Prepared by Cornelia Weiss, August 2012
with funding from the sponsors of the Ian Axford (New Zealand) Fellowships in Public Policy
Cornelia Weiss is a Judge Advocate at the United States Air Force Reserves in Washington, DC.
During Cornelia’s Ian Axford Fellowship exchange to New Zealand she was based at the New Zealand Defence Force, where she researched the impact of military justice, human rights and the rule of law on New Zealand Defence Force operations.
New Zealand’s respect for human rights and the rule of law in military operations is one of its great, unacknowledged strengths. While not flawless and with the complications of contradictions, New Zealand can offer the world the beginnings of a blueprint. While certain of the elements of the blueprint may not be transferable, others are.
Lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law undermine operations. The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) selection process, training, self-leadership, size, types of operations, force composition, and culture as well as New Zealand political leadership and New Zealand culture may contribute to NZDF respect for human rights and the rule of law. Proactive respect for human rights and the rule of law – as demonstrated in the examples of Bosnia, Bougainville, Timor Leste and Afghanistan – enable success.
New Zealand must remain vigilant in guarding against disrespect for human rights and the rule of law including guarding against implementing changes simply as cost-cutting measures. It should proudly acknowledge its commitment to respect for human rights and rule of law such as in its Defence White Paper. And New Zealand should actively promote respect such as through a UNSCR 1325 National Action Plan.
Institutionalising Respect for Human Rights and Rule of Law
New Zealand’s Respect for Human Rights and Rule of Law in Military Operations
Download full report in PDF format: