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Small Islands in UNSC, Niue's Nameplate & Sharks in Palau, ICP Asks of Drones

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 30, updated -- When New Zealand ran for and won a UN Security Council seat, beating up Turkey, it made a big pitch to small island developing states or SIDS. On Thursday it paid them back, or followed through on a campaign promise, by holding a Security Council debate specifically about SIDS. Inner City Press followed it, straight through to the end.

  Before the meeting, Inner City Press asked New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully:

Inner City Press: I see here that your Concept Note for the debate talks about exploitation of natural resources and some states like Palau have announced sanctuaries, in one case for sharks, some people are talking about sanctuary against commercial fishing. What’s New Zealand’s position on that type of protection and also they’ve talked about using drones, what do you think is the role of technology in defending the security of these states?

FM McCully: It’s a theme I intend to pick up myself today, because it’s an important one if you look at the characteristics of the small island developing states you’ll see that they all are relatively small in terms of their land mass but they have EEZs that are significantly bigger than their land mass and for many of them, particularly in the Pacific, it happens to be the biggest economic asset they’ve got and yet other people come and routinely help themselves to that resource and in our part of the world, under reporting and illegal fishing are a huge part of the problem. That is literally stealing from some of the poorest people on the planet. S o a significant part of our development programme is designed that we attack that challenge at every level. Everything from improving monitoring, surveillance but also up-skilling local people so they can secure employment and become part of the value chain. In our region, the tuna resource is the biggest economic asset owned by Pacific countries. They get too small a share of value of that resource and I will saying so in the Council today.

  During the debate, several islands said there should be an ongoing Security Council seat for the group.  Tonga questioned whether the Security Council is fit for purpose anymore. The Premier of Niue spoke behind a sign with his own name, Toke Talagi, and not that of Niue. While he was speaking “under Rule 39,” so does the European Union -- which, just before 3:30 pm, had "European Union" on its name plate.

  Countries competing next time for the Western European and Other Group two seats -- Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands -- all sent officials higher than Permanent Representative. (For Netherlands, it was the Prime Minister of Aruba. Camillo Gonsalez of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines brought up the invasion of Grenada, and the current expulsions to Haiti from the Dominican Republic; he's previously said that the UN should pay compensation for bringing cholera to Haiti, to his credit.

 Late in the debate, Turkey which lost out to New Zealand and its small islands votes bragged about its work for the island states through the G20. There were no rights of reply -- past 6 pm, action shifted to the UN's North Lawn building, where what had been planned as an end of presidency barbeque was moved indoors by rain.

 There were steel drums and reggae, Murray McCully and a who's who of the UN (some double-timing with Morocco's National Day at the Waldorf Astoria). The planned "wrap up" session got canceled, but New Zealand will keep working, for example on Troop Contributing Country issues. We'll have more on this.


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