We are currently a member of the IAEA Board of Governors, which is grappling with the serious matter of Iran’s nuclear activities.
We support the Proliferation Security Initiative, a mechanism to strengthen international co-operation against trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems
We are contributing funding to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, launched by G8 Leaders in 2002. Our support will go towards a chemical weapons destruction project in Russia.
And we are further tightening our export controls.
These are all important efforts. But the cause of non-proliferation would receive its greatest boost from serious engagement on disarmament by the nuclear weapons states and avoidance of further vertical proliferation. We have stepped up our efforts to promote disarmament through our membership of the New Agenda Coalition. We hope that the Coalition will play a key role in the run-up to next year’s critical NPT Review Conference.
The United Nations continues to face major challenges, as Secretary-General Kofi Annan himself acknowledged recently. Wide divergence remains on how the UN should respond to contemporary challenges, in particular challenges to international peace and security. The Secretary-General has established a High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change. New Zealand, one of the most committed supporters of the multilateral system, will have input into the Panel’s work.
Nowhere was the UN’s role and authority tested more strongly last year than over Iraq. The side-stepping of the UN was deeply distressing to our government, as it was to many. In recent months, the brokering role played by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, Lakhdar Brahimi, underscores the unique role the United Nations can play in the post-conflict and nation-building context.
We are a week away from a significant milestone in Iraq’s transition process. On 1 July an Interim Iraqi Government will assume office under the terms of UNSCR 1546. Iraq needs the international community’s help to complete the process of transition. Our Defence Force engineers have provided humanitarian relief through their work in and around Basra. We will continue to contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq, having recently agreed to contribute an additional $3 million for UN efforts in electoral assistance and for UNHCR to resettle returning refugees. The world was outraged by evidence of appalling and degrading treatment of detainees in Iraq. The condemnation from Washington was as loud as that elsewhere, and those involved are being brought to justice. It remains our government’s very strong view that all detainees should be treated in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government’s commitment to building links with Middle East countries has been underlined by visits made by the Governor-General, by me and other ministers, and by our decision to open a New Zealand Embassy in Cairo next year. The prominence of the Middle East in world affairs, and Egypt’s particular role as a significant and moderate influence in the region, make opening in Cairo a priority for us.
Critical to achieving greater stability in the Middle East is resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, which has been intractable for nearly as long as this Institute has been in existence. We continue to urge a just solution based on Israel’s right to exist in peace and security and on a counterpart state for the Palestinians. Indications from the G-8 Summit that the “Roadmap” is to be invigorated were welcome ones.
The pursuit of better human rights is a foreign policy priority for New Zealand. I note that Human Rights Watch has singled us out as one of a handful of countries prepared to take a firm and principled stand on human rights internationally. We are one of the few countries fully up-to-date with all our reporting under the six main human rights treaties. We are also an active player in negotiations on a new convention on the rights of the disabled and a declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples.
I want to make special mention tonight of the Institute’s President, Sir Kenneth Keith, a candidate for election to the International Court of Justice next year. Sir Kenneth’s credentials for this role are outstanding, developed over a long career where law and international affairs were frequent bedfellows. His candidacy has the government’s full support. I know everyone here tonight will join me in wishing him well.
In just over two weeks I will be in Sydney to speak at Tourism New Zealand and Trans-Tasman Business Circle events. Our relationship with Australia is our closest, and on most issues we find common cause. On some our approaches differ. What doesn’t change, and I hope never will, is our ability to talk freely and frankly as long-time friends do. New Zealand has long assessed greater economic integration with Australia to be in its interests, and there is an ambitious work programme under way to advance that. It has been a year of intense activity in our relationships with Asia.
The conclusion of a Trade and Economic Cooperation Framework with China, and the beginning of an FTA negotiation next year, takes our relationship with China to a new level. It offers improved access to our fourth-largest, and fastest growing major market. It enhances the political relationship with a country which is increasingly setting the regional economic and political agenda. It sets the foundation upon which other aspects of New Zealand’s dealings with China can build.
The upturn in the Japanese economy is a significant development for the region. After two years of decline in New Zealand exports, a strengthening Japanese market offers good prospects for our exporters. But we will only retain our place on Japan’s radar screen if we work at it. There must be concerted government, official, and private sector engagement to keep the relationship dynamic. That is why the government has decided that it is important for New Zealand to be at the 2005 World Expo in Aichi.
