New Zealand statement delivered by Gerard van Bohemen, Permanent Representative of New Zealand to the United Nations, 28 October 2016

Thank you Mr President. I also thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General Bordyusha, Secretary-General Alimov and Vice-Chair Ivanov for their briefings.

New Zealand strongly supports active and regular cooperation between the Security Council and regional and sub-regional organisations in preventing and resolving conflict.

The past 70 years have provided numerous demonstrations of the value of regional organisations and of their effectiveness as partners with the United Nations.

The peace and stability currently enjoyed in much of Latin America, Europe and South-East Asia owes a great deal to the regional architecture that has been put in place there.

In Africa we have also seen welcome growth in the tempo and effectiveness of regional and sub-regional cooperation to address peace and security challenges over the last 20 years.

This has also been the experience in my own region, the Pacific, where regional cooperation has been essential for meeting both security and sustainable development challenges for the past 40 years.

The reasons for this are clear.

Regional organisations are able to draw on local knowledge and perspectives that are essential for addressing the security challenges faced by their members.

They provide a mechanism for mobilising and sustaining the political will of their members behind conflict prevention and resolution efforts.

They also provide a means for regions to interact with the United Nations and to leverage the capabilities that the global organisation can bring to the table.

As today’s briefers have made clear, the peace and security challenges facing Central Asian countries cannot be met effectively without close cooperation between the countries of the region, and strong partnerships with the international community.

Ongoing tensions between Central Asian countries stemming from disputed borders, the management of cross-border resources such as water, and the region’s complex ethnic makeup will require sustained and patient management. As will increases in the cross border flows of peoples, including refugees.

As we are all so aware of in this Council, Afghanistan has been involved in a succession of external and internal conflicts for many decades. Despite immense investments by the international community following the Council-endorsed action to free the country from the grip of al Qaeda and the Taleban after the events of 9/11, peace and stability remain almost as elusive as ever there.   Enduring instability will further exacerbate tensions, with cross border implications for the wider region. As was again underlined to the 1988 Taleban Sanctions Committee yesterday in the briefing by the Secretary-General of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Taleban-controlled narcotics trade remains a serious threat to the stability of Afghanistan and its neighbours.

We encourage regional players to continue coordinated efforts, including cooperation with UN bodies such as the 1988 Committee. It is Central Asia that will benefit most from a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. 

Regional cooperation is clearly also essential for combating transnational criminal networks, including drug traffickers, and the trans-border flow of illicit money and arms.

Effective cross-border cooperation will be vital for addressing terrorism and violent extremism, the threat of which has been significantly exacerbated by the more than 2,000 foreign terrorist fighters thought to have travelled from Central Asia to battlefields in Iraq and Syria.

Mr President, as the Permanent Representative of Malaysia said, the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia can play an important part in facilitating international support for tackling these threats.  The Centre’s support in facilitating dialogue, promoting cooperation on early warning and analysis, and helping to mobilise and coordinate the political will and resources necessary to take effective action should be greatly valued.

History also teaches us that countries that trade together are less likely to take up arms against each other.

Levels of intra-regional trade in Central Asia remain very low. Increasing connectivity through economic linkages, strengthening of cultural ties, and greater mobility can be the building blocks for stronger diplomatic bonds.

In Asia-Pacific, for example, we have seen the growth of trade go hand-in-hand with closer regional cooperation led by regional organisations. Promoting greater regional economic integration could both enhance Central Asia’s prosperity and help maintain peace and stability over the longer term.

There is obviously no one-size-fits-all approach to cooperation with regional organisations.

But it is clear that it is in all our interests to encourage effective regional cooperation and help regional and sub-regional organisations fulfil their potential.

Mr President. Before I conclude, I want to note an important positive development in another regional organisation devoted to maintaining international peace and security namely the Antarctic Treaty System which is of vital importance to my country and other members of this organisation. Earlier today in Hobart Australia, the Commission for the Conservation Marine Living Resources agreed to establish the world’s largest marine protected area.

This was the culmination of over six years of dedicated diplomatic effort led by New Zealand and the United States and involving difficult and intense negotiations with other Commission members  including I would note, members of this Council; Russia, China, Japan, UK, France, Spain, Ukraine and Uruguay. As my Minister observed when welcoming this achievement, this is a great result for quiet diplomacy and honest toil. He added that it was particularly pleasing that this agreement could be reached when there are so many difficulties, so many differences elsewhere. I have little doubt he was thinking of the challenges we face in this Council and hoping we might strive for similar positive results here.

Thank you.