General Assembly Takes Up 2010 Report on the Work of Economic and Social Council

20 October 2010
GA/11013

General Assembly Takes Up 2010 Report on the Work of Economic and Social Council

20 October 2010
General Assembly
GA/11013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-fifth General Assembly

Plenary

34th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Takes Up 2010 Report on the Work of Economic and Social Council

Adopts Consensus Resolution Proclaiming

First Week of February Each Year “World Interfaith Harmony Week”

In the prevailing complex economic and financial climate, the work of the Economic and Social Council took on particular relevance, with its specialized discussion forums — the Annual Ministerial Review, the Development Cooperation Forum and the high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions among them — uniquely tailored to address social ills endemic to a world emerging from sharp downturn, the General Assembly heard today as it took up the Council’s 2010 annual report.

Launching the Assembly’s joint debate on the follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits, which featured discussion of the Council’s 2010 report, Council President Hamidon Ali of Malaysia, reflected on the outcomes of the 54-member body this year, saying that its work should be seen in the context of overall efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The Annual Ministerial Review — tasked with ensuring the follow-up to outcomes of major conferences, including those promoting achievement of the internationally agreed development goals — had focused on gender equality and women’s empowerment this year, confirming that both issues “sit squarely at the heart of development and peace worldwide”, Mr. Ali said, presenting the Council’s report.  A record 13 countries had given national voluntary presentations on progress achieved and obstacles faced on such issues.

Meanwhile, the second Development Cooperation Forum had produced action-oriented policy messages on the structure of development cooperation, aid allocation and policy coherence, he said.  The fact that more countries and stakeholders had been engaged in those discussions this year was an encouraging sign, as was the Forum’s focus on promoting more balanced aid relationships and systems to manage aid funds.

Of particular concern, however, was the ongoing recovery in Haiti, he said, a humanitarian cause to which the Council was firmly committed.  It had extended the mandate of its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti for two more years.  Looking ahead, he encouraged States to set the stage for a path-breaking substantive session next year.

To do that, many of the nearly 20 speakers said in the debate that followed, the Council must sharpenits focus on coordination of economic, social and related work being carried out by the 14 United Nations specialized agencies, functional commissions, and five regional commissions.  Several speakers also pressed developed nations to provide the appropriate resources and technical assistance to help poor countries cope with the impacts of natural disaster and the jobs-related fallout from the global economic crisis.

Others offered suggestions for improving discussions during its substantive session, which is organized around five segments:  high-level segment, coordination segment, operational activities segment, humanitarian affairs segment and general segment.

Yemen’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, recalled that his delegation had called for the reforming of the governing structures of the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) during the Council’s high-level meeting with those bodies.  Moreover, it had urged that the Development Cooperation Forum not be diverted to specific agendas pursued outside the United Nations framework.  The best ways and means to enhance development cooperation should be decided upon by all States in a transparent manner.

Meanwhile, Belgium’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Council’s general segment — designed to review the reports of its subsidiary bodies and other United Nations entities — remained “woefully overburdened”.  That had led to “superficial debates”, hasty consideration of issues that would require more attention, and deferral of issues to resumed sessions that tended to clash with other bodies’ agendas.

“We should explore how to better prepare the ground for that and whether some of the work could be handled outside the substantive session,” he added.  Among other suggestions, he said better discipline in tabling resolutions on time would particularly alleviate some of the burden of the general segment.  Better respect by the Non-Governmental Organization Committee for guiding principles for granting the Council consultative status was also urgently needed.

Some speakers, however, praised the Council for choosing "Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to gender equality and the empowerment of women" as the 2010 theme for its Annual Ministerial Review, the same year the United Nations had launched its historic gender entity, UN Women.  That was particularly important for the Philippines, which had seen two female Presidents, that country’s delegate said.  His Government was a passionate advocate of women’s rights and welfare.

In other business today, the Assembly adopted a consensus resolution, proclaiming the first week of February of every year World Interfaith Harmony Week among all faiths and beliefs.  Introduced by the Personal Envoy and Special Advisor to the King of Jordan, it recognized the urgent need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people.

