New York

05 June 2018

Secretary-General's remarks to General Assembly on the election of the President of the General Assembly for its seventy-third session [as delivered]

Mr. President of the General Assembly,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by expressing my deep appreciation to His Excellency Miroslav Lajčák for his dedicated service and leadership as President of the General Assembly. 
This has been a productive session, underscored with last week’s milestone resolution on the reform and repositioning of the United Nations development system.
Mr. President, I look forward to continuing our close cooperation in the months ahead for the remainder of the Assembly’s 72nd session.
Tengo ahora el inmenso placer de felicitar a la Sra. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés del Ecuador.
Su experiencia como como Ministra de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana, Ministra de Defensa y Ministra Coordinadora de Patrimonio Cultural y Natural le permite comprender la necesidad de cooperar a la hora de abordar los actuales desafíos mundiales. Fue la primera mujer en ser nombrada Representante Permanente del Ecuador en Nueva York. Con anterioridad, fue también Representante Permanente en Ginebra, por lo que conoce bien la Organización. Su conocimiento directo de las   negociaciones intergubernamentales sobre derechos humanos, mujeres indígenas y cambio climático ayudará a la Asamblea General a avanzar la agenda de las Naciones Unidas durante la próxima sesión del septuagésimo tercer período de sesiones.
Beyond these admirable professional and personal qualities, I welcome this choice for another reason.
It has been more than a decade since a woman has served as President of the General Assembly, when Sheikha Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa of Bahrain was President of the 61st session.
We have to go back decades further to find the other two women to have occupied the post: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit of India for the eighth session, and Angie Brooks of Liberia for the twenty-fourth.
I believe, as the President said, we can and must do better than a record of four women in 73 years, and two in the past half century.  No woman from my own continent, both Western or Eastern Europe has ever held the job.
May today’s choice pave the way for accelerating the progress towards gender equality, within and beyond the United Nations.
Today’s decision will also, I am sure, lead to valuable contributions from Latin American and the Caribbean, building on the region’s solid record of the action of the United Nations.
The world faces urgent and complex challenges, from churning conflicts to rising inequality and the deepening impacts of climate change.
This Assembly – the global town hall – has a vital role to play in debating the issues and, most of all, in delivering solutions that make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
In pursuing our shared goals, we need a United Nations that is up to the task.  In that regard I welcome the ongoing work on the revitalization of the General Assembly.  The Secretariat stands ready to support and assist Member States as necessary.
I also want to express my deep appreciation a la Sra. Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake. Su candidatura fue una importante contribución para la vida de las Naciones Unidas y de esta Asamblea.
Madame President-elect, we wish you the best for success and look forward to working with you when you take up your duties in September.
Thank you.