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NZ welcomes report on UN reforms

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

2 December 2004

NZ welcomes report on UN reforms

Foreign Minister Phil Goff has welcomed a report calling for major reforms to the United Nations and responses to global security threats.

The report, released yesterday, was written by a High Level Panel appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

"Fifty-nine years after its creation, the United Nations needs a new vision for building a more secure world, with a revitalised organisation and a more representative and effective Security Council ready to lead collective action against threats to global security," Mr Goff said.

"Threats to security and stability today exist across national boundaries. Resolving them requires multilateral action by countries working together.

"These threats go beyond conventional conflict between states and include environment challenges such as global warming, terrorism, transnational crime, infectious diseases like HIV-Aids, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, poverty and unsustainable development.

"The report points out the international community could face a nightmare scenario combining terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and irresponsible states – circumstances that could conceivably justify the use of force to prevent a latent threat being realised.

"It urges the UN to take early action to prevent such things as mass killings or terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons. The panel says the UN must approve any such pre-emptive action, and sets out the benchmarks for authorising the use of force whether in armed conflict, self-defence or in stopping major human rights violations such as the 1994 Rwanda genocide.

"New Zealand is supportive of the concept that the international community has a responsibility to protect people faced with mass murder, rape or starvation when a state is either unwilling or unable to provide that protection.

"International action, however, should take place within the UN Charter and multilaterally through a proper decision making process.

"New Zealand also supports reforming and expanding the UN Security Council to make it more representative of the international community and the geopolitical reality of the 21st century.

"While finding a consensus on the specific nature of how this should be done will be difficult, the options offered by the report provide a good starting point for reform.

"The report recommends the establishment of a Peace-Building Commission to prevent the collapse of failed states and to assist countries emerging from war to make the transition to peace. These are useful ideas that deserve further consideration and debate. "New Zealand also endorses the clear warning sounded by the report that the cornerstone of nuclear security, the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, is at risk because of non-compliance, withdrawals and the spread of technology.

"We agree with the report that the world is approaching a point at which the erosion of the Treaty could become irreversible and result in a cascade of nuclear weapons being built.

"New Zealand supports the call for more stringent inspections, a moratorium on construction of enrichment or reprocessing facilities, and for the International Atomic Energy Agency to control supplies of nuclear materials. The emphasis needs to be on both the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and the elimination of existing weapons held by states that already possess them."

Mr Goff said New Zealand, as a strong supporter of multilateralism, welcomed proposals to improve collective security. He said the challenge now was to build a broad consensus of support for the panel's recommendations.

"The Foreign Minister of Mexico has invited counterparts from a number of countries to attend a meeting in January to discuss the way forward.

"Because of the importance New Zealand attaches to the work of the panel, and to overall reform of the United Nations, I am planning to attend that meeting and take an active role in the follow-up activities," Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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