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File: UAE Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed speaking to the 73rd session to the United Nations General Assembly. The upcoming 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, will be held in New York, on September 28, 2019. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE’s largest-ever delegation to the United Nations — led by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, MoFAIC — will seek diplomatic solutions to address the most pressing challenges to regional stability and security, and assert against extremism and hate.

In a media briefing on Sunday at MoFAIC, the UAE revealed its priorities for the upcoming 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, UNGA, in New York, on September 28.

The country also emphasised its deep and sustained commitment to UN-led initiatives and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to build a more peaceful and tolerant world.

Promoting peace, security

"The UAE will go to New York as a determined and responsible promoter of regional peace and security, as a committed champion against extremism and hate, and as an engaged global citizen working to advance human development and protect the planet," said Hend Mana Al Otaiba, MoFAIC Director of Strategic Communications.

The General Debate of the UNGA is a week-long annual gathering of world leaders who will engage in a series of critical meetings to address global challenges, where Sheikh Abdullah will be addressing the General Assembly.

"The UAE does not act unilaterally — one of our key objectives during the General Assembly is to strengthen multilateral cooperation and the role of international organisations like the UN," she emphasised.

On the political track, Al Otaiba underlined, "The UAE supports diplomatic solutions that look to resolve conflicts instead of merely managing them."

She also reaffirmed the UAE’s continued support for UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths’ diplomatic efforts in Yemen as it continues its drawdown of military forces in the country.

Aid commitment

The UAE will also meet its full aid commitment to Yemen for this year and will continue to be one of Yemen’s largest providers of humanitarian and development assistance, Al Otaiba said.

Hend Mana Al Otaiba, MoFAIC Director of Strategic Communications.
"The UAE does not act unilaterally — one of our key objectives during the General Assembly is to strengthen multilateral cooperation and the role of international organisations like the UN," says Hend Mana Al Otaiba, MoFAIC Director of Strategic Communications. Image Credit: WAM

The UAE will continue to take a leadership role on climate and sustainability issues at the General Assembly, the official said.

This June, the UAE hosted UN Secretary-General António Guterres, UN Member States, and other stakeholders in Abu Dhabi for a preparatory conference for the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit that will be held on 23rd September.

The UAE is also home to the International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, a UN agency coordinating global efforts to promote and support the transition to sustainable energy.

The delegation will also focus on women’s empowerment, Al Otaiba said. The UAE will advocate that UN-led development projects must actively mainstream women and girls in their design and implementation.

Women's empowerment

The UAE is currently working closely with UN Women, the body dedicated to advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment, on the Military and Peacekeeping Training Programme for Women at the Khawla bint Al Azwar Military Academy in Abu Dhabi.

The second round of this programme is set to begin in 2020 and will include female participants from Asia and Africa, she said.

During the week-long General Debate, UAE diplomats will also highlight tolerance and interfaith dialogue as a critical element of the UAE’s approach to regional stability and as a core component of its foreign policy, the official said.

"The history of our region has taught us to be instinctively wary of those who seek to elevate ideology above the material needs and interests of people, which begin first and foremost with health and security. This is why we invest in development and stabilisation programmes, rather than political or religious programmes," Al Otaiba explained.

"It is why we seek to confront extremist groups and ideologies wherever we see them, beginning with our efforts to empower women and integrate religions," she pointed out.

The UAE initiatives such as the Hedayah Centre, the Council of Muslim Elders, and the Abrahamic Family House emphasise the rejection of extremism and sectarianism in all its forms as well as a desire to foster harmony between religions.

Year of Tolerance

The UAE is celebrating 2019 as the 'Year of Tolerance' and welcomed His Holiness Pope Francis to the UAE in February 2019. Pope Francis was joined by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed El Tayeb, in signing the declaration on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, which reaffirms the interfaith values of tolerance and peace.

The UAE is home to approximately 40 Christian churches, two Hindu temples, a Sikh temple, and a Buddhist monastery, all of which welcome multinational congregations. A Jewish community also meets and practices in Dubai, Al Otaiba noted.

The UAE will continue to promote religious freedom and peaceful co-existence, including through the construction of the Abrahamic Family House, a place of learning, dialogue, and worship and the future home of gatherings that will bring world leaders together. The launch of the Abrahamic House will take place in New York this September, the official revealed.

Al Otaiba also detailed the UAE’s other priorities such as empowering people and alleviating hardship through humanitarian aid and development, promoting the inclusion of youth in society, the UAE commitment towards the Secretary-General’s agenda to reform the UN system, and its support digital cooperation.

The UAE delegation to the UN General Assembly will be welcomed in New York by Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN.

The delegation will include Dr. Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs; Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation; Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State; Hessa Buhumaid, Minister of Community Development; Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence; Ohood Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Well-being; Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs; Ahmed Al Sayegh, Minister of State; Ahmed Al Jarman, Assistant Minister for Human Rights and International Law; Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar, Assistant Minister for Political Affairs; Sultan Al Shamsi, Assistant Minister for International Cooperation; Yacoub Al Hosani, Assistant Foreign Minister for International Organisations’ Affairs; Omar Ghobash, Assistant Minister for Cultural Affairs; Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE Ambassador to the US; Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Elders