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New Zealand In A Globalised World - Goff Speech

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

Goff Addresses New Zealand Society and
Royal Commonwealth Society


Wednesday 19 September 2001

"Earlier this week I stood on the battlefields of Ypres and Passendaele and thought of the impact that these terrible battles 84 years ago had on New Zealand earlier as a small and young country.

Nearly half of New Zealand’s male population aged 20 to 45 served overseas in the First World War. Of this total force, 60 percent were killed or wounded.

At Gallipoli and in Europe, a world away from New Zealand, we suffered casualties higher in proportion to our population than any other country. The inscription on the New Zealand memorial at Messines reads "From the uttermost ends of the earth". Our soldiers came from afar as members of the Empire to fight for the mother country but those who returned went back as New Zealanders.

In one sense globalisation as a new phenomenon for New Zealand is a myth. From its earliest origins, New Zealand has played its part in international events, notwithstanding its vast distance from the rest of the world. New Zealanders travelled, we traded, we participated in the major global conflicts of the world and we played a significant role as a foundation member of the United Nations.

However, the impact of new technology has certainly meant a closer, more inter-dependent and interrelated world.

Travel has become quicker, cheaper and more convenient.

Information technology advances have made the ability to communicate instantaneous and ubiquitous.

Barriers to global trade have been slowly and painfully broken down.

Migration levels and patterns mean we are more cosmopolitan and multicultural. Many aspects of culture, dress, cuisine, entertainment and architecture are becoming universalised.

Globalisation also encompasses the development of new problems which must be dealt with on a supranational rather than a national basis.

This includes not only environmental issues such as pollution and carbon emissions but also transnational crime, refugee flows and people trafficking and most recently and shockingly the problem of international terrorism.

From the middle of the last century, for the first time in human history, we have developed the ability to destroy ourselves on an unprecedented scale through weapons of mass destruction - chemical, biological as well as nuclear.

Finding global solutions to this problem is no longer a luxury - our survival depends upon it.

Last week’s events shook the world. They highlighted our vulnerability to what Tony Blair aptly described as a new evil afflicting the world.

We witnessed with a sense of shock and disbelief the destruction of the World Trade Centre and the attack on the Pentagon, numb in the realisation that we were watching as thousands of people lost their lives.

Most of us could barely conceive that this was real life, not the stuff of a Tom Clancy novel or a Hollywood blockbuster.

It was a nightmare come true, seared forever into our memory.

It makes more real an even greater nightmare, the use by terrorists of germ warfare or a crude nuclear weapon with consequences much more deadly than what occurred at the World Trade Centre.

It is little wonder that after last week we all feel less secure.

Missile defence systems or conventional military defence do not protect us against these sort of attacks.

Both President Bush and Secretary Powell described the current situation as a war, but it is not yet clear how this war will best be won.

Amidst the anger and the emotion, clear and calm thinking are necessary about what is required to defeat the scourge of terrorism.

What is certain is that a prolonged and intense campaign and a global mobilisation and coordination of resources will be needed if the threat is to be removed.

This is merited because the new terrorism threatens not dozens but tens of thousands of lives. Those who are carrying it out place no sanctity on the value of human lives, including their own.

The way this attack was carried out showed an unprecedented combination of zealotry, callousness, planning, precision and professionalism which heightens the threat that it poses.

The identification of the 18 dead hijackers and tracing their backgrounds will likely expose who was responsible and who assisted the group to achieve its aims, with prime suspicion falling on Osama bin Laden.

The desire for retaliation and retribution demonstrated in polling the reaction of American people is overwhelming and understandable.

Everyone shares the desire to see justice done and action against those responsible.

Revenge however is a less important consideration than the need to protect ourselves against similar attacks in the future. That should be the focus of our actions.

Polls conducted in the US suggest overwhelmingly people support military retaliation, with most supporting such action even if it meant thousands of innocent civilians being killed.

We, however, need to pause to consider what the consequences of that would be.

Bombing Kabul ‘back to the stone age’, as some people have suggested, would not require a great deal. Over 22 years of war and 4 years of famine have already substantially achieved this.

The deaths of more innocent people will not compensate for the lives of innocent people who have already died.

