United Nations General Assembly: Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

Statement delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Ms. Carolyn Schwalger

Mr. President,

New Zealand welcomes the convening of this General Assembly Emergency Special Session.

We regret the UN Security Council has been unable to perform its responsibility to act on behalf of all Member States. Therefore, it is incumbent upon us all as members of the General Assembly to exercise our collective political responsibility under the UN Charter to address matters of international peace and security.

President, even as this meeting convenes, the conflict in Israel and Palestine escalates, the humanitarian crisis worsens, and civilian lives continue to be needlessly lost. It is intolerable to see civilians, many of whom are children and infants, continue to suffer disproportionately as innocent victims of this conflict.

As I said in the Security Council a few days ago, New Zealand condemns absolutely Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Israel. We are appalled by their brutality, their targeting of civilians, and the taking of hostages. These are clear violations of international law. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. We support Israel’s right to defend itself, in full compliance with international law, including in respect of actions taken in Gaza.

Ultimately, no military solution will bring about a just and lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

The protection of civilians and delivery of humanitarian assistance is the most urgent priority. New Zealand joins calls for a humanitarian pause and humanitarian corridors to enable unhindered and sustained assistance and protection, in line with humanitarian principles, to those who desperately need it.

We recognise the bravery of humanitarian workers who are working tirelessly in extraordinarily difficult circumstances to provide much needed assistance. We are deeply saddened that so many have been killed in the line of duty since the despicable events of 7 October. 

When New Zealand last served on the UN Security Council in 2015-16, we championed Resolution 2286, which demands greater protection for healthcare in armed conflict, including hospitals and medical personnel. Healthcare facilities must never be used for military purposes or be the object of attack.

We are deeply concerned to see hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons. Their safety and security must be protected. We call for the establishment of designated safe areas that are strictly off limits as targets, or for military use.

We expect Israel and Hamas to act in accordance with international humanitarian law, which imposes obligations upon all parties engaged in armed conflict. The Palestinian people must not suffer for the atrocities of Hamas, even as Hamas exploits those same civilians as human shields. Israel also has an obligation under international humanitarian law, particularly the Fourth Geneva Convention, to provide basic needs for civilians in Gaza including food, water, energy, and shelter, and to facilitate humanitarian aid.

New Zealand urges all parties, including Israel and Egypt, to continue to facilitate access for the delivery of urgent humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza. As the Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator has observed, seeing more aid and supplies entering Gaza is “another glimmer of hope for the millions of people in dire need of humanitarian aid”. At the same time, “they need more, much more”.

For our part, New Zealand is supporting humanitarian appeals for populations in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel. We stand ready to increase our support in the coming weeks.

This is not a time for political posturing or for using this conflict to advance any cause except bringing peace and security to Israel, Gaza, and the wider region. It is a time for de-escalation. 

Finally, New Zealand remains committed to a two-state solution, which envisions an independent State of Palestine living in peace and security alongside the State of Israel. A new political horizon is essential. We call on the international community to take urgent action to advance the Middle East Peace Process.

Without it, the armed conflict may eventually cease, but there will be no winners: we will never be free of the violence, the loss of innocent lives, the antisemitism, and the Islamophobia that has erupted in Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and around the world since 7 October.

As the Secretary-General has said, “We cannot lose sight of the only realistic foundation for a true peace and stability: a two-State solution.”

Thank you.


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