The UN General Assembly mourned the death of Diogo Freitas do Amaral of Portugal, president of its 50th session back in 1995-1996.
Freitas do Amaral died on October 3, 2019, in Portugal at the age of 78.
At a plenary meeting on Wednesday to pay tribute to Freitas do Amaral, current General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande led a minute of silence, Xinhua news agency reported.
In his remarks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who is also Portuguese, said 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 United Nations.
Guterres, who served as prime minister of Portugal during Freitas do Amaral's tenure as UN General Assembly president, said he witnessed how his outstanding leadership at the United Nations enhanced the image of Portugal.
This was a point of great pride for the Portuguese people. But it came as no surprise, because the values and spirit he brought to the world body were very much rooted in his pivotal contributions to Portuguese democratic life and to its integration in Europe, said Guterres.
"Portugal is the vibrant democratic society that we have today because of leaders like Professor Freitas do Amaral. Following the April Revolution of 1974, he played a major role as a founder and leader of one of the key political parties of the democracy. As a politician and professor of law, he made a central contribution to the constitutional and legal framework of democratic Portugal," he said.
Freitas do Amaral served as Portuguese foreign minister, defense minister and deputy prime minister. He was interim prime minister for a short period between 1980 and 1981.
"Renowned jurist. Brilliant scholar. Skilled politician. But, above all, he was a public servant of the highest order, devoted to the service of his country and of democracy," said Guterres.
He recalled the appeal of Freitas do Amaral to world leaders at the opening of the 50th anniversary special session of the UN General Assembly, and asked to honor his legacy by continuing to take those words as guide: "Please tell the world that freedom, justice, development and human solidarity are magnificent values worth living and working for. Please tell your people that we must all help each other for the survival and benefit of humanity."
Freitas do Amaral's words are just as meaningful today as when he said them in this hall almost 25 years ago, said Guterres.
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