Sunday, 24 July 2011

China-Based Spies Said to Be Behind Hacking of IMF in Investigators’ View


Investigators probing the recent ransacking of International Monetary Fund computers have concluded the attack was carried out by cyber spies connected to China, according to two people close to the investigation.

Computer specialists have spent several weeks piecing together information about the attack, which the IMF disclosed on June 8. Internal IMF e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News suggest fund officials completed an inventory of stolen documents by the middle of July, and drafted an “operational impact assessment.” The results have not been made public.

Evidence pointing to China includes an analysis of the attack methods, as well as the electronic trail left by hackers as they removed large quantities of documents from the IMF’s computers. The multistaged attack, which used U.S.-based servers as part of their equipment, ended on May 31, people involved in the investigation said on the condition they not be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak about it.

Their conclusion is likely to be a major test for the new IMF chief, Christine Lagarde, who this month appointed Chinese economist Zhu Min as deputy managing director, giving China a much expanded role in the institution.

“There are some very big questions about the role that China wants to play in the global economic system and what role it can play given some of its behavior,” said C. Fred Bergsten, who heads the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The timing of the attack and China’s lobbying for more influence at the Fund appear to overlap, creating a potentially embarrassing situation for China among the IMF’s 186 other members, including the U.S.

Scope of Attack

IMF officials have said little publicly about the scope of the attack or its origins, citing the on-going nature of the investigation, which involves outside forensics experts and the fund’s own information-technology team.

“We are not prepared to finger point at this time,” the IMF said today in a statement. “We also may never know who perpetrated this cyber attack. However, our effort to assess the impact and extent of the attack is continuing.”

Wang Baodong, a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said in an e-mail that hacking is “an international issue” affecting dozens of countries and “willfully relating such cases with China is irresponsible.”

People familiar with the incident said that the hackers were able to download a large quantity of documents from dozens of computers on the IMF’s network, which was first infected when an employee downloaded a file containing a piece of sophisticated spying software that quickly spread.

IMF Internal E-Mails

In an internal e-mail sent to staff, Patrick Hinderdael, the IMF’s adviser to the chief information officer, said the attack occurred in at least two phases, and that no activity by the hackers has been detected since the end of May. In the first phase, the attackers grabbed “a general sweep” of recent files then returned for a second wave of downloads, Hinderdael said.

Hackers have learned to use sophisticated methods to hide their identities, including hijacking servers in other countries to launch an attack. Forensics specialists have similarly advanced techniques to cut through the fog. Those include analyzing the code left behind in networks and tracing patterns in multiple attacks that may use the same infrastructure.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the head of the IMF, was arrested in New York City on sexual assault charges on May 14 and resigned four days later, setting off an international search for a new director including demands by emerging economies that one of their own lead the fund. Lagarde, the former French finance minister, was appointed to fill the position beginning July 5.

Lagarde’s Cyber Experience

Lagarde has had experience with similar cyber attacks. In March, the French finance ministrysaid its computer network had been hacked and that documents related the French presidency of the G-20 were stolen. The magazine Paris Match quoted a French official saying the information was redirected to servers in China.

Google Inc. (GOOG) has said its computers were attacked by Chinese-based hackers in late 2009, along with the networks of at least 20 other companies. According to diplomatic cables posted by the website WikiLeaks, U.S. defense and intelligence officials have documented the operations of sophisticated cyber spies operating from China over several years.

“As an intelligence professional, I stand back in absolute awe and wonderment at the Chinese espionage effort against the United States of America,” Gen. Michael Hayden, the former CIA director, said at cyber security conference last year. “It is magnificent in its breath, its depth and its efficiency.”

China’s Clout

China, which is driving global economic growth, has been gaining clout in international organizations. In 2008 Justin Lin, a Taiwan-born scholar who defected to China, became the first World Bank chief economist from outside Europe and Lagarde created a new position for Zhu at the IMF, giving China access to a top management post for the first time.

A few months earlier, China obtained the third-largest voting share at the fund after the 187 member countries agreed to better reflect the growing weight of emerging markets in the world’s economy.

China needs to decide whether it will be a cooperative global power or pursue national interests that can be disruptive, Bergsten said.

“The cyber security issue is a very big part of that but it’s only part of a broader mosaic,” he said.

