The United Nations is "more than an ideology and a charter. It is a convening table where every member state has a voice and a say in the future of the world". This was the message of Lana Nusseibeh, the UAE's Ambassador to the UN. In an exclusive interview with The National's editor-in-chief, Ms Nusseibeh emphasised the singular role played by the UN in defusing tensions by offering a platform to all nations, regardless of their political clout or economic output, to air their grievances and contribute ideas for the betterment of the world. As conflicts claim lives and diseases run rampant across the world, it is easy enough to dismiss the utility of the UN.
But, as The National pointed out last week, the UN, merely by creating and serving as an avenue for dialogue, averted the apocalyptic wars that looked all but inevitable at the height of the Cold War. It has also mobilised nations in common purposes, be it in the fight for environmental sustainability or the quest to keep peace in war-torn regions. Those who believe the UN to be useless should imagine the world without it. Our "fragmenting and fragmented" world, Ms Nusseibeh warned, would have no global mechanism to tackle the crises of today and the formidable challenges of the future. This is why she stressed the urgent need to reform it before its "architecture breaks down". As things stand today, "there wouldn't be consensus to rebuild" the UN. For all its imperfections, the UN remains our best hope.
Luckily, the new secretary general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, shares Ms Nusseibeh’s worries and appears determined to introduce reforms before it’s too late. The UAE has thrown its full support behind Mr Guterres. Earlier this year, Ms Nusseibeh co-chaired a group to find ways to revitalise the United Nations General Assembly, the most democratic organ of the UN. This week, she is urging leaders convening in Manhattan for the 72nd session of the UNGA to back the secretary general’s “very ambitious reform agenda”.
Ms Nusseibeh's energetic diplomacy to rescue and reinvigorate the UN affirms the UAE's long commitment to the body. Some years ago, the distinguished presidential adviser Zaki Nusseibeh shared with this newspaper firsthand accounts of the early endeavours of Sheikh Zayed, the founder of the UAE, to promote diplomacy and solidify international institutions. Since its inception, the UAE has made generous contributions to the UN. Its men and women in uniform have served as peacekeepers in Lebanon, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The UAE is among the top 20 contributors to UN Women and Ms Nusseibeh, this year’s president of the UN Women Executive Board, is at the forefront of its efforts to empower women. The UAE believes in the power of diplomacy, and there is no better facilitator of diplomacy than the UN.
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