DIRECTING THE GLOBAL CONVERSATION

Spain 2020 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

From terrorism to climate crisis, prevention is always the best cure.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande
BIOGRAPHY

With a BS, MA, and PhD in political science from Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, Boston University, and the University of Toronto, respectively, Tijjani Mohammad-Bande has worked with colleagues from all regions of the world in pursuit of common objectives. He served as vice-president of the Assembly's 71st session and was active in several other forums, including as chair of the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations and as a member and chair of the Advisory Board of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center.

The UN will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2020. What are the primary goals for your presidency of the General Assembly?
As we look forward to the 75th anniversary of the UN's founding, it is important to acknowledge the challenges that confront us, as well as the opportunity for the UN as a multilateral institution to highlight its key role in tackling complex global problems. As president of the 74th session, I will focus on promoting peace and security, with a special emphasis on conflict prevention. Strengthening global action to tackle climate change is integral for the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that will naturally receive my attention. I shall also give high priority to inclusion, human rights, and the empowerment of youth and women. Above all, my presidency will adopt measures to strengthen partnerships for the purpose of advancing the achievement of the SDGs and to eradicate poverty, hunger, and achieve quality education in particular.

The UN will hold its 'biggest-ever global conversation' on the future of the planet to address issues such as climate change. How will this conversation transform into policy?
The General Assembly is the space for dialogue and consensus building. The Biodiversity Summit, also known as the Nature Summit, is an important opportunity and milestone to highlight the planetary emergency and accelerate action for people and the planet. According to the 2019 World Risk Report, biodiversity loss and other climate-related factors are among the top-10 global risks for 2019. Yet, 10 of the 21 targets of the SDGs set to mature in 2020 are related to biodiversity, so 2020 will be a critical moment for environmental decision making. The global biodiversity framework for post-2020 is expected to strengthen the linkages between and among diverse initiatives, notably the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and other relevant processes adopted under the biodiversity-related conventions. Member states are still making their final decisions on the timing for the 2020 Biodiversity Summit, its modalities, and the specific issues it will tackle. Ultimately, the Biodiversity Summit will build on the political momentum from the climate and SDG summits in New York in September 2019 to accelerate action. As president, I will call on world leaders to set ambitious commitments and find robust nature-based solutions. It is my hope that this will make nature and climate change key to every major political, economic, cultural, and social decision, especially since environmental pollution and climate change pose grave threats to agriculture, food, and economic security. Ensuring the long-term resilience of the world's most vulnerable people warrants making hard choices about the ecosystem.

During the 74th session, Spain recommitted to tackling security within the UN's global cybersecurity, nuclear non-proliferation, and terrorism framework. What is the role of collaboration and legislation in addressing these threats?
When it comes to global security threats, it is essential to have dialogue and build agreements based on consensus. Collaboration among countries and within the entire international community is crucial for a successful fight against security threats. The threat of a nuclear war still exists and cannot be ignored. Any use of nuclear weapons would be a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe and will cause irreparable damage to communities and livelihoods. Nuclear disarmament is therefore one of the UN's top priorities. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) remains the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, including the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This year, the 2020 NPT Review Conference will take place, and I hope these discussions provide momentum for a stronger commitment toward a nuclear weapon-free world. When it comes to terrorism, what affects one country affects all. There is a need for all states to adopt and stringently implement counter-terrorism laws at a national level. Furthermore, implementation should not end at countering terrorism, but should place high emphasis on counter-terrorism strategies that address the very conditions that give rise to the menace in the first place.