Daily Archives: June 30, 2015

East Asia and the Pacific: New Zealand-U.S. Partnership Forum

As prepared for delivery

Thank you, Stu, for your kind introduction.

And thank you to the New Zealand-U.S. Council for hosting us and the U.S.-New Zealand Council for supporting the relationship. Both Councils, along with this Partnership Forum, have a great record of advancing our relations. It is particularly important that you bring together government, business, military, and community leaders.

It’s a pleasure to be back in Auckland. And it’s great to have friends with which we have so much in common, even as we celebrate some differences. For instance, we both play “football,” though we have not reconciled different understandings of whether that word means American football or rugby.

Speaking of rugby, I was reliably informed that, despite the fact that the All Blacks trounced the best American rugby team 74 – 6 afew months ago, the United States in fact remains the reigning Olympic rugby champion. We won the last two times that rugby was played at the Olympics. Now admittedly, that was in 1920 and 1924. But bragging rights don’t have an expiration date! Let’s see what happens when rugby comes back to the Olympics next year in Rio.

In all seriousness, our two nations share a long, rich history of cooperation – standing shoulder to shoulder. And today’s data reflect our reciprocal stake in each other’s success. Our bilateral relationship reflects this, with growing ties between our peoples – tourists, students, and more. Our economic ties are similarly growing: we had over $8 billion in two-way goods trade last year, up from less than $5 billion in 2009, and the U.S. holds over 7.5 billion New Zealand dollars in investment stock. We literally have a big stake in your success.

As a participant in U.S.-New Zealand leaders’ meetings and high-level dialogues, I can attest to the bond of trust that extends throughout our diplomatic, intelligence and military relationships.

Our partnership spans the globe, from the frozen terrain of Ross Island, to the desert sands of Iraq. It pursues the vision of a world without nuclear weapons, which New Zealand has done so much to advance. Our partnership embraces cultural and ethnic diversity, valuing the contributions of our first peoples and those who have come to our lands over the centuries to build new lives. And our partnership promotes adherence to the rule of law and universal values and rights.

So let me first say a few words about what we’re doing across the Asia-Pacific region, and then across the globe.

The U.S. has stepped up our engagement in the Asia-Pacific over the last six-and-a-half years under President Obama’s rebalance. In partnership with like-minded countries like yours, we’ve helped to maintain an open, prosperous region. Strong alliances and security relationships have played a critical role. So have increasingly important regional institutions like the East Asia Summit, APEC, the Pacific Islands Forum’s Post-Forum Dialogue and other groupings.

And we work closely together on issues important to your neighbors in the Western Pacific. Early this morning I arrived from meetings in Suva. We’re supporting Fiji’s democratic reemergence and the Pacific Partnership exercises; preparing for and delivering humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; helping to address the challenges from global warming faced by vulnerable coastal communities; supporting the Pacific Islands Forum as the premier multilateral organization in the region, and much more. This is an exceptionally important region for us both.

In APEC, New Zealand and the United States are working together to reduce tariffs on many environmental goods, which in turn will help reduce the costs of solar panels, gas and wind turbines, and pollution control equipment – a benefit that will be felt for generations to come.

As much as we’ve already done to advance our shared prosperity, we’re not slowing down.

Together, we’re poised to take another leap forward, with a hugely important new agreement. This agreement sets an example for the world of what high standards in the 21st century economy will look like – for environmental protection, for labor rights, for Internet freedom, and for free trade. We’ll do that, of course, by completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We got a big boost from passage of trade promotion legislation in Washington last week, and President Obama has now signed the Trade Act legislation. As the President said, this legislation will help turn global trade into a “race to the top.”

We’re ready to complete this deal, which will benefit New Zealanders as well as Americans. As Minister Groser said this morning, the TPP exemplifies the effective partnership between the United States and New Zealand.

