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Ecuadorean FM becomes 4th woman ever to head UN Assembly

(People's Daily)    14:31, June 06, 2018

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garcés was elected president for the 73rd UN General Assembly June 5, 2018. (Photo: Yin Miao)

New York - The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday elected Ecuadorean Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés to serve as president for the upcoming 73rd Session beginning in September. The appointment marks only the fourth time in UN history that a woman will serve as assembly president, and the first since 2006.

During a plenary meeting at the concluding 72nd General Assembly, UN members elected Espinosa Garces in a secret ballot vote.

The run-off pitted Garces against UN Ambassador of Honduras Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake. Espinosa Garces, who needed the majority of the 190 countries present, secured 128 votes over Flake’s 62.

Current Assembly President Miroslav Laják officially announced the victory while pointing out that only four women have served as assembly president and noted “it is not a record to be proud of”urging continued efforts towards full gender parity.

During a press briefing afterwards, Garces said she believed the UN was moving at a “firm pace” towards “becoming every day, a more relevant, a more efficient, a more transparent, and more democratic organization. I will work with 193 States, hand in hand.”

She promised to lead in a way that would “strengthen multilateralism, and to better deliver on the commitments that we have taken.”

Espinosa Garces said her priorities for the next Assembly will include UN reforms, finalization of the global compact on migration, and implementation of the Addis Ababa Agenda on development financing. Her other agenda will include climate action, employment, inequality, and peace in the Middle East including the rights of Palestinians.

Espinosa Garces has previously served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Minister of Defense, and Coordinating Minister of Cultural and Natural Heritage.

The former Ambassador to Geneva also was the first woman to serve as the UN’s Permanent Representative to Ecuador.

Garces is trilingual, fluent in English, French, and Spanish. She is a respected writer and poet and has published over 30 academic reports on subjects ranging from the Amazon River, culture, and climate change, to intellectual property rights and foreign policy. Winner of the 1990 National Poetry Prize, she has written and published five volumes of poetry.

Since 2003, the UN General Assembly has elected a succeeding president in June for the following Assembly to give the incoming and outgoing presidents enough time to safeguard a smooth transition before the next session begins.

The General Assembly typically begins new sessions in September.

In following the principles of equitable geographical rotation, the general assembly president is elected by representatives from Asia-Pacific, Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, Western Europe and North America. 

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(Web editor: Xu JiaWei, Bianji)

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