The Assembly also authorized the United Nations Appeals Tribunal to meet in New York during the main part of the sixty-fifth session, on the strict understanding that the meetings would be accommodated when conference facilities and services could be made available from within existing resources.

Also speaking today in the joint debate on the follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits were the State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan and the Minister of State for External Affairs of India.

The representatives of Lichtenstein, Honduras, Peru, Belarus, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Indonesia, United States and Brazil also spoke.

Speaking after adoption of the resolution were the representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union), Norway, Jordan and Turkey.

A representative of the Holy See spoke as an observer.

The President of the General Assembly also delivered introductory remarks.

The General Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 25 October, to elect eighteen members of the Economic and Social Council.

Background

The General Assembly met today for its joint debate on the report of the Economic and Social Council and matters regarding the integrated and coordinated implementation and follow-up to the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields.

The Assembly was also set to consider a draft resolution under its agenda item on the Culture of Peace, “World Interfaith Harmony Week”.  (Member States considered items on the culture of peace, including the Global Agenda for Dialogue among Civilizations, and Sport for Peace and Development on Monday, 18 October.  For more information, please see Press Release GA/11012.)

For today’s discussion, the Assembly had before it a letter dated 13 October 2010 from the Chair of the Committee on Conferences addressed to the President of the General Assembly (document A/65/337/Add.1) requesting the Assembly to authorize the United Nations Appeals Tribunal to meet in New York during the main part of the Assembly’s sixty-fifth session, on the strict understanding that the meetings would be accommodated when conference facilities and services could be made available from within existing resources.

Also before the Assembly was the report of the Economic and Social Council for 2010 (document A/65/3), a nine-chapter preliminary version of those sections of the Council’s report relating to the organizational and resumed organizational sessions for 2010, and the 54-member body’s substantive session of 2010.

The report covers various matters, including those calling for action by or brought to the attention of the General Assembly and the special high-level meeting of the Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World TradeOrganization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  The remaining chapters focus on the work of the Council’s 2010 substantive session, including its high-level policy segment, coordination segment, humanitarian segment and general segment, as well as elections, nominations, confirmations and appointments and other organizational matters.

For its consideration of the follow-up to outcomes of major United Nations conferences, the Assembly had before it the Secretary-General’s report on the role of the Economic and Social Council in the integrated and coordinated implementation of the outcomes of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits, in the light of relevant General Assembly resolutions, including resolution 61/16 (A/65/84-E/2010/90), which reviews the links among the various parts of the follow-up architecture to enhance coherence.  It describes recent efforts to streamline the Council’s programme of work at its substantive session to avoid overlap and between segments and makes suggestions for further streamlining.

The report recommends that States designate the Council as the intergovernmental mechanism to review the implementation of the outcome of the 2010 high-level meeting on the Millennium Development Goals, notably through the Annual Ministerial Review and biennial Development Cooperation Forum.  They also might consider the value of holding the Forum annually, rather than biennially.

Meetings in all five regions could be convened in preparation for the Annual Ministerial Reviews, the report recommends, to highlight issues of concern and to strengthen the links between country-level operations, regional activities and global discussions.  The Council also could consider holding an informal special event on philanthropy and the global public health agenda.

The report also recommends including the question of integrated conference follow-up in the Secretary-General’s annual report on the Annual Ministerial Review.  Alternatively, the Council could consider the report on integrated conference follow-up every five years, to ensure that the Secretary-General’s report on the Council’s role in those matters coincided with the five-year review of the Goals.

A note by the Secretary-General (document A/65/216) transmits the report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the United Nations Population Award 2010, which says that William Henry (Bill) Gates III and Melinda French Gates, of the United States, were selected for that Award in the individual category, while the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development was chosen in the institutional category.

The Committee selected Mr. and Mrs. Gates in recognition of their achievements in inspiring new frontiers of philanthropy; making the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a leader in global health, particularly in promoting excellence in population assistance; expanding health and educational opportunities; and engaging in global public advocacy that propelled national efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development was recognized for developing the role of Parliaments in Asia, contributing to the establishment of regional parliamentary forums in Africa and Europe and promoting action on population and development issues by fostering dialogue within and among Parliaments.

