Human Rights: New Zealand Must Continue to Exert Influence Through Involvment

  • Don McKinnon
Foreign Affairs and Trade

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Don McKinnon, said today the most effective way for New Zealand to influence Human Rights around the world is to remain involved.

Mr McKinnon was speaking at lunchtime in Wellington (12.15pm, LCC) to mark the 50th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights. The anniversary is being celebrated world wide today.

Focussing on New Zealand's contribution to Human Rights internationally, Mr McKinnon said from the beginning New Zealand has been actively involved. From the earliest negotiations over the United Nations Charter to our current practical peace making role in Bougainville.

"I should mention that behind the successful meetings NZ has hosted for the Bougainville conflict, a key factor has been our own approach to Human Rights, in particular to Treaty issues. Our Melanesian brothers and sisters could identify with our culture, it made then feel at home and contributed to the positive outcomes they arrived at."

Mr McKinnon said the Declaration is a living achievement from which we should look forward rather than back and that New Zealand is among the most prominent players in human rights debates in the UN, both in The Commission on Human Rights in Geneva and in The General Assembly in New York.

"Human rights is one of the toughest grinds in diplomacy. Politicians are tempted to create local headlines and gain local support, which may have little impact, or even go unnoticed by those you are trying to influence in another part of the world.

"We play our part by speaking out and often about human rights abuses. New Zealand is already involved in Asia Pacific political, economic and security forums and in the past few years we have been building our engagement with Asia Pacific Human Rights Forums.