United Nations

A/53/435


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

25 September 1998

ORIGINAL:
ENGLISH




                                                     A/53/435
       
                                                     Original: English
       
       
General Assembly
Fifty-third session
Agenda item 34
Cooperation between the United Nations 
  and the Economic Cooperation Organization


       Cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic
                     Cooperation Organization


                   Report of the Secretary-General


        I.     Introduction


1.   The present report was prepared in compliance with
General Assembly resolution 52/19 on cooperation between
the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation
Organization (ECO). In the same resolution, the Assembly
urged the organizations of the United Nations system to
continue and increase consultation and cooperation with the
Economic Cooperation Organization and its associated
institutions in the attainment of their objectives; it also
invited the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and
the Pacific (ESCAP), as the regional arm of the United
Nations, to assume a more active role in promoting
cooperation with the Economic Cooperation Organization.

2.   A brief summary of the current status of cooperation
between the Economic Cooperation Organization and the
organizations of the United Nations system is given below.


       II.     United Nations Development Programme


3.   In 1997, the Executive Heads of ECO and the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) exchanged
official visits and both organizations agreed to undertake
a joint project on support to ECO member countries in trade
efficiency and economic cooperation, to be funded by
UNDP. As executing agency for the project, the United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
undertook with ECO a follow-up joint ECO/UNCTAD
mission to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from
4 to 14 March 1998, in order to explore the opportunities
for cooperation in the fields of trade efficiency, trade and
transport facilitation, and reforms and modernization of
customs procedures among the ECO member States. A
second joint mission to Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and
Tajikistan was undertaken in May 1998 and the report was
distributed to member countries in July 1998.

4.   UNDP has also prepared a project document on
capacity-building of the ECO secretariat, which is currently
under consideration by ECO.

5.   Under a joint UNDP/United Nations Institute for
Training and Research project, a guide book has been
prepared about ECO countries and their economies. It is
primarily meant for use in the Web site and is to be
regularly updated by the ECO secretariat.

6.   UNDP has also funded a study on the economies and
resource complementarities of the ECO member States,
which assesses existing and potential prospects for a closer
economic relationship, especially in the energy, trade and
investment fields among the ECO member countries.


       III. Economic and Social Commission
            for Asia and the Pacific


7.   Cooperation between ESCAP and ECO was
formalized with the signing in 1993 of a memorandum of
understanding, which was based on the Treaty of Izmir and
the terms of reference of ESCAP. In the memorandum of
understanding, ESCAP and ECO agreed to cooperate in
managing development issues of mutual concern; to
implement joint projects, including seminars, workshops
and meetings; to share analytical reports and technical
publications; to exchange information and ideas; and to
provide inputs to their respective subsidiary bodies. In
addition, the two organizations decided to have annual
consultations at the senior Professional level with a view
to developing joint project proposals.

8.   ESCAP and ECO agreed to foster cooperation in
several areas and have undertaken to facilitate cooperation
between other relevant bodies established by the two
organizations, such as the ECO Trade and Development
Bank, ECO Reinsurance Pool, ECO Chamber of Commerce
and Industry, ECO Preferential Tariff System, and the
regional institutions of ESCAP, namely, the Asian and
Pacific Centre for Transfer of Technology, the Regional
Coordination Centre for Research and Development of
Coarse Grains, Pulses, Roots and Tuber Crops in the Humid
Tropics of Asia and the Pacific, the Statistical Institute for
Asia and the Pacific and the Regional Network for
Agricultural Machinery.

9.   The provision of reliable and efficient land transport
services has always been crucial for the economic
integration of the ECO subregion, which includes seven
landlocked countries. Cooperation between ESCAP and
ECO in this sector goes back to 1993, when ESCAP
provided an input into the Outline Plan for the Development
of the Transport Sector in the ECO Region. Of the more
recent ESCAP activities in transport and in the context of
Commission resolution 52/11 of 24 April 1996 on the
strengthening of subregional economic cooperation among
the south-western States members of the Commission,
including the States members of the Economic Cooperation
Organization, ESCAP cooperated with ECO in formulating
a project on transport development in the ECO region, for
funding by the Islamic Development Bank and joint
execution by ECO, ESCAP and UNCTAD. The project aims
at promoting multimodal transport and facilitating
international land transport movement across the subregion,
as well as the development of a legal and regulatory system
for efficient transport.

