WikiLeaks cable: US-NZ cooperation on climate, environment and human rights
5:30 AM Sunday Dec 19, 2010
This is one of the diplomatic cables about New Zealand held by Wikileaks.
January 29, 2008 SUBJECT: UNDERSECRETARY DOBRIANSKY EMPHASIZES STRONG US-NZ COOPERATION ON CLIMATE, ENVIRONMENT, AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Classified By: Pol/Econ Counselor Margaret B. McKean; Reason 1.4 (b) an d (d)
1. (C) Summary. During her January 14 meetings with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) officials,
Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky highlighted the recent successful discussions
in Bali, underscored USG support for a multilateral approach to climate change in the post-2012 period, and applauded
the close bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and New Zealand on a range of issues covering the environment,
Antarctica, human rights and democracy and governance. U/S Dobriansky also highlighted the strong premium the USG places
on interfaith dialogue and public diplomacy programs to counter radicalism among youth. On January 15, the
Undersecretary met with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, New Zealand's Whaling Commissioner, who urged the US to use its influence
with Japan to see a diplomatic resolution to Japanese whaling policy. In all of her meetings, the Undersecretary paid
tribute to Sir Edmund Hillary and expressed USG condolences at his passing. End Summary.
2. (U) Undersecretary Dobriansky was accompanied by S/P staff member Dean Pittman; Embassy Charge d'Affaires David
Keegan and Pol/Econ Counselor also participated in MFAT meetings.
Meeting with MFAT CEO Simon Murdoch
3. (C) MFAT CEO Simon Murdoch met on January 14 with Undersecretary Dobriansky to preview the Prime Minister's views on
a range of foreign policy issues in advance of the US' meeting with the PM on January 15. Murdoch led off with climate
change and global warming, noting that the PM had attended APEC and the East Asian Summit (EAS) meetings in late 2007
and was struck by the prominence of climate change at both meetings -- the EAS had focused on energy security in 2006
but the recent meeting had seen a significant shift in priority to emissions reductions. The GNZ thought the Bali
meetings had been constructive, and New Zealanders want to know what the climate change policy center of gravity in the
US will be over the next several years. He added that for the Labour Party, the PM led a domestic policy review in the
past year on New Zealand's approach toward climate change; with 2008 being an election year, the issue will remain very
important to the Prime Minister. On Bali, Dobriansky characterized the outcome as a success, noting that she had met
with Minister for Climate Change David Parker while in Indonesia.
4. (C) Afghanistan is also an important issue to New Zealand, and the PM believes the international community's strategy
must focus on both a military approach as well as the development of political institutions, remarked Murdoch.On human
rights matters, the US and New Zealand are largely of the same mind, continued Murdoch. The PM supported UNSG Special
Representative Ibrahim Gambari's participation at the EAS leader luncheon. Murdoch allowed that GOS PM Lee Hsien Loong
had to "drag comments" on Burma out of the Indian and Chinese leaders. Within the region, Murdoch said that New Zealand
has strong views on good governance. Democracy in the post-colonial period is rather fragile, as the second generation
leaders in the Pacific islands struggle with governance issues. Murdoch underscored GNZ appreciation for cooperation in
this regard with the USG. Undersecretary Dobriansky noted that the USG values cooperation with the GNZ on the human
rights situations in Burma, Fiji, and North Korea. Murdoch stressed New Zealand's concern for the future of the Pacific
islands, which are increasingly turning away from Australia and New Zealand to seek ties with Taiwan, China, Cuba and
others. The Undersecretary responded that the USG wants to collaborate with NZ on more practical approaches to democracy
within the region, and is pleased that the GNZ has indicated a willingness to join the Asia Pacific Democracy
Partnership (APDP). She added that she had appreciated that Phil Goff, while serving as foreign minister, has briefed
her on his visit to Tibet, since as Tibet coordinator she could not travel there.
5. (C) Murdoch also emphasized the PM's support for counterterrorism (CT), particularly the soft side of the GNZ's CT
approach that encompasses interfaith dialogue and the UN initiative on dialogue among civilizations. New Zealand is a
firm supporter of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), intelligence sharing, and CT efforts in Afghanistan.