On financial matters, the report notes that as of 31 December 2009, the Trust Fund for the United Nations Population Award had a total balance of over $1.8 million.  Interest income for 2009 was $33,806.07; expenditures in 2010 totalled $86,881.18.

The draft resolution on World Interfaith Harmony Week (document A/65/L.5) recognizes the imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people, and would have the Assembly proclaim the first week of February of every year World Interfaith Harmony Week between all faiths and beliefs.

Opening Remarks by President of Economic and Social Council

HAMIDON ALI ( Malaysia), President of the Economic and Social Council, introduced the 54-member body’s 2010 report (document A/65/3) and said its work for the year should be seen in the context of the overall effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Last month, some 89 Heads of State and Government adopted a collective road map towards the achievement of the Goals by 2015.  With the impact of the global food, energy, climate and financial crises still being felt and economic recovery still faltering, the summit had sent a clear message that Member States would remain fully committed to reaching the Goals. 

Reflecting next on the outcomes of the Council’s work, he said the 2010 Annual Ministerial Review, which had focused on gender equality and empowerment of women, confirmed that both issues “sit squarely at the heart of development and peace worldwide”.  In that regard, the 13 countries that gave national voluntary presentations provided rich information on successes at the national level.  The Ministerial Declaration, adopted at the close of the high-level segment served as a pivotal action point on progress, challenges and implementation gaps, he added.

The prevailing complex economic and financial climate, he said, had given special relevance to the Council’s second Development Cooperation Forum, which had produced action-oriented policy messages on the structure of development cooperation, aid allocation and policy coherence.  The Forum was encouraged to engage more countries and stakeholders in those discussions and promote more balanced aid relationships and systems to manage aid funds and other positive outcomes.

Further, the 2010 operational activities segment was a rallying call for the United Nations systems to gear up for the next comprehensive policy review in 2012, and the debates provided a compass for the next quadrennial comprehensive policy review of operational activities in 2012.  Overall, he said it had been heartening to see the cooperation by Governments and members of civil society, among others, and noted that the number of non-governmental organizations that made oral presentations through its online system had doubled, and the submission of written statements had tripled.

Turning next to areas of concern, he said the Council remained committed to ensuring that Haiti recovered from the humanitarian disaster that followed the 12 January earthquake.  In that regard, the Council had extended the mandate of its Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti for two more years.  Looking ahead to matters regarding the Council’s substantive work, he said preparations were set in motion for the next Annual Ministerial Review, which would focus on education.  In closing, he urged the Member States to build on progress and set the stage for a successful and path-breaking session next year.

Statements

KAMAL HASSAN ALI, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sudan, said his delegation hoped current international discussions being coordinated by the Economic and Social Council would lead to tangible progress and thus, the realization of the international community’s dream, as outlined in relevant resolutions and decisions taken both by the Council and the General Assembly.  He hoped the international community would continue to display a sense of multilateral cooperation in order to arrive at common ground on the peaceful settlement of conflicts, saying that he had no doubt that the challenges of today could be faced without such cooperation and relevant initiatives promoted through the United Nations. 

He said there as also need to expand the global scope of the partnership for development, and the recent summit-level review of the status of implementation of the Millennium Development Goals provided a road map for making that possible.  Also, there was need to enhance the empowerment of women in a manner that was in line with national development goals, including those pertaining to health and maternal and child well-being.  There was need for coordination of humanitarian and emergency efforts in order to meet the challenges brought about by the recent natural disasters, as well as the financial and economic crisis.

Further, he said there was need to increase investment in infrastructure and technological development.  He called on the international community to support efforts, now underway, to hold referenda in his country that would lead to a fair result for all parties concerned.  He highlighted the dangerous impact of natural phenomena, like climate change and environmental degradation, on developing countries such as Sudan.  In order to help such countries confront the challenges brought about by natural phenomena, he urged the developed world to assist with the appropriate resources and technological assistance.

ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the Council’s meetings with the Bretton Woods institutions, World Trade Organization and UNCTAD provided an opportunity to strengthen the Organization’s relationship with those agencies and institutions.  During that meeting, the Group had reiterated its call to reform the governing structures of those institutions to ensure developing countries’ equitable representation and improve transparency, and had emphasized the need to mobilize resources, both at the national level and from all available mechanisms, including multilateral, bilateral and private sources.  The United Nations, as the only global body with universal membership, was well-positioned to address global economic governance, and it was critical for States to commit to underlying values to fulfil its role in that area.

Discussing another important event, he said the Council’s focus during its high-level segment on the Development Cooperation Forum, a principle forum for dialogue and policy review, could allow for a broader participation of key actors.  It should not be diverted to specific agendas pursued outside the United Nations framework.  The best ways and means of enhancing international development cooperation and principles to be applied in that regard, should be decided upon by all Member States in an inclusive, transparent manner.  The high-level segment also focused on the implementation of internationally agreed goals and commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment, during which participants shared experiences and lessons learned to overcome obstacles.  In that regard, his delegation welcomed the creation of UN Women and pledged full support for it to become operational.

Turning to the Council’s coordination segment, of which focus was on the implementation of existing mandates on coordination, he said discussion of the United Nations’ role in implementing last year’s ministerial declaration, which itself centred on implementing commitments related to global public health, provided a useful contribution to the review of the Millennium Development Goals.  The humanitarian segment offered a valuable opportunity for discussions related to strengthening the coordination of the United Nations’ emergency humanitarian assistance.  He reaffirmed the need for redoubled efforts to address challenges resulting from complex emergencies and natural disasters, which had been compounded crises in food, energy and finance.

In other areas, he expressed concern at the uneven and insufficient progress in achieving the targets in and implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Counties, especially vis-à-vis alleviating poverty, combating hunger and reducing maternal mortality.  As such, he urged enhancing those countries’ productive capacity, particularly in agriculture, and for investing more in infrastructure and technological development.  As for the Council’s operational activities segment, the Group reiterated the need for a strengthened global partnership for development based on the recognition of national ownership of development strategies.  Recalling the Council’s adoption of a resolution on the Global Jobs Pact, he encouraged United Nations entities to work towards reaching the objectives of the United Nations second Decade for Poverty Eradication whose theme was “Decent Work and Full Employment for All”.

CHRISTOPHE DE BASSOMPIERRE (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it was encouraged by progress in the revitalization of the Economic and Social Council, since many of the instruments put in place in recent years had proven their worth.  The main task was to build upon that progress, even though there was room for improvement in some areas, and, ultimately, the relevance of the Council depended on States’ own willingness to make it work.  The Annual Ministerial Review had, over the years, developed into a key high-level forum to discuss broad development issues with a large array of stakeholders, he said.  It had therefore become the embodiment of the Council’s role as the principal coordinating organ of the United Nations in economic, social and related fields.

The national voluntary presentations provided a particularly valuable opportunity to exchange lessons learned, while the second edition of the Development Cooperation Forum had confirmed it was an important place for global dialogue and also provided useful contribution to the debate ahead of last month’s Millennium Development Goals summit.  The Council also remained the central forum to discuss development and humanitarian operations through resolutions adopted, as well as through the dialogues that preceded them, he said.  The recent resolution on system-wide coherence confirmed, once again, the fluid distribution of tasks between the Council and the General Assembly in that area.

The upcoming review of the work of the Council should examine the annual coordination segment, which played a useful role in the follow-up of the Ministerial Declaration, but could be carried further.  The general segment meanwhile remained woefully overburdened, leading to “superficial debates” and hasty consideration of issues that would require more attention, as well as the deferral of issues to resumed sessions that tended to clash with other bodies’ agendas, he said.  We should explore how to better prepare the ground for that and whether some of the work could be handled outside the substantive session, all while examining how to avoid duplication of the General Assembly’s work.  The relationship of the Peacebuilding Commission to the Council’s work, and more generally, the consideration of the link between peace and development, also deserved more attention.

