Volume 3, Issue 2 , April-May 1999

In this issue:

A Major Breakthrough Towards Ending Discrimination Against Women
Administrative Committee on Coordination Holds Spring Session

Secretary-General Meets With DESA Directors
World Economic Situation and Prospects for 1999
April-June Meetings
Advisory Services
Recent Publications
Public Economics , Women , Statistics , Social Policy , Public Administration , Development Policy Analysis
Meetings Held
On the Web


On 12 March, the forty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women adopted by consensus an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. The Protocol is the first human rights instrument that allows individuals to bring claims before an international body. Its speedy adoption comes on the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention by the General Assembly.

The Protocol contains two procedures: a communications procedure allowing individual women, or groups of women, to submit claims of violations of Convention rights to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, an international body of 23 independent experts. Under the protocol, for individual communications to be accepted, a number of criteria must be met, including exhaustion of domestic remedies. The Protocol also creates an inquiry procedure enabling the Committee to initiate inquiries into situations of grave or systematic violations of women's rights. In either case, States must be party to the Convention and Protocol. The Protocol included an "opt-out clause", allowing States upon ratification or accession to declare that they do not accept the inquiry procedure. The Protocol explicitly provides that no reservations may be entered into its terms.

Together with the achievement of the goal of universal ratification of the Convention by the year 2000, the Optional Protocol is a major step forward in realizing Governments' commitments to women's human rights.


- E/CN.6/1999/WG/L.2 -- Revised draft optional protocol submitted by the Chairman on the basis of informal consultations held on the compilation text contained in the report of the Commission on the Status of Women on its forty-second session

- E/CN.6/1999/WG/L.3 -- Draft resolution submitted by the Chairperson of the Open-ended Working Group, Aloisia Wörgetter (Austria), on the basis of informal consultations.

Contact: Jane Connors, Tel: (212) 963-3162, E-mail: connorsj@un.org OR Christine Brautigam, Tel: (212) 963-0535, E-mail: brautigamc@un.org


The Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), the highest level coordination body in the United Nations system, held its 1999 spring session at the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) headquarters in Geneva on 9 and 10 April.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan presided over the meeting. The session was attended by the heads of the specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as by the heads of the United Nations funds and programmes. Mr. Desai and Mr. Civili, as Secretary of ACC, also attended.

The Committee is using its two annual sessions this year for a comprehensive assessment of the new demands placed on national and international systems by the global environment which is emerging on the eve of the 21st century . This assessment is part of the ACC's contribution to the Secretary-General's preparations for the Millennium Assembly and to related agency deliberations and events during the year 2000. The April session included a formal meeting and a retreat.

At the formal meeting the Committee, among other issues, focused on the interactions of the United Nations system with the private sector, in particular in the context of the proposal for a "compact" with the private sector called for by the Secretary-General at Davos last January.

The retreat, after the formal session, strived for a common understanding of the main challenges for the system in the new millennium, focusing on key common objectives and strategies for the United Nations system's response.


The Secretary-General attended the meeting of DESA Directors on 1 April 1999. After listening to a brief presentation by Directors on their work, he stressed the following:

  • The importance of the economic and social work of the UN and the need to project it more effectively to the public. The Asian crisis had promoted wider acceptance and support for it. It might be helpful if DESA could organize more in-depth briefings.

  • The need to better use the complementarities among the World Bank, UNCTAD and the UN Secretariat.

  • The need for the UN to establish closer links with major research institutions around the world, using our respective comparative advantages.

  • As part of the revitalization of ECOSOC, there is a need for the economic and political sides of the Secretariat to work more closely together, breaking down the traditional barriers between them. For example, it would be important to convey to the Security Council the economic sources of conflicts.

Mr. Desai observed that substantive coherence was a high priority in the economic and social work of the Secretariat. He added that the strategy is to make ECOSOC a body identified with the UN system, rather than with one Secretariat department. Mr. Civili noted that DESA's approach to inter-agency coordination in support of the revitalized ECOSOC focused on promoting the delivery of specific joint products, with due recognition given to those UN entities which contributed to them. Directors brought up specific DESA activities in line with the Secretary-General's priorities in the economic and social programme.

In a similar move, Mr. Desai has begun a series of meetings with Divisions aimed at programme review and coordination as well as direct feedback with staff.

Meetings with the Division for Public Economics and Public Administration (DPEPA) and the Division for Social Policy and Development (DSPD) took place in March. The Statistics and Population Divisions are scheduled for April.

