When New Zealand was lobbying for a seat on the Security Council, one of the platforms was reform at the UN, with a focus on the use of the veto at the security council. However, there was little talk about reform in any other area of the UN.
One place where reform is clearly needed is the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) that was set up to support the Arabs displaced in the 1948 war that Israel won. No such agency was set up to help the Jewish refugees from Arab lands or any other refugee from any other conflict. All other refugees are catered for by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The Israel Institute of New Zealand has previously written about some of the major flaws with UNRWA and the fact that New Zealand donates approximately $1m annually without ever expressing any criticism of the agency. The recent move of the United States to defund UNRWA has put the organisation in the spotlight once more and some European countries have expressed a need for reform within UNRWA – Switzerland’s foreign minister, Ignazio Cassis, said UNRWA is “part of the problem”.
The lack of criticism from New Zealand for an organisation that we support with our tax dollars is concerning. It is also concerning that New Zealand could initially not find any Russian spies to expel over the nerve agent attacks. And that when an Iranian official denied the Holocaust in Auckland, there was no diplomatic outrage or action. No New Zealand politician has condemned terror attacks against Israel despite other liberal democracies being clear that indiscriminate rocket fire into civilian areas is deplorable. And New Zealand has shown disproportionate bias against Israel at the UN, in contrast to traditional allies.
While New Zealand politicians may not demand accountability from Russian operatives, from Iranian officials, from terror groups, from our representatives casting votes at the UN or for the annual expenditure of $1m in aid to UNRWA; we should demand accountability from our elected leaders. After all, most Kiwis support Israel yet this is not reflected in the silence, words, and actions of our political leaders.