New Zealand is pushing for one of the temporary sets on the United Nations Security Council. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully who has presided over the inept – some would say Machiavellian cost cutting in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs – believes it is quite a realistic possibility. He says that New Zealand is a peaceful, responsible member of the world community and that our good standing in the international community will assist our bid for the United Nations Security Council.
If that is so, Mr McCully, why then have you wielded a scalpel in dealing with staffing and finances at the Ministry, like a demented surgeon?
You have cut all that you possibly could from the services and diplomatic missions that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is expected to provide to New Zealand tax payers, and the New Zealand nation on the whole. Your demented surgeon persona wears thin. It will not do New Zealand any favours in terms of improving the prospect of the country securing a temporary spot in the United Nations Security Council. The Chief Executive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade that was expected to carry out the hatchet job, in November 2012 took a pay rise equivalent to what the average New Zealander expects to earn in a year – and had no problems with accepting it. Not a terribly good look when you have sent so many staff packing, thereby jeopardising a rare chance for New Zealand to get into the most important international decision making body there is.
Mr Jim McLay, the ambassador to the United Nations says that we are still respected for our stance on Rwanda in 1994, when we were one of the few nations that had the courage to recognise there was something seriously wrong. He says that New Zealand is good at listening and speaking with an independent voice.
That is all very well, but to be recognised around the world, we must have proactive diplomatic missions around the world who are properly funded to carry out the functions and responsibilities of the individual Embassies, Consulates, and High Commissions. We must have a properly funded Ministry that is able to carry out research into global events and determine where the Minister of Foreign Affairs is best able to advance New Zealand’s interests. How do we do this when budgets are being cut left, right and centre and embassies have been closed?
We need an independent foreign policy to advance on the world stage, that does not necessarily cuddle up to the United States or China, or any other foreign power. It needs to have the economic, social and environmental interests of New Zealand. Instead of a namby pamby, hodge podge statement of goals such as those that make up the foreign policies of most political parties, we could be establishing a set of goals and outcomes specific to individual parts of the world, for example Africa. The country needs to take a bolder approach on international affairs. It’s getting a bit old to still be relying on the respect gained for our stance on an event that happened nearly 20 years ago.
When we have that and the diplomatic missions to match, then we might be able to realistically expect a turn in one of the United Nations Security Council seats. But that is not right now.