Welcoming remarks of Mr. José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, to the ECOSOC Bureau Summit 2005
New York, 15 September 2005

Mr. President,
Excellencies,

On behalf of the Secretary-General, I thank President Musharraf—and all the Heads of State and Government here as Members of the ECOSOC Bureau—for organizing this meeting on the Council’s role in the World Summit follow-up.

The greatest contribution of the United Nations in the economic and social field has been its series of conferences and summits, with the Millennium Summit prominent among them. Together, they have generated the UN Development Agenda. The Millennium Development Goals are the expression of this Agenda that has helped galvanize efforts worldwide to improve the situation of the poorest.

The power of the UN Development Agenda derives from its comprehensiveness —covering economic, social, and environmental aspects— and from its central commitment to equity. The Monterrey Conference has secured another crucial asset: unprecedented global agreement on development cooperation as a partnership among developing and developed countries.

Yet the Agenda suffers from an “implementation gap.” ECOSOC already has moved to strengthen its role in driving the Agenda’s implementation. It is crucial in this regard to mobilize not only the Council, but the entire ECOSOC system, including the functional commissions, regional commissions, and its expert bodies.

This Summit will reinforce this effort. And it will strongly reaffirm ECOSOC’s role as the principal intergovernmental body for coordination and for making recommendations on development policy and issues.

The Summit’s decisions on ECOSOC draw from a broad-based discussion. Our gratitude goes especially to Ambassador Munir Akram, for his leadership on this collective reflection and for his extraordinary work as ECOSOC President.

The Summit outcome identifies six areas of action for ECOSOC.

First, in performing its global functions in policy development and monitoring, ECOSOC should use its special capacity to engage all development partners—Governments, the international financial institutions, the private sector, and civil society.

Second, the Council should serve as the Global Development Cooperation Forum, to discuss coherence of the global development cooperation architecture, the performance of the various partners, and the flow of resources.

Third, ECOSOC should hold ministerial-level reviews of progress towards the development goals. This would generate stronger accountability for the international commitments made by Governments at the UN conferences and summits.

Fourth, ECOSOC should have the capacity to monitor trends in the international economic, social, and environmental fields. And it must respond swiftly and effectively to emerging problems in all of these areas, as well as to humanitarian emergencies.

Fifth, the Council should continue to enhance coordination of the entire UN system—as charged by the UN Charter—and to strengthen the system’s collective impact.

Finally, ECOSOC also needs to strengthen its role in the area of development and security, linking in particular with the new Peacebuilding Commission. In doing so, ECOSOC will build on the innovative mechanisms it has created for post-conflict reconstruction and development.

Performing these functions will require changing the Council’s current ways of work. ECOSOC has made great strides in this area. And we can build on them, but boldly!

All this will not be easy. But when it comes to reform, ECOSOC confronts comparatively fewer structural or legislative obstacles to deep change. The missing ingredient is a critical mass of political will to genuinely put ECOSOC and its extensive system of machinery to work.

We must seize this opportunity to generate the momentum to take that quantum leap, now, to the ECOSOC of the future. What is at stake for the world’s peoples is nothing less than the great promises of the UN Development Agenda and its Millennium Development Goals.