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Peters: Security responses to a challenging world

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs


Embargoed until 8.45am, 13 December 2006
Speech Notes

Security policy responses to a challenging world

Address to the Centre for Strategic Studies conference
'The Asia Pacific: Future Strategic Perspectives'
Victoria University, Wellington

Praise is owed to the Centre for Strategic Studies, in conjunction with the Defence Studies programme of Massey University, the New Zealand branch of the Centre for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific, and their co-sponsors for bringing so many of our region’s key strategic thinkers to Wellington.

As New Zealanders, we know that we cannot afford to allow geographical isolation to translate into intellectual isolation.

Understanding future strategic perspectives – above all the perspectives of our partners in the Centre for Strategic Cooperation in the Asia Pacific – will be critical. This conference is therefore a significant contribution to New Zealand security policy.

We look forward to hearing from you.

To set the scene, here is an outline of the way that New Zealand approaches some of the issues you will be addressing. It illustrates some of the common features of our strategic perspectives.

The outline focuses on the types of security challenges New Zealand faces, and the types of tools we use to respond to them.

Security challenges are grouped into three broad, and intersecting, themes: Challenges from within, which emerge inside states; challenges from without, which cross state borders; and changes in our wider region.


Security challenges within states

At the end of 2006 we face challenges that State fragility and failure pose to our region.

Within States, development, governance and security are interdependent: this is as true of Afghanistan as it is of Timor Leste or the Solomon Islands.

In these States, and others, conflict and governance failures can have consequences beyond their borders. Narcotics production in Afghanistan depends on demand from the West. Unrest in Tonga is keenly felt by the Tongan community in New Zealand.

For New Zealand, these are problems that lap at our shores. There is an increasing sense of vulnerability in the Pacific region, particularly Melanesia, to the many pressures facing often-remote Pacific Island states.

Weaknesses in governance, development and security manifest themselves in many ways – the incidence of drugs, small arms proliferation, organised crime, people and goods smuggling, illegal fishing, and compromised sovereignty.

New Zealand’s response to these challenges of state failure, in our neighbourhood and beyond, must encompass the full range of diplomatic, military and development tools.

At the diplomatic level, we helped broker a settlement to the Bougainville conflict in Papua New Guinea. At a “track two” level, New Zealanders have provided constitutional advice to Fiji and the Solomons. Most recently, in Wellington, we brought together Prime Minister Qarase of Fiji and the commander of the Royal Fiji Military Forces.

When our extensive diplomatic efforts, and those of others throughout the world, failed to prevent the seizing of power in Fiji by the military, New Zealand had no alternative but to respond with the imposition of sanctions.

Our efforts have been directed at impacting directly on those aiding and abetting Commodore Bainimarama, in particular the Republic of Fiji Military Force and its close associates.

Some have taken immediate effect, for instance the suspension of high level contact and military assistance and the imposition of visa bans on RFMF and those associated with the coup.

Our moves to suspend Fiji from the Commonwealth have led to its suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth.

We have attempted, as much as possible, not to impact adversely on the more vulnerable in Fijian society.

Significant effort is going into reconfiguring New Zealand’s overseas development assistance to Fiji to ensure that we can continue our focus on alleviating poverty (particularly for the poorest of the poor), enhancing access to justice and the protection of human rights, and to the extent possible, assisting in the process of reconciliation, while minimising contact with the new government.

We will continue, in consultation with our regional and international partners, with efforts to encourage and support a return to constitutional order in Fiji and the restoration of democracy as soon as possible.

Across our region, development assistance is an increasingly important part of the diplomatic “toolbox”. In 2006/07 New Zealand, via NZAID, has committed $NZ166.6 million to address key Pacific development challenges.

Examples of this assistance in action include the Solomon Islands, where we are helping to rebuild the education system to ensure that all boys and girls have access to schools; and Timor Leste, where NZAID is introducing twinning arrangements with New Zealand government departments to help build the skills of the Timorese public sector.

We look to all external development partners to the Pacific to provide transparent, appropriate, and sustainable assistance – to contribute to solutions, not to become part of the problem.

