Security Council debates climate

Top UN body holds its first ever debate on impact of global warming on conflicts.

Security Council debates climate

The United Nations Security Council has held its first ever debate on the impact of climate change on global conflict, brushing aside objections from some countries that global warming is not an issue of international peace and security.

Britain, which holds the council presidency this month, organised an open meeting to highlight what its foreign minister said was the "security imperative" to tackle climate change because it threatens the entire planet and can exacerbate problems that cause conflicts.

"This is a groundbreaking day in the history of the Security Council, the first time ever that we will debate climate change as a matter of international peace and security," Margaret Beckett said.

"There are few greater potential threats to our economies too ... but also to peace and security itself."

The two main groups representing developing countries - the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 - wrote separate letters accusing the Security Council of "ever-increasing encroachment" on the role and responsibility of other UN organs.

Ban Ki-moon said scarcity of food and water could turn competition into violence [GALLO/GETTY]

Climate change and energy are issues for the General Assembly, where all 192 UN member states are represented, and the Economic and Social Council, not the Security Council, the two groups, which include China, said.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, also said the climate change issue did not belong in the Security Council.

Beckett, who spent five years as Britain's negotiator on climate change, said she understood the reservations and was not out to "undermine the important work that those bodies do".

"But this is an issue that threatens the peace and security of the whole planet and the Security Council has to be the right place to debate it."

Fifty-five countries spoke at the daylong meeting but the council did not adopt any statement or resolution.

Alarming scenarios

On Monday, Beckett noted, some US retired admirals and generals said in a new report that climate change is a "threat multiplier for instability".

She said Yoweri Museveni, the president of Uganda, whose economy depends on hydropower from a reservoir that is already depleted by drought, has called climate change "an act of aggression by the rich against the poor".

Ban added that floods and droughts were polarising societies and
weakening the ability of countries to resolve conflicts peacefully [AFP]

Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, told the council that projected climate changes could not only have serious environmental, social and economic implications but affect peace and security as well.

He outlined several "alarming, though not alarmist" scenarios, including limited or threatened access to energy increasing the risk of conflict, a scarcity of food and water transforming peaceful competition into violence, and floods and droughts polarising societies and weakening the ability of countries to resolve conflicts peacefully.

The world must come together - including civil society and the private sector - to prevent these scenarios from becoming reality, he said.

Source: Agencies

Last Mod: 18 Nisan 2007, 16:19
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