Informal Preparatory Meeting for the 2008 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review

Statement by Mr. Sha Zukang, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs to the Informal Preparatory Meeting for the 2008 ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review New York, 6 March 2008

Mr. President,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and gentlemen,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to the extensive preparations for the 2008 substantive session of ECOSOC. This meeting is an important step in the preparatory process. I would like, at this stage, to share with you some thoughts for the future of the Annual Ministerial Review. I will present my thoughts on the Development Cooperation Forum during the afternoon session.

In my view, our goal should be to establish the Annual Ministerial Review as the Implementation ,“ARM” of the United Nations. We believe that:

Let me elaborate how we, I mean DESA, and the ECOSOC members, can realize these essential features of the Annual Ministerial Review.

The notion of Accountability is woven into the whole UN Development Agenda. This was reinforced in the 2005 Summit Outcome. We are all accountable for meeting the commitments made in the outcomes of the UN conferences and summits. For instance, each country is accountable for implementing the commitments: to adopt and implement national development strategies; to create, nationally and internationally, conditions that are conducive for pursuing development for all; to achieve the 0.7% target of ODA; to promote an equitable and development-friendly trade regime; to promote peace and security and to protect human rights.

All those who signed up to these commitments are accountable to themselves, to their people and to the international community. So how can the AMR help in facilitating this accountability process?

The role of the AMR manifests, at present, at three levels. The first is the global level. The annual global ministerial deliberations focus on the lags in meeting commitments and how those can be addressed.

The second level is the regional. How is each region pursuing these goals? This provides an opportunity for countries of the same region to explore ways of meeting their commitments. Such a meeting was held in Brasilia last year. But such regional consultations have not been the norm. I would like to suggest that each region should hold consultations to bring, to the global AMR, a consolidated regional picture.

The third and ultimate level is the national. While each country has its own mechanisms of accountability, it seems that the level of accountability could be increased with national workshops or preparatory consultations held by countries planning to make National Voluntary Presentations. I encourage all countries engaged in the national presentations to consider such preparations at the national level, so that accountability is further enhanced.

Central to accountability is the process of Review and Renewal of Commitments. The review component of the AMR provides a clear picture of the state of implementation. We learn what is preventing us from advancing the implementation of the United Nations development agenda. Such diagnosis should be followed by serious discussion on what we can do to reach the targets. Our discussions should never become a finger-pointing exercise. The spirit of the AMR must be a cooperative one, where we search for solutions together. This is the time for renewing our commitments and adopting specific measures to meet those commitments.

But we know that, for most problems, there are no quick fixes. To make a real dent in implementation, we need to firmly establish the AMR as a process with a proper preparation and, perhaps most importantly, with a proper follow-up action.

This is where we enter into the realm of Mobilizing and Maintaining the Momentum. A key ingredient of mobilization is continuous and broad-based engagement in the AMR process. We have already made significant strides in this direction.

Firstly, we have organized E-discussions on the priority theme of the AMR, in which all stakeholders and other experts are encouraged to participate. We were happy to see that, this year, the E-discussion – on the priority theme of sustainable development commitments – has attracted a record number of more than 4,700 participants. The E-discussion, which will continue until mid-March, has enabled people from all parts of the world who would likely not otherwise have been able to engage in ECOSOC’s work.

Secondly, we held the AMR Innovation Fair, which helped to mobilize the UN system, private sector and NGOs. The Fair was created to provide a conduit for action-oriented input from a variety of stakeholders. My hope is that the Fair will evolve, from a forum for showcasing successful practices and approaches into a “Solution Finding Forum”. It should become a place where countries and other stakeholders can seek solutions to their problems in implementing the UN Development Agenda. We should use today’s meeting to think about the next steps on this front.

I would like to share some thoughts on mobilization in countries that volunteer for presentations. The objective of the presentations is to bolster and buttress the efforts of the Governments to realize the UNDA. A key to achieving this is thorough preparations. For this purpose, DESA is helping the countries involved to organize multi-stakeholder national workshops for developing capacity in analyzing and assessing implementation of their national development strategies. This will entail analyzing data to highlight developmental needs and policy recommendations towards achieving their prioritized goals, and assessing best practices and case studies.

It is important for the volunteering country to remain engaged in the AMR process. It is envisaged that an “alumni roster” could be created. A country that has made a National Voluntary Presentation could provide an update to the Council three or four years after the presentation in the following ways, if so desired by the country: reporting to ECOSOC – to the coordination or operational activities segments – on any follow-up actions; providing a periodic update to the Secretariat; and communicating with the President of the Council in a short note on any developments since the presentation.

This year, DESA will launch a web-site and database on “policies that work”, in order to disseminate key policies identified by the presenting countries. The database will include lessons learned from past AMR. The website will provide access to a network of global partners/experts to support governments in assessing the implementation of their national development strategies, in coordination with the Resident Coordinators. These will include experts from governments, NGOs, the private sector and academic and research institutions in both developed and developing countries.

I have outlined some steps, which we could take, together, to help us to get closer to the vision of the AMR contained in the World Summit Outcome and General Assembly Resolution 61/16. The AMR was envisaged not only as a forum for review of progress but also as a catalyst of implementation of the United Nations development agenda. That is what I mean by the AMR as the Implementation “ARM” of the UN.

We should use this occasion to identify concrete steps that ECOSOC and the Secretariat should take between now and July. We have to ensure that the next AMR lays the foundation for promoting Accountability, ensuring Review and Renewal of Commitments, and Mobilizing and Maintaining the Momentum for timely realization of the UN Development Agenda.