16th Plenary Meeting of General Assembly 74th Session

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16-Oct-2019 00:30:51
General Assembly pays tribute to Fiftieth Session President Diogo Freitas Do Amaral, praising statesman as pillar of democracy in Portugal at 16th plenary meeting.

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The General Assembly today paid tribute to the President of its fiftieth session, Diogo Freitas do Amaral of Portugal, who passed away on 3 October at age 78, with Secretary-General António Guterres praising him as “a renowned jurist, brilliant scholar, and a public servant of the highest order” who played a key role in his country’s democratic process.

“To his wife and loved ones, I wish to convey my deepest condolences,” Mr. Guterres said, adding also: “It is especially poignant that we honour his legacy as the United Nations sets out to mark another milestone, our seventy-fifth anniversary.”

During the United Nations fiftieth year, Mr. Freitas do Amaral left a strong imprint as an advocate for a multilateral approach to solving conflicts, a defender of international law, a supporter of strengthening the United Nations through reform and a promoter of expanding the voices and representation within the Organization, Mr. Guterres said.

Recalling having served as Prime Minister of Portugal when Mr. Freitas do Amaral was General Assembly President, Mr. Guterres said: “I witnessed how his outstanding leadership at the United Nations enhanced the image of Portugal.”

Portugal is the vibrant democratic society that it is today because of leaders like Mr. Freitas do Amaral, the Secretary-General continued. Following the April Revolution of 1974, Mr. Freitas do Amaral played a major role as a founder and leader of one of the key political parties of Portugal, and he served in numerous positions in Portugal’s Parliament and government, including Minister of Foreign Affairs on two occasions.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande (Nigeria), President of the General Assembly, said Mr. Freitas do Amaral is renowned in the United Nations for his leadership. “He played a key role in his nation’s democratic process, having contributed to balancing the political spectrum following the Carnation Revolution in 1974,” he said. Having served as President of the General Assembly from 1995 to 1996, Mr. Freitas do Amaral was dedicated to ensuring that the United Nations was better equipped, financed and structured to more effectively serve the people, he said. “Portugal has lost a great legal mind,” Mr. Muhammad-Bande added.

Several delegates also hailed the Portuguese politician’s contribution to the United Nations and his country.

Lazarous Kapambwe (Zambia), speaking on behalf of the African States, said that Mr. Freitas do Amaral was a faithful servant of Portugal, and among his many achievements was being the driving force behind the new Constitution following the ousting of the military dictatorship in 1974. During his tenure as General Assembly President, Mr. Freitas do Amaral urged the Member States to pay their outstanding dues.

Sylvain Kalsakau (Vanuatu), speaking on behalf of the Asia-Pacific Group, said Mr. Freitas do Amaral brought a wealth of experience in public service when he became the head of the General Assembly in 1995. A staunch advocate of the norms, values and principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter, he displayed his commitment to the Organization throughout his presidency, creating a new relevance for the office and advancing the Assembly’s revitalization process.

Volodymyr Yelchenko (Ukraine), speaking on behalf of the group of Eastern European States, said that Mr. Freitas do Amaral, with his long and rich professional career, played a pivotal role in leading a democratic wave in the 1970s. His efforts and determination in upholding democracy in Portuguese political life, as well as promoting peace and stability across the world, will be remembered.

Jochen Hans-Joachim Almoslechner (Austria), speaking on behalf of the Western European and Other States Group, added that Mr. Freitas do Amaral will be remembered as “one of the fathers of Portuguese democracy” and for his long and distinguished career as a politician and professor of law.

Rudolph Michael Ten-Pow (Guyana), speaking on behalf of the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States, noted Mr. Freitas do Amaral’s historical ties with developing countries in the region. During his tenure as Assembly President, he prioritized reform to ensure greater representation of the Global South and is also remembered for his role in United Nations efforts to address the 1995-1996 financial crisis. Latin America and the Caribbean Member States will always be inspired by the example Mr. Freitas do Amaral left behind in his selfless service to his country and to the global community.

Dorothy Stephens Gray (United States), speaking as host country, said that Mr. Freitas do Amaral brought people together. His long life of service left a deep imprint at the United Nations and in Portugal.

Francisco Duarte Lopes (Portugal) thanked the General Assembly for holding the memorial service to honour Mr. Freitas do Amaral. He was one of the fathers of Portuguese democracy and left his mark on the nation during a challenging time. His election to the General Assembly was a sign of his stature. Mr. Freitas do Amaral embraced reforming the United Nations with joy and determination, as he also embraced the role and authority of the General Assembly.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Thursday, 17 October, to elect members to the Human Rights Council and appoint an Under-Secretary-General for Internal Oversight Services.

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