At the outset, the UAE would like to thank the Republic of Kenya for its efforts to maintain international peace and security, and for ensuring that this topic remains a priority to the Council. We also express our appreciation for the important points emphasized by His Excellency Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and His Excellency Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa and His Excellency Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda in their briefings.
As the concept paper that Kenya has prepared for today’s discussion indicates, the focus on identity differences and collective grievances fuel many of the conflicts that this Council addresses. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, and at times deepened, the differences between and within many societies. This confirms that emerging threats such as epidemics and climate change may fuel division and tensions around identity differences, especially in fragile societies. Therefore, there is an urgent need to intensify our joint efforts to address the root causes of conflicts, particularly those that fuel individual identity-based tensions to prevent further conflicts from occurring and worsening. As past experience has shown, this approach is the most effective and least costly way to maintain international peace and security.
Moreover, in a region marred by conflict, particularly driven by efforts to divide groups based on differences in identity and religion, the United Arab Emirates has launched tangible initiatives aimed at consolidating the foundations of coexistence, tolerance and harmony between different societies, cultures and religions, whether locally, regionally or internationally. Our successful experience of hosting over 200 nationalities and multiple faith communities in a peaceful and secure environment confirms that building stable and prosperous societies requires a comprehensive approach and leadership committed to integrating diverse societies into their public policies. Today, the UAE has welcomed more than 190 countries of different cultures and religions for the Expo 2020, as a testament that intellectual, cultural and religious diversity is a source of prosperity and strength, and not a reason for conflict and division.
The UAE would like to draw attention to three areas that the international community must focus on to consolidate the concepts of coexistence and tolerance to advance societies enriched by diversity and peace:
First, governments have the primary responsibility to foster cohesion, build resilience and encourage unity within communities. It is necessary to develop strategies and take bold political measures to achieve reconciliation among peoples and to consolidate the foundations of peace and dialogue between different religions and cultures. Such efforts can also be supported by launching initiatives such as our celebration this year of the International Day of Human Fraternity on February 4, which provides an opportunity for all actors to participate in spreading awareness and embodying the spirit of unity and solidarity among peoples.
Second, the strategies of peace operations must be designed to encourage diverse local communities to own and build peace together. This requires extensive coordination with a variety of local actors to better address their needs. In this way, nationally owned peacebuilding strategies embrace the diversity and differences of society in a way that makes it difficult to implement discrimination, violence and hatred. We stress here the pivotal role of religious institutions, women and youth in designing, leading and implementing initiatives and driving innovation aimed at promoting peaceful coexistence in society.
Finally, promoting sustainable and effective peacebuilding requires a coordinated and integrated multilateral response. As many UN entities and regional organisations work on the ground to prevent conflict, build peace and promote co-existence, there is a need for a coherent approach to better maximize resources and efforts while avoiding any duplication of projects on the ground. Intensive coordination will also enhance the efficiency of projects and initiatives implemented in the various phases of peacebuilding.
In conclusion, the UAE’s commitment to a culture of diversity, dialogue and understanding between and within countries reflects our national experience. Our experience confirms that pushing forward with comprehensive policies that promote tolerance and unity is one of the most important pillars of society’s immunity and resilience against extremism, division and violence. In this context, we affirm our support for all the efforts of the international community, especially the United Nations programs, to build cohesive societies in which diversity is a factor of strength, growth and prosperity.
Thank you, Mr. President.