As the New Zealanders in the audience already know, five of New Zealand’s top eight trading partners, accounting for 45 percent of your total trade, are in TPP. You export agriculture and food products to us, and you’ll gain enhanced access to America’s services market. But the benefits will be especially important in the five TPP economies with which you do not already have a free trade agreement.

We work together throughout the region – both to build a brighter future, and to resolutely manage the challenges of the present. Nowhere is this clearer than in the relationships both our nations have with the People’s Republic of China.

New Zealand and the U.S. have been leaders in engaging with China – we supported China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, and New Zealand was the first Western country to sign a free trade agreement with China. You showed support for economic diversity and democracy by signing an FTA with Taiwan as well.

China’s rise is creating opportunities as well as strains on the regional and international order. For better or worse, few if any major global issues can be fully addressed without some degree of U.S.-Chinese cooperation.

So America’s engagement with China focuses in the first instance on areas where our interests overlap — areas for cooperation, such as climate change, where Presidents Obama and Xi are determined to lead in global emissions reduction efforts. I spent much of last week in Washington with Secretary Kerry at the high-level Strategic and Economic Dialogue with senior Chinese counterparts.

One new area of focus was development cooperation, where we are increasingly coordinating on tough issues – like how to get into hot zones and fight pandemic disease on the ground, as we did with Ebola; and how to build peace, reconciliation, and economic opportunity – part of rebuilding the most war-torn places on Earth, as we’re doing in Afghanistan.

But a second, equally important area of focus is on those places where we fundamentally disagree, or where the behavior of the other party compromises universal rights, international law, or regional peace and stability.

So for that reason, during our recent U.S.-China dialogue – as we do always – we spoke very clearly about the problem areas – about universal rights like freedom of navigation and overflight, on the right of nations to settle disputes through legal mechanisms based on international law, on acceptable behavior in cyberspace, and on the treatment of journalists, NGOs and individuals who peacefully follow the dictates of their conscience.

We know that problems like the South China Sea, cyber theft, and suppression of civil society can’t be solved easily, but we’re building a relationship with China that avoids strategic rivalry and instead puts a premium on strategic cooperation.

But let’s be clear about what that strategic cooperation is, and what it isn’t.

That is not accommodating “spheres of influence” or so-called “core interests.”

That is not turning a blind eye to violations of international law or universal rights.

But it does require that we discuss these issues openly, honestly, and constructively, so that we can resolve, narrow, or at a minimum manage our differences. This is a long-term undertaking in the best interests of everyone concerned.

It is also an undertaking where countries like New Zealand and the U.S. should stand together—all of us who share these values and principles have a stake in seeing them respected. As a small but influential country, New Zealand plays an important role in championing the principle of equal application of the rules — and I commend you for that.

Of course, our work together extends beyond the Asia-Pacific neighborhood. New Zealand is farther than any other coalition partner from ISIL’s base of operations in the Middle East, but you know as well as any nation that ISIL’s violence and hatred is a threat to us all and must be confronted – on the ground, online, and in vulnerable communities.

The American people and government truly appreciate New Zealand’s actions and its sacrifices.

Together with our other coalition partners, your contribution is helping make a big difference in this multinational effort.

Your troops are helping Iraq defend itself from an egregious enemy who threatens us as well.

Your diplomats are working effectively on the United Nations Security Council. New Zealand’s successful campaign to gain a seat speaks volumes to your country’s determination to be heard, and to contribute to the peace and security of all.

Tomorrow, New Zealand takes up the Security Council presidency, and we’ve appreciated the agenda that New Zealand is pursuing.

New Zealand assumes the chair at a critical time. We’re working on urgent challenges – from fighting in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine, to the crisis in Burundi. We’re seeking to finalize a comprehensive deal with Iran to prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

We’ll mark one year since the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, and 20 years since the Srebrenica genocide. In both cases, we continue to seek justice for the victims, and we’re confident that under New Zealand’s leadership, the Security Council will handle these solemn milestones in the most appropriate manner.