The European Union was encouraged by renewed cooperation with Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and UNCTAD, as well as the constructive spirit that prevailed during negotiations of the Council this summer, which led to good results and consensus agreements.  Nevertheless, there was also room for improvement.  Among other suggestions, he said better discipline-tabling resolutions in time would particularly alleviate some of the burden of the general segment.  Better respect by the Non-Governmental Organization Committee for guiding principles for granting the Council consultative status was also urgently needed, he said.

PRENEET KAUR, Minister of State for External Affairs of India, said that the multiple United Nations conferences that focused on the attainment of agreed development goals must have a seamless, holistic and integrated working relationship with each other, accompanied by work models that ensured synergetic resource flows and coordinated assessment and planning.  She saw the creation of UN Women and the strengthened interaction between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission as important steps in that direction.  Follow-ups to pivotal conferences bearing on development must also be sustained, while the primacy of national priorities must be kept in mind.

India, she said, would continue to work for a strong global partnership through national and international strategies in trade, debt, investment, technology transfer, food security and energy access, with the concerns of developing countries fully considered.  The country had been demanding a greater voice in the Bretton Woods institutions, and would continue push for an ambitious and equitable outcome of climate change negotiations, based on the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. 

To make global governance as inclusive as possible, the United Nations urgently needed reform, nowhere more than in the Security Council which must be expanded in both the permanent and non-permanent categories.  For that reason, text-based negotiations in the General Assembly must progress on an urgent basis, while efforts to revitalize the Assembly itself continued as well.  The Economic and Social Council, in that context, must become even more meaningful than what was originally envisaged in the United Nations Charter and subsequently strengthened through implementation of resolution 61/16.  She pledged India’s support for proposals that could strengthen the centrality of the United Nations system in global governance.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said that as his country’s first tenure in the Council came to a close, its membership confirmed the importance of the strategic input of the Council to major items on the United Nations agenda.  The Council had an important role in the governance of its substantive committees and in the election and supervision of the executive bodies of the Organization’s specialized agencies, funds and programmes.  However, while the Council had acted swiftly for the new gender entity, he said it must take leadership to ensure that all its subsidiary bodies lived up to the standards of transparency, inclusiveness and objectivity.  The Council should also consider structural reform, most notably, in the area of increasing transparency and inclusiveness within the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, to ensure international cooperation in tax matters.

Regarding the Council’s work on humanitarian issues, he said that body should contribute more to United Nations policy coherence on the ground without entering “notorious fields of political disagreement”.  The inclusion of concrete policy guidelines of cross-cutting nature, such as health and an environmentally-friendly approach to nutrition in emergency situations, would strengthen the Council’s humanitarian policy.  In closing, he noted that during Lichtenstein’s tenure, the Council had streamlined its agenda, which resulted in less overlap, particularly in the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), and had a clearer understanding of its mandate as the central United Nations body for strategic financial and economic coordination.  However, the Council must strive for more mutual cooperation in order to strengthen its legitimacy.  He reaffirmed Liechtenstein’s commitment to contribute to those efforts.

MARY ELIZABETH FLORES (Honduras) observed that the bleak spectre of extreme poverty still haunted and created anxiety in hundreds of thousands of homes around the world, and the reluctance of some of rich countries to carry through on their obligations only added to the devastating toll that the financial crisis had had, fuelled by what she termed speculative transactions and “immoral business practices of greedy people”.  She wondered how the weaker countries were expected to compete in an environment of partial equality with the strong, if, in addition to the disparity in their production capacity, strong nations sought to keep them held down and overwhelmed them with products offered at prices they could not afford.

She declared that not even the entire production of the more than 500,000 families in her country that made a living by growing coffee was enough to pay half of Honduras’ oil debt to those cartels that supplied the country at what she called “highway robbery prices”, a vital resource the country lacked.  To that, it had to be added, the cyclic damage of erratic climate that ended life, destroyed infrastructure and killed crops, she said.  Indeed, climate change, whose cause did not come from developing countries, had nevertheless caused those countries to pay the same high quota of sacrifice in the undeserved distribution of its consequences.

LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN (Philippines) noted that the “landmark” creation of UN Women took place in the same year the Economic and Social Council’s Annual Ministerial Review had focused on the theme of gender equality and empowerment of women.  As a country that had had two female Presidents and which remained a passionate advocate of the advancement of women’s rights and welfare, the Philippines had similarly taken significant steps forward.  It had passed, in August 2009, the Magna Carta of Women, a comprehensive women’s rights law that would seek to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting and promoting the rights of Filipino women, particularly those in marginalized sectors.  Philippines had also issued its Implementing Rules and Regulations in June 2010.  Under the supervision of a Philippine Commission on Women, the Magna Carta united various Government agencies and functions relating to women’s issues.  In that regard, the Philippines supported the continued monitoring of women’s issues by the Council.

Similarly, he said, the Philippines called for the strengthening of the Development Cooperation Forum to reap the full benefits of its potential.  He underscored the importance of last year’s discussions, which presented key development issues on a variety of topics that affected the daily lives of all.  Of particular interest to the Philippines were issues in the area of humanitarian assistance and climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development.  As a country that suffered from frequent natural disasters, he called such discussions under the Council’s purview and its functional commissions would be based on “the greater common good and the legacy we leave to future generations”.  In closing, he pledged his country’s full support for ongoing improvements of the Council’s working methods, as it fulfilled its role in key global discussions that would affect the lives of people around the globe.

GONZALO GUTIÉRREZ (PERU) pointed out that the effects of the international economic and financial crisis were still being felt throughout the developing world and adversely impacting developing countries’ ability to attain the Millennium Development Goals.  Noting that there was still much work to be done, he called for greater commitment by the international community, if the effects of that crisis were to be overcome.  It was important to promote greater international cooperation, especially for small- and medium-income countries.  There was also need to promote programmes that generated employment.  In his view, efforts to tackle the crisis also largely depended on the cooperation of the international community, and particularly important to the success of any recovery was integrating the views of smaller countries, as they constituted the majority of the membership of the United Nations.

He said the annual meeting of Economic and Social Council and Bretton Woods institutions, along with UNCTAD and the World Trade Organization, had been important in encouraging the wider Organization’s efforts to promote achievement of the Millennium Goals.  Peru firmly believed that technical and financial cooperation was important in strengthening development mechanisms.  Equally, capacity-building was vital as was the empowerment of women.  He reiterated need for cooperation among middle-income countries, especially in areas of health and education.  Further, he highlighted the effects of climate change, which he said, needed to be a central element in all areas of international cooperation and development.

VASILY KURLOVICH ( Belarus) commended the Council’s work and the efficient manner in which the 54-member body had held its 2010 substantive session.  That session had contributed greatly towards the Assembly’s summit-level review of the status of the Millennium Development Goals in September.  He called for further strengthening of the Council’s role as the main body responsible for coordinating the work of United Nations funds and programmes.  Special emphasis should be placed on ensuring an environment system–wide that worked to promote fair international trade and which provided expertise and technical assistance to developing and middle–income countries. 

Highlighting some important features of the Council’s substantive work, he called for further discussions on ways to bolster the biennial Development Cooperation Forum, including raising its institutional status, increasing the frequency of its meetings and enhancing the format of its outcome documents.  He went on to say that Belarus planned to present its national report during the Council’s 2011 Annual Ministerial Review.  He also encouraged Member States to consider development financing strategies that promoted “green economy” initiatives.  Indeed, an important factor in tackling climate change and in reaching the Millennium Development Goals would be to shape new energy architecture that aimed, among other things, to provide universal access to energy services.  That should include promoting the exchange of environmentally friendly and affordable energy technology, as well as raising the profile of energy matters within the United Nations and throughout the Organization’s development work.

