4 Jun 2009

Pacific Island states win small victory at UN

10:10 am on 4 June 2009

Small Pacific islands vulnerable to rising sea levels have won a symbolic victory at the United Nations with the passage of a resolution recognizing climate change as a possible threat to security.

The non-binding resolution was passed by consensus by the General Assembly.

The measure may help put climate change on the agenda of the more powerful U.N. Security Council which deals with threats to international peace and security.

General Assembly resolutions are largely symbolic but can carry moral weight.

Several representatives say the decision is the first step to explicitly linking climate change to security.

Previously powerful Security Council members including Russia and China resisted such a move questioning whether the issue belonged in the Security Council.

However, Nauru's Ambassador Marlene Moses says they believe the adverse impacts of climate change have very real implications for international peace and security.

Speaking on behalf of the Pacific Small Island Developing States which introduced the resolution, she said small islands were already experiencing the "dire and immediate impacts" of climate change, including the inundation of coastal areas, the submergence of islands, loss of freshwater supplies, flooding, drought, damaged crops and increased disease.

The resolution said invited all relevant U.N. bodies to intensify efforts to address climate change and asked Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to submit a report on possible security implications.