Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
22nd July 2011, New York, USA: Fiji participated at an open debate held on July 20th in the United Nations Security Council on the security implications of climate change. The debate was convened by Germany in its capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of July. Fiji’s presentation to the Council was made in concert with other Pacific Island countries, led by the President of Nauru, H.E. Mr Marcus Stephen.
The Security Council debate was initiated in the context of sustained lobbying by the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS), of which the Fiji Mission in New York is an integral part. The caucus of PSIDS Missions in New York has maintained as its highest priority the drawing of the attention of the international community to the dire implications of climate change. In approaching the Security Council, PSIDS have emphasised the security consequences of climate change.
The PSIDS have emphasised the plight of small islands and low lying States. Some of these are faced with the grave threat of losing their entire landmass to sea level rise, and the PSIDS believe this threat has not been adequately addressed by the relevant organs and bodies of the UN dealing with climate change.
In delivering the Fiji statement at the Security Council debate, Counsellor Luke Daunivalu of Fiji’s New York Mission highlighted the important role conferred upon the Security Council under the Charter of the United Nations for the maintenance of international peace and security. He said that, “While some countries are comfortable with addressing climate change challenges as only a sustainable development issue, or tackling only the causes under the UNFCCC process, for the Pacific Small Island Developing States and other low lying countries, climate change carries a real security threat.”
He said, “It threatens the territorial integrity of our nations and for some, their very existence as sovereign States is at risk.” In urging the Security Council to fulfill its responsibilities and take on the challenge of the security implications of climate change, Counsellor Daunivalu said that full respect and attention must be given to the process and mandates of the other organs of the UN and other relevant bodies, such as the UNFCCC, that are already charged with addressing climate change.
A significant outcome of today’s open debate was the Presidential Statement delivered by Germany at the end of the day’s proceedings. The Presidential Statement expressed concern at the threat of sea-level rise as it relates to the loss of territory of small, low-lying island States. It also recognized climate change as being a threat-multiplier, thereby aggravating existing threats. The statement further requests the UN Secretary-General to take those threats into account when reporting to the Security Council.
The outcome of the debate today effectively means that the security impact of climate change is now on the agenda of the Security Council. While the outcome fell short of what the PSIDS had called for, it nevertheless provides a new platform for further work by the Security Council and PSIDS on the security implications of climate change.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji