To Bank or Not to Bank, and other links

Hello and welcome to another NZADDs email update (one sent so quickly after the last update because we have an important correction to make).

Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Update
Foremost, this is an update to our last email update, where we discussed New Zealand having apparently decided to join the Chinese led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

In the wake of our update a Radio New Zealand International journalist contacted the Office of the Minister McCully and the Office of the Minister of Finance (Bill English). (As I understand it English’s office is relevant as the Ministry of Finance typically manages relationships with multilateral banks.) Both offices denied that New Zealand had joined the bank. We (NZADDs) then contacted the Office of the Minister of Finance to verify this and we were told that we could attribute the following statement to a spokesperson for the Office of the Minister of Finance.

“New Zealand has entered negotiations over the founding of the AIIB. Negotiations are still very much in the early stages, and any decision as to whether New Zealand becomes a Founding Member of the AIIB is still some months away.”

This is a clear denial of us having officially joined and we are happy to correct the record here. However, it should be noted that New Zealand’s membership has been reported by media connected to the Chinese government, and the speaker at the Development Policy Centre’s conference (from a think tank associated with the Chinese government) who made the original claim appeared confident that New Zealand had joined. Possibly the confusion is simply that we have signalled that we are interested in joining but have not formally agreed (one could infer this from the newspaper article linked to above), but it is hard not to wonder how the different parties here have ended up with significantly different understandings of whether we have joined or not.

Other interesting stuff
If questions to do with ontology and bank membership make your mind boggle, as an alternative we can suggest some good reading and listening.

Wren Green of the Council for International Development has a great interview with Radio New Zealand International outlining the Sustainable Development Goals‘ evolution, ongoing United Nations negotiations and key issues to capture in the final Goals when leaders agree on them later this year.

Foreign minister Murray McCully recently gave a strong speech to the UN Security Council, outlining three areas in which he wishes to see the Security Council improve: the veto powers of the five permanent members, conflict prevention action, and resourcing and support of peacekeepers. As you may have noted, there often appears to be a discernible difference in the world views between Minister McCully and the NZADDs admin team; however, improvements in any one of these areas would be a significant NZ contribution during its time on the Council. (And those of you interested in NZ’s role on the UNSC, a good website has been set up if you want to track what New Zealand’s saying and doing.)

New Zealand NGOs are urging the NZ government to do more to help people suffering from the wars in Syria and Iraq. World Vision CEO, Chris Clarke, discussed his recent visit to the area in an excellent interview with Kim Hill recently. A good summary of the current NZ government contribution can be found in NZADDs member Jo Spratt’s Devpolicy blog from last year.

That’s all for now.

Terence (for NZADDs admin)