Ecuador Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa has been elected president of the United Nations General Assembly. She will be the fourth woman to preside over the assembly in the UN’s 73-year history.
Espinosa’s selection follows an unwritten system of regional rotation, with a representative of the Latin America and Caribbean region due to preside over the 193-member world body in 2018 and 2019. She assumes her duties in September.
What’s different about Espinosa’s selection is that she had competition for the post from Mary Elizabeth Flores from Honduras, winning by a vote of 128 to 68. Traditionally, the U.N.’s regional groups nominate a single candidate who is then rubber-stamped by the assembly. This is the first contested presidency since 1991.
Representatives from Honduras expressed anger at Espinosa’s decision to seek the presidency, claiming that she and the government of Ecuador had pledged last year to support Flores.
After her election, Espinosa addressed the General Assembly in New York. “I deeply appreciate the vote of confidence that you have placed in Ecuador today to preside over this assembly during the coming year,” she said. “I dedicate my election to all the women in the world who participate in politics today and who daily face the attacks of machismo and discrimination.”
President Lenin Moreno called Espinosa’s election “an honor and matter of great pride for Ecuador,” adding that it is also “of great significance” that she will be the first Latin American woman to hold the UN presidency.