23 November 2011
Security Council
SC/10457

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6668th Meeting (AM)


As Nature of New Threats Evolves, Security Council, Central to Keeping Peace, Must


also Keep Pace, Secretary-General Says During Council Debate on New Challenges


Council Must Be Free to Scan Horizon for Potential Friction on Basis of Evidence

From Experts on Thematic Issues, Not Just in Response to Violence, Asserts Speaker


Transnational crime, pandemics, and climate change were three defining challenges, and as the nature of such threats continued to evolve, the Security Council — so central to our ability to keep the peace — must also keep pace, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the Council today as it addressed new challenges to international peace and security and conflict prevention.


He said that although none of the three were new, they were increasingly transnational, increasingly acute, and had ever greater implications for human, State, regional and international security.  There was an increasing convergence between organized crime and terrorist groups.  Climate change had aggravated conflict over scarce land and could well trigger large-scale migration.  Rising sea levels put at risk the very survival of small island States.


No country and no region, no matter how powerful, would be able to address those threats alone, he said.  The complex and multilayered threats required multidisciplinary responses.  The United Nations was well-placed to promote an integrated mix of political, developmental and capacity-building responses.


Pointing to interlinkages between the three challenges, he said there was a risk that a warming world would facilitate the spread of deadly disease.  Drug trafficking had led to an increase in intravenous drug use, one of the main drivers in the spread of HIV/AIDS.  The response to crime could not be limited to law enforcement but must encompass public health, institution-building and human rights.  “More broadly, it is crucial to address the social inequalities and economic injustice that give rise to frustration and unrest.  Ultimately, security must be rooted in opportunity, freedom and hope,” he concluded.


Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), briefing the Council on issues of transnational organized crime, said that much needed to be done in such areas as rule of law, corruption, human trafficking, illicit migration and terrorism prevention.  Piracy off the Somali coast was an outstanding priority, and other areas, including illicit money flows and West African pirate attacks, should also be addressed.  In addition, cocaine trafficking had had a devastating effect, with European consumption doubling over the last decade.   Afghanistan and surrounding countries made up another key region in fighting the transnational threat of illegal drugs.  “The time had come for a more result-oriented response to this challenge, a response which is based on concrete action and shared responsibility,” he said.


Also briefing the Council, António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said that more and more people were being forced to flee, owing to reasons that were not covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention, namely, environmental degradation.  Climate change was the defining challenge of today, interacting with other global “megatrends”, such as population growth, urbanization and growing food, and water and energy insecurity.  There was no consensus on the number of people who would be forced to move over the next decades as a result of climate change, which could range from 20 million to 100 million, according to some estimates.


“The process of climate change and its role in reinforcing other global imbalances constitutes an important threat to peace and security,” he said. Although many might argue that climate change did not fall within the competency of the Security Council, the linkages set out today could not be ignored when looking at matters of security.


Addressing the Council by video link from Geneva, Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said worldwide trends were worrying, including population ageing and rapid urbanization, and they arose from the world’s interconnectedness.  WHO had investigated 400 reports this year of rumoured acute threats to health.  Only 34 reports were indeed rumours, while others, including an Ebola outbreak in Pakistan, had been verified.  Worldwide electronic surveillance and a network of experts from more than 300 technical institutions had helped WHO monitor illnesses and a new framework on sharing of information on viruses and sharing vaccines was now operational.


During the ensuing debate, Council members stressed the links between climate change and development and between security and development, as well as impact of transnational organized crime, including trafficking of drugs and small arms and light weapons and the spread of HIV/AIDS through sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations, on fragile State institutions.


There were, however, some divergent opinions on how, or even if, the Council should address those challenges.  While some speakers stressed that no State or regional organization alone could cope with the issues, which were of a global and transnational nature, others noted that United Nations entities and international organizations other than the Council had core competencies to address such issues.


Sven Alkalaj, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, emphasized that the “primary responsibility in identifying priorities and strategies for potential challenges to international peace and security rests with the concerned States”.  However, if countries lacked knowledge or resources, the support of the United Nations, as well as of regional organizations, was appropriate.


The representative of the United Kingdom, echoing the sentiment of some other speakers, felt that conflict prevention should indeed be a key element of the Council’s work.  It was natural that the Council attack cross-cutting challenges, such as those put forward in today’s discussion.  All three issues were drivers for the kind of political, economic or social changes which could generate modern conflict and had the capacity to convert tensions into violence and instability, with Somalia being a compelling example.  The Council, in preventing conflict, should be free to scan the horizon for potential friction on the basis of evidence from experts on thematic issues, such as those who had participated today, and not just in response to an eruption in violence.


Patti Londono, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Colombia, noting that Council functions were defined by the Charter of the United Nations, said that recently, the body had focused mainly on Chapter VII of that Charter, but had left behind the provisions of Chapter VI, which could help to confront the new challenges by finding cooperative mechanisms.  Highlighting the work of the General Assembly and other forums, she said dialogue between them was necessary in order the build the required consensus for addressing the new challenges.


