Delivered by: Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State
Allow me to first thank Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and His Eminence Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, for their valuable interventions. I also thank Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher for the speech he delivered on behalf of His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church. We wish His Holiness a speedy recovery. Additionally, I thank Ms. Latifa Ibn Ziaten for her critical briefing focusing on the role of youth in combating extremism.
We meet today to discuss an issue with significant implications on international peace and security. The world is facing the highest number of armed conflicts since the Second World War, with two billion people living in places affected by conflict.
This reality has grown increasingly dangerous and complex, especially amid the continued rise in levels of division, hate speech, racism, and extremism in all its manifestations. In particular, extremism has become a tool for inciting violence, deepening disputes, and fueling conflicts. As a result, places of worship have become targets and the killing and persecution of people – whether on the basis of identity, race, and religion or otherwise – have become unjustifiably legitimized and commonplace. Hate speech and extremism also disproportionately affect women and girls, further entrenching inequality and obstacles for their participation in public life.
As is evident in this Council’s resolutions, we have learned tough lessons from history about conflicts in which extremism has led to the loss of lives, destruction of communities, and the erasure of history. In its worst form, hate speech can incite acts that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, as witnessed in the former Yugoslavia and the Genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda.
In addition to causing and perpetuating conflicts, hate speech, racism, and all manifestations of extremism can hamper post-conflict reconciliation and sustainable peace, as in the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The exploitation of advanced technology and the use of online platforms have facilitated the spread of hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation beyond national borders. No country or region is safe from these growing threats.
The Security Council must acknowledge that addressing and preventing hate speech, racism, and all manifestations of extremism in conflict situations is an integral part of this Council’s mandate to maintain international peace and security. It is also directly in line with the shared commitments outlined in the United Nations Charter “to save future generations from the scourge of war” and “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another”.
We cannot overlook the clear challenges posed by hate speech and extremism in many of the files on the Security Council’s agenda. Although the Council has addressed these obstacles in discrete conflict situations, it has become clear that addressing these issues effectively requires the Council to adopt a proactive and comprehensive approach. This must be done at every stage of the conflict cycle – from the prevention and resolution of conflict to reconciliation and peacebuilding.
We have convened this meeting to urgently renew our collective commitments to peace, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence, because they are the basis for achieving sustainable peace and building prosperous societies.
The threats posed by extremism, racism, and hate speech require the participation of all relevant stakeholders in developing and implementing a diverse set of solutions that span several policy areas. For example, governments, civil society, and the private sector have a role to play in building bridges, developing policies, and creatively tackling these threats. These efforts must include the full, equal, and meaningful participation and inclusion of women as key stakeholders that can drive sustainable approaches to peace and reconciliation.
Religious and community leaders also have an important role to play in our efforts to strengthen community resilience and achieve peace. Through their engagement with local communities, they can raise awareness on the importance of promoting tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and in advancing inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. We commend the valuable contributions led by the Grand Imam and His Holiness Pope Francis in promoting the values of human fraternity and coexistence and to resolve misconceptions.
As for education, it is an essential prevention tool that equips youth and future generations with the knowledge and skills to refute extremist ideology and play a positive role in building their societies and promoting peace.
We can benefit from the critical work across the UN system to address hate speech, racism and intolerance, including the Secretary-General’s Strategy and Plan of Action on Hate Speech, which is a testament of the organization’s efforts in conflict prevention and peacebuilding.
Therefore, the UAE and the United Kingdom submitted a draft resolution to the Security Council which seeks to address the threats of hate speech, racism, and other forms of extremism in conflict situations and promote tolerance and co-existence in a proactive and cross-cutting manner.
Our approach and initiatives are based on the challenges experienced by the Arab region, including the spread of hate speech and its role in inciting, exacerbating, and prolonging conflicts. In the face of this reality, the UAE has managed to welcome more than two hundred nationalities to live in peace and harmony within its borders by consolidating the values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, and mutual understanding. We will continue to work by all possible means – across the local, regional, and international levels – to encourage a culture of peace and refute extremist discourse.
In closing, today’s meeting presents a critical step towards further strengthening prevention efforts in maintaining peace and security. Yet, a lot remains to be done in this direction. We must ensure that we can respond to threats before it is too late by following proactive and pragmatic approaches. This is our vision to save generations from war and enable them to actively participate in building a better, secure, and stable future.