New Zealand credited for focusing on small island states at UN debate

July 31, 2015 1:10 am

 

Murray
McCully talks to reporters before the debate, with NZ’s permanent
representative to the , Gerard van Bohemen, and Nicola Garvey, deputy
spokesperson in the UN Mission. Photo / Audrey Young

Over 70 countries joined a -sponsored debate at the
Security Council early today (NZ time) on peace and security in small
island developing states (SIDS).
The event took top billing of New Zealand’s initiatives during its month-long presidency of the council which finishes tomorrow.
AA
BBQ was planned after the debated on the riverside lawn of the United
Nations site but steady rain has forced the event inside.
During
the debate almost every speaker gave credit to New Zealand for putting
the focus on small island states at the highest level of the United
Nations.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi asked the
Security Council to consider putting day aside again to consider
challenges of small island states.
Today was the first time such a
debate had been held. While 44 SIDS countries make up 22 per cent of
the UN membership, they had held a seat on the Security Council on only
six occasions since 1945.
And as predicted, climate change was a
recurring theme in the contributions of the island states themselves, as
well as fisheries and transnational crime.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon kicked off the debate, with Foreign Minister Murray McCully in the chair.
Mr Ban said the Security Council had a right to highlight climate change for international peace and security.
Rising
sea levels and increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters
exacerbated the condition leading to community displacement and
migration.
“It threatens to increase the tensions over resources and affect domestic and regional stability.”
“We need a meaningful and universal global climate agreement in Paris in December.
SIDS are on the front line of climate change.”
He
said Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu was the latest in a long stream of
devastations that small island states had endured and would continue to
endure as long as climate change was not adequately addressed.
Mr
McCully’s contribution on behalf of New Zealand focused on the need to
stamp out illegal fishing and on helping SIDS to adapt to renewable
energy.
“We need a concerted international effort to stamp out
illegal fishing and under-reporting practices that amount to literally
stealing from some of the poorest people on the planet.”
Samoa’s
Tuilaepa was one of three “briefers” to the council who spoke early
about the issues for small island developing countries.
Samoa hosted a major conference last year for Small Island Developing States.
He began by saying the message of SIDS to the Security Council was unequivocal.
“No
region, no group of countries and no selective security issues should
continue to have a monopoly of the council’s time, attention and
resources.
“SIDS are important constituents of the UN Security
Council in their own right irrespective of their sizes, economic
influence, political clout or military strength.
“Their concerns
matter like everyone else in this chamber. Their voices deserve to be
heard, their views need to be understood and their challenges considered
and addressed.”
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller
talked about how the trafficking of drugs, firearms and people. The high
level of gun-related crime in the region undermined law and order, and
impeded economic growth and social development.
Jamaica was doing what it could to improve its level of response but it wasn’t enough and needed international help.
She also said robust policy action on climate change was vital to Jamaica’s national, regional and global welfare.
Jean-Paul Adam, the Seychelles Finance Minister, was the third special speaker to the council.
He
talked about the Seychelles wants to improve governance of the oceans –
the Seychelles has a Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million square
kilometres.
He said the Seychelles Government had created a “blue
economy department,” which was part of his portfolio as the Finance
Minister.
“We are staking our economic future on better harnessing the development potential of our ocean.
“In
practical terms, we are implementing the blue economy through the
development of a marine special plan whereby we define the economic and
conservation activities to be developed throughout our EEZ.
It
was committing 30 per cent of the EEZ as protected areas, improving
fisheries stock management and was in discussion with financial
institutions to raise “a blue bond” to provide financing for the
initiatives.

Green MP attends debate

Green
MP Kennedy Graham travelled all the way to New York to witness the
unique debate today on small island developing states at the Security
Council.
It was unique because it was focusing on the security of
tiny states as opposed to the massive global crises and elsewhere, he
said.
“The other reason it is unique is because it is holding up
the mirror to the whole theoretical issues as to what the Security
Council is meant to be responsible for in the 21st century.”
In the 20th century its concerns were basically armed conflict.
“Today it is broadening into the whole issue of global governance, all manner of threats.”
But
now the Pacific states and others were saying the existential threat to
their survival was climate change and sea-level rise, it left a big
question hanging in the air: is the Security Council responsible for
that kind of existential threat.
“That’s huge because that’s the
difference between leaving a threat to the planet and humanity to
multilateral negotiations – as in the framework convention in Paris
[this December] or concentrated management by the Security Council on
the other hand.”
He did not expect the Security Council to make dramatic or draconian decisions on climate change.
“But it needs to recognise and take on board responsibility for oversight and management.”
As
one speaker said, the Security Council had to recognise that there were
threats to peace and security imposed by nature, not just by humans.
“It may not not happen today. It’s going to happen. It’s a question of when.”
Kiribati president Anote Tong impressed him the most.
“He really pushed the Security Council to do it today – to declare [climate change] to be a threat to peace and security.”
Dr
Graham said the Government had to be given credit for getting the issue
on the agenda and the New Zealand delegation had made it possible for
him to sit on floor of the Security Council chamber to observe.
Dr Graham has formerly worked for the and been a consultant on Security Council issues

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