UNITED NATIONS, (G77/IPS)— The Group of 77 has warned that all environmental issues, including climate change, should be kept out of the agenda of the U.N. Security Council.
Ambassador Munir Akram of Pakistan, current G77 chair and Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations, said that some of the G77 members feel that the Security Council had gone beyond its mandate in discussing climate change.
He said even issues such as nuclear non-proliferation and terrorism are issues for the general membership— not for the Security Council.
“The concept of the Security Council, as I read the U.N. charter, is that the Council comes into action when there are actual threats to peace, and breaches of the peace,” Ambassador Akram said, in an interview with the JOURNAL OF THE GROUP OF 77.
The G77 publicly accused the Security Council of violating the Organisation’s charter by holding an open debate on energy, security and climate. The debate was the brainchild of UK, which held the rotating post of Security Council President fo the month of April.
In a letter to Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry of UK, the G77 said that the Security Council’s primary responsibility is for the maintenance of international peace and security as set out in the U.N. Charter.
All other issues, including those relating to economic and social development, are assigned by the Charter to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly.
The letter said the ever-increasing encroachment by the Security Council on the roles and responsibilities of other principal organs of the United Nations represents a distortion of the principles and purposes of the U.N. Charter, and also infringes on their authority and compromises the rights of the general membership of the United Nations.
On earlier occasions the Security Council had also “encroached” into ECOSOC and General Assembly territory by holding meetings on gender rights, HIV/AIDS, terrorism and U.N. procurement and peacekeeping.
Last year, the Group of 77 under the chairmanship of South Africa protested the debate on U.N. procurement. But U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, then president of the Security Council, refused to remove the item from the agenda and continued with the one-day discussion despite protests from the G77.
Ambassador Akram said that some of these thematic issues are not threats to peace or breaches of the peace. But, of course, it is a matter of interpretation.
Terrorism may be a threat to peace, he argued, but the Security Council is not dealing with an actual situation
when it is involved in setting norms and creating international laws.
“Law making powers, according my interpretation of the Charter is clearly assigned to the General Assembly, not to the Security Council,” he added.
The 117-member Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) has also criticised the British proposal to hold a meeting on climate change.
Ambassador Ileana Nunez Mordoche of Cuba, current NAM chair, expressed NAM’s concerns “regarding the continued and increase encroachment by the Security Council on the functions and powers of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council and other organs through addressing issues which traditionally fall within the competence of the latter organs.”
Ambassador Akram said that individual G77 members, however, have the full right to speak in their national capacities.
The issues of energy and climate change, which will be discussed at the meeting, are considered vital for sustainable development.
But the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which took place in Johannesburg in Sep. 2002, assigned responsibilities in the field of sustainable development to the General Assembly, ECOSOC, the Commission on Sustainable Development, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol.
But “no role was envisaged for the Security Council,” Ambassador Akram said.
Speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Farukh Amil of Pakistan told the Security Council that the G77 has consistently maintained that the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) “is the appropriate forum” to consider risks associated with that phenomenon.
There was “no role” envisaged for the Security Council on climate change, he declared.
He said the Group also feels it inappropriate to consider the issue of energy in the Security Council.
“We reaffirm the key role of energy in achieving the goals of sustainable development, poverty eradication and achieving the MDGs.”
“Therefore, we emphasize the critical role of international community for provision of adequate, predictable, new and additional financial resources, technology transfer and enhancing capacity building of the developing countries as agreed in Agenda 21, Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) and decisions of Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)”.