This article was first published on the UNA Coventry website.
On 13 December Niger and Ireland sponsored a draft resolution that would have requested the UN Secretary‑General to integrate climate‑related security risk as a central component of United Nations conflict‑prevention strategies aiming to help counter the risk of conflict relapse.
The draft resolution had called on the UN chief to report within two years “on the security implications” of climate change on issues addressed by the Security Council, and sought recommendations on how these risks could be addressed.
Russia and India voted against and China abstained. Russia is one of the five states that are able to veto resolutions in the United Nations Security Council (the P5), so the resolution was thereby defeated.
The Nigerian ambassador, Abdou Abarry, called opposition to the draft “short-sighted.” Ireland’s UN envoy, Geraldine Byrne Nelson, had said before the vote that the resolution was only a “modest first step. We need to better understand this link” between security and climate change, “We need to look at it globally.”
The US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said there was “no justification” for Moscow’s veto. “The climate crisis is a security crisis,” she said.
Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, said a resolution would “create confusion and duplication” with other UN forums tackling climate change. “For us, the direct link between terrorism and climate change is far from obvious,” he said.
Calls for change in P5 Vetos
There are five permanent members of the Security Council, namely the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China (the P5), and they have been able to wield since the UN was founded after World War II.
Following the vote, Nelson and Abarry denounced vetoes as an anachronism. “This council will never live up to its mandate for international peace and security if it does not adapt. It must reflect the moment we are now living in, the threats to international peace and security which we now face,” they said.
Nations have been calling for a change in the use of the veto since September 2014. On the margins of the 69th session of the General Assembly, France and Mexico organised a ministerial-level event on this issue. Then High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein made a statement in support of the French initiative. In a summary of the event, the co-chairs called on the P5 to “voluntarily and collectively pledge not to use the veto in case of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes on a large scale.” However, from among the permanent members, only the UK has supported the initiative.