Author: Geoffrey Miller

Democracy Project logo

Is it time for Jacinda Ardern to head to the Middle East?

In her victorious election campaign in 2017, Jacinda Ardern famously called climate change ‘my generation’s nuclear-free moment’. But perhaps surprisingly, Ardern has not attended a UN climate change conference since she became New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 2017. Had New Zealand’s Covid-19 situation allowed for it, Ardern would have almost certainly joined the many other world leaders who went to COP26 in Glasgow last year. At the time, New Zealand still had strict border restrictions in place. These included long waiting lists for hotel quarantine spaces upon return – which made overseas travel by Ardern politically unpalatable. Ardern dispatched her...

Democracy Project logo

New Zealand’s relationship with India is in trouble

New Zealand’s relationship with India is not in good health. That’s the underlying message from a rare visit to New Zealand by India’s external affairs minister, Dr. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. Jaishankar met with his New Zealand counterpart, Nanaia Mahuta, last Thursday – but only for an hour. At a press conference with Mahuta in Auckland, Jaishankar was publicly critical of New Zealand’s unwillingness to renew visas for Indian students who had left New Zealand during the Covid-19 pandemic and called for ‘fairer and more sympathetic treatment’. Mahuta’s response to the criticism was to pass the buck to Michael Wood, New Zealand’s...

Democracy Project logo

Jacinda Ardern’s tilt towards the West continues at the UN

Jacinda Ardern intends to continue a more pro-Western foreign policy strategy, if her agenda from a hectic week of diplomacy is anything to go by. New Zealand’s Prime Minister met with four G7 leaders – Liz Truss, Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron – in various settings while she was at the Queen’s funeral in London and at the United Nations in New York. Prime Minister @JacindaArdern and I have touched base on the phone, over video calls, at summits – and now on planes. As we traveled together from London, we reflected on Her Majesty The Queen’s devotion...

Democracy Project logo

Was New Zealand’s deployment to Iraq worth it?

After more than seven years, the end is finally in sight for New Zealand’s anti-Isis deployment in Iraq. The Government recently announced that the remaining two personnel deployed to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the Global Coalition to Defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria will be withdrawn by the end of June 2023. The mission has lasted far longer than the original two years that were planned. John Key, New Zealand’s then National Party Prime Minister, initiated New Zealand’s contribution towards the multilateral coalition when he sent 143 soldiers to Iraq in February 2015. Upon committing the...

Foreign fighters in Ukraine المقاتلون الأجانب في أوكرانيا

قُتل الجندي النيوزيلندي “دومينيك أبيلن” الاسبوع الماضي في أوكرانيا وهو كان يقاتل في البلد على الجانب الأوكراني. بنسبة لي كان موته خسارة مأساوية وفقد “أبيلن” حياته يناضل من أجل قضية يؤمن بها. والحالة تسلط ايضا الضوء على دور المقاتلين الأجانب في أوكرانية. مثل كثير من الدول الغربية تساعد نيوزيلندا أوكرانيا في الحرب ضد روسيا، ولكن المساعدة لا تشمل الجنود داخل أوكرانيا. وفي حقيقة هذا خط احمر في الصراع. لم يقاتل “أبيلن” من أجل المال ولكن تعتبر روسيا كل المقاتلين الأجانب مرتزقة. مشاركة الجنود الأجانب في الحرب يهدد بمزيد من التصعيد في الحرب. تقول العسكرية النيوزيلاندية إن لم تعرف أن “أبيلن”...

Democracy Project logo

Aukus door held ajar for New Zealand

Last week’s visit to New Zealand by US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman was another in a series of high-level calls on the country by top US military and political figures this year. Sherman’s trip to Wellington came soon after a stop in New Zealand’s capital by Admiral John Aquilino, the head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, and only two months after a visit by Mark Lambert, a US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State with responsibility for East Asia and the Pacific. A tangible outcome of Sherman’s trip was the signing of a new ‘Framework Agreement’ to underpin co-operation...

Democracy Project logo

Jacinda Ardern strikes a softer tone on China

Today’s speech by Jacinda Ardern to the China Business Summit in Auckland was full of soothing words for Beijing. The headline-grabber was Ardern’s comment that ‘a few plans are afoot’ for New Zealand ministers to return to China – and that the Prime Minister herself hopes to return to the country ‘to renew and refresh in-person connections’. This might come sooner than we think. While China’s current elimination approach to Covid-19 heavily restricts in-person travel, New Zealand’s own experience shows how quickly these settings can change. After abandoning its own zero-covid policy, New Zealand this week fully re-opens to all...

Democracy Project logo

Joe Biden’s controversial trip to Saudi Arabia could help New Zealand reset its own relationship with the Middle East

Joe Biden’s controversial fist-bump with Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Saudi crown prince, may help New Zealand to forge its own new direction in the Middle East. The US president’s trip to Israel and Saudi Arabia showed that despite real concerns over human rights, the Middle East’s strategic importance in the current global geopolitical jigsaw puzzle cannot be ignored. Biden’s meeting with MBS in the Saudi port city of Jeddah – four years after the horrific killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi – was a triumph of realism over idealism. In essence, Biden’s trip was all about convincing Saudi Arabia to...

Democracy Project logo

Is Jacinda Ardern rethinking her China strategy?

Is New Zealand suddenly softening its more pro-Western foreign policy – and its tougher line on China? After months of inching towards the West, Jacinda Ardern’s set-piece speeches on her Europe trip last week seem to have been crafted to try and keep observers guessing. At the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Madrid, the New Zealand Prime Minister gave a speech that – in tone at least – seemed designed to evoke memories of the direction that her Labour predecessor David Lange had taken in the 1980s. Lange built his foreign policy on the trinity of Labour’s nuclear-free...

Democracy Project logo

Can Jacinda Ardern’s starpower save New Zealand’s free trade deal with the EU?

Jacinda Ardern will need to deploy every aspect of her starpower if she is to have any hope of rescuing New Zealand’s faltering free trade negotiations with the European Union (EU). The Prime Minister has branded each of her four foreign trips so far this year as ‘trade missions’ – and the labelling will certainly ring true on her visit to Brussels this week. On Thursday, Ardern will hold direct talks with Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission. The former German defence minister has become a familiar face on New Zealand television screens over the past... - Understand the world through New Zealand