Then… ECOSOC’s inaugural session, 23 January 1946. (In the photo, Mr. Gladwyn Jebb[on right], UN Executive Secretary, congratulates Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar of India [on left], ECOSOC’s first President.)
ECOSOC at Work:
The world’s economic, social and environmental challenges are ECOSOC’s concern. A founding UN Charter body established in 1946, the Council is the place where such issues are discussed and debated, and policy recommendations issued.
As such, ECOSOC has broad responsibility for some 70% of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system, including 14 specialized agencies, 9 “functional” commissions, and five regional commissions. (See top-right panel.)
And now…the current chamber, a gift from Sweden, was designed by famed Swedish architect Sven Markelius, a member of the original team behind the UN Headquarters design.
The Council holds regular meetings throughout the year with prominent academics, business sector representatives and 3,200+ registered non-governmental organizations. ECOSOC’s biggest gathering, however, is reserved for the summer, when it holds its annual, month-long substantive session in July.
Held in alternate years in New York and Geneva, the session is divided into 5 segments ― High-level; Coordination; Operational Activities; Humanitarian Affairs; and General ― which cover both global issues and technical, administrative questions.
With its focus on pressing development challenges (employment, education, health, etc.), the High-level segment regularly attracts policy-makers from the top ranks of government. The segment’s Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) has been a notable success, too, focusing on select themes drawn from the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.