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Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Impact of Climate Change

Open Debate of the Security Council on Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Impact of Climate Change (July 20)

I am honored to speak on behalf of Argentina in this Open Debate convened by the Presidency of the Security Council for the month of July, Germany. Argentina believes we must use this debate as an opportunity to clarify and reaffirm the competences of the General Assembly to deal with the adverse effects climate change, one of the most pressing challenges in the political agenda of each of our countries and of the United Nations, with serious economic, social and environmental implications that must be addressed in the proper context.
There is no doubt that the three pillars of the United Nations: development, human rights and peace and security, are interlinked and mutually reinforcing, as recognized by the 2005 Summit Outcome Document. An adequate and fluent cooperation among the different UN organs established by its Charter as well as the funds, programmes and specialized agencies is indispensable to face any concrete situations that might potentially affect national or international security and are compounded by climate change. This can in no way mean to include an issue such as climate change in the Security Council agenda.

Mr. President,
I would like to express the solidarity of Argentina with the small island states in facing the common challenge of climate change. The livelihood of people all around the World, in particular in developing countries, will be affected if we do not undertake urgent mitigation and adaptation actions towards climate change.
Yet, this cannot be an excuse for a proliferation of debates and initiatives in fora which have no capabilities to contribute to the mitigation efforts and that distract the public attention from the real debate. We are strongly committed to an effective and decisive response to tackle the problem of climate change and its adverse effects in the proper contexts, and in particular in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change process, which is widely recognized as the central UN body responsible for this issue (par.103). We regret that this process is no doubt affected by the lack of political will from some parties to maintain and increase the level of ambition of their commitments so that the world has an actual chance of limiting the temperature rise in our global climate system.

The Secretary-General in his report A/64/350 confirms that climate change is a global challenge that can only be tackled at the global level. We strongly agree with that view, and believe the UNFCCC process already offers an effective framework to do exactly that.
It is hard to see how a diversification of approaches and an overextension of the mechanisms which address the issue could contribute to a successful result in this year’s important negotiations.

We are still in time to address the causes of climate change: the pressing issues are the need to increase emission reductions and to the fulfillment of the commitments under the UNFCCC on the part of the developed countries. Moreover, under current climate change negotiations, launched after the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th, there is yet no clear indication that a second commitment period will be adopted in Durban: current mitigation pledges from developed countries parties in the UNFCCC negotiations are not adequate to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions so as to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 °C above preindustrial levels, as called for in Cancun.

The historic contribution of States to the current level of carbon emissions is not uniform, and neither is the level of vulnerability. Studies stress that developing countries stand to be affected with more intensity, while our countries are also the ones with lower levels of emissions and fewer resources to face the effects of climate change. The recognition in the 1992 Rio Documents of the common but differentiated responsibilities is crucial to any successful approach.

Mr. President,
There have been some attempts in the past to link issues related to climate change to international peace and security, and for Argentina the added value of such an attempt remains unclear.
Argentina is convinced that these issues and their inter-relation with development, national security, human rights, poverty eradication and other important angles have their natural channel in the General Assembly, the ECOSOC and the system of specialized institutions such as UNEP, HABITAT, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the regional commissions and many international organizations, including the regional development banks.
Responsibilities for Humanitarian issues belong to the GA, ECOSOC, OCHA, UNV ACNUR, WHO, the ISDR among others, while on food security FAO, its Committee for World Food Security (CFS), the UN World Food Programme and IFAD have a central role.
Again and again reports have told as about the development, economic and human rights implications of climate change, and some references to national security are made, but no link to international security has been documented or backed by research. We must remember that the IPCC 4th Assessment Report established no links whatsoever between climate change, its effects, and violence and conflicts. There is no causation between climate change and security, but rather the opposite: the Assessment Report tells us that vulnerability to climate change can be exacerbated by other stresses. These arise from, for example, current climate hazards, poverty, unequal access to resources, food insecurity, trends in economic globalization, conflict and incidence of diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Mr. President,
The Report of the Secretary General offers some views on the Way Forward that are worth considering. We wholeheartedly agree with the emphasis on prevention and on the importance to the future of the planet of forceful mitigation action, and that stronger international support is needed for sufficiently broad adaptation actions in developing countries, and that it is imperative for the international community to meet the international commitments on development assistance in order to ensure the sustainable and equitable development of all Member States (par 98-100). The Report recognizes that the nature and full degree of the security implications of climate change are still largely untested (par 2). The Report identifies some possible new challenges if the current trends remain unchanged, but such scenarios would only present themselves should mitigation actions fail. No recommendations are made in the field of security, much less for a response by the Security Council, but interesting questions are presented (par 101) which must be addressed in the appropriate context.

Argentina believes that, when it comes to climate change and its very real threat to our livelihoods, a legitimate concern about the magnitude of the challenge has led to this initiative to involve the wrong mechanisms and to establish links where those links do not exist.
We have read attentively the Report of the Secretary General, even where it only reflects the different national positions of Member States. We have confirmed that the issues that emerge as relevant in the analysis are such that would not benefit from interventions by this body. Argentina strongly rejects the consideration of human rights and development questions such as migration, refuge, food insecurity and poverty eradication as “security concerns”. Nothing can be gained from such a narrow approach, and many questions arise. Can anyone seriously propose that the Security Council is the best tool that the United Nations can employ to address the loss of agriculture due to desertification or the salinization of soils? Or worse yet, that a social phenomenon such as migration needs to be met with a militarized response?

Does it mean that we are thinking in a possible scenario for intervention of the Security Council? And if it was the case, what would be the real benefit for the victims?
In conclusion, Mr. President, we by no means minimize the severe impacts of climate change on all of us, and in particular in developing countries. We are concerned, certainly, about the possible sea-level rise during this Century and its consequences to the wellbeing and safety of the population of small island states, and all island nations and countries with low-lying coastal areas – including my own. We have heard about very worrisome possible scenarios for the future, but no concrete argument has been offered on what the Security Council added value could be in such scenarios. There is nothing to be gained by including an issue such as climate change in the Security Council agenda. And any attempt to militarize the response to economic, social and environmental effects of climate change should be a grave concern to all of us.
We consider that the General Assembly itself would have provided the right framework for the consideration of interlinkages of climate change and other issues, including security. We understand that no specific outcome is to be expected from this Open Debate, which reflects once again how widely shared these positions are.
We must move in the direction of avoiding increasing temperatures, not in the opposite one assuming failure and possibly catastrophic scenarios. Developed countries must raise their level of ambition in relation with the pledges for mitigation that are currently on the table. Developing countries need to step up the mitigation actions that we are already undertaking with our own resources and could do much more if supported by developed countries financial resources and transfer of technology.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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