UAE vows to continue fight against terrorism at UN meeting

In a statement to the General Assembly of the UN, the UAE pledges to continue its fight against terrorism through international and regional cooperation.

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NEW YORK // The UAE has reaffirmed its commitment to the global and regional fight against terrorism and urged the international community to do more.

In an address at the United Nations, UAE mission delegate Eissa Mohammed Alhammadi highlighted the country’s enforcement of anti-terrorism laws as well and its cooperation with international allies, .

“The UAE is continuing to develop its national policies, legislation and executive measures aimed at combating terrorism in all its shapes and forms, including other trends such as money laundering, arms and drug trafficking, and other illegal acts and transnational crimes,” Mr Alhammadi told the General Assembly legal issues committee debate on measures to eliminate global terrorism.

As part of its efforts, he said, the UAE was also “adopting stringent inspection procedures at its land and sea ports in order to stop the transit of sensitive materials, and is developing measures that can ensure that these materials never reach the hands of terrorist elements and groups”.

Mr Alhammadi underscored the UAE’s long-held position that terrorism and extremism are not linked to any country, religion or culture, and urged the international community to “exert more efforts to counter the spread of extremism”.

The UN must do more to “strengthen efforts to resolve conflict through political means and to promote a culture of tolerance, non-violence and rapprochement between religions and peoples”, he said.

An essential aspect of combating extremism, Mr Alhammadi told the committee, is addressing the underlying causes of radicalisation through the consolidation of the rule of law and human rights to undermine the use of religion as a tool to “exclude and marginalise”.

The UAE, he said, has been a leader in this effort through the Hedayah Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, in Abu Dhabi. The centre hosted a high-level meeting at the UN last month on the role of education in addressing the root causes of extremism.

“The UAE has been an incredible leader in recognising the need for stronger efforts … in terms of countering the terrorist ideologies,” said Daniel Benjamin, a counterterrorism coordinator at the US State Department during Barack Obama’s first term as president.

“It is still a work in progress but I am very, very hopeful about it over the long term,” said Mr Benjamin, who is now the director of an international think tank at Dartmouth College. “Hedayah is unique in the world.”

While the United States and its close regional allies such as the UAE are effective at thwarting terrorist attacks and the military component of fighting extremism, Mr Benjamin said, “we’ve done not nearly as well in terms of preventing people from going down the road of extremism, so the Hedayah Centre is a really important step”.

During his address, Mr Alhammadi extended the UAE’s condolences to the families of the victims of the Al Shabab terror attack on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, Kenya last month, in which at least 67 people died.

“Despite all the continuous efforts by the United Nations to combat terrorism in all its forms, our international community is still witnessing increasing and more dangerous images and manifestations of acts of terrorism and organised crime, which threaten international peace and security, especially in our region,” Mr Alhammadi said.

He said the UAE supported a proposed international conference under the auspices of the UN to establish a clear legal definition of terrorism that distinguishes it from the legitimate right of self determination, and provides ways to combat terrorism in accordance with the UN Charter and international law.

Mr Alhammadi also called on the international community to increase its support for the victims of terrorism and its technical and other assistance to developing countries to boost their counterterrorism capacities.