The United Nations General Assembly has elected Ecuadorean Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, as President of its upcoming 73rd session. Ms Espinosa is the only the fourth woman to hold that position in the history of the world body, and the first since 2006, a UN statement said on Tuesday.
She bagged 128 votes against 62 votes secured by the only other candidate, UN , who will assume the presidency of #UNGA in SeptemberAmbassador Mary Elizabeth Flores Flake of Honduras.
Ms Espinosa, in her acceptance speech, said she would maintain an open-door policy during her presidency and “act as an impartial, objective and open facilitator.”
“As you know, I am also a poet as well as a politician. As such, I am fully aware that no view is useful if we do not see, and no word has value, if we do not listen. I will be ready to listen to you all and work for, and with you,” she said.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres introduced her as an experienced diplomat and politician who understands “the need to cooperate when addressing current global challenges.”
Ms Espinosa had served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Minister of Defence, and Coordinating Minister of Cultural and Natural Heritage. She was the first woman to be named Permanent Representative of Ecuador in New York, after having served as Ambassador in Geneva.
“Your direct knowledge of the intergovernmental negotiations on human rights, indigenous women and climate change will help the General Assembly advance the agenda of the United Nations,” Mr Guterres said.
As a writer and poet, Ms Espinosa has published more than 30 academic articles on the Amazon river, culture, heritage, development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, integration, defence and security. She has also published five volumes of poetry and received the Ecuadorian National Poetry Prize in 1990.
The current Assembly President, Miroslav Lajčák, also congratulated Ms Espinosa on her election, saying that having only four women among the 73 Assembly Presidents, is “not a record to be proud of”, urging continued efforts towards full gender parity. 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.