However, the GNZ -- and the PM in particular -- also considers religious tolerance and interfaith dialogue programs to
be an important component of New Zealand's overall approach, which is conducted with Australia and Indonesia.
Domestically, such soft support helps the PM within the non-centrist left of the Labour Party, added Murdoch, which is
very critical of US policy towards Israel.
In conjunction with the UN dialogue project, New Zealand has hosted a regional meeting that produced a report addressing
disaffected youth; the report was presented to the EAS for funding consideration and commitment, said Murdoch.
6. (C) Undersecretary Dobriansky agreed that CT efforts should include hard and soft tactics and programs; the USG has a
number of interfaith initiatives incorporated into US efforts in Afghanistan. Also important is the role of Muslim
democracies, such as Indonesia, which are represented in the Community of Democracies, said Dobriansky. Dean Pittman
added that the USG is working on a number of initiatives to combat radical Islam, particularly among young people, as
part of our "war of ideas." The United States would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with New Zealand on these
efforts. The Undersecretary stressed that the USG welcomes other countries taking the lead on such issues and applauded
GNZ efforts. She agreed that progress in Afghanistan will rely not only on assistance funds and military action, but
also on education, an open media, political institutional development and many practical aspects of developing a
democratic society, including academic exchanges. Murdoch noted that NATO will host a special meeting on Afghanistan in
Bucharest at the 2008 NATO Summit in late April; the PM plans to attend and has been critical that the Europeans have
not delivered adequately on the military side. Murdoch also said that the GNZ is considering how to "lift" the New
Zealand civilian presence in Afghanistan to match the GNZ PRT contribution but no decision has yet been made.
7. (C) Returning to the environment and climate change issues, Murdoch informed the USG visitors that New Zealand's
foreign policy used to be centered on trade; while trade remains an important issue, the GNZ now also takes into account
environmental concerns and resource depletion. Concerning the latter, the GNZ is concerned about the future of the
southern oceans due to overfishing, illegal fishing, seabed mining, bio-prospecting in and around coral reefs, and the
increasing encroachment further south into Antarctic waters of commercial fishing.
Undersecretary Dobriansky said that the USG shares these concerns and wants to work with the GNZ on White Water to Blue
Water initiatives, and overfishing and sustainable management of ocean resources. Murdoch responded that the US as a
world leader in public-private partnerships, scientific research and responsible public policy can have an impact on
rapidly developing countries that need tangible environmental policies. Murdoch offered that the USG support for the
Antarctica program beginning in the 1950s was instrumental to the successful cooperation over the past half century; the
GNZ could not have afforded it at the time and would not be able to continue now without USG help.
8. (C) In a follow-on roundtable meeting chaired by MFAT Deputy Secretary Carolyn Forsyth, GNZ officials discussed a
range of environmental issues and good governance/democracy/human rights matters of importance to the bilateral
relationship. In Antarctica, Forsyth noted the excellent US-NZ cooperation, discussed the wind energy generation
proposal for McMurdo, and referred to NZ's contribution to the logistics pool. Trevor Hughes of MFAT's Antarctic Policy
Unit discussed two key concerns of the GNZ in the Antarctic region: expansion/diversification in tourism and illegal
fishing in the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) zone. Regarding tourism,
Hughes pointed out that the numbers of tourists coming to Antarctica have grown exponentially -- now at 35,000 in the
Treaty area; 10 years ago the numbers were only 10% of that figure. Hughes remarked that the GNZ has been grateful for
the policy coordination between New Zealand and the US in Antarctic treaty meetings, and for the recent USG-proposed
resolution to limit landings of groups of 500 or more people on the continent.
Environmental issues surrounding tourists are also of concern to the GNZ, continued Hughes, as the number of ships
lacking ice protection is growing. In addition, 40% of the tour ships in Antarctica are flagged to countries that are
not treaty partners, said Hughes, adding that the M/S Explorer, which sank off the coast of Antarctica in November 2007,
was flagged to Liberia. Undersecretary Dobriansky agreed that tourism was an issue that needed to be addressed --
perhaps at the next Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings; Pittman suggested that the next consultative group meeting
in Kiev in June 2008 could look at enforceable protocols. Hughes noted that New Zealand places observers on all tourism
vessels passing through NZ ports to ensure compliance with treaty obligations. He added that some South American
countries run small hotels in Antarctica to fund their research programs.
