July 2015 Monthly Forecast


Security Challenges for Small Island Developing States

Expected Council Action

In July, the Council will hold an open debate on the peace and security challenges facing small island developing states (SIDS). New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, is expected to preside. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the prime ministers of Samoa and Jamaica and the finance minister of the Seychelles are likely to brief the Council. No outcome is expected following the debate.


This will be the first open debate addressing the specific challenges associated with this group of 52 countries and territories. As highlighted by the concept note circulated by New Zealand ahead of the open debate, the vulnerabilities of SIDS “are exacerbated by small size; remoteness; narrow resource, economic and export base; and exposure to global environmental challenges”.

The open debate comes after the third UN conference on SIDS in October 2014 in Samoa. The outcome document outlined a series of threats affecting peace and security and the challenges these countries face to respond to them effectively. Some of the threats expected to be raised by member states are related to transnational crime and piracy, the illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and uneven development.

Transnational crime and piracy

A presidential statement adopted on 21 February 2012 under the presidency of Togo on the impact of transnational organised crime in West Africa and the Sahel identified it as a serious threat to international peace and stability “including illicit weapons and drug trafficking, piracy and armed robbery at sea, as well as terrorism”. Although most of the Council’s attention to this matter has focused on the linkages between organised crime and terrorism, the concept note highlights the particular impact of this phenomenon on SIDS.

Illicit exploitation of natural resources

Thus far, the Council’s most common response to conflict related to natural resources has been to authorise commodity sanctions, which has had a limited preventive role. Two open debates have taken place on the linkages between natural resources and conflict (in 2007 and 2013) The concept note outlines the challenges associated with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing which in the past has been included in Council outcomes on Somalia and Guinea-Bissau.

Climate change

The Council tackled the issue of climate change in three open debates and an Arria-formula meeting between 2007 and 2013. On 20 July 2011 the Council adopted a presidential statement expressing concern over the possible security implications of loss of territory of some states caused by sea-level rise, in particular in small low-lying island states. The statement noted the importance of including conflict analysis and contextual information on the possible security implications of climate change in the Secretary-General’s reports when such issues are drivers of conflict, represent a challenge to the implementation of Council mandates or endanger the process of peace consolidation. At press time, Malaysia and Spain were expecting to hold an Arria-formula meeting on 30 June on the role of climate change as a threat multiplier for global security.

The concept note also outlines such issues as the vulnerabilities related to the achievement of inclusive development by SIDS and their under-representation in the Council.

Key Issues

A key issue is to address the specific vulnerabilities of SIDS in relation to international peace and security.

Another issue is to overcome Council divisions when tackling issues such as climate change or the illicit exploitation of natural resources.

Council and Wider Dynamics

Although this will be the first meeting addressing the challenges for SIDS related to international peace and security, some of the issues that are expected to be discussed, such as climate change or the illicit exploitation of natural resources, have been difficult for the Council to agree upon in the past.

It seems that the scheduling of this open debate is New Zealand’s fulfilment of a commitment it made during its campaign to become an elected member of the Council. In addition to increased awareness of specific challenges that SIDS face, some of these countries might raise the difficulties in implementing Council-imposed legal obligations that rely on member states to be effective on such issues as the implementation of sanctions and other counter-terrorism or non-proliferation obligations.

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Security Council Presidential Statements
21 February 2012 S/PRST/2012/2 Was on the impact of transnational organized crime on peace, security and stability in West Africa and the Sahel Region, including piracy.
20 July 2011 S/PRST/2011/15 This was a presidential statement on climate change.
25 June 2007 S/PRST/2007/22 This presidential statement was on the role of natural resources in conflict.
Security Council Meeting Records
19 June 2013 S/PV.6982 This was an open debate on conflict prevention and natural resources.
19 June 2013 S/PV.6982 (Resumption 1) This was debate on conflict prevention and natural resources.
23 November 2011 S/PV.6668 This was a a high-level briefing on “New Challenges to International Peace and Security”.
20 July 2011 S/PV.6587 This was a meeting on the impact of climate change.
20 July 2011 S/PV.6587 (Resumption 1) This was the resumption of a meeting on the impact of climate change.

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