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On Climate, Russia “Broke Silence” on UNSC Statement, Deal Still Sought

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 20 -- As more than sixty countries gave speeches about climate change in the UN Security Council on Wednesday, behind the scenes the German presidency of the Council tried to negotiate with Russia, and to some degree China, to get agreement on a watered down statement on the topic.

  As Inner City Press reported July 19, there was a range of opposition to Germany's draft in the lead up to a re-drafting meeting that afternoon. The result went into so-called “silence procedure” to see if it was acceptably to all 15 Council members. Russia broke the silence procedure.

  But Russia is not the only doubted. The Non Aligned Movement, for example, has opposed the Germans' proposal. On July 20 Egypt's Permanent Representative Maged Abdelaziz told Inner City Press that NAM does not want the Council to take any action on climate. “That is for the General Assembly and UNFCCC,” he said.

  He said NAM wouldn't oppose there being a Special Representative on climate change, but it should be created by the General Assembly, not the Security Council.

  But NAM's representative or coordinator in the Council, Colombia, has had its concerned allayed by the German's re-draft. Brazil's Permanent Representative Viotti told Inner City Press that the amendments she had proposed had all be taken, but “they keep talking with Russia and China.”

  Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Sasha Pankin told Inner City Press that he has worked on the climate issue and it is complex.  He asked, what would the Council actually do about it?

Merkel, Ban Ki-moon and guard, climate PRST not shown

  Proponents of the statement pointedly ask how Brazil got support for their thematic meeting's statement, on development and security, but now climate change and security is a problem. Others wonder how HIV / AIDS can be in Council statements, but not climate change.

  But even the Association of Small Island States meeting on the morning of July 19 was inconclusive. There is philosophic or turf-based opposition to the Security Council “taking over” the issue of climate change.

  Even though the Germans have changed the language to address this so-called “encroachment” fear, it remains. So will the Security Council “remain seized” of climate change and security? Watch this site.

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At UN on Climate, Russia Says Complex, China Speaks of Blue Seats in GA

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 19, updated -- If there is a climate change Presidential Statement in the Security Council on July 20 it will be “so weak as to be meaningless,” several sources told Inner City Press midday on Tuesday.

They described a contentious closed door consultation that morning which began with China saying its position had not changed, it wanted no outcome from the meeting.

  Afterward, Chinese Deputy Permanent Representative Wang explained to Inner City Press that China does not want the Security Council taking over issues from the General Assembly. He said there are already “blue” or empty seats throughout the General Assembly as it loses power.

  Russia's Deputy Permanent Representative Pankin told Inner City Press that climate change is complex and the Germany presidency has not made clear what it proposes the Council do about the issue: send peacekeepers to close down coal mines?

  Brazil's Permanent Representative Viotti told Inner City Press her country was willing to negotiate and had put forward proposed amendments, to limit encroachment and narrow the scope from what had been proposed. But they have not yet included our amendments, she said.

  Colombia is the Non Aligned Movement's representative or coordinator on the Council this month, and conveyed NAM's opposition to the Presidential Statement.

 Colombia in its national capacity proposed amendments. Another source told Inner City Press Colombia said it too suffers from climate change, but nevertheless has these concerns.

  The United States is understood to be favoring the Security Council adopting some Statement on climate change. The Germans remain hopeful, preparing another draft for an experts level meeting at 3 pm on Tuesday.

  But with Russia and China expressing opposition, and Colombia, Brazil and others forwarding amendments, even a weak Presidential Statement is by no means assured. Watch this site.

Update of 1:30 pm -- sources tell Inner City Press a "bare bones" re-drafted PRST has been circulated in advance of the 3 pm meeting. Inner City Press asked German Ambassador Peter Wittig as he came out of the Council after the Iraq meeting -- SRSG Ad Melkert briefed but did not take any press questions -- about the chances for the climate PRST. Anything is possible, he said.

* * *

At UN on Climate, Statement in Play Amid Encroachment Fears, AOSIS to Meet

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- While Germany has been pushing on climate change for a Security Council Presidential Statement after the July 20 meeting, numerous Council members expressed doubt to Inner City Press on Monday night.

  “It's as if they think only the Security Council can deal with anything,” one Council member complained. The Non-Aligned Movement has been lobbying against Security Council jurisdiction over climate change.

  Meanwhile some small island states, many in the Pacific, see the seas rising and want the Council and its powers under Chapter Seven of the UN charter to be invoked. That is the tension, within the Association of Small Island States or AOSIS: which ones need the Council's involvement, on issues like their fishing rights even if their land is overrun, and those aligned with NAM.

  "The Brits in 2007 said it wouldn't be a precedent," one member told Inner City Press of a UK sponsored Council meeting in that year. "Now they're citing it. So we say no."

  Germany still believes a Presidential Statement is possible, saying it has been calling Moscow and Beijing. But such a Statement require unanimity, and other capitals must be called. And there it is harder for the administration of Angela Merkel to exert pressure.

  “She was against nuclear power and then for it,” a Council member told Inner City Press. “Now she is against it again. Investors need more constancy than that. We can put words on paper, but what do they want the Council to do?”

 Here is the German mission's concept paper, click here.

  The initial proposal was for a brand new Special Representative of the Secretary General, to report to the Council every six months. Even an AOSIS member told Inner City Press, “too expensive.” Now the idea is Secretary General reports, and language that makes clear the Council is not encroaching on other bodies.

  On July 19 there is an AOSIS meeting at 9 am, then Germany has called a meeting of Permanent Representatives at 10. “If they had a PRST, they wouldn't need a Perm Rep meeting,” a Council member told Inner City Press. But hope springs eternal -- and the seas are rising. Watch this site.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

Click here for Inner City Press' March 27 UN debate

Click here for Inner City Press March 12 UN (and AIG bailout) debate

Click here for Inner City Press' Feb 26 UN debate

Click here for Feb. 12 debate on Sri Lanka

Click here for Inner City Press' Jan. 16, 2009 debate about Gaza

Click here for Inner City Press' review-of-2008 UN Top Ten debate

Click here for Inner City Press' December 24 debate on UN budget, Niger

Click here from Inner City Press' December 12 debate on UN double standards

Click here for Inner City Press' November 25 debate on Somalia, politics

and this October 17 debate, on Security Council and Obama and the UN.

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These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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