9. (C) On illegal fishing and destructive fishing practices, Carolyn Forsyth was pleased that the US and NZ cooperate in
the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization; she applauded the Organization's establishment of interim
measures during the April 2007 meetings in Chile.
New Zealand assesses the oceans and fish stocks as in a poor state and there is increasing pressure in the southern
oceans. Trevor Hughes pointed to specific problems in the Antarctic seas and damage to toothfish stocks, offering that
Hong Kong and Spanish fishing syndicates are the worst offenders and that most of the fishing masters aboard the illegal
fishing boats are of Spanish nationality. He added that the illegal fleets are using gill netting in the Indian Ocean
region below Australia but are being monitored by Australian and French authorities; he worries as they are pushed from
that zone the fleets will move to the Ross Sea.
Undersecretary Dobriansky responded that one approach to addressing the problem would be the actual implementation of
the 2006 UNGA resolution on destructive fishing practices. She agreed with the GNZ analysis of the illegal fishing
problem, noting that improved surveillance and information sharing is needed. (Note: The New Zealand media on January 17
reported that a blacklisted fishing vessel flagged to Sierra Leone and operated by a Spanish company was reported in the
Ross Sea CCAMLR zone; the GNZ reported the incident to CCAMLR. End Note.)
Climate Change and Sustainability
10. (C) Turning to climate change and Bali, Carolyn Forsyth said that the GNZ was pleased there was agreement under the
UNFCCC and glad the USG is part of the new negotiations. She noted the differences between the US and NZ concerning
deforestation. Developing countries have moved to the point of quantifiable, verifiable emissions measures, she
observed, and New Zealand hoped the Major Economies Meeting under US auspices would feed into UNFCCC. Dobriansky offered
that the US was pleased that developing countries are part of the negotiating process post-2012 and that the Major
Economies Meeting would complement and not compete with the overall UNFCCC process.
She underscored that there is united bipartisan support in the U.S. for the major economies initiative. The
Undersecretary emphasized USG support for the elevation of mitigation and adaptation discussions and the financing of
technological transfers. She agreed that differentiation discussions are also timely as there are significant
differences between large, middle-income countries such as Brazil and small island states. In looking at the longer term
global goals, inclusion of the major economies is crucial, as China is overtaking the US in emissions, added Dobriansky.
She noted that the Ad Hoc Working Group meeting in March/April 2008 will be important.
Pittman underscored the importance of countries such as New Zealand adding their voices in support of a climate change
agreement that includes all major emitters, not just developed countries.
11. (SBU) Carolyn Forsyth discussed sustainability in New Zealand, and the GNZ's goal of becoming the first society to
be truly sustainable. The policy is multifold, drawing in businesses, government procurement, waste minimization, and
households. Six government agencies are scheduled to become carbon neutral by 2012, noted Forsyth. Yvonne Lucas from the
Ministry of Economic Development explained that the GNZ is placing emphasis on both the public and private sectors;
there is great activity on energy efficiency and improved environmental outcomes, but the GNZ is still wrestling with
coordination issues. Undersecretary Dobriansky congratulated GNZ officials for their sustainability approach, noting
that New Zealand can be a model for other countries.
She applauded New Zealand for hosting UN Environment Day in June, and announced that the US would host the Washington
International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) in March and would welcome GNZ participation. In a subsequent meeting
with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark (septel), Dobriansky on behalf of the Secretary invited her to attend.
12. (C) Moving to Pacific island governance issues, MFAT Pacific Director John Adank briefed the Undersecretary on GNZ
views towards the southern Pacific region. The succession of coups in Fiji has been worrisome, said Adank, and the GNZ
has seen the challenges of reinstating democracy in the lead up to the March 2009 elections. The international community
should ensure the Fiji interim government puts in place the necessary milestones to achieve successful elections; the
GNZ worries that the interim government is trying to change the constitution before the elections, noted Adank. The
Pacific Island Forum results from Tonga in 2007 were not encouraging, he added. New Zealand and others should promote an
environment whereby the Fijian people believe elections will take place; the current environment on the island suggests
the military is firmly in control, said Adank.
