Antigua and Barbuda's U.N. Ambassador to lead
United Nations General Assembly in 2013
by S. Coward
At their monthly meeting here on Wednesday, the 33 UN member States of the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) unanimously endorsed Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United Nations H.E. Dr. John W. Ashe, to become the President of the Sixty-eight Session of United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 68), when that position rotates to the region in September 2013.
Prime Minister, the Honourable Dr. W. Baldwin Spencer immediately congratulated Ambassador Ashe on his achievement, noting that the early endorsement by the GRULAC was, by any measure, an indication of the group’s confidence in his ability to lead the august UN General Assembly as its President in 2013.
“The citizens of this nation can be proud of this singular achievement that has been bestowed on our UN Ambassador by the countries of the Latin American and Caribbean region. I have no doubt that Ambassador Ashe can and will provide the necessary leadership during his tenure as President of the 68th session of the General Assembly,” he said.
he Presidency of the General Assembly follows a system of regional rotation. Each year one of the five geographic groups (African, Asian, Eastern European, Latin American and the Caribbean, and Western Europe and Other States) nominates one or more individuals. Once the regional group endorses its candidate for the PGA, the entire membership then elects him/her in the General Assembly, approximately three months prior to the start of the next Session. The session of the assembly begins every year in September. Hence the incoming President of that session is elected in June. The PGA’s term is for one year: from September of the year of his/her election to September of the following year). Any special, or emergency special, assemblies over the next year will be headed by the elected President of UN General Assembly.
The General Assembly is the main deliberative organ of the United Nations. It is composed of representatives of all 193 member States of the United Nations, each of which has one vote. Decisions on important questions, such as those on peace and security, admission of new Members and budgetary matters, require a two-thirds majority. Decisions on other questions are reached by a simple majority. These decisions may be adopted without a vote, or with a vote, which may be recorded, non-recorded or by roll-call.
The work of the United Nations year-round derives largely from the decisions of the General Assembly--that is to say, the will of the majority of the Members as expressed in resolutions adopted by the Assembly. That work is carried out by committees and other bodies established by the Assembly to study and report on specific issues, such as disarmament, outer space, peace-keeping, decolonization and human rights; in international conferences called for by the Assembly; and by the secretariat of the United Nations—the Secretary-General and his staff of international civil servants.
In a statement delivered to the GRULAC, Ambassador Ashe said: “I am indeed humbled and deeply honoured by the confidence you have placed in me by endorsing me to this office. And I will do everything possible to live up to the expectations that accompany this office, bearing in mind the path travelled before me by my fellow CARICOM colleagues, Ambassador Samuel R. Insanally of Guyana, President of the 48th session of the GA in 1993 and Ambassador Julian R. Hunte of St. Lucia, President of the 58th session of the General Assembly in 2003.”
Ambassador Ashe as thanked the Chairman of GRULAC, Cuba’s Ambassador to the United Nations, His Excellency Mr. Pedro Nunez Josquera for personally facilitating the endorsement and for his and Cuba’s delegation successful chairmanship of the GRULAC for the month of November 2011.
The GRULAC endorsement represents the final step before the pro forma election of Ambassador Ashe as PGA by the UN General Assembly in June 2013, a process that began with the initial endorsement by CARICOM Ambassadors to the UN. As is the practice with candidatures at this level, the UN Ambassadors submitted Ambassador Ashe’s candidature for formal consideration by and subsequent approval of CARICOM Foreign Ministers meeting in the COFCOR. The COFCOR then sent the candidature for final approval by CARICOM Heads of Government. Ambassador Ashe subsequently received the support from every non-CARICOM member State of the GRULAC, which finally resulted in his unanimous endorsement by the group on Wednesday well in advance of the June 2013 elections by the General Assembly.