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UAE Statement at the UNSC Open Debate on Upholding International Law within the Context of the Maintenance of International Peace and Security

Thursday, 17 May 2018
H.E. Lana Nusseibeh
United Nations

Mister President,

I congratulate Poland on its presidency of the Security Council this month and for placing due attention on the critical question of the respect for – and the upholding of – international law. The late hour this evening shows the high interest of Membership in this subject.

We thank Chef de Cabinet Viotti, Judge Owada, and President Meron for their informative briefings this morning.

The UAE chose to participate in today’s Open Debate because the foundational principles that underpin the UN Charter and the wider body of international law also form the backbone of the our foreign policy. For small states, the multilateral rules-based system and international law are vital because they ensure us equal rights as part of the community of nations and protect us all from the abuse of power and hegemony of a few.

As such, the UAE is deeply troubled that, around the world, respect for international law is faltering. A world without a rules-based international order is one filled with chaos and instability – one where rogue actors disregard international norms with impunity, the system of trusted relationships between countries is broken, and the most vulnerable across societies are left to suffer without recourse to justice.

Nowhere is respect for international law being challenged more than in the Middle East, where I will focus my remarks. And developments in our region this week, in particular, confirm this fact.

Starting with the most recent: the tragedy in Gaza on 14 May resulted in the abhorrent murder of over 60 innocent Palestinian civilians that was perpetrated by a UN Member State. The lives of the victims – men, women, and children – are no less human than any other in this Council, or any Member State in this United Nations, but have been treated by the inaction of this body as if somehow they were less human than the rest of us, and suffer less, and grieve their losses differently. No one has the right to dehumanize anyone in this way. These latest acts on the Gaza border violate multiple rules of international humanitarian law and cannot be condoned or ignored by the International Community. Moreover, Israel’s settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian territories continues to defy international law and numerous Security Council resolutions.

The UAE believes that Palestinian and Israeli people both have the right to secure statehood. But when the Council’s resolutions on this matter are repeatedly ignored, and when innocent human life is taken recklessly and violently, the fabric of international law and the international framework that could make this aspiration possible is weakened.

It is not just in Palestine where international law is being defied, though. For seven years now, the Syrian people have suffered from chemical weapons attacks and the denial of humanitarian aid. These are grave violations of international law, and we call all parties in the conflict to cease such behavior and for perpetrators to be held to account. Given Security Council inaction on Syria, the UAE supports the ACT Code of Conduct that calls on Security Council members to not vote against any credible draft resolution intended to prevent or halt mass atrocities.

Not only in Syria but throughout the Middle East, Iran is flouting international law and Security Council sanctions regimes in pursuit of its agenda of regional hegemony. Iran’s behavior violates the fundamental international legal principle of non-intervention. Iran’s support for terrorist groups in our region is in violation of numerous Security Council resolutions. The US recently recognized this fact by withdrawing from the JCPOA, and other countries should also hold Iran to the same standards.

Finally, the financing and support of extremism and terrorism persists in our region and around the world, threatening the rule of law. All countries that engage in such behavior should be held accountable through Security Council resolutions and the monitoring of financial flows. If they are not held accountable by the International Community, states have the sovereign right to act independently to defend their own security, as we and others have done.

Fundamentally, the rules and norms that comprise the body of international law are only as strong as the commitment of all States to defend and uphold them.

That is why the UAE stands ready to do its part in reinforcing the pillars of international law, including improving our own efforts to practice what we preach. In Yemen, we will continue to do our utmost to ensure that aid reaches those most in need, whilst we undertake operations at the request of the legitimate government of Yemen.

The UAE acknowledges President Duda’s statement this morning that Chapter VI of the UN Charter is “the most useful tool at the international community’s disposal in case of disagreements and imminent conflicts.”

And, you, Mr. President, have asked for practical recommendations from Member States for today’s discussion.

So to better uphold Chapter VI, the UAE proposes that the Security Council request a report from the Secretary-General on the various modalities of dispute settlement included in the Chapter. Such a report would be a resource to all Member States and would outline:

  • the use and practice of these modalities in mitigating disputes that have come before the UN and other organizations in the UN system;
  • lessons learned from this practice for present and future disputes; and
  • guidance for Member States for applying these modalities.

Mr. President,

Today we are at an important juncture that will determine whether we continue to work within the international frameworks and multilateral institutions that we built together – predicated on international law – or whether we allow states to willfully ignore or flout these agreed norms.

The UAE believes the only response is a collective one. Our shared commitment to international law should be the first principle that we agree to uphold in order to protect the rules-based order that underpins all our collective security and prevents the scourge of war.

Thank you.