A potential huge win-win for NZ foreign policy

March 30th, 2009 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

The Tailor of Panama Street blogs:

As we have posted before, New Zealand is currently running for a seat on the 57 member .  Elections will be held in May and New Zealand is currently one of three candidates for three vacancies that will come in the Western European and Other Group (WEOG).  The other declared candidates are Norway and Belgium.

Now this is not a good thing. The HRC is just as bad as its predecessor that was abolished because it was a repulsive joke. The current Council is more into taking rights away than defending them. It is trying to make it compulsory for countries to ban virulent criticism of religion.

There are signs President Barack Obama may be about to reverse another George W. Bush policy and take a fresh look at the HRC.  Bush shunned the Council, arguing it was biased against Israel and ignored flagrant human rights abusers (indeed, many of its members fall into this categrory).   However, as part of a campaign to improve the US’s image in the world, Obama seems to be taking a more cautiously supportive line.  On 1 March, the US announced it was sending an observer to the Council’s current session, to “use the opportunity to strengthen old partnerships and forge new ones.”  Now, UN scuttlebutt suggests that the US might be looking to run for a spot on the Council in the May elections.

This is a golden opportunity.

So far, so good. There is no doubt that the Council can only benefit from having the US actively engaged. But with four candidates for three WEOG spots, someone is going to miss out.  The Progressive Realist suggests that the US has already sounded out the Belgians to see if they would step down to let Washington run unopposed. No word on this yet, but is it too cheeky to speculate whether New Zealand might offer to step aside for Washington? From Minister McCully’s point of view, wouldn’t this advance two foreign policy goals: improve relations with the new US administration and get out of the foreign affairs equivalent of a “polar bear hug”?

That would be a brillant move. It is the best of all worlds. We escape having to serve on the Council (imagine the shame as we have to explain vote after vote), the US rejoins it (the only country that can temper it a bit) and Uncle Barack and Aunt Hillary owe us a big favour.

Hopefully McCully will make the offer to withdraw to make room for the US to stand, when he meets Clinton.

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27 Responses to “A potential huge win-win for NZ foreign policy”

  1. georgedarroch (316 comments) says:

    NZ has a distinguished record on UN bodies, and is well liked and respected. Rightly or wrongly, NZ is seen as a country that upholds human rights norms and is active in participating in developing them. This is a perfect opportunity to do so. The US complained because it didn’t uphold its narrowly conceived interests, those who dislike the UN say that it’s broken and can’t be fixed. I agree that it has its flaws, and this is why NZ’s participation is all the more important.

    NZ’s reputation is incredibly important, as it gives NZ significantly more power than it would otherwise have in international affairs (ie. almost nothing).

    Giving up that spot could be lose-lose. NZ would in all likelihood lose credibility, and the United States is not necessarily a shoo-in.

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  2. womack (3 comments) says:

    I concur.

    For a classic American position on the UNHRC
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/mar/26/cut-off-relief-agency/

    They are totally undemocratic and hypocritical.
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iRHXSIoJJdXQpG3kPrRO2LWMnWTAD975TOK00

    It is run by the Islamist Organisation of Islamic Council who’s numbers & friends enable them to control it.
    So where is little old NZ going to make a difference? Is everyone’s friend John Key going to say
    Nyet! That is not fair, just nor right to the Islamic world?

    pass me a Tui

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  3. womack (3 comments) says:

    How many countries in the world are there?
    How many tyrants killing their own people?
    Which country out of all (191) countries at the UN comes up every week on the UNHRC’s agenda?

    Go on guess, out of 6 billion people on the whole planet, One country of 7 million is the worst offender of Human rights on the whole planet out of all the others combined.

    It’s not Sudan, China, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Indonesia, Syria, Russia, Yemen, Eithiopia or countless others in the press.
    Go to http://www.eyeontheUN.org if you don’t know.

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  4. tvb (4,204 comments) says:

    We probably own the Americans a few favours not least their support for Helen Clark. It would be typical for the stupid lefties to criticise this move without looking at wider issues.

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  5. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    Yes withdraw. The less we have to do with that posionous edifce the better. Obama will be right at home with the rest of the thugs, dictators and totalitarians.

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  6. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    George is right – NZ should do all it can to attain this spot, and then use its position to try to temper the Council.

    NZ is one of the world’sost secular nations and will bring a mch needed perspective to the council. The US, despite everything in its constitution, remains in thrall to various religious dogmas. There will be enormous pressure on the US to advance the ridiculous concept of “defamation of religion”. NZ should be able to resist that. The HRC needs more members from secular states, not fewer.

    [DPF: NZ will have no effect on the desire of the Islamic states to outlaw criticism of Islam. We'll just become complicit in it]

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  7. big bruv (13,289 comments) says:

    borker

    Surely even you are not going to defend the UN?

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  8. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    testing edit function

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  9. Whafe (652 comments) says:

    Billy – You really think little NZ can temper the UN council…… Pfftttttt

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  10. billyborker (1,102 comments) says:

    [DPF: NZ will have no effect on the desire of the Islamic states to outlaw criticism of Islam. We'll just become complicit in it]

    NZ will have a chance to be heard. Who knows, maybe some good work from some Kiwis can get the 11 or so states who abstained last time to cast a vote. Do you have that little faith in the ability of your countrymen? Don’t you think Key and McCully are capable of appointing a strong team?

    And voting against something does not make one, either a state or an individual, complicit in anything. Or was the National Party complicit with the EFA because its members were in the parlaiment and cast their votes?

    bigbruv, the UN is the best we’ve got,and for all its faults, it HAS at times done good. Better to be in the tent trying to improve it, rather than your preferred position of carping from without.

    Whafe Pfftttttt? Fuck, never before have I heard such a convincing argument.

