DESA News Vol. 11, No. 4 April 2007

Global dialogue on development

World leaders in finance and trade prepare for Monterrey follow-up at Doha 2008

ECOSOC with the IFIs, WTO and UNCTAD devote their annual meeting to discussions of good governance, participation in decision-making, trade policy, and aid effectiveness

The spring high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and UNCTAD on 16 April will explore the issues of coherence, coordination and cooperation for the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus on the road to the review conference in Doha. Coming as it does before the new Annual Ministerial Review and Development Cooperation Forum, the Council’s exchange with the international financial institutions, the WTO and UNCTAD, is expected to capture the intergovernmental limelight, all the more since preparations for the Doha conference on financing for development are now getting underway.

The plenary session in the morning may include brief statements by the heads of the IMF International Monetary and Financial Committee, the Joint World Bank/IMF Development Committee, the WTO General Council, and the UNCTAD Trade and Development Board, along with remarks by ministers and other senior officials from among the Council membership.

This year’s dialogue will also feature four simultaneous roundtable discussions on good governance, voice and participation of developing countries in international economic decision-making, realization of the Doha development agenda on effective use of trade and investment policies, along with aid effectiveness and innovative financing for development. The morning roundtables are intended to flesh out these themes, and pave the way for an open floor with free-flowing dialogue among delegates in the afternoon.

The President of the Council, Ambassador Dalius Čekuolis, will preside over the meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivering the opening address. A comprehensive presidential summary of the proceedings should follow in due course.

The one-day meeting takes place in New York following the IMF International Monetary and Financial Committee, and Joint World Bank/IMF Development Committee meetings to be held on 14 and 15 April in Washington.

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Council lays groundwork for first Annual Ministerial Review in July

The Council chooses eradication of poverty and hunger as the theme of the review

The Economic and Social Council is getting ready for its first Annual Ministerial Review, to take place during the high-level segment of the Council’s substantive session in July, with a half-day informal, preparatory meeting on 2 April in New York. The preparatory meeting will focus on strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger, including through the global partnership for development.

The meeting will open with an address by Deputy-Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro. National economic and social councils will also have a say. Their invitation stems from efforts to tighten the link between global level discussions and national implementation. The Secretary-General of the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions, Bertrand Duruflé, will deliver a keynote address on behalf of the association. After that, the meeting will split up into two parallel roundtables.

“How are we doing in the fight against hunger and malnutrition?” moderated by José Antonio Ocampo, Under Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, and “Are we making poverty history?” moderated by Hafiz Pasha, Assistant Administrator of UNDP, are questions to be discussed by the participants who will include renowned policy-makers, practitioners and academics.

The aim of the roundtables is to assess, at the midway point to 2015, progress made in implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, and identify lessons based on experience that can be applied to further action. Approaches that merit scaling-up to alleviate the plight of the estimated 854 million people worldwide who are undernourished, and of the nearly half of all humanity which continues to live on less than two dollars a day, will receive special attention.

The goal of the Annual Ministerial Review is to speed-up and scale-up implementation of the UN Development Agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals, by serving as a high-level forum for policy debate and exchange of views and practices.

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Taking stock of national experiences in development cooperation

Vienna high-level symposium sets the stage for the Development Cooperation Forum

The biennial Development Cooperation Forum was born at the 2005 World Summit with a purpose: to review trends in international development cooperation, including strategies, policies and financing, promote greater coherence among the development activities of different development partners and strengthen the links between the normative and operational work of the United Nations.

A high-level symposium on the experiences of countries in coordinating and managing development cooperation will take place in Vienna from 19 to 20 April as part of preparations for the upcoming launch of the Forum in July and the first session of the Forum in 2008.

Organized by the Office for Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination in partnership with the Austrian Government, the symposium will be preceded by the first meeting of the Development Cooperation Forum Advisory Group which is made up of high-level representatives of key stakeholders, such as recipient and donor countries, multilateral organizations, UN system, private sector and civil society. The Group will advise the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs on the overall strategy for preparations for the Forum, including networking and consultations with different stakeholder groups, as well as strategic goals for the first Forum in 2008.

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Seeking to turn sustainable development commitments into action

The Commission on Sustainable Development will be holding its policy session this year on energy, industrial development, air pollution and atmosphere, and climate change

A range of policy options and possible actions for implementation on energy for development, industrial development, air pollution and atmosphere, and climate change will be adopted during the fifteenth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development. This year’s session, which will be held in New York between 30 April and 11 May, marks the end of a two-year cycle devoted to this four-theme cluster.

The fifteenth session will build on the review work undertaken by the Commission a year ago and on the discussions that took place recently in an intergovernmental preparatory meeting in New York. Those discussions were captured in a chairman’s draft negotiating document that will form the basis of negotiations – negotiations on concrete policy decisions to help turn the Agenda 21 and Johannesburg commitments into reality.

The high-level segment will focus on partnerships, with plenary sessions for statements and dialogue with heads of UN agencies and representatives of major groups. The segment will also feature roundtables on specific topics that have yet to be determined.

The chairman’s draft negotiating document framing the Commission’s discussions points out many emerging issues, ranging from renewable energy sources to transboundary air pollution and fuel switching. It calls for strengthening technology cooperation, with an emphasis on research and development, as well as the transfer of new technologies. To that end, the document encourages full and effective implementation of the 2005 Bali Strategic Plan, a UN-backed framework for boosting the capacity of governments in developing countries and economies in transition to address their needs, priorities and obligations in the environmental field.