Paulo Portas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, Council President for the month and the initiator for today’s debate, said the Council could not or should not deal with those issues alone.  Rather, it should do more to develop a systematic and comprehensive approach to new challenges to international peace and security.  However, it lacked a clear strategy on how to guarantee a regular assessment of emerging issues.  There was value to designing a framework for the Council’s continued monitoring of those themes; such a framework could analyse new data, including from relevant Secretary-General’s reports, United Nations organs and agencies, international organizations and civil society.


Several Council members proposed the establishment of an ad hoc working group to identify challenges to international peace and security and conflict prevention and to assist the Council in its work. 


The Vice-Minister for Political Affairs of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil also addressed the Council, as did the representatives of United States, Nigeria, Germany, Lebanon, Russian Federation, South Africa, Gabon, France, India and China.


The meeting began at 9:40 a.m. and was adjourned at 12:15 p.m.


Background


As the Security Council was to consider the subject “Maintenance of international peace and security:  new challenges to international peace and security and conflict prevention”, it had before it a concept note conveyed in a 8 November letter from the Council President (Portugal) to the Secretary-General (document S/2011/698).


According to the concept note, the Council recently has devoted substantial attention to the evolving nature of challenges to international peace and security.  In its presidential statement of 23 September 2010 (S/PRST/2010/18), the Council had highlighted challenges such as the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, transnational organized crime, piracy and drugs and human trafficking.  (See Press Release SC/10036.)


The note recalls that, in June 2011, the Council had held a high-level debate on HIV/AIDS, resulting in resolution 1983 (2011), in which the Secretary-General was requested to consider the HIV-related needs of people in activities pertinent to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, response to sexual violence related to conflict and post-conflict peacebuilding (Press Release SC/10272).  On 24 June, the Council was briefed on the growing problem of transnational crime, including drug and human trafficking, in West Africa (Press Release SC/10295).


On 20 July, the note says, an open debate had been held on the impact of climate change on the maintenance of international peace and security, resulting in presidential statement S/PRST/2011/15 expressing concern that sea-level rising might carry security implications on low-lying island States (Press Release SC/10332).


Today’s high-level briefings will look, in a comprehensive manner, at a spectrum of recently identified challenges to international peace and security, states the paper before the Council.  The debate should also examine possibilities for devising a framework for a regular, comprehensive and systematic focus on those issues, including the interlinkages between them.


Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will brief the Council on developments regarding the impact of illicit trafficking (in arms, drugs and persons) and organized crime on international security.


António Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was asked to brief on the impact of climate change on refugees and displaced persons, focusing on movements of people linked to desertification and on the implications of sea-level rise and the consequent loss of territory for some States, particularly small island developing States.


Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), was asked to brief on the risks for peace and security resulting from pandemics and the spread of diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria, in conflict situations, with a particular focus on their impact on the most vulnerable.


The Security Council has emphasized the mutually reinforcing and interlinked nature of the root causes and drivers of those challenges to peace and security, and the need to address the issues in a comprehensive manner, by taking into account development, human rights, peace, security and certain environmental factors together, according to presidential statement S/PRST/2010/18.  The concept note argues that the Council, which has devoted a considerable amount of time to discussing those challenges, could make better use of available information to enhance its capacity to play a preventive and mitigating role.  More concerted and regular Council action would make a difference and bear fruit, the note maintains.


Statement by the Secretary-General


BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, drew the Council’s attention to three defining challenges:  transnational crime, pandemics, and climate change, saying that although none of them were new, they were increasingly transnational, increasingly acute, and had ever greater implications for human, State, regional and international security.


He said they were increasingly transnational because of the growing ease with which people, goods and money could cross borders.  The recent movie Contagion was more than science than fiction.  Organized crime groups were particularly adept at exploiting the openness of globalization to traffic humans, drugs and weapons.  Climate change was the quintessential global challenge.


The threats were increasingly acute because the combined stresses of crime, pandemics and climate change were pushing many poor and fragile countries close to the breaking point, he said.  Some had seen their life expectancy cut in half by HIV/AIDS.  Organized crime groups used corruption and violence to hollow out weak institutions from the inside.  And the extreme weather and other consequences associated with climate change were exacerbating already difficult struggles with desertification, drought, floods and volatility in food prices.  By undermining State capacity and State institutions, those threats had clear and increasing implications for peace and security.


He said there was an increasing convergence between organized crime and terrorist groups.  Climate change had aggravated conflict over scarce land and could well trigger large-scale migration.  Rising sea levels put at risk the very survival of all small island States.  Those and other implications for peace and security had implications for the United Nations itself.  No country and no region, no matter how powerful, would be able to address those threats alone.  The complex and multilayered threats required multidisciplinary responses.  The United Nations was well-placed to promote an integrated mix of political, developmental and capacity-building responses.


“You have all heard me talk about connecting the dots among energy, food, health, disaster risk reduction and other issues in our response to climate change,” he said.  There was a risk that a warming world would facilitate the spread of deadly disease.  There were other links as well.  Drug trafficking had led to an increase in intravenous drug use, one of the main drivers in the spread of HIV/AIDS.  The response to crime could not be limited to law enforcement but must encompass public health, institution-building and human rights.  “Our economic and social development efforts must become more crime-sensitive.  More broadly, it is crucial to address the social inequalities and economic injustice that give rise to frustration and unrest.  Ultimately, security must be rooted in opportunity, freedom and hope,” he said.  As the nature of the threats we face continues to evolve, this Council — so central to our ability to keep the peace — must also keep pace, he concluded.


Briefings


YURI FEDOTOV, Executive Director of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said his Office was raising awareness and mobilizing multilateral action to “deliver as one”, including by building partnerships with, among others, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), WHO, civil society and the private sector in areas including piracy and drugs, illegal small arms trade, corruption, illicit money flows, human trafficking and wildlife crime.


He said that the Office’s comprehensive and concerted approach rested on its guardianship of the United Nations conventions on some of those issues, and its strengths included the ability to deliver operational results in the many regions.  At the moment, the Middle East and Arab States was his Office’s most urgent priority region to help “post-Arab Spring” countries on a path to democracy and rule of law.  The Office was refocusing its regional programme to address new realities and was currently working with authorities in Egypt and Tunisia and developing a national programme with Libya.


Much needed to be done in areas including rule of law, criminal justice, police reform, corruption, human trafficking, illicit migration and terrorism prevention, he said.  Piracy off the Somali coast was an outstanding priority, and other areas, including illicit money flows and West African pirate attacks, should also be addressed.  In addition, cocaine trafficking had had a devastating effect, with European consumption doubling over the last decade.  Among the ongoing programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean and West Africa, with the latter being the focus of support for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), was an action plan targeting growing problems of drug trafficking, organized crime and drug abuse.


Afghanistan and surrounding countries made up another key region in fighting the transnational threat of illegal drugs, he said.  The latest dismal news from Afghanistan was that, since 2010, poppy cultivation had increased by 7 per cent and opium production had risen by 61 per cent, and opium production equalled 10 per cent of that country’s gross domestic product (GDP), fuelling terrorism, insurgency and corruption.  “The time had come for a more result-oriented response to this challenge, a response which is based on concrete action and shared responsibility,” he said, noting this month’s Fifth Triangular Initiative Ministerial Meeting in Kabul and the December launch of a regional programme.  He hoped to be able to report the programme’s first results at the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact, in February 2012.  On the drug consumption side, demand reduction and prevention of drug addiction were issues of concern, and programmes, including those targeting children’s exposure, were among the efforts.


ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the past 12 months had witnessed many momentous, often disturbing and sometimes inspiring events, including in Côte d'Ivoire, Egypt, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.  Those events had required his Office to respond to a succession of emergencies, providing protection and assistance to refugees and other displaced persons, often in the most hazardous operational environments.  The Council and the Office were often preoccupied with many of the same crises, working towards the common goal of enabling people to live peaceful, productive and prosperous lives.


Turning to the theme of human displacement and climate change, he said more and more people were being forced to flee, owing to reasons that were not covered by the 1951 Refugee Convention, namely, environment degradation.  Climate change was the defining challenge of today, interacting with other global “megatrends”, such as population growth, urbanization and growing food, water and energy insecurity.  There was no consensus on the number of people who would be forced to move over the next decades as a result of climate change, which could range from 20 million to 100 million, according to some estimates.  However, the question, “how many people” was simplistic.  What should be addressed instead was the more complex issue of the way in which global warming, rising sea levels, changing weather patterns and other manifestations of climate change were interacting with and reinforcing other global imbalances.


He said climate change was limiting the amount of land available for cultivation in many developing countries.  More and more young people were making their way from rural to urban areas.  Massive youth unemployment had proven to be a clear source of social and political unrest.  Climate change was also reinforcing the potential for conflict within and between States by intensifying competition for scarce resources.  Many commentators had pointed to the potential for so-called “water wars”.  There was growing evidence that the growing frequency and intensity of natural disasters was closely linked to climate change, and natural disasters had the capacity to displace large numbers of people.


There was also a linkage between climate change and citizenship, he said.  There were small island States confronted with rising sea levels and extreme weather events.  “Where will these people go if and when it becomes impossible for them to remain in their own country?” he asked.  “Is the world ready to accept the idea of a State without a territory?”  Those questions required the international community’s serious attention.


“The process of climate change and its role in reinforcing other global imbalances constitutes an important threat to peace and security,” he said.  Although many might argue that climate change did not fall within the competency of the Security Council, the linkages set out today could not be ignored when looking at matters of security.  So far, the international community had lacked the political will required to reduce the pace of climate change.  Immediate steps were necessary to mitigate that process.  At the same time, protection and sustainable solutions must be provided to those who were forced to abandon their homes.


It was imperative for the international community to establish a massive programme of support for adaption in developing countries exposed to disasters in order to reinforce the resilience of communities and citizens, he said.  Such action should take full account of the fact that women — especially poor women — were most seriously affected by climate change and natural disasters.  Even if the international community was mobilized in that way, however, it would not be enough to avert human displacement completely.  That was why the international community must formulate and adopt a set of principles designed to reinforce the protection of and find solutions for people who had been forced to leave their own country as a result of catastrophic environment events, and who might not qualify for refugee status under international law.


