United Nations General Assembly: Statement at General Assembly Special Session on Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Mr President,

Aotearoa New Zealand welcomes the convening of the General Assembly for this important special session on DPRK.

We strongly condemn the escalatory actions of the DPRK and its continued breaches of UN Security Council resolutions. Aotearoa New Zealand calls on the DPRK to refrain from further ballistic missile testing and engage in meaningful dialogue with key parties towards a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation.

Aotearoa New Zealand remains steadfast in our opposition to the DPRK’s unlawful nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. These constitute a serious threat to international peace and security with consequences that are potentially catastrophic.

Indications that the DPRK is preparing for a nuclear test are deeply troubling. Any such test would be a flagrant violation of the international norm against nuclear testing. New Zealand is strongly opposed to all nuclear tests, as a party to both the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

We urge the DPRK to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and to implement its nuclear safeguards obligations under the International Atomic Energy Agency. The situation on the Korean Peninsula provides a stark reminder of the ongoing importance of our nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation work and why we must strive for an ambitious outcome at the NPT Review Conference in August.

New Zealand is committed to implementing UN Security Council resolutions. We encourage all Member States to ensure the sanctions which have been put in place to deter the DPRK’s ballistic weapons and nuclear programme are fully implemented in their jurisdictions.

We are deeply disappointed that the Security Council was unable to adopt a renewed sanctions resolution the week before last. This outcome has real world consequences.

The proposed resolution was sound and enjoyed the support of 13 members of the Council. A clear majority. The Council’s inability to pass such a resolution is a direct result of the actions of two permanent members. The use of the veto – the first time on this issue since 2006 – has prevented the Council from once again fulfilling its responsibility. It has once again undermined its credibility.

New Zealand, along with a group of small states, opposed the veto from its inception. We remain strong in our conviction that there is no place for this undemocratic and anachronistic device at the UN, especially when it is used in the pursuit of national interest rather than in the interest of collective peace and security.

We call on Russia and China to work with the rest of the UN Security Council, refrain from blocking UNSC resolutions, and to encourage the DPRK back to the negotiating table. Only through dialogue can we hope to realise a peaceful outcome.

We also urge the DPRK to prioritise its response to the dire humanitarian situation, currently compounded by Covid-19, and to facilitate access for international humanitarian organisations for the delivery of essential humanitarian goods such as food and medicines. Aotearoa New Zealand supports an independent assessment of humanitarian needs on the ground as soon as possible.

We welcome today’s opportunity for the General Assembly to voice its concerns about this important issue. It represents a test case for the newly adopted Veto Initiative. New Zealand is a strong proponent of this initiative and hopes it will encourage Council members to work harder to produce outcomes in the collective good.

New Zealand agrees with the point made earlier today by Liechtenstein that when the Security Council is unable to act, the General Assembly can play a constructive role in finding potential ways forward, with the aim of improving the effectiveness of the UN as a whole. It can do so by taking its own decisions on the question in front of it, if it chooses - resolution 76/262 is not prescriptive in this regard. We are interested in hearing the collective views on what this might look like during this debate.

Thank you.


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