Objections and concerns

However, not all delegations were pleased. Among the dissenting voices was Ambassador Farukh Amil of Pakistan, who was speaking for the entire Group of 77 (G77) developing countries. Ambassador Amil argued that the Security Council was not the right venue for discussions on energy and climate change. These matters, he said, were better addressed under the UN General Assembly (UNGA), its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and subsidiary bodies, including the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Furthermore, he noted that climate change was already addressed under a binding multilateral agreement - the UNFCCC. It was the Kyoto Protocol, not the council, which in his view was the proper forum to consider the risks associated with climate change. According to Ambassador Amil, the attempt to bring climate change and energy under the Security Council's umbrella was another example of the council encroaching on the authorities of other bodies, and compromising the rights of the UN's wider membership. In his opinion, 'no role was envisaged for the Security Council' on climate change (UN Department of Information, 2007).

The question for many developing countries was not whether climate change and energy insecurity were worth debating, but where they should be debated. For many in the Group of 77, the Security Council remains an exclusive bastion of power employed by the Council's permanent five member states to preserve and safeguard their own interests. Only one of the five permanent members, China, is a developing country. The other four permanent members - France,

Russia, the UK and the US - have little in common with the developing world. Many in the Group of 77 believe that it is better for developing countries if this issue is dealt with in other bodies - such as the General Assembly - where all nations have a voice:

For many developing countries, the decision by the UK presidency of the Security Council to hold a debate on climate and energy security held undertones of an inequitable response by the industrialized nations, such as the US and other global powers, most responsible for climate change. (Dodds and Sherman, 2007)

Not all developing countries appeared to share this view. In 2008, the permanent missions of the Pacific small island developing states cosponsored a draft UN General Assembly resolution on the threat of climate change to international peace and security. The resolution noted that, if unaddressed, climate change will lead to security challenges and destroy small islands because of sea-level rise. It urged the Security Council to assess and mitigate this security threat (Climate-L.org News, 2008a).

Clearly, opinion is divided on whether the Security Council should have a role. However, any suggestion that the UK government introduced the debate into the council because it holds disproportionate power or control does seem a little far-fetched. In fact, the UK is widely regarded as having played a genuine leadership role on climate change among the Western powers, both domestically and internationally.2 Statements by UK officials suggest that their aim was simply to use their presidency of a major international body to promote the importance of climate and energy issues at the highest possible level - just as they had in 2005 while holding the G8 presidency (G8, 2005). Margaret Beckett addressed this concern directly in her opening statement on 17 April 2007 when she said: 'We are not in this debate seeking to pre-empt the authority of those institutions and processes where action is being decided: the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and its subsidiary bodies and agencies, and, of course, the UNFCCC' (Beckett, 2007). Rather, her aim was to help inform and elevate the importance of these discussions.

While the motives of the UK seem to have been benign, the prevailing opinion among many developing countries of the Security Council has long been that it is among the most exclusive and least democratic bodies within the UN system. Developing countries feel the council has too many areas already under its sphere of influence. It is perceived as an elite and influential club limited only to a fortunate few. Whatever the UK's motivations, this negative perception undermined trust on the issue and the debate.

In recent years, there has been growing support for reforming the UN Security Council by broadening participation. While the current five permanent members can all mount strong cases for their continued inclusion, the global situation has clearly changed since 1945 when the Security Council came into existence. Other countries and regions are rapidly emerging and also want a seat at the table of power. While this chapter is not the place to examine such issues in detail, it is worth noting that until such reform occurs, accusations of exclusivity will continue. Broadening the council's membership might help to rebuild some of the confidence that has eroded in this institution3. In the context of climate change - which clearly requires a global solution - this is an important point. At this point in time, lack of trust could limit progress if climate and energy issues were pursued too vigorously in the council.

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