12/11/2002
Press Release
GA/EF/3022



Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Second Committee

32nd Meeting (PM)


AMID REVITALIZING PROCESS, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL MOVING AHEAD IN EFFORTS


TO UNITE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY, SECOND COMMITTEE TOLD


The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was revitalizing itself and was now much further ahead in its efforts to bring the international community together, a senior United Nations official said this afternoon as the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) began its consideration of the Council's annual report.


Introducing the report, the Director of the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that the past year had seen quite a change in the Council's functioning, having recognized that it must single-handedly strengthen its coordinating role rather than depend on the General Assembly.  That would mean, among other things, tightening its links with the Second and Third Committees and strengthening its role in non-traditional ECOSOC areas, such as development, humanitarian concerns and security.


Croatia’s representative noted that ECOSOC’s current priorities included strengthening its cooperation with the General Assembly and the Security Council, improving relations with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization as well as enhancing its role in peace-building and conflict prevention.  Those actions would strengthen the Council as a main coordinating body within the United Nations and allow the General Assembly to use its expertise in furthering poverty eradication and sustainable development.


China’s representative, noting that ECOSOC was responsible for realizing the aims of international cooperation in the economic, social and development fields, stressed that the world community should ensure financing for the Council's operational and humanitarian assistance activities.  In turn, the Council should further improve its working methods, enhance its efficiency and ensure the implementation of its resolutions and decisions.


The representative of Venezuela made a statement on behalf of the Group

of 77 and China.


Also speaking this afternoon was the Director of the Division for Public Economics and Public Administration in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow to take up the questions of environment and sustainable development, as well as implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21.


Background


The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to consider the report of the Economic and Social Council (document A/57/3 (Part I)), which lists the Council’s resolutions and decisions on various development issues requiring action by the General Assembly.  Among them are human resources development; strengthening emergency humanitarian and disaster relief aid; international cooperation in support of the International Conference on Financing for Development; and the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory and Arabs in the occupied Syrian Golan.


It describes ECOSOC special high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and outlines current issues of development and the global economic situation, the financing for development process and implementation of the Monterrey Consensus.  Also listed are the high-level segments on the contribution of advances in human resources to the development process, and policy dialogue with heads of international financial and trade institutions on the world economy and international economic cooperation.  It goes on to list conclusions of the preparatory round tables in education, health and human resources for the Millennium Development Goals, as well as synergies between health and education.


The report mentions the high-level round tables on progress towards achieving the Millennium goals for human resources development in Africa, partnerships for human resources development, the strengthening of 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 to the development process.


Also before the Committee was the report of the Economic and Social Council for 2002 (document A/57/3 (Part II)), which contains segments of the full report relating to the operational activities, coordination, humanitarian affairs, elections, appointments, nominations and confirmations and organizational matters.


Financial and economic issues are highlighted in sections on regional cooperation; economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan; sustainable development; science and technology for development; international cooperation in tax matters; and crime prevention and criminal justice.


Introduction of Reports


SARBULAND KHAN, Director of the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced the report of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), recalling that a former Council president had once called it a “cinderella”, or neglected part of the United Nations.  However, the past year had seen quite a change in ECOSOC's functioning, evidenced through events, meetings and round tables it had held, which had enjoyed the participation of ministers and high-level members of civil society.  In April, the Council had held its high-level dialogue, which had included an interesting debate on the follow-up to the Monterrey Conference.  The dialogue was followed in June by ECOSOC’s high-level and coordination segments.

He said that this year’s report was the result of intensive action and interaction during the course of the whole year.  The July session had included several special events, such as round-table breakfasts and working lunches.  The session’s Declaration had linked the outcome of the Millennium Declaration with the Monterrey and Johannesburg conferences.


The Council had also recognized over the past year that it had to continue strengthening its coordination role, he said.  For the first time, it had decided to take matters in its own hands, rather than depending on the General Assembly. Revitalization was actually happening in ECOSOC, and it was now further ahead in terms of its impact and in bringing the international system together.  However, it still needed to strengthen its links with the Second and Third Committees and to determine how it would strengthen its role in areas not traditionally in its domain, such as development, humanitarian issues and security.


GUIDO BERTUCCI, Director of the Division for Public Economics and Public Administration in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said there was now a consensus that sound public administration was essential for meeting the Millennium goals of poverty eradication and sustainable development.  Capacity-building of human resources was key to good governance and sound public management was required to promote integrity, transparency and legitimacy in public resources.


He stressed the need to strengthen institutional capacity to deliver key social services, public sector human resources, financing capacity and the public sector's ability to acquire and use information technology for the benefit of citizens.  It was also important to enhance the advocacy role of the public sector; develop tools enabling governments to carry out reforms; create common understanding for resolving certain issues; and to identify and share best practices in the public sector.


Statements


MARISOL BLACK, Director for International Economic Affairs of Venezuela, spoke on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, noting that ECOSOC had adopted resolutions and decisions relating to substantive items in the Millennium Declaration, the Monterrey Consensus as well as the Johannesburg Summit.  The international community, therefore, must be able to count on a strengthened Council that could effectively contribute to development and cooperation with and among other organs, without overlapping in its consideration of issues.


She said that financing for development, which the Council had committed itself to support through the outcomes of its annual spring meetings with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO, was fundamental for the work that ECOSOC would carry out during 2003.  New criteria had been established for global policy formulation in the financing for development process, she said, welcoming the new role of the public and private sectors in that process.


SUN XIAOBO (China) recalled that the United Nations Charter provided for the Economic and Social Council to bear responsibility in realizing the objectives of international cooperation in the economic, social and development fields.  To facilitate its work, the international community should ensure adequate financing for its operational and humanitarian assistance activities.  The Council, in turn, should further improve its working methods, enhancing its efficiency and ensuring effective implementation of its resolutions and decisions.

Further, he said, as the primary system-wide coordinating body of the United Nations in the economic, social and development fields, the Council should promote and facilitate follow-up to the outcomes of conferences and summits.  It should enhance supervision, management and policy guidance to its subsidiaries as well as continue to play its unique role in promoting financing for development in its activities with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO.


IRENA ZUBCEVIC (Croatia) said the priorities of the current ECOSOC President, a member of the Croatian delegation, included strengthening cooperation with the General Assembly and the Security Council; improving relations with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO; enhancing ECOSOC's role in peace-building and conflict prevention; and organizing the Council's work to make it active year-round.  Those steps would strengthen ECOSOC as a main coordinating body within the United Nations system and enable the General Assembly to use the expertise of the Council's subsidiary bodies, agencies, funds and programmes in furthering its agenda in poverty eradication and sustainable development.


Lauding proposals in the Secretary-General's report on efficiency in public administration, she said State capacity deficits, weak political democratic institutions and poorly run public administrations had hampered the ability of many developing countries and economies in transition to achieve the Millennium goals.  Croatia was doing its part to improve public administration management in many ways, including the decentralization of government functions to autonomous organizations like trade unions, employers' associations, universities and citizens' associations; and the introduction of modern information technology to improve efficiency and management know-how.  The Government would also create competence criteria in public administration employment; introduce performance-based raises to stimulate innovation, creativity and dedication; and align the salaries of senior public officials will those of their private sector peers.


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