Key: 'Extraordinary power imbalance' in Security Council

Prime Minister John Key at the United Nations General Assembly
Prime Minister John Key at the United Nations General Assembly

John Key has used his time in the United Nations spotlight to draw attention to problems on the Security Council, saying if it does not change it could become a "failed institution".

The Prime Minister gave his statement at the UN General Assembly debate this morning (NZ time), praising the work the council does, but pointing out its failings, especially the veto powers for permanent members.

It caps off a week at the UN in New York for Mr Key where he had a number of bilateral meetings and attended a leaders' summit on countering Islamic State (IS).

It's his first speech at the UN since New Zealand gained its seat on the Security Council and he walked a fine line between admiration and criticism.

"Since being elected to the Council, New Zealand has made clear its view that the status quo is unsustainable," he said.

Currently, all five permanent members of the Security Council – the US, China, France, Russia and the UK – have the power of veto.

Mr Key said that "creates an extraordinary power imbalance" and the permanent members are "protective of their privileged position".

"That imbalance is exacerbated by their practices of pre-negotiating outcomes before engaging with the 10 elected members."

He said New Zealand supports two proposals which would limit the use of the veto in "mass atrocity situations".

New Zealand had been warned how hard being on the council would be and Mr Key said that was true, calling the dynamics "difficult".

He said a political solution needs to be found on a number of global conflicts including Syria, with both President Bashar al-Asad and IS needing to be "dealt with".

He warned the consequences of inaction were real, rather than theoretical with the aftermath seen in a refugee crisis second only to World War II.

"It's time for the Council to do the job for which it was created.

"We cannot afford to let the Council go from an institution with failings to a failed institution," he says.

However, despite wanting changes to the Council, Mr Key said New Zealand is "realistic" about what can be achieved.

Mr Key also used his speech to talk about the plan to create the 620,000sqkm Kermadec Islands marine sanctuary which he announced earlier this week.

He also said he was proud of New Zealand being the chair of the Security Council when the Iran nuclear deal was passed.

PM's Address to 70th UN General Assembly

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