Alongside diplomatic and development assistance, we provide support to governments under pressure through the New Zealand Defence Force and Police.

We maintain the capacity to operate right across the spectrum of military operations. Defence personnel operated unarmed in Bougainville, and many deployments – most recently to Tonga – conclude without a shot being fired. New Zealand and Australian Police remain in Tonga to build local police capacity.

At the other end of the spectrum, New Zealand has committed three rotations of special forces to operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Between these two ends of the spectrum – unarmed peacekeepers and special forces – New Zealand’s commitment to peace support operations for collective security is longstanding. We currently contribute some 400 Defence Force and 50 Police personnel to 19 peace support missions globally, from Afghanistan, the Middle East and the Sudan, to Timor Leste and the Solomons.

Increasingly we must commit a wider range of government agencies to complex, multifaceted peace-building interventions, which often extend for many years.

Critical to these interventions, particularly in the Pacific, is the consent environment: the range of permission, formal and informal, needed to work effectively within another sovereign country’s space.

As the Prime Minister has said, for New Zealand this is as much about our values as it is about our diplomacy. A hallmark of New Zealand diplomacy in the South Pacific is our commitment to seek a strong consent environment for what we do.

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, or RAMSI, demonstrates the need for an integrated response to complex challenges, the long-term nature of the task, and the importance of the consent environment.

In cooperation with the Solomons government, RAMSI has made significant progress in restoring security following the widespread violence of 1998-2003, and in working with the national government to rebuild state institutions.

Civil unrest in Honiara in April 2006 demonstrated that the situation in Solomon Islands remains fragile and volatile. The consent environment for the mission is not what it was.

New Zealand remains committed to participating in RAMSI, as it continues to respond to the evolving needs of the Solomons government and people. This is a task we share with 14 other Pacific Island Forum members that also contribute personnel to the Mission.

Timor Leste’s descent into violence earlier this year underscores the difficulty and complexity of nation building. The creation of robust institutions of governance and security is not just a structural challenge; it relates to fundamental processes of social, cultural and political change. New Zealand, with Australia and the international community, is committed to a long-term nation-building effort.

The conflict in Afghanistan is, in more ways than one, a world away from the Pacific. But the same linkages between security, governance and development must be tackled. New Zealand’s Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan Province is regarded as a model of its kind, harnessing the skills and experience of the Defence Force and Police alongside New Zealand development assistance.

While our region will continue to face issues of internal conflict, we have also seen positive examples of conflict resolution that help point the way forward. In particular, the commitment of the Indonesian government to resolve the Aceh conflict, with the support of ASEAN and the EU in particular, offers a positive example for the region and beyond.


Security challenges across state borders

The risks, and the impact, of state fragility and failure can be greatly increased where they overlap with trans-national threats, helping to create a complex and uncertain strategic environment.

Principal among these threats is international terrorism, which remains a defining challenge for national security. It magnifies other trans-national threats such as proliferation, disease, and piracy. It demands substantial resources to counter it, and it requires government responses that uphold the rule of law, and the freedoms that are inseparable from our way of life.

New Zealand recognises that international terrorism requires a comprehensive, multi-layered and long-term response. We draw on the full range of tools in response: contributions to the international military campaign against terrorism in Afghanistan, and in the Arabian Sea; compliance with international counter-terrorism standards; strengthening border controls, and strengthening intelligence capabilities to improve domestic security.

We work with our Pacific Island partners to strengthen the region’s capacity to meet international counter-terrorism benchmarks and to strengthen trade, transport and border security infrastructure.

We have concluded a Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism with ASEAN, and have established a new Asia Security Fund to give tangible effect to our commitment to our South East Asian security partners.

The Pacific Security Fund, established in 2003, enables a whole of government approach to security issues in the Pacific, including counter-terrorism.

Alongside these direct responses to terrorism, New Zealand recognises the need to address the complex interplay of religion, culture, ideology, history and personal circumstance, which feeds violent extremism.

New Zealanders have made a concerted effort over the years to reject the notion that a “clash of civilisations” is somehow inevitable.

