Thank you, President, and I join others in thanking Under Secretary General DiCarlo, Secretary General Aboul Gheit and Dr El Omrani for their briefings.
As we’ve heard today, the Arab League has an important role to play in preventing and resolving security and humanitarian challenges in the region. And Dr El Omrani made a powerful case on the importance of involving youth, including women and girls, in addressing these challenges. In a year that has seen the eruption of new conflicts and entrenchment of old ones, the constructive engagement of all actors – including regional bodies – is more urgent than ever. How can we deepen that cooperation?
First, the League of Arab States can play a key role in resolving conflicts in its region. For example, the tragedy unfolding in Sudan, where the Sudanese people’s hopes for democracy and freedom have been set back again. We look to the partnership between the League of Arab States, the UN, IGAD, and the African Union to support a permanent ceasefire and a return to democratic transition.
And in Syria, where the conflict has displaced millions and killed hundreds of thousands. We share the objectives of our Arab partners: a stable Syria, which no longer exports instability to the region. Syria’s readmission to the Arab League must be used to press for Assad to change his behaviour, including clamping down on Captagon, and putting in place the conditions for refugees to return safely, voluntarily and in a dignified manner. We are clear that the UN-led political process remains the only route to lasting and sustainable peace.
The UK also works closely with Arab partners to counter Iran’s destabilising activity throughout the region, including through our maritime presence in the Gulf which twice last year intercepted speed boats laden with surface-to-air missiles and engines for cruise missiles.
On the Middle East Peace Process, the UK supports efforts – including by Jordan and Egypt – to de-escalate tensions and maintain calm in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority must lay the groundwork for a future political process that can deliver a two-state solution.
President, Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine has led to a devastating impact on food and energy prices in Arab countries. President Zelenskyy’s address to Arab States in Riyadh last month sent a powerful signal of the global impact of this illegal war. We continue to work with partners in the region toward bringing this illegal war to an end.
Finally, with such a young population in the Arab region, it is right that we look to the security challenges of the future. We welcome the UAE’s presidency of COP28, and look forward to discussing the impact of climate security in this Council next week and we hope all Security Council members treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. Regional leadership and ownership of solutions to conflicts caused or exacerbated by climate change are increasingly important.