One more issue we’re confronting together, in the U.N. and elsewhere, is protecting security and freedom in cyberspace.

Cybersecurity is different from the traditional issues of armed conflict that the Security Council is best known for handling, but it is no less urgent – and its potential impact on our way of life is no less profound.

Our two countries are working more closely than ever on cyber issues – both inside government and out, because open dialogue is key.

Ambassador Gilbert recently hosted an event for dozens of business leaders that featured top cyber officials. I couldn’t agree more with the participant in that meeting who said, “it is time to move cybersecurity out of the server room and into the board room.”

Free and open societies like ours have benefitted the most from the Internet. Scientists exchanging ideas; students learning about the world; business reaching new consumers and creating more jobs… even single people finding love. It all happens online now.

But because the Internet benefits open societies the most, we also have the most to lose. When our innovations, our intellectual property, our proprietary information, and our personal data are stolen, our economies are at risk. When terrorists use the Internet to incite violence, our communities are at risk. And when a state launches cyber-attacks to suppress free speech, as North Korea did to Sony Pictures, the fundamentals of our societies come under threat.

New Zealand and the United States have been friends through thick and thin. As Pacific partners, we’re part of a region with limitless potential.

For historic, strategic, economic, cultural, and a host of other reasons, we stand together.

When universal values of human rights and democracy are threatened. When the principle of equal treatment among nations is put to the test; people across Asia look to democracies like ours – for inspiration, for action, for leadership and support.

In New Zealand and the United States, they will find it.

Thank you.

Turkish forces to enter Syria to create buffer zone along border

SyriaTurkish forces to enter Syria to create buffer zone along border

Published 30 June 2015

Turkey, for the first time since the war in Syria began four years ago, is preparing to send troops into Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has authorized a change in the rules of engagement which were agreed to by the Turkish parliament, and the changes would allow the Turkish army to strike ISIS and Assad regime targets. The goal of the new policy is not new: to create a buffer zone inside Syria for Syrian refugees fleeing the regime’s bombing, but Erdogan has also suggested that the main target of the intervention, if it takes place, will be to prevent the Syrian Kurds from creating a Kurdish state in the Kurdish regions of Syria.

Turkey, for the first time since the war in Syria began four years ago, is preparing to send troops into Syria. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has authorized a change in the rules of engagement which were agreed to by the Turkish parliament, and the changes would allow the Turkish army to strike ISIS and Assad regime targets.

The goal of the new policy is not new: to create a buffer zone inside Syria for Syrian refugees fleeing the regime’s bombing, but Erdogan has also suggested that the main target of the intervention, if it takes place, will be to prevent the Syrian Kurds from creating a Kurdish state in the Kurdish regions of Syria.

The Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG (the People’s Protection Units), has established dominance in a border strip across the north of Syria in recent months. The YPG is the armed wing of the PYD (the Democratic Union Party), which is an offshoot of the PKK, a pro-independence Turkish Kurdish faction which, between 1982 and 2012, killed 42,000 Turks, most of them civilians, in a campaign aiming to gain independence for the Kurds in eastern Turkey (see “Turkish jets bomb Kurdish positions,” HSNW, 15 October 2014).

“We will never allow the establishment of a state in Syria’s north and our south,” Erdogan said in a weekend speech. “We will continue our fight in this regard no matter what it costs.”

Turkey has been pushing since 2011 for the creation of a buffer zone — protected by international forces on the ground and by a no-fly zone in the air — in north Syria to allow shelter for Sunni refugees who were fleeing the indiscriminate attacks by the Assad forces on Sunni communities. In the absence of such a buffer zone, the refugees fled into Turkey, which is now home to two million Syria refugees.

Until this weekend, however, Turkey had refused to create such a buffer zone on its own. Two developments have combined to change Turkey’s mind.

