UN Economic and Social Council ends 2007 substantive session on hopeful note

27 July 2007 – The annual four-week substantive session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) – which has been tasked with two new functions this year – concluded in Geneva today, with its President welcoming the revitalized and reformed Council’s progress.

ECOSOC’s work during this session, which the body’s President, Ambassador Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania, characterized as “successful,” will make it “more pragmatic, action-based and action-oriented.”

Comprising 54 members elected by the General Assembly, ECOSOC is a UN body which meets yearly to further economic and social cooperation and development. Its mandate was enhanced during the UN 2005 World Summit to improve the effectiveness of aid and monitor the implementation of targets – such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of antipoverty targets to be met by 2015 – agreed upon by Member States.

Two new ECOSOC functions – the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum – which resulted from the reform process kicked off at the 2005 World Summit were introduced at this year’s session.

The 2007 session served as “the testing ground for these new functions,” said Ambassador Cekuolis.

“I am very pleased that the general feeling among the Members States is that we had a successful start and we have quite a lot of material to build on.”

The Annual Ministerial Review will allow states to share their experiences in overcoming the obstacles encountered in implementing national development strategies. This year, six developing countries made national presentations on their efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger.

Although launched during this year’s ECOSOC session, the biennial Development Cooperation Forum will be convened for the first time in 2008 in New York. The Forum is designed to have a variety of voices – ranging from bilateral donors, UN agencies and bodies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the private sector and academia – heard in discussions on key policy issues affecting the quality and impact of development cooperation.

“ECOSOC remains a very important UN institution for the development agenda,” said Ambassador Cekuolis, highlighting its power to convene and mobilize all stakeholders as one of its greatest strengths.

“I am very pleased that this session was marked by very good partnership between the different bodies,” he said, adding that ECOSOC’s role in promoting cohesion and coordination within the UN system was also vital. The Council adopted a ministerial declaration by consensus, which signaled the its unanimity in addressing the obstacles to the achievement of the MDGs, especially concerning the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, and the development of a global partnership for development.

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