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Put Conflict Resolution On The Climate Change Conference Agenda

by Victoria Pynchon
June 2009

From Settle It Now Negotiation Blog

Victoria Pynchon

Place: Glyptoteket, Copenhagen

Date: The 10th and 11th December 2009

During eleven days in December 2009 delegates from throughout the world will meet in Copenhagen for the 15th Conference of the Parties – COP15 – to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC. The Denmark meeting is crucial for the international climate change negotiations. The climate change crisis challenges people throughout the world to invent and implement innovative ways to mitigate and thwart climate changing causes and effects. The crisis calls for new methods for nations and people to overcome differences and work together with the objective of preventing and resolving conflict arising because of limited resources and/or the effects of climate change.

In a Manifesto from 9th July 1955 issued in London, Albert Einstein and other leading scientists urged humanity to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters based on new ways of thinking. An important new way of thinking features the use of the collaborative, participatory, and pluralistic conflict resolution processes like mediation and facilitation. Construction of a new global conflict prevention and resolution infrastructure is critical to a comprehensive international climate change policy. Such construction will be a major part of the Copenhagen Mediation Seminar, with discussions of conflict prevention and resolution. Our aim is to gather 100 mediators to create a new Manifesto showing the infrastructure to peaceful conflict resolution.

Please reserve this important seminar for 100 mediators attending from all parts of the world. More information will come shortly.

Gregg Walker, Tina Monberg, and Kenneth Cloke of Mediators Beyond Borders – Jens Emborg, Mie Marcussen, Lone Clausen, and Vibeke Vindelov of Nordic Mediators

During eleven days in December 2009 delegates from throughout the world will meet in Copenhagen for the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Denmark meeting is crucial for the international climate change negotiations. In December 2007 the parties to the UNFCCC agreed at Bali, Indonesia that negotiations on a future agreement have to be concluded at COP 15. The decision reflected the increased emphasis on the need for swift action made in the latest report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The Bali delegates also recognized that 2009 would be a critical opportunity for an agreement before the commitments set in the Kyoto Protocol expire in 2012.

A Critical Issue

The International Crisis Group, one of the world’s leading independent, non-partisan conflict analysis advisory organizations, stresses that “a key challenge today is to better understand the relationship between climate change, environmental degradation and conflict and to effectively manage associated risks through appropriate conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms.” Conflict preventive measures and resolution mechanisms need to be part of the climate change negotiations, both in Copenhagen and beyond.

At the December 2007 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Bali, Indonesia, the German Advisory Council on Climate Change presented a report, World in Transition – Climate Change as a Security Risk. Based on research into environmental conflicts, the causes of war, and climate impacts, the report states that climate changes could “overstretch many societies’ adaptive capacities within the coming decades. This could result in destabilization and violence, jeopardizing national and international security to a new degree.”

Drawing on the work of international experts and organizations including the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), the report notes, though, that “climate change could also unite the international community, provided that it recognizes climate change as a threat to humankind” and adopts “a dynamic and globally coordinated climate policy.” If the international community “fails to do so,” the report emphasizes, “climate change will draw ever-deeper lines of division and conflict in international relations, triggering numerous conflicts between and within countries over the distribution of resources, especially water and land, over the management of migration, or over compensation payments between the countries mainly responsible for climate change and those countries most affected by its destructive effects.” In its introduction to the report, the UNEP website states that “combating climate change will be a central peace policy of the 21st century.” Conflict preventive measures and resolution mechanisms should be part of the climate change negotiations, both in Copenhagen and beyond.

Scientists See the Need

?In addition, the scientific community recognizes that global climate change issues challenge our ability to deal with a changing environment containing huge potential for conflict. In March 2009 over 2500 delegates from nearly 80 countries participated in the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges & Decisions in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the end of the conference the delegates presented a set of key messages that included cautions about conflict and climate change.

Key Message 2: Social Disruption stated that “recent observations show that societies are highly vulnerable to even modest levels of climate change, with poor nations and communities particularly at risk. Temperature rises above 2C will be very difficult for contemporary societies to cope with.”

Key Message 3: Long Term Strategy stressed that “rapid, sustained, and effective mitigation based on coordinated global and regional action is required to avoid ‘dangerous climate change’ regardless of how it is defined. Delay in initiating effective mitigation actions increases significantly the long-term social and economic costs of both adaptation and mitigation.”
Key Message 4: Equity Dimensions emphasized that “climate change is having, and will have, strongly differential effects on people within and between countries and regions, on this generation and future generations, and on human societies and the natural world.”

