Related Correspondence NZ

From Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, NZ, 19th February 2001

To:- Kate Dewes and Robert Green

The Peace Foundation Disarmament and Security Centre

PO Box 8390


19 Feb 2001

From:- Office of Hon Matt Robson

Minister of Corrections

Minister for Courts

Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control

Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Minister for Land Information Dear Kate and Rob,

Helen Clark’s office has passed me your letter of 23 January for a reply.

I agree with you that the comments about New Zealand made by the British Crown’s QC in the Scottish court case (“the Lord Advocate’s reference”reviewing the acquittal of the Trident Ploughshares protesters) are ill-judged.

It seems, from the excerpts you sent, that the statement was essentially hypothetical. It also seems to have been made off the cuff without any policy content. Since the UK Government knows very well New Zealand’s position on nuclear weapons use, and our longstanding rejection of the nuclear umbrella, I find it hard to see that it would have been a deliberately selected scenario.

There is no procedural means to rectify this kind of statement once it has been made. The general principle of the separation of the judicial and political spheres also raises the question whether it is appropriate to ask the UK Government to involve itself in the details of the arguments presented by a barrister in a Scottish Court.

But I do intend to take an appropriate opportunity to register with the UK High Commissioner here my view that it is unfortunate that New Zealand would get dragged into a barrister’s best (and pretty desperate) efforts to justify British nuclear weapons.

More generally, though, I think these kinds of cases highlight just how hard it is for the nuclear weapon States to continue to justify their arsenals, especially in the face of the ICJ Advisory Opinion. It falls on all of us to keep the pressure on them to make sure they deliver tangible results to show they are serious about their unequivocal undertaking to eliminate nuclear weapons. Keep up the good work!

Kind regards,

Hon Matt Robson

Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control

Parliament Buildings, Wellington, New Zealand. Telephone:(04) 470 6561,

Facsimile: (04)495 8462