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Antigua, SVG nominate Ecuadorian diplomat for OAS secretary general

By Nelson A. King From Caribbean Life

United Nations /Mark Garten
Maria Fernanda Espinosa, president of the 73 Session of the General Assembly.

Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the Organisation of American States (OAS), Sir Ronald Sanders, disclosed on Friday that Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines have nominated Ecuadorian diplomat Maria Fernanda Espinosa for the post of Secretary-General of the OAS and that he has submitted the formal nomination of former UN General Assembly president.

According to an Antigua and Barbuda government statement issued in Washington, D.C., Sir Ronald submitted the nomination of the former United Nations General Assembly president, to the current President of the OAS Permanent Council, Rita Claverie Diaz de Sciollion, on behalf of Prime Ministers Gaston Browne and Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the heads of government of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, respectively.

“We are confident that Maria Fernanda Espinosa meets the highest standards of personal integrity and professional ability,” said the letter, signed by Browne. “The governments of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are committed to upholding the four pillars of the Organization: respect for democracy and democratic institutions, advancing integral development and prosperity, promoting and defending human rights and ensuring a multidimensional approach to security.

Having examined Maria Fernanda Espinosa’s record in several capacities of high office, including several portfolios as Minister of Government, Ambassador to international organizations and President of the United Nations General Assembly, the Governments of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are convinced that she has a clear understanding of the above-mentioned pillars and will act to strengthen and advance each of them in the collective interests of the member states of the OAS,” Prime Ministers and Browne added.

The election for the post of Secretary-General will be held in March 2020, according to the Antigua and Barbuda Government statement.

It said the declared contestants are now the incumbent, Luis Almagro; the present Ambassador of Peru to the United States, Hugo de Zela; and Fernanda Espinosa.

Sanders said that “he broad support for her from countries in South and Central America and the Caribbean is encouraging.

“It makes her a formidable candidate who can deliver a new pathway to make the OAS fit for purpose in delivering on the expectations of the peoples of the Americas for peace, progress and development,” he said.

In her biography, Fernanda Espinosa describes herself as “an academic, diplomat and politician with more than 30 years of professional experience in the academy, non-governmental and international organizations, and leadership positions within the Government of Ecuador.”

She is regarded as an expert in international affairs and the United Nations, defense and security, sustainable development, the environment, climate change, gender equality, and indigenous peoples’ rights.

Fernanda Espinosa said she has a vast experience in intergovernmental negotiations and is recognized as an international advocate of multilateralism and women’s rights and empowerment.

Fernanda Espinosa said she was an advisor on biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ policy and later regional director for South America of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN.

She served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Minister of Cultural and Natural Heritage, and was the first female ambassador and permanent representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York.

She was also permanent representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva.

Most recently, Fernanda Espinosa served as President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, becoming the fourth woman in history and the first from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over this body since its foundation in 1945.

She is recipient of numerous scholarships and acknowledgements from the Latin American Studies Association; the Ford Foundation; the Society of Woman Geographers; the Rockefeller Foundation; and the German Agency for Cooperation, for her research and academic work about the Amazon, and her work in the Amazon on biodiversity, the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples.

Before beginning her political and diplomatic career, Fernanda Espinosa was Associate Professor and Researcher at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences, FLACSO, where she established and coordinated the Program on Socio-Environmental Studies.

She said she has written over 30 academic articles about the Amazon region, culture, heritage, sustainable development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, regional integration, defense and security.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied linguistics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador; a master’s degree in social sciences and Amazonian studies; and a postgraduate diploma in anthropology and political science from the Latin American Social Sciences Institute.

Fernanda Espinosa said she has completed advanced doctoral studies in Geography at Rutgers University.

She has produced several works of poetry that included an award from the National Poetry Prize of Ecuador in 1990.

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