– As delivered –

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

9 October 2018

Address to Fifth Committee

Your Excellency, Ms. Gillian Bird, Permanent Representative of Australia and Chair of the Fifth Committee,


Dear delegates, 

It is an honor to address the Fifth Committee this morning.

I congratulate you, Ambassador Bird, on your election as Chairperson. You are only the third woman to hold this post – a sentiment I know all too well as only the fourth woman to serve as President of the General Assembly myself.

I would also like to recognize the Bureau and the Secretariat team, led by Ms. Sharon Buerle, and express my confidence that this session will be a successful one.



Distinguished delegates,

I acknowledge and commend your achievements during the 72nd Session, including the programme budget for the biennium 2018-2019, peacekeeping budgets, and the three tracks of the reform. This is not a minor job.

I would like to make three points with regards to your work and the relevance of the UN:

First, I believe that the Fifth Committee has the ability to ensure the UN achieves its potential.

As you are aware, the current global landscape is complex: from conflicts and terrorism to climate change and disasters; from surging numbers of refugees to rising inequalities. These challenges are impeding progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.

In fact, the conditions that some Member States are facing may be dimmer today than they were when the SDGs were adopted three years ago.


these global challenges require that all our work reflect the deepest appreciation of the conditions in which countries seek to respond to the needs and aspirations of their people. The theme for the 73rd Session of the General Assembly reflects this reality: “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: Global leadership and shared responsibility for peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies”.

Significantly, many leaders called for the strengthening of multilateralism, with the United Nations at its core, during the General Debate.

They also called for the United Nations to be fit for purpose, effective, efficient, relevant, responsive, and able to adapt to new realities.

The UN, therefore, must be revitalized. The UN system must function differently for it to deliver on its mandates and agreed goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

These efforts are already being undertaken through the three-track reforms, and I am committed to providing leadership for a renewed process of revitalization of the General Assembly.

Yet, more can be done. The Fifth Committee translates political vision into concrete reality through its decisions. Therefore, the Fifth Committee is crucial to make the UN more relevant to all people.

You examine the UN activities undertaken. You focus on human resources, audit and oversight, accountability, administrative rules and procedures, the budget of the organization, the apportionment of the expenses among Member States.

These are no simple tasks. It takes a complex, technical and political undertaking.

And, through these processes you can support change. You can support revitalization of the UN.

My presidency will strive to bring the United Nations closer to the people, through effective, dynamic and meaningful communication that has relevance to the public, and which strengthens their sense of ownership and support for this Organization.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the UN General Assembly

Distinguished delegates,


Madam Chair,

My second point relates to the agenda for this main session.

There are complex topics such as the scales of assessments, human resources management, construction, special political mission, and decisions related to the reform process, amongst others.

All these decisions will have a bearing on how the UN functions, today and tomorrow.


The way the UN works is part of the revitalization process. My role as the President of the General Assembly has also evolved. I have received more than 30 mandates to launch informal intergovernmental consultations, organize high level events, etc.

I am grateful for the support of Member States and UN Agencies, both in regard to staff secondments as well as contributions to the Trust Fund. However, the process has not been easy. It certainly does not serve the goals of the Assembly in the most effective manner.

It is my hope that strengthening the Office of the President of the General Assembly, in line with Resolution 72/313 on Revitalization of the work of the General Assembly, will be part of the contribution that this Committee makes to the overall effectiveness of the United Nations.

For my final point, I would note that the work of the Fifth Committee captures the essence of multilateral diplomacy.

The processes and procedures that have been put in place in this Chamber mean that the Fifth Committee provides true global oversight of the work of the UN across all thematic areas.

With 193 Member States, achieving consensus and covering such important issues, can prove challenging.     I thus applaud the work of the Committee and appeal that in reaching consensus, the ultimate goal, which is to “leave no one behind”, should always be kept in mind. In this, I encourage the Committee to continue to work in the spirit of cooperation, transparency and inclusiveness.

In closing, I would like to wish you, Madam Chairperson, all the best and that the Fifth Committee will conclude work in a timely fashion.

I would like to encourage delegates to remain vigilant in requesting the information needed. Please note that I stand ready to use my authority to speed up issuance of documentation, should the Chair request.

Colleagues, I wish you a very productive, friendly and efficient session.  You can count on me and my team of the support.

Thank you.