As President of the UN Security Council in July 2015 New Zealand brought the peace and security challenges facing small island developing states into the spotlight of the Council for the first time.

 
The Solomon Islands – one of a number of small island developing states in the Pacific that is represented at the United Nations.

Choosing what to discuss

Each month, the Presidency of the Security Council rotates among its 15 members. The President chairs all Council meetings for that month and gets to choose, in discussion with other Council members, what issues to raise and give greater prominence.  

As the feature event of our Presidency of the Security Council in July 2015 New Zealand convened an open debate on the peace and security challenges facing Small Island Developing States. New Zealand’s then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Murray McCully, presided.

Debate on peace and security issues facing small island developing states

In convening the open debate, New Zealand was delivering on our promise to advocate for small states and ensure their voices were heard in the Security Council, particularly small island developing states. This was the first time the peace and security challenges facing small island developing states were given centre stage at the Security Council.

Meeting a memorable success

The high-level meeting was a memorable success. The open debate attracted the UN Secretary-General and more than 70 speakers throughout the day. There was a large turnout of high-level representatives, especially from small island developing states, including the President of Kiribati, the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Samoa, 15 ministers, and many speakers from UN Member States, as well as the Cook Islands and Niue – another Security Council first. 

 
The Prime Minister of Samoa and the Minister of Finance of Seychelles brief the
The Prime Minister of Samoa and the Minister of Finance of Seychelles brief the UN Security Council on challenges facing small island developing states.

Real, immediate and unique vulnerabilities due to geography and small size

Participants made it clear in their statements that small island developing states face real, immediate and unique vulnerabilities linked to their geography and small size. These states face a range of peace and security threats from traditional armed conflict to transnational crime and piracy, illicit exploitation of natural resources, climate change and climate-related disasters.

Impact on maintenance of peace and security

Taken together, these challenges can disproportionately affect national stability, fuel conflict across regions and ultimately impact on the maintenance of peace and security.

Throughout our two years on the UN Security Council, New Zealand continued to advocate for the interests of small states. We also sought to ensure the views of small island developing states, including those in the Pacific who are rarely represented on the Security Council themselves, were taken into account when decisions were being made that would affect them.

Peace and security challenges facing small island developing states [PDF, 5.5 MB] is a summary of the 30 July 2015 open debate.