– As delivered –

Statement by H.E. Mrs. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly

18 September 2018

33rd Annual International Prayer Breakfast

Good morning to you all, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, Mr. Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen and dear friends.

I should begin by offering my warm thanks to you, Ambassador Bogyay, for your kind invitation and warm welcome. I should also like to thank Mr. Welborn and the host committee for inviting me to attend this wonderful event. Today’s breakfast is very much a curtain raiser for much that will follow today.

It has also become quite a tradition. Since 1985 in fact! I shall remember this morning as this is one of the first events I have the privilege of attending since placing my hand on the Charter of the United Nations and taking my Oath of Office. And I appreciate, along with all of you, this period of relative and reflective calm before the storm. Or as New Yorkers would have it, traffic gridlock comes to town!

It has become something of a cliché to say that we will face enormous global challenges over the year ahead.

Yet we will. All of us.

One of these challenges is to begin to turn around a growing public scepticism towards organisations and institutions that even a few years ago may have seemed impregnable. That reaction extends to the multilateral arrangements and networks of cooperation that have emerged in response to our increasingly interdependent world. In the broadest way, we have a major challenge on our hands to collectively re-build trust in multilateralism and the rule and role of international law. To do this we need to make the greatest of our international institutions, the United Nations, more relevant and more

accessible to those we all serve – the global, general public. We need to re-energise and we need to renew.

And we have to be able to communicate our message in ways that people can relate to their lives and expectations and build support for implementation of the commitments we make as the United Nations.



In a few hours, I will formally open the 73rd Session of the General Assembly. Next week, delegations from all over the world will arrive in New York to speak at the General Debate. And we know that many of the important discussions will take place at the margins of the General Assembly. This is often without fanfare-

whether it is on the desperately urgent need to arrest climate change or to achieve peaceful outcomes especially in those Member States wracked by bitter, ongoing conflict;

whether it is the great global struggle to achieve gender equality or extending the hand of help and friendship to those seeking to escape persecution.

It is down to all of us, therefore, to make sure that people can learn and hear of some of the great and real progress that is being made and what is required of all of us to sustain progress.

I hope that everyone, regardless of faith, can recognise the role that faith communities have traditionally played in helping resolve conflict. We look to faith communities to continue to work together at every level to ensure that all faith groups, and, in particular, those who continue to suffer as minorities, are afforded all help and protection. To this end, we should commend the work of those of you who are reaching out to some who have suffered terribly in recent times; such as the Rohingya, the Yazidi, the Copts, the Chaldean and the Assyrian minorities.

Faith communities have long been friends and allies of the UN. We count on you to give us both spiritual nourishment and sound advice Given the scale of the challenges that we face and the needs of the people who look to us, we certainly have our work cut out.

I am looking forward to having the opportunity of meeting all of you over the coming months and to working with and I thank you again for not only giving me the greatest of starts for today, but for all the help and hope you may be able to offer over the year ahead.

Thank you