Fifty-seventh General Assembly
62nd Meeting (AM)
STRENGTHENED, MORE EFFICIENT ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL CITED,
AS GENERAL ASSEMBLY TAKES UP COUNCIL'S 2002 REPORT
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was strengthening its role and making its work more efficient, its President, Ivan Šimonović (Croatia), told the General Assembly this morning, as it discussed the Council’s report for 2002.
Among other things, he noted that a more substantive and interactive relationship was developing between the Assembly and the Council. That relationship should help in providing practical orientation to the international community in the follow-up to the Millennium Summit, the Monterrey Conference and the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.
Policy guidance from the Assembly, he added, would assist the Council in its task of promoting coherence in the implementation of conference goals, which were an important means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, the Council’s work could be made more efficient and its work with the Bretton Woods institutions improved.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, Denmark’s representative said while this summer’s substantive session had yielded some productive discussion, the Council should continue to revitalize itself, in order to maintain its relevance and increase its meaningfulness. One such accomplishment was the Ministerial Declaration on human resources development, which resulted in relevant proposals for policies and steps needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals in health and education.
The year 2002 was a milestone for the Council, noted Cameroon’s representative. In Monterrey and in Johannesburg, heads of State recognized the importance of ECOSOC in mobilizing governments and other actors in the international community, and an important role was granted to ECOSOC in conference follow-up. He called on the Council to rapidly initiate preparations for the annual meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions. It was necessary to see how that meeting could bring closer the achievement of the objectives of the Monterrey Consensus.
Bahrain’s representative hoped that the role of the Council would be further strengthened to enable it to tackle current challenges. In that respect, it would be necessary to strengthen both the Council and its subsidiary bodies and to tighten the links among ECOSOC, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. Friday, 29 November, to discuss the question of Palestine.
The General Assembly met this morning to consider the report of the Economic and Social Council for 2002 (document A/57/3 Parts I and II). Part I includes matters calling for action by or brought to the attention of the Assembly. It also cites the Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) special high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO), current issues in development and the global economic situation, the financing for development process and implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.
It mentions the high-level round tables on progress towards Millennium Development Goals for human resources development in Africa, partnerships for human resources development, strengthening institutional capabilities for sustainable development and policy coherence and financing for human resources development. Lastly, it cites Council action -- including the ministerial declaration of the high-level segment on the contribution of human resources development in health and education -- on the development process.
Part II of the report contains the segments devoted to operational activities, coordination, humanitarian affairs, general, election, appointments, nominations and confirmations and organizational matters.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council, presented the Council’s report for 2002. He began by providing an overview of the various segments of the 2002 substantive session. This year’s high-level segment, devoted to human resources development, particularly health and education, gave concrete content to the policies and means required to implement the Millennium Development Goals in those areas, he said. The segment adopted a Ministerial Declaration stressing that health and education were central to sustainable development and poverty eradication, and should be a core concern of macroeconomic and other policies.
The debate during the operational activities segment focused on funding for the development work of the funds and programmes, and harmonizing and simplifying their procedures, he continued. The focus of the coordination segment was how to strengthen the Council and the impact and effectiveness of its work. During the humanitarian segment, the Council gave guidance for reinforcing the coordination of the humanitarian activities of the United Nations system and of others. It also stressed the importance of ensuring a smooth transition from relief to development.
The general segment, he said, focused on guiding the work of its subsidiary bodies, strengthening their functioning and enhancing the complementarities among them. The Council also looked at the report of its newly established Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. It established a support secretariat for the Forum within the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), which would guide and coordinate work within the United Nations and raise awareness on indigenous issues.
He said policy guidance from the Assembly would assist the Council in its task of promoting coherence in the implementation of conference goals, which were an important means of achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Council pursued that task by addressing cross-cutting themes of conferences and guiding the work of its commissions and the United Nations system on conference follow-up. It, thus, contributed to the development of a holistic and comprehensive approach in the development agenda emerging from recent conferences.
In response to a request by the Assembly, the Council agreed to establish, during its 2002 session, an Ad Hoc Advisory Group on African Countries Emerging from Conflict. The Group would aim to: examine humanitarian and economic needs; review relevant programmes of support; prepare recommendations for a long-term programme of support that comprehensively integrated relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development; and provide advice on ensuring the adequacy and coherence of international assistance.
A more substantive and interactive relationship was developing between the Assembly and the Council, he noted. That relationship should help in providing practical orientation to the international community in the follow-up to the Millennium Summit, the Monterrey Conference and the Johannesburg Summit. The reform of the Council continued under the leadership of the Bureau. Its work could be made more efficient and its work in relation to the Bretton Woods institutions could also be improved. This year’s substantive session showed that it was possible, given the political will of its membership, to strengthen its role and make its work more efficient.
