The United Arab Emirates (UAE) would like to thank Indonesia for ensuring the Security Council’s continued focus on COVID-19 and its effect on the most vulnerable people. It is already abundantly clear that the pandemic is worsening conditions that both lead to and amplify conflict and violence, from hunger to disruption of basic services to hate speech. These impacts underscore that Member States and the United Nations (UN) must take a holistic approach to peace and security.
We would accordingly like to share four thoughts on how the Council and its partners can work to sustain and foster peace in the face of the pandemic and other shocks.
First, we welcome the precedent of Resolution 2532 and its demand for ceasefires in the face of a pandemic. The UAE was one of the first countries to endorse the UN Secretary-General’s original appeal for a global ceasefire in response to COVID-19, as we believe humanitarian pauses are a powerful tool to de-escalate conflicts, provide space for political processes, and slow the spread of disease, all with substantial peacebuilding co-benefits.
Second, Member States and the UN System should continue to empower Resident Coordinators to facilitate the international response to COVID-19, as well as enhance the UN’s work on preparedness and peacebuilding. Resident Coordinators are best-placed to ensure that there is lockstep coordination among the UN’s development, humanitarian, and security pillars in order to achieve collective outcomes. As one dimension of coordination, we would expect heads of missions authorized by the Security Council to systematically liaise with Resident Coordinators, in order to identify (a) the contributions they can make to pandemic recovery and to longer-term peace and security and (b) the support missions need from other agencies. The role of Resident Coordinators should also be front and center in ensuring that the work of the Peacebuilding Commission and Fund coheres with the UN’s overall portfolio in a country.
Third, we must accelerate efforts to mainstream gender in peace and security. The Council and other UN bodies have established that gender equality is central to durable peace and economic recovery, and we have unfortunately seen the pandemic – like other crises – have a disproportionate impact on women and girls. Accordingly, the pandemic is a further prompt to ensure that the Council is always briefed on the role of women in peacebuilding and peace processes, that Council-mandated missions have sufficient gender resources, and that UN peace and security activities have clear gender metrics linked to personnel performance evaluations. To support mainstreaming, the UAE has made gender equality a cross-cutting requirement of its foreign aid by 2021, including in conflict-affected countries, and we have completed two cycles of training for women peacekeeping training in partnership with UN Women at the Khawla Bint Al Azwar Military School for Women in Abu Dhabi.
Fourth, we aim to see the UN move toward anticipatory action. If there are credible warnings around health, climate change, violence, and other factors that intensify or enable conflict, they should be matched by increased and coordinated development, humanitarian, and peacebuilding activity to prevent or mitigate conflict. The UAE is working toward this end during the pandemic too: of the over 100 countries we have shipped medical aid to since March, a large portion is directed to countries on the Council’s agenda, in order to reduce the pandemic’s intensification of fragility. Similarly, risk-informed early warnings could result in the Security Council’s earlier mobilization of mandates and resources. OCHA, WFP, FAO, IFRC, and other humanitarian agencies have taken steps toward an anticipatory approach, including in their Security Council briefings. Their experience could inform how the Council and the UN system more broadly allocate resources and staff earlier to prevent conflict.