Underlining the importance of integrating the issues of climate change and human displacement in all conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peacebuilding endeavours, he said that uprooted people must be given full support in finding sustainable solution to their plight.  That was a humanitarian imperative, but also an issue of common interest.  “If climate change goes unchecked, and if we fail to find sustainable solutions for displaced populations, we will be creating the conditions in which further breaches of international peace and security are certain to take place,” he said in conclusion.


Addressing the Council by video link from Geneva, MARGARET CHAN, Director-General of WHO, said worldwide trends were worrying, including population ageing and rapid urbanization, and they arose from the world’s interconnectedness.  However, the world was getting dangerously out of balance.  Government health expenditures ranged from $1 to $7,000 per person, and life expectancy gaps between the rich and poor were as much as 40 years.  WHO estimated that 100 million people were driven below the poverty line each year because of crippling medical bills.


She said WHO had investigated 400 reports this year of rumoured acute threats to health.  She highlighted that only 34 reports were indeed rumours, while others, including an ebola outbreak in Pakistan, had been verified.


Conflict was the perfect setting for the violation of human rights, she said.  In addition, public misconception, such as fear of vaccinations, was also worrying, she said, pointing to the recent measles outbreak.


Since 2000, WHO and Member States had been sharing health information through global governance.  Since the SARS outbreak in 2003, the approach became proactive.  She also noted that international health regulations had adopted an all-hazards approach, with efforts in “disease intelligence” to cover illness caused by, among other things, exposure to toxic chemicals and radioactive materials.  Worldwide electronic surveillance and a network of experts from more than 300 technical institutions had helped WHO monitor illnesses and a new framework on sharing of information on viruses and sharing vaccines was now operational.


In a spirit of consensus and fair play, new Government regiments would tell WHO what countries really wanted, including a desire for rules of proper, responsible conduct and fairness.  The Middle East, with its upheaval of demands for greater freedom, was a focus of concern for WHO, she said.  It was important to remember that prevention was the heart of public health and equity was the soul, she concluded.


Statements


SVEN ALKALAJ, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, warned that, in a constantly changing world, new global challenges had the potential to pull entire regions into conflict.  Transnational organized crime, which represented one such threat, flourished in environments lacking adequate State authorities.  It used the advancements of globalization to undermine State institutions, thus creating vulnerability and instability.  Organized crime was a threat, not only to democracy, the rule of law, human rights and socio-economic development, but also to peace and security.  In that respect, the development assistance community should continue to support UNODC in assisting the upgrading of criminal justice systems in vulnerable countries, especially in Africa.  The Security Council should continue to promote cooperation between UNODC and different parts of the United Nations Secretariat to address the cross-cutting nature of those crimes.


He said that another threat to international peace and security was climate change, which could lead to humanitarian crises, migration pressures and external shocks.  In that context, growing populations and an increasing demand for resources bore the potential to drive social tensions, political unrest or even conflict.  The Council, therefore, should be aware of the possible security implications of climate change, while relevant United Nations bodies should strengthen their capacity to deal with the resulting crises.  The importance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) could not be overemphasized in that regard.  Additionally, conditions of violence and instability around the world could exacerbate the spread of diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria, in particular, through large movements of people, reduced access to medical care and other risk factors.  Peacekeeping operations and their personnel could play an important role in disease prevention in post-conflict settings, and he commended efforts by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to educate and train peacekeepers in gender awareness, child protection and related areas.


Bosnia and Herzegovina wished to emphasize that the “primary responsibility in identifying priorities and strategies for potential challenges to international peace and security rests with the concerned States”, he said.  However, if countries lacked knowledge or resources, the support of the United Nations, as well as of regional organizations, was appropriate.  They should continue to monitor situations that posed potential risks to civilian populations and peace and security.  Sufficient and appropriate funding should also be provided.  For its part, the Security Council should be receptive to warning signs of potential threats.  Timely decision-making should be based on verified and reliable information.  Meanwhile, strengthening cooperation between the Council and relevant regional and subregional organizations would give more importance to those issues and keep them constantly on their agendas.


VERA MACHADO ( Brazil) said there were clear links between climate change and development and between security and development.  The large number of debates and briefings by the Council in recent years had demonstrated the interest in engaging in the complex and interrelated nature of global security challenges.  It was not enough, however, to address only the most obvious and immediate threats.  It was important to regard a long-term view, which took into account both preventive actions and post-conflict efforts to build truly sustainable peace.


She said that although possible security implications of climate change were far less obvious, they only underlined the need for an integrated political, economic and humanitarian approach to these issues.  While security tools were appropriate to deal with concrete threats to international peace and security, they were ill-suited to face climate change.  That was why the international community must focus on climate change with an innovative approach and redouble its efforts to achieve results in international negotiations on climate change. 


