Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has used a foreign policy speech to Australia’s Lowy Institute to call for reform of the United Nations following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking at the institute in Sydney yesterday, Ms Ardern said the global organisation needed to adapt so that Russia could be held to account for its military action.
“The war in Ukraine is unquestionably illegal, and unjustifiable. Russia must be held to account, and we all have a role to play in ensuring that that happens. This is why New Zealand will intervene as a third party in Ukraine’s case against Russia in the International Court of Justice,” the Prime Minister said.
“We must reform the United Nations so that we don’t have to rely on individual countries imposing their own autonomous sanctions. We must also resource the International Criminal Court to undertake full investigations and prosecution of the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Ukraine.”
Ms Ardern highlighted the UN’s failure to act on the conflict due to Russia’s position in the body’s Security Council, describing it as a “morally bankrupt position” for the organisation.
“Under these circumstances, waiting for our multilateral institutions to act was not an option for New Zealand,” she said.
She warned against casting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a broader battle between autocracy and democracy, saying it could undermine efforts to get China to exert pressure on Moscow.
“…In taking every possible action to respond to Russia’s aggression and to hold it to account, we must remember that fundamentally this is Russia’s war. And while there are those who have shown overt and direct support, such as Belarus, who must also see consequences for their role, let us not otherwise characterise this as a war of the west vs Russia. Or democracy vs autocracy. It is not.”
The Prime Minister cautioned against a transference of concern between the situation in Europe and that in the Indo-Pacific region.
“In the wake of the tensions we see rising including in our Indo-Pacific region, diplomacy must become the strongest tool and de-escalation the loudest call. We won’t succeed, however, if those parties we seek to engage with are increasingly isolated and the region we inhabit becomes increasingly divided and polarised. We must not allow the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy to become an inevitable outcome for our region,” she said.
“And that is one of the reasons, as New Zealand looks to the wider Indo Pacific, we seek to ensure that the intensity of our engagement is increasing, and we call for others to do the same.”
Ms Ardern also used yesterday’s platform to urge New Zealand’s Australian “cousins” to pull in the same direction on climate change.
“Climate change must be a foreign policy priority. While we all have a concern, and rightly so, about any moves towards militarisation of our region, that must surely be matched by a concern for those who experience the violence of climate change.”
“There are many who wish to support the region’s mitigation efforts.
“And it’s why we have committed $1.3 billion over four years towards climate change with at least 50% going to the Pacific. But there is an opportunity in my mind for the Pacific Island Forum to play a role in establishing region wide mitigation projects that climate funding can support. Not every external aid and development donor will have the capability to access our neighbours individually, we need to look to the role we can play to bring in that support on the terms the pacific sets, and the PIF is a great way to do that.
“And all of this needs to happen because ultimately, this is our home. And that makes you, our cousins. But more importantly, over many years, it has made you our friend.”
Ms Ardern is due to meet with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese today, before the pair attend the Pacific Islands Forum next week.