United Nations General Assembly: Third Committee General Debate

Ministry Statements & Speeches:

New Zealand Statement delivered by Permanent Representative, H.E. Craig J Hawke.

E aku rangatira, tēnā koutou katoa, ka nui te honore, ki te mihi, ki a koutou.

Distinguished guests. It is a great honour to greet you all today.

Mr Chair,

I would like to take this opportunity to extend Aotearoa New Zealand’s congratulations on your election as Chair of the Committee. You and the Bureau can rely on New Zealand’s support throughout the Committee’s session.

Human rights are core to New Zealand’s vision and commitment to building a safer, more prosperous and more sustainable future for all.

New Zealand is committed to implementing international human rights commitments domestically and to the universal protection and promotion of individual human rights globally. Living up to our shared commitments to uphold and defend individual human rights is grounded in the UN Charter.

All human rights are universal and equal – they apply to all of us without discrimination, and are indivisible and interrelated – one set of rights cannot be fully enjoyed without the other.

Mr Chair,

The universal realisation of human rights is facing unprecedented challenges.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has not only highlighted the inequalities that already exist, but it has exacerbated them.

Women, children, indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, LGBTI+ persons, and people belonging to other minority groups are disproportionally impacted, both by the pandemic and the responses to it.

At the same time, the climate crisis looms, bringing with it more challenges to the full enjoyment of human rights by all.

The challenge posed by climate change is felt particularly acutely in our own region: the Pacific.

The interconnected nature of today’s world makes it more important than ever that we work together with common purpose. Inclusion, equality, freedom of expression and enhancing well-being for all must be at the forefront of our work.

The UN75 Political Declaration agreed in 2020 represented a renewed commitment to the United Nations and the Charter and a pathway to enhance global cooperation to face contemporary challenges.

We are pleased to see the Secretary-General’s recently released ‘Our Common Agenda’ report has provided a pathway for realising Member States’ ambitions; including its calls to leave no one behind, to place women and girls at the centre and to abide by international law and ensure justice. It reinforces the urgent need for us to all work together to address pressing global human rights challenges.

It is in the spirit of Our Common Agenda that New Zealand, alongside Mexico, will co-facilitate a resolution in this Committee session on the full participation of persons with disabilities in decision-making processes. We count on your full support for this initiative.

An inclusive society recognises and values persons with disabilities as equal participants.

Our resolution will seek to expound on this and make good on the phrase “nothing about us, without us”.

New Zealand will also focus, across the full breadth of the Third Committee’s work, on putting women and girls at the centre.

Mr Chair,

New Zealand is deeply concerned about recent developments in this regard, including reports of increasing human rights violations against women and girls in a number of countries, growing rates of domestic violence globally during the Covid-19 pandemic, and sexual violence - including as a weapon of conflict.

All women and girls in all their diversity deserve to live in safety, security, dignity and in the full enjoyment of their human rights.

We must do better collectively. 

The events of the last year serve as a stark reminder that we must do more to end violence and discrimination against women and girls, improve education and health outcomes, deliver global protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights (including addressing preventable maternal mortality and morbidity), and promote women’s leadership and political participation.

Mr Chair,

There is a lot to do and much unfinished work.

We must do more to enhance indigenous voices in domestic and international contexts, including here at the United Nations.

Indigenous peoples bring perspectives and values that contribute to the well-being and human rights of all people.

We must re-emphasise democratic rights, including freedom of expression, assembly and media freedoms.

And, we must support the important work of human rights defenders and civil society across the globe, including by enhancing inclusive participation processes.

Mr Chair,

As we begin our work in the Third Committee we must stand ready to listen to each other, respect all human rights equally and work together to find common ground to protect our people and their rights.

Ngā mihi nui. I thank you, Mr Chair.


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