Luxembourg diplomat elected to lead UN Economic and Social Council in 2009

Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg

15 January 2009 – Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg was elected today as the 65th President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), making her the second woman to lead the world body’s principal organ responsible for coordinating work in these critical fields.

Ms. Lucas will be assisted by four Vice-Presidents who were also elected today: Carmen Maria Gallardo Hernandez of El Salvador, Tiina Intelmann of Estonia, Hamidon Ali of Malaysia and Somduth Soborun of Mauritius. This is the first time in the history of the 54-member Council that its Bureau will be led by three women Ambassadors.

Speaking after her election, Ms. Lucas outlined the Council’s work for the coming year. “Our main challenge is to further strengthen the quality and relevance of the work of the Council on development,” she noted.

She also presented the theme of the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review (AMR), “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global health,” to be held next July in Geneva.

She urged the Council to take advantage of this theme’s unique cross-sectoral nature that can help it to focus on the inter-linkages between health-related goals, including those that are part of the global anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the overall development agenda.

“I intend to work very closely with the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly to make this year a decisive year for action on the health agenda,” she said.

In addition, Ms. Lucas announced the participation of ten countries which will make their National Voluntary Presentations (NVPs) during the 2009 AMR, noting that Member States consider the NVP mechanism as an important instrument to review progress, assess impact and promote best practices.

ECOSOC will kick start its activities for the 2009 AMR with the Special Event on Philanthropy and Global Public Health, to be held on 23 February. “This meeting will be an opportunity to engage foundations and the private sector together with the UN, to find creative solutions to step up progress towards the health MDGs and to promote global equity,” said Ms. Lucas.

Congratulating Ms. Lucas on her election, Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro said she was confident the new President will guide the Council with as much success as her predecessor, Ambassador Léo Mérorès of Haiti.

“Indeed, in the face of multiple global crises, your work will be especially challenging in the months ahead,” she told the meeting.

“The effects of the recent financial turmoil continue to reverberate around the world. Years of painstaking efforts – in this Council and across the international community – hang in the balance,” she stated, adding that despite recent progress towards the MDGs, more people are suffering from poverty and hunger.

Ms. Migiro recalled the “constructive role” ECOSOC has played in the midst of global crises, such as how its emergency sessions helped mobilize the international community to act in the wake of the food crisis last year.

“The Council is in a unique position to forge closer ties among all relevant actors, so as to maximize the UN’s potential to serve the needs of humanity,” she stressed.

Likewise, outgoing President Léo Mérorès noted that the establishment of the AMR and the Development Cooperation Forum has underscored the Council’s capacity to bring together a wide range of players to focus on the most critical dimensions of development.

ECOSOC coordinates the development work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, 10 functional commissions and 5 regional commissions. It receives reports from 11 UN funds and programmes and issues policy recommendations to the UN system.

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