– As delivered –

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

15 January 2019

Your Excellency Mahmoud Abbas, President of the State of Palestine,

Your Excellency António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations,

Your Excellency Sameh Hassan Shoukry, Foreign Affairs Minister of Egypt,

Your Excellency Riyad al-Maliki, Foreign Affairs Minister of Palestine,

Mr. Mourad Ahmia, Executive Secretary of the Group of 77 and China,

Distinguished Permanent Representatives, delegates,

First allow me to express my most sincere condolences to the Government and the People of Kenya for today’s terrorist attack. I sympathize with the victims of these acts of violence and their families. I vigorously condemn these inexplicable acts of extreme violence.


First, I would like to greet the presence of the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas.

For me it is a true honor to participate in this ceremony as President of the General Assembly.

Just one year ago, I had the privilege to preside the Ecuadorian delegation for the handover of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China to Egypt, whose work in 2018 has been, I must say, impeccable.

I acknowledge the hard and relentless work of the delegation of Egypt to reach agreements in the deliberations and negotiations in which it truly represented all 134 members of this Group. Particularly, I wish to honor Ambassador Mohammed Edrees and his extraordinary team.

The strength of this Group has been to go through the difficulties of last year has been its unity. I trust that the same sense of belonging will guide its members throughout 2019, which will be fundamental for the Chairmanship of our sister Palestine, who is taking over today, to be a success.


Like I mentioned in the forty second annual meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers last September, the Group of 77 and China is the most important group in the United Nations not only because it represents almost three quarters of it membership, but because its voice represents 80% of the world’s population.

This is why you play a very significant role in the defense of multilateralism and upholding a multi-polar order.

With the experience of working in the Chairmanship in 2017, I fully understand the complexities of undertaking this great challenge.

The work of the Group is not only vital to defend the interests of the peoples of the Global South and promote economic and social equality around the world, but now it must do so in an international context that is perhaps more complex and in which we unfortunately are seeing a growing polarization and a growing difficulty to reach agreements. 


This is a historic moment, and the road we have travelled to reach it has not been easy. The General Assembly has played a vital role in this sense: since the decision to grant Palestine the status of Observer State, which was adopted in November, 2012, and until the Resolution, last October, about the conditions that are necessary for Palestine to fully and thoroughly exercise this Chairmanship.

The fact that today we can celebrate this handover for the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China is, undoubtedly, a triumph for multilateralism and proof of the importance of the role of the most democratic and representative organism of the United Nations.


I am deeply thankful for the support that the Group has given me for my seven priorities for next year. In these first months, we have made significant progress.

One example of the latter is holding the first High Level Meeting of Middle-Income Countries, on December the 4th, to fulfill the resolution that was in fact proposed by this Group. This occasion also addressed the gaps and challenges that persist in these countries to fulfill the 2030 Agenda. This event, thanks to you, had a major attendance of delegations to the highest level with high quality content.

This was also the case with the Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration that was held in Marrakesh, Morocco, last December. The participation of your delegations ensured the success of the Conference and this was fundamental for the General Assembly to adopt, with an overwhelming majority, this Global Compact.

The next events that the General Assembly will hold are also linked to topics that have a very high priority for this Group.

In this sense, I wish to invite you to the Summit on “Women in Power”, that will be held on March the 12th, and to the Meeting on the Future of Work, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the International Labor Organization on April the 10th.

In fact, just a few moments ago, the resolution that mandates holding this Meeting was adopted.

I wish to thank your active participation in this event with the vitally important topic of fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals.

I trust that the Group will continue to firmly follow the processes promoted by the General Assembly, in accordance with the mandates I have received, many of which were promoted by this Group, like for instance the meetings on international migration and development; the meeting of international cooperation to fight illicit financial flows; the meeting on commodities markets; the reviews for the programs for Small Island States and Landlocked States; the contribution of culture to sustainable development; and the high level dialogue on financing for development.

I wish to specially emphasize what President Abbas already mentioned: the “High Level Conference on South-South Cooperation”, whose preparation process includes negotiating the document that will be adopted in Buenos Aires, on March 20-22 of this year.

Let us make 2019 a turning point for the transformations that are still needed to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda and thus reach our most ambitious and universal plan of action in favor of people, the planet and prosperity.

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the UN General Assembly

The participation of this Group will once again be fundamental to adapt this mode of cooperation to the challenges of the 2030 Agenda for developing countries, thus safeguarding the defense of the principle that south-south cooperation complements north-south cooperation without substituting it.

In a similar way, the “High Level Meeting on the protection of world climate for present and future generations in the context of the 2030 Agenda”, will also be held in New York on March the 28th.

The Group will be fundamental to focus international attention on the impact and the negative consequences of climate change in developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable ones, and to continue to promote the principle of shared although different responsibilities in the fight against climate change.


With your permission, I will talk briefly about the High Level Political Forum that will be held in September in the high level week.

For the first time, since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the Forum will be held under the auspices of the General Assembly and will examine, with a holistic approach, all 17 Sustainable development Goals.

I would like to emphasize that, as a central platform of the United Nations to follow-up and review the 2030 Agenda, it is absolutely necessary for us to give our best efforts so that the Political Forum of September offers the political leadership, orientation and timely recommendations that will allow transforming the commitments we have acquired into a reality.

I ask you to assist the co-facilitators that I have appointed, the Permanent Representatives of Bahamas and Sweden, with your support and collaboration so as to enable their tasks.

Let us make 2019 a turning point for the transformations that are still needed to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda and thus reach our most ambitious and universal plan of action in favor of people, the planet and prosperity.


I am convinced that the experience and commitment of Palestine, with the United Nations and multilateralism, will be reflected upon the correct and efficient management of the Agenda of this Group and its global impact.

As President of the General Assembly, I once again convey my most sincere congratulations to President Abbas and all his delegation. I am convinced that Palestine will do a great job leading the Group, but it will require the support of all Member States.

Now more than ever, the principles of unity, collaboration and solidarity, which are our fundamental foundations, must be preserved.

G77 must continue to be the central pillar to make the eradication of poverty a collective cause; to raise awareness about the increase of the concentration of wealth around the world; to promote the right to development; to make the peoples under colonial domination or foreign occupation visible; and to advocate a multilateral commerce based on norms that is non-discriminatory and fair.

I will continue to provide my full support to the Group of 77 and China and their principles and priorities, which are closely linked to the welfare of the countries of the Global South and its peoples; you can count on it and on me as President of the General Assembly.

Thank you.

Thank you.