In southeast Asia, we face some interesting possibilities. We welcomed the decision last month by ASEAN Economic Ministers to invite New Zealand and Australia to explore a possible AFTA/CER FTA. Such an agreement would bring us closer to a collective market of over 500 million people, and to the evolving architecture of the region. The recent proposal for a summit meeting to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of our dialogue partnership with ASEAN is something I warmly welcome. It reflects the political, economic and strategic partnerships we have developed with ASEAN.
Bilaterally, we continue to look for ways to invigorate our long-standing links with countries in the region. On the agenda as we speak is the pursuit of a Closer Economic Partnership with Thailand, which would inject new energy into our longstanding relationship with that country. I also want to see our dealings with India reflect the full potential of this important relationship. As India’s economy opens, and as India itself looks to intensify the interest it has in East Asia, we are looking at new ways to maximise our interests there.
That’s a full agenda for the region.
But we – and by we I mean NZ Incorporated - need to do more. That is why the government worked with Asia 2000 to mount the Seriously Asia initiative late last year. Our place in Asia is now set by a more diverse set of markers than ever before. Government policies are a framework, but no more than that. Indications of practical political commitment are looked for by Asian governments, but they seek corroboration through the experience of their own nationals, particularly as migrants and students; through our immigration policy and its implications for Asian applicants; through the level of interest of their investors in New Zealand; and through the positions we take on regional security, environment and resource issues. And we have to be there for the long haul, making commitments and not running away at the first hint of adversity.
Seriously Asia was important in re-focusing our attention on trends in the region, and fostering broader community engagement. Since the conference an initial action programme for the 2004/05 year, with a budget of $2 million, has been drawn up by Asia 2000 and MFAT. The action programme ranges from action to strengthen constituencies and organise the inter-action of potential future leaders, to creating a revised Asia-Pacific Business Network, to encouraging policy studies, and to develop greater public understanding of Asia.
To oversee the process of re-committing ourselves to Asia, the Government has established a Ministerial Task Force on Relations with Asia, with wide portfolio representation. It will take a structured view of our relations with Asia, providing strategic development, and assist in the “mapping” of regional trends and possible policy responses.
The importance of the Asia-Pacific region as a driving force of the global economy is neatly captured in the theme Chile has set for us as APEC host this year – “One Community, Our Future”. APEC is strategically important to New Zealand bridging two emerging regional blocs – East Asia and the Americas. This year’s Summit is an opportunity to renew high-level contacts with leaders, to maintain emphasis on counter-terrorism and other security issues including non-proliferation, and to work with ABAC and the business community on reducing red-tape. The Summit will also be an opportunity to remind members of the “Bogor Goals” of free and open trade and investment in the region by 2010 for industrialised economies and 2020 for developing economies.
APEC of course has an important role to play in supporting the WTO to get the Doha Round back on track. APEC Trade Ministers, at their June meeting in Chile, came up with specific recommendations to help forge consensus in the upcoming July WTO meeting. A successful conclusion to the Round remains the Government’s highest trade priority, and presents the single best opportunity to improve world economic growth and development for all countries.
Negotiations on the Round have reached a crucial stage. By the end of July it may be possible to get agreement on a package of measures that will give decisive momentum to the Round. The package can then be a basis for making real progress on detailed negotiations once the US elections are over and the changeover in European Commissioners is finalised. The prospects are assessed to be good. The next few weeks will test whether current political will and flexibility exhibited by major trading countries can translate into commitment to a positive outcome.
The recent enlargement of the European Union to 25 member states was an historic development. The new Union is still a work-in-progress, with the implications of the expansion not entirely clear. We do need to engage with the new Europe, building on our already-strong political, cultural, and economic ties with many of its members.
This involves New Zealand making a particular effort with regard to the acceding members. To enhance our diplomatic reach into central Europe, we are opening an embassy in Warsaw. Existing mechanisms of dialogue with the EU – our bi-annual Presidency Consultations on foreign policy issues, our ongoing engagement on market access issues, and high-level ministerial visits – are also very important.
I want to touch on our political and economic relationship with Russia. Steady growth in the Russian economy over the last five years, the return of a significant level of political and economic stability in Russia, and that country’s international role overall make it a relationship worth investing in. Jim Sutton’s recent trade mission was aimed at getting a better grip on the opportunities, and a better understanding of the risks.
Across the Pacific from Russia, our relationships in the Americas are in good shape, and increasingly multi-dimensional in character. With the United States and Canada, we share fundamental commitments to democratic values, open markets, and human rights. The official relationships are strengthened by the great breadth and depth of people-to-people links at almost all levels of society, including business, academia, science and research collaboration, and a rich civil society exchange.
