Delivered by: His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Abushahab, Deputy Permanent Representative and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i.

Mr. President,

Throughout the more than five hundred days since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, this Chamber has heard discussions on impeded humanitarian access, violations of international humanitarian law, and the reality of this conflict on civilians and communities.

Intolerance is one of the more intangible aspects of this war.

It seeps into the social fabric of everyday life, fueling the conflict. 

The United Arab Emirates condemns all forms of intolerance. In our own region, we have seen the detrimental consequences of the politicization of religion and unchecked incitement to violence masquerading as religious faith. 

The significant role that tolerance and peaceful co-existence have when it comes to peace and security was acknowledged just weeks ago by this Council when it unanimously adopted Resolution 2686.

The Member States sitting around this table were united in their support of the tenets that this resolution upholds.

We recognized that intolerance could contribute to driving the outbreak, escalation, and recurrence of conflict. At the same time, we recognized the importance of interreligious dialogue and the role of religious leaders in promoting peaceful coexistence that supports peacebuilding efforts. 

Cultural heritage and religious sites are the physical manifestation of belief. As such, they are often put at risk when intolerance, hatred, and extremism spread.

Since the beginning of the war, UNESCO has verified damage to 270 cultural sites in Ukraine, including 116 religious sites.

We have both a legal and moral imperative to ensure the protection of cultural heritage.

Resolution 2347 affirms that directing unlawful attacks against cultural heritage sites may constitute, in certain circumstances, a war crime.

Cultural heritage is also a prism through which we can view our common humanity.

As we have seen in other contexts, places of worship, as focal points for communities of faith, can serve as important platforms for post-war healing and peacebuilding.

Mr. President,

Every act of religious intolerance or destruction to sites only serves to escalate and prolong this conflict.

We reiterate our position that there is no military solution to this war, and our commitment to supporting all efforts aimed at bringing it to a peaceful, just, and lasting resolution, in line with the UN Charter.

We also stress that the parties must uphold their responsibilities under international law and avoid committing any acts of hostility directed against the cultural objects and places of worship which constitute the cultural or spiritual heritage of peoples.  

Protecting cultural heritage in conflict is a key part of making and sustaining peace after conflict.

Thank you, Mr. President.