We regard the Alliance of Civilisations process – launched by the United Nations Secretary General and sponsored by the Spanish and Turkish governments – as the benchmark for the international effort to bridge divides, and we are committed to supporting it.

At the regional level, New Zealand has been an active supporter of the regional Interfaith Dialogue process since its launch at Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in December 2004. To this end, New Zealand will host the third round of the Dialogue at Waitangi in May next year.

Nowhere is the overlap between trans-national threats more grave than where risks from the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction intersect with those from international terrorism.

The continued existence of nuclear weapons and of other weapons of mass destruction; the risk that more countries may seek access to them, and the growing danger of these weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups, underscore our collective responsibility to promote disarmament and non-proliferation.

We have a collective responsibility to promote disarmament and non-proliferation, through the UN, the multilateral treaty system, and initiatives such as the Proliferation Security Initiative.

Outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has warned of the dangers of 'mutually assured paralysis' in the disarmament and non-proliferation debate, and called for both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to be tackled with the urgency these tasks demand.

New Zealand strongly believes that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are interconnected, and must advance together.

Alongside New Zealand’s longstanding commitment to nuclear disarmament, we recognise the need to develop new tools to respond to emerging threats.

New Zealand shares the view of the UN Secretary General that the PSI is an important initiative for combating the illegal trafficking in weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. New Zealand is committed to the PSI Principles, and contributes to PSI exercises.

Other trans-national threats, whether natural (such as disease and natural disasters) or artificial (such as piracy and trans-national crime) are developing in ways that require new responses. These challenges demand a whole of government response.

New Zealand diplomats now need defence, police, development, customs, immigration and academic colleagues on speed dial. Conversely, our soldiers, police and customs officials must hone their diplomatic skills, reaching out to their counterparts in the Asia Pacific region and beyond.


Changes in our wider region

For New Zealand, 'reaching out' generally means a long way out. By an accident of geography, we do not confront immediate security challenges from other states. No territorial disputes, no divided nation issues. Even our neighbours – Australia, New Caledonia and Tonga – are three hours' flight time away.

As New Zealanders we are conscious, when interacting with others in the region, that in this sense we are in a geographically privileged position. We must respect the sensitivities of others whose security perspectives have been shaped by challenges, and threats, closer to home.

Yet it is axiomatic that remoteness no longer ensures security. New Zealand’s economy depends on the free international movement of people, money and goods.

For New Zealand, as a small state, a commitment to the principle of collective security has been a cornerstone of our foreign policy from our beginnings as an independent nation. We are committed to the rule of law, and to multilateral responses to security challenges.

Consequently, for both principled and pragmatic reasons, we take a keen interest in regional stability.

For New Zealand, there are two dimensions to the broader geostrategic picture. The first is that, while relationships between states in the Asia-Pacific region are generally stable, there remain areas of tension within our region; for example, the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Straits and South Asia. Here, while the risk of conflict may be low, the consequences of miscalculation could be severe.

All of us glimpsed the risks of miscalculation on the 9th of October when North Korea ignored the will of the international community and conducted its first-ever nuclear weapons test. Pyongyang’s decision was met with immediate and unified condemnation, including from North Korea's traditional allies.

The test, and North Korea's aspirations to accede to the ranks of a nuclear weapons state, has increased tensions in a region already characterised by a build up of conventional weapons.

North Korea’s provocative actions also go against the spirit of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and the global moratorium on nuclear testing.

Security Council Resolution 1718, adopted to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, sends a clear message to Pyongyang, and includes the type of targeted sanctions that New Zealand supports.

We have prepared regulations to give effect to those aspects of the resolution that require domestic implementation. They are scheduled for entry into force in the next few days.

New Zealand believes the Six-Party Talks remain the key vehicle to making progress on the North Korean nuclear issue, and we welcome the announcement that the talks will resume next week.

The Six-Party Talks are not in themselves the objective, however, and we encourage all parties to work to make progress towards an improved security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The second feature of the broader strategic picture is that the Asia-Pacific is undergoing significant political and economic change.

