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On 13 June, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a ministerial-level open debate on climate change, peace and security—the latest in a series of UNSC meetings on the topic. While many ministerial statements focused on the nexus of climate change, instability, and conflict, the conversation underscored how today’s competitive geopolitical dynamics are complicating good-faith efforts to address climate security in such multilateral fora. Statements from China, in particular, suggest it sees a geopolitical opportunity in such discussions. Namely, due to the United States and other countries in the Global North failing to live up to their commitments to provide climate finance, especially adaptation funds, to the Global South.
In last week’s meeting, China used its time at the microphone to level a series of pointed comments aimed implicitly at the United States and the European Union (EU). Beijing’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, argued there were three areas in which the UNSC should focus its attention.(more…)
By Mark Nevitt
Earlier this week, the UN Security Council failed to pass a draft resolution that would have defined climate change as a “threat to peace” within Article 39 of the UN Charter. Under international law, this critical threat to peace determination acts as a key that opens the door to supplemental legal authorities. But this resolution, co-sponsored by Ireland and Niger, was vetoed by Russia, one of the Council’s five permanent members (“P5”). By defining climate change as a threat to the peace, the Council could have sent an important signal that climate change is squarely within its ambit while setting the stage for follow-on action.(more…)
By Steve Brock and Deborah Loomis
The United States has made food security a key theme of its UN Security Council Presidency for the month of March, and today will chair a UNSC open debate on the links between conflict and food security. In many ways, the Council’s focus on food security is a closely-related continuation of the UK’s emphasis on climate security during its presidency last month. The World Climate and Security Report 2020 identified the deep linkages between climate change consequences and food insecurity across all regions of the globe.
According to the Global Report on Food Crises for 2020, over 135 million people faced acute food insecurity in 2019. The report characterized what it considered significant drivers of acute food insecurity as: conflict (affecting 77 million people in 22 countries), weather extremes (affecting some 34 million people in 25 countries), and economic shocks (affecting 24 million people in eight countries).(more…)
This is a cross-post from the Planetary Security Initiative
In the past 18 months, the emergence of climate security as a mainstreamed and core risk for national governments and IGOs has accelerated. In particular, the UN Security Council (UNSC) is becoming more cognizant of climate change being a core security risk that should be under the remit of the organ and subsequently integrated into peacekeeping considerations and mission deployments.
A new report just published by “Security Council Report” is a first comprehensive analysis on the centrality and action of the UNSC, commissioned by the member states of the ‘Group of Friends on Climate and Security’. It seems to fill the void of no official UNSC report existing yet on the topic. The overarching message is that the issue is becoming increasingly talked about and embedded within the UN, but that disagreements over climate change’s impacts on security and whether it should be dealt with by a security organ persist. The Security Council itself has seen 2 debates hosted on climate security in 2020 and 2021 respectively and the establishment of an Informal Expert Group to push for greater focus on the UNSC attention on climate security.(more…)