Monthly Archives: June 2015

Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints ...

SUMMARY

Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both BCPs. The overall cross-border traffic increased at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs).

DETAIL

OM’s staff composition

The OM is currently operating with 19 staff members, consisting of 18 permanent international observers (incl. the Chief Observer) and one first-responder[1], who is performing the duties of administrative assistant. Four staff members are currently on leave.

Cross-border movements common to both BCPs

The profile of the people crossing the border remains unchanged and can be categorised as follows:

  1. Families on foot, by car or by bus, with a lot of luggage, often accompanied by elderly people;
  2. Adults (usually of younger age) with no luggage or empty cars;
  3. People wearing military-style clothes with or without backpacks, crossing the border on foot or in vehicles.

As compared to last week, the average number of entries/exits increased overall from  9,795 to 10,153 per day for both BCPs; the average net flow went from plus 259 to minus 17 (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation). The Donetsk BCP continued to experience more traffic than the Gukovo BCP. The cross-border movements registered at both BCPs accounted for just under 34 percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The majority of the vehicles crossing the border have number plates issued in the Luhansk region. The number of articulated trucks and long-distance coaches commuting between Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation continues to be considerable.

Common observations at the BCPs

The situation at both BCPs remained calm. The OM continued to observe the Russian Federation Border Guard and Customs Services perform checks and controls.

Regular bus connections continued to operate between the Luhansk region and the Russian Federation. In addition to regular bus connections, the Observer Teams (OTs) continued to observe bus connections on irregular routes. Often those buses do not display their route or just have a sign on the windshield stating “Irregular”.

During the reporting period, the number of men and women in military-style dress, crossing the border in both directions, increased from 241 to 292 at both BCPs. Approximately eighty-five per cent of this category’s crossings occurred at the Donetsk BCP. These people continued to cross the border individually or in groups and on foot or using different transportation means (passenger cars, minivans, busses, bikes and motorbikes). Some of the people in this category are using busses to cross the border, making it more difficult for the OTs to observe their movement. The OTs also continued to observe physically fit young and middle-aged men dressed in civilian clothing. Often times, these men have short haircuts, carry camouflage-coloured backpacks and travel through the BCPs individually or in groups.

Furthermore, the OTs continued to observe vehicles (passenger cars, minivans, cargo trucks, buses) registered in Ukraine, with “Donetsk People’s Republic / Lugansk People’s Republic” (“DPR/LPR”) stickers on their license plates replacing the Ukrainian flag.

During the reporting week, the OTs continued to observe a high number of trucks. Cargo and dumper trucks transporting coal from Luhansk region to the Russian Federation crossed the border in both directions through the Gukovo BCP. While the majority of the trucks are registered in Luhansk region, the OTs also observed that trucks registered in the Russian Federation and Republic of Belarus crossed the border. The OTs have also noted that during the reporting week the number of trucks registered in Republic of Belarus crossing the border has decreased from 69 to 48. In addition, the OTs also observed 37 tanker trucks; these trucks for the most part had the word “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tankers in Russian.

Throughout the week, the OTs observed a noticeable increase in aircraft activity in the vicinity of the BCPs.

The OTs also observed four ambulances provide assistance to civilians at the two BCPs.

Military movement

At both BCPs the OM did not observe military movement, apart from usual vehicle movements of the Russian Federation Border Guard Service.

Observation at the Gukovo BCP

The traffic flow at the Gukovo BCP has increased compared to last week. A daily average of 2836 entries and exits was recorded, which accounted for just over nine per cent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow went from plus 90 to plus 57 (i.e. more entries to the Russian Federation) on average per day.

During the reporting period, the OM observed a total of 34 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Gukovo BCP, 19 of whom left for Ukraine while 15 entered the Russian Federation.

As in previous weeks, the OM observed dumper trucks transporting coal from the Luhansk region to the Russian Federation. The OT also observed tanker trucks with the word “Propane” or “Flammable” and orange articulated fuel trucks crossing the border in both directions.

The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains running on the train tracks located approximately 150 meters south-west of the BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on fourteen occasions; the OTs estimated that seven trains went to Ukraine and seven trains went to the Russian Federation. Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees in between the train tracks and the BCP.

