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dove pictureN.C.C.D. Disarmament Times

An occasional newsletter on disarmament progress in New Zealand and abroad, published by


Volume 2, Number 2, July 1999

Disarmament Policy:
a template for political parties


The NCCD has been consulting with political parties over the last six months, inquiring about their policies on disarmament, asking how their policy-making takes place, and offering help should they be interested.

Party policies
Nuclear Disarmament

  • Labour in government has pushed consistently in the UN, and by direct protests during French testing, for nuclear disarmament, abroad and at home; created a Minister for Disarmament; helped create the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone; and in 1987 passed the epoch-making New Zealand Nuclear Free Dis-armament and Arms Control Act. It is in favour of a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) to ban nukes for ever, and would like to see a timetable to achieve this.
  • National in government at first encouraged mild nuclear disarmament resolutions in the UN whilst inviting nuclear armed ships into New Zealand ports; then, as public opinion became clear, it has declared the anti-nuclear legislation inviolable, and made bold moves in the International Court of Justice against nuclear weapons, and appointed an Ambassador to the (permanent) Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. It is in favour of a NWC (but not a set timetable) and helped start the 'New Agenda Coalition' at the UN to press for this.
  • The 'spokesperson' MPs of United, the Alliance, NZFirst, ACT and Mauri Pacific have all declared their parties to be strongly in favour of the Nuclear-free legislation and said they had no intention of pushing for its repeal or even amendment. This is despite Richard Prebble [ACT] 'kite-flying' the idea of amending it, earlier this year.
  • The Alliance (including the Greens) has well- considered ideas about how nuclear disarmament might be advanced world-wide, but the other smaller parties were vaguely approving, or uninterested.

General Disarmament

General disarmament does not have the same support nor such clearly formulated policies as nuclear disarmament. However, these ideas are clearly understood: (1) there are too many small arms floating about in the world, (2) many weapons such as depleted uranium ordinance, and cluster bombs are indiscrimiate or inhumane and should be scrapped, (3) weapons of mass destruction such as the biological/chemical weapons must be eliminated. But little thought seems to have been given about how the disarmament which is needed can be achieved.

Disarmament at home

All parties supported the passage of the Anti-Personnel Mines Prohibition Act 1998 which prohibits New Zealand's use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. NCCD supported the major efforts of NGOs to help achieve this legislation.
No parties except the Greens (who will enter the next election independently) have policies which discuss disarmament in New Zealand. Such policies, if any, are found in policy statements about Gun Control, Security, and Defence.
All parties except ACT believe that there should be better gun control to cut down on mass murders such as at Aramoana and Raurimu. No party has a policy enumerating how much, if any, money they are willing to spend on this matter. Do they say one thing but believe another?
All parties have Security or Defence policies; all involve New Zealand having standing military forces and conventional weapons. The main differences are in the size, mix and equipment of these forces. It is in amount of money the policies would involve that we can see the parties' picture of the future world, their attitude to general world disarmament, and to New Zealand disarmament.
The Greens would like the forces amalgamated, no offensive weapons, tasks cut back to fisheries protection, disaster relief and UN peacekeeping back-up; the defence budget halved and the money saved put into social policies. National appears to have a policy of keeping our forces much as they are, but better equipped, including (expensive) weapons which can be used for co-operative fighting alongside western allies. Labour endorses a small well equipped force with a strong UN-back-up role and fewer weapons chosen for their usefulness to allies. ACT, Mauri Pacific, and NZFirst, so far, have poorly enunciated policies and United is clear that major sophisticated weapons systems are a poor buy.

The White Paper on Defence (1999) says the military make 'an appropriate contribution to the security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.' This belief depends on a narrow definition of security and stability. All parties agree that New Zealand faces no threat of invasion, but only the Greens suggest that security and stability might be better achieved by friendly and helpful diplomatic, trade, scientific and cultural contacts, and aid, than by military posturing.

A Template
For Parties revising their policies before the 1999 election.
O For voters questioning candidates.
For anyone hoping for more progress in disarmament.

The ................................... Party

Security in the modern world

  • We strongly confirm our belief in the UN as the chief hope for peace and security in the world, and will voluntarily increase New Zealand's funding of the UN as an example to other nations.
  • We look for a new world security order through peaceful means for resolving international conflicts, and through general, agreed, step-by-step, gradual, verified, universal, comprehensive disarmament.
  • We see armaments as part of the problem; this is particularly so where there is fighting between ethnic groups and military forces are used repressively; weapons also involve a huge waste of world resources, money, and skills.
  • We will take part in efforts to enhance world security by creating a fairer distribution of health, wealth and education, and by good protection for the environment.
    New Zealand arms policy
  • We will instigate a high powered parliamentary commission to look into the possibility of amalgamating the military services, giving many of their present tasks to a reconstituted police/civil defence force, and concentrating training and equipment for assisting the UN rather than foreign military forces.
  • We will rename the Centre for Strategic Studies, the Centre for Security Studies, ensure its funding and independence, and broaden its scope to monitor ecological, technical, social and economic security as well a military matters, so it will be an independent source of information for the Government and the public on overall security.
  • We will cease all flows of intelligence from Waihopai and Tangimoana spy stations to any other country or military organisation. This to include direct or indirect flows and to apply to any and all other military intelligence, unless approved by Parliament in open session.

Weapons of mass destruction
  • We will uphold the nuclear weapons free status of New Zealand.
  • We will try to extend Nuclear Free Zones to cover the whole Pacific and to forbid the transit of weapons and waste.
  • We will continue New Zealand's policy of working by diplomatic means for a treaty banning nuclear weapons for ever; in particular, looking for a signed agreement in the year 2000 by all countries in the world for the elimination of nuclear weapons according to a fixed timetable.
  • We will continue NZ's contributions in money and scientific work to the verification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
  • We will seek to have depleted uranium weapons recognised as causing nuclear radiation damage, then banned.
  • We will seek the strengthening of the treaty banning biological weapons (BWC) and fund our share of the expansion of the organisation overseeing the ban on chemical weapons to include biological weapons.

Small arms
  • We will put into place all the recommendations of the Thorpe Report so that New Zealand will get control of its small arms, and will expand the budget of the Police Force to see that this is done.
  • We will tighten controls so that New Zealand cannot export small arms, nor be a staging post for gun runners.
  • We will continue, and expand New Zealand's leading role in banning landmines and in helping countries which still have mines buried.
    Conventional weapons
  • We will continue New Zealand's efforts to have banned all weapons which cause indiscriminate injuries (such as land mines and cluster bombs which kill civilians), and weapons which cause horrific injuries (such as napalm and blinding lasers).
  • We will continue to make full declarations each year to the UN of New Zealand's arms purchases and exports.
  • We will push for UN talks and treaty negotiations on conventional arms reduction to be invigorated.
  • We will make our arms purchases fit our national needs, not the needs of foreign military planners.

NCCD Disarmament Times
66 Beacon Hill Rd, Wellington 6003
All material may be quoted

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