John Key’s strong words at United Nations General Assembly welcome, but practical solutions must be offered

2 October 2015, 13:40 UTC | New Zealand, Worldwide
Refugees and migrants in Hungary protest at Keleti station. © Amnesty International

Amnesty International has welcomed Prime Minister John Key’s statement at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, but said New Zealand must also bring practical solutions to the table.

The human rights organisation in particular welcomed the Prime Minister's acknowledgement that the global refugee crisis and inaction by the UN Security Council when faced with mass atrocities are two of the key challenges of our time.

“It is encouraging to see New Zealand speak out on the UN Security Council’s failures, and call on it to step up and do what’s right. Amnesty International certainly welcomes New Zealand’s support for the two proposals on the table for veto restraint,” said Grant Bayldon, Executive Director at Amnesty International in New Zealand.

“However, it’s all very well to call the Security Council out on its failures, but what we need to see now is New Zealand working hard for the practical solutions to the grave crises facing the world.

“The New Zealand government must ensure it doesn’t simply pay lip service to protecting civilians in conflict and the global refugee crisis, but puts its words into action."

Grant Bayldon, Executive Director at Amnesty International in New Zealand.

“The New Zealand government must ensure it doesn’t simply pay lip service to protecting civilians in conflict and the global refugee crisis, but puts its words into action.

“In John Key’s own words - ‘the consequences of inaction are not theoretical. The human toll is real’ - so it’s time New Zealand demonstrates leadership to save lives. An important first step to ensure New Zealand has credibility is to double its own refugee quota which hasn’t increased in almost three decades, seeing the country languish at 90th in the world on per capita intake.  We also need to see New Zealand promoting a major shift in the way the world protects refugees.”

See those practical solutions here.

Amnesty International is also calling on the New Zealand government to use its voice on the Security Council to ensure that human rights are at the forefront of approaches to crisis situations.

“Mr Key acknowledged the human suffering in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan, and that an end to it is needed. Now we need to see New Zealand being a strong voice on the UN’s involvement in conflict zones, ensuring it takes effective action. This comes down to practical things, like holding perpetrators of war crimes to account and stopping the free flow of arms into conflict zones. But it also means ensuring that the voices of women are heard and that peacekeeping operations have strong civilian protection mandates,” said Grant Bayldon.

Read more here on how to take a human rights approach to crisis.

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