On two occasions (both on 24 June) OTs observed a helicopter flying along the border. According to the OTs, as far as observed without technical means, the aircrafts did not violate the Ukrainian airspace.

The OTs continue to observe on occasion that long-distance buses, arriving to the BCP from Russian Federation, have to wait for several hours before being allowed to enter the BCP

On the 27 June, at 11:29 hrs, the OT heard 28 single shots from a light calibre weapon coming from the south-east. The distance was estimated to be approximately one kilometre from the BCP.

On the 28 June, between 21:04 and 21:11 hrs, the OT heard 23 single shots coming from a south-eastern direction. The sound of the shots was clear and the estimated distance was one to two kilometres away.

Observation at the Donetsk BCP

During the reporting period, the activity at the Donetsk BCP has increased compared to last week. The daily average of 7318 entries and exits accounted for just over twenty four percent of all entries/exits in the Rostov region. The net flow changed from plus 169 to minus 74 on average per day (i.e. more exits from the Russian Federation). During the reporting week, the OT observed 258 persons in military-style clothing crossing the border at the Donetsk BCP individually or in groups; 141 persons in military-style clothing entered the Russian Federation while 117 of them left for Ukraine.

During the reporting week, the OTs observed three ambulances at the Donetsk BCP. On all three occasions, the ambulances arrived from Ukraine carrying elderly people. All ambulances returned to Ukraine.

In addition, during the reporting week the OTs observed the movement of buses with children crossing the border in both directions.

As previously mentioned, the OTs observed an increase in aircraft activity in the vicinity of the BCP. On 25 and 26 June, helicopters were observed flying on the Russian Federation side and the OTs also picked up the sound propeller planes. The OTs did not have a visual contact of the mentioned propeller planes.

CONVOY

On 25 June 2015 at 06:05hrs (Moscow time), a Russian convoy arrived at the Donetsk BCP (see the OM Spot Report of 18 June). A total of 47 vehicles (40 cargo trucks and 7 support vehicles) were visually checked from the outside by the Russian Federation Border Guard and Customs Services; one Russian service dog was used to check most of the cargo trucks. Ukrainian officials were present during the checks both on its outward and inward journeys. All the vehicles had crossed back into the Russian Federation by 16:31 hrs on the same day.

 

[1] First-responders are OSCE staff or mission members deployed to another mission for a short period of time.

Media Advisory – Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, June 30, 2015 –Members of the media are invited to attend an important infrastructure funding announcement. Participating government representatives include Gerald Keddy, Member of Parliament for South Shore–St. Margaret’s, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec; Suzanne Lohnes-Croft, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Lunenburg; and Rachel Bailey, Mayor of Lunenburg.

Date:
July 2, 2015

Time:
11:15 a.m. ADT

Location:
Lunenburg Academy,
97 – 101 Kaulbach Street,
Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

For more information, please contact:

Vincent Rabault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and
Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
613-943-1838

Brian Taylor
Media Relations Advisor
Province of Nova Scotia
902-424-1750
Brian.Taylor@novacotia.ca

Infrastructure Canada
613-960-9251
Toll-Free: 1-877-250-7154
Email: media@infc.gc.ca
Twitter: @INFC_eng
Website: Infrastructure Canada

Media Advisory – Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, June 30, 2015 –Members of the media are invited to attend an important infrastructure funding announcement. Participating government representatives include Gerald Keddy, Member of Parliament for South Shore–St. Margaret’s, on behalf of the Honourable Denis Lebel, Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec; the Honourable Mark Furey, Minister of Municipal Affairs, Minister of Business, Minister of Service Nova Scotia, and Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Business Incorporated; and David Walker, Mayor of the Town of Bridgewater.

Date:
July 2, 2015

Time:
9:30 a.m. ADT

Location:
Town Hall,
60 Pleasant Street,
Bridgewater, Nova Scotia

For more information, please contact:

Vincent Rabault
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and
Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
613-943-1838

Brian Taylor
Media Relations Advisor
Province of Nova Scotia
902-424-1750
Brian.Taylor@novacotia.ca

Infrastructure Canada
613-960-9251
Toll-Free: 1-877-250-7154
Email: media@infc.gc.ca
Twitter: @INFC_eng
Website: Infrastructure Canada

Living history: staff member of UN anti-Apartheid radio unit retires

Listen /

Derrick S. Mbatha (right), United Nations Radio Producer, interviews Charlize Theron, United Nations Messenger of Peace. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Human rights are for everyone to enjoy, a former anti-Apartheid activist has concluded after 36 years of service at the United Nations.

