– As translated from Spanish –

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

26 October 2018


I am pleased to be here to dialogue and exchange points of view about the work of the General Assembly and the way it relates to the endeavors in Geneva with the purpose of improving our communications and the coordination of our joint efforts.

The General Assembly is the most important multilateral forum to debate and reach agreements and commitments in the main topics that affect humanity. My commitment is to facilitate this global dialogue and to succeed in making the United Nations more relevant for everyone, in a time in which multilateralism is facing critical challenges.

I would like to share with you three topics: the priorities that I have established for this period of sessions, a brief evaluation of the general debate of the General Assembly and future plans.



I have determined seven priorities that I will foster during my presidency: gender equality and the empowerment of women; migrants and refugees; decent work; environmental action; persons with disabilities; the revitalization of the United Nations; peace and security and the role of young people in the prevention of conflicts.

  1. As the fourth woman to hold the Presidency of the General Assembly in 73 years, promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women is one of my priorities. One of my commitments is to foster a balanced participation of women in the facilitation of events and processes of the General Assembly. I am currently working to hold a Summit on “Women in Power” on March the 12th, 2019, on the occasion of the next session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the “International Gender Champions” network which has significantly promoted the inclusion of women and the achievement of gender parity in the events held in Geneva.
  1. I firmly believe that we must support global efforts to guarantee protection and assistance to more than 25 million refugees around the world. Adopting and implementing the Global Compact on Refugees is of the utmost importance. I believe that the corresponding text will be sent to New York next Tuesday. Likewise, we must preserve the agreements reached on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. Both Compacts will contribute to the wellbeing and dignity of those who seek refuge and those who migrate.
  1. Decent work is crucial to eradicate poverty and reduce inequality. On the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of the International Labor Organization, I will summon a High Level Meeting on Decent Work, on April the 10th, 2019.
  2. The General Assembly must continue to emphasize the important matter of protecting the environment. We support the efforts to achieve the implementation of the Paris Agreement. In that regard, the next COP in Poland will be a crucial moment that we mustn’t waste. I will summon a High Level Meeting on World Climate protection for present and future generations in the context of the economic, social and environmental aspects of the 2030 Agenda. I will also promote a world campaign to raise awareness about plastic pollution. I invite you to join this campaign.
  1. Regarding the topic of persons with disabilities, my endeavor will be to improve the visibility of their situation and the importance of upholding and promoting their rights, particularly the right to have quality education, accessibility and decent work.
  2. The United Nations is undergoing a process of reform that is crucial to guarantee its effectiveness, credibility and relevance in an increasingly complex and changing world. I will focus on three areas to implement the reform of the system. Implementing the reforms of the Secretary-General, the revitalization of the General Assembly and continuing the reform process of the Security Council in accordance with the pace established by the Member States.
  1. The immeasurable potential of young people for the success of the peace and security agenda is crucial to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The role of young people as mediators and agents of peace is essential. The General Assembly must continue to promote measures for young people to have economic opportunities, political participation, social services and security.



The general debate held last September was a remarkable demonstration of the relevance of the General Assembly and the United Nations, especially because of the many references made by world leaders about the need to defend multilateralism and support joint actions to address global challenges.

Sustainable development and climate change were amongst the most mentioned topics by leaders during the debate.

This global pondering reinforced the role of the Organization as a multilateral forum to respond to the problems that humanity is facing. This year we had the participation 121 Heads of State and Government, 9 Vice Presidents and Deputy Prime Ministers, and a large number of Ministers and Permanent Representatives.

The General Assembly was the stage for hundreds of meetings with Heads of State and Government and Ministers that contributed to strengthen the relationships between nations. More than 400 parallel events were held during the High Level week.

Not only did the Member States evaluate the most sensitive topics of the international situation, but they also shared the most significant developments achieved in their strategies for sustainable development, in the consolidation of peace and in their actions to defend human rights.

It is important to mention the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, which provided a strong political statement in the defense of the need to fight for Peace through dialogue, tolerance and political determination.

Pursuant to the mandates of the General Assembly, the High Level Events on the “Fight against Tuberculosis” and “Prevention and Control of Non-Communicable Diseases” took place, where two political statements were adopted. I want to thank the support of the Missions in this venue and the WHO for the success of both events, which were well-attended by both Heads of State and Health Ministers.

We also held a High Level Meeting on the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. Additionally, seven countries signed and four ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, thus strengthening the commitment to create a world free of nuclear threats, which is a world we all aspire to. Including these countries, there are currently 69 countries who have signed this important instrument and 19 more countries that have ratified it.



I am pleased to inform you that the work of the Main Committees of the General Assembly and Plenary has begun. I have addressed each Committee to support their endeavors.



In addition to the aforementioned events, I have the mandate to organize high level events. I would like to mention a few of them which are of particular interest for this venue:

  • Plenary meeting to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action (December, 2018).
  • High Level Meeting on the 20th anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders (December 2018)
  • High Level Meeting on Middle-Income Countries summoned for December the 4th, 2018.
  • High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation that will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March, 2019.
  • High level events on Illicit Financial Flows and Primary Commodities and high level dialogue on Financing for Development.

Another main task will be to organize the High Level Political Forum, the first one held by the General Assembly and that will allow us to identify the progress made in the fulfillment of the sustainable development goals.


Esteemed Ambassadors,

As you can see, we have a very ambitious program which for the most part involves the work of this venue.

I hope we can continue to strengthen the coordination and synergy between New York and Geneva.

I reiterate my willingness to strengthen dialogues and reach our common goals.

Thank you.