Words are easy. Don’t just ask the world to vote for New Zealand to get on the UN Security Council because “Our foreign policy has been tested by significant confrontations with some major powers, when we have proved our independence and resilience".
Show the world what we mean. Show we deserve a position of global leadership.
We need to push strongly for the United Nations to stand up to Russia’s violation of international law and the sovereignty of Ukraine.
Ukraine is nascent democracy. New Zealand is a small one. There is only one side we can be on in a confrontation between a big bully and a small country struggling to make itself free.
If we want to be on the UN Security Council, we need to show why it matters to have us there.
We are losing our UN campaign. One reason is that it has been hard for us to show what a difference it makes to have New Zealand there.
If we take a leadership position, as a fearless advocate for the rule of law and for the right of small nations to enjoy global support, then we will show that we deserve to be on the Security Council.
New Zealand has a well-resourced office in New York dedicated to winning us a place on the Security Council. That resource should now be focused on lobbying for a tough, pro-democracy position on Ukraine. Demonstrate our moral courage.
It's true that we will risk offending someone but that's the point of making a difference. There is no need for a small country on the Security Council whose only concern is to avoid giving offence.
New Zealanders like to think we 'punch above our weight' internationally. Now's the time to throw a punch.
I've worked at international institutions and it's fair to say most global diplomats would be sceptical of the claim that we carry more than our share of influence. But they would agree we can be a reliable and respected defender of international law. And in a contest for the Security Council, they will be judging the value of that perspective.
New Zealand was last on the Security Council in 1994. During the first month of the Rwandan genocide New Zealand’s representative and president of the Council, Colin Keating, relentlessly sought the intervention of the international community. We lost, but we were on the right side of history.
In 2010 Mr Keating, on behalf of New Zealand, accepted an award from the government of Rwanda:
“You lent your voice to other lone and courageous voices that were indignant about the deafening silence of the then Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations,” said President Kagame.
Today, Rwanda is supporting our bid to get back on the Council.
Of Ukraine, foreign minister Murray McCully has said, "The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected and maintained. The UN Security Council is the appropriate body to take the lead and we expect the Council to live up to its responsibilities."
This is true, but too little to have an impact.
Compare his words to John Key’s at the General Assembly a year ago when the PM said, "The UN has too often failed to provide solutions to the problems the world expects it to resolve.”
He was referring to Syria and to the veto by Russia and China, which stopped the international community from taking action. Up to 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since then.
If New Zealand wants to win our bid for membership of the Security Council we need to demonstrate our independence, and our readiness to unite respecters of international law against bullies - not just despite being a small country, but because we are one.
This is the reason for our campaign, the principled reason for having us there: To be dependable advocates for the rule of law, and for emerging democracies threatened by larger interests.
If the government really believes what the Prime Minister said a year ago, then he needs to act on his statement at the General Assembly:
“Sometimes, you have to speak up and shine a light on what is going on ‑ or not going on ‑ even when that may be inconvenient to others.”