Global Cornerstone

The IMF is a cornerstone institution in the global economic system, managing financial crises around the world. Its computers are likely to contain confidential documents on the fiscal health of many countries.

“The IMF holds some of most valuable data anywhere,” said Josh Shaul, chief technology officer with Application Security, Inc., a cyber security firm based in New York City, NY.

The financial status of countries is critical information for major nation-state investors or holders of sovereign debt, he said.

Hinderdael said in an e-mail to IMF staff that the attack was not related to identity theft or commercial fraud, another indication the intruders weren’t ordinary cyber thieves.

‘Experts’ Assessment’

“According to our experts’ assessment, the information contained in our e-mail, document management, human resource, and financial systems has not been compromised,” Hinderdael said in the e-mail.

In a separate e-mail obtained by Bloomberg News, Jonathan Palmer, chief information officer at the IMF, said the fund was instituting new security measures for employees’ SecurID tokens, a product sold by EMC Corp.’s security division, RSA, and used by government agencies and banks to guard against hacking.

RSA said in March that hackers had compromised its networks, and the stolen information was later used to access the secure computer network of defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. There is no evidence linking the RSA breach to the incident at the IMF, a person familiar with the investigation said.

U.N. Green Helmets: Ban Ki-Moon Considers Peacekeeping For Global Warming

The Huffington Post Tara Kelly

Scientists have long predicted the rise of climate change-fueled war. But now, the U.N. Security Council is examining whether a green helmet force should intervene in conflicts caused by rising seas levels and shrinking resources, reports The Guardian.

Wednesday's U.N. Security Council discussion on introducing a security force to de-escalate environmental conflicts comes a month after the U.N. climate panel announced a new study in the works on extreme weather events linked to climate change.

Not all countries are on board to turn the blue helmets green. According to Germany's permanent representative to the U.N., Dr. Peter Wittig said in aHuffington Post op-ed that it should consider how such a force would differ from the current U.N. peacekeeping troops: "Repainting blue helmets into green might be a strong signal -- but would dealing with the consequences of climate change -- say in precarious regions -- be really very different from the tasks the blue helmets already perform today?"

The U.N. climate panel's top scientist told AFP on Tuesday that nations shouldn't wait around for the body's next major scientific assessment to begin battling climate change.

Also on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that U.N. officials said U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon would shift his efforts towards sustainable development.

Scientists recently predicted that 200 million people would be displaced by 2050, due to natural disasters connected with climate change. Refugees International president Michel Gabaudan said, "The failure to address the threat of climate displacement could undermine the long-term stability of countries likely to experience increased floods, storms, droughts and other disasters."

Thursday, 21 July 2011

OIOS Report: Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD)

UN/DESA - DSPD Mandates:

The Department’s ST/SGB states that the core functions of the Division are:

“(a) Monitoring national and global social trends through the collection, collation, analysis and interpretation of quantitative and qualitative data;

(b) Assessing the implications of these trends for societies and the world, and for social, economic and political strategy and policy, particularly of new issues which might require a policy response;

(c) Developing policies and programmes aimed at contributing towards the goals and objectives agreed to at the World Summit for Social Development, including the eradication of poverty, promotion of full employment and strengthening of social integration;

(d) Evaluating the effectiveness of public policy interventions aimed at social goals;

(e) Facilitating the negotiation of agreed positions, resolutions, international standards and norms through the Commission for Social Development, the Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly or other intergovernmental forums, notably the special session of the General Assembly in 2000;

(f) Supporting and facilitating United Nations system-wide cooperation and programme coordination on social issues;

(g) Promoting the exchange of information and ideas by the facilitation of dialogue among Governments about goals, strategies, policies and programmes, and encouraging such dialogue between Governments and civil society;

(h) Advocating recognition of special needs, such as those of the poor or unemployed, and of groups requiring specific support, such as the disabled, older persons, youth, indigenous people and ethnic minorities;

(i) Providing advisory services to Governments on request about social policies and programmes aimed at contributing to development.”13

UN/DESA - DSPD Budget:

DSPD’s proposed programme budget for the 2010-2011 biennium was USD 20,146,200 million, comprised of USD 17,750,200 million in regular budget (RB) and USD 2,396,000 million in extra-budgetary (XB) resources. For 2010-2011, the Division proposed 61 established posts, 60 of which to be supported by RB (40 Professional and 20 General Service).14 For the 2010-2011 biennium, DSPD’s financial resources were estimated to be 10.5 per cent of the total RB and 1.8 per cent of the total XB financial resources available to DESA.


