International security

New Zealand is committed to playing a part in maintaining a secure world.

International security is the action taken to prevent and deal with conflicts, and protect people and their way of life. This may involve military action, peacekeeping, capacity building and diplomatic agreements such as treaties and conventions.

Threats to security

Since the end of the Cold War, the international security landscape has changed dramatically. Relations between all the major powers are now comparatively stable and there has been less conflict between states. However, internal conflicts continue to plague many countries and these also weaken international security as whole.  Failing and failed states contribute to regional instabilities, forcing the displacement of refugees and providing a safe haven for violent extremists. There has been an increase in the impact of non-state actors, particularly terrorist groups.

Some of the major security threats the world faces today include:  

  • Terrorism – since 9/11, terrorism has emerged as the major threat to international security, this includes the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL/Da'esh and the terror attack in Christchurch. New Zealand condemns all forms of terrorism and violent extremism.
  • Weapons of mass destruction – disarmament has been slow, and we now face the possibility these indiscriminate weapons may be used by terrorists
  • Cyber security – advances in technology have created a different type of threat to international peace, and now safeguarding the internet is on the international security agenda
  • People smuggling and trafficking – continuing conflicts, unrest, political oppression, poverty and lack of opportunity have lead to an explosion in irregular migration
  • Space security – international concern is growing about the use and potential misuse of the space
  • Christchurch Call – the misuse and weaponisation of the internet, to promulgate terrorist and violent extremist content, is a global threat that requires global action

The terrorism threat level for New Zealand is assessed as LOW; a terrorist attack is a realistic possibility.

Our role in international security

New Zealand actively participates in the international campaign against terrorism, we contribute to peacekeeping operations and vigorously encourage initiatives to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We work with other governments and in regional and international forums such as the UN, the Pacific Islands Forum and the ASEAN Regional Forum to promote wider security cooperation and stability.

MFAT’s International Security and Disarmament Division (ISED) has responsibility for international security and disarmament/non-proliferation policy.

Read more about New Zealand's role in regional security

Find out about our peace support operations 

Read more about New Zealand's work to promote the Women, Peace and Security Agenda


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