28 Sep 2009

NZ plain-speaking reputation expected to help Security Council bid

10:13 am on 28 September 2009

Former diplomats says New Zealand's reputation for speaking its mind will help its bid to gain a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Prime Minister John Key announced New Zealand intends to seek one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the council in 2014, during his speech to the UN General Assembly on Friday. The post would be for two years: 2015-16.

Two seats need to be filled for this term - New Zealand and Spain are the only countries to signal their intention so far.

Former deputy secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and ambassador to the UN, Michael Powles, says being elected is no easy task, but New Zealand is highly regarded.

He says New Zealand made an admirable impression during its last tenure in 1993 due to its tough stance on the genocide in Rwanda.

Another previous ambassador to the UN, Terence O'Brien, says in order to gain a seat New Zealand will be required to woo the organisation's entire membership of 193 countries.

However, Mr O'Brien says New Zealand will need to watch how it treats some UN issues like the Middle East, aid and climate change in the lead-up to the voting.

He told Morning Report how these issues are treated will be seen as lobbying positions and New Zealand will need to tread carefully.

New Zealand is a founding member of the United Nations and previously served on the Security Council in 1954, 1965 and in 1993.