The UNGA elected María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, as President of its 73rd session (2018-2019).
Elected by 128 votes out of 192 ballots cast, Espinosa Garcés stressed that strengthening multilateralism is not an option but an obligation.
She said she will promote action so the UNGA can play an essential role in fulfilling the SDGs.
5 June 2018: The UN General Assembly (UNGA) has elected María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, as President of its 73rd session (2018-2019). She is the fourth woman to be elected as UNGA President since the Assembly’s began in 1946.
Per the principle of geographical rotation, the president of UNGA 73 was to be elected from the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC). Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, Permanent Representative of Honduras, was the only other candidate for the presidency. The election followed informal interactive dialogues with the candidates in May 2018. The two candidates had issued vision statements in February 2018, in line with a UNGA resolution adopted in 2017 on increasing the transparency and inclusivity of the election process (A/RES/71/323).
Elected by 128 votes out of 192 ballots cast, Espinosa Garcés took the floor to address the Assembly. She said strengthening multilateralism is not an option but an obligation. She also dedicated the election to all women in the world who participate in politics and face media and other attacks, and paid tribute to women and girls who are victims of violence and to girls and adolescents that demand access to quality education.
Espinosa Garcés reiterated her commitment to offer an “open door” presidency, and indicated that she will promote all actions within her reach so the UNGA can play an “essential role” in fulfilling the SDGs. She noted that UN bodies must run “like clockwork” to move the UN towards the objectives of its Charter, adding that she will promote reforms and processes necessary for the strengthening of the organization. She also remarked that, as the UN needs to respond to the main challenges of the world, it should be connected to its main beneficiaries, the citizens of the world.
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, outlined Espinosa Garcés’ previous experience as Ecuador’s minister of foreign affairs, as well as its minister of national defense, coordinating minister for cultural and natural heritage, and permanent representative to the UN in both Geneva and New York. He added that she was Ecuador’s first woman to serve as permanent representative to the UN in New York. He welcomed the choice of a woman for the position of UNGA president, saying more than a decade has passed since a woman held the presidency.
Congratulating Espinosa Garcés on her appointment, Miroslav Lajcak, President of the 72nd UNGA, remarked that electing only four women in more than 70 years is not a result to be proud of, and thanked delegates for making this election “the most transparent and inclusive yet.”
Among the UN regional groups that took the floor, Mauritius for the African Group echoed Espinosa Garcés in saying that the election of the UNGA president is not a competition but rather a celebration of multilateralism. He noted that although all agree that “much remains to be done” to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development (FFD), and the Paris Agreement on climate change, this is not likely to happen unless additional resources are mobilized. He thanked Lacjak for the initiatives and events he organized, including the launch of the ‘International Decade for Action: Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028,’ which he said gave an impetus for SDG implementation by increasing awareness of the Goals.
Venezuela for GRULAC welcomed the election of Espinosa Garcés as the first woman from the region to serve as UNGA president, and expressed optimism that her leadership will help strengthen the UNGA’s role in peace and stability, sustainable development, international cooperation and human rights. [SDG Knowledge Hub story on dialogues with candidates] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on candidates’ vision statements] [UNGA 73 election webpage] [Meeting webcast]