MUHAMMADU BUHARI, President of Nigeria, said that the world is now more severely tested by enduring and new global challenges, such as conflicts driven by non-State actors, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, malignant use of technology, climate change and disparities in opportunities for improved standards of living, among others. In particular, the war in Ukraine will have adverse consequences for all, hindering capacity of collective action to resolve conflicts elsewhere, especially in Africa, Middle East and Asia. That conflict has caused difficulties in tackling the perennial issues that feature each year in the deliberations of the General Assembly, such as nuclear disarmament, the right of the Rohingya refugees to return to their homes in Myanmar, and the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for Statehood. He added that the danger of escalation of the war in Ukraine further justifies Nigeria’s resolute calls for a nuclear-free world and a universal Arms Trade Treaty, which are necessary measures to prevent global human disasters.
Turning to the COVID-19 pandemic, he highlighted Nigeria’s health‑care agencies for forming effective management and engaging in international partnerships with multinational initiatives like COVAX and private organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “With COVID-19, we saw very clearly how States tried to meet the challenge of a threat that could not be contained within national borders,” he observed, adding that cooperation among stakeholders facilitated solutions that saved countless lives and eased the huge burden of human suffering. He also drew attention to his country’s efforts in mitigating climate change and achieving global net-zero aspiration, including the National Adaptation Plan focusing on climate change mitigation in a sustainable manner that was adopted last year. More so, he underscored the importance of pursuing “climate justice”, pointing out that African nations and other developing countries produce only a small proportion of greenhouse‑gas emissions, compared to industrial economies. Yet, they end up being most affected by the consequences of climate change, such as witnessed by the sustained droughts in Somalia and the recent floods of unprecedented severity in Pakistan.
Nigeria, like many other countries, had many unsavoury experiences with hate speech and divisive disinformation, he continued. States must come together to defend freedom of speech and work for a common standard that balances rights with responsibilities to keep the most vulnerable from harm and protect communities from the scourge of disinformation and misinformation. As well, multifaceted challenges facing most developing countries have placed a debilitating chokehold on their fiscal space. There is a need to address the burden of unsustainable external debt by a global commitment to the expansion and extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative to countries facing fiscal and liquidity challenges, as well as outright cancellation for countries facing the most severe challenges.
“The wheels of democracy turn slowly,” as it can demand compromises that dilute decisions, he noted. However, it is a democratic culture that provides a Government with the legitimacy it needs to deliver positive change. His Government has worked to strengthen democracy by supporting and promoting the rule of law in the subregion. In this regard, Nigeria has helped to guarantee the first democratic transition in the Gambia since its independence; has stood by the democratically elected Government in Guinea-Bissau when it faced munity; and joined forces with other neighbouring countries and international partners to stabilize Chad and encourage its peaceful transition to democracy.