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Source: New Zealand Parliament


1st September 2015

Good afternoon

It is heartening to be here at the United Nations, and it is reflective of the closer working relationship between the IPU and UN. Because of the status of our office, we Speakers have an extraordinary opportunity here to enhance peaceful relations between parliaments and hence our countries.

The Sustainable Development Agenda articulates a vision for developing and developed countries, recognising we do not all start from the same point and taking into account different national realities, capacities and priorities, cultures and traditions.

The agenda states that there can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. New Zealand views its own peace and security as innately linked to the prosperity and stability of our whole region, the Pacific.

I am immensely proud of the work New Zealand parliamentarians do to promote peace and democracy in our region and beyond.  I have made it a priority to facilitate IPU engagement with the Pacific and to promote the value of democratic governance in our region. I take this opportunity to thank the IPU Secretary General Martin Chungong for his recent visit to the Pacific.

New Zealand is a small country of 4.5 million, with a small unicameral parliament with 121 members, but we are held in high regard internationally.

We were one of the founding countries who committed to preserving peace through international cooperation and collective security by establishing the United Nations in 1945, and currently sit on the Security Council.

We have a reputation for being practical, positive and constructive.

We engage on the full spectrum of the multilateral agenda, including international security, law and disarmament, environment, human rights, health, United Nations reform, and sustainable development.During the development of the Sustainable Development Agenda, New Zealand’s priorities reflected issues of importance to Pacific countries and other Small Island Developing States. This included advocating for a stand-alone goal on oceans and energy and the importance of sustainable economic development.  New Zealand viewed gender equality and women’s empowerment as a critical element of the new agenda.

I advocated that the agenda specifically recognised the central role of parliaments in ensuring governments effectively implement these commitments.

Parliamentarians, in their role as representatives of the people, will also be instrumental in communicating the agenda to their constituencies.

As this conference concludes, let us consider what we each will do to translate the agenda into action.The role of Speaker is by necessity a non-partisan one, but we have an indispensable part to play in promoting legitimacy and public trust in inclusive and democratic institutions. We set the tone and guide the parliament. I implore all Speakers to ensure that parliamentarians act with integrity – we have many tools at our disposal.

The Sustainable Development Agenda is simply too critical to be distracted by corruption and conflict.  All of us here today will be fundamental in the success of meeting these ambitious goals.