‘We need solutions’, not cynicism; UN Assembly President urges world leaders to do more to tackle global ills

24 September 2019

The fact that world leaders have convened at United Nations Headquarters in New York is “a veritable testament to the primacy of this great multilateral body”, the General Assembly President said on Tuesday, opening the Organization’s annual General Debate.

And the issues at hand are “most critical and increasingly urgent for the attainment of international peace and security, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande stated.

“Too long at the crossroads of human development…we need to join efforts in finding solutions to the untold hardship from violent conflicts, terrorism, natural disasters, drug and sex trafficking, illiteracy, and so on which millions of people around the world suffer from”, he continued.

For 74 years, he recalled that the UN has done much to advance humanity – most recently with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“The implementation of the SDGs by 2030 must be our priority, in the interest of the billions of people who may never step inside this great Hall, but who hope that the work undertaken here would galvanize efforts for poverty eradication, zero hunger, quality education, climate action and inclusion”, Mr. Muhammad-Bande declared.

Pointing to challenges surrounding health pandemics, terrorism, displacement, climate change, illiteracy and poverty, he underscored the need for financing and experience-sharing cooperation, as “they all require focused cooperation to stem”.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande vowed to work with all delegations and UN organs to advance his priorities, for which the promotion of international peace and security “is at the heart”.

“We must continue to strengthen the Organization by ensuring that its peace and security architecture is appropriate for the 21st century, particularly making a priority of prevention”, he asserted, adding that drivers of conflict, including poverty, inequality and human rights abuses “must be tackled head-on”.

Towards a better future

Poverty eradication remains an enormous global challenge.

“We have to do more” to take hundreds of millions out of “abject poverty, misery, and squalid existence”, the PGA stressed, urging each country to “reflect specifically” on how it can improve its own social protection systems and channel government spending to those affected by poverty.

Countries also need to cooperate on modernizing agriculture.

Noting that climate change has exacerbated poverty and food shortages globally, he emphasized the importance of action, “as the repercussions of not acting pose grave dangers for our world, now and in future”.

“We need to deploy the knowledge and technologies available to us to ensure that we do not condemn our children to an irreparable world”, stressed Mr. Muhammad-Bande, calling for “cooperation among nations to ensure that coalitions for climate resilience and mitigation actions are formed and strengthened”.

Accordingly, he noted the need to “devise creative ways of bridging the huge financial and technical gaps required for meaningful impact”.

The Assembly President also identified the importance of stepping up inclusion, “particularly as it relates to the rights and empowerment of youth, women and the disabled”.

There is great work to be done; we have no room for either cynicism or apathy – General Assembly President

‘Pooling resources’ for humanity

Maintaining that “no nation can develop beyond its educational capacity”, he pointed to the immediate need for “qualified teachers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as in the humanities”, urging abled countries to “deepen cooperation” with those in need to develop the capacity of their teachers.

Mr. Muhammad-Bande highlighted the value of pooling resources “to urgently address major global challenges confronting humanity”, underlining the importance of strengthening South-South and triangular cooperation to reinforce the UN’s work.

In conclusion, he reminded those assembled that the task at hand is “to debate how best to achieve the world of our collective dream”.

“We give succour and hope to all people and nations for a more peaceful and prosperous world”, he said.

“There is great work to be done; we have no room for either cynicism or apathy”, concluded Mr. Muhammad-Bande, “we should strive together, to deliver for all”.


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