ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL HOLDS ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION, ELECTS MAKARIM WIBISONO OF INDONESIA PRESIDENT FOR 2000

27 January 2000
ECOSOC/5881

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL HOLDS ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION, ELECTS MAKARIM WIBISONO OF INDONESIA PRESIDENT FOR 2000

27 January 2000

Press ReleaseECOSOC/5881

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL HOLDS ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION, ELECTS MAKARIM WIBISONO OF INDONESIA PRESIDENT FOR 2000

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Makarim Wibisono (Indonesia) was elected President of the Economic and Social Council for the year 2000 this morning, as the Council met for its organizational meeting.

Also by acclamation, the Council elected Martin Belinga-Eboutou, (Cameroon), Bernd Niehaus (Costa Rica), Vladimir C. Sotirov (Bulgaria) and Gerhard Pfanzelter (Austria) as its Vice-Presidents.

The Bureau of the Council consists of the President and four Vice-Presidents. According to the rotation of the office of the President among the regional groups, the President for 2000 was scheduled to be a representative of the Asian States Group. The four Vice-Presidents of the Council are elected on the basis of equitable geographical representation from the other four regional groups. The Council will decide on the special responsibilities of each Vice-President upon the recommendation of its President.

Representatives of Portugal (on behalf of the European Union), United States, Japan and the Russian Federation welcomed the new President of the Council and expressed their gratitude to the outgoing President -- Francesco Paolo Fulci (Italy) -- for his dynamic leadership of the Council. They stressed the strengthening of the role of the Economic and Social Council under his Presidency, as well as increased coordination with other international bodies, including the Bretton Woods institutions. Speaking on behalf of the Asian Group of States, the representative of Bhutan congratulated the newly-elected President and the members of the Bureau.

Speaking as outgoing President, Mr. Fulci (Italy) said that the Council’s recent important achievements would contribute to the upcoming five-year reviews of the 1995 World Social Summit and the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women. The new Council was an intellectually vibrant and living body important to the world community. Of the seven main agenda points that had been identified at the beginning of his Presidency, only one was lagging behind -- that was the question of strengthening the coordination with specialized agencies, funds and programmes.

In his opening statement as the new President, Mr. Wobisono (Indonesia) highlighted some of the priorities for the year’s agenda. Emphasizing the need for continuity in the programmes of the Council, he said that one of the top priorities for the Presidency would be to seek to reassert the central coordinating role and core function of ECOSOC. Also, top priority would be given to the crucial issue of

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information technology, which was a dominant driving force of globalization, international development and cooperation. In that regard, the Council would conduct a series of panel discussions on Information Technology and Development in New York.

In other action this morning, the Council approved its provisional agenda for the coming year. Further, the new President of the Council informed representatives that informal consultations on the proposed programme of work and other organizational matters would be held during the week of 31 January. On the basis of those consultations, recommendations would be submitted to the formal meeting of the Council.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the Council also elected Finland to replace Belgium as a member of the Commission on Sustainable Development for the period from 29 January to 15 February 2000, after which Belgium would resume its membership in the Commission.

The next meeting of the Council will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday, 1 February.

Statements

FRANCESCO PAOLO FULCI (Italy), the outgoing President of the Council, wished success to the Council for the year ahead. Combatting poverty was the overriding goal of the international community in the new millennium. Much needed to be done in that respect. A spirit of working together was essential. “We need to take care of the week and look far into the future”, he said.

It was necessary to rethink some of the strategies and make them more effective, he continued. The world conferences of the nineties were helping the international community to do that. Bold steps should be taken in many areas, including finance, debt, trade, social policies, health and education. The need for political will had been highlighted in previous discussion.

He said that the Council had made its contribution: for five years, it had consistently worked to integrate the international efforts to achieve the goals of the international conferences of the 1990s. It had adopted forceful guidelines and spurred the new effort to coordinate international support for Africa, empower women and combat poverty. Poverty eradication had been the motto of the 1999 session. Over the past two years, work had been conducted to rejuvenate the Council. The Council’s important achievements would contribute to the upcoming five-year reviews of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing.

It had been a very stimulating experience to preside over the Council in 1999, he continued. The Council would continue to build on its achievements. The Secretariat of the Council had taken the initiative to bring together the outcome of the past discussions in the publication entitled “Globalization: the United Nations Development Dialogue,” which would be made available to the delegates next

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week. The new Council was an intellectually vibrant and living body important to the world community. Of the seven main agenda points, which had been identified at the beginning of his Presidency, only one was lagging behind. It was the question of strengthening of coordination with specialized agencies, funds and programmes. He hoped that progress would be made on that important topic in the future.

MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia), the newly elected President, highlighted some of the priorities for the year’s agenda. The need for continuity in pursuing the ongoing programmes of the Council was central to its activities. To best address the emerging challenges in rapidly changing times, it was necessary to stay open to new ideas and initiatives. A top priority would be to reassert the central coordinating role and core function of the Council, thereby making the Council’s work more effective. Another challenge would be to maintain the Council’s status vis-à-vis its subsidiary bodies, functional commissions, funds and programmes and the specialized agencies.

The Council must have the ability to respond in a timely manner to new emerging issues and problems of major international significance in the social and economic fields, he said. The Council should explore ways to authorize its Bureau to call meetings or special sessions at any time during the year to deal with crisis or emergencies in a timely and responsive manner.

Top priority would also be given to the crucial issue of the role of information technology, a dominant driving force of globalization, international development and cooperation, he said. Information technology represented the most powerful technological revolution of today. While information technology could represent a major force for promoting equality in the field of economic growth and development, and for narrowing the gap between the developed and the developing countries, it also had the potential to further marginalize developing countries. In that regard, the Council would conduct a series of panel discussions on information technology and development in New York, and if possible, would also seek to organize regional dialogues co-sponsored by the Council and the regional economic commissions during the lead up to the high-level segment. The Council would use the high-level segment to heighten awareness of this phenomenon.

The Council would also hold an exhibition on information technology and its role in international cooperation and development at United Nations Headquarters, he said. One of the most productive and potentially significant initiatives of the Council had been its engagement in the Bretton Woods institutions. The continued strengthening of those initiatives was crucial. Concerning major issues, in the context of globalization, particularly trade and finance, it was important to intensify contacts with the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Such dialogue would facilitate greater coherence and understanding between the economic and trade sectors.

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For information media. Not an official record.