Climate change threatens international peace, Pacific Island States tell UN debate

Frederick Vaka’uta Sevele, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Tonga

26 September 2008 – Pacific Island States spoke out at the General Assembly today on the issue of climate change, promising to table a draft resolution during the climate session that will call on the United Nations to investigate the threat posed by global warming to international peace and security.

Tonga’s Prime Minister Feleti Vaka’uta Sevele used his address to the Assembly’s annual General Debate to urge other Member States outside the region to show their support for the draft resolution.

“The prospect of climate refugees from some of the Pacific Island Forum countries is no longer a prospect but a reality, with relocations of communities due to sea level rise already taking place,” he said. “Urgent action must be taken now.”

The resolution is expected to ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to commission a report on climate change and security, and to invite the Security Council and the General Assembly to work together on possible recommendations to deal with any problems identified.

Speaking earlier today, Tuila’epa Lupesoliai Sailele Malielegaoi, Prime Minister of Samoa, urged countries to convert the commitments they made about greenhouse gas reduction – whether during the landmark summit in Bali last year or elsewhere – into reality.

“Only through selfless and concerted efforts by all countries led by the major greenhouse gas emitters can we have a fighting chance of lessening the destructive impact of climate change,” he said, adding that it also enhances the chances of a credible agreement beyond the current Kyoto Protocol.

Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Derek Sikua said he feared that the magnitude of climate change has already outgrown the existing capacity of the UN system to respond.

Many smaller countries were being left to fend for themselves against the impact of global warming, as regional groups and other organizations charted their own course.

The Prime Minister called for the UN’s Small Islands Developing States Unit to be strengthened so that it can help countries, such as those in the Pacific Ocean facing rising sea levels, with special needs.


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