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NZ Has Slashed Its Contributions To UN Peace Ops

New Zealand Has Slashed Its Contributions To United Nations Peace Operations

By Andreas von Warburg

Scoop Report: The number of military and civilian police personnel New Zealand contributes to United Nations-led peacekeeping operations has dropped since 2001.

According to recent United Nations statistics, New Zealand Blue Helmets, including troops, military observers, and Police, have dropped to a total of 40 units in July 2007 - down one unit from January 2007.

The largest block of New Zealanders deployed under the UN umbrella has been to the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), with a total of 25 Police units and one military observer.

Indeed, the number is larger compared to the 14 units New Zealand contributed to the UN in both 2005 and 2006, but it represents a drastic drop compared to the 716 units in 2001 and 661 in 2002. At the time, more than 90% of New Zealand military and civilian police personnel seconded to the UN were deployed to Timor-Leste through UNMIT or UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor).

The drop occurred despite the total number of Blue Helmets employed in UN-led peace operations having more than doubled in the same time frame – from a little over 39,000 in 2001 to around 82,000 in 2007.

In 2001, New Zealand peace personnel accounted for over 1.8 percent of the UN total, today, only 0.05 percent.

The largest contributors to UN-led peace operations are Pakistan, with 10,723 units, and Bangladesh, with 9,696 units. New Zealand ranks 79th, while Australia is 67th, with a total of 108 units (or 0.13 percent of the total).

Now that a New Zealander, David Shearer, has been appointed United Nations Deputy Special Representative to Iraq, it is unclear whether Wellington will increase its contributions to the recently-approved new UN mission in Iraq.

In 2003, the United Nations scaled down its operations in the country, after the Secretary-General Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and 22 members of his staff died in a bomb attack in Baghdad.

A few weeks ago, the Security Council agreed to renew and strengthen the mandate of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) through the unanimous adoption of resolution 1770.

SCOOP EDITOR'S NOTE: Since 2003, the New Zealand government has increased its military contribution to regional and bilaterally aligned operations including the: Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the United States led "war on terror" in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.

As this Scoop report shows, New Zealand's strategy since 2001 has been to slash its contribution to multilateral peacekeeping and peace-building operations commanded by the United Nations from 716 units to 40. This clearly illustrates a significant shift in foreign and defence policy post the conclusion of the Labour-Alliance government's 1999 to 2002 term – Selwyn Manning, Scoop co-editor.


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