Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Thank you, Mr. President. I would like to also join the others in thanking Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo for her briefing and extend my welcome to Her Excellency Emine Dzhaparaova, First Deputy Foreign Minister of Ukraine, and His Excellency Gerwel, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, for their participation.
Since last February, this Council has met over the war in Ukraine more than 40 times. Our discussions covered virtually every reason to abhor modern warfare, from the threat of nuclear confrontation to the plight of children in conflict. Each passing day added to the urgency of a cessation of hostilities and the necessity of a negotiated settlement. Yet one fighting season has yielded to another as this terrible conflict continues.
Today, nearly 40% of Ukraine’s population needs humanitarian aid. The ravages of war have not spared essential services either, while the onset of winter compounds civilian suffering, as we have heard. Donors and aid groups have responded with urgency, scaling up the delivery of essential services and providing thousands of generators to help people through the winter. Indeed, the UAE’s aid program has so far sent 2,500 generators as part of our ongoing humanitarian response to the conflict. But aid actors have also been caught in the crossfire. On 15 December, a humanitarian worker was killed while distributing food, and just a few days later, the Office of the Red Cross in Donetsk was damaged by shelling.
This war has already killed at least 7,000 Ukrainian civilians and forced 15 million to flee their homes. In September, the World Bank estimated that Ukraine’s reconstruction would cost around 350 billion dollars. That was before the widespread destruction of critical infrastructure, including power plants and the electricity grid.
Beyond Ukraine’s borders, the war is contributing to turmoil in the global supply chain and food and energy markets and imposing unsustainable costs on countries in the global south. For low-income developing states, the conflict added to an already-difficult post-pandemic global economy, with rising prices and interest rates and significant inflationary pressures – nearly 60% of these countries now face a debt crisis. People far from the front lines in Ukraine are paying a price for this conflict.
Meanwhile, the international system has had to confront the twin crises of function and principle. The war in Ukraine has risked entrenching global divisions to the point of paralyzing multilateralism with the false choice of “with us or against us.” At the same time, the challenges to the most foundational tenets of international law and the UN Charter could not be more explicit.
We all acknowledge that the war cannot go on for another year of lives lost and immense suffering. The UAE has consistently held that there is no viable military solution. However, we acknowledge that, ultimately, it is the parties, Ukraine and the Russian Federation, that must decide when and how they begin comprehensive talks. Still, the international community can and must do more to accelerate that process.
Through active and deliberate diplomacy, we must collectively work to prevent an escalation and expansion of the war – and that includes minimizing the risk of miscalculation in these efforts. We must also preserve the space for positive interactions between the sides, at the very least, to normalize engagement on key areas like the export of grain and fertilizers, nuclear safety and security, and respect for international and humanitarian law. And to encourage the parties to the negotiation table, we should also provide incentives in the form of a post-war vision that is just and sustainable.
So, in 2023, let us leverage the fact that we share a clear and urgent interest in bringing this war to a swift and peaceful end. Equally importantly, let all of our efforts drive at an inclusive and robust multilateralism, which is critical to addressing urgent global challenges, but also to safeguarding Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity as well as the region’s long-term security, stability, and prosperity.
Today we must work for something more durable – a peace that holds and endures. We must begin to imagine the day after this war ends.