As part of its official programme, the Commission will feature the popular Partnerships Fair and Learning Centre. The Partnerships Fair will include interactive discussions to generate open dialogue on practical issues related to partnerships. The Learning Centre will continue to offer a wide selection of courses to provide teaching and training at a practical level for further implementation of Agenda 21 and Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.

The Commission on Sustainable Development is the principal United Nations forum bringing countries together to consider ways to integrate the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic growth, social development and environmental protection. Four years ago, the Commission approved a multi-year programme of action featuring different thematic clusters of issues for each cycle.  The first, in 2004-2005, addressed water, sanitation and human settlements.  The 2008-2009 cycle will focus on agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa.

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UN Forum on Forests raises expectations

Government delegates will come together, joined by representatives of intergovernmental organizations, the collaborative partnership on forests and civil society, to discuss and adopt a new international agreement to manage the world’s forests, at this month’s seventh session of the UN Forum on Forests which runs from 16 to 27 April in New York.

Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/49 invited the seventh session of the Forum to conclude by adopting a non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests and decide on a new multi-year programme of work for the Forum that will establish a framework for discussions through 2015.

The non-legally binding instrument on all types of forests is expected to provide a clearly articulated and practical framework for sustainable forest management at all levels. The instrument will highlight the importance of voluntary national measures, policies, actions and partnerships, and enable countries to better determine their national targets, goals and policies. Recognizing that there are a myriad of forest-related agreements, and processes already in existence, this new instrument on all types of forests will offer a global platform for coordinating international efforts.

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Population Commission sees the world getting older

The changing age structures of populations and their implications for development is the special theme of the fortieth session of the Commission on Population and Development, which will take place from 9 to 13 April in New York. The world’s population is in the midst of a so-called demographic transition, a unique and irreversible process that will result in older populations everywhere, although not everywhere at a uniform pace.

Three keynote speakers have been invited to provide insight into the complexities of specific aspects of demographic shifts. Professor Ronald Lee, Director of the Center on the Economics and Demography of Aging at the University of California, Berkeley will speak on the economic and demographic aspects of intergenerational transfers. Dr. Somnath Chatterji, Team Leader for Multi-Country Studies in the Department of Measurement and Health Information Systems at the World Health Organization, will address the health aspects of ageing. Ms. Nyiovani Madise, Senior Research Scientist at the African Population and Health Research Center in Nairobi, will focus on Africa’s young populations. A resolution on the priority theme is expected at the end of the session.

The Commission on Population and Development, as a functional commission assisting the Economic and Social Council, monitors, reviews and assesses the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development at the national, regional and international levels.

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Thumbs up to resolutions on Palestinian women, protection from HIV/AIDS, female genital mutilation and forced marriage

About 140 countries, 330 NGOs and 130 girls participate in the 2007 session of the Women’s Commission

The Commission on the Status of Women concluded its fifty-first session on 9 March by giving a green light to four draft resolutions covering the situation of Palestinian women, the need to rise HIV/AIDS protection for women and girls, ending female genital mutilation and curbing the practice of forced marriages. Delegates attending the two-week session also adopted agreed conclusions on the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child, which provide practical measures to put an end to this persistent form of violence in a comprehensive package of action-oriented policy recommendations on many issues – from poverty, education, to participation. The fifty-first session enjoyed high levels of participation, with delegates from some 140 countries, 2,000 representatives from 330 NGOs and, this year, 130 girls taking part in meetings and events.

The end of the session was marked by the approval of a draft resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women, which would have the Economic and Social Council express the importance of providing assistance, especially emergency assistance, to alleviate the harmful impact of the financial crisis they endure– a crisis which has exacerbated the already dire socio-economic and humanitarian situation faced by Palestinian women and their families.

Also by the draft, the Council would demand that Israel comply fully with several legal provisions and principles to protect the rights of Palestinian women and their families. It would also reaffirm that the Israeli occupation remains a major obstacle for Palestinian women when it comes to their integration and advancement into the development planning of their society, and would encourage all women in the region to take an active role in backing the peace process.

The Commission also approved, without a vote, a draft resolution on forced marriage of the girl child. That draft resolution would urge States to enact and enforce laws to ensure that marriage is entered into only with free and full consent of the intending spouses and, in addition, to enact and enforce laws concerning the minimum age of consent and the that of marriage and raise the minimum age for marriage where necessary. It would also recognize that forced marriage contributes to girls’ faring disproportionately worse than boys in terms of access to primary school in some countries, and that early motherhood entails great risk of morbidity and mortality.

The Council, by the terms of another draft resolution on women, the girl child and HIV/AIDS approved without a vote, would urge Governments to strengthen initiatives to increase the capacities of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV/AIDS infection, through the provision of health care and health services, including voluntary counseling and health testing, and through prevention education that would promote gender equality.

The Commission, lastly, approved again without a vote, a draft resolution on ending female genital mutilation by which the Council would urge States to take all necessary measures, including enacting and enforcing legislation to prohibit this form of mutilation inflicted on girls and to end impunity. It also called on countries to develop additional indicators to effectively measure progress in eliminating that practice.

The fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women began on 26 February and ran for two weeks in New York. The Commission is a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council and the principal global policy-making body dedicated to gender equality and advancement of women. Every year, representatives of Member States gather to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide.

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beginOfParagraphH.E. Ms. Carmen María Gallardo Hernández (El Salvador), Chairperson of the fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women, comments on strengthened ties between the Commission and the Economic and Social Council in a press briefing on 9 March, noting that the two bodies must continue to harmonize efforts to maintain momentum on gender-related issues. A recording is available online at