8 May 2018
Candidates Share Visions for UNGA 73 Presidency at Interactive Dialogues
Photo by IISD/Mike Muzurakis
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UNGA 73 presidency candidates Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, Permanent Representative of Honduras, and María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, shared their vision and priorities for the Presidency.

The informal interactive dialogues represented the first such process for the UNGA President's election.

The candidates addressed: SDG implementation, UN reform, conflict prevention and sustaining peace, gender equality, transparency and accountability, and civil society and other stakeholder engagement.

4 May 2018: Two candidates for the presidency of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 73) shared their vision and priorities during the first-ever UN informal interactive dialogues for the position. The two candidates, both women from the Latin American and the Caribbean Group (GRULAC), noted their commitment to helping advance SDG implementation.

During the meeting on 4 May 2018, Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake, Permanent Representative of Honduras, and María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, answered UN Member States’ questions from the floor, and responded to a few questions from stakeholders that had been submitted online. They both underlined the importance of gender equality, and of civil society’s participation in UNGA decision-making processes. Flores Flake said she would be transparent as President, and Espinosa Garcés specified that she would exercise an “open door” presidency and continue “the excellent tradition” of morning dialogues between the UNGA President and UN Permanent Representatives, during which a series of issues are discussed on a monthly basis.

Flores Flake said children’s issues would be a priority of her presidency, and called for “safeguarding” the world for the generations to come. In response to questions, she highlighted the need to create new spaces, frameworks and structures for women to be engaged, noting that only three women have occupied the position of UNGA President since 1946. She outlined the need to use dialogue, the sharing of experiences, and contributions from thinkers, leaders and other stakeholders to advance discussions related to sustaining peace. She also highlighted the positive role and contributions of migrants.

On UN reform, Flores Flake underscored the importance of communication to “bring people together,” adding that reforms are often associated with fear. She remarked that many people are “disconnected” from the SDGs, underlining need to make the Goals known to citizens so they can contribute to their achievement.

Espinosa Garcés suggested a common strategy based on “Delivery, Implementation and Accountability” (DIA) to bring the UN closer to the people, and to convince them that the UN is “doing work that touches upon their daily lives.” She highlighted SDG monitoring and evaluation as a priority, adding that she would encourage actions to ensure the UNGA advances towards the achievement of the Goals. She noted the “collective responsibility” to fund implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, saying that the primary responsibility relies on States, but the private sector should also be involved.

Among other priority areas, Espinosa Garcés indicated: robust and sustainable peace; assessing implementation of the small island developing States (SIDS) Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway; making progress on the Paris Agreement on climate chang and stepping up levels of ambition; ensuring the success of the intergovernmental conference to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; promoting decent work; ensuring the accessibility and the rights of persons with disabilities; and empowering women and girls. She stressed the importance of multilateralism, and said accompanying States in UN reform processes will be one of the greatest challenges of UNGA 73. She reported that events to be organized under her presidency would focus on areas such as global health, climate change, and South-South cooperation.

The need to conduct informal interactive dialogues with candidates for UNGA President was expressed in UNGA Resolution 71/323 on ‘Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly’ of September 2017, in order to increase the transparency and inclusivity of the election process. In that resolution, the Assembly calls on candidates to present their vision statements, and invites UN Member States to consider presenting women as candidates, to promote and ensure gender balance throughout the UN system.

Per the principle of geographical rotation, the president of UNGA 73 is to be elected from GRULAC. The two candidates issued their vision statement prior to the dialogues, in February 2018. [SDG Knowledge Hub story on UNGA 73 presidency candidates’ vision statements] [UNGA 73 election webpage] [UNGA press release on interactive dialogues] [UNGA President’s letter on schedule for dialogues] [UNGA President’s letter on format of dialogues] [UNGA Resolution 71/323] [Meeting webcast]

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