The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the most critical challenges of our time, many of which cut across national borders and require our focused global cooperation. For example, the pandemic and global conflicts demonstrated the need to secure and develop effective international responses to protecting global trade routes. Other challenges include global inequality and strategic competition among Member States, growing fragmentation, and the increasingly visible impacts of climate change.
We have also seen generosity and cooperation during these difficult times, with aid to those in need, rapid innovation to create COVID-19 vaccines, and more. As the international community faces existing and emerging threats, the UAE wants to be proactive in working with Member States and the UN system so that the world can “build back better,” as the Secretary-General has said. This includes securing paths to investment for developing countries, in addition to accelerating implementation of the Sustainable Developent Goals (SDGs) as outlined in the Secretary-General’s “Our Common Agenda” report, to rebuild resilient, inclusive, and sustainable societies.
The UAE will be engaging closely with the UN and Member States throughout the rest of 2021 and 2022, notably with EXPO opening in Dubai on 1 October 2021 and continuing through 31 March 2022. We will host more than 190 nations to encourage innovation, collaboration, and inspiration towards building a cleaner, safer, and healthier future for all. It will also be the largest-ever single platform promoting the SDGs. Also in December 2021, the UAE will host the 18th UN Public Service Forum, which works to support the efforts of governments around the globe to implement the SDGs.
On 1 January 2022, the UAE will be joining the UN Security Council for the 2022-2023 term. During our term, we are committed to building bridges and promoting a more results-oriented multilateralism. As an elected member, the UAE will mobilize its entrepreneurship and pragmatism to achieve incremental solutions to address today’s global challenges.
Priorities for UNGA 76 – A Presidency of Hope: Delivering for the People, Planet and Prosperity
The UAE will concentrate its efforts, in partnership with Member States, on the following seven priorities at UNGA 76 and during its term on the Security Council:
1. Supporting stability in the Middle East and encouraging political solutions to conflicts around the world. As a country that sits in a turbulent region, the UAE is deeply committed to the stability and security of the Middle East. We strive to be a bridge-builder towards peace that supports dialogue and diplomacy, promotes de-escalation, and pursues sustainable political solutions. For example, the Abraham Accords with Israel were signed with the objectives that diplomacy and improved communication would promote greater prosperity and cooperation in our region.
The Middle East also faces the threat of nuclear proliferation, and the UAE is deeply committed to efforts to achieve a region free of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and to the full implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In line with the NPT’s goals to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the UAE is proud to have started operations in August 2020 at Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power plant, the first such plant to operate in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Unit 2 was also successfully connected to the UAE’s transmission grid in September 2021, adding further capacity for carbon-free electricity.
As a member of the Security Council, the UAE will be committed to the Council’s mandate to maintain international peace and security. We hope to bring a new perspective to the Council, built on our experience as a moderating force in the Middle East, our global network of partnerships, and our deeply held belief in the power of diplomacy. We will work to support peacebuilding efforts and the effectiveness of peace operations. Particularly, we want to ensure the active and meaningful participation of women in conflict prevention, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding. We will also work to be an effective actor on all items on the Council’s agenda, not just the issues in our region.
2. Countering terrorism and extremism and promoting tolerance. A critical element of the UAE’s approach to regional stability—and a core component of the UAE’s foreign policy—is the promotion of peace and security through countering extremism, as well as through interfaith dialogue and moderation.
Earlier this year, as a celebration of religious tolerance, the UAE, in cooperation with Bahrain, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, secured the adoption of General Assembly resolution 75/200 (2021), proclaiming 4 February as the International Day of Human Fraternity. Following the visit by Pope Francis to the UAE and the Global Conference of Human Fraternity in 2019, the UAE is building the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi. The Abrahamic Family House will be a church, synagogue, and mosque all at the same site, and will be completed in 2022. This will be a place of learning, dialogue, worship, and gathering.
