Magazine article UN Chronicle

"We Are Each Others' Keeper': The General Assembly Debates Global Warming

Magazine article UN Chronicle

"We Are Each Others' Keeper': The General Assembly Debates Global Warming

Article excerpt

Saint Lucia, a small island in the Caribbean with a population of 162,000, is home to Julian Hunte, President of the fifty-eighth session of the General Assembly. Like that country, small island developing States (SIDS) are particularly vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

In a press conference after the closing of the Assembly's general debate, Mr. Hunte urged the international community to realize that "we are each others' keeper" and support the concerns of small island States He warned that if nothing were done about global warming, some of these States, particularly in the Pacific, would just disappear. SIDS pleaded to the international community to support the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change a treaty designed to limit emissions of greenhouse gases that many scientists believe cause sea levels to rise.

The Permanent Representative of Seychelles to the United Nations, Claude Morel, spoke of extreme changes in climate patterns in the indian Ocean Unusual drought and torrential rainfall in his country had caused floods, landslides, destruction of crops and infrastructure, and loss of life. Further, an increase in sea temperatures had bleached nearly 75 per cent of corals in the archipelago. Ambassador Morel pointed out the cruel irony of climate change: "Small island nations like mine are not responsible for it, yet we have to bear the ensuing consequences." He asked industrialized countries that "have the prime responsibility and must be first to take action" to ratify the Kyoto Protocol

Joseph J. Urusemal, President of the Federated States of Micronesia, said that climate change was a pressing issue for his family and countrymen. His island was an atoll with no point higher than two metres above sea level. Fifty people had died in a mudslide on one of the higher islands. …

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