New York

30 July 2015

Secretary-General's remarks at Security Council open debate: 'Peace and Security Challenges Facing Small Island Developing States" [as delivered]

I would like to thank New Zealand and His Excellency Mr. Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand, in his capacity as President of the Council, for taking this very important, timely initiative to highlight the peace and security challenges facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS). 

I welcome the high level of participation at this debate, and thank Her Excellency the Prime Minister of Jamaica [Portia Simpson-Miller], and His Excellency the Prime Minister of Samoa [Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi], and His Excellency, the Finance Minister of the Seychelles [Jean-Paul Adams], for their participation. And I also take this opportunity to express my deepest thanks to many Ministers who have taken time to participate in this debate. I also thank President Anote Tong of Kiribati, for his participation. I hope that today’s debate in the Security Council will make a very big impact and contribution to our Paris summit meeting on climate change in December.

Last year’s Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States in Samoa increased global attention on their contributions to sustainable development – but also on their unique vulnerabilities. 

The issues facing SIDS are global challenges.  They are our collective responsibility.

Our first priority must be to support SIDS in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

In spite of considerable efforts, progress has been uneven.

Second, we need a post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals that address the needs of SIDS.

At the recent Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa, it was encouraging that the concerns of SIDS were reflected, including in critical areas such as debt, trade, technology and Official Development Assistance.  And earlier this month, I participated in CARICOM’s summit meeting which was held in Barbados. The leaders of CARICOM – as members of SIDS - all expressed these concerns and their vulnerabilities, and I hope that our debate will really make a great contribution to addressing the challenges and vulnerabilities of SIDS.

Thirdly, we need a meaningful and universal and global climate agreement in Paris in December.

SIDS are on the front lines of climate change. 

Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu is only the latest in a long string of devastation that SIDS have endured and will continue to endure as long as climate change is not adequately addressed. 

Caribbean countries sometimes experience as many as five hurricanes in a season. 

The Security Council has rightly highlighted the threat of climate change to international peace and security.

Rising sea levels, dying coral reefs and the increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters exacerbate the conditions leading to community displacement and migration.

They threaten to increase tensions over resources and affect domestic and regional stability.  

Over the years, SIDS leaders have been consistently calling for global climate action. 

And they have been leading by example.

Many SIDS have been accelerating their own transition to renewable energy to secure a sustainable energy future.

We must support SIDS in their actions to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts.

For this, we need a politically credible trajectory for mobilizing the pledged $100 billion dollars per year by 2020.

The Green Climate Fund will need to be up and running before COP21 in Paris in December – with projects and funding ready to go, especially for the most vulnerable.

And, finally, we will need to ensure that a meaningful, universal climate agreement is adopted.

Climate change is not the only peace and security challenge facing the people and governments of SIDS.

SIDS are also focusing as never before on the menace of transnational organized crime.

The threats include drug trafficking, human trafficking, piracy and wildlife crime.

Caribbean SIDS are vulnerable to drug-trafficking and gang-related violence, which affect security and development.

And, with Exclusive Economic Zones often larger than their land areas, SIDS also face the challenge of managing fisheries and preventing illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing which undermine economies and contribute to insecurity.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime – UNODC-  through its Maritime Crime Programme, is focussing on heroin trafficking, human trafficking, wildlife crime and fisheries crime.

The programme works with States to introduce legislation, in line with international conventions, that will help to improve investigations and strengthen criminal justice responses against maritime crime.  

On piracy, Mauritius and the Seychelles have been at the forefront of international cooperation in the Indian Ocean to apprehend and prosecute Somali pirates.

CARICOM and the Pacific Islands Forum have helped focus the attention of the international community on the heightened vulnerabilities that SIDS face and demand that the international community be attuned to these issues. 

But Small Island Developing States do not have the resources to combat such threats by themselves.

Only through global partnership can we secure their sustainable and peaceful future.

Some 20 years ago, in Barbados, Governments made a global commitment to the sustainable development of SIDS. 

This bond was strengthened in Mauritius in 2005.

Now we have the SAMOA Pathway to guide us.

Combatting climate change, promoting sustainable development and addressing the vulnerabilities of SIDS will demand partnership, capacity and leadership.

Today, let us commit the resources of the United Nations system as a reliable partner to Small Island Developing States as we work together for sustainable development and a life of dignity for all.

Thank you.