Written By: - Date published: 7:27 pm, September 27th, 2013 - 39 comments
Categories: climate change, greens, International, john key, news, Syria, us politics, war - Tags: barack obama, united nations
Good on Kennedy Graham for posting a good critique of Key’s UN speech, while the MSM largely report the speech in uncritical and glowing terms. Graham gives it a B-; damns Key with some faint praise, then goes on to criticise the pro-US bias, the omissions related to Kyoto, and the Kampala Agreement, making aggression a leadership crime. The latter involves a legal definition connecting the International Criminal Court and the UN.
Aggression will become justiciable once 30 parties ratify and a second, reaffirming, decision is taken in 2017.
Tracy Watkins on Stuff, begins her article on key’s UN speech, by framing it in fairly glowing terms, then gives selected quotes. Watkins begins:
Prime Minister John Key has used a speech to the United Nations to launch a scathing attack on the Security Council, warning that inaction over events like the humanitarian crisis in Syria had damaged its credibility.
In notes for a trenchant speech lasting nearly 20 minutes, Key said the UN was in urgent need of reform – a key pitch in New Zealand’s bid for a seat on the Security Council.
Claire Trevett’s article has a glowing headline and opening salvo, making Key look quite the man on the international stage:
John Key’s scathing attack on UN failings
Prime Minister John Key has mounted a scathing attack on the failings of the United Nations and the permanent members of the Security Council, saying it gets bogged down in arcane detail and had become hostage to the interests of the most powerful.
Mr Key has just delivered New Zealand’s statement to the UN General Assembly, launching in with a strongly worded statement about the need for reform of UN Security Council, and criticism of the stubborn behaviour of the permanent members for resisting reform.
He used the lack of action on Syria as an example.
Patrick Glower is also glowing, seeing no problem with Key being critical of the way privileges powerful countries, while supporting Obama’s line on Syria and the UN’s response to it.
Prime Minister John Key has used his speech to the United Nation Nations to condemn the Security Council process, calling it a “powerless bystander” that has failed to protect the people of Syria.
Mr Key’s strongly worded attack includes an indirect swipe at Russia and China, saying the superpowers have used the veto power they have on the council to “shield” the Assad regime.
He also criticised the other permanent members the US, France and Great Britain, as well, saying they were all complicit in abusing the veto at times.
Kennedy Graham gives some muted praise on some important points Key made about the undemocratic nature of the UN Security Council, and the need for reform:
After five years the process of transforming Key-thought into institutionalised respectability is nearing completion. The speech was clearly an MFAT draft – individual flair being automatically lobotomised. That is progress in one sense – the nationally-humiliating Letterman-style jokes have given way to reassuring yawns.
But the PM (and MFAT) should be commended for touching on the theme of UN reform. It is intrinsically important and reinforces – gives meaning to – New Zealand’s candidacy for that body. It picks up on New Zealand’s traditional stance for abolition or circumscription of the veto – recalling Peter Fraser’s stance of 1945 and Helen Clark’s continual embrace of it – reflecting a unifying, multi-party touch.
Then Graham lays out his criticisms, largely focused on errors of omission, including:
An admonitory reference to the sins of Chinese and Russian vetoes over Syria without recall of the more numerous American vetoes over Israel and NATO’s over-interpretation of Security Council resolutions on Libya.
A disingenuous insistence that the Protocol Kyoto no longer ‘offers a path forward’ and what we need is a ‘single legal framework’ on global emissions, which ignores the fact that Kyoto-2 applies to this present critical transitional decade and the GLA applies to post-2020.
Graham then goes on to his most strongly worded criticism:
Probably the biggest mistake was the refusal – ‘brain fade’ – to announce that New Zealand would move purposefully and rapidly to ratify the ICC Kampala Amendment.
As I blogged yesterday, this would make aggression a leadership crime – in all the ICC states parties that ratify, including New Zealand.
The NZ Parliament adopted a Notice of Motion in June urging the Government to be among the first 30 ratifying states. That was adopted unanimously, with National MPs’ support.
Other countries have already ratified it, while Key made no mention of it. But I guess, that wasn’t one of the things Team Obama wanted him to include in his speech.
NB: Lynn I haven’t been able to upload any new images to the Gallery lately – get a “temporary file missing” message. Hence a Green Party image, not one of Kennedy Graham. –[Edit] – Ah, working now. Thanks.
[Update] Looking at the main message of Obama’s speech to the UN a couple of days ago, Key’s omission of the Kampala Agreement, non-aggression Agreement, looks very much like Key’s ploy to keep onside with Team Obama. Democracy Now on Obama’s speech:
In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama openly embraced an aggressive military doctrine backed by previous administrations on using armed force beyond the international norm of self-defense. Obama told the world that the United States is prepared to use its military to defend what he called “our core interests” in the Middle East: U.S. access to oil. “[Obama] basically came out and said the U.S. is an imperialist nation and we’re going to do whatever we need to do to conquer areas [and] take resources from people around the world,” says independent journalist Jeremy Scahill.