Home > Climate Change, Human Rights > UN Security Council Debates the Security Implications of Climate Change

UN Security Council Debates the Security Implications of Climate Change

Erica Woodruff, CIEL Intern

By Erica Woodruff

Tomorrow, the UN Security Council will host an open debate on the international peace and security implications of climate change. CIEL’s Hana Heineken will be attending and tweeting live from the debate (follow Hana’s updates @ciel_tweets).

While most people think of global warming as an environmental issue, the climate crisis is expected to have far-reaching impacts on peace and security, especially in developing countries that do not have the capacity to adapt. Rising sea levels, increasing storm surges and other climate impacts will contribute to economic destabilization, social unrest, resource competition, and migration flows that are root causes of conflict both within and among nations (for this reason, climate change has been labeled a “threat multiplier” in a 2007 report written by senior U.S. military leaders).

The Security Council considered this issue for the first (and only) time in April 2007, when the Council debated the link between energy, security and climate.  In 2009, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution recognizing the link between climate change and security, which led to a report on the issue by the UN Secretary-General.

Tomorrow’s debate has been organized by Germany, which holds the Presidency of the Security Council for July 2011.  Germany has made climate change and security one of its top priorities, stating that “[c]onflicts over dwindling land and resources as well as the resultant increasing number of refugees and displaced persons could pose a serious threat to world peace.”  The Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) have also identified this issue as a priority, and are calling for the Security Council to appoint a Special Representative on Climate and Security.  President Stephen of Nauru made an urgent appeal in today’s New York Times, calling on the international community to “plan for the biggest environmental and humanitarian challenge of our time.”

CIEL will be following this debate and will report back on its outcomes.  Stay tuned for more on climate and security…

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