María Fernanda Espinosa offers a presidency of the General Assembly to strengthen the United Nations
New York – 25 may, 2018. The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, María Fernanda Espinosa offered a presidency of dialogue, transparency, geographical and gender balance and “open doors” for the General Assembly in order to achieve an Organization of the United Nations (UN) “stronger and more relevant” in search of peace, respect for human rights and sustainable development.
This was stated during the unprecedented interactive dialogue held at the United Nations headquarters in New York , in the process for the election of the new presidency of the General Assembly (PAG) for the 73rd session of 2018/2019. The meeting, which also involved the applicant of Honduras, Mary Elizabeth Flores, is the first of its kind to be held in the body, seeking to increase transparency in the election process, as recalled by the current holder of the PAG, the Slovakian Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajčák.
The intervention of Minister Espinosa, as Ecuadorian candidate, paid attention to the different regions of the world and to the great debates and problems of humanity, such as peace, sustainable development, climate change, migration, youth and rights of women and people with disabilities, in addition to warning of the “unpaid debt” of the UN with Palestine. Neither did she forget security and she appealed to face drug trafficking, terrorism and transnational crime, with express mention of the situation suffered by the Northern border of Ecuador.
“I wish to submit to your consideration my national and international experience and my total commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”, began Espinosa with her speech , who has more than two decades of international work in addition to having held different responsibilities in the Ecuadorian Government, such as head of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Cultural and Natural Heritage.
With an intervention mainly in Spanish, and also in English and French, the Ecuadorian candidate reiterated that, at the current moment in history, the UN and multilateralism “are more necessary than ever.” In this sense, he announced “all” his efforts “to advance in the modernization” of this General Assembly “and ensure agility and effectiveness in their work”.
In relation to the functioning of the UN General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa also noted as a “priority” the monitoring and evaluation of the progress of the Sustainable Development Goals, the reforms of the Economic and Social Council as well as the Security Council.
In terms of substantive issues, she pledged to promote the “historic agreement” of the Global Compact for Secure, Ordered and Regular Migration, as well as “promote decent work and the integral development of our youth.” She also announced “special attention to the accessibility and rights of persons with disabilities”, as well as the goal of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls”.
To achieve compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals, she announced that she will give “high priority” to the needs of Small Island States, Landlocked and Least Developed Countries, as well as Middle-Income Countries. In the same way, she called for “accelerating efforts to support the African agenda” for development. “My purpose from the Presidency will be not only to talk about Africa, but to do with Africa”, she said.
After warning about the rise in temperatures on the planet, the Ecuadorian foreign minister said that the environmental and climate crisis “should arouse the greatest commitment and work” of the General Assembly. “It is essential that we advance in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, that we consolidate its work program and that we increase our levels of ambition”.
Unlike the candidacy of Honduras, María Fernanda Espinosa referred directly to the situation of the Palestinian people. “We have to exhaust efforts to achieve definitive and lasting peace in the Middle East and it is necessary to advance in compliance with the resolutions we have adopted on the subject. This organization still has a pending debt with the Palestinian people”.
In relation to peace in the world, she warned that it is necessary to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and reminded Nelson Mandela, whose birth this year marks the centenary. “The Nelson Mandela Peace Summit will provide States with a historic opportunity to present their vision on how to prevent conflicts and how to make peace a permanent state”.
Finally, she referred to transnational crime. “Not only armed conflicts disturb the peace. Drug trafficking, terrorism and transnational organized crime are global scourges that we must face as an international community. The General Assembly must pay particular attention to these challenges. I know this by first-hand, because of the painful situation that my country is going through in its northern border”.
If elected, María Fernanda Espinosa will be the fifth woman in the history of the UN to preside over the General Assembly and will become the first South American to occupy the position. The region has not held the PGA for 19 years. Once the dialogue with the candidates has been made, the vote will be held on June 5.