India's decision to vote against a UN draft resolution on climate change.

Creator: ALASTAIR GRANT | Credit: POOL/AFP via Getty Images

On Monday, there was a draft resolution at the UN Security Council that came up linking the concept of climate change to security and India voted against this particular draft. Now the significance of this draft was that Niger, the country that had introduced this particular draft wanted to make a point that now the internal security of a country is related to climate change because climate change is causing disputes around the world. The problem with this draft as per India was if this would have passed, then it means that climate change has become a security matter, and once it becomes a security matter, it would become the responsibility of the Security Council to resolve it. Because, as per the UN Charter, the Security Council is responsible for maintaining peace across the world. That is why India voted against it, and the reason why this resolution could not pass was that Russia, as a permanent member, vetoed against this resolution and China abstained from voting.

Out of the 15 members, including the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council, 12 voted in favour. India and Russia voted against it, while China refused to vote. Right now, the UNSC presidency is with Niger, which is a non-permanent member of the Security Council that introduced a resolution titled Maintenance of International Peace and Security, Security in the Context of Terrorism and Climate Change.

The reason why this draft was introduced was that Niger itself is facing a lot of internal disturbance because of climate change problems. The Indian representative pointed out that the reason why we are not supporting it is that climate change is a universal problem, and we cannot allow just a Security Council to decide how to tackle it, because the countries that are facing most of these troubles are the developing nations and once the matter goes to the UN Security Council, the developing nations will be kept out of it and they will not be heard. Also, it goes against the concept of common but differentiated responsibilities that have been accepted to fight the climate change issue.

The UN Security Council has 15 members, including the 5 permanent members that have veto powers. There are 10 non-permanent members that are appointed for a two-year term that does not have veto power. The 10 non-permanent members today include India as well as Niger that has a presidency of the Security Council right now.

Now, interestingly, there are over 50 U.N. member states that have never been a member of the Security Council, but even the state that is not a member of the UN Security Council can participate in its debate, but without a vote (i.e) when that country’s specific interests are affected by that debate. It is a Security Council that sets the conditions for participation by a non-member state in the discussions taking place in the Security Council.

The concept of common but differentiated responsibility.

It is a principle within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, under which while every country is responsible for taking action against climate change, but the magnitude of responsibility is not the same. The countries that have polluted the environment more in the past, that is the industrialised countries have to take up more responsibility as compared to the developing world that has not contributed to this problem mainly.

The UNFCCC divides the countries into two parts (i.e) Annex one and Non-Annex one. The Annex one countries, mainly are the developed nations that have a greater role in arresting the impact of climate change. They are legally bound to reduce their emissions, unlike the non-annexe countries. This concept of common but differentiated responsibility came up in 1997 as a part of the Kyoto Protocol.

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