Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Chumakov at UNSC debate "Sea-level rise: Implications for International Peace and Security"


We thank the Presidency for convening this debate, and we also thank our briefers.

Rising sea level is a global challenge that calls for special attention of many states, including my country. Russia has the world's third longest coastal line. Our national territory encompasses more than 1300 islands. Sea level rise is a potential challenge that we need to account for when drafting plans for our socio-economic development.

No one would dispute the scientific consensus that the rapid rise in sea levels observed over the past century is directly related to climate change.

Yet we must state with concern that in our view, “securitization” of climate agenda, which includes challenges related to the rising sea level, is counterproductive. We stress again that there is no scientific substantiation behind the climate-security nexus. According to a report by IPCC, “compared to other socioeconomic factors the influence of climate on conflict is assessed as relatively weak”.

Let’s once again take a close look at all elements of our today’s agenda. Changing sea level does have economic implications, such as ruining of critical infrastructure, reduced fish catches, flooded farmlands, aggravation of the situation with food security and access to drinking water. Also, natural disasters grow more frequent. Their consequences, as well as the inability of states to utilize state-of-the-art early warning systems and other technologies cannot but raise grave concerns. These socio-economic challenges can evolve into factors of instability, however it would be wrong and even harmful to make root causes of instability conditional only on climate, because this would lead us away from searching for solutions and discussing donors’ obligations. We need to pay attention to the entire bunch of problems in the area of sustainable development. We appreciate it that the Secretary-General accentuated this whole set of problems in his remarks today.

We would like to make a separate point about legal aspects. The International Law Commission is now discussing sea level rise from the international law perspective. We believe that this discussion is very important in principle, however we emphasize that by this moment the legal experts have not arrived at a unified conclusion, and the results will be presented only upon thorough consideration of each of the three sub-topics – issues pertaining to the law of the sea, statehood, and protection of individuals affected by the rising sea level. This subject matter is also addressed in the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly.  So we believe other discussions of this issue are premature, especially at such a non-specialized platform as the Security Council.

We once again underscore the importance of “division of labor” in the UN system. The first lines of the Preamble to the UN Charter define three equal pillars, namely peace and security, human rights, and development. For 77 years by now, the UN system has been building upon this principle. It has been proven that in a community the division of labor leads to greater effectiveness of economy that can manufacture more high-quality innovative goods. By analogy, the division of labor at the United Nations was not introduced accidentally. It was introduced because when looking for better and innovative solutions to our outstanding tasks, we need to use proper tools. Conflict resolution is something that member states deal with here, in the Security Council, whereas issues pertaining to development, including environmental protection, have to be considered in the General Assembly, ECOSOC, High-Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development, and the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change, which is the specialized platform for climatic discussions.

Since we are convening today to discuss environmental issues, we specifically would like to join our Chinese colleagues, who expressed concern over Japan’s plans to dump into the ocean the radionuclide-contaminated wastewater from Fukushima-1 NPP. When making this decision, our Japanese colleagues did not think it necessary to discuss the issue with the neighboring states. We count on Tokyo to demonstrate due degree of transparency and inform about its actions that may pose a real radiation threat; to allow, whenever necessary, monitoring of the radiation situation in areas where the wastewater discharge will be carried out; and also to take adequate measures to minimize the negative impact on marine environment and contain environmental degradation.

In conclusion, we believe it is completely justified for island states to seek to draw the attention of international community to environmental and developmental challenges that are the most pressing to them. In our project activities under assistance for development, Russia takes into account those needs and stresses the importance of addressing this agenda, but only at specialized platforms in the framework of the UN development system, where we not only can treat symptoms of this illness, but find out its root cause.

Thank you.