PM's comments to NATO session

Prime Minister

Kia ora koutou katoa. 

It is a rare thing to have New Zealand represented at a NATO Summit. While we have worked together in theatres such as Afghanistan, and have been partners for just on a decade, today represents an important moment for our Pacific nation.  

New Zealand is not here to expand our military alliances. We are here to contribute to a world that lessens the need for anyone to call on them.

Aotearoa New Zealand has a fiercely held independent foreign policy. 

We are also one of the oldest and most stable liberal democracies. But that does not mean we judge our foreign policy interventions based on political ideology, but rather, the simple concept that when our shared humanity is undermined, we all suffer.  

And on that basis, we are unequivocal. The war in Ukraine is wrong.

Russia’s actions are an affront to all of us. Not because this conflict should be characterised as a war of the west vs Russia, or even democracy vs autocracy, it is neither. Rather it’s a war of Russia vs all those who hold a basic sense of humanity and chose to act on it.

The war in Ukraine is also an affront to our multilateral institutions.

Russia’s use of its UN Security Council position to block consideration of the invasion is morally bankrupt. And demonstrates why we must continue to seek reform of the UN.

In lieu of our ability to respond as a collective, New Zealand has responded as a nation.

We have implemented unilateral sanctions for the first time ever. We have provided humanitarian assistance and a special visa for family members of our Ukrainian community.

We are providing military and non-military aid. We have deployed our people, and our assets to facilitate the flow of supplies to Ukraine, and with the United Kingdom, we are training Ukrainian troops and supporting intelligence efforts.

We are also making significant contributions to the international legal effort to hold Russia accountable and are planning to intervene in Ukraine’s case against Russia in the International Court of Justice.

In all of this, we stand alongside those who share our same values. And here I want to acknowledge the leadership shown by NATO.

But I also come with a request: that we do not allow the legacy of the war in Ukraine to become an arms race, or an even more polarised and dangerous world.

Our solidarity with Ukraine must be matched by an equal commitment to strengthen international institutions, multilateral forums, and disarmament.

New Zealand is a Pacific nation. Our region, bears the scars of decades of nuclear testing. It was because of these lessons that New Zealand has long declared itself proudly nuclear free. Some may observe this status and assume us to have the naive privilege of such a position. I would argue, the world can’t afford anything less.

This crossroads that the world finds itself at, should be the basis for us to put a halt in the production of weapons that create our mutually assured destruction, because the alternative is unfathomable. And so, as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty convenes for its tenth review conference in August, I hope all members agree to send a strong message. Because if not now, when the threat is even greater, then when?

Sadly, the shift in environment we are currently seeing is not limited to one region. In our neighbourhood we see the mounting pressure on the international rules-based order. We see attempts to disrupt and destabilise – even New Zealand is targeted by Russian mis & dis information.

Separately China has in recent times also become more assertive and more willing to challenge international rules and norms.

Here, we must respond to the actions we see. We must stand firm on the rules-based order, call for diplomatic engagement and speak out against human rights abuses at all times when and where we see them.

But we also must resist the temptation to simplify the increasingly complex world in which we live.

We must use diplomacy at every opportunity, until it has proven to fail.

We must strengthen the resilience of the Indo-Pacific region through relationships and economic architecture rather than militarisation.

Let our actions be focused on de-escalation, peace and stability.

And on these terms – on these terms - we welcome the presence of like-minded partners in the region.

But finally, it would be wrong to assume that the current threats we face are the only ones that occupy the minds of our region. In fact, the primary security concern of the Pacific, is that of climate change.

Already in the Pacific, sea level rise is having an impact. There are more frequent natural disasters, impacting on livelihoods through food insecurity, and even greater hardship. We all have a responsibility to address these problems.

We look forward to engaging further with partners on this issue, the most consistent and universal threat we face.

So, I stand here today in solidarity, but also in the shared hope for a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Kei a tātou tēnei ao, kei a tātau hoki ēnei iti kahurangi.

This is our world; these are the challenges wemust strive to overcome.