Statement by Ambassador Wittig on New Challenges to Security in the Security Council

Nov 23, 2011

(as delivered)

Mr. President,

I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for your timely initiative, to convene today's briefing on New Challenges to Security. We welcome the presence of his Excelency, Mr. Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.

Let me also thank the Secretary General for his briefing and Executive Director of UNODC Fedotov, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres and Director General for the World Health Organisation Margaret Chan for their insightful briefings.

Mr. President,

Germany firmly believes that managing and resolving threats to international security as well as armed violence without understanding the causes and dynamics underlying them can at best only lead to temporary solutions.

Our world is, at the beginning of a new century, facing a whole array of tremendous new challenges. Among them are poverty, infectious diseases, transnational organized crime and climate change, just to name a few. The Council recognized the chalenges of climate change on security when it adopted, under German Presidency, a substantial and forward looking Presidential Statement on the issue. Today's debate is an excellent opportunity to take a systematic look at those diverse threats and challenges.

Mr. President,

let me briefly elaborate on three areas that deserve particular attention: 

1. Health

Since the first discussion of the interlinkages between HIV/AIDS and international peace and security over a decade ago, the Security Council has come a long way, only recently having adopted its Resolution 1983 (2011) on this issue. Today it is widely acknowledged that conflict situations can aggravate health problems and that vulnerable populations, such as refugees or children in armed conflict, face higher health risks. At the same time we know that the spread of epidemics like HIV/AIDS can fuel conflicts by weakening national governments’ capacities and by destroying existing social structures.

Therefore we would like to encourage donors, UN agencies and affected states to further integrate health into stabilization and rehabilitation programs and to promote innovative models of cooperation. One of these models is the Debt2Health Initiative, initiated by the Global Fund on HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria and the German Government in 2007. By redirecting funds from debt repayments towards life-saving investments in health, Debt2Health has improved public health systems and strengthened partnerships, including with conflict-affected countries.

Besides significantly decreasing health-related root causes for conflict, there is also a need to highlight the importance of addressing health issues in the aftermath of conflict. The physical and psychological consequences of violence, including sexual violence, often constitute a heavy burden for stabilization, reconstruction and development in post-conflict societies. Mainstreaming health issues into peacebuilding activities therefore remains a key challenge that is often overlooked. In this regard today’s debate can certainly provide guidance and help to increase awareness.

Mr. President,

my second point refers to the Interrelation between Climate Change, Migration and Security:

In some regions of our planet, climate change-induced migration is a reality already today. People are migrating, because their traditional homes are under threat by a rising sea-level, by increasing drought and desertification, by an increasingly destructive power of natural disasters. Climate change will hardly be the only factor in a crisis. The terrible famine at the Horn of Africa is an example for that.

We have to acknowledge that despite all ongoing efforts to curb Greenhouse Gas emissions and to mitigate climate change – and COP 17 in Durban is beginning 5 days from now -, migration has already now become an adaptation strategy for people affected by climate change. The number of affected people within and across borders will clearly rise, potentially leading to insecurity and conflict – besides the personal plight of millions of people.

Germany very much supports the approach that UNHCR is taking in this regard.  We need more research and better understanding of the migration processes. We have to be guided by the fundamental principles of human dignity, human rights and international cooperation.

The international community may also need to look more closely into the adequacy and appropriateness of the legal and political instruments at hand – a complex task for all of us. And we will also have to look more closely into the security implications of migration, which will require a comprehensive approach, including by the Security Council within the work on new and emerging security threats. With a view to Durban let me just add that the worst case is not inevitable: Mitigation remains key in this regard. 

My third point refers to the transnational organized crime

The composition and operational methods of transnational organized criminal groups have become more sophisticated in recent years. Their activities continue to pose a serious threat to international peace and security. The seriousness of the problem lies in the global penetration achieved by those organisations and in the threat they pose to democracy and legitimate economic development. These problems are compounded by the fact that States' capacities to establish the rule of law is in many cases weakened by corruption, weak judicial systems and the lack of effective policing capacity.

The scale of the challenge requires a coordinated response from the international community. In this context, we regard the Palermo Convention as one of the crucial instruments to enhance international cooperation to combat organised crime, and we would like to seize this opportunity to appeal to all states which have not yet done so to ratify this convention as quickly as possible.

In 2011 alone, Germany has contributed around 7 million (6.837.619)  USD to projects implemented by UNODC in the area of combating organized crime and drug trafficking, and we intend to continue our financial support for such projects. As a good example for such a successful cooperation I would like to mention the Global Container Control Program, jointly conducted by UNODC and World Customs Organisation. This program is aimed at capacity building by training.

(not delivered due to time constraints:

An example for the detrimental effects of transnational organized crime, which we have discussed in this Council in the past, is illicit trafficking and misuse of small arms. Germany has for long been committed to a comprehensive approach to combating the destabilizing accumulation and illicit trafficking of these materials. We actively support initiatives to improve the control of small arms, be it in international fora or through multilateral or bilateral activities, both on the supply and demand side. Grave problems continue to arise from insecure ammunition stockpiles as a source of diversion to illicit markets, criminals or terrorists, including the potential use of munitions for Improvised Explosive Devices. Germany, in recent years, has paid particular attention to the issue of thorough management and security of national stockpiles of conventional arms and ammunition.)

Mr. President,

To conclude, let us not forget that prevention is key to countering today's threats. We as member states have to build up our own capacities and help others to do so, in order to exercise our sovereignty responsibly, deal with internal dangers before they threaten others, and act collectively with other states to meet threats on a global scale.

I thank you, Mr. President

© GermanyUN

Peace and Security

Regional conflicts, fragile or collapsed states, armed conflicts, terrorism and organized crime – all have grave consequences for the people who suffer under them. They also threaten the security and stability of entire regions and peoples.