Delivered By: His Excellency Mohamed Abushahab, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative
At the outset, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to our colleagues from Mozambique and congratulate them for their efforts and professionalism during their successful presidency of the Council in March, and wish the same to the Russian Federation during its assumption of the Presidency of the Security Council this month.
I would also like to thank Under-Secretary-General Nakamitsu for her briefing today.
In recent years we have witnessed a worrying rise in geopolitical tensions. This turmoil has mirrored a global rise in military expenditure, which reached an all-time high of 2.1 trillion US dollars last year. This figure could rise even higher if trust among major powers continues to be eroded.
The right of states to develop security and defense capabilities for their self-defense is tempered by both risks and responsibilities. An effective and accountable security sector is indispensable for addressing threats to the security or territorial integrity of States. At the same time, the proliferation of weapons is fraught with unintended consequences and poses significant threats to international peace and stability.
Today, I want to speak on this topic in two ways: first, by acknowledging what has been done, and second, by offering views on what we have yet to do.
First, it is useful to recall the strides that have been made so far on managing weapons transfers in accordance with international law.
States have come together, including within this institution, to develop international norms and best practices to manufacture, trade and possess conventional arms and weapons needed for self-defense, while addressing the risks of illicit trade and diversion. The Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects – and its International Tracing Instrument – are elements of this framework within this institution. The UN has played a key role in facilitating the further development of this framework to improve regulation and address gaps. Meanwhile, this Council continues to consider and discuss the illicit transfer of weapons and military equipment in connection with counter-terrorism and in some country-specific contexts.
Despite the strides made, challenges in regulating arms remain.
This leads me to my second point – what remains to be done in this area.
Efforts towards greater effectiveness of arms control demand a strong emphasis on tracking and tracing systems. This is key to achieving assurances that weapons being delivered in legitimate, good faith transfers do not end up in the wrong hands, particularly those of terrorists. With this in mind, we underline the importance that weapons stockpiles be carefully managed.
Lack of effective arms controls risk the safety and security of populations at large. But it is usually women and girls who are the first to experience the negative impacts of the uncontrolled spread of weapons, oftentimes further increasing their exposure to gender-based violence.
We cannot address the destabilizing impact of the illicit proliferation of arms without referring to weapons of mass destruction. Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons pose some of the most significant and existential threats to our survival. Though the performance of international instruments regulating such weapons has long been discussed both within and beyond this chamber, participation and enforcement must be strengthened. We encourage all Member States to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and other agreements for the regulation of WMDs, and to comply with all relevant international obligations, including Security Council resolutions.
Until this is done, the proverbial sword of Damocles remains poised above our heads.
Weapons and arms may be a reality of the world we live in, but the UAE will never tire of calling for peaceful means – including diplomacy – for the resolution of disputes and for the cessation of hostilities the world over.
Before that moment is reached, before the guns are silenced, we must do everything we can to mitigate the risks associated with the use and transfers of arms around the globe.
Above all, our discussion today takes place at a time when urgent humanitarian needs and longer-term development are not being adequately met.
And so, we should recall that every dollar spent on a weapon is one less available for funding schools, hospitals, public services, and the very institutions that strengthen international peace and security.
Thank you, Mr. President.