There is an unprecedented unanimity of international condemnation of the terrorists and what they have done.

This must translate into the level of international cooperation needed to track, to capture or to eliminate those who have committed this crime of mass murder.

Indiscriminate retaliation would undermine this prospect.

It would risk turning murderers into martyrs. It would create conditions to rebuild and sustain an element of public sympathy in the Arab and Islamic worlds for the continuation of terrorist organisations.

It would damage the ability in the wider international community to isolate and put pressure on those few countries who have provided refuge for terrorists.

Terrorists capable of mass murder deserve no mercy. But the operation against them would better proceed with surgical precision than through use of the blunt weapon of indiscriminate retaliation.

The proper focus of international reaction should be on enhancing an intelligence network to enable the terrorists to be tracked down and dealt with by law, or if necessary, military action.

Where needed, law change will be required to facilitate data sharing and extradition of terrorists.

Removing the source of funding for terrorist groups and preventing money laundering will also be necessary.

New Zealand has pledged its support to playing its role in the international community to do whatever it can contribute to the demise of terrorist groups.

But we also need to focus on tackling the causes of terrorism, dealing with situations which give rise to support for and recruitment into terrorist groups.

Terrorists need a cause, a sense of injustice, frustrated and alienated youths so full of hatred that they are prepared to sacrifice their own lives and the lives of others.

Failure to achieve a just peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been one obvious catalyst for contemporary terrorism.

The continuation of such an impasse has allowed brutal regimes such as Saddam Hussein’s and the Taliban movement to win sympathy which they would otherwise not enjoy.

The Middle East conflict has so far defied solution.

Fresh efforts to find a just solution and lasting peace must be made involving international cooperation and assistance to encourage the parties to resolve differences.

We welcome the initiative yesterday by Yaser Arafat to condemn terrorism committed in any cause and to redouble efforts to end the violence in the Middle East. A positive response by Prime Minister Sharon will help break the impasse.

Last week's events have also aggravated another global concern, the growing numbers of refugees fleeing poverty and oppression and the actions of people smugglers trafficking in economic refugees.

As one of the most distant nations in the world, the challenge to New Zealand has been less direct than faced by other countries.

We have played our part by taking an annual quota of refugees as well as following international conventions in processing spontaneous asylum seekers.

Most recently, New Zealand for humanitarian reasons accepted asylum seekers from the Norwegian freighter Tampa.

It helped break an impasse which if not dealt with would have added further to the suffering of those on board as well as encouraging future commercial vessels to turn a blind eye to sinking refugee ships.

The incident highlights the much larger international problem.

New Zealand has emphasised that new international initiatives are necessary to tackle the problem of repatriation and resettlement of the current millions of refugees. For too long the international community has paid little heed to the plight of refugees.

Pakistan and Iran are burdened by over 3.6 million largely Afghan refugees living in pitiful circumstances in camps. Hundreds of thousands more are poised to flee across the border.

According to latest FAO reports, five million people in Afghanistan face starvation as a result of the long drought.

Food shipments are being disrupted in the current crisis and the cost could soon be felt with increasing deaths of the most vulnerable - children and the elderly.

Unless that problem can be properly dealt with, the world faces mass deaths and further refugee flows.

While there is no easy solution in dealing with an oppressive regime in Afghanistan, famine alleviation is critical.

Disruption of this programme is a major concern in the current crisis.

International attention must also turn to dealing with organised crime groups profiting from people smuggling. New Zealand has signed the UN Transnational Organised Crime Convention finalised in 2000 and will soon ratify it.

We will need too to work with our regional neighbours to counter this trade and with countries such as Indonesia to stop them being used as an embarkation point to Australia and New Zealand.

I have addressed tonight just two of the pressing issues which can only be resolved globally rather than by national action.

Increasingly the problems confronting us require multilateral rather than unilateral action - global warming, sustainable development of our fisheries, weapons of mass destruction, human rights abuses, trade barriers.

As a small nation, New Zealand has long appreciated the need for a rules-based international system where conflicts can be resolved not on the basis of national size or strength but according to internationally agreed principles.

The current crisis re-emphasises the need in the post cold-war era for the international community to come together to use its united strength and determination to resolve the serious problems which put our future at risk."


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