Full minutes of the meeting and a background note are available on request from Haydee Arauz, Tel. (212) 963-4679, E-mail: arauz@un.org


The Development Policy Analysis Division collaborated with UNCTAD in producing the first in a series of annual reports on the state of the world economy as seen at the start of the year. The International Economic Relations Branch prepared an analysis of the current economic situation in developed, developing and transition economies; three alternative outlooks were prepared in the Projections and Perspective Studies Branch using the modelling system of Project LINK. The main outlook (the "baseline") assumes no major changes in policies in the major economies and no new surprises in international financial or trade relations. The second outlook (the pessimistic scenario) investigates the likely consequences of a major loss of investor confidence and large-scale fall in equity markets around the world. The third outlook (the optimistic scenario) traces the consequences of a coordinated stimulus to economic growth in the major industrialized countries. This material was combined with inputs from UNCTAD on global economic conditions and analysis of trade and financial policy issues. DESA and UNCTAD jointly drafted the "chapeau".

The report is available online at: http://www.un.org/esa

Contact: Barry Herman, Tel. (212) 963-4747, Fax (212) 963-1061, E-mail: herman@un.org


Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development
New York, 5-16 April

In resolution 1998/46, ECOSOC decided to merge the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of Energy and on Energy for Development, and the Committee on Natural Resources into a single expert body, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Development , a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council.

The Committee comprises two twelve-expert sub-groups nominated by Governments and approved by the Economic and Social Council. One sub-group deals with energy, the other with water resources.

The Committee is reviewing progress made in providing a safe water supply and sanitation for all.

Global Election Organization (GEO) Network Conference
Ottawa, 11-14 April

The first meeting of the recently created Global Election Organization network, is taking place in Canada. It is hosted by Elections Canada and sponsored by the International Foundation of Electoral Systems (IFES), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) and the United Nations (DPA/Electoral Assistance Division). The objective is to equip delegate associations and electoral officers with policy perspectives, tools and project opportunities for good electoral governance in member States. The conference hopes to provide a forum for sharing of experiences on all parallel development efforts.

DESA will present the Administration and Cost of Elections (ACE) system and organize three research workshops on electoral administration issues using the ACE CD-ROM or the ACE web site.

Contact: Maria Helena Alves, Tel. (212) 963-8836, E-mail: alves@un.org

Ad Hoc Meeting of Experts on the World Economic and Social Survey, 1999
New York, 14-15 April

The meeting, organized by the Finance and Development Branch, DPAD, will review contributions to the thematic part on "Development and the financial sector: efficiency, equity, vulnerability".

Contact: Barry Herman, Tel. (212) 963-447, Fax (212) 963-1061, E-mail: herman@un.org

Commission on Sustainable Development, Seventh Session
New York, 19-30 April

The major sectoral theme to be addressed by the Commission is Oceans and Seas ; the cross-sectoral theme is Consumption and Production Patterns ; and the economic sector is Sustainable Tourism . This will mark the first time that the Commission will address Sustainable Tourism.

Panel on Food Security, Basic Infrastructure and Natural Resources as
Imperative Dimensions of Poverty Eradication and Strategies
New York, 23 April

One of a series of panels in preparation for ECOSOC. See article in DESA News, Vol.3, No.1, p.6: Preparations for ECOSOC.

Summit on Attracting Capital to Africa
Houston, United States, 24-28 April

The Summit will be organized by the Corporate Council on Africa, a non-profit organization of American corporations and individuals committed to the development of the private sector in Africa and the strengthening of trade relationships between the United States and African countries. The Summit will gather African and American decision-makers in workshops ranging from energy and transportation to stimulating growth for small and medium enterprises, infrastructure, financial intermediation and private sector development. OSCAL will present the outcome of the Asia-Africa High-level Workshop on Advancing Financial Intermediation in Africa and provide technical backstopping for the UNDP-sponsored workshop on financial intermediation in the private sector.

Contact: Raj Bardouille, Tel. (212) 963-2645, Fax (212) 963 3892, E-mail: bardouille@un.org

Regional Conference for Central and Eastern Europe and the CIS:
Decentralization in Countries with Economies in Transition: Conditions for Success
Yerevan, Armenia, 26-29 April

The key agenda items are: the role of the major world conferences organized by the United Nations in developing global partnerships; the role of universities in promoting global partnerships; national governance mechanisms fostering partnerships; mobilizing civil society for national partnerships; building eco-partnership in local governance: mayors' forum; and building eco-partnerships in local governance: key issues. A conference report, including conclusions and recommendations, will be issued.

Contact: Gary Manukyan, Tel. (212) 963-5410; E-mail: manukyan@un.org

Committee for Development Policy, First Session
New York, 26-30 April

The Committee will review a report on vulnerability in the context of the criteria and methodology for determining the list of least developed countries ( LDCs) in response to ECOSOC resolution 1998/39. The Committee will also discuss "The role of employment and work in poverty eradication in the context of globalization: the empowerment and advancement of women".

Contact: Anatoly Smyshlyaev, Tel. (212) 963-4687, Fax (212) 963-1061, E-mail: smyshlyaev@un.org

High-level Meeting of ECOSOC and the Bretton Woods Institutions
New York, 29 April

A note on Functioning of International Financial Markets and the Stability of Financing for Development is being prepared by the Finance and Development Branch, DPAD. The meeting will be organized by the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination. This is one of a series of events in preparation for the substantive session of ECOSOC in July.

Contact: Barry Herman, Tel. (212) 963-4747, Fax (212) 963 1061, E-mail: herman@un.org

Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Financing for Development
New York, 3-5 May

The Group will continue its consideration of the agenda, scope and form of the 2001 high-level intergovernmental consultation on financing for development.

See also article in DESA News, Vol. 3, No.1, p.1 .

Contact: Barry Herman, Tel. (212) 963-4747, Fax (212) 963-1061, E-mail: herman@un.org

Project LINK
New York, 3-6 May

The LINK group will meet on the state of the economy at the global level and in major regions and countries. It will also have three special sessions: (1) Accession of some economies in transition to the European Union, (2) The global financial crisis and its aftermath, and (3) Globalization and developing countries, in preparation for a meeting Norway in 2000.

Contact: Jozef van Brabant, Tel. (212) 963-4752, Fax (212) 963-1061,E-mail: brabant@un.org

Ninth Ad Hoc Group of Experts Meeting on International Cooperation
in Tax Matters
New York, 3-7 May

The meeting will review the United Nations Model Double Taxation Convention Between Developed and Developing Countries as well as the United Nations Manual for the Negotiation of Bilateral Tax Treaties between Developed and Developing Countries.

A report on the Ninth Meeting will be prepared for the 1999 substantive session of ECOSOC. The revised UN Model Convention and the revised UN Manual are to be issued.

Contact: Abdel Hamid Bouab, Tel. (212) 963-8406, E-mail: bouab@un.org .

International Day of Families, Sixth Annual Celebration
New York, 3 May

This event reflects the importance that the international community attaches to families as basic units of societies as well as its concern regarding their situation around the world. The theme is "Families for all Ages."

Contact: Amr Ghaleb, Tel. (212) 963-3238, Fax (212) 963-3062, E-mail: ghaleb@un.org

Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF), Third Session
Geneva, 3-14 May

During the first two weeks of May, the staff of the IFF secretariat will go to Geneva to service the session. A number of side events will take place to help disseminate information on country-led initiatives in support of the IPF/IFF process as well as for activities of major groups relevant to the objectives of the IFF.

All items in the Forum's mandate remain open for discussion until the adoption of the report its fourth session in early 2000. Some programme elements will come up for "update discussion" and others for "substantive discussion". The Forum will report on its work to the eighth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development in April 2000.

Further information is available on the website of the IFF Secretariat athttp://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/iff.htm

Contact: Tage Michaelsen, Tel. (212) 963-5294, Fax (212) 963-3463, E-mail: michaelsen@un.org

Economic and Social Council, Organizational Session 1999 (Resumed)
New York, 6-7 May

ECOSOC Informal Session on Development Indicators
New York, 10-12 May

The meeting is composed of four panels on conference implementation; international cooperation; strengthening national statistical capacities; means of implementation.

Panel on Ensuring Access to Fundamental Social Services and
Putting Vulnerable Groups First
New York, 12 May

Commission on Population and Development, Organizational Session
of the Preparatory Commission for Cairo+5
Nairobi, 17-18 May

Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly
on the Outcome of the Implementation of the World Summit for Social Development
and Further Initiatives New York, 17-28 May

The Committee will review the implementation of the outcome of the Summit, and consider further initiatives to implement the commitments adopted at Copenhagen. It will discuss and negotiate draft proposals on these areas of work. During the second week, a parallel open-ended working group will discuss organizational matters related to the Special Session, such as modalities for the participation of non-governmental organizations. To facilitate the discussions, the Division for Social Policy and Development will update the two reports on preliminary assessment of implementation and on further initiatives, which were considered by the Commission for Social Development in February.


- Status of preparations of the Special Session (A/AC.253/6)

- Preliminary assessment of the implementation of the outcome of the Summit (A/AC.253/7)

- Further initiatives for the implementation of the outcome of the Summit (A/AC.253/8)

- Contributions by the United Nations System (A/AC.253/9 and Addenda)

Contact: Gloria Kan, Tel. (212) 963-5873, Fax (212) 963-3062, E-mail: kan@un.org

Workshop on the Integration of a Gender Perspective into
UN Human Rights Activities and Programmes
New York, 26-28 May

In conjunction with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and UNIFEM, DAW will host this workshop whose objectives are to:

  • assess progress in implementing recommendations adopted at previous workshops and roundtables;

  • identify opportunities to strengthen attention to gender issues in the work of treaty bodies and the special representatives and rapporteurs, with a special focus on interaction between experts, experts and NGOs, and experts and the UN Secretariat;

  • develop key strategies for action.

The workshop will seek to develop a handbook or guidelines for treaty bodies and special representatives and special rapporteurs on integrating a gender perspective in their work.

