Statement by His Excellency Mr. Mohamed Siad Doualeh
Ambassador, Permanent Representative to the United Nations
United Nations Security Council
Sea-Level Rise and Implications for International Peace and Security
Monday October 18, 2021
Djibouti welcomes efforts to understand the nexus between sea-level rise and international and regional peace, security and stability. Djibouti also invites efforts to understand and address the effects of rising sea levels on States in order to formulate policy and practical adaptation and mitigation measures.
Rising sea levels pose a grave threat to the lives and livelihoods of populations across the globe and, in particular, those of low-lying coastal countries and small-island developing States.
Djibouti is particularly concerned about the adverse consequences resulting from rising sea levels, and recognizes the gravity of the issue for the international community as a whole. In Djibouti, we are highly vulnerable to the consequences of climate change. Frequent and intense droughts and floods, coupled with rising sea levels, are harming food security and economic livelihoods. Because of these concerns, Djibouti has adopted a comprehensive national plan in order to implement the commitments undertaken in the 2015 Paris Accord.
Efforts made by the UN system, and international and regional organizations in identifying adaptation and mitigation measures are befitting of its urgency. In this regard, Djibouti recalls PRST/2011/15, in which the Security Council took into account that climate change may aggravate threats to international peace and security. The Security Council should continue to increase recognition of the need to integrate the effects of rising sea levels and security in future sessions.
But more must be done.
Coordinated initiatives aimed at promoting dialogue between scientists and policymakers to support adaptation and peacebuilding must be employed. We underscore the importance of incentivizing public and private financing of adaptation measures such as early warning systems, resilient infrastructure, and resilient water resources.
At the same time, the need for legal certainty is all the more pressing. Since the late 1980s, low-lying island States have expressed their concern about the challenge that sea-level rise poses to their continuity. Physical coastlines are altered, potentially affecting maritime entitlements. Novel questions of Statehood also arise in circumstances where a small-island State may lose its permanent population or defined territory. Ambiguities in connection with climate refugees and Stateless peoples also require legal clarification.
It is for this reason that Djibouti welcomes the 2021 report of the International Law Commission (ILC) on the topic of “Sea-level rise in relation to international law,” and recognizes the importance of the preceding work of the International Law Association (ILA) Committee on International Law and Sea-Level Rise and Committee on Statehood. In connection with this work, my delegation cannot overstate the indispensability of fully respecting the letter and spirit of the UNCLOS in conducting such work and of ensuring that the content of any study will fully comply with the Convention.
The ILA Committee endorsed the view that “it is generally agreed that, as guidance and as a starting point, there should be a presumption of continuing Statehood in cases where land territory was lost.” Any discussion must be in this context;
In closing, we collectively carry the obligation to provide a future for generations to come. Our hope is that the UN and its Member States take prompt action.
Thank you, Mr. President