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South Sudan: UN alleges &#39widespread&#39 human rights abuses amid uptick in fighting

30 June 2015 – The South Sudanese armed forces may have committed widespread human rights abuses, including the alleged raping and immolation of women and girls, during the recent upsurge in fighting across the African State, according to a new report released by the United Nations mission in the country (UNMISS).

The report &#8211 released today by UNMISS &#8211 suggests that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and associated armed groups carried out a campaign of violence against the population of South Sudan’s Unity state, reportedly killing civilians, looting and destroying villages and displacing over 100,000 people.

According to the testimony of 115 victims and eyewitnesses from the Unity state counties of Rubkona, Guit, Koch, Leer and Mayom, SPLA fighters also abducted and sexually abused numerous women and girls, some of whom were reportedly burnt alive in their dwellings.

“This recent upsurge [in fighting] has not only been marked by allegations of killing, rape, abduction, looting, arson and displacement, but by a new brutality and intensity,” says the UNMISS report. “The scope and level of cruelty that has characterized the reports suggests a depth of antipathy that exceeds political differences.”

&#8220Revealing the truth of what happened offers the best hope for ensuring accountability for such terrible violence and ending the cycle of impunity that allows these abuses to continue,&#8221 the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ellen Margrethe Løj, who also heads the UN Mission, said in a press release as she urged South Sudanese authorities to allow UN human rights investigators to access the sites of the alleged atrocities.

&#8220We call on the SPLA to fulfil this commitment and allow our human rights officers unfettered access to the sites of these reported violations.&#8221

UNMISS has confirmed that the Mission’s human rights officers have been routinely denied access to locations of interest by the SPLA and have also encountered logistical obstacles. The South Sudanese authorities, on the other hand, have dismissed any allegations of wrongdoing and have reportedly welcomed the investigations.

South Sudan’s ongoing conflict began in December 2013 and has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country. Some 120,000 people are sheltered in UN compounds there while United Nations estimates that the number of people in need for 2015 will include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced persons and a projected 293,000 refugees.

Nippon Foundation Nereus Program Reveals Critical State of World’s Oceans in 2050

TOKYO, June 30, 2015 / PRNewswire — A press conference was held on June 30, 2015, to announce the release of a new report about the sustainability of global marine fisheries in the 21st century titled “Predicting Future Oceans.”

The report is a product of the Nippon Foundation – UBC Nereus Program. It notes that continued CO2 emissions are leading to changes in ocean temperature, acidity and oxygen levels that have been unprecedented over the last several thousand years. These changes in ocean conditions will affect biological productivity in the ocean, impacting organisms ranging from plankton to fishes.

Along with overfishing and habitat destruction, climate change is anticipated to lead to a decline in fisheries in many regions and alterations of marine biodiversity and food web structure. While aquaculture will play a role in providing a source of marine protein for a growing global population, the long-term ecological and social sustainability of aquaculture is unclear.  An improved framework for global ocean governance will be needed to ensure sustainable fisheries in the future.

At the press conference, Associate Professor William Cheung from UBC who is also one of the Co-Directors of the Nereus Program said that “the types of fish we will have on our dinner table will be very different in a few decades from now.” He further said that “fisheries will be catching more warm-water species and smaller fish, thus fish supply through both domestic and overseas fisheries as well as imported fish will be affected.”

The Nereus Program is an interdisciplinary ocean research initiative in which the Nippon Foundation is collaborating with seven institutes around the world, including the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Princeton University.  As the world’s only comprehensive research program focusing on the future of the oceans, approximately 30 fellows and 14 researchers are carrying out interdisciplinary research, covering a wide range of topics from climate to international law. Some of the results have already been published in numerous academic journals, including “Science.”

For more information, including the full report visit:

Source: Nippon Foundation

Ms.Yukiko Kuwata, Mr.Takashi Arikawa
Ocean & Maritime Affairs Department
The Nippon Foundation
Tel: +81-3-6229-5152
e-mail: pr@ps.nippon-foundation.or.jp