Incoming President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa, was honored at an evening reception at IPI on September 12th. IPI’s president, Terje Rød-Larsen, introduced her, pointing out that she is the fourth woman president in the history of the General Assembly and the first woman ever from Latin America to preside over the assembly.
He reviewed her career, noting that she was the foreign minister of Ecuador, and before that, the first woman permanent representative of Ecuador to the UN in New York, after having served as ambassador in Geneva.
In Ms. Espinosa’s remarks, she mentioned three points on the status of multilateralism. “Even in the face of headwinds, I believe [multilateralism] remains the only tried and trusted means by which peace and prosperity can be secured,” she said. “Secondly, I would argue that a revitalized United Nations, with a dynamic and reliable General Assembly is central to maintaining and strengthening multilateralism…Thirdly and finally, that leadership and courage of conviction are necessary if we are to take the steps that are needed.”
Multilateralism, she said “is not an option, but a necessity for survival…Whether this involves peaceful solutions to conflict and peacebuilding, human rights and women’s empowerment, building resilience and promoting inclusion, tackling the AIDS epidemic, addressing the global threat to climate change, the evidence is the same. Only multilateral action brings sustainable results.”
She elaborated on the concern that multilateralism is under threat and said that “we must do our very best to alter this perception.” To work towards achieving this goal, she listed seven priorities for the seventy third session of the General Assembly:
- Promotion of gender equality;
- Support for migration and refugees;
- Insuring decent work;
- Protecting the environment
- Supporting persons with disabilities;
- Youth, peace, and security;
- Improving upon the delivery, accountability, relevance, and efficiency of the UN General Assembly.
In conclusion, she said, “Let us raise the bar on what we can do and change the narrative before it is too late.”