The broad scope of substantive areas addressed by DSPD, along with limited resources, challenged the Division’s effectiveness

The broad scope of themes and the current distribution of resources presented challenges to deeper substantive involvement and engagement with stakeholders

40. The Division covered a broad range of thematic areas with 61 posts (See Annex 4 for selected activities, documents and instruments that it undertook). The Division’s Social Perspective on Development Branch covered issues ranging from poverty, employment, cooperatives, microfinance and social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development. The Social Integration Branch handled social groups’ issues including family, youth and older persons. In addition, the Division also served as the secretariat for entities handling issues of persons with disabilities and indigenous people and provided support to NGOs and governments through its technical cooperation work. The Division’s work encompassed supporting the sessions of intergovernmental bodies and expert groups, producing numerous reports, supporting multi-stakeholder events, facilitating interagency working groups, distributing newsletters, among other functions. In addition, the Division’s support for 11 international days and two international years also demonstrated its engagement and advocacy of a wide range of social development issues in the international arena.36 In many cases, only 2-3 staff were responsible for a wide range of activities.

41. Approximately half of the 38 stakeholder interviewees recommended that the Division needed to have more human and financial resources to carry out its numerous mandated activities in a meaningful way. Stakeholders offered examples of the large amount of work undertaken by DSPD staff. These included two staff members responsible for registering and coordinating all NGO involvement in the numerous intergovernmental and expert bodies serviced by the Division, and two staff members for handling all duties related to the UN Programme on Ageing. Two staff who worked on the theme of older persons were responsible for servicing and supporting the Open-ended working group on Ageing for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons, preparing documents related to the Follow-up tothe Second World Assembly on Ageing and the Review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, organising the International Day of Older Persons, distributing an e-newsletter, conducting technical cooperation projects, supporting multi- stakeholder events, and interacting with United Nations entities, NGOs, and other stakeholders. One stakeholder commented that they wanted more interaction with the UN Programme on Ageing and wanted DSPD to be more of a catalyst; however, he acknowledged that his organisation has over ten people while DSPD had only one person dealing with the same issue. The lack of resources also clearly emerged as the most frequently cited concern in the Division staff survey.

42. Moreover, in the current biennium, the Division has had to undertake unplanned work without a corresponding increase in resources. For example, in connection with the International Year of Youth from August 2010-2011, the Division has had to prepare and execute a wide range of additional activities, from organising briefing sessions and side events, to servicing consultations and publishing additional reports.37 Stakeholders commented that it was burdensome to expect the Programme on Youth to implement the International Year of Youth with the current funding and capacity. Similarly, in connection with the UN Programme on Ageing supporting the Open-ended working group on Ageing for the purpose of strengthening the protection of the human rights of older persons, as established by a General Assembly resolution in 2010, two staff members have had to undertake numerous additional activities in preparation for the forthcoming first working session of April 2011.38 Stakeholders commented that it was an “overwhelming” task for two staff members to coordinate the work undertaken by this subdivision even before this additional responsibility. Finally, the Division’s mandates have expanded to include the production of additional reports such as the “Follow-up to the Millennium Summit: Legal Empowerment of the Poor and Eradication of Poverty” and the “New Global Human Order.”39 The drafting of these reports was not part of DSPD’s approved biennium work programme and has not been accompanied by additional resource allocations to support and facilitate their completion.

43. In addition, these challenges were compounded by the perception held by staff and stakeholders that, in general, social issues ranked lower in priority than economic issues.40 A DSPD manager commented, “Social issues are way down on the agenda, [there is] constantfrustration to get the attention and resources in the Organisation, but also at the country level. Social affairs ministries are less pre-eminent.”

44. While stakeholders acknowledged that they understood why DSPD could not be more engaged with the substantive matters, they expected more involvement from DSPD. Stakeholder interviewees commented that although they valued the fora that DSPD provided by facilitating meetings, they wanted meetings to extend beyond information sharing or “tour de table.” They expected DSPD to take more of a leading role for further collaboration. For example, some commented that the interagency network on youth should facilitate more input from civil society organisations and go beyond functioning as a platform to exchange information. Others wanted more collaboration between different sectors rather than having separate units within DSPD dealing primarily with a particular theme.

