The UNGA Games; Indulging in the Passion of Peace


"The joy and fulfilment of service lies in the plenitude of willing hands ready to volunteer their time, talent, treasure and thinking in the development of their community." Chimezie Udechukwu

Every year since its formation in1945, heads of States and Governments from over 194 countries gather at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for the Annual General Assembly, the high point of which is the General Debate. Leading their various national delegations, these representatives come to meet, discuss, decide " act" and hope to to get results by their actions; results that alter global trends.

Welcome to the United Nations General Assembly, popularly known as "UNGA', the annual gathering of global leaders to discuss various topical issues ranging from cyber crimes, terrorism, migration, climate climate change, transnational corruption, child trafficking, domestic violence against women, women's rights, global peace and security, human rights abuse, the sustainable development goals.

The theme for the general debate of the 73rd session of the General Assembly is "Making the United Nations relevant to all people: Global Leadership and shared Responsibilities for Peaceful, Equitable and Sustainable Societies"

Armed with the finest of Speeches, the strongest of wits and the most prolific oratory, this is the stage where men are separated from boys when it comes to global leadership, diplomacy, bargaining and negotiations. It is here that a country's national interest well enshrined in its domestic policies is articulated and presented as its foreign policy thrust. This is indeed the table of men.

"A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt”, Winston Churchill once said. “Long enough to  cover the subject and short enough to create interest.”  Among the over 1,500 addresses to the General Assembly since 2010,  since the voluntary 15-minute time limit suggested by the UN and the worldwide average of 20 minutes, we have been inundated with fine rhetoric and less action.

From Fidel Castro, Gaddafi, Sekou Toure to St. John Paul II, Mother Theresa and Obama, we have witnessed a great deal of impact when it comes to speaking. In 2017, Mr. Trump's speech clearly emphasized the reemergence of the US as a a force to reckon with. In that same year, Nigeria's President Buhari who was the 8th on the first day of the Speakers List dwelt more on the foreign policy direction of the country than its domestic affairs.

The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly which opened on Tuesday 18 September 2018 will feature a high-level General Debate which will commence on Tuesday, 25 September 2018, and is scheduled to last for nine working days.

On Monday, 24 September, the UNGA there was a high-level plenary meeting on global peace in honor of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela, known as the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit.  This is the crux of this piece, as Madiba was known, just like Gandhi for his nonviolent approach to resolving conflicts. Hence it was fitting that his statue was unveiled at the United Nations headquarters at the event, to further demonstrate the quality of work done by the legendary Peace Icon.

On Wednesday, 26 September, the UNGA will hold a high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis, as agreed by Member States in February 2018. On Thursday, 27 September, the UN will hold a one-day comprehensive review of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which will be the third high-level meeting of the UNGA on the issue.

Words are powerful and great leaders understand the power of words especially backed by actions. The job of a leader is to use words, either spoken or written to get followers to do more, dream more, aspire more and achieve more. That is the intent of every speech, particularly those made at the United Nations.

It was once said that "When the power of love overcomes the love of power, then we can have peace. It was Eleanor Roosevelt who once said. "It isn't enough to talk about peace; one must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it; one must work at it."

We are still talking peace because it is a process and not a single meal that you swallow in one morsel; it is more of dietary plan for healthy living. You cannot talk about something that you don't believe in, neither can you fully act upon what you are not passionate about.

"Peace is proof and lack of it is a symptom", the words of Ezekiel Solesi and I quite agree. You cannot have peace and hide it. The manifestations of peace is in development, progress, healthy living, harmonious coexistence, familial love, good neighborliness, acceptance, tolerance, equitable distribution of wealth, and a sustainable culture among others.

Peace like love is expressive, isn't silent like a graveyard, which is like snow sprinkled with hot water. Peace motivates us to aspire more; it encourages us to love more. In doing so, people come to realize, understand and accept the relevance of the United Nations as an organization that has not only outlived its predecessors but also waxing stronger even in old age.

Having participated in some Model UN conferences, I have an understanding of the workings of the General Debate. Last year,  at UNGA 72 their Excellencies deliberated on the theme "Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life for All on a Sustainable Planet". This is an aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs and it highlights the importance of people in any development plan. Notice also that there is a seeming continuity in the this year's topic. Peace is the language of development, and people are at the heart of ever peace initiative.

This year, the need to restate the relevance of the United Nations could not have come at a better time. As they mount that podium, sit in at every high level meeting, slap palms in every diplomatic breakfast, lunch or dinner, engage in several activities on the sidelines their Excellencies must understand that words may be powerful, but actions are transformational!

After all the rhetoric, all we need is love and peace to truly make for sustainable society. Yes, this is the time for the willing hands to come together, to indulge in their passion for a peaceful world devoid of friction, rancor, conflagrations, crises and Conflicts

At this point, the words of Rasheed Oluwadamilare Yusuf during the International Peace Day is quite instructive;

"How do you wake up in the morning? What are your first thoughts? He says, I am better than him, she says I am more beautiful. They say they deserve better, do they forget that they didn't make themselves to be, do they forget that circumstances makes one look the way they look, or do they forget that the ones left behind starved from the horrors you faced."

" One thing we are all given is the auto privilege to choose what our inner peace should be. The anger in your eyes are to put the fire in his eyes off by choosing what you can make of the future with your calm. The battle that the land suffers for are because of our ego not for humanity but for ideation that your words must be the last and leave bruises on them."

"But there is always a law that we can't ever change no matter how powerful, *life is more than just 4 letter words but fragments of files  that will always be referenced.

" Today is international day of peace, but I only won't preach that but to remind you that peace can't be international if you as an individual don't see it as nature that must be respected and cherished."

For all your actions, before you decide if it's peaceful, it starts with how you ask yourself these questions I learnt from one best thing that happened to me (Rotary) and how you reply to them:

*Is it the truth?
*Is it fair to all concerned?
*Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
*Will it build good will and better friendship?"

"Peace doesn't come with wanting to accept that race, wealth, tribe benefits should be spoken against , but it comes by not seeing that this doesn't exist at all.
*pledge to yourself to always find peace and must keep it close to your heart."

This for me is an important message that global leaders must understand. Their Excellencies must take very deep lessons away, especially from the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit held yesterday, that is; they must be willing to Build, Promote and Keep the Peace!

Mandela was passionate about global peace. It is time for us to indulge in that passion!


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