In order to do so, the Security Council must have access to a greater scope of information, she said.  Even though the Council was not dealing directly with economic, environmental, or health issues, it had to know where those issues existed and the specific ways they affected security worldwide.  She called on it to work harder to understand the operational issues that hampered integration of the different aspects of the realities on the ground.  The Secretariat had to do a better job of coordinating agencies, funds, and programs.  New challenges to international peace and security must be addressed with instruments that promoted capacity-building and strengthened national institutions.  That would inevitably be more effective and have more sustainable results than attempts to punish, isolate, or repress.  She reiterated that assistance and cooperation, rather than coercion, must be the watchwords.


PATTI LONDONO, Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Colombia, said the global agenda included multiple challenges, but not all were threats to international peace and security.  That agenda was complex and sometimes there were problems that affected security.  That did not mean the Council should address all of them.  The United Nations had diverse mechanisms and institutions to address specific problems.  Those institutions should all cooperate to protect humankind. 


She said the Council must carry out the work of pursuing conflict prevention.  It had recognized an existing coherence between security, development, human rights and the rule of law, for instance, and it must support the strengthening of the rule of law and ensure capacity-building during peace-consolidation processes.  It was possible to build transparent and institutional bridges between various mechanisms and international organizations to build synergies.  That was an important topic for United Nations reform.


The Council functions were defined by the Charter of the United Nations, she said.  Recently, the body had focused mainly on Chapter VII of that Charter, but had left behind the provisions of Chapter VI, which could help to act on the new challenges by finding cooperative mechanisms.  Highlighting the work of the General Assembly and other forums, she said dialogue between them was necessary in order the build the required consensus for addressing the new challenges.


JEFFREY DELAURENTIS ( United States) said the threats discussed today knew no boundaries and required collective action.  Illicit trafficking of drugs, arms and persons had produced devastating effects, fuelling conflict and preying on the powerless.  Underground markets and networks disregarded human rights, subverted legitimate economic activities and fuelled violence and corruption, weakening the rule of law and, in some instance, aiding terrorists.  The world should work together to defeat those elements, to set and update international standards, and to close safe havens. 


“We are already on the right track,” he said, citing United Nations approaches to those areas, including a UNODC action plan against organized crime and drug trafficking, the international tracing instrument to deal with small arms and light weapons, and the United Nations Convention on organized crime.  The United States, for its part, had, among other things, made a $34 million contribution in 2010 for treaty implementation support for UNODC, he said.


The Council’s debate on climate change showed that continued change in the world’s climate would exacerbate existing challenges and vulnerabilities, including raising sea levels and disrupting weather patterns that would put communities at risk around the world, he said.  Thus, more collaborative analysis and action was needed.


Health risks, such as H1N1, and once eradicated diseases, such as polio, had emerged, requiring approaches to be addressed collectively, he said.  The current momentum must be maintained so that systems already in place could, for instance, keep the H1N1 virus in check.  Those mechanisms should receive strong support.  Transnational threats must also be dealt with in a spirit of cooperation, including opening dialogue with institutions that did not deal with security threats but were on the frontlines of dangers, such as WHO.  He encouraged all United Nations agencies to work together to manage threats.


In addressing global threats, State capacity issues must also be addressed.  For instance, post-conflict countries were especially vulnerable to transnational threats.  Climate change also required a stronger response and emerging infectious diseases required swift action and the building up of health-care systems.  New challenges to security would be an important part of the Council’s debates in the future and today’s discussions were a step in the right direction, he said.


U. JOY OGWU ( Nigeria) said multiple threats ranging from traditional issues to the causes and consequences of war and climate change had neither boundaries nor respect for borders or nationalities.  One prime example was the trade of illicit small arms and light weapons.  As the world was extremely unequal, those threats were compounded by poverty, social cohesion and governance.  The complex challenges underlined the urgent need for vision and leadership from the United Nations and Member States.  To that end, the Council should reposition itself to deal with that reality.


Trafficking and pandemics, such as HIV/AIDS, were also exacerbated by underdevelopment, she said, noting the chilling link between underdevelopment and conflict.  Human migration and climate change had a profound impact.  In many cases, people walked across borders, concentrating the pressure on already scarce resources in a bid for their survival.


She said that the recent memorandum of understanding between UNODC and UNHCR marked a signal of recognition of the transnational nature of trafficking.  The criminal networks responsible for trafficking were far-reaching, but they could be broken down.  A concerted, comprehensive response was needed, which supported States in heading off threats in an increasingly changing world.  She proposed an ad hoc working group to identify challenges and assist the Council in its work.  Threats were globalized and the human agents were getting more sophisticated.  A collective response could not be outpaced by that increasing sophistication.


PETER WITTIG ( Germany) said managing and resolving threats to international security without understanding the underlying causes could only lead to temporary solutions.  Poverty, climate change and transnational organized crime were a few of the new challenges to peace and security.  Drawing attention to the issue of health, he said that over the last 10 years, the Council had recognized and discussed the linkages between HIV/AIDS and international peace.  Conflict situations could aggravate health problems among vulnerable populations and the spread of pandemics could fuel conflicts by weakening governance institutions. 


