UN Security Council Ministerial Level Meeting on Aviation Security and Terrorism

  • Murray McCully
Foreign Affairs

New Zealand welcomes today’s opportunity to discuss the serious threat to international peace and security posed by terrorist targeting of civil aviation.

I thank UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson for his leadership on the resolution just adopted.

Air links are critical to New Zealand. More than 99 percent of our international visitors arrive by air, and around 15 percent of our exports are transported by air. The security of international civil aviation is therefore of vital importance to my country.

As we commemorate the 15th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in New York, we need no reminding that terrorist threats to civil aviation are not a new phenomenon.

The Council has already taken action to address the travel of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, including by restricting their access to planes as a means of transport.

But recent attacks demonstrate that civil aviation remains an attractive target for terrorists and advances in technology have made terrorist threats to aviation harder to detect.

The international community must remain vigilant in ensuring that international standards are responsive to a constantly-evolving threat environment.

As countries gather for the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Triennial Assembly later this month, we encourage them to reflect on collective views of this Council in their deliberations.

ICAO remains the primary forum to improve aviation security standards and deserves the support of the international community, including of this Council.

New Zealand supports an approach to aviation security that is risk-based and tailored to different circumstances.

This is particularly important for states with limited capacities and lower risk profiles, including the many Small Island Developing States in our region.

It does not make sense to expect the same systems and approach from Tuvalu as we do from the United States.

But agreeing standards is only the first step. The more challenging and important task is ensuring that they are effectively implemented.

New Zealand therefore welcomes the focus in today’s resolution on international cooperation, including technical assistance.

We continue to provide significant technical support in aviation security efforts, in particular to improve regional air security in the Pacific.

However, enhanced aviation security can only ever provide a short-term bandage. The far greater challenge lies in addressing the conditions that motivate and enable those who commit these acts of terrorism.

In this respect we need to reflect on the effectiveness of this body which is charged with maintaining international peace and security.

The Security Council’s track record of delivering sustainable resolution of major conflicts is poor.

And the UN’s resources are heavily focused on providing peacekeeping and humanitarian support for victims of conflict rather than preventing conflict in the first place, or resolving conflicts before they become intractable.

Major improvements to the United Nations machinery, including this Council, are well overdue in these respects.

These are matters that all members of this Council have a responsibility to address.