KEEPING THE PEACE

UAE, Dubai 2015 | DIPLOMACY | FOCUS: REGIONAL ROLE

Through the many regional stability issues facing the Middle East today, the UAE has played a fundamental role in stability not only through military channels, but also by diplomatic means.

The UAE has put itself on the map on an international level through its achievements both socially and economically since its meteoric rise in the early 2000s. However, conflict throughout the Middle East and North Africa has threatened to destabilize the region while also casting serious doubts on global security. But in addition to its military involvement in the coalition against ISIS, the UAE has taken prudent steps through diplomatic and peaceful means to contribute to the regional and international security.

As religion plays a central role in this challenge, the UAE has recognized the importance of facilitating religious dialog across cultures and using its strategic geographical positioning as a platform to accomplish this. In December 2014, the world's leading religious leaders convened in Abu Dhabi for the first global multi-religious, high-level conference on violent religious extremism, named “Religions Working Together to Counter Violent Religious Extremism.” The conference was hosted by the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and was convened in cooperation with Religions for Peace. The forum gathers intellectuals and leading thinkers from around the world to clarify that Islam is a religion of peace. Participants included Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Peace in Muslim Societies; Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria; and Nassir Abdulaziz Al Nasser, High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Participants agreed that now is the time for action against all violent religious extremism and they must use their knowledge and influence to provide their followers with the correct explanations of their religious texts. Ultimately, this conference illuminated the issue religious extremism and created a message across religions that this is a challenge that must be addressed internationally.

The UAE has also taken the issue of Islamic extremism to the United Nations as well as partnering with other nations to pursue an intergovernmental approach. In February 2015, HE Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash announced at the UN Security Council that the UAE intends to launch a new diplomatic initiative aimed at building international cooperation and facilitating dialogue through the Contact Group on Countering Extremism. This Contact Group would bring together select governments along with regional and international organizations and formalize the threat of Islamic extremism within on an international level. Once brought together, these entities will be able to develop and disseminate concrete solutions as well as best practices in countering extremism. Progress made through the contact group will compliment and reinforce the efforts of the anti-ISIS coalition and support the UN to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, as enshrined in the UN Charter. By doing so, the UAE would be able to identify itself as a premier leader in combating Islamic extremism on the biggest intergovernmental stage.

Through organizing global conferences on promoting religious peace as well as pursuing diplomatic results through the UN, the UAE has underscored the importance of a peaceful resolution to regional security issues. Through these, the UAE aims to be a regional leader in addressing international security issues as well as being a premier peace advocate.