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Expectations as UN General Assembly President visits


Youth, Women issues to be discussed with Nigerian leaders

By Tajudeen Hamzat

Expectations are high that notable issues of public concern would be put on the table as the President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, begins an official visit to Nigeria on Monday.

The visit which is on the invitation of the Government of Nigeria, is aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United Nations.

A statement from the United Nations Information Centre, UNIC in Lagos outlined that H.E. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés will be received on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, by a representative of the government of Nigeria and the Resident Coordinator of the UN in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon.

During the course of her visit, the envoy will discuss the priorities of the General Assembly as related to women and youth empowerment; raise awareness and encourage understanding of the importance of multilateralism and the UN; as well as raise further international awareness on the Lake Chad Basin and efforts of Nigeria to promote sustainable development, peace and security in the region; among others.

While in Nigeria, the President of the UN General Assembly will have bilateral meetings with H.E. Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, the Honourable Minister of Foreign Affairs. She will also engage with Students and Youth on the theme: “Responding to Global Challenges in a fast-Changing World: The Case for Strengthening Multilateralism”; as well as discuss with a women audience on the theme: “The Role of Women in the Promotion of Multilateralism”.

Ms María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés is scheduled to also meet with the Honourable Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development,        H. E. Aisha Abubakar.

This is the second official visit of the President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly to the African region since taking over the presidency.

On 5 June 2018, the United Nations General Assembly elected Ecuadorean Foreign Minister María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, as President of its 73rd session; only the fourth woman to hold that position in the history of the world body, and the first since 2006.

She has more than 20 years of multilateral experience in international negotiations, peace, security, defence, disarmament, human rights, indigenous peoples, gender equality, sustainable development, environment, biodiversity, climate change and multilateral cooperation. She has served Ecuador as Minister of Foreign Affairs (twice), Minister of National Defence, and Coordinating Minister of Natural and Cultural Heritage. In 2008, she was the first woman to become Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York.

Before beginning her political and diplomatic career, Ms. Espinosa Garcés was Associate Professor and Researcher at the Facultad Latino americana de Ciencias Sociales Sede Ecuador. Ms. Espinosa Garcés has written over 30 academic articles about the Amazon region, culture, heritage, sustainable development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, regional integration, defence and security. She has studies from Rutgers University.

Ahead of her visit, the tenor of public concern about critical matters of state in Nigeria, and particularly as it has to do with the economy and security, had risen, and with the general tone of public discourse being largely despondent. While it is expected that some of this would seep out in the course of the visit also, foreign affairs watchers however caution that given the generally subdued tone of diplomatic conversations, the best elbow room that the visiting envoy can explore would be general counsel and innuendos.

Ms Espinosa Garces, President, UN General Assembly

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