Contact: Jane Connors, Tel: (212) 963-3162, E-mail: connorsj@un.org

World Conference on Governance
Manila, 31 May-4 June

The overall theme of the conference, "From Government to Governance", points out the growing consensus on the major elements of sound governance which many institutions have broadly defined as more than just government. The elements include: a sound economic and financial system; broad partnerships among and between government, business, non-governmental organizations and civil society; and strategic capacity building of institutions and human resources.

The conference is being hosted by the Government of the Philippines, and organized by the Eastern Regional Organization for Public Administration (EROPA), the Philippine Civil Service Commission and the University of the Philippines' National College of Public Administration and Governance. It involves cooperation of several leading organizations: the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Canadian International Development Agency, the Institute on Governance (IOG, Canada), the International Personnel Management Association (IPMA), the UNDP and the World Bank/EDI, along with DESA. Each organization is responsible for organizing one-half day of the programme and highlighting key substantive issues in each conceptual area. DESA will focus on the role of major world conferences organized by the UN toward developing global partnerships, the role of universities, national institutions, and civil society organizations. Special focus will be placed on a Mayors' Forum, which will explore the range and possibilities for eco-partnership.

Contact: Jeanne-Marie Col, Tel. (212) 963-8377, E-mail: col@un.org

Ad Hoc Group of Experts Meeting on Unilateral Economic Measures as Means of Political and Economic Coercion Against Developing Countries New York, 1-2 June

Pursuant to General Assembly 52/181, the meeting will study the effects of such measures on the affected countries, including the impact on trade and development.

A summary of the deliberations and main findings will be included in the Secretary-General's report to the fifty-fourth session of the General Assembly.

Contact: Alexander Trepelkov, Tel. (212) 963-7633, E-mail: trepelkov@un.org .

Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations, 1999 Session
New York, 1-18 June


DESA Helps Liberia Restore National Governance

With the technical assistance of DESA, the Government of Liberia, in close cooperation with a wide variety of local civil society organizations, is creating a programme of activities to embed democratic practices in government and civil society operations in post-conflict Liberia, thereby leading to sustainable future development.

The Division for Public Economics and Public Administration (DPEPA) is executing a participatory project to promote governance. National professionals are writing sub-programmes for the eleven areas of the Liberian governance agenda agreed upon by representatives of Government, the private sector and civil society: bureaucratic transparency and accountability; communications and dialogue (mega-logue), culture and civic responsibilities, education and human resources development, human rights, the justice system and rule of law, physical security, public decision-making and participation, public service, restructuring government and capacity building (including decentralization), and social and economic security.

In 1998 in Monrovia, Mr. Enoch M. Dogolea, Vice-President of Liberia, officially opened the Government Project Office on Promotion of Good Governance. Mr. Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States, as special guest of the Government, dedicated the project office, and declared its importance in assisting the Government of Liberia to serve the people of Liberia better. The government counterpart is Mr. Blamoh Nelson, Director-General of the Cabinet who serves as the Chair of the Project Coordination Mechanism (PCM). To be formed soon is the Media Network on Governance (MNG).

Contact: Jeanne-Marie Col, Tel. (212) 963-8377, Fax (212) 963-2916, E-mail: col@un.org .

Consensus Building Conference
Mombasa, Kenya

In May, a Consensus Building Conference is to take place in Mombasa as the major output of a Support Services for Policy and Programme Development (SPPD) project on local governance involving four towns in Kenya, namely Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret. The Conference will assess the sector review on the four towns which is being prepared by two national consultants on the basis of a technical framework guideline prepared by DESA.

Contact: Maria Helena Alves, Tel. (212) 963-8836, E-mail: alves@un.org

Study Tour on Eco-Partnership
Bangkok and Tokyo

In July, as part of the initiative on "Human resources development for eco-partnership building in local governance", the Governance and Public Administration Branch will be organizing a study tour for selected mayors in Africa and Asia. Since the Asia Bureau in UNDP and TCDC are partners in this activity, representatives of these offices are expected to attend the study tour.

Contact: Maria Helena Alves, Tel. (212) 963-8836, E-mail: alves@un.org


The Division for Social Policy and Development will conduct two interregional workshops, one on the social implications of the financial crisis at the national and local levels (May, Bangkok) and one on the Asian experience of social policy reforms and their relevance to Africa (June, Nairobi).

Contact: Daniel Olden, Tel. (212) 963-5319, Fax (212) 963-3062, E-mail: olden@un.org


Public Economics

Governance World Watch

The clusters for Networking and Outreach in DPEPA produced the first monthly news review entitled Governance World Watch, which is intended to provide DPEPA staff members with information on major developments worldwide. Collected from all sources of media focusing on major concerns and interests related to the Division's mandate in public economics and public administration, the news review is organized along the following themes: public economics; governance system and institutions; civil service reform and administration; management innovation and development; and public finance and private sector development.