Turning to the interrelationship between climate change, migration and security, he said climate change-induced migration was already a reality, owing to rising sea levels and natural disasters, among others.  Despite efforts to mitigate climate change, migration had become an adaptation strategy for a number of people affected by climate change, and that led to insecurity.  Supporting the approach of UNHCR, he said more research and understanding of migration processes was needed.  The international community, including the Council, must also look more closely at the legal instruments at hand, as well as at the security implications of migration.


As for transnational organized crime, he said the criminal groups had become more sophisticated and posed a serious threat to international peace and security, as well as to democracy and development.  State capacity to establish rule of law was in many cases weakened by corruption.  The Palermo Convention (United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime) was crucial in that effort, and he urged States that had not yet done so to ratify it.


NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said that according to the Charter, the United Nations was founded to maintain international peace and security, and to that end:  to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace.  Security was no longer strictly about the absence of military threat.  The Council had been preoccupied with a wide range of issues that might potentially threaten peace and security, including transnational organized crime, terrorism, HIV/AIDS, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and climate change.  Those issues also threatened peacebuilding in post-conflict States.


He said that the number of refugees and displaced people fleeing armed conflict and natural disasters was on the rise and constituted an additional source of instability in vulnerable societies.  All those challenges had a long-term negative impact on peace, stability and economic development and required a multilateral approach in the security realm and beyond.  No single United Nations body or country had either the capacity or the jurisdictional reach to effectively address all contemporary security challenges.  That was why strong partnerships among all major international, regional and local stakeholders were necessary.


VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said today’s discussion had shown that the number of threats to mankind was increasing.  Alongside new threats, old ones were getting worse, he said, pointing to an aggressive trend in getting involved in the issues of sovereign States.  Provocative calls for strengthened confrontations, or open or veiled threats of use of force under the guise of humanitarian efforts contradicted the basic norms of international humanitarian law and the meaning of this global organization.


He said that the new challenges to international peace and security included terrorism, drug trafficking and the spread of weapons of mass destruction, small arms and light weapons, and cybercrime.  The Council had also recognized those threats, and the linkages between them should be addressed and examined.  Council proposals to the Secretary-General should examine transnational crime and analyse their role.


The challenges were acute, he said.  One example was drug trafficking and drug production in Afghanistan, which represented a threat to international peace and stability.   A comprehensive and coordinated response was needed, he said.  Inter-agency cooperation to address related issues should include an interdisciplinary focus group on transnational crime, with a role to play for UNODC and the Department of Political Affairs.  Other concerns included arms flows, he said, pointing to the situation in Libya.  Russia’s initiative, Security Council resolution 2017 (2011), had been adopted to counter that new threat.


In globalization, the field of information and communications technologies presented new risks, and his country had advocated for the adoption of more effective measures to monitor those threats, he said.  There was also a need to develop a convention to address cybercrime, along with regulatory measures.  Global counter-terrorism efforts should also include the area of cyber-terrorism.


Turning to other issues, he said piracy in Africa required measures from the international community, and the area of impunity must be further examined.  In addition, the United Nations Climate Change Convention and WHO had prominent roles to play and long-term strategies and concrete measures were needed for a prompt response to looming threats.


DOCTOR MASHABANE ( South Africa) said the Climate Change Convention was the best instrument to deal with climate change issues.  States must honour their obligations to that instrument and to the Kyoto Protocol to ensure that the architecture of the climate change regime was strengthened.  Millions across the globe depended on it.  Accompanying financial obligations must also be respected.


He said that drugs and crime had threatened development, and were hampering the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  He called on Member States to honour existing instruments to fight organized crime.  A comprehensive and integrated approach was needed to monitor those threats, and he welcomed efforts by UNODC and the Commission of the African Union to work towards the complementarity of their programmes.


HIV/AIDS also needed attention, he said.  In that, health systems should be strengthened to address the epidemic from all perspectives.  The response to HIV/AIDS was best dealt with by the United Nations.  However, HIV/AIDS had not been seen as a threat to international peace and security, he said.  Another concern, however, was the large numbers of people fleeing their countries.  Yet, no amount of debate by the Council could address any of those emerging threats.  It was only through international cooperation and financial and technological contributions that those issues could be addressed.


NOEL NELSON MESSONE ( Gabon) said the Council had held several debates to take stock of new threats to international peace and security, including the resurgence of organized transnational crime, which had destabilized States.  The proliferation of illicitly trafficked small arms and light weapons had heightened that threat, as those arms had become the principal instruments of conflict.  The relationship between the HIV/AIDS pandemic and sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations was increasingly evident.  There were also potential climate change implications in economic, social and environmental areas.  The fact that climate change affected the movement of migrants was a source of concern.  He hoped the Durban Conference would make some headway on the issue.


He said there was a need for a global and agreed organized response to those challenges.  The United Nations must address those issues in a way that did not separate them from others.  The Council must anticipate their consequences for international peace and security.  It was important, therefore, for the Secretary-General to keep the Council abreast of new developments.  The Council must also have its own tools to deal with the new challenges.  He supported in that regard the establishment of an ad hoc working group to study the interdependence of the issues.  The Council must also explore ways to better cooperate with United Nations programmes and agencies and regional and subregional organizations.  Maintaining international peace and security was a task the Council could not shoulder alone.  New ways must be found to provide a global response to the new threats to international peace and security.


GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said it was the responsibility of the Council to anticipate the consequences of new threats to international peace and security.  Organized crime had weakened State institutions in, among other places, Haiti and Guinea-Bissau.  He also called for a Sahel strategy, as that region was contaminated by different types of trafficking.  France was committed to promote the strategy of UNODC, and he called for universality of the Palermo Convention and its Protocols.


He said progress had been made in managing the health crisis, among other things, through strengthening monitoring systems.  The Council had recognized that the HIV/AIDS pandemic was a threat to international peace and security and an obstacle to development.  Calling for action to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS in conflict situations, he urged WHO to pursue its monitoring activities regarding the spread of pandemics. The way that organization had taken on the flu pandemic could be applied to others.


Displacement of populations had multiple causes, he said, including climate change, which was a threat that concerned all.  He hoped that the Durban Conference would allow for operationalization of the Cancun Agreement.  As the Council should remain invested in those matters that jeopardized international peace and security, he supported the proposal that it discuss those matters on a regular basis.


MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said the Council had been charged with the maintenance of international peace and security.  In recent years, it had become a common and just refrain in this Council to emphasize the importance of effective conflict prevention.  Prevention should be a key element of this Council’s work.  It was natural that the Council attack cross-cutting challenges, such as those put forward in today’s discussion.  All three issues were drivers for the kind of political, economic or social changes which could generate modern conflict and had the capacity to convert tensions into violence and instability, with Somalia being a compelling example.


He said that as the frequency of international conflict diminished, intra-State conflict and peacebuilding had become more of a focus for the Council.  There had been a subtle appreciation of factors that could trigger or exacerbate conflict.


This Council should be alert and responsive to the broader factors that contributed to conflict sensitivity in a region.  That did not mean the United Kingdom believed that the Council should itself take action to address all those factors, he said.  We are not seeking to disrupt the balance between agencies in the United Nations infrastructure.


He said today’s discussion had made some people uneasy.  The debate referred to “challenges” and all too often revolved around the word “threat”, a notion found in Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, the means through which the Council could take action.  However, the use of the word “threat” in the context of today’s debate was not in anyone’s interest, he said.  Issues such as pandemics, organized crime and climate change as “factors” that could lead to disputes were related to language in Chapter 6 of the Charter.  The point was the same.  The Security Council should be apprised of the extent to which those issues represented conflict risks. 


Cross-cutting themes could offer insight to potential conflict.  While many argued that the Arab Spring was not predicted, a series of the Human Development Reports of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had identified many of the underlying socio-economic factors that led to the uprisings.  The Council would have been better prepared to respond to the Arab Spring if it had focused on those factors at an earlier stage.


The United Kingdom believed insecurity and conflict could be exacerbated by climate change factors, such as drought, famine and desertification.  For example, international agreements on the shared use of natural resources could be disrupted by the adverse effects of climate change.  It made sense for those responsible for helping Member States to strike agreements for resource sharing to have access to advice from climate specialists to ensure they took account of such risks.


The Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy in Central Asia had accessed expertise for climate change for precisely those purposes.  He was not arguing that the United Nations Centre should have a mandate to tackle climate change, lobby for change in the Climate Change Convention or to hire a climate expert, just that it should have access to that expertise to develop its own work, he said.


The Council should have the opportunity to consider cross-cutting pressures on international stability, an important tool for effective conflict prevention.  Over the past years, there had been a continued emphasis that the Council should conduct more effective conflict prevention and it needed to be free occasionally to scan the horizons for potential friction or disputes on the basis of evidence from experts on thematic issues, such as those who participated in the Council’s discussion today, and not just to a response to an eruption in violence.


HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said the essential function of the Council was to address matters of imminent threats to international peace and security.  The United Nations had a framework convention with “a toolbox of ways and means of addressing climate change”.  But, none of those were available in the Council.  In fact, the real requirement for addressing climate change was rooted in the need for collaboration and not through imposition of punitive measures.  Major negotiations had been under way for several years under the Climate Change Convention, and the international community should not seek to duplicate or in any way detract from them.  Similarly, global pandemics demanded collaborative approaches and not finger pointing or punitive action.  But it was imperative for the Council to remain strong in its fight against terrorism, he said, highlighting the need to be extremely careful about possibilities that emanated from terrorists’ misuse of cyberspace and related technologies.


He said that recent months had seen concerted attempts to enlarge the scope of work and responsibility of the Council.  He did not favour that “discordant trend”, both as a matter of propriety and pragmatism.  The Charter gave a clear responsibility to the Security Council on matters of international peace and security, but it also made amply clear that issues of social and economic significance were to be dealt with by the General Assembly.  An unequivocal distinction between those two sets of functions had so far helped in the smooth functioning of the United Nations system, and any digression from the Charter rules was “likely to create dysfunction”. 


The most important challenge to international peace and security and conflict prevention, he said, was that the Council no longer reflected contemporary reality; its composition, rooted in 1945, detracted from its ability to fully harness the capabilities of Members States.  It continued to apply methods of coercion from a past era and did not look for new approaches involving collaborative action.