The UN led a campaign from 1950 onwards to eliminate South Africa’s system of legalized racial discrimination known as Apartheid.

Derrick Mbatha, a former producer at the underground Radio Freedom, the broadcast arm of the now ruling African National Congress (ANC), moved to New York in 1977 at age twenty-four to work for the UN’s Anti-Apartheid Radio Unit.

When South Africa became a democracy in 1994, Derrick joined the English Radio team.

He shares some of his history with his colleague, Jocelyne Sambira.

Duration: 5’00”

Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on ...

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations*. The fighting at and around Donetsk airport continued with increased intensity compared to the previous few days. The SMM conducted crater analysis. The overall situation in Luhansk remained tense.

The fighting at and around Donetsk airport continued with increased intensity compared to the previous few days. Between 08:42 and 12:21hrs, at the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) observation point at Donetsk central railway station (“Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled, 8km north-west of Donetsk city centre), the SMM heard and saw 69 explosions (mortar and artillery fire, mainly incoming), 34 bursts, and two shots from small arms and light weapons at distances between 5-10km west, northwest, northeast, south and southwest of the SMM location.[1] Between 12:45 and 16:53hrs, the SMM heard 96 incoming and outgoing explosions from mortar, anti-grenade launcher, bursts of heavy machine gun and small arms fire, and saw 21 airbursts of 82mm mortars at a distance between 2.5-7km of the SMM position in directions west, north-west, north-north-west, north-east, and north. Both representatives of Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces at the JCCC observation post reported that there had been heavy shelling in Horlivka with fire thought to be from 120mm mortar, both outgoing and incoming, in the early hours of 29 June.

At the JCCC headquarters in Soledar (government-controlled, 75km north of Donetsk), the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the Russian Federation Armed Forces representatives at the JCCC presented the SMM with two separate logbooks for both 27 and 28 June. For both days, both logs indicated a majority of ceasefire violations committed by the “DPR” and the “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”).

Following up on information about shelling in Horlivka (“DPR”-controlled, 39 km north-east of Donetsk) on the evening of 27 June, the SMM visited the area and conducted crater analysis at six sites on Shashurina Street. At four of these sites, the SMM was not able to determine the exact type and calibre of the projectile, since either the shrapnel could not be found or had been removed. The SMM, however, was able to assess that three of these impacts must have been caused by a 120mm weapon, while the fourth by a weapon of at least 122mm calibre. On the same street, a group of around 30 residents (mostly middle-aged and elderly women), visibly upset, spoke to the SMM in the presence of local media. The residents insisted that the SMM observe also damage inside the flats, accusing the SMM of insufficient reporting on the civilian suffering in Horlivka area. A woman (late 50s) told the SMM that her neighbour (female) had been killed on 8 June. The SMM visited the victim’s flat and spoke to another neighbour who said that she had found the victim on her kitchen floor, killed by shrapnel. The SMM observed several other flats on Shashurina Street, in close proximity to the line of contact, most of which were damaged in prior shelling. Three flats had been hit directly and damaged severely. The SMM was unable to determine the direction or the type of weapon. Several interlocutors said the majority of the residents have no other place to go. According to them, there are many children in this area and the local primary school and kindergarten are operating, despite continuous shelling.

In Shakhta 6/7 (“DPR”-controlled, 43km north-north-east of Donetsk), on 27 June, the SMM spoke to a man (aged 59) who said his brother had been killed on 27 June as a result of a direct hit on his garage. The SMM spoke with a number of eye-witnesses and photo documented the impact site. The garage was completely destroyed and burnt out.

The situation in Luhansk remained tense. The SMM heard 30 explosions in Bobrove (government-controlled, 56km north-west of Luhansk) caused by rounds of 82 or 120mm calibre weapons. Near Mykolaivka (government-controlled, 76km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard artillery fire. The JCCC posts at Lysychansk (government-controlled, 90km west of Luhansk) and Novoaidar (government-controlled, 57km north of Luhansk) jointly informed the SMM of a total of 17 ceasefire violations – all attributed to the “LPR” – including the use of small arms, automatic grenade launchers, heavy machine-guns, mortars (82mm), anti-aircraft machine-gun and grenade launcher.