Contact: Haiyan Qian, Tel. (212) 963-3393, E-mail: qian@un.org


Women and Health - Mainstreaming the Gender Perspective into the Health Sector
Sales No. 99 IV.4

The report of the expert group meeting (Tunis, 28 September to 2 October 1998) has just been published. It includes information on experts and background papers. The recommendations cover health concerns of women not fully addressed in the Beijing Platform of Action such as occupational and environmental health, infectious diseases, including HIV and AIDS, and mental health. Other recommendations deal with sexual and reproductive health, health reform and financing and capacity building for health personnel. The report also contains a framework for designing national health policies with an integrated gender perspective.

Contact: Maria Hartl, Tel: (212) 963-3140, E-mail: hartl@un.org


Monthly Bulletin of Statistics
ST/ESA/STAT/SER.Q/313 Vol. LIII - No. 1 January 1999

Provides monthly statistics on 60 subjects from over 200 countries and territories, with tables on important economic developments. Quarterly data for significant world and regional aggregates are included regularly. Special features in this issue: world shipbuilding; total exports and imports: index numbers of quantum, unit value and terms of trade by regions; civil aviation traffic.

Contact: Gloria Cuaycong, Tel: (212) 963-4865, Fax. (212) 963-0623E-mail: cuaycong@un.org

Population and Vital Statistics Report
Series A Vol.LI, No.1
Data available as of 1 January 1999

This issue presents 1997 and 1998 estimates of world and continental populations, as well as corresponding 1997 estimates for 229 countries or areas, which are listed separately. Also shown for each country or area are the results of the latest nationwide census and, wherever possible, nationally representative statistics of live births, deaths and infant deaths (deaths under one year of age) for the most recent year available. If a nationwide population census has never been taken, but a sample survey has, its results are shown in the "Latest population census" column until census data become available.

This issue supersedes all previous ones, and the data in it are themselves subject to future revision. For more detailed data and data on years not shown here, readers should consult the Demographic Yearbook.

Contact: Manuel Otero, Tel. (212) 963-4970, Fax (212) 963-1940E-mail: otero@un.org

1997 Demographic Yearbook
Sales No. E/F.99.XII.1

The Demographic Yearbook 1997 contains general tables on a world summary of basic demographic statistics, followed by tables of statistics on the size, distribution and trends of population, natality, mortality, nuptiality and divorce. The information is compiled from national statistical offices around the world and prepared by the Statistics Division. Highlights:

  • In 16 countries, women's life expectancy at birth now exceeds 80 years.

  • In 11 countries or areas, life expectancy for men is 75 years or more.

  • In 10 countries or areas, infant mortality rates are below 5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

  • Declines in mortality were registered on every continent.

  • Life expectancy in Africa is still lower than elsewhere. Only women in Cape Verde, Mauritius, Réunion, and Tunisia have an expectation of life at birth in excess of 70 years.

Contact: Manuel Otero, Tel. (212) 963-4970, Fax (212) 963-1940, E-mail: otero@un.org

Social Policy

Participatory Approaches to Poverty Alleviation in Rural Community Development

This paper on poverty reduction in rural areas aims to identify the most effective policies and methods for increasing the incomes, opportunities for and influence of the poor. The reasons for emphasizing participatory approaches to rural development are also discussed. The following components of successful integrated rural development strategies are described: specific targeting of the poorest groups, including women, the importance of land reform and soil conservation, and of equitable access to basic education and health services, markets, roads and agricultural extension. The paper offers considerable evidence that participatory poverty reduction strategies are more effective than those imposed from above.

Contact: James Kanu, Tel. (212) 963-1806, Fax (212) 963-3062, E-mail: kanu@un.org

Unpaid Work and Policy-making
Towards a Broader Perspective of Work and Employment

This discussion paper by Joke Swiebel, considers the issue of unpaid work from a policy perspective. It also attempts to clarify the role that unpaid work could or should play in socio-economic policy-making. The paper provides a working definition of unpaid work and information on related issues such as: how much unpaid work is done and by whom; why some work goes unpaid; the role of unpaid work in the economy; the differences and similarities of unpaid work between developing and developed economies; methods of measuring and imputing the value of unpaid work; the United Nations and the issue of unpaid work; and an assessment of activities carried out on the theme of unpaid work since the World Summit for Social Development and the World Conference on Women. Finally, the paper provides a systematic inventory of policies with respect to unpaid work, including employment and labour market policies.

This paper can be seen online at: http://www.un.org/esa/papers.htm

Contact: James Kanu, Tel. (212) 963-1806, Fax (212) 963-3062, E-mail: kanu@un.org

Public Administration

Public versus Private Provision of Pensions

The author, Larry Willmore, reviews the debate on the three pillars the pension system rests on, and he concludes that private, individual accounts are attractive primarily because they insure that all savers receive potentially equal returns, but that existing public systems can be reformed to achieve a similar equitable treatment of contributors while retaining low administrative costs and providing social insurance that is either expensive or unavailable in private markets.

