National Identity and New Zealand’s Actions on the United Nations Security Council: 1993-94 and 2015-16
To win its seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in both 1993-94 and 2015-16, New Zealand campaigned using the same prime pillar; its ability to act independently on the world’s prime authority for maintenance of international peace and security. With the substantial change in New Zealand’s international relationships between the two UNSC tenures, most particularly with the United States of America and China, many commentators have questioned whether New Zealand still acts independently in international affairs. Employing analytic eclecticism, this thesis applied a combined analytical framework to assess the drive behind New Zealand’s actions during both its 1993-94 and 2015-16 UNSC tenures, allowing both traditional international relations theories of neo-realism and neo-liberalism and the constructivist lens of national identity to be combined for greater explanatory power for the state’s actions in the contemporary era of complex international interdependencies. This research determined that most of New Zealand’s actions aligned with pursuit of its interests, as a small state, as ensured through multilateralism under the lens of institutional neo-liberalism. However, a number of actions taken, and strong positions held, by New Zealand on the UNSC in both periods did not align with the state’s pursuit of material interests under traditional international relations theories. By first establishing the popularly internalised national identity characteristics (or content) during each UNSC tenure period, defined as residing in public opinion, this thesis argues that a ‘win-set’ of national identity content relative prioritisation during each period enabled, and arguably drove, New Zealand’s political elite to take actions or hold positions not aligned with those of powerful states on which the small country’s material interests depended. It is argued that New Zealand’s actions on the UNSC in 2015-16 reinforced the social construction of New Zealand’s internationally regarded national identity content as an independent advocate for the global good, which was strongly established during its 1993-94 tenure.