Russia vetoes UN Security Council Resolution linking climate change to peace and security

On 13 December, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council Resolution that would have framed climate change as a a threat to international peace and security. The draft Resolution, which was spearheaded by Ireland and Niger and was co-sponsored by 113 UN member States, would have called the Security Council to incorporate “information on the security implications of climate change” into its work on peace and security.

The UN Security Council has been discussing the security risks linked to climate change since 2007, and past resolutions have mentioned the destabilizing effects of climate change in specific contexts, for example in Iraq. The draft resolution’s text would have called on the UN Secretary-General to make security risks linked to climate change a “central component” of efforts to prevent conflict. The Resolution was premised on the understanding that climate change can “lead…to social tensions…, exacerbating, prolonging, or contributing to the risk of future conflicts and instability and posing a key risk to global peace, security, and stability”. It recognized the need for “a comprehensive, whole of UN approach to address climate change and its effects”.

A zero draft of the resolution was circulated after a 23 September high-level open debate on climate and security, organised by Ireland. No vote was held on that draft text due to resistance from Russia, China and the United States. On 13 December, India also voted against the Resolution, while Russia used its veto power and China abstained from the vote. According to the representatives of these States, the issue of climate change and its security implications should more appropriately be discussed in the context of other efforts, for example the Framework Convention on Climate Change to avoid ‘politicizing‘ the question.

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