This paper can be seen online at: http://www.un.org/esa/papers.htm

Contact: Larry Willmore, Tel. (212) 963-4758, E-mail: willmore@un.org

Development Policy Analysis

World Economic Situation and Prospects for 1999

See article at head of DESA News .


Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Energy
New York, 8 April

This subsidiary body of the Inter-Agency Committee for Sustainable Development (IACSD) met for its first session. It formulated a system-wide work plan on energy up to 2001, to pull together all elements of ongoing and planned work sector and tasks to be undertaken within specific time frames.

Contact: Kyaw Kyaw Shane, Tel. (212) 963 3264, Fax (212) 963-1795, E-mail: shane@un.org

Ad Hoc Expert Group Meeting on Global Patterns and Trends in
Public Expenditures and their Implications for National and
International Development Strategies
New York, 7-9 April

The meeting reviewed recent patterns and trends in public expenditure in developing and transitional economy countries. A publication titled Patterns and Trends in Public Expenditure and their Implications for Development Strategy will be issued.

Contact: Albrecht Horn, Tel. (212) 963-3924, E-mail: horn@un.org and Abdel Hamid Bouab, Tel. (212) 963-8406; E-mail: bouab@un.org

Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Financing for Development
New York, 5-8 April

The following four key elements identified in the "index report" (A/53/470) were considered: (1) Financing for development and trade, (2) Innovative sources of financing, (3) Governance of the international monetary, financial and trade systems, and (4) Interrelationship between major elements and other special topics.

Contact: Barry Herman, Tel. (212) 963-4747, Fax (212) 963-1061, E-mail: herman@un.org

Commission on Population and Development
New York, 24 March-1 April

The Commission met in open-ended session as the preparatory committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, to start on 30 June.

The debate focused on the key future actions for the further implementation of the Programme of Action. Negotiations on adolescent sexual and reproductive health, partnerships and collaboration, and mobilizing resources, were not completed during this session. The Commission acting as preparatory committee will resume its work in May.

It adopted a provisional agenda and organization of work for the Special Session, and approved a note by the Chairman on establishment of the list of speakers for the general plenary debate. Acting as preparatory committee it adopted a decision regarding the participation of NGOs and a report on its session.

Contact: Birgitta Bucht, Tel. (212) 963-3183, E-mail: bucht@un.org

ECOSOC Panels on Poverty and Gender
New York, 16 March

An intensive process of preparatory activities for the high-level segment of ECOSOC on "The role of employment and work in poverty eradication: the empowerment and advancement of women" got under way on 16 March with a panel on advancing gender equality and eradicating poverty. This is the first of a series of five panels on a comprehensive poverty eradication strategy. The panels will be a source of ideas and proposals for an outcome of this year's high-level segment of ECOSOC that is action- and result-oriented.

The panel addressed three questions by Prof. Van Ginkel, Rector of the United Nations University and moderator of the panel:

  • Why is a better access of women to the labour-market important?
  • Why have efforts made thus far not been successful in ensuring it?
  • What would have to be done to achieve it?

Among the main conclusions were the following:

  • The regional context must be taken into account.
  • Governments should create an adequate legal framework, (particularly on ownership rights), develop national strategies and spearhead pilot-projects.
  • Better working arrangements are needed to balance paid work and the caretaker function.
  • In education, direct and opportunity costs should be cut, and safety concerns for young girls should be addressed.
  • A partnership between political and economic institutions and civil society had to be built to increase the impact of women's movements' decisions on influential social actors.

Contact: Sarbuland Khan, Tel. (212) 963-4628, Fax (212) 963-1712, E-mail: khan2@un.org

For full minutes of the meeting, please contact: Edith Castellares, Tel. (212) 963-4672, E-mail: castellares@un.org

Commission on the Status of Women Acting as
Preparatory Committee for the GA Special Session:
Women 2000
New York, 15-19 March

Two reports of the Secretary-General on the Special Session were before CSW:

  • A framework for further actions and initiatives that might be considered at the Special Session (E/CN.6/1999/PC/2) to speed up implementation of the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action so as to encompass its 12 critical areas of concern.

  • An initiation of the comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform of Action, with the information sources the Secretariat will draw on (E/CN.6/1999/PC/3).

Two panels met: one focused on the changing status of women due to urbanization and globalization; the mobilization of non-governmental organizations and Governments following the Beijing Conference; and partnerships between men and women in promoting gender equality. The other one examined women and leadership; the political will for equality; gender sensitivity in national budgets; gender-based violence; and the need to overcome the negative effects of globalization on women.

