Ireland to push UN on link between climate change and global conflict

Taoiseach to use Security Council presidency to mobilise international diplomacy on issue

The threat posed to global security by climate change would be a permanent fixture on the agenda of the world's leading powers if an Irish proposal for a United Nations Security Council resolution is agreed.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will on Thursday use Ireland’s presidency of the council to urge those at the top table in international diplomacy to take action on the growing links between climate change and conflict. The debate on climate and security will be the first time a taoiseach has chaired a meeting of the Security Council.

He confirmed Ireland was working on a resolution that would see the issue routinely considered by the Security Council which includes permanent members the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France.

He said Ireland’s diplomats were “working very hard” to get agreement at the Security Council on accepting the concept of the link between climate and security.


“We’ve achieved a lot of progress on that front. There are still some remaining member states we have to work on and work with to get a consensus on this and that work is ongoing,” Mr Martin said on Wednesday. “But our team are hopeful.”

While 12 of the 15 members are believed to be supportive of the proposals, Russia, China and India remain sceptical amid concern over an extension of the mandate of the Security Council.

Biden ‘boost’

A German bid to get a similar proposal over the line was scuppered last year by former US president Donald Trump’s administration.

The chances of progress to tackle the risk of climate-related conflict is believed to have received a "significant boost" due to the election of President Joe Biden last year.

Successfully getting a resolution on climate change and security over the line would be seen as a key success of Ireland’s two-year term as a temporary member of the Security Council.

However, Russia and China will have to be convinced that there is a role for the Security Council in the area. Their position has been that climate change should be dealt with through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the COP meetings, the next of which is due to begin in Glasgow next month.

India is also believed to be sceptical about anything it sees as an extension of mandate of the Security Council.

Along with Niger, Ireland is co-chairing an expert group that is examining evidence that suggests climate change is causing or exacerbating conflicts in places like the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa.

Africa and medicine

Mr Martin last night attended a meeting between EU and African heads of government to discuss issues from climate and security to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Europe is very anxious to build up capacity within the African continent around the production of medicines – particularly mRNA vaccines,” the Taoiseach said.

He said “substantial funds” would be offered to South Africa and other African countries along with technology transfers so that they would have the capacity to produce their own vaccines and medicines into the future.

Separately, Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney concluded his own programme of bilateral meetings at the UN General Assembly in New York with a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. He earlier attended an informal Security Council dialogue with the League of Arab Nations where issues like the conflicts in Yemen and Syria were due to be discussed. He also had meetings with representatives from Pakistan, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Mr Coveney has travelled to Washington DC where he is due to hold talks with the speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi on Thursday.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times