MIKHAIL Y. SAVOSTIANOV ( Russian Federation) said the Economic and Social Council possessed all the necessary mechanisms for a global discussion on socio-economic issues among all stakeholders.  The Russian Federation was satisfied with progress in the Council this year, and he noted useful and intense work ensuring systemic coherence to economic, social and related fields.  This year, the Council had shown itself to be integral to the development of mutually beneficial cooperation between the United Nations and other multilateral agencies.

He went on to say that any decisions on further strengthening the Council would require a multidisciplinary and coordinated approach, but those goals could be implemented within the current format of the Council, he said.  Furthermore, the Annual Ministerial Review must adjust the mandates of the sessions of the Council to provide a more clear definition of its goals, and transfer its emphasis from emergency assistance towards strengthening long-term assistance for reconstruction and peacebuilding.

MILOŠ KOTEREC ( Slovakia) said the Economic and Social Council’s 2010 session had seen many significant achievements, including the establishment of UN Women, which was an important step towards eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and strengthening their voice worldwide.  The Council’s Annual Ministerial Review had proved a strong instrument for discussions on key economic and social issues, and the Declaration adopted at its conclusion had been focused on results and had provided a solid base for the successful holding of the Assembly’s subsequent high-level review of the Millennium Development Goals.

He noted that the large number of presentations presented during the Ministerial Review had highlighted national experiences and approaches, as well as problem areas.  Yet all best practices that had been discussed offered opportunities that could help some countries proceed towards attaining the Goals more rapidly.  He went on to note that much work had been carried out in the past four years towards strengthening the Council’s work.  Still, there was much to do, especially to bolster its position as the United Nations principle body for coordination, policy review and dialogue, and implementation of internationally agreed development goals and outcomes of major conferences. 

It was crucial that more emphasis be put on system-wide coordination and integration, through carrying out new programmes and policies in economic, social and humanitarian areas and promoting global dialogue.  In that regard, he urged greater use of the potential provided by close cooperation between the Council and the Security Council.  Indeed, those two bodies considered many of the same issues, and he was convinced that with greater cooperation “more visible results could be achieved in a shorter time” on such matters.  He noted that the Peacebuilding Commission was an important link between the two bodies, and the current review of the Commission’s work indicated that it could play a greater role in that regard.  He also supported strengthening the position of the Development Cooperation Forum and, while also working to ensure that the Council’s agenda, “which is more overburdened year to year”, was streamlined to focus on core issues of its mandate.

MOHAMAD HERY SARIPUDIN ( Indonesia) said progress on and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals was a vital part of the effective implementation of General Assembly resolution 57/270B, he said.  The Goals could only be met through a genuine global partnership for development.  In that regard, the 2002 Monterrey Consensus, 2008 Doha Declaration on Financing for Development and ongoing Doha Development Round of World Trade Organization trade talks provided the framework for that partnership, and it was important that the commitments outlined in those documents and forums were fully implemented.

The Council emphasized the strategic link between gender and achievement of the Goals, and Indonesia welcomed the decision to establish UN Women, in hopes it would further support comprehensive action for development across sectors.  The 2010 Declaration adopted by the Council’s high-level segment had rightly emphasized measures to address inequalities through root causes, he said.  The strengthened functions of the Council placed it in a strategic role to follow up the Millennium Goals summit — it could perform that function through the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum.  Indonesia, for its part, had integrated the Goals into its national development strategy and would accelerate implementation of the 2010 National Development Priorities and promote justice in its national development programme, he said.

FREDERICK D. BARTON (United States) commended Ambassador Ali’s strong leadership of the Council, as well as his and the work of previous Presidents of the body in advancing improvements in its working methods and enhancing its relevance and contributions to the United Nations system.  Strengthening the Annual Ministerial Review and its focus on issues related to achieving the Millennium Goals ensured that the Council played an important role in the Assembly’s recent summit on the attainment of the Millennium Goals. 

