The UAE thanks Prime Minister Narendra Modi for chairing this important debate and commends India’s leadership on this topic. Global and regional maritime security is impacted by a broad array of traditional and non-traditional challenges – such as piracy, armed robbery, terrorism, transnational organized crime against ships at sea including the trafficking of humans and weapons, and crimes in the maritime and fisheries sectors. The degradation of ocean health and the impacts of climate change may be root causes for security concerns, since more than three billion people rely on the ocean for their livelihoods. The international community must respond in a consistent and coherent way, in accordance with international law.

It is indisputable that maritime transport is the backbone of the global economy and a major driver for nations’ stability and prosperity. Every country – whether coastal or landlocked – relies on maritime transport to access food, medicine, vaccines and other goods and services. Maritime security, as an integral component of maritime transport, is also critical to global energy supply and essential for sustainable development. This is all the more important in our region where roughly one-third of the world’s energy resources are transported by ships through the Strait of Hormuz. Thus, we all have a stake in countering threats to sea shipping routes that are the arteries of the global economy and directly affect global security. Only recently, we witnessed how disruptions to maritime supply chains due to the COVID-19 pandemic had serious economic repercussions internationally.

The UAE is committed to maritime security and the protection of commercial shipping. We are therefore seriously concerned by the sharp increase in the number of attacks and threats made against commercial ships in our region, including recent attacks off our coasts and the coastlines of Oman. Attacks on shipping in our region have implications that extend far beyond our waters; their ripple effect threatens freedom of navigation and endangers the fragile global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Those attacks must immediately cease and vessels must be allowed to navigate freely in accordance with international law. The UAE will continue to prioritize de-escalation and work in close coordination with partners to ensure the safety and security of maritime navigation in our region.

Maritime security and environmental sustainability are two sides of the same coin. For example, it is important to note the threats posed to maritime safety and the marine environment by the floating oil storage and offloading tanker “SAFER” moored and abandoned off the coast of Yemen. Due to the corrosion and lack of maintenance since 2015, the SAFER tanker could rupture or even explode, spilling more than one million barrels of oil into the Red Sea. We welcome the efforts taken by the UN to date to mitigate the dangers posed by the SAFER tanker and urge the deployment of a UN mission to assess the condition of the tanker for further actions.

The UAE also makes the following recommendations to support of maritime security:

First, the Council should engage with the International Maritime Organization on how to enhance coordination, cooperation and collaboration among States – especially States with bordering straits and other user States – and other relevant organizations on how to promote cooperative mechanisms and better protect, prevent and deter attacks in shipping lanes of strategic importance and significance, to keep such straits safe, clean and open to international navigation.

Second, we urge Member States to uphold freedom of navigation as a key principle of international law. In a context of rising tensions and increased polarization, the stakes are high. We encourage all actors to commit to building trust by opening lines of communication at sea to prevent miscalculation and promote restraint. 

Third, we recommend increased reporting from the Secretary-General on climate-related maritime security risks to assist the Security Council to anticipate and act on such risks. The cascading effects of climate change and degradation of the ocean environment are expected to drive maritime crime and instability by contributing to food insecurity, resource competition and disrupting livelihoods that depend on the ocean. Sea-level rise due to climate change poses a serious threat for many islands and coastal regions. These impacts could result in significant instability.

In conclusion, the UAE reiterates its commitment to supporting regional and international efforts to address threats to maritime navigation, the marine environment and global trade.