Undersecretary Dobriansky mentioned that the USG had found Cape Verde to be a useful partner to the Timor Leste
electoral process as both were small islands. Adank said a major concern is the Fiji interim government's promotion of a
People's Charter and a review of the Fijian constitution, which only an elected government should do. He added that PM
Clark had sent a detailed letter outlining the GNZ's views on the Charter to Frank Bainimarama. Both Adank and
Dobriansky agreed that women's participation in elections was important.
Carolyn Forsyth added that Pacific Island politicians do not always see themselves as accountable to the people they
represent. Dobriansky updated MFAT officials on the Mali Community of Democracies discussion surrounding the Asia
Pacific Democracy Partnership.
13. (C) Undersecretary Dobriansky outlined the interactions between the Dalai Lama and Chinese officials over the past
six years, and noted that these meetings still had not translated into practical results. The Dalai Lama would like to
see three issues addressed by the GOC: environmental sensitivity, economic development that aids Tibetans and not just
Han Chinese, and an immigration policy that preserves Tibetan culture and religion, which is threatened by the influx of
Han Chinese into Tibet. The Dalai Lama would also like to make a pilgrimage to Beijing as well as Tibet, said
Dobriansky. MFAT Director for Asia David Taylor asked Dobriansky if there was a way in which the GNZ and USG might work
together in the lead up to the 2008 Olympics to pressure Beijing vis-a-vis Tibet; the Undersecretary promised to reflect
on the question and get back to New Zealand officials.
14. (C) On Burma, Undersecretary Dobriansky underscored the importance of this issue to the USG and the President's
personal commitment to continue the pressure on the military regime. Carolyn Forsyth noted that Rangoon's leaders had
made some initial concessions after the crackdown but there was little interest in genuine reform. Nigel Moore of MFAT
offered that New Zealand had put in place visa sanctions in 2003, was considering economic sanctions (although these
would have little to no tangible impact), and that China, India and the ASEANs were key to applying pressure to
Rangoon's leadership. Although New Zealand has not favored UN Security Council involvement up to this stage, PM Clark is
now considering support for UNSC action. Undersecretary Dobriansky said that within the Council there exists greater
support than one year ago, and that the USG has pressed both China and India.
15. (C) The Undersecretary thanked the GNZ for its help on North Korea. MFAT's David Taylor noted that the GNZ ensures
that human rights issues figure in their conversations with North Korean officials and that FM Winston Peters raised
human rights during his visit to Pyongyang in November 2007. GNZ officials asked for an update on USG actions to remove
North Korea from the state sponsors of terrorism list and if there had been a lifting of any trade sanctions under the
Trading with the Enemy Act.
PKO and CT Issues
16. (C) Wayne Higgins, Director for International Defense Relations at the Ministry of Defense, briefed the
Undersecretary and Dean Pittman on the status of GNZ peacekeeping deployments in Afghanistan, Timor Leste and the
Pacific region, Lebanon, and other parts of the globe. Higgins noted that New Zealand's armed forces have focused on
"niche" contributions, but that the GNZ is commited to international peace and security. Pittman noted USG appreciation
for the New Zealand Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) contribution in Bamiyan Province, Afghanistan, and asked if the
New Zealand public remained supportive of New Zealand's work in Afghanistan; Higgins replied affirmatively and added
that Singapore had contributed medical and dental officers to the Bamiyan PRT, just as New Zealand the GOS had worked in
Pittman pointed out that New Zealand was aready very active in support of international peacekeeping efforts and said it
would be a natural for the GNZ to join the Global Peacekeeping Operations Initiative (GPOI). Finally, Undersecretary
Dobriansky discussed TIP issues and prospects for US-NZ cooperation on TIP issues of mutual concern through the
establishment of a joint working group. MFAT officials said that New Zealand is "on the same page" as the US with
respect to trafficking in persons, and New Zealand is placing a great deal of emphasis on TIP in their immigration and
17. (C) Carolyn Forsyth briefed Undersecretary Dobriansky about GNZ efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and how these
dovetail with counterterrorism security outcomes. New Zealand, Australia, and Indonesia began a regional interfaith
program in 2004 following the first Bali bombing; meetings in the Philippines and most recently (May 2007) in New
Zealand have followed. Forsyth underscored that the meetings are not about religion; rather, participants seek to
empower moderates and marginalize radicalism. One of the positive outcomes of the regional meetings has been improved
Muslim networks between countries and discussion about a Muslim intra-faith meeting. New Zealand hopes to implement the
action plan put forward during the May 2007 meeting, she said. Looking to the UN Alliance of Civilizations (AOC)
initiative, Forsyth mentioned that the absence of a USG contribution garnered some criticism from speakers to the
October 2007 meeting in Spain. The GNZ interest in the AOC is largely confined to practical projects on media,
education, and youth. Dobriansky responded that the USG also appreciates the practical elements of the AOC but has noted
politicization within the Initiative. She said that the USG has a number of lessons learned from US-led interfaith
initiatives that may be relevant to the GNZ; both she and Pittman agreed that S/P would discuss these initiatives with
the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, particularly the War on Ideas and ways to move Muslim youth away from radicalism.