The Middle East, and the world, has suffered from terrorist actions spurred by extremist ideologies. The UAE is currently coordinating with the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) on the establishment of a Programme Office in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE rejects terrorism in all its forms, and we believe that one of the best ways to combat extremist ideologies and the recruitment of youth is by addressing the root causes of extremism, amplifying moderate voices, and promoting tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and cultural diversity. As a country with more than 200 nationalities living and working side-by-side, the UAE knows firsthand the importance of diversity and inclusion for a peaceful and prosperous society.
In the Security Council, the UAE will continue to support the full implementation of the counter-terrorism legal framework. We will also highlight the importance of religious tolerance and inclusion as proactive ways of addressing the spread of extremism.
3. Addressing the security impacts of climate change. The UAE recognizes climate change and its impacts as one of the greatest challenges of our time. As both a major hydrocarbon producer and a country that is vulnerable to environmental changes, we have championed the use of renewable energy at home and abroad. We also believe that there are clear linkages between climate and issues like economic growth, public health, and security. It will be critical to work towards a more sustainable future that considers the significant impact of climate on security.
Domestically, the UAE has set the record for the world’s cheapest solar power, bringing it below the price of all other sources of energy. The UAE also committed to reach 44% of its energy mix coming from renewables and 6% from nuclear by 2050 – the most ambitious climate strategy for the power sector in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is the largest annual sustainability event in the world and a regular milestone for UN processes. The UAE is also the host of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Masdar, a leading investor in renewables.
At the UN, the UAE was appointed to the advisory committee of the Secretary-General’s 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, which will simultaneously address food insecurity and climate change. The UAE has also announced its candidacy to host the 2023 UN Climate Change Conference (COP28). The UAE believes that countries can prosper by championing the new low-carbon system and enhancing international cooperation to this end. This is the message the UAE would like to showcase at COP28 as host.
In the Security Council, the UAE will look to identify where the Council can take practical and achievable steps to alleviate the challenges of climate change on global security.
4. Championing women’s empowerment. Women’s empowerment is a key principle of the UAE’s domestic and foreign policy. The UAE believes that countries thrive when women are empowered in all aspects of society. In July, the UAE pledged $100 million to support the education of women and girls as part of the Global Partnership for Education, which is focused on education programs in developing countries. At the UN, the UAE is one of the most prominent supporters of gender equality and women’s empowerment and has been a core contributor to UN Women with donations totaling $36 million from 2010 to 2020. Earlier in 2021, the UAE participated in the Generation Equality Forum, which was co-organized by France, Mexico, and UN Women to galvanize efforts to remove barriers to women’s rights. In particular, as a board member and signatory to the Women, Peace, and Security and Humanitarian Action Compact, the UAE has taken up an important role in accelerating concerted actions for the implementation of the WPS agenda.
One of the UAE’s core priorities regarding gender equality is advancing the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda. We believe that women must be equal partners in peace and security efforts, and that they belong in senior leadership and decision-making roles. To ensure that all aspects of our foreign policy take this into account, the UAE adopted a National Action Plan for the implementation of Security Council resolution 1325 in March 2021, becoming the first Gulf Cooperation Council country to do so. Additionally, the UAE signed a partnership with the UN’s Department for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (UNDPPA) to support its efforts to increase the meaningful participation and leadership of women in political and peace processes. The UAE continues to work closely with UN Women, and its liaison office in Abu Dhabi in particular, in organizing a peacekeeping training initiative as part of the Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak Women, Peace and Security Centre of Excellence. Since 2018, the program has trained two cohorts of 357 women from countries across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. A third cohort is planned for 2022.
In addition, the UAE continues to support international efforts to prevent sexual violence in conflict. This has included supporting relief for Yazidi women, promoting the reconstruction of Sinjar, and funding the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD) to enhance the work of the team with respect to the investigation of sexual and gender-based crimes. In September 2020, the UAE co-hosted a high-level event on Ending Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV) in Humanitarian Crises as a follow-up to the Oslo conference in 2019. At the high-level event, which was co-hosted with Norway, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the UAE pledged $10 million towards international prevention and response efforts in this field.
