Debate Peace and security challenges facing Small Island Developing States
July 30 2015
Prime Minister of Aruba Mike Eman, On Behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in Debate Peace and security challenges facing Small Island Developing States
I have the honor to speak on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as Prime Minister of Aruba.
We welcome the initiative by New Zealand to hold this meeting within the Security Council to address the peace and security challenges that SIDS are facing. It is a topic of particular interest to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, since three out of the four autonomous countries within the Kingdom - Aruba., Curacao and Sint Maarten are in fact SIDS. I am very pleased and proud that we take great interest in representing the voice of small island states both within and outside of its national boundaries.
Now, let me ask you to take just a moment to imagine life in many of the SIDS. The first imagine that comes to your mind might be the tropical paradise picture of a small island with palm trees surrounded by a placid, turquoise sea. And yes, this image is entirely correct when it comes to Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten, and many other SIDS.
At the same time, even the inhabitants of paradise have to deal wih their share of serious challenges. Some of these are local, some regional and some are global challenges.
I will briefly touch upon three of these challenges, and share some insights on what might be done in response.
First, the effects of climate change: the sheer horror of having to survive and extreme tropical storm is a familiar phenomenon in my region, the Caribbean. You know the storm is coming and in some islands you know that there is no high ground for escape. In the meanwhile, the ever higher seas or cyclones are destroying the little plots of land, the house of your family and the local school. Just last March, the Pacific witnessed a devastating example of such and extreme weather event when Cyclone Pam swept through the region.
Climate change affects all of us, but those facing the most extreme risks are the developing and fragile States with fewest resources and the least capacity to cope. As the Kingdom of the Netherlands, we recognize the need to strengthen resilience to climate-fragility risks. This is one thee reasons why we are working hard for the adoption of a new, ambitious legally-binding, and global agreement in Paris later this year.
The Kingdom of the Netherlands is organizing the first international conference on "Planetary Security: Peace and Cooperation in Times of Climate Change and Global Environmental Challenges" on the 2nd and 3rd of November of this year at the Peace Palace in The Hague.
The conference will be an annual event in order to maintain an ongoing focus on this important topic.
Some may believe that only large nations can effectively fight climate change. But, each country, no matter how small, can contribute to the fight against climate change. In Aruba, we are a small country, but we are seeking to transition off fossil fuels by 2020 and to share the lessons we learn with other countries, but especially SIDS.
We believe - as do many others in this fight- thar small island nations can be laboratories to demonstrate how this transition can occur in all countries.
And in Aruba, we view the move to renewable energy as part of our broader vision of shared and sustainable prosperity in which we not only take strong steps to preserve our physical environment for future generations, but we ensure that our social, economic and cultural environments prosper equitably as well. Let us not forget that inequality also breeds insecurity.
Second many SIDS face the challenge of transnational crime,. Many SIDS lack the capacity to patrol the immense waters surrounding our islands. This has a negative impact on our ability to fight transnational crime. The threat posed by criminal networks dealing in drugs and arms can have truly destabilizing effects.
We combatted these threats together on Aruba and the other parts of our Kingdom together with the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard, which patrols a large part of the Caribbean waters to the Northwest of Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire. But also regional and international cooperation needs to be further strengthened in order to be more effective. Such collaboration helps increase the possibilities to counter transnational crime.
Third, a lack of marine patrolling capacity can also sustain the illicit exploitation of natural resources, including illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This can negatively impact the sustainable yields of fish stocks. The damage to unique coral reefs can affect the livelihood of SIDS. This is why a standalone Sustainable Development Goal on Oceans is important because it seeks to regulate harvesting and to end overfishing, IUU fishing and destructive fishing practices by 2020
This morning the Secretary General called for partnerships with SIDS to address current security challenges. That is what the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as your for peace, justice and development, aims to do.
- with the Seychelles we fight piracy;
-with Grenada, we have started co-operation on blue growth and food security;
- and after hurricane Pan, the Kingdom was amongst the first countries to provide assistance to Vanuatu and Kiribati.
- Aruba and the Kingdom of the Netherlands together with Carbon War Room and the Dutch institute for applied scientific research reaching out to 10 other Caribbean Islands to share with them our experience on the pathway to total energy sustainability.
In conclusion, the Kingdom of the Netherlands welcomes the interest of the United Nations Security Council in SIDS and in the challenges that we face. Stronger regional and international collaboration is needed in order to face the security challenges we encounter in the Caribbean, and in other regions where the SIDS are situated.
That is also on of the motivations why the Kingdom of the Netherlands is a UN Security Council candidate fo the 2017-2018 term. We best know our challenges and keep the interests of small and medium sized countries close at heart. We welcome and encourage further discussions on the international challenges affecting SIDS, now and in the future, with a view to strengthen the solidarity between larger and smaller members of the UN family.
We grew in a mothers nest of 6 SIDS and when we think of our smaller brother and as sisters, Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius , we feel compassion, a sense of solidarity and responsibility towards them. So should the larger countries; the world institutions even large corporations think of small islands developing states with the virtue; I am my brother's keeper
I thank you !