19 March 2018

Small island states bringing climate change to the UN Security Council

This policy brief discusses how climate change related security challenges facing small island states have been addressed by the UN Security Council (UNSC). Small Island Development States (SIDS) were in 2007 among the first to push for this agenda, as rising sea levels pose a direct threat to their existence, which could inter alia lead to territorial disputes and also puts military bases at risk. The chaos in the aftermath of the intensified hurricane season in the Caribbean resulted in calls for military assistance to restore order.

The active SIDS campaigning on climate change in relation to security is thereby highly legitimate, even though the appetite of some of the permanent members of the UNSC to heed that call for action is limited. They question the threat to international security rising out of this agenda and seem to fear calls for (financial) assistance. However, in relation to the SIDS, this policy brief argues that international peace is indeed likely to be threatened. Steps forward and alternatives are identified for addressing this agenda.

The policy brief can be accessed and downloaded here: Fighting an existential threat: small island states bringing climate change to the UN Security Council.

Photo: US Virgin Islands National Guard / Flickr