Allow me to express my appreciation to Secretary-General Guterres, Mr. Daccord, and Ms. Edwar for their thoughtful briefings earlier today.
The Secretary-General rightly pointed out that “the most effective way to protect civilians is to prevent conflicts and to end them.” The failure of the Security Council to respond decisively in some key conflict areas of the world has exacted a profound human toll. Therefore, the UAE primarily calls today for a re-energized unity of purpose within the Security Council and renewed action for the maintenance of international peace and security.
In my own region – with the conflict in Syria now entering its 8th year – we are experiencing the challenge of multiple armed conflicts that have severe implications for civilian communities. These conflicts have in many instances been worsened and prolonged by the Security Council’s failure to act.
The Syrian people for too long have been denied humanitarian assistance in large part because of the inaction of the Security Council on Syria to pass any resolutions on Syria since 2011 and the failure to implement those resolutions that have been passed. If this was not already intolerable, the Syrian population has also had to further endure the horrors of chemical weapons attacks. The UAE calls for the unobstructed delivery of aid to those in need and for accountability for all chemical attacks against civilians, which are in clear violation of international humanitarian law.
If we apply the Secretary General’s prevention-focused view to Palestine, we can conclude that simply ignoring the root causes of conflict will inevitably lead to further bloodshed. The situation in Palestine and Israel’s disregard for civilian life and international law endures as the longest running tragedy of our region. Israel’s actions at the Gaza Fence over the past month have included attacks on doctors and paramedics in clear violation of the protections for medical personnel assisting wounded civilians guaranteed under the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international law. Israel’s actions cannot be condoned or ignored by the international community – they cannot become the new normal. We call on Israel to abide by its responsibilities as the occupying power to extend basic human rights and protections to Palestinians.
When the UAE calls for accountability in Syria or in Palestine, it is not only a question of seeking justice; but is vital in order to prevent such violence in the future. Casting doubt on precise facts and figures has unfortunately proven to be an effective tool for governments seeking to stymie any attempt to hold them accountable for their actions. The only way to counter that is to create agreed-upon mechanisms to collect data that is beyond dispute, so that the international community can react appropriately and responsibly to major developments.
In that regard, we commend the recent Security Council visit organized by Kuwait, Peru, and the United Kingdom to Myanmar. This visit is an excellent example of the Security Council taking steps to fulfill its mandate. We nonetheless remain gravely concerned by the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and hope to see the Security Council follow through on the outcomes of that visit.
In Yemen, we are taking our own responsibility very seriously with regard to international humanitarian law and protections for civilians as a member of the Coalition Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen.
As I have outlined previously, there are grave consequences when the Security Council fails to act. But there can be equally damaging consequences when the Security Council fails to follow through on its own resolutions.
The failure of the Security Council to enforce these resolutions is part of the cause of the protracted nature of the conflict.
Nonetheless, we look forward to continuing to cooperate with the UN to resolve this conflict perpetrated by the Houthis and their Iranian backers. We have worked closely with the United Nations to ensure that our military doctrines and practices are in line with international best-practices and have worked diligently to rectify problems as they have arisen. We will also continue to work closely with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on ensuring the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to affected areas and we look forward to working with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, in his efforts to create a roadmap for sustainable peace.
However, the Houthis in Yemen are a clear example of the problems that non-state actors pose more generally in our region and around the world. More often than not, it is the civilian populations of the states these groups have infiltrated that suffer the consequences. This moral hazard is magnified when these groups receive state support. Iran’s decision to arm various non-state actors with weapons, including ballistic missiles, in order to avoid sovereign accountability for its actions has pushed the entire region towards a profoundly dangerous precipice.
We would therefore call on the Security Council to take creative and bold steps towards countering the threat posed by non-state actors to better address the nature of the challenges we are most likely to face in the 21st century. Critically, this must include taking resolute action against the state financiers and supporters of these groups. Such states can no longer be absolved of responsibility when they provide support to non-state actors that then proceed to violate international law. If anything, we believe that states like Iran that continue to act in this manner must be held to even greater account because of their blatant attempts to violate international law and their continued violations of Security Council resolutions.
To conclude, there is much more to be done with respect to the protection and welfare of civilians in conflict, especially for the most vulnerable.
In addition to the recommendations made by Mr. Daccord and the Secretary-General, the UAE emphasizes the importance of mandatory policies within security and aid agencies to mainstream gender, age, and disability in identifying unique needs and responses, as well as establishing accountability mechanisms for those policies, to implement them across all pillars of the UN, and to publicly report these scores. We call on the Security Council to mirror those efforts and implement corresponding policies.
The UAE calls on the Security Council and fellow Member States to join us in our commitment to protecting civilians and upholding international law by:
- Focusing on prevention to address the root causes of conflict.
- Recognizing that the world’s regional conflicts will require regional solutions.
- Re-invigorating the Security Council to ensure that it both takes action in response to conflicts and follows through on its existing resolutions in order for the Security Council to uphold its mandate to maintain peace and security.
Thank you, Madam President.