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Open Debate on Addressing Complex Contemporary Challenges to International Peace and Security

Tomorrow (20 December), the Security Council will hold an open debate on the theme “addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security” at the initiative of Council president Japan. Secretary-General António Guterres will brief.

The debate is expected to focus on non-traditional threats to international peace and security-- such as climate change, famine, pandemic diseases, transnational organised crime, and drug trafficking--which can lead to or exacerbate conflict. It is further anticipated that the debate will explore the need to address the various threats within the context of “sustaining peace”--which envisions peacebuilding as relevant not only to post-conflict situations but also to conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacekeeping and incorporates all three pillars of UN engagement (i.e. peace and security, human rights, and development.). In addition to highlighting the importance of tackling non-traditional threats to peace and security, including by addressing various “human security” issues, Council members may suggest concrete measures the Council can undertake to address the threats.

Japan has circulated a concept paper (S/2017/1016) in preparation for the debate in which it proposes that members focus on the following areas during the discussion:

• reflecting on and drawing lessons from Council successes and failures in addressing factors that could exacerbate or prolong conflict in order to determine an ideal approach;

• discussing how active interaction with different United Nations agencies and bodies, as well as non-members of the Council could help the Council address these complex challenges;

• discussing how the Secretariat can help the Council enhance its awareness of these challenges;

• discussing how the Council can align itself with current reforms to the UN’s peace and security architecture in order to develop linkages across the pillars of the UN’s work (i.e., peace and security, development and human rights); and

• how a “human security” approach, focusing on protection and empowerment strategies, can help to address complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.

Several members support the Council’s engagement on the issues raised in the concept note. They have embraced the Council’s willingness to focus on issues such as climate change and pandemic diseases, among others, as threats to international peace and security within the Council’s mandate. However, other members have a more traditional view of what issues constitute a threat to international peace and security. Russia in particular has maintained that human rights and development issues should not be a focus of the Council’s attention. These differences over how wide the scope of the Council’s work should be appear to have made it difficult to get agreement on a formal Council outcome for the meeting.

At press time, a chair’s summary produced by Japan focusing on the key elements of the debate appeared to be a likely outcome.