UN: Security Council Fails to Adopt Resolution Integrating Climate-Related Security Risk into Conflict-Prevention Strategies

UNITED NATIONS, NY, Dec 13 – The Security Council today, in a contentious meeting, rejected a draft resolution that would have integrated climate‑related security risk as a central component of United Nations conflict‑prevention strategies aiming to help counter the risk of conflict relapse.

In a recorded vote of 12 in favour to 2 against (India, Russian Federation), with 1 abstention (China), the Council — acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations — rejected the draft owing to the negative vote by a permanent member of the Council.

Co‑sponsored by Niger (Council President for December) and Ireland, the draft would have requested the Secretary‑General to integrate climate-related security risk as a central component into comprehensive conflict-prevention strategies of the United Nations, to contribute to the reduction of the risk of conflict relapse due to adverse effects of climate change.

The vote followed an open debate of the Council on 9 December in which nearly 60 speakers warned that people and countries most vulnerable to climate change also are most vulnerable to terrorist recruitment and violence. (For background, please see Press Release 14728.)

Members of the Council, speaking before and after the vote, expressed pronounced disagreement on the content of the resolution, the consensus process and the very notion that it should appear on that organ’s agenda.

Ireland’s delegate, arguing that the Council was an appropriate forum for the resolution, said that although some Member States suggested this would establish a process separate from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in fact, it would enable the Council to address climate change with the tools already within its mandate. Refuting that there is no scientific data on the question, she underscored that the evidence is compelling. “Time is not on our side in any aspect of the climate issue,” she emphasized.

The representative of Niger, Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, underlining that the force of veto can block the text but cannot hide the reality. Emphasizing that his delegation is not claiming other forums are inadequate, he asked why the Council could not adopt a resolution on climate change, given its adoption of a resolution on the COVID‑19 pandemic. “Those who come after us should learn a lesson,” he added.

However, India’s representative — while stressing his country is “second to none” in addressing climate action and climate justice — stated that the Council is not the place to discuss either issue. Today’s attempt to link climate with security obfuscates a lack of progress on critical issues under the UNFCC process. The text would constitute a step backward from collective resolve to combat climate change. Therefore, he had no option but to vote against it.

The Russian Federation’s representative expressed regret that Niger’s presidency of the Council has been darkened by discord. While the draft’s sponsors spoke of 113 supporting Member States, they had not mentioned the 80 Member States that did not. Highlighting the right of veto, he said the international community is deeply divided on climate, as was clear at the twenty‑sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Glasgow. The draft resolution represented a step back in trying to fight climate change, and only the negative vote stopped it, the best indication that the veto is a key piece of insurance for Council work.

Mexico’s delegate, however, disagreed with what he described as the inappropriately called “right to veto”, which could paralyse the Council, discouraging dialogue and debate. The draft resolution recognized the central nature of UNFCCC and focused on comprehensive analyses entrusted to the Council. He expressed regret that it was not adopted, despite the support of 12 Council Members and the co‑sponsorship of 113 Member States.

Also speaking were the representatives of Norway, United Kingdom, Kenya, Viet Nam, United States, China, Tunisia and Estonia.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 11:27 a.m.

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