Cablegate: New Zealand and the Un: New Permrep Banks Looks

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/14/2015

Classified By: Charge David Burnett,
For Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).

1. (C) Summary: New Zealand's new UN Permrep, Rosemary
Banks, says that New Zealand will maintain its traditional
opposition to permanent members' vetos in an expanded UN
Security Council (UNSC). Foreign Minister Goff supports the
idea of Japan becoming a permanent UNSC member, and also
backs our view that the Human Rights Council must keep HR
Violators from serving as Chair. Banks shares her
government's view that intervention in global hotspots is
best placed under the purview of the UN and not individual
players. But unlike many, she is very aware that most Kiwis
do not appreciate how their government's foreign policy is
diminishing New Zealand's influence in the UN despite the
country's emphasis on the importance of the organization. We
predict Banks will be a very constructive player on UN
reform. End Summary.

2. (C) On April 5, Charge and Pol-Econ Couns met with
Rosemary Banks, currently Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Trade, to discuss her views on UN reform
in light of her impending reassignment as NZ's UN Permrep.
Banks was joined by Joan Mosley, Director of MFAT's United
Nations, Human Rights, and Commonwealth Division. Banks
confirmed that Foreign Minister Goff supports the idea that
Japan should be a permanent UNSC member. He also shares our
view that the Human Rights Council must be reformed so that
rights violators can no longer serve as Council chair. Banks
acknowledged that the United States had been right all along
to oppose universalized Human Rights Council membership. New
Zealand had believed that giving violators a voice in the
Council would encourage them to improve their behavior.
"Now we don't," Banks said. Somewhat significantly given her
UN and human rights portfolios, Mosley added that some human
rights resolutions are "whackers."

UN: Big Brother or Big Bother?

3. (C) The Charge noted that unlike New Zealand, the United
States resists the notion of the UN as world government.
Countries should only trade sovereignty for increased
security, he said. Banks acknowledged the point, but said
the whole exercise becomes pointless without rules for
intervention. Pol-Econ Couns noted that the United States
has been frustrated because of the lack of UN intervention
where appropriate, not because there was too much of it.
Banks asked whether Secretary Annan's draft proposal for such
rules would create a problem for the United States. The
Charge said the draft language did not seem to rule out our
acting without the UN if needed. He noted that Congress'
most recent declaration under the U.S. War Powers Act, on
Iraq, focused on the UN resolutions against Saddam that had
not been enforced. Mosley said if one only trades sovereignty
for security, the question becomes how one defines the
latter. The Secretary General defines security broadly, she
said. We do as well, said the Charge, especially since 9/11
had highlighted the dangers posed by failed states. But, he
added, if the focus is too broad attention gets diverted from
what is most important.

Take off those Rose-colored Glasses

4. (C) Both Banks and Mosley admitted that New Zealanders
can be somewhat unrealistic when it comes to their confidence
in the United Nations and the organization's potential to
bring order to the world. Maintaining this rosy view will be
difficult once the UN fails to intervene where Kiwis think it
should. (Comment: We already saw a hint of this when local
media pointed out that it was the U.S. Navy that first
reached tsunami victims late last year.)

5. (C) Banks added that despite the fact that New Zealanders
take the UN very seriously, they do not yet see that their
country has declining influence there. Instead, they
continue to believe that the country's history as a founding
member and later an unofficial nonaligned country gives New
Zealand a special status in the organization. In reality,
said Banks, the country's influence will continue to fall as
that of large countries and regional groupings rise. Kiwis
do not want to hear that for this reason New Zealand needs to
reach out more bilaterally, for example to engage individual
countries in Asia in light of the changing regional
architecture. Banks said that even those who do see this,
such as influential academic Terence O'Brien, believe that
MFAT officials are too negative in their view that New
Zealand's incompletely thought-out, multilateral foreign
policy focus is marginalizing the country. We (at MFAT) are
trained to see the risks, Banks said. Politicians are not.
Mosley added that there is still a certain missionary zeal in
New Zealand, and that even some diplomats do not understand
that the country did not create and cannot fix all the
world's problems.

Background: Rosemary Banks

6. (U) Foreign Minister Goff announced on March 1 that Banks
would be New Zealand's next UN PermRep, replacing Don MacKay.
Banks, a career diplomat, has in her 30 years with MFAT
served at the UN in both New York and Geneva, in the Solomon
Islands, and in Australia. She has also held senior Ministry
posts at MFAT, including as Director of Information and
Public Affairs and Director of the North Asia Division. She
was seconded early in her career to the Department of Trade
and Industry. As Deputy Secretary of MFAT's Programme Three,
Banks has responsibility for managing the Ministry's
Consular, Disarmament, Economic, Environment and Antarctic,
Legal, UN and Commonwealth, and Human Rights divisions.

7. (C) Banks is hard-working and well regarded by those who
work with her, including both NZ and U.S. Government
officials. Her no-nonsense approach is matched by a
recognition that New Zealand needs to be more engaged in the
world. For example, we believe Banks was pivotal in
convincing the Prime Minister that despite its opposition to
the war in Iraq, New Zealand should provide military
engineers to assist in post-war reconstruction. We predict
she will be a constructive force in promoting UN reform.


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