45. Notwithstanding the resources and mandate limitations described above, 68 per cent of DSPD staff somewhat disagreed or strongly disagreed that DSPD utilised its staff and financial resources in the most efficient manner. Similarly, a 2009 inspection conducted by IED of DESA’s human resource and management practices found that half of DSPD staff strongly or somewhat disagreed that the allocation of tasks was fair and equitable, while 52 per cent strongly or somewhat disagreed that there was little duplication of work within the Division.41 Stakeholder survey and interview comments suggested that DSPD needed to make fuller use of its existing resources, to take better advantage of its networks, and to leverage its partnerships with other United Nations entities to help with resource constraints. Stakeholder interviewees commented that one of DSPD’s strongest assets was its networks and their use needed to be maximised particularly in times of resource constraints. In its dissemination practice document, the Division suggested developing closer collaboration with civil society organisations to help connect with a wider audience.

The Division’s organisational structure, management and vacancies presented further impediments to its work

DSPD’s segmented structure reduced effectiveness of communication and cooperation within the Division

46. The Division’s structure, consisting of two branches, two units and two secretariats, presented challenges to its work. Each of these subdivisions handled different substantive matters and the Social Integration Branch was further divided into staff responsible for different social groups. According to DSPD management, the fragmentation of the Division’s work was partly driven by the segmented needs of the different constituencies it served. To address this, it made efforts to organise events such as expert group meetings that would incorporate more then one constituency (for example, youth and family); however, DSPD remarked that these efforts were not fully embraced by the respective constituencies. At the same time, staff commented in interviews that the Division could be fostering further collaboration, particularly across the two branches and also within the Social Integration Branch. Some stakeholder interviewees also suggested that the Division could improve by further incorporating multiple constituencies into its work.

47. In general, DSPD staff interviewed and surveyed were of the opinion that the current organisational structure of the Division was an impediment to overall efficiency of the Division. Staff commented on the lack of awareness and interaction among subdivisions with some interviewees commenting that the Division consisted of “silos” and “has created a culture of I’m on my own, I don’t share.” Moreover, almost half (46 per cent) of staff surveyed strongly or somewhat disagreed with the comment that the organisational structure of the Division facilitated its work, and 42 per cent of staff strongly or somewhat disagreed that the Division had an internally shared vision of the best way to implement its objectives.

48. Staff interviewed remarked that the current structure did not facilitate collaboration between the various components. Staff also rated the communication between the Division and partners within and outside the United Nations system as being more effective than the internal communication in the Division.42 They stated that although interpersonal relationships on an individual and informal basis were effective overall, the interaction between the different subdivisions did not occur on a systematic or frequent basis. Some staff suggested using the existing human resources with more flexibility in line with the priorities of the work of the Division and considering each subdivision’s peaks and down times. They commented that the structure, however, did not facilitate more movement across the subdivisions.

49. The Division has made efforts to enhance internal communications. One tool that helped staff members become more aware of each others’ work was the Division’s contribution to a weekly DESA-wide newsletter. The Office of the Director compiled submissions by the various subdivisions on a weekly basis, which were circulated to the entire Division. In 2011, DSPD also implemented a Division-wide work plan monitoring tool for programme management that provided an overview of the Division’s work while also indicating details such as the responsible staff and timelines. Nevertheless, staff interviewees commented that there could be more frequent Divisional and subdivisional meetings, and increased intra-divisional communication.

The prolonged vacancy of the Division’s Director and high vacancy rates created some inefficiencies and low staff morale

50. The Division has not had a Director since June/July 2008. In the interim, officers-in- charge, acting Directors, and one Assistant Secretary-General have been appointed as overseers of the Division. These temporary heads were appointed by the Office of the Under-Secretary- General (OUSG) on an ad-hoc and short-term basis to ensure the continuation of the functionality of the Division. The unanticipated delay in selecting a Director led to multiple short-term reappointments of the senior management of the Division which created challenges on multiple fronts. Critical strategic decisions were put on hold. Additionally, the absence of a Director also meant that the Division could not be represented at the Director level at high-level meetings and conferences such as the 49th Session of the CSocD. Finally, this prolonged vacancy has also negatively affected staff morale and led some stakeholders to infer that social issues occupy a relatively lower importance among the issues on DESA’s agenda.