US Dobriansky Meets Whaling Commissioner Palmer
18. (C) NZ International Whaling Commissioner (and former PM) Sir Geoffrey Palmer, accompanied MFAT Environment Division
Director Jan Henderson met with US Dobriansky and Dean Pittman on January 15 to discuss GNZ concerns with the IWC and
Japanese whaling policy. Palmer urged the USG to use its influence with Tokyo to seek resolution of Japanese whaling
policy and the GOJ's role within the IWC, which Palmer characterized as a "dysfunctional" organization that has lost
credibility as an international body among many diplomats due to Japanese vote buying and a membership that includes
landlocked countries with no interest in whaling.
In New Zealand, Palmer underscored that the anti-whaling movement is strong and the new Rudd government in Australia has
taken a tougher stance on whaling by threatening legal action at the International Court of Justice. New Zealand
believes that a legal case at the ICJ will probably not succeed and a diplomatic solution is needed; the Japanese
government needs to get something out of any GOJ decision to curtail its so-called scientific research approach to
whaling, said Palmer, who added that the scientific loophole needs to closed.
19. (C) Undersecretary Dobriansky offered that the USG and GNZ have good collaboration on whaling and both share a
pro-conservation approach to the issue. She agreed to meet with US Commissioner Hogarth as well as Deputy Secretary
Negroponte to discuss and solicit ideas. Palmer said that with New Zealand in an election year and public opinion
staunchly opposed to whaling, no NZ politician can support any level of whale slaughter; privately, he conceded that
there may be a sustainable harvest that can be applied to some whale species. He applauded the work of Remi Parmentier
and the Pew Environment Group and noted that even Greenpeace is not opposed to a deal with the Japanese; the Latin
American countries are firmly opposed to whaling. Palmer proposed that the GNZ and the USG work towards what would
comprise a resolution during the March 6-8 IWC Intersessional meetings in London in the lead up to the annual IWC
meetings in Chile in June. Dobriansky said that she would confer with Washington officials and Japanese experts on her
return to Washington.
US Dobriansky Meets Human Rights Commission Chairman
20. (SBU) Also on January 15, Undersecretary Dobriansky met the Chairman of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission,
Rosslyn Noonan, in Auckland. At Dobriansky's request, Noonan reviewed the independent commission's mandate to advocate
human rights and encourage harmonious relations among groups within New Zealand as well as to receive and seek to
resolve complaints. Since 2001, it has placed a particular emphasis on the concerns of Maori over inequitable
implementation of the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, signed between the Crown and Maori chiefs. The Commission participates in
UN Human Rights Commission meetings separate from the New Zealand Government.
While international activities have not been a major part of its efforts, it has worked to strengthen the capacity of
the often small and understaffed human rights commissions in the Pacific. This year the Commission will undertake, at
the request of the GNZ, a project with the Philippine military and police to enhance their adherence to human rights
principles in carrying out their duties. The New Zealand Police will assist by providing specific training to the
Philippine police in handling violence against women. In response to U/S Dobriansky's question about whether the
commission had established a counterpart relationship in the U.S., perhaps with the Civil Rights Commission, Noonan said
that they had contacts with NGOs and state and local commissions. She agreed it would make sense to reach out to the
federal level as well.
21. (U) Undersecretary Dobriansky and S/P policy officer Dean Pittman have cleared this message.