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Goff: Foreign Policy speech at NZIIA Debate

Hon Phil Goff
Trade Minister

8 October 2008

Speech Notes

Foreign Policy speech at New Zealand Institute of International Affairs Debate

University of Auckland Business School

Can I thank the NZIIA for organising this debate and those who have shown the interest to attend it.

I believe the Labour-led Government’s achievement over its term of office in foreign policy has been to strengthen New Zealand’s reputation internationally as a country which thinks independently, has strong values and, despite its small size, makes a significant contribution to the world community as a good international citizen.

We are respected for withstanding pressure and making our own decision not to become involved in the Iraq war, while nevertheless, making strong contributions to peacekeeping and security in Timor Leste, the Solomons and Bamyan in Afghanistan.

We have continued our leadership role in disarmament issues for example by working to ban cluster munitions and to de- alert nuclear weapons.

We have significantly lifted our level of development assistance from 0.2% GDP to 0.3% which will rise to 0.35% by 2010.

We have shown leadership in areas like sustainability and climate change.

Bryan Lynch has posed four questions which he has asked us to address.

Brian’s first question is about priorities.
For us, our priority in foreign policy is to contribute to a peaceful and secure world, and one which is both prosperous and socially just. We put emphasis on multilateral solutions through organisations like the UN and WTO, to create rules based systems rather than the law of the jungle, and to deal with problems which increasingly transcend national boundaries.

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Brian’s second question is how to get others to heed our wishes.
As a small country our ability to influence others will obviously not be based on our size or economic, political or military power.

It is, and will be, based on the respect we earn as a country which is seen as a good international citizen, which strives for the common good as well as our own interests, which makes a contribution disproportionate to our size and which thinks independently and promotes coherent, well-thought-out and clearly articulated solutions.

Our small size is, in one sense, our strength. We are non-threatening, don’t suffer from arrogance and work well with others.

We have shown real leadership in areas such as within the World Trade Organisation, disarmament and non-proliferation forums, climate change, human rights and peacekeeping.

Brian’s third question is about being at the top table.
We are there often, for example in trade in the WTO where New Zealand provides the Chair of the Agriculture Negotiating Committee – the well-respected Crawford Falconer, had Mike Moore as the former Director General and are invited at Ministerial level to participate in the 25 country strong core group called the ‘Green Room’.
We led the way by being the first OECD country to complete a free trade agreement with China. We led the way again in persuading the US to become a partner in the Trans Pacific Free Trade Agreement which has the potential to be hugely influential as it expands further.

In disarmament we were part of the small six-country Oslo group which has produced the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

At the first Committee of the UNGA last year, we led the resolution for de-alerting nuclear weapons which secured 130 positive votes.

In peacekeeping, our Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamyan has been described by the UN, NATO and other international forces as the model for other areas.

With this sort of reputation we can and do frequently get invited to participate in top table discussions and decision making.

Brian’s last question, about standing tall in respect to global change, is partly addressed by what I have already said.

We are seen as a country which is progressive and a leader, including in the area of sustainability, climate change and the environment.

We were an early signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, the first country to include all sectors, including agriculture, in its emission trading scheme and we are at the forefront of international research on how to reduce methane emissions from ruminant animals.

In human rights we were a driving force in implementing the Disabilities Convention, chaired by our then Ambassador to the UN Don Mackay, with Don again playing a leading role in chairing discussions on the core issues in the Cluster Munitions Convention.

In disarmament we are one of the seven countries in the New Agenda Coalition which has fought hard and consistently for advances in areas like the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive test Ban Treaty.
Labour has never advocated that our nuclear free policy should be gone by lunchtime!

It is important that our leadership be applied regionally as well as globally.

In the Pacific, in peacekeeping, in promoting good governance and in development, we have major responsibilities in advancing the security, stability and well-being of our Pacific neighbours.

In the Asia-Pacific region, we are also working hard to ensure better integration and relationships in the area of the world which is the most economically dynamic but also diverse.

We play a significant role through APEC, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, the Pacific Forum and processes like the Inter-Faith Dialogue in responding to national disasters, fragile states, ethnic tensions, inter-state rivalry, terrorism and environmental challenges.

Eight minutes is once across the surface lightly but thank you for the opportunity to address the questions the Institute has challenged us with.


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