New Zealand was elected to the United Nations Security Council in October, 2014, for a two-year term 2015 -2016.


The United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council

On 1 January 2015 New Zealand took up its seat as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Our term ran for two years until 31 December 2016.

During that time the Security Council considered some of the most pressing threats to international peace and security. These included; the dire humanitarian situation in Syria, the continued brutal attacks by ISIL on civilians, the Israel/Palestine conflict, the continued instability in the eastern Congo (DRC) caused by armed groups, as well as a variety of other issues across Africa – from attacks in northern Mali, including against UN peacekeepers themselves, to the crises in Somalia, Libya and the Central African Republic.

Our approach

New Zealand is a fair-minded, independent multilateralist. Our goal was to deliver practical results during our Security Council tenure which would make a significant contribution towards achieving peace and security for all people.

We advocated for small states, especially those that face threats to peace and security. We believe the Security Council needs to pay more attention to the interests of small states and emerging economies. Since 1945 New Zealand has opposed the veto rights of the permanent members of the Security Council and we made our opposition known whenever the veto was exercised.

New Zealand brought a fresh perspective to the Security Council, drawing on our multicultural, Asia-Pacific identity. We are committed to an inclusive, transparent and effective Security Council that delivers on its international peace and security responsibilities.

Our track record

New Zealand builds stability in Asia-Pacific and worldwide

Over the past 60 years, our service men and women have served in more than 40 peace-keeping operations in over 25 countries. View the map of where our service personnel have served [PDF, 755 KB].

New Zealand collaborates to get results

  • New Zealand always strongly supports self-determination even as a member of the League of Nations. At San Francisco in 1945 New Zealand championed the self-determination sections of the UN Charter.
  • Since 1945 New Zealand has been consistently recognised by the UN Committee on Self Determination as an exemplary leader on decolonisation.
  • When conflict came to our region our cultures and history drove New Zealand’s strong support for regional solutions, first in Bougainville, and more recently in the Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.
  • As a trusted regional partner in 1997 New Zealand was able to broker a peace agreement with leaders from Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.
  • New Zealand established the Asia-Pacific Regional Interfaith Dialogue together with Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The Dialogue brought together representatives of major faith and community groups from 15 countries in the Southeast Asian and the South Pacific region, with the aim of promoting cooperation through communication. New Zealand hosted the third Dialogue at Waitangi, New Zealand in May 2007.

New Zealand stands up for small states

  • Most of New Zealand’s official development assistance is channelled directly to small states or through UN funds and programmes. New Zealand’s official development assistance focusses on partnering with small states to achieve sustainable economic development.
  • New Zealand is an active member of the Global Governance Group (3G), which pushes for more effective participation by the UN and small states in global economic governance.
  • New Zealand is sponsoring and leading an independent research project on the role of small states at the UN and how that role might be enhanced.
  • New Zealand works to support small states through the Commonwealth and invests in initiatives such as the Commonwealth Small States Offices in New York and Geneva to support their engagement at the UN.

New Zealand is fair-minded and focuses on the future

  • As a Security Council member in 1993 New Zealand strongly supported allowing input to Council informal discussions by non-members.   
  • New Zealand took the lead in successfully promoting more meaningful access to Council deliberations by Troop Contributing Countries and by those countries on the Council agenda as in the case of Cambodia in 1993. 
  • New Zealand takes a principled stance on military interventions in other countries such as its stance on Iraq in 2003. 
  • As a Security Council member in 1993-94 New Zealand showed its willingness and capacity to stand up and take leadership on many occasions – even when it involved taking public positions against the views of the Council’s Permanent members.
  • In June 2013 a Parliamentary motion supporting New Zealand's candidature for a seat on the United Nations Security Council for 2015-2016 received unanimous support from all political parties.

New Zealand is a committed multilateralist

  • During New Zealand’s previous Council term in 1993-94, New Zealand led and worked with other Troop Contributing Countries on securing greater protection of UN personnel which eventually resulted in the Convention on the Safety of UN and Associated Personnel. 
  • As a founder member of the New Agenda Coalition, New Zealand has worked with Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and Sweden towards nuclear disarmament as well as other like-minded countries across the UN membership. We have also worked with others to provide leadership in areas such as de-alert (with Chile, Switzerland, Malaysia and Nigeria).  
  • New Zealand was a strong supporter of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948; and New Zealand co-chaired the process which resulted in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities - the first human rights treaty of the new millennium and the most quickly ratified human rights treaty in history.
  • New Zealand was one of a cross-regional group of countries that championed the establishment of the International Criminal Court. But New Zealand also recognises that premature or politicised references to the ICC by the Security Council can undermine international justice. 
  • New Zealand led in negotiations on the Convention on the Law of the Sea and continues to actively participate in UN ocean processes.

Subsidiary bodies

The Security Council has 22 subsidiary bodies which help manage the Council’s agenda. Fifteen of these bodies are sanctions committees. The sanctions committees are chaired by elected members of the Council. New Zealand chaired two of these committees during its term on the UNSC; the 1267/1989 (Al-Qaida and ISIL) Sanctions Committee and the 1988 (Afghanistan/Taliban) Sanctions Committee. Under the United Nations Charter, the Security Council may use sanctions as a tool to help maintain or restore international peace and security. This can include arms embargoes, travel bans or asset freezes. The purpose of these sanctions is to assist a State to restore peace and security and to provide incentives for States and non-State actors without necessitating the use of force.  In response to criticism that sanctions can inadvertently impact on human rights and harm vulnerable populations as well as national economies, the Council now focusses on ‘targeted sanctions’ and  a more considered approach to the design and implementation of sanctions regimes.

Sanctions committees chaired by New Zealand

1267/1989 (Al-Qaida) Sanctions Committee

This Committee was established in 1999 to oversee aviation and financial sanctions imposed in connection with the Taliban and Taliban-controlled territory of Afghanistan.  The aim included to respond to terrorist training camps and Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaida.  The Committee today focusses its sanctions on Al-Qaida and associates, including ISIL and the Al-Nusra Front.

1988 (Afghanistan/Taliban) Sanctions Committee

This Committee was separated off from the Al-Qaida regime in 2011. It oversees sanctions imposed on the Taliban with the goal of promoting and ensuring the peace, stability and security in Afghanistan.