Mr. President,

The United Arab Emirates would like to thank Viet Nam for organizing this important and timely open debate and Mark Lowcock, Peter Maurer, and Kevin Rudd for their briefings.

The UAE strongly supports an enhanced focus at the Security Council on preventative and reactive measures to protect infrastructure that enables civilian to survive conflict – and recover from it.  It is also important that approaches to this issue take into consideration the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. 

First and foremost, current international humanitarian law provides a robust framework on this topic; this must be upheld.  As this debate underscores, that recognition must be our collective starting point. 

With that in mind, the UAE would like to outline five options that potentially could improve outcomes around protection.

First, the UAE views deconfliction mechanisms as the best practice for identifying and protecting civilian objects.  These mechanisms establish a common understanding of such objects, reflecting the cardinal principle of distinction, and enable tracking of the status over time.  New technology in this space, especially the utilization of satellite data, could be used to enhance the accuracy and comprehensiveness of these mechanisms, and thus ultimately protect greater numbers.

Second, the application of gender, age, and disability in identifying, protecting, and restoring such objects will result in better outcomes by serving the full needs of society.  This is the basis for sustainable peace and recovery.  In the UN system, the UAE advocates for the allocation of dedicated budgets for gender, age, and disability advisors across peace and security operations, as well as mandatory markers, as impactful and lowest-cost interventions.

Third, greater resilience can be achieved through the strengthening of physical and social infrastructure and services prior to and during conflict.  Systems lacking resilience experience the greatest disruptions to basic services and human health.  The challenges posed by the pandemic and climate change underscore this point.  

Accordingly, the UAE has facilitated the global distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and COVID-19 vaccine shots through bilateral and multilateral partnerships, including the UN supply hub in Dubai and UAE pro-bono partnerships with the COVAX facility on logistics.  The UAE understands the importance of building resilience by investing in global health systems.

Similarly, it is critical to help communities cope with the effects of climate change and environmental degradation.  The UAE advocates for the UN and international financial institutions to prioritize spending in areas that are both climate-vulnerable and have had incidents of conflict and insecurity.  For example, supporting farmers in the Sahel at scale on heat-resistant crops and water management would address both climate adaptation needs and roots causes of conflict.

In this vein, the UAE also supports a greater focus on environmental stewardship and positive infrastructure legacy in UN peacekeeping operations as economic engines in host countries.  The UAE therefore commends the leadership of the UN Secretariat in committing to 80 percent renewable energy usage by 2030, notably through the second phase of the UN Department of Operational Support’s (DOS) Environment Strategy for Field Missions.

Moreover, approaches to strengthen civilian objects must prioritize gender, age, and disability.  For instance, sexual and reproductive health needs are specific to women and girls, and so these services must be funded and protected.  To this end, the UAE pledged $2 million for the UNFPA as part of a $10 million package on SGBV programme in support of Rohingya women refugees’ access to essential health services, especially for those who are victims of sexual violence.

Fourth, the UN and the Security Council’s approach to conflict must include planning for reconstruction, and, in particular, the rebuilding of critical infrastructure to manage the reverberations of armed conflict.  The UAE has been proud to support reconstruction in Iraq, notably for Yazidi women, and has seen firsthand the importance of a continued focus on civilian objects indispensable despite the cessation of hostilities.

And finally, fifth, the ultimate goal for protecting civilian objects is the cessation of hostilities.    The UAE therefore takes this opportunity to renew its support to the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire in order to allow for the delivery of COVID-19 humanitarian assistance, including vaccines, to the most vulnerable.

The UAE reiterates its commitment to upholding international humanitarian law and to constructively addressing threats to objects indispensable to the survival of civilians.

Thank you, Mr. President.