HONOURABLE PHIL GOFF
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE OF NEW ZEALAND
UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY FIFTY-SEVENTH SESSION
SATURDAY 14 SEPTEMBER 2002
The opening of this 57th session of the General Assembly came just one day
after the anniversary of the terrorist attack of September 11 2001 which
shocked this city and the international community.
The premeditated and callous mass murder of 3000 people from 79 countries
was a sharp warning to us of the ongoing threats to the peace and stability
of our world.
It was to protect humanity against such threats that the nations of the
world came together in 1945 in the belief that collective action was necessary
to guarantee global peace.
Today in the second year of the new millennium the need to act multilaterally
is greater than ever before.
Terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, environmental degradation, people
smuggling, drug-trafficking, diseases such as HIV/Aids and unsustainable
depletion of our resources, are all global problems which require a collective
We can be proud that a year ago the response by the United Nations to a
new and unprecedented level of terrorism was immediate, united and effective.
The primary victims of the attack, the United States, sought and secured
international cooperation which achieved the incapacitation of the Al Qaeda
terrorist organisation and the removal of the Taliban regime which hosted
It was a model for international unity of purpose and multilateral action.
It was a lesson which should not be forgotten as this organisation tackles
other problems confronting humanity.
New Zealand has worked wholeheartedly under the mandate provided by the
United Nations to defeat terrorism.
We have introduced legislation to deny terrorist organisations funding and
resources in line with Resolution 1373.
We have sought to assist our neighbours in the Pacific to do the same.
We have committed peacekeeping personnel to the ISAF and combat forces under
Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
But we are also aware that actions to suppress terrorism must be accompanied
by measures to tackle the causes of terrorism.
Injustice, lack of opportunity, hopelessness, desperation and the failure
of legitimate channels to redress grievances, all give rise to resort to
The failure to resolve differences between Israeli and Palestinian people
in the Middle East continues to be a catalyst for recruitment into terrorism.
The Secretary-General in opening this session spelled out the basis for
resolving a dispute.
He referred to land for peace, an end to terror and to occupation, to two
states - Israel and Palestine - within secure and recognized borders.
Both peoples are destined to live side by side. Both will benefit from an
end to violence and a negotiated settlement.
Agreement requires good faith from each side and a determined effort from
the international community. We fully endorse the Secretary-General's renewed
call for an international peace conference. Progress on this issue is now
more vital than ever.
The situation in Iraq is also a threat to world peace but we must look for
solutions which will resolve and not exacerbate the threat.
No nation can be exempt from the requirement to comply with resolutions
passed by this organisation. That is necessary if the rule of law is to
No nation can be allowed to commit aggression or to use weapons of mass
destruction against its own people.
The requirement to comply with UN resolutions is not the instruction of
one country to Iraq - it is a collective instruction which should have the
unanimous endorsement of all member countries.
Iraq's non-compliance with Security Council resolutions is a challenge to
the entire UN membership. The UN must meet this challenge. How this situation
is resolved matters to us all, not least the countries of the region itself.
Those who can exercise influence over Iraq should do so to avoid the need
for resort to other actions.
The response chosen by the Security Council must, however, take into account
the need not to impose further costs on ordinary Iraqi people innocent of
any wrong doing. The response should not involve actions which undermine
rather than strengthen the war against terrorism.
The United Nations has shown that collective action can save lives and help
As we welcome the world's newest nation, East Timor, into the United Nations,
we should celebrate the success of the UN's peacekeeping mission and transitional
administration in that country.
I congratulate Sergio de Mello, the Secretary-General's former special representative,
for his role and those countries who contributed to giving hope and opportunity
to the people of that small country.
New Zealand has had a battalion of peacekeepers deployed in East Timor since
September 1999, and has peacekeepers also serving in 12 other countries.
We are proud that they have performed their role with professionalism and
respect for the people in whose countries in which they operate.
Notwithstanding the small size of its population, New Zealand currently
provides the 22nd largest contribution of UN peacekeeping personnel.
The promotion of human rights is another area where multilateral action
by the international community is essential.
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations has set out universal
standards for observance of human rights.
There is no justification for any country to deviate from such human rights
It is a mark of shame for member states of this organisation that too many
countries continue to breach fundamental human rights and a disgrace that
other countries too often act as apologists for the offending regimes.
An important landmark in the last year has been the entry into force of
the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
As the culmination of longstanding efforts by NGO's, Governments and the
international community as a whole, it offers the prospect of bringing justice
to the victims of the most horrific crimes known to mankind, and bringing
their perpetrators to justice. It will serve as a deterrent where none has
We have listened carefully to those who argue that the Court is not necessary
and that it unduly jeopardizes their peacekeepers, but we cannot agree.
The status quo - relying on domestic jurisdiction alone - has failed humankind
throughout history and has borne witness to appalling crimes. The new regime
has carefully built in safeguards to protect the innocent.
We were dismayed by the actions of the Security Council in July. At that
time we challenged both the legitimacy and substance of the Council's action.
We do not believe that it was consistent with the Rome Statute or that the
Council is able to arrogate to itself the power to change treaty relationships.
A further issue on which greater progress must be made is that of disarmament.
The fact that humanity survived the nightmare of potential nuclear destruction
during the Cold War cannot be allowed to make us complacent about on-going
threats from weapons of mass destruction.
We welcome the Treaty of Moscow and agreement by Russia and the United States
to cut the number of strategic nuclear weapons each country deploys. These
reductions however are not a substitute for irreversible cuts in, and the
total elimination of, these weapons.
In some respects even greater danger is posed by short-range tactical nuclear
weapons. There is a real risk that these could be launched by accident or
in confusion, with no time available for communication between opposing
Over the last year, two significant events have made our world a most dangerous
The first is the emergence of international terrorist groups who have shown
their willingness to use weapons of mass destruction - biological, chemical
or nuclear, - should they gain access to them.
The second is the situation in South Asia where the world recently came
close to direct conflict between two countries with nuclear capability.
The international community has not done enough to reduce those risks.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not been brought into effect.
Progress towards the implementation of undertakings made by nuclear weapon
states in the Non-proliferation Review Conference has stalled.
Nations have not taken sufficient steps to stop the production of fissile
material and to reduce stocks.
In this and in many other areas much more needs to be done to address growing
problems which affect all of us.
The awful toll of HIV/Aids, slowness in response to global warming and the
growth in people smuggling and trafficking are but three further examples.
It is essential that we renew our commitment to multilateralism as the best
way to address global problems.
That requires not simply money but most importantly political will.
It is not a case of putting global interests ahead of national interests.
Global interests are national interests.
The United Nations is our most valuable international organisation but we
need to do more to enhance its relevance, value and its unique authority.
All of us are stakeholders in its success.