UAE envoy urges reform of the United Nations

Lana Nusseibeh said that given the “fragmentation” the world is witnessing, “the role of the UN is more important than ever”

Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, the Permanent Representative of the UAE to the United Nations, with Mina Al Oraibi, editor-in-chief of The National. Bill Kotsatos for The National
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The UAE Envoy to the UN has urged leaders meeting in New York this week for the 72nd United Nations General Assembly to seize the opportunity and reform the organisation, in order to save it.

Speaking exclusively to The National, Lana Nusseibeh said that given the “fragmentation” the world is witnessing, “the role of the UN is more important than ever”.

But Ms Nusseibeh warned that “if this architecture breaks down in the coming period and on our watch, there is very little around to replace it. If the UN didn’t exist today, we know there wouldn’t be consensus to rebuild it”.

Given the divisions the world is witnessing, she said “the fate and future of the United Nations and its ability to tackle these global crises is fundamentally at stake here”.

And yet Ms Nusseibeh sounded cautious optimism about the future of the UN with its secretary general Antonio Guterres, who took over the leadership at the start of the year. She described his appointment as “good news”.

She stressed the UAE’s support for Mr Guterres, calling him “a world leader in every sense of the word who has a very ambitious reform agenda”.


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That agenda will be the focal point of a day-long meeting today, co-convened by the United States and the UN, to seek reform of the world body.

The UAE is strongly represented at the UN this year, with a delegation led by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, and five other Cabinet members.

They will take part in more than 160 meetings over five working days, in addition to several multilateral, closed-door meetings.

There will be global issues, such as migration and countering terrorism, which the UAE will be addressing during the General Assembly.

And yet it will be regional issues, and conflicts in Yemen, Libya and Syria, that will take up much time and discussions.

Ms Nusseibeh said Iran would also be discussed –  not in terms of the nuclear deal, “as we do not want to look back”, but more about “Iran’s nefarious acts” in the region that must be addressed.