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Goff: NZ statement to the UN General Assembly

Phil Goff Delivers NZ statement to the UN General Assembly

Reform of the United Nations is vital to ensure its ongoing relevance and effectiveness, Foreign Minister Phil Goff told the United Nations General Assembly this morning.

“Permanent membership of the UN’s key body, the Security Council, reflects the power structure of the world as it was in 1945, ignoring developments of the last 59 years.

“To ensure its credibility, changes have to be made including ensuring better representation of Asia, Latin America and Africa, and countries like Japan which by itself provides nearly 20% of current UN funding."

Mr Goff also called on UN member states to change the outmoded view that national sovereignty must always be the paramount consideration preventing international intervention in local conflicts.

“It is with shame that we recall the horror of genocide in Rwanda in which 800,000 people died and the massacre at Srebrenica where over 7000 were murdered in cold blood, while the world stood by.

“A similar catastrophe is occurring in Darfur, where the World Health Organisation estimates that 10,000 people a month are dying or being killed.

“Countries within the United Nations must act together in a united and determined way to enforce last week’s Security Council resolution and intervene to stop this tragedy."

Mr Goff told the Assembly that impunity for crimes such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide must not be tolerated.

“In cases such as Darfur or East Timor, not to act to bring offenders to justice encourages those who abuse human rights to believe they can keep on doing so, without any fear of ever being held to account.

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“All countries should become parties to the International Criminal Court and recognise its jurisdiction.

“Only in that way will the message be clear that those guilty of atrocities will face justice for their actions with mechanisms in place to ensure that occurs.

“Terrorists are among those who need to be held to account.

"Those responsible for the suffering and massacre of children in Beslan callously targeted to attack those who were most vulnerable.

“All the world must close ranks against such people.

“But while terrorism is at the forefront of our concerns, for hundreds of millions of people today starvation, disease and poverty are more immediate threats to their well-being.

“It is this challenge which the United Nations must also meet, through implementing the Millennium Development Goals agreed to at the United Nations by world leaders in 2000.

“Development assistance and changes through the WTO Doha Development Agenda to build a fairer, more open and equitable global trading system must also be key priorities for the UN,” Mr Goff said.

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