Below is President Muhammadu Buhari’s speech at the 73rd Session of UNGA
On behalf of the Government and people of Nigeria, I congratulate you, Madam President, on your well-deserved election as President of the 73rd General Assembly.
As you embark on your assignment, I would like to assure you of Nigeria’s support in no less measure than that which we extended to your illustrious predecessor, His Excellency Mr. Miroslav Lajčák.
We appreciate the effective leadership he gave the 72nd Assembly with such dedication, commitment, and fairness to all member states.
I also salute our distinguished Secretary-General, H.E. Mr. Antonio Guterres, who steered the affairs of the Secretariat with focused commitment to the collective @UN pursuit of global peace and security, equity and justice, inclusiveness, women’s empowerment and human rights.
It is appropriate at this point to remember with deep sadness our late 7th Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Kofi’s significant contributions to the work of our Organisation have been acknowledged in the well deserved tributes that poured in from around the world following his death.
We in Africa, while mourning the loss of this great son of ours and citizen of the world, take pride in the way he served humanity in a truly exemplary manner.
He demonstrated, in his calm but determined manner, the virtues of compassion, dedication to the cause of justice, fairness and human rights.
He was a visionary leader who inspired hope even in the face of the most daunting challenges. He devoted his entire life’s career to the UN and the pursuit of its ideals and goals. The world is indeed a better place thanks to his exemplary service.
Madam President, During the past year, the world saw some positive results and encouraging signs from the bilateral and multilateral efforts of the international community to address conflicts, crises and threats to world peace.
We particularly commend the efforts of the leaders of the United States, North Korea, and South Korea, to realise our shared goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
In this connection, we acknowledge the commitment to peace shown by President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-Un by initiating a historic Summit. We urge that they continue this positive engagement.
Regrettably, many of the crises and threats to peace and security around the world which we debated last year as we did over several previous years remain unresolved.
In some cases, matters got worse. The continuing plight of the Rohingyas in Myanmar, the protracted Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the wars in Yemen, and Syria, and the fight against international and local terrorism such as Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab come to mind.
The terrorist insurgencies we face, particularly in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin, are partly fuelled by local factors and dynamics, but now increasingly by the international Jihadi Movement, runaway fighters from Iraq and Syria and arms from the disintegration of Libya.
In Myanmar, the carnage appears to have thankfully abated somewhat. We commend the United Nations for staying focussed on the situation of the Rohingya people, to bring their suffering to an end, and hold to account the perpetrators of the atrocious crimes committed against innocent and vulnerable members of this community, including women, children and the old.
The international community should strengthen its resolve to combat ethnic & religious cleansing everywhere. We support the UN’s efforts in ensuring that the Rohingya refugees are allowed to return to their homes in Myanmar with security, protection, and guarantee of citizenship.
In this context, Nigeria commends the Government and people of Bangladesh in particular and all other countries and organizations that have contributed to shouldering the burden of providing shelter and other vital assistance to the Rohingya Refugees.
The carnage and the worsening humanitarian situations in Syria and Yemen continue unabated. But the international community cannot afford to give up on the Syrian and Yemeni people.
We must pursue all efforts to find peaceful negotiated political solutions to these wars which cannot be won by force of arms alone. Regarding Syria, we hope that the UN sponsored Geneva process and the Sochi initiative, led by Russia, Iran, and Turkey advance this objective.
The International community must keep up the pressure to encourage the parties to pursue the path of dialogue, negotiations and inclusiveness in resolving their sectarian divides and bringing to an end the immense human suffering in Syria as well as Yemen.
We commend Turkey, Jordan, Greece, Germany, Italy and France for hosting the millions of the refugees fleeing these brutal conflicts.
The situation in the Middle East, grave as it has always been, is now worsened by developments since our last meeting.
Nigeria continues to call on the Israelis and the Palestinians to make the necessary compromises in the interest of justice, peace and security, in line with our numerous UN resolutions and applicable international laws.
Unilateral, arbitrary and insensitive actions only prolong the conflict and undermine world peace and security. The deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza is an appalling result of unrestrained use of power.
We urge both parties to re-engage in dialogue on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid Principles, the Quartet Roadmap and the Arab Peace Initiative, among others.
Nigeria reaffirms its unwavering support for a just two-state solution, negotiated without intimidation and with Israel and Palestine existing side-by-side in peace and security.
The crises in the Middle East have deep roots and have remained unresolved for too long. Yet, we should not fall into self-defeating despair and conclude that they are not amenable to solution.
We should draw inspiration from the remarkable leadership that got Ethiopia & Eritrea to restore long-lost hope for peace between them,a remarkable show of statesmanship which has now galvanised neighbouring countries, incl. Djibouti & Somalia to push for peace in the subregion.
I believe that with hard work, commitment, and a disposition to compromise and necessary sacrifices, peace is achievable in the Middle East as well.