In the security realm we are working alongside US forces under Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the Arabian Sea.
In the economic arena, our relationship is very strong. The US is our second-largest bilateral trading partner and our third-largest source of foreign direct investment. We work very closely with the US in the WTO and APEC to advance our shared interests.
We continue to prioritise an FTA negotiation with the US, but are realistic about the chances in a Presidential election year ! We do continue to build support in Washington. Nor do we have to wait for an FTA to develop beneficial links in areas central to our Growth and Innovation Framework. They are already manifest in the explosion of links between New Zealand and Hollywood, and the close dialogue on the biotechnology sector which Pete Hodgson has been leading.
The same is true of Canada, which has similar domestic growth and innovation strategies. There are opportunities to strengthen that bilateral relationship in the creative industries, ICT and biotechnology.
The Government is committed to adding depth to our relations with Latin America through the Latin America Strategy. I was struck when President Lagos visited last month by just how our relations with Chile have expanded in recent years. While Chile is the Latin American country with which we have had the most intensive contact – in fact every Chilean President since the restoration of democracy has visited New Zealand – we have been developing increasingly active relationships with many others in the region.
Mexico is a significant economic partner for New Zealand, as well as a longstanding supporter, along with Brazil, on disarmament issues. Argentina has historically been a gateway for us into South America, and is thought likely to be an increasingly important destination for NZ investment. Peru is an old friend and fellow APEC member, while Uruguay with its special interest in the international dairy trade has been a natural partner in the WTO and elsewhere.
With all these countries the traditionally friendly ties at government level are being enriched by education links and by the numbers of young people taking part in working holiday schemes. I have outlined an exceptionally broad work programme for New Zealand. Extensive as it is, it is by no means an exclusive list! I have not, for example, mentioned our membership of the Commonwealth which gives us our window on significant parts of Africa and the Caribbean.
Back in 1934, our external relations, such as they were, would have been conducted as a series of essentially private transactions between governments.
Seventy years on, in the wake of globalisation, an explosion in communications technology, a fast-changing external environment, and evolution in public expectations, that is no longer possible. And it is certainly not desirable.
An integrated and collaborative approach between government departments, business, and civil society now, of necessity, underpins much of what we do, including through Seriously Asia and the Growth and Innovation Framework. Strengthening the “NZ Inc” effort of New Zealand agencies with an international focus has been a key part of fostering international connections. MFAT leads the government’s work in this area, working closely with officials in NZ Trade and Enterprise, Education, Immigration, Research, Science and Technology, and Economic Development to ensure that our collective efforts offshore are co-ordinated to build New Zealand’s image and reputation as a unique, creative, innovative, and technologically advanced nation. In a globalised world, and one in which the distinction between “foreign” and domestic” policy issues is becoming increasingly blurred, no single group can claim – as perhaps they could back in the 1930s – sole ownership over foreign policy. We now work in an environment where key stakeholders – government, Parliament, business, academia, civil society – all operate in the foreign policy arena, and are valued and indeed critical actors in it.
That is healthy and there needs to be more of it.
But it is no substitute for a properly-resourced New Zealand’s foreign policy apparatus. That is why, following a review last year of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s baseline, the Government decided to inject more funding over time to rebuild MFAT’s operational capability. That is what is enabling us to open an embassy in Warsaw – to give us eyes, ears and a voice in one of the key EU accession states in Central Europe – and it will also enable us to open the embassy in Cairo.
This process of capability-building would be enhanced by more, or at least more co-ordinated, input into the policy process from the so-called “Track II” institutions in New Zealand.
There are pockets of foreign and trade policy excellence, present company included, in New Zealand. We should explore better co-ordination of our efforts. We have seen recently, through the Seriously Asia process, just how enriching close dialogue and indeed integration can be. We are a small nation facing big challenges, and it is critical that we continue to co-ordinate with one another. I know the Institute itself is invigorating its dialogue with the private sector and I applaud that.
The history of the NZIIA is well-recorded on your website. It concludes with the words
“Events outside New Zealand will continue to affect us far more than we can influence them. We must continue to seek a better understanding of the world we live in”.
That is a commendable undertaking. It is one the Institute has discharged with distinction over the years. In a rapidly-changing world the role of organisations like this as multipliers of the policy development process, has become more important than ever.
Long may it continue.