10.  In addition, an ESCAP project on strengthening
subregional economic cooperation in trade and investment
among the south-western States members of the
Commission, aims to assist ECO countries in exploiting new
trade and investment opportunities provided by the
progressive development of physical infrastructure in the
ECO region. The project is being implemented in
consultation with ECO and has received funding on a 
cost-sharing basis from the Government of the Netherlands and
the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).

11.  A study commissioned under the project will focus on
the requirements of ECO countries in "soft infrastructure"
for trade and investment, including border and non-border
measures. With respect to non-border measures, the study
will look into the legal and administrative regimes
influencing trade and investment in ECO countries, with a
view to advocating greater conformance between policies
and business practices. The study is to be followed by a
subregional seminar on the application of concepts and
designs which have the potential of increasing the flow of,
and improving access to, commercially viable information.
Particular attention will be given to networking
arrangements and facilitation measures, such as the use of
standard formats, software and other information requisites
adapted to the particular needs of small and medium-sized
enterprises.

12.  The participation of ECO in the annual consultations
among the executive heads of subregional organizations has
opened new avenues for cooperation not only with ESCAP,
which coordinates those meetings and provides them with
substantive servicing, but also with other subregional
organizations. A case study on the promotion of trade and
investment cooperation between the Association of South-
East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and ECO, undertaken by
ESCAP at the joint request of the Secretaries-General of
ECO and ASEAN, was submitted to the executive heads at
their third consultative meeting. Another study, entitled "A
suggested framework for promoting economic
interdependence and organizational linkages", was prepared
by ESCAP for submission to the same meeting.

13.  The third consultative meeting identified certain areas
where ECO could benefit from the multidisciplinary
expertise of ESCAP and its ability to provide backstopping
services in the execution of subregional projects. Thus,
ECO attaches great importance to sharing the experience
gained by ESCAP in involving the private sector in the
development and operation of infrastructure projects, such
as through the Asia Infrastructure Development Alliance
(AIDA), which is promoted by ESCAP. Taking into account
the ongoing consultations between ECO, ESCAP, UNCTAD
and the Economic Commission for Europe, the ECO
secretariat suggested that the following five main areas
should be covered under joint projects: (a) corridor studies
to determine the non-tariff and physical impediments to the
free movement of transport; (b) promotion of accession to
international conventions in the field of land transport; (c)
development of transport facilitation agreements; (d) human
resources development for freight forwarding and
multimodal transport; and (e) implementation of the
Advance Cargo Information System programme in selected
countries.

14.  With regard to trade and investment, opportunities for
technical cooperation between ESCAP and ECO are being
explored in the following areas: developing a subregional
database, strengthening inter-subregional financial linkages,
using training facilities, institution- and capacity-building,
managing trade policy issues, replicating successful
experience in "growth triangles", and preparing an
inventory of and monitoring restrictive trade practices.

15.  ESCAP is also seeking cooperation with ECO in the
implementation of a project on investment promotion for
the mining industry in the ECO countries. The objectives
of the project were determined during a mission undertaken
to ECO headquarters by the ESCAP Regional Adviser on
Mineral Policy and Mineral Economics. The mission had
been requested by the Secretary-General of ECO in
December 1996. It covered economic assessment of mineral
potential, identification of prominent targets for
development and trade, and review of mineral development
policies in ECO countries. These and other issues will be
discussed at an international round table conference.

16.  ECO has already approached IDB concerning the
funding of the project. The Bank has expressed interest in
joining a group of organizations and agencies that would
participate technically and financially in the project and thus
back up its credibility.

