Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative
At the outset, I would like to thank you, Minister Borg, for presiding over this important meeting. I would also like to thank High Representative Borrell for joining us today.
Almost 25 years ago, hundreds of Emirati troops deployed to Kosovo to support stabilization efforts there. This initiative complemented the role of the United Nations, the European Union, and other international partners to ensure post-conflict recovery in the Balkans. That deployment illustrates something that I want to stress today: the United Arab Emirates and the EU may not be direct neighbors, but we have many neighbors in common, and our mutual challenges must be addressed collectively. This idea could not be more relevant today.
The relationship between the EU and the United Nations is based on a common commitment to multilateralism, the rule of law, and support for the most vulnerable. Today, I would like to address some of the global challenges where cooperation exists and where it could deepen. These include scaling up climate ambition, countering extremism, empowering women and girls, addressing the risks of nuclear proliferation, and promoting peaceful and inclusive solutions to crises around the world.
In a world marked by growing fragmentation, the EU’s emphasis on connectivity, on establishing strong global trade partnerships, on digital transformation, and on standard-setting to promote scientific and technological progress resonates deeply with the UAE. But we recognize that the EU is much more than that. It is also a key geopolitical actor, whose commitment to playing a constructive role on so many issues on this Council’s agenda we commend. As the war in Ukraine continues, we must redouble efforts to bring it to a just end. We must also ensure that other crises are not ignored, and we welcome the EU’s commitment in that regard. However, that needs to be visible in concerted action not only in word, but in deed, working with partners in other regions as well. In our region, peace and stability for Libya, Yemen, Syria, Palestine, and Israel must also be achieved, not to mention nine open conflicts in the African continent.
With this in mind, I would like to touch on three specific areas of common concern.
First, addressing security risks remains key to stability and prosperity. This autumn, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged in Manama that it took the EU too long to understand the impact of certain security risks beyond the Middle East. As she said, “The world needs a stronger security architecture against the spread of chaos”. We could not agree more. The idea that chaos, having gained a foothold somewhere, will not have a ripple effect somewhere else, is a mirage. In the end, it will. Emerging risks to our collective stability, such as food insecurity, tech-enabled extremist incitement, and nuclear saber-rattling all require international cooperation.
This also requires addressing protracted conflicts that continue to negatively impact the lives of millions of civilians. In a moment of unprecedented displacement, from Syria to the Sahel, there needs to be a change of paradigm in the way we support conflict resolution efforts and manage the flow of those fleeing instability. Promoting sustainable peace and economic opportunities in countries of origin should be a key element in addressing this issue, alongside continued compassion for those most in need.
Second, supporting those in need or at risk is a shared priority and should be recognized as that. Together, the UN, the EU, and the UAE have a strong commitment to support those affected by war and natural disasters. This entails ensuring that civilians, from Afghanistan, to Yemen, to Syria, receive vital, life-saving aid based on needs and not on politics. The EU is one of the UN’s largest donors, providing critical financial and political support to frontline humanitarian efforts. The UAE is host to the world’s largest humanitarian hub at the International Humanitarian City, where prepositioned bilateral and international assistance, including from the EU, is sent where it’s most needed. Most recently, nearly 90 planes full of emergency aid from the UAE were dispatched in response to the devastating earthquakes in Türkiye and Syria.
The UAE is also proud to work with the UN and EU to support women and girls. Without women’s empowerment, security and stability will not be sustained. As we witness the reversal of women and girls’ rights in almost every region around the world, promoting the full, equal, and meaningful participation of women in all aspects of public life is key.
Third, scaling up climate ambition is an urgent task. Climate mitigation and adaptation efforts must go hand in hand and the EU is an essential partner to achieve this objective. That work is important to both ensuring sustainable development, especially for developing countries most vulnerable to climate change, as well as to maintaining international peace and security. As host of COP28, the UAE is committed to keeping alive the 1.5 degree global climate target. Climate change is an existential crisis, and we cannot simply confine the 1.5 goal to the dustbin of history. At the same time, we also recognize the importance of securing financing for climate adaptation for the Global South, particularly with the increasing frequency and devastation of extreme weather events.
The European project was initiated by countries that had just fought a terrible war. They came together with the dedicated ambition to set up a common market for coal and steel. Fast forward seventy years, and they became a Union that contributes effectively to so many areas critical for international peace and security. From the perspective of the Gulf today and indeed the Arab world, this journey from confidence building to political integration and a common agenda remains an inspiring example.
We hope we can all reach for that inspiration again today in pursuit of a new peace.