The 73rd session of the UN General Assembly opened on Wednesday with its president, María Fernanda Espinosa, pledging to use her tenure to bring the world body closer to the people.
Ms Espinosa, in her inaugural keynote address to the 73rd session of the 193-member General Assembly, also pledged to use her tenure to strengthen the people’s sense of ownership and support for the UN.
According to her, the need for stronger global leadership in the service of multilateralism, to ensure more peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies, would underpin her work.
“Let us proceed together, building a world more equal and free, more sustainable and respectful of nature, and more inclusive and supportive,” she said.
Ms Espinosa, who was elected the president of the General Assembly in June, succeeded Miroslav Lajčák, the president of the 72nd session, whose one-year tenure ended on Monday.
She is the fourth woman to hold that position in the history of the world body, and the first woman ever from Latin America and the Caribbean region.
The General Assembly president outlined seven priorities – identified in consultation with Member States – that would shape the year-long session.
They are: promoting gender equality; promoting and implementing the new global compacts on migration and refugees; advocating for decent work; protecting the environment; focusing on rights of persons with disabilities; supporting the UN reform process; and facilitating dialogue.
“I am also prepared to facilitate quick and effective responses of the General Assembly to emergency situations as they arise,” she added, noting that “unfortunately, they will arise.”
Ms Espinosa also pledged that she would uphold good practices in her office, ensuring its geographical representation, gender parity, and total transparency in its administrative and financial management.
She also assured that she would observe, ‘with absolute responsibility’, the Code of Ethics for the President of the General Assembly, and would abide strictly by the precepts of the United Nations Charter and the Assembly’s Rules of Procedure.
UN secretary-general, António Guterres also addressed the new General Assembly, congratulating Espinosa on assuming the office and noting the important issues that lie ahead.
“We need action for peacekeeping, gender parity, financing for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, empowerment for the world’s young people, urgent steps to end poverty and conflict, and much else,” he said.
Mr Guterres called on world leaders to come to the high-level week beginning on Monday, “ready to be bold and ready to forge solutions for our global challenges.”
The secretary-general also underscored the importance of international cooperation and for the Assembly to show the true value of working together.
“The Secretariat and I are committed to supporting you,” the UN chief said.