The delegates recommended the use of tools and governance practices to address these fundamental concerns. Conflict preventive measures, conflict transformation and resolution are essential to meet climate change challenges.

Rio and Kyoto Precedents

?The COP 15 Provisional Agenda, reviewed in Bonn, Germany in early June, lists a range of essential issues, from emission reduction to technology transfer. Conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms are missing from the Agenda despite the fact that Article 14 of the 1992 UNFCCC (negotiated in New York and Rio de Janeiro and reaffirmed in Article 19 of the Kyoto Protocol) states that “in the event of a dispute between any two or more Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the Convention, the Parties concerned shall seek a settlement of the dispute through negotiation or any other peaceful means of their own choice.” This article, though, is not sufficient to address the complex conflicts between nations and peoples likely to emerge as climate change impacts accelerate. Conflict preventive measures and resolution mechanisms should be part of the talks in Bonn, Copenhagen, and beyond.

Beyond Rio and Kyoto, there is precedent for putting conflict resolution on the Climate Change Conference agenda. A number of UN treaties and conventions that deal with environmental issues include conflict or dispute resolution mechanisms. For example, the UN Convention on the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, adopted in 1997 by the UN General Assembly, specifies conflict resolution methods. Agenda 21, the Environment and Development Agenda administered by the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) emphasizes conflict resolution.

Article 39.3 specifies the need:

g) To identify and prevent actual or potential conflicts, particularly between environmental and social/economic agreements or instruments, with a view to ensuring that such agreements or instruments are consistent. Where conflicts arise, they should be appropriately resolved;

    h) To study and consider the broadening and strengthening of the capacity of mechanisms, inter alia in the United Nations system, to facilitate, where appropriate and agreed by the parties concerned, the identification, avoidance and settlement of international disputes in the field of sustainable development, duly taking into account existing bilateral and multilateral agreements for the settlement of such disputes.

An Important Commitment?

Climate change negotiators and decision-makers should affirm the commitment that people, communities, and nations will not be in violent situations due to conflicts that arise as a consequence of climate change. Politicians, diplomats, and specialists who attend the Climate Change meetings should consider conflict prevention measures and resolution mechanisms.

The climate change crisis challenges people throughout the world to invent and implement innovative ways to mitigate and thwart climate changing causes and effects. The crisis calls for new methods for nations and people to overcome differences and work together with the objective of preventing, minimising and resolving conflict arising because of limited resources and/or the effects of climate change.

Construction of a new global conflict prevention and resolution infrastructure is critical to a comprehensive international climate change policy. Such construction can start with the Copenhagen conference, with discussions of conflict prevention and resolution along side the negotiations of scientific and technical issues of climate change.

Copenhagen DK, Corvallis and Santa Monica USA – 22 May 2009

Gregg Walker, Tina Monberg, and Kenneth Cloke of Mediators Beyond Borders, ?Jens Emborg, Mie Marcussen, Lone Clausen, and Vibeke Vindeløv of Nordic Mediators

The authors’ affiliations:?

Gregg Walker, Ph.D., Professor of Speech Communication, Oregon State University, USA (gwalker@orst.edu)?

Tina Monberg, Mediator, exam. psychotherapist and lawyer, Mediationcenter Ltd., Denmark (tm@mediationcenter.dk)?

Kenneth Cloke, Mediator, President of Mediators Beyond Borders, California, USA (kcloke@aol.com)?

Jens Emborg, Ph.d. MMCR, Associate Professor of Environmental Conflict, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (jee@life.ku.dk)?

Mie Marcussen, M.Sc., MMCR, Mediator, President of Nordic Mediators, Private Consultant, Denmark (kontakt@miemarcussen.dk)?

Lone Clausen, MMCR, Developing Aid and Crises Expert, Private Consultant, Danmark (lc@direkte.org)

?Vibeke Vindeløv, Dr., Professor of Mediation and Conflict Resolution, University of Copenhagen, Denmark (Vibeke.Vindelov@jur.ku.dk)
 

Biography


Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all types of business torts and contract disputes.  During her two years of full-time neutral practice, she has co-mediated both mandatory and voluntary settlement conferences with Los Angeles Superior Court Judges Alexander Williams, III and Victoria Chaney.  As a result of her work with Judge Chaney in the Complex Court at Central Civil West, Ms. Pynchon has gained significant experience mediating construction defect litigation.  Ms. Pynchon received her J.D., Order of the Coif, from the U.C. Davis School of Law. 



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