LI BAODONG ( China) said the world was undergoing complicated changes in which traditional security issues, such as territorial disputes, persisted, while non-traditional issues, such as terrorism, transnational organized crime and Internet and website issues, had come to the fore.  Faced with the various global security challenges, the international community must strengthen cooperation and respond through collective actions while adhering to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter.  The United Nations and the Council could play their respective roles in the division of labour, according to the Charter.  The Council had adopted resolutions on the combating of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and had organized thematic debates on transnational organized crime, drug trafficking, development, HIV/AIDS and climate change. 


He said transnational organized crime was often intertwined with terrorism, thus affecting the stability and economic development of affected countries.  The Council, therefore, should continue to address the issue of transnational organized crime.  WHO played a leading role in addressing HIV/AIDS and other pandemics, and while considering the situations on its agenda, the Council should pay attention to preventing and treating HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases in close cooperation with WHO.


Climate change was a serious challenge to the whole of mankind, he said.  The United Nations should strengthen cooperation through the Kyoto Protocol and the Climate Change Convention by applying the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.   The United Nations bodies and mechanisms should maintain coordination while avoiding duplication of efforts.  As developing countries were constrained in their means to address the challenges and were particularly affected by the financial crises, the international community should proactively provide financial assistance to enable them to do so.


PAULO PORTAS, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, said that factors of instability in international peace and security had been identified, and it was up to the international community to contribute to the definition of an effective collective response.  Only the United Nations, through its various institutions and bodies, and its universality, was in a position to adequately respond.  During the last year, the Council had considered themes related to security and development, the impact of climate change on security, the consequences of transnational crime in situations of conflict, and the effects of HIV/AIDS on security.


He said the analysis and discussion of those topics deepened the relationship between the Council and the rest of the United Nations, and also strengthened its capacity to prevent conflicts.  It was essential, therefore, to continue to develop a more integrated and systematic approach to all those obviously interrelated issues.


Organized crime was one of the main sources of financing for terrorist groups, he said, and human trafficking was a particularly cruel dimension of such crime.  Drug and armaments trafficking fed criminal networks, piracy, and armed militias; they contributed to the illegal plunder of natural resources and often violated arms embargoes decided upon by the Council.  That had a direct impact on the Council’s capacity to respond effectively to specific threats to international peace and security.  All types of organized crime had a negative impact on fragile States, which, by definition, had greater difficulty responding to the activities of increasingly sophisticated, aggressive and violent criminal networks.  Hence, the definition of regional and international instruments and strategies to respond to transnational crime were critical to conflict prevention.


He said it had already been recognized that factors related to climate change such as hunger, drought and desertification could cause massive population movements, which, in certain circumstances, exacerbated tensions, generated instability, and prolonged conflicts.  Particular attention should be paid to small island developing States, whose populations would be forced to abandon their land, owing to rising sea levels.  That was a humanitarian challenge for the very international law, which served as a basis for the work of the Organization and the Council.


Further, he said the devastating impact of the transmission of HIV was strongly felt in situations of conflict and post-conflict.  Violence and instability aggravated the spread of HIV, namely through sexual violence associated with armed conflict, most directly affecting women and girls.  Integrating the fight against pandemics with peacebuilding strategies of post-conflict counties was an essential element to avoid putting at risk the gains attained in the consolidation of peace.


The Security Council could not or should not deal with such issues alone, he said.  Rather, it should do more to develop a systematic and comprehensive approach to new challenges to international peace and security.  However the Council lacked a clear strategy on how to guarantee a regular assessment of emerging issues.  There was value to designing a framework for the Council’s continued monitoring of those themes; such a framework could analyse new data, including from relevant Secretary-General’s reports and those of other relevant United Nations organs and agencies, international organizations and civil society.  That data could serve as a foundation for more concerted and better informed, and thereby more efficient, action by the international community.


To that end, and with a view to reaching consensus on the necessary steps to set up such a network, Portugal would continue working with other members of the Council, he said.  New challenges to international peace and security, seen either by themselves or in conjunction with traditional ones, could lead to increased instability and insecurity.  It was the Council’s duty to deepen its knowledge of the conditions under which those challenges led to the degeneration of peace and security, and it was through that understanding that the Council would be better able to guarantee that that instability did not lead to conflict.


Concluding remarks


Mr. FEDOTOV, of UNODC, said it was important to be able to listen to the views of the Council.  The more dialogue that took place, the higher the chances were to combat organized crime and drug trafficking, he said, thanking all members for their support of his Office.


Mr. GUTERRES said when UNHCR was doing humanitarian work, it was on the receiving end.  It was important for the international community as a whole to identify the gaps and to find the best instruments and strategies to address them.


Ms. CHAN also thanked the Council.  She was pleased to have listened to the views of its members and to their advice.  She agreed with the comments of many Member States on the Council that United Nations agencies must work together to support countries and the international community in addressing any issue that threatened peace and security.  WHO did not work in the field of peace and security, but would be very happy to contribute in any way possible, she said.


* *** *


For information media • not an official record