Tag: New Zealand
In theory, the United Nations is the epitome of effective diplomatic activity and relations. Yet, in practice, it is, all too frequently, an epicentre of vitriolic rhetoric, wilful misinformation, and unfortunate end results.
There is prestige and status attached to seats on the various UN councils and committees, though. And, at least partly for this reason, New Zealand fought long and hard to gain its current seat on the UN Security Council.
New Zealand's battle to secure a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) was long and hard-fought. And with just a two-year term to serve, starting from last January, the country's foreign affairs officials don't plan to waste what time they have.
Foreign Minister Murray McCully has committed Wellington to support a greater role for the Security Council in the Middle East peace process, saying, "We have been clear in our view that the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories is not sustainable, and our friendships with Israel and Palestine demand we play a part in helping to find a solution."
Impassioned speeches, heated debates, jovial neighbourhood walkabouts, the peddling of grand dreams for the future... National elections tend to be rousing times, full of hope and opportunity.
They also tend to focus the attention of the community on broader social issues, along with the challenges facing the economy and the country. The resulting dialogue - which is often the only time many issues are publicly debated - is a useful and important part of New Zealand's democratic system.
Jumping to hasty assessments can often be a mistake but, sometimes, looking further into those same assessments can lead to interesting discoveries. When first asked to write a column about coverage of the recent Israeli elections in New Zealand I said, without too much thought, "there wasn't much". Yet my research on the topic very quickly showed that assumption was, in fact, not correct.
Questions have been raised by some members of New Zealand's Jewish community over the country's recent vote in favour of the United Nations (UN) resolution that Palestine be given "non-member state" status at the international organisation.
There has been some surprise, and even annoyance, that - under Prime Minister John Key's Israel-friendly government - New Zealand did not abstain on the vote.
In a year punctuated by dramatic highs (the All Blacks finally winning the Rugby World Cup) and heartbreaking lows (the Christchurch earthquakes, the aftermath of the Pike River mining disaster), New Zealand's general election seemed to creep up and take many Kiwis by surprise. The lowest voter turnout since 1887 and the long-predicted, largely unsurprising election outcome combined to create something of a feeling that the entire event was merely an exercise in checking off a necessary democratic box.
Question: Do the following characteristics/actions/behaviours seem suspicious?
Having (and carrying) more than one passport while travelling. Wanting to contact your family and friends in any way possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Leaving a country (to go home to your family) as soon as possible after being caught up in a natural disaster. Being a citizen of a country whose government representatives check up on its citizens if they are in a foreign country when a disaster occurs. Being a citizen of a country whose government offers a range of assistance to another country after a disaster has occurred.
Answer: Yes, apparently, they do in New Zealand.
When Israel reopened an embassy in Wellington in April this year, it seemed obvious that the new Ambassador, Shemi Tzur, and his staff had a big job in front of them. Almost a decade without on-the-ground representation, as well as some years of troubled diplomatic relations between Israel and New Zealand, meant that Kiwi perceptions of Israel had, in many ways, been quite badly damaged.