Madame President, Distinguished Delegates,
As the 2004 substantive session of the ECOSOC draws to a close, I would like first of all to congratulate you, Madame President, and the other bureau members on a successful and productive session. The outcomes of each of the five segments are proofs of your hard work and constitute significant achievements on a wide range of issues in the economic and social fields.
ECOSOC deserves to be commended for continuing to device innovative arrangements for bringing the UN system together to address specific issues of global concern, engaging NGOs and other key partners in its work, and providing a strategic platform for all stakeholders to join in exploring possibilities for expanded international cooperation for development. ECOSOC is also progressively enhancing its role as a forum for policy coordination among multilateral institutions, including the Bretton Woods Institutions and the WTO through its high-level policy dialogue and has continued to help sustain political momentum on financing for development.
As part of the high-level segment, the Investment Promotion Forum for Least Developed Countries attracted wide and high-level participation. The five roundtables organized during the segment provided an excellent platform for all the stakeholders to discuss how to mobilize resources and expertise to address poverty, pursue sustainable business development in the LDCs and share best practices. I applaud the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration of the high-level segment, which addresses key dimensions of the effort for resources mobilization for LDCs. The Declaration rightly highlights the need to sustain and strengthen the partnership between the Least Developed Countries and the international community, as a condition for achieving the millennium development goals in the LDCs. It recognizes the importance of ODA, debt-relief and market access for LDCs and focuses on the special needs of countries in post-conflict situations, the importance of such sources of finance as workers’ remittances, greater security of land tenure and land ownership and the need to turn assets into usable capital. Above all, the declaration reaffirms our commitment to the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action. I trust that the declaration will be instrumental in giving new impetus to the international community coming together and honouring its pledges.
The coordination segment focused on two themes this year: ‘Coordinated and integrated UN system approach to promoting rural development’ and ‘The review of ECOSOC agreed conclusions 1997/2 on mainstreaming the gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the UN system’. The results achieved on both themes served to advance and deepen the solid work that the Council had already undertaken in previous years on these issues.
The debate in the operational activities segment was, in my view, one of the main highlights of the session. It showed a general appreciation for the efforts underway by the UN system to reform and strengthen operational capacities at the country level. It was broadly recognized that the system is indeed becoming better coordinated and more coherent and effective in supporting national development efforts to achieve the Millennium Declaration Goals and other internationally agreed goals. It was, at the same time, acknowledged that further progress is needed to ensure genuine national ownership and leadership of the national development process, along with adequate and predictable resources, greater alignment and integration of the UN operational activities with national processes and priorities are essential objectives.
Ensuring the contribution of all agencies and entities, including those without country level representation, in system-wide mechanisms and processes was recognized as fundamental to ensure that the vast knowledge and expertise available in the UN system is brought effectively to bear on national capacity development. A clearer country-driven orientation of the UN system operational activities for development, along with more results-based programming, able to produce and recognize concrete country level results, will most likely be at the center of the GA discussion on the TCPR this fall. The Council has thus contributed in a substantive manner to prepare the ground for the TCPR, and ensure that the process is effectively linked to the 2005 High Level of the General Assembly. An important innovation this year was the joint informal meeting that was organized between the operational and humanitarian affairs segments which helped focus on the crucial issues of transition from relief to development.
The importance of reinforcing humanitarian principles in complex emergencies and the need to build local capacity in natural disaster preparedness and response emerged as key themes during the humanitarian affairs segment. Two thematic panel discussions on “Strengthening response to natural disasters, with an emphasis on capacity building” and “Maintaining a field presence in high-risk environments” prompted a lively and productive discussion. The consensus outcome of the session will provide a fresh impetus to the coordination efforts of the UN system in this important area.
At its general segment, the Council asserted once again its role in post-conflict countries by extending the mandates of the Ad Hoc Advisory Groups on Guinea-Bissau and Burundi. It did so, on the basis of an extensive assessment of their work, which was very positive, in terms of both their direct impact on mobilizing support for the countries concerned, and of advancing comprehensive approach to peace and development. The Council also decided to reactivate the Ad Hoc Advisory Group created in 1999, with a view to developing a long term programme of support for Haiti. The President of the Council has been entrusted with the task of holding consultations on the composition, modality and mandate of the Group with a view to adopting a decision at the Council’s resumed substantive session. By taking quick action on this matter, the Council has shown its capacity to respond in a timely manner to requests for support from countries in need.
Among the other key resolutions adopted by the Council were a resolution on the role of the ECOSOC in the integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits, and one on further promoting coordination and consolidation of the work of the functional commissions.
On Financing for Development-related issues, I am pleased that the Council is giving close attention both to modalities for enhancing the follow-up process and to the specific, important issue of international cooperation in tax matters. Thanks to the efficient, dedicated work of the two facilitators, consensus building on both issues has advanced substantially, and I hope that negotiations will be successfully completed soon on both issues.
The Council has continued to strengthen its management role by establishing close linkages with its subsidiary bodies. A meeting of the chairpersons of the functional commissions took place within the framework of the general segment to discuss measures to strengthen cooperation and collaboration between the functional commissions and with ECOSOC. A number of important proposals were made, particularly regarding how the commissions might collaborate in their work on the follow-up to the millennium development goals and in the preparations for the 2005 high-level event in the General Assembly.
Madame President, Distinguished Delegates,