Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Embargoed until 4pm, 20 November 2006
Foreign policy in a defence context
Address to the 47th annual NZDF Command and Staff College
Trentham Military Camp, Wellington
While a clear delineation exists between the roles of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Defence,
equally these roles and their associated policies cannot be confined to discrete silos.
They overlap, are inter-related, impact on each other, and most importantly do not occur in a policy vacuum.
In a strict policy sense they remain discrete and distinctive, but in practice the influence of these policy areas on
each other is significant.
The relationship between New Zealand's foreign and defence policies is close and complex, as a credible defence policy
capability underpins an effective foreign policy.
Common elements between foreign and defence policy include:
The protection of New Zealand's territorial integrity;
The maintenance of bilateral and regional relationships;
A commitment to multilateralism, and;
The promotion of international peace, security and development.
New Zealand's foreign policy is about securing our place in the world, and promoting our political and economic
security. It involves being a good neighbour in our region, and being a good global citizen committed to collective
security and the international rule of law.
Our influence comes not from our ability to impose our will on other countries, but from working with others and
persuading them of the merits of our arguments.
The New Zealand government’s over-arching foreign policy goal is to be able “to influence the international environment,
to promote our interest and values, and to contribute to a stable, peaceful and prosperous world.”
While we may be geographically distant from the centres of the worst conflict and human suffering, New Zealand has
played its part in responding to pressing security and development challenges in other parts of the world.
Over time the nature of these challenges has changed.
Today we do not face a conventional military threat. Instead we confront the reality that terrorism, and the threat
posed by proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, require concerted international responses.
We have seen, and are likely to continue to see, proliferation of what have been described as 'problems without
The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, and since then the Bali, Madrid, and London bombings, along with the Boxing
Day Tsunami and instability in the Middle East, help shape a security environment that is complex and changing.
As recent events in the Pacific highlight, we are not immune from instability and security concerns here in our own
In this environment New Zealand's foreign policy machinery needs to monitor developments, discern trends, identify
threats and opportunities, and devise appropriate policy responses.
One of the strengths of New Zealand's foreign policy is how it is received domestically.
Historically, the broad direction of foreign policy has received bipartisan support. This has largely continued with the
advent of MMP and a multi-party parliament. In our recent past almost all foreign affairs legislation presented to
parliament has received near unanimous support.
The people of New Zealand also have generally supported the main thrust of foreign policy, under successive governments.
This is because New Zealand values and principles and unique New Zealand perspectives are reflected in our foreign
Our foreign policy engagement takes place in three areas – our bilateral relationships, regional diplomacy, and in the
It is vitally important that we work to enhance our relationships with the countries that impact to the greatest extent
on New Zealand's direct interests.
Our key relationships include those with Australia, the United States, Pacific island countries, Japan, China, other
APEC members, those involved in the East Asia Summit, and Europe.
New Zealand's relationship with Australia is unique, and it is the cornerstone of our foreign policy. It is also our
most important defence relationship.
New Zealand and Australia have a shared interest in the security of our neighbourhood. We cooperate closely to support
economic development and political and social stability in the island states of the Pacific.
New Zealand’s relationship with the United States is also fundamental. It is the world’s largest single power.
Conversely, it also needs friends and partners, both on big global issues and on tricky regional concerns.
Our contributions to the campaign against international terrorism, Afghanistan, and our commitment to addressing
security issues in the Pacific region all serve to support the attainment of objectives we share with the US.
To the US we offer an intimately engaged knowledge of the South Pacific, and a fresh view from a different corner of the
expansive Asia-Pacific region.
New Zealand has an important stake in progress being made in addressing the challenges facing Pacific island countries.
Our relationships in the Pacific are a special priority, based on history, culture, and economic and social linkages.
Our bonds with Pacific states are also an important dimension of other key bilateral and regional relationships.
To this end, New Zealand is keenly aware of the sense of vulnerability in the Pacific region, particularly in Melanesia,
to the many pressures facing small, remote Pacific Island states.
New Zealand has taken a lead in engaging with Pacific Island countries on security issues to improve their capability,
strengthen trade, transport, and border security infrastructure, and, more broadly, to promote good governance. All
these areas, however, pose inherent difficulties.
Our relationship with Japan is both longstanding and expanding. We have many shared interests and a commitment on both
sides to strengthen and deepen the relationship.
With China there has been a remarkable evolution in the relationship in recent years. We will continue to make every
effort to expand what is increasingly becoming a broad-based relationship, and to explore new areas of cooperation.
There are many other important bilateral relationships that time does not permit to be mentioned individually. Sustained
bilateral engagement will continue to be required, both to maximise benefits to New Zealand and reduce risk.
