I’ve been contacted in recent days by a lot of people concerned about the kidnapping of almost 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria by Boko Haram, and the astonishing lack of response from the girls’ government.
I share the sense of outrage. I too have signed the petitions.
Boko Haram is seeking to put a stop to what it deems “westernisation” and has spoken at length about its “right” to take slaves and marry off women and girls. Boko Haram was designated a terrorist organisation by the US in 2013.
Nigerian communities have been outraged by the lack of Government action ahead of Presidential elections there. This is all over the media in Nigeria.
America has now sent resources into Nigeria but considering the nature of Boko Haram, the US’ involvement may only work to inflame tensions and increase the targeting of girls and women.
It would surely have been better for the African Union, the United Nations or even some African commonwealth peers to offer support, as is consistent with their charter.
I also wonder why New Zealand has been so silent, when we have a bid in for a place on the UN Security Council.
Nigeria is a long way away, but in January 2012 when Murray McCully pitched to the African Union Executive Council for its vote, he said:
“…New Zealand intends to engage more closely with Africa, That is a foreign policy priority of the New Zealand Government, and we intend to broaden our engagement out across the continent.”
The Commonwealth Charter also commits us to:
“…absolute condemnation of all acts of terrorism in whatever form or wherever they occur or by whomsoever perpetrated, with the consequent tragic loss of human life and severe damage to political, economic and social stability. We reaffirm our commitment to work together as a diverse community of nations, individually, and collectively under the auspices and authority of the United Nations, to take concerted and resolute action to eradicate terrorism.”
So why the silence? Surely this would have been a great opportunity for New Zealand to use our skills to “broaden engagement” and advocate for an intervention that would help bring the girls home.
If New Zealand is going to be on the Security Council I want to see us advocating for the rights of women and girls, looking for peaceful solutions that challenge global power imbalances, and speaking up for those without a voice.