Green Party Foreign Affairs Policy

The Green Party believes that the main problem in the world is the huge differences in wealth and power within and between countries. The agenda of the rich nations, for free trade and investment agreements, and for privatisation, is making it more difficult to overcome these differences in wealth and power. Many nations languish while more of the world’s resources and productive capacity come under the control of multi-nationals based in the rich countries.

New Zealand should be a champion of fair trade, not so-called free trade (which is never on a level playing field) and champion the rights of nations to determine their own economic and social destiny.We should ally ourselves with poorer countries, and the more socially and environmentally minded rich countries, mainly in Europe, to try to address the world’s most important political, economic and environmental problems.

This means joining with such nations in opposition to unilateral military interventions by big powers, in their own economic interests, as was the case in the United States-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. It also means working with the more progressive nations on implementing the Kyoto agreement despite opposition from the United States and others.

We should continue in the New Agenda Coalition promoting nuclear disarmament against the resistance of governments from the nuclear states, and particularly from the Bush administration.

Our nuclear-free status has shown how we can be an important part of the moral conscience of the world, and inspire others. Our small size, and geographical separation from conflict zones, can be turned to our advantage. The fact that we are not seen as a threat to anyone puts us in a good position to be an advocate of peace, social justice, human rights, and ecological sustainability.

The Greens want us to work with other small countries, like Norway, on these matters. I have visited Norway to study its exemplary peacemaking, and visited Sri Lanka to see how Norway does it on the ground. We can do more peacemaking, building on our good work in Bougainville. For a start, we can actively support a process of self-determination in West Papua, involving the Pacific Islands Forum and re-involving the United Nations, which let the Papuan down in 1969 in allowing Indonesia to take over their country. There is a successful peace process underway in Aceh, but in West Papua the people are still feeling crushed. Ten thousand Papuans demonstrated just this last week, and I can testify from my visit there a couple of months ago that they want independence from Indonesia. They will get independence but when depends, in part, as was the case with East Timor, on whether countries like New Zealand are bold enough to stand up for them.

We must not be intimidated in our in our promotion of human rights, as many countries are when confronted with such big players as the Chinese regime, which is violating the rights of its citizens, and those in Tibet, and denying the right of the people of Taiwan to decide their own future. The Green Party believes that in dealings with countries in which human rights violations occur, including during economic and trade negotiations, the interests of disadvantaged communities should be paramount. If the oppressed people of a country call for support, for example the people of Zimbabwe ask for sporting sanctions or the Burmese people for economic sanctions, we have a duty to support them.

We can be bolder in championing human rights and social justice in the Pacific. The democracy movement in Tonga is rightly frustrated at the lukewarm support it has received from New Zealand in its struggle against a corrupt monarchy. Over the last month the Tongan people have been engaged not just in a civil service strike, but in a much broader protest against the lack of democracy in their country. If we are going to take a stand for human rights far from our shores, we must also support them close to home, such as in Tonga. We can work more closely with other Pacific nations on their strengths, such as Vanuatu on its support for West Papua,or with French Polynesia’s new government on nuclear matters and Pacific unity. We should be more flexible in our special relationship with Samoa, allowing much freer movement of its people to New Zealand, to visit or work.

The Greens support the UN Millennium Development Goals, and want the richer powers to play a greater role in their realisation. But it is very hard for New Zealand to be the moral conscience on such issues when our overseas aid level is languishing at 0.27% of GNI, with no plans as to how to reach the international target of 0.7% by 2015. We need a definite timetable, to increase aid by about 0.05% each year. This is one of the areas where your vote for the Greens can make a real difference. In the next Parliament we may be able to tip the balance in favour of a definite timetable to get to 0.7% of GNI by 2015.

We can afford a decent level of overseas development assistance. This year, the government suddenly announced it was spending an extra $460 million a year on defence which, if put into overseas aid, would have brought our spending up to 0.66% of GNI.

A lot of our defence spending is still geared to the traditional defence links with Australia and America, even though we now tend to be aligned more with the more progressive European nations on international issues, from Iraq to Kyoto to star wars to the International Criminal Court. We are wasting around half a billion dollars a year on a naval combat force that is out of synch with what the Green’s believe our international focus should be, that is on peacekeeping and peacemaking. Frigates are geared more naval battles as part of a US-led flotilla.

We are also compromised as a nation by hosting a satellite communications interception station at Waihopai, near Blenheim, run primarily in the interests of the US National Security Agency. Those American interests are not the same as ours. Prior to the Iraq war, New Zealand was arguing against unilateral intervention in Iraq, yet the NSA, as it subsequently admitted, was using the Echelon network (including Waihopai) to spy on communications from the representatives of “dissident” nations in the Security Council to their home capitals.

We should also not be dragged along behind American definitions of the so-called “war on terror” which is resulting more in the undermining of human rights than confronting the underlying causes of non-state terrorism in the Islamic world, such as the occupation of Palestinian lands, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Where there is non-state terrorism there is commonly its counterpart — state terrorism. We have seen this in the American bombardment of Falluja which has killed so many Iraqi civilians, or in Israel’s missile attacks on Palestinian towns. Political solutions are vital to ending terrorism — state and non-state — and New Zealand can play a role in fostering those solutions.

We must oppose the type of anti-terrorist measures which undermine our human rights, like those currently being brought in by British Prime Minister Tony Blair, with shoot-to-kill policies, more draconian search and surveillance measures, and the removal of the rights to a fair hearing, immediately for migrants, but potentially for all of us. We should learn from the mistakes our government has made in the Ahmed Zaoui case, highlighting the dangers of Ministers and intelligence officials overriding judicial-type processes like the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

To achieve just solutions to global problems we need to champion multilateralism and in this context reform the UN so that it is less beholden to the interest of big powers. Working together, people can create a much more equitable and peaceful world.


Presentation to Election Forum of the New Zealand Institute for Foreign Affairs