51. The Division’s leadership was also perceived to be weak. In a 2009 inspection conducted by IED of DESA’s human resource and management practices, 39 per cent of staff rated the overall staff morale in the Division as excellent or good, 26 per cent rated it as fair and 35 per cent rated it as poor or very poor.43 In the same inspection, only 39 percent rated the overall management of the Division as excellent or good, and 22 per cent rated it as fair. These perceptions have remained stable. DSPD staff surveyed by OIOS in 2010 commented that one of the Division’s greatest challenges was the lack of effective management and strong leadership.

52. The Division was also challenged by high vacancy rates.44 At the beginning of 2010, 15 Professional level posts (or 36 per cent of the total 42 Professional posts) and one General Service post (5 per cent of a total of 19) were vacant. Moreover, all positions at the D-level were vacant for various periods during the year. The Division filled most of these vacancies on a temporary basis and made considerable efforts to fill the vacancies permanently.45 Overall, the high vacancy rate in 2010 had a serious impact on the workload of the Division particularly with respect to the D-level positions. By the end of the year, the Division’s efforts had succeeded in bringing the vacancy rate considerably down and reported having reduced the vacancies to four Professional posts and two General Service posts. Recruitment delays were due in part to systemic limitations resulting from the transition from Galaxy to Inspira.

53. In addition to the challenges related to high vacancy rates, some staff were also concerned with staff selection and promotion and the perceived lack of transparency in the staff selection decisions. This was expressed in staff interviews and also in the 2009 inspection conducted by IED, where the majority of staff strongly or somewhat disagreed that in the Division decisions on staff selection were made in a transparent manner.46 Additionally approximately half strongly or somewhat disagreed that staff selection had resulted in the competencies and skills required for the implementation of the work programme.47

The Division did not consistently measure the impact of its work or share good practices and lessons learned

54. The Division spent significant resources on research and analysis and its publications. Other than measuring the percentage of proposed recommendations used in the formulation of resolutions and the number of visits to and downloads from the Division’s website, however, it did not have mechanisms that systematically measured the impact of its publications. In this regard, the Board of Auditors recently recommended that “DESA plan for mandatory documents aimed at the general public be the subject of an evaluation of results,” via readership surveys and by drawing up indicators of achievement for its publications.48

55. In addition, the Division did not systematically share good practices and lessons learned. The absence of knowledge sharing was reflected in the 2009 inspection of DESA’s human resource and management practices; a majority of staff surveyed disagreed that the Division had a system in place to share and retain knowledge and institutional memory or that lessons learned were effectively captured and shared with staff, and almost half disagreed that critical work processes in the Division were documented well.49 Staff interviewees also commented that the Division did not have an effective system for information sharing. Without good practices and lessons learned being systematically shared, the Division faces an increased risk of the loss of institutional knowledge which negatively affects efficiency and effectiveness as more time has to be spent on similar tasks and opportunities to improve upon past performance are not maximised.

UN requests more than $4 billion in humanitarian aid for the rest of this year

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos

20 July 2011 –
Relief agencies require another $4.3 billion to assist millions of needy people around the world during the second half of this year, the United Nations humanitarian chief said today, adding that donors have so far made available 45 per cent of the funds requested at the start of 2011.

UN agencies and their partners had asked for $7.4 billion for humanitarian emergencies in 2011, but that figure has since risen to $7.9 billion as a result of increasing needs in some regions, including the Horn of Africa, where a severe drought has left 11.5 million people in need, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters in Geneva.

Some $3.6 billion of the requested amount has been received, Ms. Amos said after presenting a mid-year review of the status of humanitarian funding to UN Member States.

“Our key concern is that there are persistent imbalances in funding among crises,” said Ms. Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator. “The funding percentages of different appeals range from 29 per cent to 60 per cent.”

The least-funded appeals are the regional appeal for West Africa and the funding requests for Zimbabwe, Djibouti and Niger.

“We expect humanitarian needs in the second half of 2011 and in 2012 to continue, at least at current levels, as the effects of high commodity prices, adverse weather conditions, disasters and conflicts persist,” said Ms. Amos.

“As I said to donors during our mid-year review launch, I hope that they will close the funding gaps. It will make a big difference to the millions of people we need to help,” she added.