MOHAMMED SALEH MOHAMMED SALEH (Bahrain) said that ECOSOC was a central, intergovernmental body, designed to ensure coordination in the United Nations system on questions of social and economic development. Given the importance of those issues in the last few years, the Council must be reformed, so that economic and social questions can be seriously addressed at the international level.
Some progress had been made in the past year to bolster ECOSOC’s role, he said. First, during its 2002 substantive session, the ECOSOC Bureau had held a joint meeting with chairs of the technical committees, which had led to an official meeting between the chairs and the Council President. Those meetings had made a serious contribution in strengthening coordination to avoid duplication. During the current General Assembly session, a number of joint meetings had also been held with the First and Second Committees. Furthermore, the cooperation between the ECOSOC and the Security Council had been strengthened. The President of ECOSOC had participated in the Security Council’s public meeting on the African question, while the President of the Security Council had participated in ECOSOC’s substantive session on Africa. That cooperative linkage was indispensable and reflected the interdependence between peace and development.
At its 2002 substantive session, he added, ECOSOC had set up a consultative group to consider the situation of African countries in the post-conflict period, with regard to rehabilitation, reconstruction and the prevention of resumed hostilities. Any observer would note the cooperation evident between the members, Secretariat and interested third parties in ECOSOC. In conclusion, he hoped that the role of the Council would be further strengthened to enable it to tackle current challenges. In that respect, it would be necessary to strengthen both the Council body and the technical committees, as well as tighten the links among ECOSOC, the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO.
ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark), speaking for the European Union and associated States, said while this summer’s substantive session of the ECOSOC had yielded some productive discussion, the Council should continue to revitalize itself, in order to maintain its relevance. One such accomplishment of the session was the ministerial debate and declaration on human resources development, which resulted in relevant proposals for policies and steps needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals in health and education.
She supported a reinforced role for the Council in promoting an integrated and coordinated follow-up to the outcome of major United Nations conferences and summits, and urged it to continue to strengthen its collaboration with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO, as indicated in the Monterrey Consensus. The Union looked forward to finalization of concrete proposals aimed at enhancing the operational usefulness of the annual high-level dialogue between those institutions.
The Union was pleased with the establishment of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on African Countries Emerging from Conflict and hoped that mechanism would contribute towards filling the gap between relief efforts and long-term reconstruction and development, she said. Further, the Union hoped that the same mechanism would provide an opportunity to enhance the coordination between ECOSOC and the Security Council, in order to address the challenges of peace-building and to mobilize support for the needs of those African countries emerging from conflict. Noting the Union's well-known support of ECOSOC, she said it took political will and resolve to seize the window of opportunity, the momentum for action and improvement created by the Millennium Summit, the Monterrey Conference and the Johannesburg Summit.
MARTIN BELINGA-EBOUTOU (Cameroon) said that a year ago, the Assembly had decided to examine the report of the ECOSOC in plenary. In that manner, the Assembly wanted to strengthen the role of the Council, as requested in the Millennium Declaration. The Council’s report for 2002 showed how very insightful the Assembly was at that time. He was convinced that the recommendations of the Council President would find a place in future resolutions concerning the detailed consideration of the report of the ECOSOC.
The year 2002 was a milestone for the Council, he said. In Monterrey and in Johannesburg, heads of State recognized the importance of ECOSOC in mobilizing governments and other actors in the international community. An important role was granted to ECOSOC in conference follow-up. The Council’s work this year showed that it was moving in the right direction. The Ministerial Declaration on health and education, adopted at the high-level segment, had given momentum to the objectives of the Millennium Development Goals.
The Council had also asserted that it was committed to following up on the Monterrey conference, he said. He called on the Council to rapidly initiate preparations for the annual meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions. It was necessary to see how that meeting could bring closer the achievement of the objectives of the Monterrey Consensus. The Council had also confirmed that it could mobilize the funds and programmes to achieve common objectives. In addition, the Council had shown what an important part it could play at the international level. But that was not enough. It must refine its methods of work to handle the challenges of the "new multilateralism" that was updated during the Millennium Summit.
Africa was at the core of ECOSOC’s concerns, he said. He was gratified to see the first Working Group on Guinea-Bissau and awaited its report. Everything must be done to help the people of Guinea-Bissau to find their way to lasting
peace and development. He was also gratified to note the enhanced interaction between the Security Council and the ECOSOC. In October 2002, the President of ECOSOC was invited to attend two important Security Council meetings.
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