The outgoing United Nations General Assembly President Maria Fernanda Espinosa has said that the UN is not an organisation “written in stone” and its working methods must be revitalised and improved to make it a contemporary, 21st century body.
Describing the UN Security Council reform as “extremely important” Espinosa, is only the fourth woman President of the General Assembly in its 73-year old history. She said reform has to be the “word of the day because we have to believe that the UN is an institution that wants to be better everyday to deliver better for the people we serve.”
“UN Security Council reform and revitalisation of the General Assembly are extremely important,” Espinosa said in her last press conference on Monday as President of the 73rd Session of the General Assembly.
The 74th session of the General Assembly opens Tuesday and Professor Tijjani Muhammad-Bande of Nigeria will be the president of the 193-member UN body for one year.
“We are not like a written-in-stone organisation from 75 years ago. We have to be a contemporary, 21st century organization, while sticking to the founding principles of the UN, but to see that everyday we can do something that transforms and improves the way we work and deliver on all fronts – the Secretariat, UN agencies and programs, the General Assembly, the Security Council” and all other organs of the UN,” she said.
Espinosa stressed that the world body has to constantly renew and reform itself. She added that there are several pending issues before the UN, significantly the need to continue working seriously on the revitalisation of the General Assembly, to streamline and improve its working methods, accountability mechanisms and transparency at the Assembly.
“It is so important that we get our act together and we deliver better on the work we do everyday,” she said. Espinosa also noted that reform of the UN, “a very ambitious and profound reform”, under the leadership of the Secretary General is crucial. “As member states, we need to have more ownership of the reform process,” she said.
She said she has requested Muhammad-Bande to continue focus on the gender parity agenda and expand the work on addressing plastic pollution worldwide as he takes charge as President of the 74th session of the General Assembly.
Addressing journalists in her last press conference as the General Assembly chief, Espinosa presented some highlights of her presidency. She maintained that her practice of formally reporting back to Member States every three months, had been “very useful, especially for the smaller missions” that cannot cover all the agenda items, “so they can refer to the reports I share with them”.
While noting that the 73rd session, has adopted 341 resolutions, with a few more expected, she has been told this is “the highest number in several years”.
“Basically, my call to Member States has been: let’s read the resolutions we have adopted again and let’s deliver and implement them using this norm-setting power of the General Assembly,” she said.
“We have delivered on all seven priorities”, she told correspondents, highlighting the global campaign against plastic, the Women in Power high-level events, and “our work in advancing the multilateral agenda”.
Espinosa flagged that “we have managed together to transform the UN Headquarters in an area free from single-use plastics”, owing to the support of Member States, the Secretary-General, UN staff, and journalists, saying, “I feel very proud of what we achieved”.