On October 3rd, IPI commemorated the end of the event-filled high-level week beginning the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly with its traditional “Sigh of Relief” party. The guest of honor was the newly installed President of the GA, Tijani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria, who outlined his priorities for the upcoming year and declared, “My sigh of relief will come when we make concrete progress on these goals.”
Among those priorities are poverty and hunger eradication, combating the effects of climate change, and promoting quality education and inclusion. Singling out climate change, Mr. Bande took note both of the summit meeting on that subject at the UN ten days earlier and the mass demonstrations raising the alarm in world capitals, particularly by young people.
“Even before this week, we had a very successful climate summit, and now the efforts of young people around New York and around the world, remind us all that climate action is urgent, which I think is something that is critical for us to remember as humanity,” he said.
Mr. Bande has had a long and distinguished career as a scholar, educator, administrator, and diplomat. He has been a familiar figure at the UN where he served as vice president of the GA in 2016 and since 2018, the Permanent Representative of Nigeria. From 2010 to 2016, he held the position of Director-General of Nigeria’s National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies.
IPI President Terje Rød-Larsen said that IPI had held 12 events during the week involving 23 foreign ministers, two current heads of state and two former heads of state. And he said the party, in addition to being a celebration of the success of the opening UN week, also represented the beginning of IPI’s commemoration of its 50th anniversary next year in 2020.
He recalled that former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon likened the opening week’s gathering of hundreds of world leaders and the meetings among them to “diplomatic speed dating.” He concluded by saying that now that these high-level visitors had returned home, everyone should breathe a collective “sigh of relief.”