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Statement by Ambassador Heusgen in the Security Council Debate on Addressing Complex Contemporary Challenges to International Peace and Security

20.12.2017 - Press release

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Thank you, Mr. President,
Excellencies, Mr. Secretary-General,

Distinguished colleagues!

I would like to express my appreciation to the President of the Security Council and the Permanent Representative of Japan for convening this meeting. It is important for the Security Council to periodically take a step back from its busy agenda to reflect on our changing security environment.

I would also like to thank Secretary-General Guterres for briefing the Council.

I would like to highlight one challenge which deserves more of our attention: the effects climate change and their implications for peace and security.

One could argue that climate change is first and foremost a question of environmental policies.

Yes, it certainly is. But the effects of climate change can have serious security implications.

As Chancellor Merkel stated at the COP 23 in Bonn last month, and I quote:

“We have melting glaciers, rising sea levels and flooding; we have storms, unbearable heat and severe droughts. No one may or can ignore this.

And if we also think about the growing global population, we know that increasing conflicts over natural resources will be inevitable if we do nothing to protect the climate.”

So if the Security Council, rather than merely reacting, wants to anticipate threats to international peace and security, it must have the security implications of climate change on its radar – and indeed firmly on its agenda!

We see encouraging developments in this respect.

For example, we had a substantial debate on this topic in an Arria-meeting last Friday. Many speakers said the Security Council should systematically deal with this issue. Even those who are more skeptical, said we need to look at how climate change impacts conflicts when looking at country-specific situations.

I think this is encouraging. But there is much more room for progress. Germany is committed to increasing focus in the Security Council on the security aspects of climate change.

We will continue to build on the 2011 Presidential Statement on this topic, which was adopted during our presidency of the Council.

Mr. President,

The effects of climate change are of course only one of the many complex security challenges we face today. 

In Germany, we have invested a lot of energy and resources in recent years to better understand the security implications of pandemics, migration crises, famines, and the growing interconnectedness in the cyber world.

At the heart of our policy lies a simple insight: we cannot achieve lasting peace through military means alone.

What we need is a combination of foreign, development and defense policy. What we need is a strong focus on prevention. And what we need is to strengthen the resilience of our societies. And this often starts with respecting and promoting human rights.

Germany is convinced that the Security Council can do more to integrate such an approach into its deliberations and actions.

And as the security challenges grow more complex, we have to work better together across institutional boundaries.

The Secretary-General is pushing for this type of change in the Secretariat, and we support him in this endeavor. I encourage all Member States to do the same.

The good news is that we can build on existing arrangements. The Peacebuilding Commission, for example, has an advisory function to the Security Council.

This is why I found it so positive that last week the PBC held a meeting on peacebuilding approaches in the Sahel - a region suffering from many of the challenges we are discussing today.

This Peacebuilding Commission’s meeting was held shortly after the Security Council passed a resolution in support of the G5 joint force.

The G5 joint force cannot resolve all the underlying drivers of instability in the region. For this reason, it is so important that the United Nations have developed an Integrated Strategy for the Sahel under the leadership Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohamed.

In support of this strategy, France and Germany initiated the “Alliance with the Sahel” with the goal of improving coordination among major international partners. We will focus on youth employment, rural development, climate and energy, governance, decentralization and the security sector.

Additionally, Germany will provide close to one billion euro in development aid to the countries of the region between 2017 and 2021.

Mr. President,

The two examples I mentioned, climate change and the situation in the Sahel, clearly demonstrate two things:

First, the Security Council needs more awareness of the complex security challenges in the international arena today.

Second, we need more concerted action to respond to them, both in the Security Council and beyond.

And let me assure you: Germany stands ready to assume its responsibility for peace and security in the face of these shifting threats.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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