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Secretary-General Calls Climate Change ‘Quintessential Global Challenge’, Citing also Crime, Pandemics, in Security Council Meeting on New Challenges to Peace

Secretary-General Calls Climate Change ‘Quintessential Global Challenge’, Citing


also Crime, Pandemics, in Security Council Meeting on New Challenges to Peace


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks to the Security Council meeting on “Maintenance of international peace and security:  New challenges to international peace and security and conflict prevention”, in New York on 23 November:

I thank the Portuguese presidency for focusing the Security Council’s attention on three of the defining challenges of our times: transnational organized crime, pandemics and climate change.  And I thank the Foreign Minister of Portugal for taking the time to preside over this very important meeting.

None of these challenges is new.  What is new, however, is that they are increasingly transnational, increasingly acute and have ever greater implications for human, State, regional and international security.

They are increasingly transnational because of the growing ease with which people, goods and money can cross borders.  The recent movie Contagion was more science than fiction.  Organized crime groups are particularly adept at exploiting the openness of globalization to traffic humans, drugs and weapons.  And climate change is the quintessential global challenge.

These threats are also increasingly acute because the combined stresses of crime, pandemics and climate change are pushing many poor and fragile countries close to the breaking point.

Some have seen their life expectancy cut in half by HIV/AIDS — a horrible toll, not only on families and loved ones, but on the labour force, businesses, the civil service and the armed forces.  Organized crime groups use corruption and violence to hollow out weak institutions from the inside.  And the extreme weather and other consequences associated with climate change are exacerbating already difficult struggles with desertification, drought, floods and volatility in food prices.

By undermining State capacity and State institutions, these threats have clear and increasing implications for peace and security.  As the World Bank pointed out earlier this year in its World Development Report, countries affected by violence account for 43 per cent of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Criminal groups, in their effort to control trafficking routes, spread fear and insecurity and, in some cases, have triggered the outbreak of political violence.  Today, many more people die as the result of criminal and gang violence than in civil wars.

We are seeing an increasing convergence between organized crime and terrorist groups.  Climate change, in some regions, has aggravated conflict over scarce land and could well trigger large-scale migration in the decades ahead.  And rising sea levels put at risk the very survival of all small island States.

These and other implications for peace and security have implications for the United Nations itself.

First, no country and no region, no matter how powerful, will be able to address these threats alone.  They can only be addressed through regional and global cooperation.  The United Nations will continue to play a lead role in fostering such cooperation.

Second, these are complex and multilayered threats that require multidisciplinary responses.  The United Nations is well placed to promote an integrated mix of political, developmental and capacity-building responses.

You have all heard me talk about connecting the dots among energy, food, health, disaster risk reduction and other issues in our response to climate change.  That idea is relevant to today’s discussion as well.  We are all aware of the risk that a warming world will facilitate the spread of deadly disease.

But there are other links as well.  In some parts of the world, drug trafficking has led to an increase in intravenous drug use.  This, in turn, has become one of the main drivers in the spread of HIV/AIDS.

Our response to crime, meanwhile, cannot be limited to law enforcement.  It must encompass public health, institution-building and human rights.  Our economic and social development efforts must become more crime-sensitive.

More broadly, it is crucial to address the social inequalities and economic injustice that give rise to frustration and unrest.  Ultimately, security must be rooted in opportunity, freedom and hope.

I am pleased that this meeting of the Council will hear from my colleagues António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

UNHCR and UNODC have constructive ties with the Security Council.  At the same time, there is ample room to increase contact with WHO, and I hope the Council will pursue this.

Thank you again for addressing these issues.  As the nature of the threats we face continues to evolve, this Council — so central to our ability to keep the peace — must also keep pace.

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For information media. Not an official record.