Address to the 2012 Special Ministerial Meeting of ECOSOC
New York, 24 September 2012
Distinguished Ministers—Dear Former Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honour to address the 2012 Special Ministerial Meeting of the Economic and Social Council.
There is a long-standing tradition for the President of the General Assembly to address ECOSOC. I am doing so at the start of my mandate as a way to indicate my determination to work on strengthening the valuable relationship between our two institutions throughout the next year.
I believe a more dynamic ECOSOC, making fuller use of its powers under the Charter, can make an even stronger contribution to the work of the General Assembly.
Here I refer in particular to two of our most significant shared responsibilities: advancing the social and economic aspects of the global development agenda, and promoting human rights.
The overarching theme for this session of the General Assembly is bringing about adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations by peaceful means. I hope this choice of topic can help us make progress in both of these areas—for without peace, development is illusive, and human rights virtually unimaginable.
ECOSOC is keen to demonstrate its value as an important forum for policy discourse and guidance on the development issue. This is an aspiration which as President of the General Assembly I wholeheartedly endorse.
I look forward to the outcome of your deliberations on how the United Nations system can maximise the impact of its development agenda, in support of the Organization’s common aims.
I am confident that the General Assembly and this Council will remain committed to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. At the same time, we must focus more intensely on the post-2015 agenda.
It is crucial for us to remain on the same page throughout this process. The outcome of the Rio+20 conference highlighted, once again, that more coherence and coordination is required if the diverse challenges we face today are to be decisively and successfully addressed.
I will look to ECOSOC to play an enhanced role in the post-Rio+20 discussions, in light of the guidelines it received from world leaders in June.
The General Assembly, for its part, was tasked with preparing a High Level Forum to be launched at the beginning of next session. We are also given responsibility to establish a working group to propose a list of Sustainable Development Goals for consideration and adoption by the plenary.
In addition, the General Assembly received a mandate to establish an intergovernmental process to propose options on an effective financing strategy to advance the Rio+20 agenda. I would be grateful to ECOSOC for providing me with its views on this critical question. For this agenda to become truly effective, we will need to work together on the effective mobilization of additional resources.
A number of General Assembly resolutions have underscored the need for ECOSOC to play a more pronounced role in the overall coordination and policy review process on issues that touch upon both social and economic development.
Improved global economic governance is thus another area of concern we share. International financial and trade institutions—the World Bank, for instance—and groupings such as the G20, play critical roles.
It is my belief, however, that the General Assembly—the UN’s ‘chief deliberative, policymaking and representative organ’—should participate more actively in advancing global economic discourse. In this context, let me say that I look forward to receiving input from the Council over the next year on ways this can be done. In addition, I will welcome ECOSOC’s participation in the informal, high-level meeting I intend to convene on world economic governance issues.
I hope a framework for dialogue and effective collaboration between the General Assembly, IFIs, and informal associations such as the G20, can be established in the next few years.
This could help alleviate the fears and uncertainties a number of smaller countries have been voicing for a number of years. Inclusivity is an important factor, as steps are taken to create a more stable, prosperous and balanced global economy.
Let me underline that the intent is not to infringe on existing prerogatives, but to complement existing efforts with a broader-based approach.
The Outcome Document of the Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development, which was endorsed during the 63rd Session of the General Assembly, drew our attention to a number of significant issues.
For instance, it emphasized the importance of focussing on global and regional public goods, such as climate protection and financial stability. It also underscored the value of setting strategic goals that are commensurate with the views of developing countries and the natural limits imposed by the environment.
The Outcome Document pointed out that the equal dignity of all nations and increasing the level of trust between Member States are becoming critical topics of economic discourse. As was said around the time the Outcome Document was adopted in the plenary: “If we are to live together in peace and security on this planet, there must be a modicum of social justice and solidarity among the citizens of the world.”
I believe strengthening multilateral cooperation—especially in areas related to economic governance—will help further promote the role the United Nations can play in setting the world on a more sustainable development path.
While the UN is not a panacea for all the world’s ills, I am of the firm belief that, whatever its imperfections, this Organization remains indispensable for addressing the economic and social needs of mankind.
In my inaugural address to the General Assembly as President, I expressed the hope that this session would go down in history as an Assembly of peace. But I also hope that, through forging a stronger relationship with ECOSOC and other parts of the UN system, the 67th Session will come to be remembered as an Assembly of progress—progress in moving the sustainable development agenda forward, and in establishing a more inclusive global economic discourse.
Franklin Roosevelt said that “the test of our progress is not whether we add to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough to those who have little.”
Let us draw inspiration from those words, as we pledge to work more closely together, in the service of making the world more secure, more equitable, and more prosperous—and in so doing, strengthen the cause of peace so dear to us all.Thank you for your attention.
* * *