Contact: Kristen Timothy, Tel: (212) 963-3104, E-mail: timothy@un.org

Consultative Committee on Policy and Operational Questions (CCPOQ)
Fourteenth session
New York, 10-12 March

This meeting followed its Working Group on the resident coordinator system (on 5 and 8 March). Mr. Desai chaired the session which approved, on behalf of ACC, three guidance notes on: the implementation of the common country assessments (CCA) and United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) processes; regional and sub-regional development cooperation; and the partnership approach with civil society organizations. The discussions focused on: the outcomes of conference implementation at the country level; CCPOQ's contribution to ECOSOC's proposed review in 2000 of progress in coordinated follow-up to major UN conferences and summits; CCPOQ's contribution to ECOSOC's high-level discussions on poverty, including the review of the poverty matrix; the Development Cooperation Policy Branch's three-year work plan to facilitate the Council's consideration of poverty eradication and capacity building issues in July; and the conclusions and decisions of the CCPOQ Working Group on the resident coordinator system, including the decision to hold an impact evaluation workshop in June.

Contact: Monica Nogara, Tel. (212) 963-5083, E-mail: nogara@un.org

Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD)
Thirteenth Meeting
New York, 8-9 March

The meeting took place following the intersessional meetings of the Commission on Sustainable Development. The IACSD discussed the expansion of the task manager system to include outcomes of other global conferences, and the results of the UNEP Governing Council including matters related to the proposed Environmental Management Group. Matters related to the work of the Commission on Sustainable Development were also discussed and included: the preparations for the Special Session of the UNGA to review the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of SIDS; energy cooperation and preparations for energy discussions in 2001; and the strengthening of the UN system's coverage of waste management issues. IACSD also reviewed the outcomes of the nineteenth session of the ACC Subcommittee on Water Resources and the seventh session of the ACC Subcommittee on Oceans and Coastal Areas.

Contact: Karina Gerlach, Tel. 963-5858

Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)
Forty-third session
New York, 1-12 March

The Commission examined the remaining critical areas of concern in the Beijing Platform for Action: women and health, and institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women. Panel discussions were held on both areas. Some 300 NGOs were represented.

Four resolutions were adopted: the system-wide medium term plan for the advancement of women, 2002-2005; release of women and children taken hostage in armed conflicts; women, the girl child and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome; and Palestinian women. With ECOSOC's approval, the Commission met on 1 April and adopted the revised draft agreed conclusions on women and health, and on institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women.

Documentation: The report will be released by late June.

Contact: Kristen Timothy, Tel: (212) 963-3104, E-mail: timothy@un.org

Statistical Commission, Thirtieth Session
New York, 1-5 March

The Statistical Commission adopted Classifications for expenditure according to purpose and revised Principles and recommendations for a vital statistics system . It also adopted Practical guidelines for good practices in technical cooperation in statistics .

It also recommended to ECOSOC a draft resolution whereby the Commission would meet annually (instead of every second year) and its Working Group on International Statistical Programmes and Coordination would cease to function.

The Commission (a) commended the Statistics Division (UNSD) on the trial compilation of the Minimum National Social Data Set (MNSDS), and the initial work to take stock of indicators being produced and disseminated by the international community; (b) urged international agencies to work toward harmonizing and rationalizing the sets of indicators being used at the international level and to improve coordination in their collection in order not to overburden countries; and (c) urged international agencies and bilateral donors to assist countries in building sufficient statistical capacity to produce development information.

The Commission reviewed the ongoing work that groups of countries and international organizations are carrying out. It decided that the Task Force on Environment Statistics should be discontinued and that coordination in that field should be carried out by the ACC Subcommittee on Statistical Activities to the extent possible.

With regard to the Special Data Dissemination System of IMF, members of the Commission emphasized the need for flexibility to allow countries to focus on country specific priority areas of statistical development; It also requested the UNSD and IMF to improve the communication and consultation process.

The Commission welcomed the establishment of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and endorsed the proposed programme of work and priorities of the UNSD including the implementation plan and timetable for realizing the recommendations of the in-depth review of the statistical programme that had been carried out by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (E/AC.51/1997/2).

Contact: Vladimir Drjuchin, Tel. (212) 963-4644, Fax (212) 963-9851, E-mail: drjuchin@un.org

Small Island Developing States
New York, 24-26 February

DESA and UNDP held a meeting of 24 representatives of donor States, 16 multilateral organizations, 13 non-UN regional organizations and 34 Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at United Nations Headquarters. The goal was to consider ways to assist SIDS in implementing a range of sustainable development project proposals, as well as to build international momentum for the continued implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action.

Although no specific pledges were made, the significance of the meeting was to strengthen the partnership between donors and SIDS. A number of donors also broadly indicated their willingness to provide support to SIDS, including funding and technical support to the projects that had been submitted, following further review of these projects and consultations with SIDS Governments at the bilateral level through donors' established mechanisms.

