Small States, the Pacific and Indigenous Peoples at the UN


Peter Fraser, Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs; Chairman of the Delegation from New Zealand, signing the UN Charter at a ceremony held at the Veterans’ War Memorial Building on 26 June 1945.

Small states on the UN

New Zealand with its 4.5 million people, is considered a small state on the UN and there are considerable challenges of small state diplomacy as well as shared opportunities for strategic cooperation.


Only one in seven small states was present at the signing of the United Nations Charter. Today, UN’s membership is dominated by small states, and New Zealand sits right in the middle.

The Pacific

Small states often benefit from regional and geographic groups and the coordination and burden-sharing mechanisms offered by group membership.

The Pacific Small Island Developing States (PIDS) is one of those mechanisms and a distinct group of developing countries in the Pacific facing specific social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities. 


It was established in 2007 and has been a particularly effective negotiator on climate change. 


The Pacific Islands Forum (not to confuse with PIDS) is a political grouping of 16 independent and self-governing states, and includes New Zealand.

Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous, or who we also often refer to as native or first peoples are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world today. The UN recognizes that special measures are required to protect indigenous people’s rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life. 


The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues is an advisory body to the UN on indigenous issues related to economic and social development, culture, the environment, education, health and human rights. It is made up of 16 members taking into account diversity and geographical representation. 

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