He went on to say that the United States was pleased to have joined others this year in making its voluntary presentation on gender equality and women’s empowerment during the Annual Ministerial Review.  The United States was also pleased by the balance and breadth of the discussions during this year’s Development Cooperation Forum.  The delegation was in favour of maintaining the current format of the Forum’s biennial meetings for the time being, which allowed more time for broader reflection on development assistance and related issues than if the Forum were convened annually.  Finally, he expressed support for ongoing efforts to streamline and better rationalize the Council’s agenda items, and he noted that the outcome of the Assembly’s summit on the Millennium Goals clearly outlined follow-up arrangements.

JOÃO LUCAS QUENTAL NOVAES DE ALMEIDA ( Brazil) said Brazil was ready and willing to actively participate in the discussions that would further improve the work and progress of the Economic and Social Council.  Regarding the Council’s initiatives, the general design of the Annual Ministerial Review rested on solid foundations and important accomplishments, despite the fact that there was room for improvement.  Brazil also gave merit to the Development Cooperation Forum as one of the rare bodies that brought together practitioners and policy makers to discuss cooperation and development.  Despite its progress, however, the Forum should be further strengthened as the main venue for discussions in the United Nations on development assistance and cooperation issues.  He also called for further exploration of increased frequency of its meetings. 

Furthermore, he went on to say that initiatives proposed by the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) lacked clear definition, for example, its concept of “green economy”, which warranted much further discussion.  Further, Brazil reiterated its call for closer cooperation between governing bodies and the United Nations, most notably, the Economic and Social Council.  While he was generally pleased with progress this year in the financing for development process, he said the Monterey Conference was the only major United Nations summit in the field of development that did not result in a permanent intergovernmental body to oversee and promote the implementation of its outcome.  To address that shortcoming, Brazil called for the establishment of a functional commission on financing for development.

Introduction and Action on Draft

Prince GHAZI BIN MOHAMMAD, Personal Envoy and Special Adviser to the King of Jordan, introduced the draft resolution on World Interfaith Harmony Week (document A/65/L.5).  He said the Assembly was well aware the world was rife with religious tension, mistrust, and hatred, which facilitated war and violence.  The remedy for such problems could only come from the world’s religions themselves, and although much good work had already been done towards that end, religious tensions were on the rise.  The present draft sought to turn the tide against that negative movement by coordinating and uniting efforts among all interfaith groups doing positive work through one focused annual theme.  At the same time, it would harness the collective might of places of worship for peace and harmony and regularly encourage the “silent majority” of preachers to commit themselves on the record for peace and harmony.

The text used the Confucian concept of the word “harmony”, which suggested peace and also “beautiful and dynamic interaction between different elements within a whole”, he said.  The third paragraph of the text made religious reference to “Love of God and Love of the Neighbour, or Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour” but that language excluded no one.  He noted, however, the entire proposal was purely voluntary and no place of worship should be forced to observe World Interfaith Harmony Week.  The resolution “excludes no individual, compromises no one, commits no one, forces no one, harms no one, costs nothing, and — on the contrary — includes everyone, celebrates everyone, benefits everyone, unites everyone and has the potential to bring much needed peace and harmony to the entire world, in sha Allah,” he said.

The General Assembly adopted the resolution without a vote.

Speaking after action, the representative of Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, thanked Jordan for the resolution as well as its readiness to consider suggestions put forth by the European Union.  It was an established fact that religions and faith could not be considered actors under international law.  Any obligation of States with regard to religious affairs was solely towards individuals or groups of individuals.  Therefore, the resolution could not allow States to impose views on any interreligious discourse, he said.

The representative of Norway then welcomed the resolution, fully subscribing to the European Union representative’s statement.

The representative of Jordan thanked the delegations and co-sponsors of the text, assuring Belgium’s representative, who had spoken on behalf of the European Union, that Jordanagreed with that delegation’s “fine distinctions” presented after the vote.

The representative of Turkey welcomed the draft resolution, which showed commitment of the world community to make the world more harmonious for future generations.

The Observer of the Holy See also thanked Jordan for its resolution, but said he had hoped it would have taken into account dialogue between religions.  The resolution also did not clearly express the difference between personal faith and institutional religions, and he would have preferred substituting the word “religion” for “faith” in the title of the week as well as the word “dialogue” rather than “harmony”.

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