UN officials pay tribute to memory of late Nigerian diplomat Joseph Garba
In a tribute to the memory of Joseph Garba, the late distinguished Nigerian diplomat who once served as President of the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said that the world had come closer to the vision of the late Ambassador.
“Africa and the world are no longer held captive by a power struggle not of their own making. South Africa's multi-racial, multi party democracy has become an inspiration to the world. And the United Nations functions with greater freedom and flexibility than ever before,” Mr. Annan said at a memorial service held in New York to honour the memory of the Nigerian Ambassador, who died in Abuja on 1 June at the age of 58.
When Joseph Garba was President of the General Assembly in 1989, “the cold war was still in its final throes, Nelson Mandela was still in prison and apartheid had yet to be dismantled,” the Secretary-General said.
He added that Mr. Garba drew from his years of experience as a leading figure in the international movement for majority rule in South Africa and the chairman of the UN Committee against Apartheid to face the challenges of that time, leading the General Assembly “with aplomb and authority.”
Recalling the pre-majority rule South Africa, the country’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dumisani Kumalo, said Mr. Garba effectively used the world body as a potent weapon for fighting against apartheid. "When the United Nations finally declared apartheid as a crime against humanity, its proponent realized that they had met their match in Joseph Garba,” Mr. Kumalo said.
The President of the Security Council, Ambassador Martin Belinga-Eboutou of Cameroon, said the late Nigerian diplomat had devoted his skill energy to forging peaceful relations among nations. He added that Mr. Garba’s skills would have been very useful at this time to resolve the border disputes between Nigeria and Cameroon.
For his part, the current President of the General Assembly, Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic, said Mr. Garba would perhaps be best remembered “for his untiring and relentless efforts to champion the cause of South Africa against apartheid.” Mr. Kavan also recalled that the Assembly had adopted the Convention on Rights of the Child while the Nigerian Ambassador served as President.