DESA News Vol. 11, No. 1 January 2007

Global dialogue on development

Assembly bolsters ECOSOC’s role as overseer of global development policy

Expansion of mandate enables ECOSOC to convene an ongoing Development Cooperation Forum, respond more quickly to humanitarian emergencies, and work with the newly established Peacebuilding Commission

The Economic and Social Council received a boost from the General Assembly and some fresh direction with the adoption of resolution 61/16 on the “Strengthening of the Economic and Social Council” on 20 November 2006. The Council has been given key new functions in line with recommendations made by the world’s leading politicians at the 2005 World Summit.

Global leaders have placed the Council at the center of efforts to monitor and advance implementation of the United Nations Development Agenda . The Council will launch an Annual Ministerial Review, as well as a biennial Development Cooperation Forum, during the 2007 high-level segment of ECOSOC in Geneva in July. Beginning in 2008, the Forum will meet in New York.

The annual ministerial substantive reviews will assess the progress made in the implementation of the UN Development Agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals, whereas the biennial Development Cooperation Forum will review trends and progress in international development cooperation. These new functions undertaken by the Council, “must get off to good starts and enable ECOSOC to serve as a bridge between policy-making and implementation,” notes the Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo.

Resolution 61/16 also allows the Council to respond to humanitarian emergencies as and when they occur. In practice, the Council will convene ad hoc meetings on specific humanitarian emergencies at the request of affected Member States. These ad hoc meetings are intended to raise awareness and promote the engagement of all stakeholders in support of international relief efforts.

The resolution also reinforces linkages between the Peacebuiding Commission and the Council’s ad hoc advisory groups on countries emerging from conflict. The Assembly calls on the Peacebuilding Commission to “benefit from the Council’s experiences in the area of post-conflict peace building and the success of its ad-hoc advisory groups,” while reaffirming “the need to address the special needs of countries emerging from conflict” and assist them in laying the foundations for durable recovery, reintegration and reconstruction.

These new functions are expected to help the Council fulfill its Charter mandate, and become a more effective body for coordination, policy review, and dialogue on development issues.

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Spotlight on migration, globalization, right to development and food in the Second and Third Committees

Forty resolutions on various aspects of development were adopted on the recommendation of Economic and Financial Committee during the 2006 session. The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee was equally engaged.

The Second Committee (economic and financial) and the Third Committee (social, humanitarian and cultural) of the General Assembly concluded deliberations on 8 December with a renewed impulse to advance the United Nations Development Agenda , including the Millennium Development Goals. Approvals by consensus of draft resolutions on international migration and development and on the role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence were complemented by recognition by the Third Committee of the right to development and the right to food.

On the issue of poverty eradication, the Second Committee passed a draft resolution on the Implementation of the first UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006) acknowledging the observance’s contribution to poverty alleviation, and noting an interest on the part of some member States for the proclamation of a second such decade. At the same time, the Committee requested the Secretary-General to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of the impact of the first UN Decade for the Eradication of Poverty including recommendations for further action.

Building on the 2006 High-level Dialogue on International Migration and Development , the Second Committee adopted a resolution on migration recognizing the contribution made by migrants to development. The resolution made note of the multifaceted nature of migration and development, and called for incorporation of migration issues into the UN Development Agenda as well as national development strategies. The migration resolution recognizes the need to have sufficient time to assess the impact of a State-led initiative called the Global Forum on Migration and Development , which will take place for the first time in Belgium this year. In this regard, the Committee further noted the establishment of a Global Migration Group whose objective is to improve coherence in the UN system response to international migration and development issues.

In 2006, the Committee also devoted considerable attention to globalization and interdependence. It approved, by consensus, a draft resolution on the UN role in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence, in which it affirmed the need for the organization to play a major role in promoting international cooperation for development, in close cooperation with other multilateral institutions. After a gap of two years, the Committee was also able to agree on a theme for next year’s report, namely the impact of international factors on national development strategies which is intended to shed light on tensions behind global policy and the shrinking national policy space.

In the area of financing for development, the Second Committee decided that a follow-up meeting to the International Conference on Financing for Development to review implementation of the Monterrey Consensus will be held in Doha, Qatar in the second half of 2008. This year’s biennial General Assembly High-level Dialogue on the Monterrey Conference is expected to set the stage for the preparations of the review.

The Committee also addressed the urgent issue of enhancing the voice and participation of developing countries in the Bretton Woods institutions. The Committee’s resolution on the international financial system emphasizes the importance of an early agreement on a credible and time-bound package of quota and voice reforms in the International Monetary Fund.

For its part, the Third Committee, nearing the end of its work, also adopted a draft resolution on the right to development that would have the Assembly call on the Human Rights Council to ensure that its agenda promotes sustainable development and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  It also reminded developed countries of their commitment to the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product for official development assistance and calls for implementation of a desirable pace of meaningful trade liberalization, while encouraging developing countries to ensure that such assistance was used effectively to help meet development goals. Major industrial countries, namely the United States and Finland on behalf of the European Union voted against the proposal citing concern about the prospect of the right to development becoming legally binding.

Meanwhile, the Third Committee passed a draft resolution on the right to food that considers it intolerable that every five seconds, a child under the age of five dies from hunger or hunger-related diseases somewhere in the world, that there are 854 million malnourished people, and that, while the prevalence of hunger has diminished, the absolute number of malnourished people has increased in recent years. This has happened despite the fact the planet could produce enough food to feed 12 billion people – or twice the world’s present population, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

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New faces, fresh perspectives on the Economic and Social Council

General Assembly elects eighteen members

Last November, the General Assembly held its annual election of eighteen States to serve three-year terms on the Economic and Social Council. States receiving the required two-thirds majority were elected according to the following pattern: five from Africa, four from Asia, two from Eastern Europe, three from Latin America and the Caribbean, and four from Western European and Other states. The new member States are Algeria, Barbados, Belarus, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Verde, El Salvador, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Malawi, Philippines, Romania, Somalia, Sudan and United States. Their terms will commence on 1 January 2007 and end on 31 December 2010.

On 17 January, the Economic and Social Council will elect its President and Bureau for 2007. The first organizational session is tentatively scheduled for the first week of February.

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Committee on NGOs to consider 138 applications for consultative status

Regular session of 2007, New York, 22 January-2 February

When the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations meets for the first part of its 2007 regular session in January, it will consider 101 new applications for consultative status with the Economic and Social Council, 37 applications for consultative status deferred from previous sessions, 100 new quadrennial reports, 6 deferred quadrennial reports deferred, and 6 applications for reclassification. The Committee has 19 members, eight of whom begin new terms on 1 January: Angola, Burundi, Dominica, Egypt, Guinea, Israel, Qatar, and the United Kingdom.

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