11 Jan 2012

Diplomat warns MFAT job cuts risks Security Council seat

6:41 am on 11 January 2012

A former New Zealand diplomat says proposed job cuts at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs could jeopardise the country's chances of sitting on the United Nations Security Council.

The ministry has confirmed that about 200 jobs are expected to go soon after March - about a fifth of current staff levels.

The Government plans to seek a place on the UN Security Council at elections in 2014.

Terrence O'Brien, a former president of the Security Council, says reducing the country's diplomatic spread will lessen its ability to lobby other countries for support.

"This is a relentless, unending series of approaches to other governments over a period of three years leading up to the election

"If we're reducing diplomatic spread in the world because of these changes, then we're putting at risk our ability to do that."

Mr O'Brien says the changes will also reduce the ministry's professionalism.

He says countries of similar size to New Zealand, such as Norway and Singapore, are enlarging their international efforts.