A SEAT AT THE TABLE: New Zealand and the United Nations Security Council 2015-2016.

AuthorMcIntyre, W. David
PositionBook review

A SEAT AT THE TABLE: New Zealand and the United Nations Security Council 2015-2016

Editors: Graham Hassall and Negar Partow

Published by: Massey University Press, Auckland, 2020, 392pp, $45.

In this amazingly meaty symposium, 26 contributors provide a revealing analysis of New Zealand's fourth term, during 2015 and 2016, as one of the ten elected non-permanent members of the UN Security Council. The contributors are mainly the diplomats who participated in New York and Wellington, plus a sprinkling of politicians and academics. Their mini-biographies appear as a helpful appendix. The book starts with an essential glossary of the many messy acronyms which afflict the jargon of diplomacy. The most colourful is WYSIWYG to characterise New Zealand's 'honest broker' strategy--'what you see is what you get'. The work is divided into four parts: the campaign, the term, case studies and assessments. There are 26 photographs.

The campaign to get elected as a representative of WEO, the Western European and Other Group, was started by the Clark government in 2004 (ten years before the vote) and taken up by the Key government in 2009. Simon Draper, who headed MFAT's United Nations, Human Rights and Commonwealth Division, explains the need to ensure the votes of at least 129 of the 193 member states and the one-page strategy document that offered a 'fair, practical, and constructive approach' to the task. Special envoys, such as former leaders Jim Bolger, Don McKinnon and Colin Keating, were brought in. An ambassador to the African Union, James Kember, was appointed in Addis Ababa in view of the 54 votes in the continent. Jim McClay, former deputy prime minister who was permanent representative to the United Nations, handwrote personal letters to all his 192 fellow ambassadors. Diplomats and their families were invited to a private showing of the first Hobbit movie. So successful were these, and other, efforts over the years that New Zealand was elected on the first ballot in the General Assembly in 2014 with 145 votes, ahead of WEO rivals Spain and Turkey.

The most significant chapter is by Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen, our permanent representative, who was president of the Security Council for two months, July 2015 and September 2016. Determined to challenge the established practice of the council, where the five permanent members offered scripted speeches and dominated resolution-drafting as the experienced 'penholders', he sought ways of promoting...

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