NZ rates poorly on Amnesty report card

  • 04/08/2015
The UN Security Council debates MH17 (AAP)
The UN Security Council debates MH17 (AAP)

By 3 News online staff

New Zealand is being condemned for not using its time in the UN Security Council's hot seat to tackle the international refugee crisis.

July was New Zealand's turn at being president of the 15-strong council.

Looking at New Zealand's efforts on the council so far this year, Amnesty International has rated its human rights efforts a C+, saying New Zealand is failing to address the biggest humanitarian challenge of our time.

Grant Bayldon of the New Zealand branch says our refugee quota is abysmal.

"New Zealand's been asking countries that are at the forefront of the refugee crisis to keep their borders open, but at the same time it's so far refused to review its own tiny refugee quota."

New Zealand's quota stands at 750, and was last increased nearly 30 years ago.

"It is disappointing New Zealand has scored so poorly on Amnesty International’s report card for protecting human rights in its term so far on the Security Council," says Green Party human rights spokesperson Catherine Delahunty.

"This Government is trying to do bit pieces to make it look like New Zealand is a world leader in human rights, without actually doing anything substantive."

Amnesty did have praise for New Zealand's stance on the Security Council veto process, however, rating its efforts an A-. The five permanent members of the council – France, Russia, the UK, US, and China – are able to veto any resolution its members back.

"There's a real lack of transparency in what goes on, so it's really difficult to know what is happening behind the scenes," says Mr Bayldon.

"We saw that with the resolution about the Malaysia Airlines flight being vetoed by Russia."

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully has pushed for sweeping change to the veto process, renewing the call after Russia blocked bids for an investigation into the shooting down of flight MH17.

Other grades Amnesty gave New Zealand include a C for championing women's rights, C+ on Syria, and a B- on strengthening human rights components of UN peace operations.

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