NEW YORK – At the UN Security Council on Tuesday, the UAE stated that the failure of the Council to respond decisively to conflict around the world has exacted a profound human toll, and called for a re-energized unity of purpose within the Council and renewed action to maintain international peace and security. The UAE echoed Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’ statement that the most effective way to protect civilians is to prevent conflicts and to end them.
“In my own region – with the conflict in Syria now entering its 8th year – we are experiencing the challenge of multiple armed conflicts that have severe implications for civilian communities,” stated H.E. Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, at the Open Debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict chaired by the Foreign Minister of Poland, H.E. Jacek Czaputowicz. “These conflicts have in many instances been worsened and prolonged by the Security Council’s failure to act.”
Ambassador Nusseibeh emphasized that as a member of the Coalition Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen, the UAE takes its own responsibility for upholding international humanitarian law and for protecting civilians very seriously. The failure of the Security Council to enforce their own resolutions is partly the cause for the poor protracted nature of conflicts. She stated that the UAE is committed to cooperating with the UN to resolve the conflict in Yemen that has been perpetrated by the Houthis and their Iranian backers. The UAE will continue working closely with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid to affected areas and with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, in his efforts to create a roadmap for sustainable peace.
On the situation in Palestine, Ambassador Nusseibeh underlined that ignoring the root causes of this conflict would inevitably lead to further bloodshed. She highlighted that Israel’s recent actions at the Gaza Fence, which include attacks on doctors and paramedics, violated the protections for medical personnel assisting wounded civilians guaranteed under the Fourth Geneva Convention and customary international law. She called on Israel to abide by its responsibilities as the occupying power to extend basic human rights and protections to Palestinians.
Noting the importance of accountability and the importance of having impartial data, Ambassador Nusseibeh called for agreed upon mechanisms to collect data so that the international community can react appropriately and responsibly to major developments. She commended the Council for taking steps to fulfill its mandate through a recent visit organized by Kuwait, Peru, and the United Kingdom to Myanmar and Bangladesh to see the impact of recent violence on the Rohingya Muslim minority. She expressed concern for the Rohingya and voiced hope that the Council follow through on the outcomes of the visit.
On the situation in Syria, Ambassador Nusseibeh stated that the Syrian people have been denied humanitarian assistance for too long largely due to the inaction of the Council to pass any resolutions or implement adopted resolutions on Syria. She called for the unobstructed delivery of aid to those in need and for accountability for all chemical attacks against civilians in Syria which are in clear violation of international humanitarian law.
Furthermore, she noted the problems non-state actors pose in the Middle East and around the world, citing the Houthis as an example.
“More often than not, it is the civilian populations of these states these groups have infiltrated that suffer the consequences,” she noted. “This moral hazard is magnified when these groups receive state support.”
Ambassador Nusseibeh condemned Iran’s arming of various non-state actors in order to avoid sovereign accountability for its actions, thereby putting the region at greater risk. She called on the Council to take creative and bold steps towards countering the threats posed by non-state actors to better address 21st century challenges. She stressed that this should include stopping state financiers and supporters of these groups, adding that states should no longer be absolved of responsibility when they provide support to non-state actors that then defy international law. Furthermore, she emphasized that states such as Iran should be accountable for their attempts to violate international law and continued violations of the Council’s resolutions.
She concluded by calling on the Security Council and Member States to join the UAE in protecting civilians and upholding international law by focusing on prevention to address the root causes of conflict; recognizing that regional conflicts require regional solutions; and reinvigorating the Council to ensure that it takes both action in response to conflicts and follows through on its existing resolutions.