– As delivered –

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

17 December 2018

Thank you, Melissa, I am very happy to be here


Ms. Amina Mohamed, Deputy-Secretary General of the United Nations,

Mr. Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees,

Mr. Bertine Bahige,

Members of the Pihcintu Refugee Youth Choir, welcome to the UN


Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


It is indeed a pleasure to be here today with you to launch the Global Compact on Refugees.

Truly, today is a good day for the world.

It is a good day for the 25 million refugees around the world.

It is a good day for the countries and the communities hosting refugees, who will now receive more and much-needed support.

And it is a good day for the General Assembly, which has shown once again its relevance when it comes to dealing effectively with global challenges, by approving the compact on refugees today.

Today, multilateralism has succeeded.

Dear friends, the Global Compact on Refugees is deeply welcome.

By supporting global efforts required to ensure assistance and protection to refugees around the world, we show that, Member States and the UN Family, will not forget refugees or the communities who host them. We demonstrate, unequivocally, that the UN is relevant to all.

And this gives me hope.

The Global Compact on Refugees shows the best of our shared sense of humanity.

Refugee-hosting countries continue demonstrating extraordinary levels of generosity and commitment to protecting refugees. We also must not forget that low and middle-income countries host over 80 per cent of all refugees.

And this is why the Global Compact on Refugees is so important; it reflects a spirit of burden and responsibility sharing.

My own experience, working to help refugees from Colombia in my own country of Ecuador, has taught me many lessons, not least of which the value of this Compact.

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

Now we must act on our words and commitments. Today marks the beginning, not the end, of our work to respond comprehensively to the challenges that face refugees and their hosts. As of tomorrow, all Member States, together with civil society and the UN Family, are called upon to step up our efforts and deliver.

The 25 million refugees in the world today expect this of us.

In closing, let me just say this: today I am proud, and I am grateful.

I am proud as the President of the General Assembly, and I am grateful to the General Assembly for its action.

And I am happy to stand together with a true champion for refugees – thank you, Filippo for your leadership and personal commitment to assist and protect refugees.

Mr. Bertine Bahige – your personal experience is the proof of the relevance of this Global Compact. We are happy to share this moment with you.

And I am happy to stand next to you, Amina – together with the Secretary-General – your leadership in support of making the United Nations relevant to all people is indeed commendable.

Today, we have demonstrated our efficacy and utility, and we have cemented our role as the ‘Parliament of Humanity’.

Now let us turn to implementation.

Well done. And thank you.