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Following conflicts, peace can be fragile and political instability can lead to further unrest. The UN or other organisations such as NATO may step in to help maintain peace and allow the rebuilding of infrastructure to create a more stable environment. New Zealand has a history of providing trusted, capable and professional personnel for these peace missions.
MFAT’s role is to work with the UN and other coalitions to assess peace support needs and develop policies and practices. We advise our government on how New Zealand could best contribute to peace support operations. We also work with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and Police who do much of the work on the ground.
Why do we get involved?
New Zealand contributes to peacekeeping efforts to:
- support the maintenance of a rules-based international order
- advance our own security interests and the safety of New Zealanders
- protect our economic and trade interests.
In an increasingly connected and complex world, in which terrorism is a major security threat, conflicts on the ‘other side of the world’ are now more relevant to our own security. We need to be part of international peace support operations not just to help others, but to protect ourselves.
Before engaging in a peace support operations, New Zealand considers the:
- strategic implications of the operation, including its effect on our security, our relationships with other countries, and the humanitarian situation
- legality of the proposed mission and mandate under international law
- potential implications for New Zealand agencies involved in the proposed peacekeeping operation
- alternative options and whether New Zealand can help the fragile or post-conflict country in other ways.
All operations we take part in are either led by the United Nations or involve a group of coalition partners, such as the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), which involved 15 countries in the region.
Regional peace support
Regional solutions to conflict situations are often the most effective, which is why we’re active in conflict prevention and resolution in the Asia-Pacific. MFAT represents New Zealand at forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and East Asia Summit, which promote regional peace and security, and the Pacific Islands Forum where decisions are made about peace efforts in the region.
We also work alongside the New Zealand Defence Force, police and other agencies to decide how we can best contribute.
In the last two decades we’ve played a large role in regionally-led peace operations. More than 6,000 military personnel served in Timor-Leste - our largest peacetime deployment, as well as hundreds of police and civilian personnel. Since 2003 we have helped the Solomon Islands recover from civil conflict through RAMSI, and we helped in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea where we brokered the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement.
New Zealand takes a proactive and innovative approach to policing and we’ve made substantial contributions to strengthen the capability of local police forces in Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands.
New Zealand recently completed three substantial and sustained peace support missions (Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands). We have recently deployed to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Security Forces.
The personnel remaining are deployed on 10 operations and UN missions across 11 countries – including Afghanistan, Sinai, South Korea, and South Sudan.
New Zealand is working to take a more proactive and strategic approach to our peacekeeping activities. This will allow us to match our peace support work with our own international interests and priorities.
Our peace efforts are focused on the Pacific, so it’s important we keep enough capacity at home to respond to emergencies in our own region. Many of our Pacific neighbours face chronic social, economic, environmental and governance stresses that make them fragile in terms of potential conflicts. We need to be ready to help.
New Zealand is exploring opportunities to share our expertise in peacekeeping by training personnel in other countries. This will improve their capabilities and professionalism so they can contribute more to peace support operations at home and elsewhere.