– As delivered –

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

31 October 2018

Your Excellency, Ambassador Inga Rhonda King, President of the Economic and

Social Council,

Your Excellency, Ambassador Sacha Llorenty, President of the Security Council,

Ms. Karina Gerlach, representative of the New York University’s Center on International Cooperation.

Excellencies, Dear friends,


I wish to thank the Permanent Missions of Bolivia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Ecuador, and the New York University for organizing this important event.

This event fulfills the decision of the Member States of having a greater coordination between the three main bodies of the United Nations. It also fulfills the objective of strengthening our multilateral commitment.

This is also a very special occasion due to the fact that it gathers all the presidencies -from Latin America and the Caribbean- of these three bodies for a fundamental objective: renewing our commitment with multilateralism.



We, the Peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean, have found in multilateralism an essential tool for peace and development. Multilateralism has made us stronger; it has been vital for our Peoples.

Latin America and the Caribbean stand together to uphold international law and a system based on rules, dialogue and cooperation.

Our commitment with multilateralism was shared with the rest of the Peoples of the world when we resolved, in the United Nations Charter, to protect future generations from the scourge of war and when we reasserted our faith in fundamental rights, the dignity of people and the equality between men and women, between peoples and between nations.

Allow me to talk about three topics in this statement: first, multilateralism as a tool to overcome global challenges; second, the need for coordination and aligned work in the main bodies of the Organization; and third, the specific contribution of the General Assembly, which I currently preside.


Truly, today we are at a highly complex global intersection, with very serious problems such as a very slow, uneven and uncertain economic recovery; inequity and inequality; climate change; geopolitical tensions and humanitarian and migratory crises. The scale of the world crisis on refugees is something we had not seen since the Second World War.

All of this, demands our full attention and reaching agreements and solutions that are effective. The great challenge is that these problems are interconnected. To overcome them, we need more and more actions and policies that are able to transcend national borders. Therefore, these problems demand collective solutions.

The diversity of global, interconnected challenges is, perhaps, the most complex challenge that multilateralism must face, since it demands strengthening its methods to become more efficient and to have immediate response capabilities and a permanent preventive radar.

Hence, the additional need to revitalize our organization. Now that we are moving onto the implementation phase of the reform processes proposed by the Secretary General, it is important that we continue our collective efforts to ensure that the UN becomes increasingly relevant for everyone.



We all agree on the need of having an Organization that is more efficient and adapted to today’s challenges.

We must move towards a global governance system that is more democratic and effective. That also implies building a fairer and more equitable world order. Thus, our collective efforts are necessary to reduce inequalities in all regions and countries of the world.

During the General Debate, last September, the Heads of State and Government repeatedly emphasized the need to cooperate to face common challenges and they also warned that searching for unilateral solutions for universal challenges would only aggravate the risks of isolation and confrontation.


This brings me to my second point: we must continue to foster aligned and synergistic work amongst the main bodies and the subsidiaries of this Organization to boost and preserve multilateralism.

The bodies of the United Nations must work like clockwork, as pieces of the same machine that move this Organization towards its objectives of development, peace and security; to promote and protect human rights.

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Today’s meeting, the one we are holding right now, is in itself an affirmation of our commitment with cooperation, dialogue and coordinated work. As the President of its main organ of representation, I dedicate my efforts each and every day to achieve a greater synergy within the System of the United Nations.

Last week I met with all the organisms of the United Nations based on Geneva: I delivered the message of having more coordination and interaction and to renew our commitment with multilateralism.

Throughout October, we have held work, evaluation and coordination meetings with the Presidents of ECOSOC, the Security Council and with Secretary General António Guterres. We have scheduled this coordination mechanism for this period of sessions. In other words, every month, we will hold coordination meetings with the main bodies and the Secretary General.

One of the core objectives of this coordination is to accelerate our efforts to move forward in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. The Agenda itself is in fact an example of what we can achieve with multilateralism.

Our ability to deliver on the 2030 Agenda is inherently linked to our ability to deliver on the promise of multilateralism, and to deliver to all, particularly those that are the furthest behind.

We have already started the preparation process for the High Level Political Forum that will be held for the first time under the auspices of the General Assembly –on September, 2019- that is to say, on the 74th session.

And, of course, we are already working with my dear friend, Ambassador King, on the High Level Political Forum that will be held under the auspices of ECOSOC, on July, with the purpose of having coherence in our endeavors. We wish to pave the way to achieve a strong, effective, action-oriented policy.

In fact, I would like to emphasize that this Friday, November the 2nd; we will promote this coordination at a retreat, so as to strengthen opportunities in this area. The retreat will be organized by the Presidency of ECOSOC.

Our close cooperation will continue to be strengthened and, certainly, its validity will depend on the support of Each and Every One of you, the 193 Member States of this organization.

The bodies of the United Nations must work like clockwork, as pieces of the same machine that move this Organization towards its objectives of development, peace and security; to promote and protect human rights.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the UN General Assembly

My third and last point relates to the General Assembly itself and its role: this valuable and unique “Parliament of Humanity “. The General Assembly has a leading role in strengthening multilateralism.

Bringing the UN closer to people is also a better effort for communication. We must achieve a logical narrative that can reflect the permanent work of all the delegations of this Organization.

The General Assembly has been the origin of the most important -universal- instruments to promote and defend human rights; the rights of persons with disabilities; the rights of migrant workers; the instruments to fight torture, the instruments to fight enforced disappearances, the instruments to fight racial discrimination; the instruments to fight against violence against women and many other significant results that are relevant to everyone. The Assembly brought to light the most advanced instruments on contemporary international law.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is a balanced text that gathers and conciliates the perspectives of the States and that represents the most recent and significant contribution of the General Assembly to humanity. Therefore, as I mentioned before, the best homage for the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, next December, will undoubtedly be actually adopting the Global Migration Compact.



In order to strengthen the United Nations, we must move forward quickly to revitalize the General Assembly. We have achieved so much in the last few years, but we are still far from where we really need to be.

We must equally acknowledge our own shortcomings and address them earnestly. To do so, we need global leadership and shared responsibilities.


Dear colleagues, friends and guests,

As President of the General Assembly, I have the obligation -but also the conviction- of pointing out that multilateralism does not represent, in any sense, a threat for sovereignty or to national interests.

On the contrary, multilateralism offers the opportunity, to each sovereign State, of solving complex challenges that no country could ever overcome on its own.

Therefore, let there be no doubt: multilateralism is not only the most efficient platform to build and maintain peace and sustainable development: it is the only possible way. The unilateral actions of the strongest can never be effective, much less sustainable.


Thank you.