Ecuador's Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces elected as President of UN General Assembly

Jun 6, 2018 15:27 IST
Ecuador's Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces elected as President of UN General Assembly

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces was on June 5, 2018 elected as the President of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). She will be succeeding Miroslav Lajcak, the current Assembly President.

Poet and politician, Espinosa secured 128 votes against 62 votes obtained by UN Ambassador Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake of Honduras, the only other candidate.

Espinosa Garces becomes fourth woman to preside over UN General Assembly

  • With this, Espinosa Garces became the fourth woman to head the world body, UNGA, in its 73 year history and the first since 2006.
  • The previous women leaders of the Assembly were India’s Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit in 1953; Liberia’s Angie Elisabeth Brooks in 1969 and Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa of Bahrain in 2006.
  • Espinosa is also the first woman ever from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over the Assembly.

Espinosa Garces’ agenda

• After getting elected, Espinosa Garces vowed to maintain an open-door policy during her presidency and “act as an impartial, objective and open facilitator.”

• Her priorities during the 73rd Assembly session, which starts in mid-September 2018, will include UN reforms, finalisation of the global compact on migration and implementation of the Addis Ababa Agenda on financing for development.

• Climate action, employment, inequality and peace in the Middle East, including the rights of the Palestinian people are also on her agenda.

Election Process

  • The presidency of the UN Assembly rotates among various groups at the UN and this year it was the turn of the Latin American and Caribbean bloc.
  • As per the tradition, the UN’s regional groups nominate a single candidate who is then rubber-stamped by the Assembly.
  • But the Latin American and Caribbean Group could not agree on a single nominee this year, ending up in the contest between Elizabeth Flores Flake and Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces.
  • Made up of all the 193 Member States, the UN Assembly provides a forum for multilateral discussion of the full spectrum of international issues covered by the UN Charter.

 About Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces

• Espinosa had earlier served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility; Minister of Defence; and Coordinating Minister of Cultural and Natural Heritage of Ecuador.

• She was the first woman to be named as the Permanent Representative of Ecuador in New York, after having served as Ambassador in Geneva.

• As a writer and poet, she has published over 30 articles on the Amazon River, culture, heritage, development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, integration and security.

• She has also published five volumes of poetry and received the Ecuadorian National Poetry Prize in 1990.


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