The transformation of the Chinese economy; the emergence of India; the repositioning of Japan, and the strengthening of ASEAN are all having an impact.

That change takes place peacefully and constructively is in all our interests. There are a number of vehicles through which we can support these trends.

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is the most comprehensive organisation in the region dealing with security. Its particular strength is that it brings almost every State in the region to the table – although this also means that all must agree to take any action.

As well as supporting initiatives through this forum, New Zealand interacts bilaterally with many of the ARF member countries.

Our naval ships visit many ports in the region for goodwill visits and these visits are reciprocated in New Zealand by the navies of many of the countries represented here. We hold security dialogues with many of the countries of the region, and our links with many of the militaries form an important part of the overall fabric of our cooperative endeavours.

We are members of the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) with Australia, the UK, Malaysia and Singapore.

Indonesia has accepted our invitation to have an officer attend next year's NZDF Command and Staff College course, and the College's tour will incorporate Indonesia.

While having a much broader agenda than security, other regional groupings such as APEC and the emerging East Asia Summit (EAS) also provide forums for leaders and governments to come together to discuss issues of common concern.

At APEC, these include matters such as North Korea's test – condemned in the Chair’s statement – and the rollover of the mandate for the APEC Counter Terrorism Task Force.

The second East Asia Summit, now being rescheduled, was supposed to be meeting in Cebu in the Philippines as we speak. Its principal theme this year was energy, but it had a wide-ranging agenda of possible topics before it, many of which bear on security.

At the regional level, the security postures of national governments are a critical factor. In this respect a heavy responsibility rests on the United States.

A secure and prosperous United States, engaged constructively on global issues, is crucial for stability and economic progress throughout the world. Its strategic presence in the Asia-Pacific region helps underpin regional security diplomacy.

For our part, New Zealand and the United States have recently made a renewed commitment to review our cooperation across a broad spectrum of engagement.

Two features of this engagement are new. One area is cooperation in response to 'new security paradigm' issues such as counter-terrorism, new risks from proliferation, and trans-national crime. The other is recognition of our long-standing shared interests in supporting Pacific governments in their security management.

New Zealand’s security horizon is not limited to the Asia-Pacific region. Contributions to peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, and more recently the shift of our PRT in Afghanistan to the International Security Assistance Force, have brought New Zealand forces alongside those from NATO countries.

We welcome NATO’s intention, announced at the Riga Summit, to build partnerships with troop-contributing countries elsewhere in the world who share NATO's interests and values. We have taken a number of practical steps to ensure that when our forces are alongside NATO, that we have the systems and communications in place to work effectively together.

In all these contexts – multilateral, regional and bilateral – we bring to the table our reputation as committed multilateralists, and as honest brokers. For New Zealand, the UN remains a central focus of our foreign and security policy.

We look to the UN both for leadership of global responses to security challenges (for example, through the expansion of UNIFIL in Lebanon), and as a legitimator of collective international responses (for example, in response to North Korea’s nuclear test, or in the setting of international standards for sanctions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban).


Conclusion

New Zealand’s strategic geography may differ from that of many of the countries represented here today. But there are consistent themes in the way we see the world.

The complex set of overlapping international, trans-national and sub-national challenges already outlined does not pose any immediate threat to New Zealand’s core sovereignty and security – but it engages our values and our interests, from Polynesia to the Middle East.

When we come to the table to address these challenges, New Zealand does not bring deep pockets, or big battalions. We bring our reputation as an honest and trusted partner with our own multicultural traditions, a commitment to multilateral solutions and the rule of law, high standards of transparency and governance, and niche military and police capabilities which have impact well beyond their numbers.

To maintain the relevance and the credibility of these tools, New Zealand must stay connected to the regional security debate, and develop our key regional relationships.

Today’s conference is a critical strand connecting New Zealand to that debate, and to those relationships.

So thanks once again to Peter Cozens and his team at the Centre for Strategic Studies; to the Defence Studies programme at Massey University, and to the New Zealand branch of the Centre for Strategic Cooperation in the Asia Pacific for making this event happen.

ENDS

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