Mr. President,

Thank you for convening this debate. We also thank the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, the Co-Chair of the Study Group of the International Law Commission and Ms. Coral Pasisi for their presentations.

The facts are clear: our planet is getting warmer, causing water levels to rise and glaciers to melt. Switzerland is at the forefront of the latter phenomenon. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would slow the rise in sea level. Thus, the effective implementation of the Paris Agreement is crucial to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Addressing climate security is one of the priorities of the Swiss government in the Security Council. My country will therefore remain committed to limiting the negative effects of climate change on peace and security.

Allow me to emphasize three points: 

First, rising sea levels due to global warming can increase insecurity. Rising seas threaten the infrastructure and even the existence of some island and coastal states. Some of these states could find themselves submerged. In addition, agricultural production, food security, access to water and the habitat are threatened by soil erosion and water salinization. Some areas are becoming uninhabitable, which could force millions of people to flee within or outside their country. In fragile contexts where state capacity is limited, this can lead to tensions over, for example, access to basic services. While populations as a whole are affected by rising waters, marginalized groups and women are often particularly affected.

Second, the Security Council has a key role to play. It must face one of the greatest contemporary risks for humanity. The Council must be able to anticipate the impacts of climate change on international peace and security through conflict early warning systems based on sound science. It must then integrate the findings of these assessments into its activities, including peacekeeping and special political missions. The Climate Security Mechanism's climate advisors are a good example in this regard. Nevertheless, sea level rise requires an integrated response from the entire UN system, including the Peacebuilding Commission, based on the mandates given to each entity working on this issue.

Third, in order to address sea level rise, international law must serve as our compass. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or the principle of damage prevention are crucial components. However, despite the established framework of international law, these climate challenges also confront us with new and complex questions, regarding, for example, statehood, human rights or the protection of people against the specific effects of these threats. We therefore welcome the ongoing work of the International Law Commission.

Mr. President,

The impacts of climate change and sea level rise are already being felt today, in a differentiated fashion depending on the contexts. Like the water that binds the Swiss glaciers and the Pacific islands, their effects on peace and security transcend borders and concern us all. Switzerland has taken on a proactive role in launching the Nansen Initiative with Norway as well as the Geneva-based "Platform on Disaster Displacement". This platform aims to improve the protection of people displaced across borders in the context of disasters and climate change. We will continue our engagement, including as co-chair of the Informal Expert Group on Climate and Security, to limit the negative effects of climate change on peace and security during our tenure on the Security Council.

Thank you.