TAKING ACTION ON THREE DECISIONS, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL PICKS THEME FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS SEGMENT OF 2009 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION

26 March 2009
ECOSOC/6386

TAKING ACTION ON THREE DECISIONS, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL PICKS THEME FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS SEGMENT OF 2009 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION

26 March 2009
Economic and Social Council
ECOSOC/6386
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council

2009 Organizational Session

3rd Meeting (AM)

TAKING ACTION ON THREE DECISIONS, ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL PICKS THEME

FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS SEGMENT OF 2009 SUBSTANTIVE SESSION

Other Texts Address Regional Perspectives

On Global Economic, Financial Crises; Transition from Relief to Development

The Economic and Social Council decided today that the theme of the humanitarian affairs segment of its 2009 substantive session would be “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian assistance: present challenges and their impact on the future”.

Under that theme, the Council would convene two panels, on “Respecting and implementing guiding principles of humanitarian assistance at the operational level -– assisting the affected populations”, and on “Addressing the impact of current global challenges and trends on the effective delivery of humanitarian assistance”.

The decision (document E/2009/L.2) was one of three taken this morning as the Council considered organizational matters of the 2009 session.  By a second decision (document E/2009/L.3), the 54-member body decided that the theme for its agenda item on regional cooperation would be “Regional perspectives on the global economic and financial crisis, including the impact on global public health”.  The Council also decided (document E/2009/L.4) to hold an informal event on 17 July to discuss the transition from relief to development.

Council Vice-President Nurshirwan Zainal Abidin (Malaysia), briefing delegates on informal consultations under way to determine the theme for the Council’s 2010 thematic discussion, said a revised version had been circulated that, hopefully, would be adopted at the next formal meeting.  Delegations were working to include a reference to challenges faced in the proposed theme -– “Current global and national trends and challenges and their impact on gender equality and the empowerment of women”.

Taking up preparations for the 2009 operational activities segment, Council Vice-President Carmen María Gallardo Hernández ( El Salvador) said the segment, from 15 to 17 June, would focus on how the United Nations would implement its wide-ranging review of policies, with a view to creating a plan for the United Nations system’s Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of operational activities for development.  Established by General Assembly resolution 62/208, the Review monitors and assesses the Organization’s operational activities.

She said three panels would be held, with two sessions of thematic dialogue and a general debate.  Discussion on the morning of 15 June would focus in part on the role of the United Nations development system in helping Governments alleviate the economic, food and climate crises.  Activities on 16 June would feature a dialogue with country programme directors to discuss achieving resolution 62/208.  There would also be a debate involving the Chair of the High-Level Committee of Experts on Public Administration, and possibly the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Chair of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG).  The segment would also seek to tackle the 2009 theme relating to public health.

Delegates then turned their attention to a 5 March request from the Permanent Representative of Iraq (document E/2009/11) to include in the 2009 substantive session a sub-item titled “Rehabilitation of the marshes in the southern regions of Iraq”, under agenda item 13 (a) on sustainable development.

Iraq’s representative said the marshes in his country’s southern regions contained “enormous” ecological diversity and had provided economic resources for tens of thousands of families who had previously earned their livelihoods from them for thousands of years.  As a result of the previous regime’s efforts to destroy the marshes, a 5,000-year-old civilization was today under threat.  The Iraqi Government had established a centre for the rehabilitation of the marshes and a programme to “inject new life into the region” through a recognition that rehabilitation was integral to the comprehensive management of water resources.

Peru’s representative then discussed his country’s request to join the Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti, contained in a 20 March letter from the Permanent Representative of Peru to the Council President (document E/2009/49).  The request was based on Peru’s sustained support to that country, reflected in its participation for almost five years as a contributor of troops to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  Additionally, Peru had, as a member of the Security Council in 2006-2007, coordinated the efforts of the Group of Friends of Haiti to ensure renewal of the Mission’s mandate.

Canada’s representative, speaking as Chair of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group, said he would be pleased to welcome Peru, which had demonstrated continuing interest in Haiti.

Council President Sylvie Lucas ( Luxembourg) said she would submit the matter for consideration at the next organizational session.

In other business, the Council elected France, Norway and Spain, by acclamation, to the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) for a term beginning immediately and expiring on 31 December 2012.  The 58-member Governing Council, which meets every two years to examine UN‑Habitat's work and relationships with its partners, is set to convene from 30 March to 3 April.  It is a ministerial-level forum of Governments that establishes policy guidelines and the Programme’s budget for the ensuing two-year period.

Having received no other candidatures, the Council decided to postpone further the election to the Governing Council of two members from the Western European and other States Group, for a term beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2011.  It also postponed the election of one member from the African States Group, one from the Asian States Group, one from Latin American and Caribbean States Group, and two from the Western European and other States Group, for terms beginning on the date of election and ending on 31 December 2012.

In the Council’s final business today, Nikhil Seth, Director of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs Office for Economic and Social Council Support and Coordination, presented the new Development Strategies that Work database, available on the Economic and Social Council website, saying it contained outcomes and analyses based on information provided to the Council’s Annual Ministerial Review by Governments and through national voluntary presentations.

Mr. Seth said the goals of the tool, among other things, were to make information widely available to policymakers and practitioners by highlighting key strategic policy successes and lessons learned.  It would also be useful for media and academics.  The site had recently hosted an e-discussion on public health, in which health experts, policymakers and practitioners had taken part.  However, no Member States had participated, and they were encouraged to do so in the future.

Council President Lucas (Luxemburg) closed the meeting by announcing that a day-long preparatory meeting for the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review would be held on Tuesday, 31 March.  Opening with a presentation by Hans Rosling on health indicators for the Millennium Development Goals, it would also include a session on the impact of the world economic crisis on global health.  The afternoon would focus on health challenges faced by countries emerging from conflict.  Participants would include Sheki Tejan Koroma, Minister for Health of Sierra Leone, and Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières.

She said an information meeting would be held on Thursday, 2 April, at 11 a.m. in Conference Room 8, where Mr. Seth would make a presentation.

The Economic and Social Council will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.