UNITED NATIONS — President of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Tijjani Muhammad-Bande on Monday lauded China’s great achievements in eradicating poverty and urged the global community to defend multilateralism.

For China, “to have poverty eradicated 10 years ahead is really a very important achievement,” said the UNGA president in a video-link interview with Xinhua the day before finishing his one-year term.

Poverty eradication is the first goal among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which were agreed upon by all countries in 2015.

Noting that “China is a very important player in the global stage both economically and politically,” Muhammad-Bande said that “by this year, China, from what it has done, will achieve Goal No 1 (of the 17 SDGs),” adding that poverty eradication in a country like China with 1.4 billion people “is very important for the world.”

Speaking of his observations about China’s success in eradicating poverty, the president said he was impressed with the country’s attempts to try out a variety of means to “see which practice works across the country.”

Muhammad-Bande in June launched the Alliance for Poverty Eradication, which he said “represents an opportunity to confront an enduring and multi-faceted challenge” by enabling the international community to compare notes and exchange ideas on cross-national good practices regarding poverty eradication.

Being the first UNGA president who spent half of his tenure working online in the world body’s 75 years history, Muhammad-Bande said he can’t tolerate the politicization and stigmatization associated with COVID-19.

“Now everyone appreciates that it is wrong to stigmatize anyone with a disease,” he said, noting that “our focus is really fighting disease.”

The UNGA president said that he was happy to see that many people, especially young people are leading “the campaigns for equality and for inclusion and non-stigmatization.”

“The disease has exposed the necessity for cooperation. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is very clear about how you must respect each other. This is the basis on which the (UN) system itself can progress,” he said, adding that “the pandemic is a reminder of our connections as humanity. No country is safe until all others are safe.”

Muhammad-Bande stressed that for now, “what is important is the development of vaccines and other therapeutics to guarantee that no one who is in need is unable to get them.”

Speaking of what the 74th UNGA session has achieved, Muhammad-Bande said without any hesitation that “the most important thing is to continue to underline the importance of collaboration and the multilateral effort.”

“The most important thing is for all countries, big and small, to appreciate that we can contribute to peace and security in the world,” he said, calling on all countries to “operate within rules that we set for ourselves.”

Despite encountering difficulties, the UN has functioned as normal during the pandemic, as “countries have been able to still come together, to narrow differences to such a degree that they were able to pass many resolutions of importance to the world,” said Muhammad-Bande.

Speaking of the world order which is under threat, he said that “we should always try to obey law, but not obey only a few because that creates a lot of difficulties.”

He stressed that although the pandemic has brought tremendous damage to the world, UN multilateral mechanisms have not changed as “we must listen and work harder to reduce our differences.”

Cautioning against growing conflicts, Muhammad-Bande called on people across the world to get rid of discrimination, and show more respect for each other and the environment.

“This is the way to guarantee not only peace, but also prosperity, which are very important goals of the United Nations from the very beginning,” he noted.

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