Locke praises Peacekeeping School feasibility study

Green Party defence and disarmament spokesperson Keith Locke today praised the Government’s decision to investigate the feasibility of establishing a peacekeeping school in New Zealand.

Mr Locke thanked Defence Minister Mark Burton for his support for the investigation, a Green Party budget proposal which will be carried out within current baseline Defence expenditure.

“This is a logical step following this month’s defence announcement, which put peacekeeping centre stage in our defence work,” Mr Locke said.

The first step towards testing the need for such a school is a stock take of peacekeeper training currently undertaken by the New Zealand Defence Force. This will identify gaps in training and establish whether or not there should be an additional focus on peacekeeping support. Options include devising an extra training module, or establishing a dedicated peacekeeping school, as countries such as Canada have done.

“We have a need for an integrated approach to peacekeeping training. Our peacekeepers need not only thorough combat training, but also a range of diplomatic, language and cultural skills to dampen conflict and assist in reconciliation and community building.”

“New Zealand’s troops in East Timor, Bougainville and the Solomons are involved in such tasks. Our officers have an increasing need to understand the politics and traditions of the countries they serve in, how best to apply international human rights law, and the ways of assisting refugees,” he said.

“New Zealand is seen as a world leader in peacekeeping services. A peacekeeping school would promote New Zealand’s work in this area and could provide a useful international contribution to peacekeeping.”