In the Security Council, the UAE will be a strong advocate of the WPS agenda, with a particular focus on implementation. We want to promote a narrative of women as active agents in all aspects of the conflict continuum, from prevention to resolution and peacebuilding. We will support women’s participation in peace efforts, including serving in police and military capacities in peacekeeping, as well as actively participating in political negotiations. The UAE is committed to promoting and strengthening gender-sensitive risk analysis when discussing matters of international peace and security.
5. Humanitarian aid and future preparedness. The UAE firmly believes that to achieve international peace and security, we must improve the daily lives of people, including through eradicating poverty, improving infrastructure, empowering women, and more. To this end, the UAE is a significant global humanitarian donor and a key UN partner. In January 2022, the UAE will join the Executive Board of UNICEF until December 2024. As part of our COVID-19 response, the UAE pledged 1 million vaccines to COVAX in 2021, and Dubai Ports World partnered with UNICEF to provide access to its warehouses and logistics infrastructure to promote equitable access to vaccines globally. In 2020, we contributed approximately $10 million of testing kits to the World Health Organization and three aircraft for the World Food Programme’s global air bridge operation. The UAE also hosts the Dubai International Humanitarian City, a critical logistics and supply center for UN agencies and other organizations providing development and humanitarian assistance abroad.
In the Security Council, the UAE will promote the provision of humanitarian assistance to those in need in conformity with international law, as well as future preparedness in order to mitigate the impact of crises that affect the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable. We will use our experience and leadership during COVID-19 to advocate prioritizing anticipatory action and improving planning and coordination between all UN entities to more effectively tackle crises and promote aid accountability.
6. Investing in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs have been integrated into both the UAE’s national planning framework and foreign aid strategy. The UAE’s National Committee on SDGs, which was established in 2017, aligns the UAE’s international cooperation efforts and national development plans such as Vision 2021 and the UAE Green Growth Strategy with the SDGs.
According to the UN’s 2021 SDG Progress Report, there is uneven implementation across the SDGs, with progress stalled or reversed in some areas. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted health services, education, opportunities for women, raised extreme poverty rates, and more. For the next nine years, as part of the 2020-2030 “Decade of Action” to deliver the SDGs, the UAE will focus with our international partners to achieve progress and make it irreversible.
At UNGA 76, the UAE will serve on the advisory committee for the Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit, and is also taking on a leadership role for the Secretary-General’s High-Level Dialogue on Energy. Further, the World EXPO in Dubai will be a massive opportunity to share ideas, best practices, and new solutions to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
7. Promoting innovation and emerging technologies. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that constant horizon scanning is required to identify future opportunities and challenges and prepare for them through technological and policy innovation.
Since our founding, the UAE has been a creative and technology-forward country. We have embraced innovation to achieve greater development and stability in our country, our region, and beyond. For example, in July 2020, the UAE launched the Hope Mars probe, the first interplanetary science mission led by an Arab country. We remain committed to ensuring that technology and innovation are leveraged for the benefit of all Member States, and that we continue the conversation on international digital cooperation initiated by the Secretary-General in 2018 on how the digital world should be governed to mitigate risk, such as cybercrime, and offer the most benefits to the most people.
In the Security Council, the UAE hopes to promote the harnessing of technology and innovation to further international peace and security. For example, resources like artificial intelligence and crowdsourcing tools could be useful in peace negotiations, and technology can help predict and prevent health and climate crises that could otherwise lead to violence and instability.
Throughout UNGA 76, our time in the Security Council, and beyond, the UAE will remain a champion of multilateral solutions to address global challenges and a reliable and a committed partner to fellow Member States. The UAE prides itself on its ingenuity and entrepreneurship, a results-oriented approach that has led to the incredible transformation of our country in less than 50 years. With all Member States, we look forward to building bridges and creating sustainable solutions for more equitable, innovative, prosperous, and resilient societies.