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TWN Info Service on Climate Change (Jul11/06)
25 July 2011
Third World Network


SC
voices concern over long-term adverse effects of climate change
Published in SUNS #7196 dated 22 July 2011

Geneva, 21 Jul (Chakravarthi Raghavan*) -- The UN Security Council, after some prolonged consultations, issued 20 July evening a statement by the President, expressing concern that the possible adverse effects of climate change could, in the long-run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security and that the loss of territory in some States due to sea-level rise, particularly in small low-lying island States, could have possible security implications.
 
In a statement read out by Council President for July, Peter Wittig of Germany, the 15-member body, following a day-long debate on "maintenance of international peace and security: the impact of climate change", noted that "conflict analysis and contextual information" on, among others, the "possible security implications of climate change" was important when climate issues drove conflict, challenged implementation of Council mandates or endangered peace processes.
 
In that context, the Security Council asked the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contained such contextual information.
 
Moreover, the Council recognized the responsibility for climate change and other sustainable development issues conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council, and it underlined the Assembly's 2009 resolution that reaffirmed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as the key instrument for addressing climate change.
 
Several of the key members of the Council, apart from permanent members Russia and China, including Brazil, India and South Africa made clear that climate change should remain within the remit of the General Assembly, and that the Security Council, which can authorise peacekeeping missions, or use of force and sanctions, was ill-equipped to deal with this issue.
 
According to a UN press release, the Presidential Statement, adopted after a day-long debate, came after the Western-backed initial statement asserting a link between climate change and security, was rejected by Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member.
 
The final statement came after Russia had agreed, in prolonged negotiations with Germany, to a weaker text about long-term implications and for the UN Secretary-General to keep this in mind in drawing up his periodical reports.
 
While China and Russia were fundamentally opposed to the issue being brought on the Council's agenda or for discussions there, Brazil, India and South Africa took a slightly nuanced position.
 
India, for example, said that while it did not have any problems discussing the issue, the 15-member body does not have the tools to deal with the issue. Any actions could only be taken by the UNFCCC.
 
Climate change, Brazil, India and South Africa, in their interventions, insisted needed to stay in the realm of the General Assembly and the UNFCCC.
 
A large number of developing countries and groups of them also rejected the notion that the climate change issue belonged to the Security Council agenda, and said that it should continue to be dealt with by the UNFCCC and the General Assembly.
 
India also cautioned against efforts of some countries to do "a mandate creep", and get more and more issues into the Security Council.
 
The Presidential Statement said:
 
"The Security Council reaffirms its primary responsibility under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. The Council stresses the importance of establishing strategies of conflict prevention.
 
"The Security Council recognizes the responsibility for sustainable development issues, including climate change, conferred upon the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
 
"The Security Council underlines General Assembly resolution 63/281 of 3 June 2009, which: reaffirms that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the key instrument for addressing climate change; recalls the provisions of the UNFCCC, including the acknowledgement that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries and their participation in an effective and appropriate international response, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions; and invites the relevant organs of the United Nations, as appropriate and within their respective mandates to intensify their efforts in considering and addressing climate change, including its possible security implications.
 
"The Security Council notes General Assembly resolution 65/159 of 20 December 2010, entitled ęProtection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind'.
 
"The Security Council notes that, in response to the request contained in General Assembly resolution 63/281, the Secretary General submitted a report to the General Assembly on ęClimate change and its possible security implications' (A/64/350).
 
"The Security Council expresses its concern that possible adverse effects of climate change may, in the long run, aggravate certain existing threats to international peace and security.
 
"The Security Council expresses its concern that possible security implications of loss of territory of some States caused by sea-level rise may arise, in particular in small low-lying island States.
 
"The Security Council notes that in matters relating to the maintenance of international peace and security under its consideration, conflict analysis and contextual information on, inter alia, possible security implications of climate change is important, when such issues are drivers of conflict, represent a challenge to the implementation of Council mandates or endanger the process of consolidation of peace. In this regard, the Council requests the Secretary-General to ensure that his reporting to the Council contains such contextual information."
 
(* Chakravarthi Raghavan is Editor Emeritus of the SUNS.) +

 


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