I would like to state at the outset that the UAE delegation aligns itself with the statement given by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. I would further like to thank the Secretary-General for his important initiative, and welcome the adoption of the resolution that takes note of the Secretary-General Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.
Today, we are facing a grave challenge to international peace and security, which is also undermining our efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals. As we push back against extremists in particular countries, they increasingly lash out elsewhere.
Our challenge further increases with our inability to reach a precise definition of extremism, which has no specific religion, nationality or culture. The manner in which extremist groups affiliate Islam with their destructive actions is a serious offence towards a religion that is compassionate. Further, those individuals recruited especially by Da’esh to abuse Islam’s name have done so in an attempt to justify their extremist ideas and criminal acts.
The Secretary-General notes in his report that extremism “does not arise in a vacuum,” and there are incentives that drive people towards extremism, such as conflicts, civil wars, and human right abuses. In addition, the proxy war that some countries are waging to achieve their despicable plans further aggravates the situation, which requires us to work together to help countries resolve their differences and halt the threat of extremism.
The Plan of Action needs to address other factors that propel extremism, most notably foreign occupation and “State terrorism.” The Plan must also address the issue of accountability for states that compromise the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of other states.
The UAE supports as a priority the Secretary-General’s call for the development of regional plans to prevent extremism. My country has developed a national plan to prevent extremism from morphing into violent extremism. Elements include:
The promotion of good governance and the rule of law, the UAE has passed a number of laws to ensure addressing the issue of extremism through the rule of law, the inclusion of local communities, and the countering of hate narratives. The UAE supports the Secretary-General’s initiative to support the participation of youth in society. There are 1.8 billion young people in the world, in Arab societies; they make up more than half the population. The UAE integrated its own youth in decision-making and the prevention of extremism, including by recently appointing a 22-year-old female minister to preside over the UAE youth council.
My country supported the appointment of Emirati women leading roles in all fields, including through the recent appointment of the first Arab woman president of her country’s parliament.
Additionally, the UAE has supported Security Council resolution (2242) that stresses the importance of women's participation in maintaining international peace and security, and the UN Women Project on countering violent extremism.
The UAE also supports the Plan’s emphasis on promoting dialogue and engaging religious leaders in promoting the values of peace. In the UAE, the Muslim Council of Elders in Abu Dhabi is working on unifying efforts to eliminate extremist messages that threaten human values and the principles of Islam.
Conquering extremists requires strategies on the long-term in order to win the war of ideas, especially on the social media, which has been used to spread extremist ideas, therefore, the UAE is working on exposing messages from extremist groups through international centers, such as “Sawab,” which was launched by the UAE in cooperation with the United States.
As the Secretary-General has noted in his report, there is a need for regional plans of action to prevent extremism, which does not respect borders. In this regard, the UAE has joined 33 other Islamic countries in the first Islamic Coalition against Terrorism, led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to eliminate extremist ideas and preserve Islam.
The UAE strongly believes the Secretary-General’s initiative should be a blueprint for coordinating all efforts to combat extremism, and supports the existing mechanisms, including the important work of United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center, for which we thank the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The UAE also believes that the Plan should be evaluated and approved during the United Nation Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review, in June, which will help us in our efforts for new ways to curb extremism, as existing tools such as UN Security Council sanctions are not effective. ,
In conclusion, the UAE believes that the road to achieving prosperity and lasting peace lies in the promotion of tolerance and pluralism. The UAE confirms its commitment to support its partners in their fight against extremist groups, wherever they maybe. Our responsibility towards others is part of our obligation as a member of the Islamic nation, and to humanity at large.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman