United Nations General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés praises the Sultanate’s peaceful approach to regional issues and commitment to multilateralism as well as UN objectives in an exclusive interview with Times of Oman Chairman Mohammed Issa Al Zadjali. Here is the first part
You were elected on June 5, 2018. How have the first six months been for you personally, and for the UN?
As President of the General Assembly, I am doing my best to assist member states to promote greater coordination between the main bodies of the UN, so that we can better deliver on my promise of bringing the UN closer to the people.
After almost four months of the 73rd session of the General Assembly, I can be proud of what has been achieved so far.
We began the session with an unprecedented level of participation from world leaders at the General Debate, with 126 heads of State and Government, which sent a strong message about the attachment of our leaders to multilateralism and the ability of the organisation to fulfil its mandates.
The main part of the 73rd session of the General Assembly adopted 281 resolutions and took 63 decisions. The main committees successfully accomplished their work and delivered on their respective mandates. The fifth committee concluded its work during the main part of the session, on December 22, 2018, which is the best record in the past decade.
In Marrakech, we adopted the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. We also moved forward on tackling climate change, and in particular, on the programme of the work laid out in the Paris Agreement at the climate change conference (COP24) in Katowice, Poland.
I convened a one-day high-level meeting on middle-income countries on December 4, 2018. The meeting came up with concrete and solid recommendations for addressing the gaps and challenges of these countries, representing two-thirds of the total UN membership, in the implementation of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. I have appointed 28 co-facilitators and co-chairs, out of which almost 60 per cent are women. I am pleased to note that the co-facilitators are already at work. The process on South-South cooperation, for instance, has advanced and the first consultation of the zero draft will be convened later this week (January 17). The outcome of the BAPA+40 process will send a strong signal on our collective commitment to multilateralism in the lead up to High-Level Week 2019.
What are your hopes and aspirations for the UN during your tenure, and why have you decided to visit Oman?
This is my first visit to Oman and I am delighted to be here. I had a very packed schedule. I met the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defence and the Chairman of the Al Shura Council. I also delivered a lecture at the National Defence College. Furthermore, I had the pleasure of meeting representatives of civil society, particularly women. I express my gratitude for the generous hospitality accorded to my delegation and me during this visit. My overall goal is to make the UN relevant to all the people. In particular, I commend Oman’s commitment to multilateralism and to advancing the objectives of the UN, particularly in the maintenance of international peace and security.
Given the current global economic and political challenges that many countries are facing, how important is the role of the UN in being a bridge and strengthening cooperation between countries?
If you consider the full spectrum of what the international community needs to deliver, you will see that the work of the United Nations System — be it through its main bodies such as the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, or the General Assembly—is crucial. But you also have the UN agencies, funds and programmes alongside vital cooperation among member states that is so important to build bridges and find solutions.
And no other part of the UN, no other forum, is as representative of all member states as the General Assembly. As I so often say, one seat, one microphone, one vote. This is just as it should be. The General Assembly is the Parliament of Humanity; it is where all voices come together to advance humanity and where they can debate over, deliberate and contribute to a better world. So, I think that the role of the General Assembly becomes even more relevant to strengthen cooperation and to find collective solutions for common challenges.
As you may know, Oman has adopted an economic policy of diversification to reduce the dependence on oil. How has your homeland, Ecuador, whose economy is also oil reliant, dealt with the issue of global oil prices?
Over the last few years, Ecuador has dealt with this matter in a very collaborative manner, cooperating with OPEC and non-OPEC countries to support fair oil prices. Ecuador has also continued making efforts to diversify its exports. I think this example shows the importance of multilateralism and international cooperation in finding collective solutions for common challenges, which can benefit countries to advance towards sustainable development.
How does the UN view Oman in the context of this region and in global terms?
Oman is very actively involved and is contributing to the UN. I really wish to commend Oman’s unwavering commitment to multilateralism and to advancing the objectives of the UN, including international peace and security, sustainable development and human rights. Oman has a particularly important role to play in the region in encouraging peaceful cooperation.
Second part tomorrow