– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Tijjani Muhammad Bande, President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

10 October 2019

Excellencies,

Distinguished Delegates,

It is an honour to address the First Committee at the beginning of the General Debate. I congratulate the Chair, Ambassador Sacha Llorenty Soliz, and the Bureau members on their election.

The United Nations came into existence when world leaders chose hope over cynicism, empathy over indifference, and partnership over distrust. The primary mandate of the United Nations – ensuring peace and security for the people we serve – rests with the First Committee.

In an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world we are affected by complex threats to international security emanating from: nuclear weapons; other weapons of mass destruction; conventional weapons; outer space; among others. We must act collectively to counter these persistent challenges.

Disarmament and international security underpin the priorities for the Seventy-Fourth Session, which are poverty eradication and zero hunger; quality education; climate action and inclusion. We cannot make progress in these areas or Agenda 2030 in its entirety, if we live in an insecure world.  

At the same time poverty, lack of education, climate change and inequalities fuel unrest and instability. Therefore, peace and security, equality and development for all are connected.

When it comes to the grave international security threats we are faced with, it is imperative that we work hard to find consensus and ensure that the disarmament machinery works effectively to keep the world safe.

Almost three quarters of a century after the creation of the United Nations, the nuclear threat still exists. We must guard against horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons, and a weakening of the arms control regime.

Excellencies,

We commend Member States that have ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and urge those who have not done so to join in this important action. 

Next year we will hold the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This provides us with an opportunity to recommit to efforts toward non-proliferation, nuclear disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

No one wins in a nuclear war – we know that any use of nuclear weapons would be a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. Nuclear disarmament must be our top priority. We, the peoples, are entrusting you with the safety of communities and life everywhere.

Excellencies,

As we prepare for the Seventh Biennial Meeting of States on the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, I urge you to be cognizant that our work needs to address all aspects of conflict prevention.

All our deliberations at the United Nations must be representative of the people we serve – none more so than discussions on peace and security. We also need to know the differential impact on women during, and after, conflict.

When I set out inclusion as a priority for this Session, I did so not just because it is the right thing to do, but also because we will not achieve any of our goals by excluding half of the population.  

I urge you to ensure the full and equal participation and leadership of women throughout the work of the First Committee. All peace and security efforts must be undertaken with a gender perspective.

Excellencies,

I am an ardent believer in the effectiveness of the wide range of issues before this important committee. The Disarmament Agenda of the Secretary-General is a significant effort to bring disarmament and international security to the fore of this multilateral discourse.

Promoting peace and security through conflict prevention is a priority for the Seventy-Fourth Session. One element of this is to mitigate risks posed by rapidly developing new technologies.

The General Assembly has two processes facilitating discussion on developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security, namely: The Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) and the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE).

No one wins in a nuclear war – we know that any use of nuclear weapons would be a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. Nuclear disarmament must be our top priority. We, the peoples, are entrusting you with the safety of communities and life everywhere

Tijjani Muhammad Bande

President of the UN General Assembly

“Do no harm” should be the first and foremost principle governing the cyber space. To make this a reality, Member States and stakeholders in the digital world need to take reasonable steps to further exchange information, and collaborate to promote inclusion, and reduce inequalities. I trust that our shared responsibility will guide a spirit of collective engagement in your work in this critical area.

Excellencies,

In the face of the aforementioned challenges we must remain steadfast in our commitment to the ideals of the United Nations. Now, more than ever, we must re-commit to multilateralism and work together to deliver on agreements that will safeguard our world.  

As we approach the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the United Nations, we must emulate the courage, generosity and commitment of the founders of our Organization. Let us also be defined by our actions.

I thank you, in advance, for your disposition to work together constructively on the key issues before this Committee.

I look forward to hearing from you throughout these crucial deliberations. I wish you all the best. Thank you.