Bolivia: Cut war spending to aid victims of climate change

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“A positive initiative would significantly reduce military spending and allocate monies to a fund that addresses the impacts of climate change in developing countries.”

Statement by Ambassador Rafael Archondo, Permanent Representative of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to the United Nations, in the Debate of the Security Council on Maintenance of international peace and security: The impact of climate change, New York, July 20, 2011

Thank you Mr. President.

Bolivia joins the statements made by the Group 77 and China, represented by Argentina and the Non-Aligned Movement, whose voice has been expressed by Egypt.

Mr. President:

Climate change is a real threat to the existence of mankind, other living creatures and Mother Earth, and given its systemic nature, can be analyzed from multiple dimensions such as social, economic, cultural or environmental.

We also know that climate change has a security dimension, because temperature change can cause states to disappear and will cause new conflicts to arise. It is a global threat for which few are responsible yet millions are affected by.

Among those affected are small island states with which we would like to extend our solidarity to, especially to President of Nauru, who was with us today.

However, although we recognize the security dimensions of climate change, we disagree with the notion of having this issue be addressed by the Security Council because its permanent members that hold the right to veto are also precisely the states that are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases.

Under this circumstance, is it conceivable that the Security Council would effectively adopt resolutions that sanction or mandate reparations from their own countries for the damage they are causing?

Mr. President:

The security dimension of climate change must be treated in an organ where the guilty do not have the right to veto or permanent membership. This issue should be discussed in setting where the victims-at-risk are adequately represented; the threat of disappearing island states, countries that have glaciers, Africa and all developing countries that have to pay the cost of damage that they have not caused.

Today, the only instance in which there is this degree of participation is within General Assembly and thus all dimensions of climate change must be addressed comprehensively in its midst.

Mr. President:

Furthermore, we note that the fundamental concern in the process of climate change negotiations under the UNFCCC, is the guarantee of a real and effective reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases through the adoption of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Only then can we bridge the gap that currently exists, and the stabilization of the temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius.

Developed countries must increase their current reduction commitments as we are pushing for a temperature increase of up to 5 degrees Celsius, before a disastrous scenario breaks out.  This morning this Mr. Akim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director has warned of such a catastrophe.

According to the Global Humanitarian Forum (chaired by former Secretary General Kofi Annan) 350,000 people die each year due to natural disasters caused by climate change. It is a figure that is rising and exceeds the number of deaths of many armed conflicts and wars that occur in the world.

Therefore, it is necessary that we create a protocol to judge and punish those who violate their commitments to reduce greenhouse gases, because what they are doing is causing genocide and ecocide against Mother Earth.

For this reason, the State of Bolivia promotes the creation of an International Court of Climate and Environmental Justice to implement effective measures to guarantee human rights, the rights of nature, and every living thing affected by the irresponsibility of those dedicated only to their interests of profit and promote the survival of mankind and Mother Earth.

Mr. President:

Globally each year, more than 1500 billion dollars is allocated to military spending. The vast majority of these costs are concentrated in developed countries and particularly the countries holding the 5 permanent seats of the Security Council.

In contrast, to address the issue of climate change issues developed countries have only offered $30 billion in 3 years; 10 billion per year, which to less than 1% of what they spend on defense and security.

A positive initiative would significantly reduce military spending and allocate monies to a fund that addresses the impacts of climate change in developing countries particularly island states, Africa, the mountain ranges and all regions of the world in which poor are being affected.

Mr. President:

Please allow me to finish these remarks with a question: is it possible for the Security Council to adopt a resolution establishing a reduction, let’s say, start with 10 or 20% in defense spending and security, to be allocated to address the impacts of climate change?

Thank you very much.