St Mary’s girl nabs UN Association youth prize

News Jemima Lomax-Sawyers31 May 2012 A Year 13 student at St Mary’s College, Jemima Lomax-Sawyers, has won a nationwide speech contest run by the United Nations Association of New Zealand…


Jemima Lomax-Sawyers
31 May 2012

A Year 13 student at St Mary’s College, Jemima Lomax-Sawyers, has won a nationwide speech contest run by the United Nations Association of New Zealand (UNANZ) this year partnered with UN Youth.

The topic for this year’s speech, of up to eight minutes in length, was ‘New Zealand and the Security Council: What do we have to offer?’ New Zealand is running for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council in 2015-16 (elections take place in 2014).

Regional winners were flown to the national final in Wellington on May 19, with the overall winner gaining a scholarship to the New Zealand Model United Nations to be held in Wellington in July.

We take great pleasure in printing Jemima’s winning speech.

NZ and the Security Council – what do we have to offer?
I am always right. No matter who I am arguing or what I am talking about, the possibility of me being wrong is non-existent, according to me, anyway. You wouldn’t put a criminal on the jury deciding their guilt, nor would you let a student pick their own grade for a test, or let me be the judge of any argument or debate in which I’m competing.

It’s because of a little something called conflict of interest. Why then, do we allow almost unlimited power to the five permanent members of the Security Council, who all have such a bias?

New Zealand is vying for a spot on the UNSC in 2015, a position we would bring a lot to, due to our stance on the veto power of the permanent five and our reputation as a nuclear weapons free, peaceful nation.

We have long opposed the unjust veto power of the permanent five members of the SC: the USA, the UK, China, France and Russia. Essentially, each of them has the ability to halt any draft resolution.

Every branch of the United Nations except the Security Council only has the authority to make recommendations to governments. The Security Council is unique in that it can compel them to act and impose economic penalties should they not.

This is huge. We are talking about the temporary overruling of a nation’s sovereignty for the bettering of the rest of the world. It is the only conceivable situation in which decisions surrounding conflict are made not in regard to what is in the best interests of a single nation, but in regard to what is in the best interests of humanity.

This has the potential to do incredible good, but we are seeing tragically wasted opportunities for peace because of the unjust veto power of the permanent five. It is a power that could be open to abuse in the hands of any nation, but especially so in the hands of these five.

It is sad to acknowledge the money that comes from killing, but it is impossible to ignore. The permanent five represent the five largest players in the weapons industry, with the USA alone having almost a 40 percent share in the global arms market.

These are nations who depend on war and violence to fuel their economies. These are nations who thrive and capitalise on human suffering, yet are being given the final say on whether or not to end it.

They are vetoing solutions that could change the world, just to make a bit of money or as a means of political gain. Sometimes even just to satisfy their ego.

Sometimes, even just to satisfy the egos of their allies. The USA vetoes any solution critical of Israel, so they can try to appease this nation, despite the effects it may have on the rest of the world.

Just recently a solution for peace and political transition in Syria was vetoed by China and Russia, meaning it was out of the question despite the fact that every other nation voted in favour of it. Forget one person one vote; the system in place is a de facto dictatorship.
New Zealand sees the necessity to end this injustice by ending the ability of a select few nations to promote their own interests at the expense of the rest of the world. It is a view we would represent should we be voted on to the Council in 2014.

New Zealand also brings to the table our position on nuclear weapons. We live in terrifying times with countries competing to see, on a basic level, which can make the biggest explosion. But it is far scarier than this. We are talking about the ability to annihilate the human race, to obliterate Planet Earth. All members of the permanent five are nuclear weapons states, yet they have all signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, aimed at stopping the spread of such weapons. The hypocrisy is astonishing.

New Zealand, on the other hand, practises what it preaches. We are consistent in our views and we lead by example with our proud history of being nuclear-free. Ignoring the cost to international relations with the US, we told them ‘no’ when they wanted to park their ships in our backyard. Former Prime Minister Norman Kirk sent a government ship to protest nuclear testing by France in the Pacific [1972].

It’s all very well to talk the talk, to say that this global arms race is dangerous, but actions are what really count, and that is where New Zealand can claim great strength. It is with this strength that we could represent peace on the Security Council, a fundamental idea that appears to have been lost in the murky waters of money and politics.

In conclusion, our biggest competition for election to the Security Council is Turkey, a nation that can out-weapon, out-size and out-money us. We may not be fearsome or huge or rich, but rather than fighting because it gets us more money or more political capital, we fight for things we believe in.

We fight for an objective jury; we fight for the teacher to pick the grade. We fight for a just system in which humankind is the primary consideration in decision-making. I’ve come to realise that maybe I’m not always right, as it is impossible to be objective when you have such an obvious bias.

But there is one thing I know I am right about: that New Zealand would be a great member of the United Nations Security Council in 2015.