On 28 June, in government-controlled Bobrove (56km west-north-west of Luhansk), a woman (40 years old) told the SMM that, in the early hours of 28 June, she had heard continuous shelling from approximately 2km to the south and south-east, followed four to five seconds later by an impact at a location around 30m from her house. The SMM visited the site of an impact, where a round crater was observed in the sand (diameter 3m, depth 2m, approximately); however, the SMM could not ascertain the type of weapon since the remnants appeared to have been removed.

On 29 June in government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk) the SMM was informed by two women (aged 30) that, on the night of 28 to 29 June, there was an exchange of fire from rocket-propelled grenades. They said three pieces of grenades were found in a house next to the bus station. The SMM observed remnants of a grenade in front of a nearby shop.

On 29 June, three staff (women, middle-aged) of the village council’s office in Buhaivka (“LPR”-controlled, 38km south-west of Luhansk) told the SMM that an international aid organisation visits the village once every two to three months and raises mine awareness among children. According to them, so far none of the children had been injured by a mine or a piece of unexploded ordnance (UXO). The SMM also spoke to three women (around 60), who stated that pensions are paid in Russian roubles and some products are three times more expensive than in government-controlled areas.

The SMM revisited three “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, the locations of which complied with the respective withdrawal lines. At two of them, all weapons previously recorded were in situ. At a third site, the SMM was asked to wait and later was allowed in but was not permitted to verify the serial numbers*, but only to visually inspect the weapons.

Despite claims by all sides that the withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed the following weapons’ movements/presence in areas that are non-compliant with the respective withdrawal lines: in government-controlled areas, the SMM observed three main battle tanks (MBTs) T-64, dug into the ground, in the immediate vicinity of a settlement.

On 27 June (on the occasion of the Constitution Day), on the Liberty Square in the centre of Kharkiv city, the SMM monitored a peaceful pro-unity rally, which gathered around 250 participants (mixed gender and age). Participants displayed two big flags – of Ukraine and of the EU – as well as numerous smaller flags of Ukraine and the Solidarity political party. The rally was organized by the Solidarity party. Approximately 120 police officers were present.

On 29 June, the SMM met the representatives of the regional branch of the non-governmental organization UKROP in Ivano-Frankivsk, who stated that last week they facilitated the transportation of the remains of fallen soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) by a non-governmental organization (unspecified) based in Dnepropetrovsk, which has more specialized vehicles at its disposal.

The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Kherson, Chernivtsi, Lviv and Kyiv.

* Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:

The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM by both the “DPR” and “LPR”. The SMM UAVs cannot operate in the Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.

Delay:

– At a checkpoint in Olhynka (government-controlled, 42km south-west of Donetsk), the SMM was asked to present national passports. The showed the SMM IDs and after ten minutes was allowed to proceed.

– Upon arrival at a “DPR” heavy weapons holding area, an armed “DPR” member said that in order to allow SMM inside to inspect weapons he had to call his commander for permission. After approximately 30 minutes, the SMM was allowed inside; however, the SMM was not permitted to verify the serial numbers of the weapons therein but only to check the weapons visually.

 

* Please see the section at the end of this report entitled “Restrictions on SMM access and freedom of movement” for further information.

[1]  For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.          

Better science needed to guide policy decisions for sustainable ...

30 June 2015 – A new United Nations flagship report launched today finds that solutions to the challenges to people and planet must build on clear scientific findings in order to be sustainable.

“The successful implementation of the new sustainable development agenda requires a strong scientific foundation that is understood by policymakers,” said Wu Hongbo, UN Under-Secretary-General of Economic and Social Affairs, referring to the proposed 17 sustainable development goals, scheduled for adoption in September in New York.

The 2015 Global Sustainable Development Report, an intergovernmental-mandated report on the science-policy interface for sustainable development, was presented to UN Member States at the High Level Political Forum, the new body that is expected to be tasked with the monitoring the implementation of the new sustainable development agenda.

“This report shows us how we must sharpen our collective scientific understanding and presentation so that we can make informed decisions that improve people’s lives,” stressed Mr. Hongbo.

It provides a survey of scientific findings that includes oceans and livelihoods, natural disasters, industrialization, sustainable consumption and production, and use of “big data” in Africa.

