AuthorBoys, Michael Hardie

Sir Michael Hardie Boys foresees a continuing strong emphasis by New Zealand on peacekeeping activities.

The annual APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting takes place in Auckland in September. Hosting this enormous event successfully is a huge challenge -- and opportunity -- for New Zealand and Auckland, both in terms of the substance of its outcome and in terms of its organisation. It is, quite simply, not like anything we have ever been faced with before. There is also the need to manage successfully the range of preparatory seminars, conferences and symposia being held throughout New Zealand prior to the Summit.

Those APEC leaders will be in New Zealand representing the interests of half of the world's population. They will be looking to us to be successful, both as Chair and as host. We have to meet that expectation. If I may dare to leave aside the concerns expressed about APEC's impact on Queen Street traffic, the Summit will be the best possible high profile reminder to the world community, as well as to our own, that international affairs matter to this country.

However, this is not only our APEC year. It is also the centenary of the Peace Conference in The Hague. That Conference in 1899, proposed by the last Tsar of Russia, was the first serious attempt in modern times to get governments to accept limitations on their armaments. It led eventually to the establishment of the International Court of Justice. Unfortunately, though, it achieved little in the way of disarmament, and was soon followed by the outbreak of the First World War.

In four years of fighting, New Zealand alone lost 18,000 lives, from a population of about one million at the time. Our casualties were the highest in proportion to our population of any Allied nation. I had the privilege of visiting Gallipoli and the Somme last year, and was able to appreciate all the more the enormity of the suffering, and the scale of the losses, on all sides.

It is a truly moving experience to stand on the narrow beach of Anzac Cove, looking up at those impossibly steep and crumbling cliffs, and walk along the tops, where the scars of the trenches still remain; or walk through any of the many, many monuments in the countryside and towns and beaches of Europe's Western Front. They recall the fallen of not one but two dreadful conflicts this century. Those images seem to call not only for our gratitude but also for our renewed commitment to peace.

The UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, spoke about this recently, although his thoughts were motivated by the events of a later time -- of today's post-Cold War period. In a speech aptly titled `Walking the International Tightrope', he said:

Ultimately ... the peace we seek ... is one that reflects the lessons of our terrible century: that peace is not true or lasting if bought at any cost; that only peace with justice can honour the victims of war and violence; that without democracy, tolerance and human rights for all, no peace is truly safe. So how do we seek peace in a practical way, and here in New Zealand especially, where our size dictates that we tend to be on the receiving end of international relations, rather than the other way round? There are, I suggest, three broad areas of response.

Economic security

The first of these is in economic security -- because there is a longstanding recognition that development and the avoidance of conflict go hand-in-hand. With the two world wars as prime examples, one can often look at the origins of conflict and find the absence of economic security; one can always look at the aftermath of conflict and see the need for...

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