At the outset, I would like to thank the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Csaba Kőrösi, for convening this High-level Forum on promoting a culture of peace in the digital era. I also wish to thank the briefers and panelists for their insights on this important topic.
New and emerging technologies and digital platforms present new threats and challenges, including exploitation by terrorist and extremist organizations and individuals for terrorist purposes. This can lead to increased exposure to extremist messaging that incites violence and spreads hate speech, misinformation and disinformation. In turn, this exposure can fuel intercommunal tensions and drive conflict.
To address these challenges, there is a need to promote tolerance and a culture of peace in the digital realm. We have seen progress in recent years strengthening regulatory and legislative frameworks to protect online users from incitement to hatred, extremist messaging, disinformation and misinformation. However, we need to accelerate such efforts to ensure that the international normative framework is capable of mitigating these threats. This requires close cooperation between governments and the private sector as well as concerted and holistic efforts by all relevant stakeholders to develop good practices that promote tolerance and a culture of peace.
While these policies and regulatory frameworks are essential in protecting against the pernicious use of digital technologies, we nevertheless need to recall the benefits of the internet which connects our world. It is a transformational force for good in facilitating communication, education, and understanding. Coordinating and financing projects and efforts that improve access to these positive resources are crucial to counteract the nefarious uses of digital technologies.
Bridging the digital divide is another pressing matter that needs to be tackled. An estimated 37 percent of the world’s population – almost 3 billion people – have never used the internet. The divide between developed and developing countries remains wide and disproportionately impacts women and girls. For example, only 19 percent of women in Least Developed Countries use the internet compared to 31 per cent of men. Inequality in the physical world is clearly being replicated in the digital world. As we approach the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda, we need to prioritize all who have yet to experience the dividends of the technological developments that are now commonplace in other parts of the world.
At the national level, the United Arab Emirates has prioritized innovation and the adoption of modern technologies. We continue to commit to the goal of leveraging digital technologies to facilitate the achievement of the SDGs and promote inclusion, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence. We have taken concrete steps to reap the benefits of digital transformation and established a strong digital economy. The UAE will continue to advocate for the equitable distribution of digital technologies and emphasize the importance of creating effective digital frameworks that promote a culture of peace.