On the state of the science on oceans, seas and marine resources, for example, the report finds that while 3 billion people depend on these resources for their livelihoods, they are increasingly threatened, degraded or destroyed by human activities.

Although there are estimates that the global oceans-based economy is estimated at between 3 and 6 trillion dollars a year, experts say there is a real lack of scientific information on how improvements in human well-being can reduce further ocean degradation.

They suggest that further research needs to be undertaken on the effects of changes in lifestyle, such as reductions in consumptions, on the sustainability of marine resource use.

Effective disaster risk reduction measures will need to play a key role for disaster-prone countries in implementation of the post-2015 development agenda in order to prevent hard won development gains from being eroded. The problem is all too real, since the year 2000, natural disasters have caused the loss of life of over 1.1 million and affected another 2.7 billion people, warns the report.

Using crowd sourcing techniques within the scientific community, the Report attempted to identify new and emerging issues, based on scientific evidence that policymakers need to be aware of. In the present exercise, energy topped the list, followed by natural resource management, governance and climate change.

New ways to get health and livelihood data supports a range of question types, and enables quick analysis and geographical mapping of the data, as the Drought Early Warning Program in southern Ethiopia proves it, adds the report: women use Android smartphones and tablets to collect data on water, health, food security, and livelihoods indicators every month from their communities using an app that captures audio, photos and GPS data.

Cell phone records have also helped to estimate population flows and design targeted policies against Ebola, notes the report. As the virus spread rapidly via local and regional travel, the data collected allowed modelers to assess the likely travel routes of infected individuals, so as to identify where new outbreaks or increased local transmission might occur.

Despite gains, 2.4 billion people worldwide still lack basic ...

30 June 2015 – United Nations agencies tracking access to water and sanitation targets against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) warned today that the lack of progress on sanitation threatens to undermine the child survival and health benefits from gains in access to safe drinking water.

According to the Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment, released today by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), one in every three, or 2.4 billion people on the planet, are still without sanitation facilities &#8211 including 946 million people who defecate in the open.

&#8220Until everyone has access to adequate sanitation facilities, the quality of water supplies will be undermined and too many people will continue to die from waterborne and water-related diseases,&#8221 Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the WHO Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health said in a joint press release.

Access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene is critical in the prevention and care of 16 of the 17 ‘neglected tropical diseases’ (NTDs), including trachoma, soil-transmitted helminths (intestinal worms) and schistosomiasis. NTDs affect more than 1.5 billion people in 149 countries, causing blindness, disfigurement, permanent disability and death.

And the practice of open defecation is linked to a higher risk of stunting &#8211 or chronic malnutrition &#8211 which affects 161 million children worldwide, leaving them with irreversible physical and cognitive damage, according to WHO.

Plans for the proposed new sustainable development goals (SDGs) to be set by the UN General Assembly in September 2015 include a target to eliminate open defecation by 2030. This would require a doubling of current rates of reduction, especially in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, WHO and UNICEF say.

Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, said what the data really show is the need to focus on inequalities as the only way to achieve sustainable progress.&#8221

In other words, &#8220the global model so far has been that the wealthiest move ahead first, and only when they have access do the poorest start catching up. If we are to reach universal access to sanitation by 2030, we need to ensure the poorest start making progress right away,&#8221 Mr. Wijesekera said.

Access to improved drinking water sources has been a major achievement for countries and the international community.

With some 2.6 billion people having gained access since 1990, 91 per cent of the global population now have improved drinking water &#8211 and the number is still growing. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 427 million people have gained access &#8211 an average of 47,000 people per day every day for 25 years, according the a press release on the report.

On the other hand, the progress on sanitation has been hampered by inadequate investments in behaviour change campaigns, lack of affordable products for the poor and social norms which accept or even encourage open defecation.

Although some 2.1 billion people have gained access to improved sanitation since 1990, the world has missed the MDG target by nearly 700 million people. Today, only 68 per cent of the world’s population uses an improved sanitation facility &#8211 9 percentage points below the MDG target of 77 per cent.

WHO and UNICEF say it is vitally important to learn from the uneven progress of the 1990-2015 period to ensure that the new development agenda closes the inequality gaps and achieves universal access to water and sanitation.

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.