    [DPF: This is not a one off problem. The former HRC was a disgrace that took 15 years to kill off. The SG recommended a much different structure for its sucessor but the member states waterered it all down, so it s almost a clone of the predecessor. There comes a time when you have to do a humane killing. The UN HRC is an enemy of human rights and all our presence would do is lend our reputation to the despots who hide behind it. Note this criticism is about the HRC only, not the full UN which does some useful stuff]

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  11. Whafe (652 comments) says:

    Hear you billy, pppffftttt was for sure not convincing. I have lost some faith in the UN to be honest. I just feel that they do not stand up and put their balls on the line so to speak…. You see the strength in an organisation when the going gets tough. The last decade has enabled many without talent to succeed, it is the next 5 years where the real talent will come to light….

    Yep sad that I have lost some faith in mankind… It is what it is….

    Moving back to NZ from Europe, I wanted a government change, we got it, was stoked. But the dogs breakfast that has been created is a truly big bowl of pooop that many hay seeds have no clue…

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  12. the deity formerly known as nigel6888 (856 comments) says:

    we should be ashamed to even contemplate joining this corrupt body. I feel that george is right about NZ’s reputation, but is completely wrong in his conclusion. We do ourselves no favours lying with dogs, even less by some cynical gerrymander.

    The “human rights council” is a disgusting edifice, its sole purpose is to convey legitimacy to evil dictatorships – Darfur anyone? oh hang on, no zionists, just an internal policing matter nothing to see, move along.

    etc

    etc

    etc

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  13. slijmbal (1,211 comments) says:

    The HRC is just as bad as its predecessor that was abolished because it was a repulsive joke. The current Council is more into taking rights away than defending them. It is trying to make it compulsory for countries to ban virulent criticism of religion.

    In terms of NZ’s reputation abroad I would rather we stayed on and actively worked against such rubbish – giving up our seat to US looks somewhat lapdog-ish and we would suffer from such a reputation, and to be blunt- the yanks are useless at foreign diplomacy and trusting them in this area seems a recipe for failure. They think empathy is a girl band…..

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  14. Chris Diack (723 comments) says:

    Give up our bid for a seat on the UNHRC?

    YES. WE. CAN.

    Yes we can

    Yes we can

    Yes we can.

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  15. goodgod (1,363 comments) says:

    NZ should not step aside. What good will it do NZ in the long run to have to experience the constant arse-headed decisions and edicts from that corrupt body if our officials do not have to justify them with their twisted logic before the nation on the news each time? The NZ people must have the stupidity and deviancy of the UN shoved down their throats till they learn not to entertain such destructive ideologies in the future. This won’t happen, indeed the pain will only be extended, if NZ steps aside for Washington. Our official tendency to defer to the UN is like a rotten limb that must be amputated.

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  16. Sam (497 comments) says:

    How ’bout we stay onboard and present a united front with the US in order to try and make the body more effective – this would also be a win-win in both garnering favour with the US, and being active on the world stage…

    Where is Belgium anyway – don’t they have their enough of their own enormous bureaucracy to take care of…?

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  17. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    Any body that insists you cant take the piss out of religion is f*cked.

    ALL religion deserves to be roundly abused as a bronze age superstition used to control the uneducated masses.

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  18. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    expat, while I agree with your general thrust, not all religions are “bronze age superstition”.

    Islam and Scientology are both post bronze age religions, and both have an abhorence of light being shone on them.

    But you are right, Any body that insists you cant take the piss out of religion is fucked.

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  19. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    I’m no expert Jack, but I class them all as jokes. What age is Islam from? The Iron Age? The Burkha Age?

    Scientology – well, joke city. I pass the Scientology HQ in London sometimes, it makes me chuckle.

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  20. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    expat, I think you have two letters too many on your last word. :-)

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  21. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    The window is stacked with L Ron Hubbard books, so yes, gag.

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  22. Brian Smaller (3,990 comments) says:

    But you are right, Any body that insists you cant take the piss out of religion is fucked.

    MNIJ and I disagree on practically everything except this. Positive karma from me on this one Jack.

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  23. expat (4,048 comments) says:

    ditto.

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  24. s.russell (1,563 comments) says:

    The idea of withdrawing in favour of the US has some merit, as DPF and others suggest. But georgedarroch and others have a good point too. Making us look like a US lapdog (as slijmbal points out) is not good. And it is not a given that the US can do more good on the council than New Zealand.

    I am inclined too to agree with billyborker: “The UN is the best we’ve got,and for all its faults, it HAS at times done good. Better to be in the tent trying to improve it, rather than your preferred position of carping from without.”

    the deity formerly known as nigel6888 comments: “The “human rights council” is a disgusting edifice, its sole purpose is to convey legitimacy to evil dictatorships.” Alas, there is all too much truth to this. But, quoting billyborker again: “And voting against something does not make one, either a state or an individual, complicit in anything.” It is more honourable to take part and TRY than despair and wash our hands.

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  25. OECD rank 22 kiwi (2,811 comments) says:

    NZ will have no effect on the desire of the Islamic states to outlaw criticism of Islam. We’ll just become complicit in it

    You can’t tell what effect the SAS will have while on active duty, servicing the interests of New Zealand and its current government.

    To quote Stewie Griffin from Family Guy: “a bullet sounds the same in every language so stuff a sock in it cow!”

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  26. peterquixote (231 comments) says:

    big deal panama,
    who gives a fuck about foreign policy dude,
    get this fucking PM KEY NZ Govt into Mt Albert now,
    and consolidate position,

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  27. peterquixote (231 comments) says:

    just as he was becoming interesting the tailor of panama has disappeared from us but i hope he keeps investing in new zealand because this is a good country and i love it but i just wish we had more sun

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