Delivered by Craig J. Hawke, Permanent Representative of the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations, 2 April 2019

Madam President.

New Zealand is pleased to support this resolution as we join with all here today in condemning violence, terrorism and extremism in all its forms, including where it targets individuals on the basis of or in the name of religion or belief.

New Zealand expresses its appreciation to Turkey and the core sponsors of this initiative. We welcome the resolution’s focus on the need to combat intolerance and discrimination, including its call for strengthened international efforts to foster a global dialogue on the promotion of a culture of tolerance and peace, based on human rights and for the diversity of religions and beliefs.

Madam President.

New Zealand is humbled by the outpouring of sympathy and solidarity from the international community since 15 March. We are particularly grateful to the global Muslim community who have stood with us during these dark days.

15 March 2019 is a day that has changed New Zealand forever – a day when a coward attempted to terrorise and tear New Zealand apart. A day when 50 innocent New Zealand Muslims were murdered and a further 50 wounded in a brutal terrorist attack in their places of worship: the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch.  While everything else may have changed in our country on 15 March, New Zealand’s essential character has not and will not. New Zealand is and will remain a safe and open society. A place where our international visitors feel comfortable and secure.  We are a compassionate, tolerant people. 

The coward who committed this attack was not from New Zealand. But as a nation we know we are not immune from the viruses of hate and fear that create a place where violence can flourish. There are many questions that we are asking and that need to be answered – and they will be. Our priority has been to ensure the needs of the victims and their families are being met.

  We are also taking action to help do everything we can to stop such a senseless attack in the future: - First: New, stronger gun control laws have been announced. All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned. - Second: A royal commission of inquiry will look at what could or should have been done to prevent the attack. - Third: It is illegal in New Zealand to distribute or possess the attacker’s manifesto and video of the attack – we will not give voice to his message of hate. We ask others to do the same; and - Finally: The Government is addressing the role social media platforms played in these events, and is identifying steps we can take, including on the international stage, with our partners.

Under this roof, conversations about religion and belief and combatting intolerance, discrimination and hatred have divided us all too often. We must not allow acts of terror, including the attack in Christchurch to feed these divides. These are issues that we must confront together united by our humanity and determined to stamp out all hate-filled ideologies.

As our Prime Minister has said, the world has been stuck in a vicious cycle of extremism breeding extremism and it must end. Condemnations of violence and terrorism must now turn to a collective response. We all have a part to play. New Zealand is committed to turning our despair into meaningful action. 

As New Zealand emerges from mourning, one thing is resoundingly clear; this act of hatred and terror has not achieved its objective to divide us as a nation. Instead the people of New Zealand have come together, cried together, prayed together and asked questions together. We have expressed our deep national grief and demonstrated our aroha, our love, for our Muslim family. This tragedy has united us. Our hope is that it will do the same internationally – that it will serve to demonstrate the power of compassion, kindness, tolerance and community to overcome the evil of division and hate. These are the values that represent the very best of us.