Abdulla Shahid
Abdulla ShahidFile photo

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid elected President of 76th Session of UN General Assembly

New York, June 8, 2021

Maldives Foreign Affairs Minister Abdulla Shahid has been elected as the President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

In the election held on Monday at the UN Headquarters here, Shahid garnered 143 of the 191 votes cast while former Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul got 48.

He had been nominated by the Maldives as a candidate for the election for the Asia-Pacific Group's turn, for the session that will commence on September 14.

This is the first time the Maldives had presented a candidate for the Presidency of the General Assembly. The victory meant that the Maldives will be only the sixth President from a Small Island Developing State presiding over the UN General Assembly in the history of the United Nations.

The United Nations General Assembly is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, serving as the main deliberative, policy-making, and representative organ of the UN. The President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA) is responsible for chairing the United Nations General Assembly session for the elected term and is also the presiding officer for this duration. Furthermore, the PGA represents the whole membership at conferences, other international and regional meetings, and can co-host events with Member States and other partners.

The Maldives joined the United Nations on 21 September 1965, soon after gaining independence and has since been an active member.

UN News adds:

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Shahid's election.

“Abdulla Shahid’s longstanding diplomatic experience, including in his current role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, has given him a deep understanding of the importance of multilateralism in addressing today’s global challenges," he said.

He commended the President-elect for his “selection of hope as the central theme in his vision statement” and noted that, coming from a small island developing State, Shahid will “bring unique insights” to the Assembly as the world prepares for the UN climate conference, COP26, in Glasgow in November.

“I also want to express my deep appreciation to His Excellency Dr. Zalmai Rassoul and thank him for contributing to this dynamic process," added the UN chief.

During the meeting, the Secretary-General also drew the lots to determine the Member State that will occupy the first seat in the Assembly Hall in September, which went to Suriname.

The top UN official also expressed his “deep appreciation” to Volkan Bozkir for his “exceptional leadership” as Assembly President during the 75th anniversary session.

“As our most representative organ, the General Assembly is the foundation of all our work at the United Nations, and essential to our effectiveness as an organization,” he said. “In 2021, the world needs that effectiveness more than ever."

On May 6, Bozkir had convened informal interactive dialogues in the General Assembly Hall – as mandated in resolution 71/323 – in which the candidates responded to the questions submitted earlier by civil society and other representatives.

“I wholeheartedly congratulate the Honourable Abdulla Shahid on his election as the next President of the UN General Assembly,” said the incumbent President, reminding that the President-elect has been “a strong voice” for the small island developing States.

The chairs for the six Main UN Committees were also elected.

Omar Hilale of Morocco will head the First Committee, which deals with disarmament; Vanessa Frazier of Malta will chair the Second Committee on Economic and Financial matters; and Djibouti’s Mohamed Siad Doualeh will lead the Third Committee, which covers human rights, humanitarian affairs and social matters.

Chairing the Fourth Committee on Special Political and Decolonization will be Egriselda Aracely González López of El Salvador; Mher Margaryan of Armenia will head the Fifth Committee on administrative and budgetary matters; and Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani of Qatar will lead the Sixth Committee, charged with international law and other legal matters.


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