The United Arab Emirates would like to thank the Republic of Tunisia for organizing today’s open debate.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the deadliest terror attacks in the United States. The shock and horror of 9/11 are seared in our collective memory, and we continue to live with its aftermath to this day.

The attack against the United States was also a turning point for the Security Council and its counter-terrorism efforts. The events of that fateful Tuesday morning led to the unanimous adoption of resolution 1373, which imposed obligations on member states to criminalize the financing of terrorism, among other actions, in addition to creating the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC).

However, the landscape of international terrorism has expanded significantly in the past two decades. The Middle East and certain regions in Africa have seen the lion’s share of this expansion, which has caused profound loss, instability, and waves of migration to Europe. In the face of these existential threats, the UAE has – together with regional and international partners – worked diligently to fight terrorism in the Middle East and beyond. The UAE has participated in ad-hoc coalitions and military operations to defeat terrorist groups. Our strategies have focused on stopping the flow of funds and fighters, in addition to addressing radicalization and promoting tolerance, peaceful co-existence, and interfaith dialogue at local, regional, and global levels.  The UAE has also worked with partners and the UN system to empower women and youth to take leadership roles in combatting extremism.

In the years since 2001, the international community has also taken remarkable action to prevent terrorist acts, including by strengthening international legal instruments. The Security Council has implemented series of critical measures including, for example, the creation of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) in resolution 1535 (2004), its adoption of resolution 1624 (2005) calling upon all states to adopt measures that prohibit the incitement to commit terrorist acts,  and the development of a unique, global sanctions regime targeting Al-Qaeda, Da’esh and their funders and supporters. For its part, the General Assembly adopted the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy and created the UN Counter-Terrorism Center (UNCTC) and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT).

Despite these sustained efforts, dangerous terrorist groups such as Al-Qaida, Da’esh, and Boko Haram remain active, and some still maintain global networks posing a threat to our collective security. Some UN reports even indicate that terrorist groups have sought to capitalize upon the impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Individual terrorists still have to potential to destroy lives and livelihoods by targeting critical infrastructure, urban centers, tourism venues, and houses of worship. The threat intensified as terrorists were able to acquire sophisticated weapons and exploit new technologies to spread their propaganda, recruit fighters, and raise funds.

In the face of all these complex challenges, UN Member States must address current gaps that hinder our counter-terrorism efforts. The UAE proposes four recommendations:

First, Member States must strengthen compliance with UN resolutions and international law. Although the CTC and the CTED have been valuable mechanisms for monitoring Member States’ implementation of relevant resolutions, including resolution 1373, the Council could strengthen its mechanisms to hold Member States accountable for violating relevant resolutions and their obligations under International Law.  States must uphold their legal obligations so that terrorist groups cannot exploit current gaps in the system.

Second, terrorist threats require a proactive rather than reactive strategy. The Council’s counter-terrorism strategy needs to be nimble yet comprehensive at the same time to effectively address evolving threats of terrorism. This involves evaluating how technological innovation can improve counter-terrorism efforts, as well as conducting gender-sensitive impact analysis.

Third, Member States must continue to encourage, build, and enhance partnerships with all the stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels. This especially includes empowering women and actually enabling their engagement, not only to ensure the systematic integration of a gender perspective but also to promote their participation and leadership in drafting and implementing strategies to prevent extremism and counter-terrorism. 

Finally, building the capacity of Member States and improving their crisis management strategies are crucial for successfully preventing and responding to terrorism threats. The UAE commends the efforts of UNCCT and UNOCT in bolstering countries’ capabilities in this area, as well as the work of Hedayah, based in the UAE, which builds the capacity of groups that prevent extremism to promote tolerance and peace all while tailoring its strategies to different national and regional realities. 

Additionally, we commend the critical visits that the CTC and CTED conduct to Member States, which in the UAE’s experience, have contributed to strengthening the country’s counter-terrorism framework and efforts.

Efforts to eliminate terrorism cannot be successful without the unity of the Council and the wider international community. Member States have made a lot of progress in countering terrorism, but there is still a long way to go. The UAE will not relent in our efforts to eliminate this global scourge. The UAE will maintain this approach to countering terrorism if elected to the UNSC for the 2022-2023 term.

In conclusion, the UAE pays tribute to all victims of terrorism and expresses its solidarity with all the survivors worldwide.