New Zealand also sees a role for effective regionalism. Not every issue needs to wash up at the door of the United
We will continue to use our participation in regional arrangements in the Asia-Pacific region as a 'force multiplier' in
our diplomacy. As part of the Asia-Pacific region, New Zealand and the Pacific island countries, and much of near Asia,
occupy the same economic, social and security space.
New Zealand’s participation in the East Asia Summit process marks a new stage in our relations with East Asia. The
invitation to be part of the EAS was in recognition of New Zealand's commitment over time to developing productive
bilateral relationships with countries in East Asia, and with ASEAN as an entity, and contributing to maximising the
potential of groupings such as the ASEAN Regional Forum.
Across the Pacific, we have learned that regional problems require regional solutions. Last year, Pacific Island Forum
leaders adopted the Pacific Plan for regional cooperation. Through this Plan we will strengthen regional cooperation
where it can most make a difference.
We want nothing less than educated, healthy, well-governed, economically prosperous and safe societies. These elements
are fundamental to regional security.
There are some issues that can only be addressed properly if the international community as a whole is involved.
Consequently, the need for effective multilateral institutions is as great as ever.
But the United Nations was founded in 1945, and the world has changed considerably since then with the way the UN system
operates not always keeping pace.
The United Nations is passing through a period of challenge to its relevance and effectiveness. Last year, world leaders
agreed to an ambitious reform agenda based on the three pillars of peace and security, development, and human rights.
Progress has been made but much remains to be done.
New Zealand takes a pragmatic approach. We are not committed to multilateralism for the sake of it, but to
multilateralism that works.
Peacekeeping gives practical expression to our commitment to multilateralism, and we have been involved in United
Nations peacekeeping since the 1950s.
As a small state committed to the concept of collective security, New Zealand will continue to deploy personnel to UN
peacekeeping missions as a contribution to international peace and security.
In the area of international peace and security, we firmly believe in the central importance of collective security
based on the United Nations.
If the international community fails to make the multilateral system work more effectively, the result will be
inadequate responses to serious security, governance, and development challenges. These challenges can threaten New
Zealand interests regionally and globally.
As an example, North Korea’s nuclear test increased tensions in a region already characterised by “security dilemmas”.
Its behaviour is inconsistent with the actions of a country seeking security and other guarantees from the international
The strong and decisive response embodied in UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which we believe was a key element in
prompting North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks, showed the value of collective action.
New Zealand will continue to discuss with key partners in the region an effective and appropriate response to the threat
posed by North Korea's nuclear and ballistic weapons programmes.
As well as pursuing foreign policy objectives through bilateral, regional and multilateral engagement, New Zealand will
also continue to be involved in interventions to address specific security and development challenges.
Mr Goff has already talked to you about the importance of ensuring that short-term peacekeeping is translated into
peace-building and nation-building.
We recognise that international security is threatened by the existence within states of corruption, poverty and
conflict, as well as the lack of democratic accountability, rule of law, freedom and protection of human rights.
There is increasing awareness of the inter-connectedness between poverty, governance and security.
A comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach is needed. As well as MFAT and NZAID, other government agencies,
including Police and border control agencies, are increasing their capacity to provide assistance to other countries.
And they are developing mechanisms to coordinate their efforts with the work of agencies in other countries, as well as
international organisations, individuals, and NGOs with particular expertise and resources, both in New Zealand and in
the countries where foreign assistance is required.
Awareness of the link between poverty, governance and security has informed New Zealand's response to international
terrorism. We have been prepared to commit our military forces to UN-endorsed combat operations against terrorists in
We have made other, substantial, contributions to enhancing security in that country through the deployment of a
Provincial Reconstruction Team, and providing training assistance to the Afghan security forces.
New Zealand has also contributed humanitarian and development assistance, and supported democratic elections and
improving capacity to uphold human rights standards.
New and fragile states face enormous challenges. These relate to internal security, but also from other factors such as
the incidence of drugs, small arms proliferation, organised crime, people and goods smuggling, illegal fishing and
Recent unrest in Timor-Leste demonstrates this. New Zealand responded quickly to Timor’s needs with a military and
police contribution to help restore stability. Timor encapsulates the principle that peace and security cannot be
separated from economic development, social reconciliation and the protection of basic human rights.
While our region will continue to face issues of internal conflict, we have seen positive examples of conflict
resolution that help point the way forward.
New Zealand played an important role in restoring stability to Bougainville. More recently, the Regional Assistance
Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) has shown the importance of longer-term engagement.
RAMSI, with its ability to respond flexibly to the changing security and political environment, offers a model of
regional cooperation and integrated intervention in fragile states.
There will always be the potential for different emphasis and focus between foreign and defence policies. But the clear
inter-relationship and close proximity to each other in operational terms reinforces their inherent links.
In many ways the strength of our foreign policy depends on this bond.