17.  In response to General Assembly resolutions 51/121
and 52/19, a report of the Executive Secretary of ESCAP
on  cooperation with ECO (E/ESCAP/1091), reviewing the
collaboration between the two organizations, was submitted
for consideration by the Commission at its fifty-fourth
session, which was held in Bangkok from 16 to 22 April
1998.

18.  Following its review of the report of the Executive
Secretary of ESCAP on cooperation with the ECO, the
Commission expressed appreciation for the support
provided by the secretariat to ECO. 1/ It recommended that
practical steps should be taken to promote inter-subregional
cooperation in the identified areas as a follow-up to the third
Consultative Meeting among Executive Heads of
Subregional Organizations and ESCAP, held at Tehran in
May 1997.

19.  The Commission noted that, as a result of the case
study prepared by the secretariat on the promotion of trade
and investment cooperation between ASEAN and ECO, the
two organizations had agreed to institutionalize a
relationship between their respective chambers of
commerce, exchange representatives of the private sector,
and hold the ASEAN-ECO workshop on international trade.

20.  The Commission took note of the statement made on
behalf of the Secretary-General of ECO and duly
reciprocated the interest expressed by him in pursuing
cooperation with ESCAP within the scope defined by the
memorandum of understanding. It also noted that the
secretariat was invited to consider taking part in some other
projects of interest to ECO, including (a) projects on the
environmental rehabilitation of the Caspian Sea and Aral
Sea basins; (b) technical assistance and mobilization of
financial resources and the relevant multilateral funds to
address problems such as desertification, land degradation
and the conservation of biological diversity; and (c)
assistance in bringing into operation the Drug Control Unit
financed by the United Nations International Drug Control
Programme, particularly with regard to the establishment
of a drug data bank and training facilities.


       IV.  United Nations Conference on
            Trade and Development


21.  UNCTAD is an active partner in the
ECO/ESCAP/IDB/UNCTAD inter-agency project on
international transport development in the ECO region. It
is also the executing agency for the UNDP-sponsored
project on support to ECO member countries in trade
efficiency and economic cooperation, mentioned in
paragraph 3 above. Currently, a draft memorandum of
understanding on the relationship between ECO and
UNCTAD is in preparation.


        V.     United Nations Population Fund


22.  A conference organized jointly by ECO and the United
Nations Population Fund on male involvement in
reproductive health and family planning was held in Baku,
Azerbaijan, from 20 to 24 September 1998. It was the fourth
joint event in a series of conferences relating to women's
status and health (Tehran, August 1995); reproductive
health (Islamabad, April 1996); and implementation of the
programme of action of the International Conference on
Population and Development (Almaty, April 1996).


        VI.  United Nations International Drug
             Control Programme


23.  A project document on the establishment of a Drug
Control Coordination Unit in the ECO secretariat was
signed between the ECO Secretary-General and the
Executive Director of the United Nations International Drug
Control Programme in Vienna on 5 March 1998, during an
official visit of the Secretary-General of ECO to the
Programme's headquarters. This project, which will last one
year, commenced in July 1998.


      VII. Food and Agricultural Organization 
           of the United Nations


24.  A memorandum of understanding between ECO and
the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (FAO) was signed by the Secretary-General of ECO
and the Director-General of FAO in Tehran on 8 December
1997, during their visit to Tehran for the summit of the
Organization of Islamic Conference.


      VIII.     United Nations Industrial
                Development Organization


25.  Following an official visit by the Secretary-General
of ECO to the headquarters of the United Nations Industrial
Development Organization (UNIDO) in Vienna in March
1998, UNIDO proposed the following two industrial
projects for the ECO region:

               (a)     Programme for technology capacity-building in
the ECO member States;

               (b)     Regional investment programme for ECO
member countries.

26.  UNIDO has also offered assistance for two other
projects, namely investment promotion assistance for
Kazakhstan, and integrated investment promotion for
Tajikistan.


                                Note


          1/   See Official Records of the Economic and Social Council,
               1998, Supplement No. 20 (E/1998/40).

                                -----
 

This document has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 10 January 2000 10:05:30
Comments and suggestions: esa@un.org