Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Peace and Security Challenges Facing Small Island Developing States

New York
Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mr. President,

Fiji aligns itself with the statement delivered by President Anote Tong of Kiribati on behalf of PSIDS.

Mr. President

I thank you for the invitation to participate at this Security Council debate. In particular I wish to convey Fiji's gratitude to Foreign Minister McCully and the Government of New Zealand for convening this debate. I also take this opportunity to extend Fiji's congratulations to you Mr. President, on the occasion of your Presidency of the Council for the month of July.

Mr. President,

By way of introduction, may I also make the point that many small island developing States are actively contributing to the management of global security problems. Fiji, for instance, has been participating in UN peacekeeping operations since 1978. Our participation has come at considerable cost to our country. We have lost precious innocent lives in the course of blue helmet duties, and the provision of peacekeeping personnel has cost our Government substantial amounts from our national budget. Despite these burdens, Fiji remains steadfast in its commitment to the cause of UN Peacekeeping.

Mr. President,

Climate Change has emerged as the biggest threat to the security of small island developing States and Fiji is no exception in this regard. Climate Change has been accurately described as a risk multiplier. The man made causes of Climate Change are now well-established and it must be clear to all by now that small island developing States are the victims of a problem not of their creating. In the South West Pacific we face a future in which sea-levels will rise to the great detriment of our island foreshores.

Likewise we will be attacked by tropical storms of greater severity and frequency than we have known before.

While the rest of the World debates the implications of Climate Change, in the small islands and atolls of the Pacific we are having to deal with the problem, because it is already upon us.

To respond to the security threats of Climate Change, Mr. President, we need strategic investments in adaptation measures. We need to move from rhetoric to a more pragmatic and action-oriented response. We believe it is for the Security Council, and our regional partners, to bring greater international effort to ensuring we have the capacity, both human and institutional, to deal with this existential threat to the security of the small island developing States.

Mr. President,

One obvious response measure is to address sustainable energy in a meaningful way. Supplying energy through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat and transport is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions causing Climate Change and ocean acidification. This has to stop, or at least be severely curtailed, if we are going to have sustainable development on this planet. We therefore call for a much greater share of global capital to be directed at the development of renewable energy sources and green growth frameworks for the "future we want".

Mr. President,

I turn now to the threats of the bio-diversity of the world's environment, with particular emphasis on oceans and seas. It is essential that we protect and restore the health, productivity and resilience of our oceans, marine ecosystems and fisheries. We are challenged to maintain their bio-diversity, enable their conservation, and manage the sustainable use of their resources for present and future generations. The marine environment provides opportunities for sustainable economic growth for SIDS, but only if we can overcome existing threats.

The ongoing over-exploitation of oceans resources through illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing is a significant security threat for SIDS, both in relation to sovereignty issues, as well as the overall sustainability of marine resources.

IUU fishing deprives coastal communities of their source of livelihood and income, and is thus a security threat to the economies of SIDS. We call upon bodies such as this Council, to help small island developing States overcome this problem by coalescing in international cooperation and technical support mechanisms to strengthen monitoring, control and surveillance of our oceans.

It is largely because of these security threats to our marine environment, Mr. President, that the Triennial Oceans & Seas Global Conferences process is being constructed in order to ensure the integrity of the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goal on the sustainable use of marine resources.

The third area we wish to address, Mr. President, is that of the vulnerability of small island States, to the criminal activities of the wider international community. By definition SIDS are vulnerable due to their small size, developing economies and isolated locations. Many struggle to adequately control their sovereign boundaries. The resources of organized crime from larger countries often exceeds those of small island developing States. It is thus that many of them are fighting losing battles against the illegal activities of drug traders and human traffickers. Transnational organized crime is a security threat to SIDS because of the afore-mentioned control capacities, particularly in relation to effective border controls. But is is also a security threat because of the ways and means by which organized crime introduces corruption to vulnerable small island developing States.

As the sources of this organized crime, and as the supply and demand markets to which these illegal activities are ultimately directed, we call on the countries concerned to give greater cooperation, assistance and resources to SIDS to combat these illegal activities.

In conclusion, Mr. President, we join with others in calling for this Council to remain seized of the security challenges faced by SIDS. We repeat the SAMOA pathway's conclusions on the urgent need to strengthen international cooperation and ensure genuine and durable partnerships at the national, regional and international levels, as the best means of overcoming these challenges.

I thank you, Mr. President.

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