A Special Session of the General Assembly on SIDS will be held from 27 to 28 September 1999. In preparation for it, the Commission on Sustainable Development will undertake a review of the Barbados Programme of Action.

Contact: Deonannan Oodit, Tel. (212) 963-4671, Fax (212) 963-4260, E-mail: oodit@un.org

Fourth Session of the Inter-Agency Committee on Women and Gender Equality
New York, 23-26 February

The Committee discussed challenges for the comprehensive review and appraisal of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, as seen from the perspective of individual entities and organizations. The session provided an opportunity to discuss new approaches and practical steps in the changing global, regional and national environment.

Notably, on 24 February, the Committee held a workshop with ten UN resident coordinators and agency field representatives on: opportunities and constraints to track and measure progress in gender equality in common country assessments (CCAs); mainstreaming a gender perspective into all thematic groups and inter-agency activities at the national level; the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) process and inter-agency activities.

The Committee agreed to submit a draft statement for ACC as input into the Special Session of the General Assembly, "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace in the 21st century". Additionally, the Committee invited the ACC to support the conduct of a survey by UNFPA of management commitment to gender mainstreaming.


The report of the IACWGE on its fourth session will be released as ACC/1999/3

Contact: Christine Brautigam, Tel: (212) 963-0535, E-mail: brautigamc@un.org

The Development of a Research Agenda on Ageing for the Twenty-first Century
Vienna, 1-3 February

Thirty-one experts from 14 countries met to stress the need for urgent responses to the dramatic transformation faced by societies when every third person on Earth will be 60 and over. This meeting launched a global effort to put in place a research agenda on ageing for the 21st Century. It was sponsored by the Novartis Foundation for Gerontological Research, convened by the International Association of Gerontology and held at the Vienna International Centre under the auspices of the United Nations Programme on Ageing. The worldwide research agenda on ageing will cover a two-to-three-year period and serve as a background for policy response to population and individual ageing, particularly in developing countries.

The results of the initial consultation and the further development of key areas will be further refined at a meeting supported by the German Government to be held in Berlin in July. The final formulation of the agenda will be undertaken by a second expert consultation sometime in 2000 for the ultimate consideration of the General Assembly and formal transmission to Member States for consideration and action.

Contact: Gary Andrews, Tel. (212) 963-9046, Fax (212) 963-3062, E-mail: andrews@un.org

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NGO Task Force

The departmental NGO Task Force has resumed its meetings under the chairmanship of Qazi Shaukat Fareed, Director, Office for Inter-Agency Affairs, with a view to elaborating a common approach for the Department on NGO-related issues. Given that so many divisions within the Department have extensive dealings with NGOs the Task Force offers the opportunity for those working in this area to learn from, and build on, each other's experience. The Task Force has as its basis a 1996 work plan adopted in 1996 in which many of the issues remain current. For example, the Task Force will continue to focus on issues such as the common NGO contact database for the Department, as well as on elaborating guidelines for participation of NGOs in intergovernmental meetings organized by the Department.

Contact: Karina Gerlach, Tel. (212) 963-5858


Virtual Working Group on National Machineries for Gender Equality Concludes

According to the Beijing Platform for Action, a national machinery is the "central coordinating unit inside the Government. Its main task is to support government-wide mainstreaming of a gender perspective in all policy areas" (paragraph 202).

On 8 February, WomenWatch launched the Online Working Group on National Machineries for Gender Equality, as part of a series of online dialogues . The working group, which completed its session on 19 March, reviewed progress in implementing the Beijing Platform for Action on the topic Institutional Mechanisms/ National Machineries for the Advancement of Women. Persons who work in national machineries, have collaborated as NGOs, or have interacted as outside supporters or observers were invited to add their views to the global discussion in the Working Group.

The goal was to compile "best practices" and "good examples" to strengthen national machineries for gender equality. Contributions fell into three categories: institutional structures; capacity building; and framework for gender and organizational change. Over 420 subscribers participated in the virtual discussions, which were described by Angela E.V King as "a very rich and enlightening debate" and "a wonderful parallel event to the forty-third session of the Commission on the Status of Women." A final report will be available by mid-April on the website.

WomenWatch, the UN Internet gateway on the advancement and empowerment of women, developed this Virtual Working Group as a forum for activists, experts, researchers, government officials and other interested individuals to share concrete ideas and suggestions for the recently concluded Commission. WomenWatch is the joint initiative of DAW, UNIFEM and INSTRAW. The website address is: http://www.un.org/womenwatch

Contact: Kerri Power, Tel: (212) 963-3787, E-mail: power@un.org OR Dong Wu, Tel: (212) 963-0272, E-mail: wud@un.org

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A new web page for ECOSOC was set up at: http://www.un.org/esa/coordination/ecosoc

Contact: Information Support Unit, Tel. (212) 963-4787, E-mail: esa@un.org