The launch of the mid-year review of the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) coincided with the classification of the drought emergency in southern Somalia as a famine in two regions.

In response to a question, Ms. Amos said that child malnutrition levels in parts of southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions of Somalia had risen to 50 per cent, with mortality rates exceeding six deaths per 10,000 people a day.

More than 100,000 malnourished children had been treated in 800 nutrition centres throughout Somalia between January and May 2011. A total of 554,000 children in southern Somalia are suffering from malnutrition, she added.

Other drought-affected Horn of Africa countries that require humanitarian assistance are Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya. Newly-independent South Sudan, Yemen, Côte d’Ivoire and Libya, among others, will also require significant humanitarian interventions this year.

Facing the Security Challenge of Climate Change


Dr. Peter Wittig

Most people would agree climate change is one of the biggest threats to our world. But opinions differ on the nature of this threat, how it will affect our lives and what we must do to face it.

Politicians, diplomats and security experts across the board -- not only in the Western world -- share the assessment that climate change might have a serious impact on international peace and security. It is not difficult to see why: rising sea levels threaten the very existence of small island states in the Pacific and the loss of coastal shores to the sea leading to population resettlements. The increased scarcity of potable water -- as a consequence of wells becoming brackish due to salty sea water -- adds to rivalry and tension. Overwhelming evidence shows this has already begun to happen: it is not the subject of a scientific discussion in an ivory tower.

Let there be no doubt: we are not talking about a small number of people on a remote island having to give up their stretch of the beach. We are talking about sea level rises that might seriously impact the lives of millions of people who live close to the coast -- and only a little higher than sea level. Densely populated mega-deltas of the Ganges, Nile, Mekong or Mississippi or big coastal cities such as Karachi, New York, Singapore or Tokyo come to mind -- and remember that Fukushima isn't the only (nuclear) power plant built next to the sea.

The implications of climate change will not only be economic or demographic. It will affect "hard security" as well: people will clash over basic resources, they will be forced to resettle or even to migrate across borders.

Poverty and statelessness will add to already destabilized societies. But the threat to peace and security will not be limited to existing poor and needy populations: receding coastlines could well incite disputes among developed nations over maritime territories and economic zones -- think of contested islands in East Asia or the race for the shelf at the North Pole and you can easily imagine how tensions could mount.

The threats are self-evident. But what should we do?

I think it is important to remind ourselves of two basic facts :

First, this threat is of a very different nature than any threat we have had to deal with before: it is global in reach -- and makes no distinction between North and South or East and West. There will be some countries more capable of dealing with the consequences of climate change than others. But none will go unscathed. None will be able to address these challenges on its own. It is therefore mandatory -- and in the interest of all states -- to strive for an internationally coordinated approach.

Second, the one international body that has the legitimacy and responsibility to maintain international peace and security is the United Nations Security Council. It must therefore be at the heart of any multilateral approach to tackle global threats to peace and security.

One has to concede, however, that there are varying expectations on how the Security Council should fulfill this task: some governments would like to see the Security Council only act when two countries are at the brink of war. These countries usually hold the view that only military action that crosses borders justifies Council action and that everything else amounts to outside interference. On the other hand there are governments that -- in allusion to the "blue-helmet" UN peacekeepers -- are already calling for "green-helmets to close down coal-mines." These governments expect the Security Council to act decisively on the perceived root-causes of global warming. They see no viable alternative to address their justified -- and very existential -- fear of vanishing into the sea.

As far-fetched as the idea of "green-helmets" might sound, consider the tasks that the United Nations peacekeepers already perform today -- e.g. emergency aid, development and recovery, state -- and peacebuilding. Repainting blue helmets into green might be a strong signal -- but would dealing with the consequences of climate change -- say in precarious regions -- be really very different from the tasks the blue helmets already perform today?

Trying to answer this question would mean crossing the bridge before coming to it: it is too early to seriously think about Council action on climate change. This is clearly not on the agenda. The Council should, however, fulfill its duty and ready itself: It should not only act after the first tragedies hit the headlines. A good first step would be to acknowledge the realities of climate change and its inherent implications to international peace and security. This should not be seen as an infringement on the competence of other international bodies dealing with the general policies regarding climate change and global warming. On the contrary, it would emphasize that the Council is ready to assume its responsibilities to try to prevent the worst from happening -- acting with the precaution and prudence we expect in regard to international security.

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