By Working Together, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council Can Promote Role of UN in Building More Secure, Equitable World, Assembly President Says

22 October 2012
GA/11304

By Working Together, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council Can Promote Role of UN in Building More Secure, Equitable World, Assembly President Says

22 October 2012
General Assembly
GA/11304
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-seventh General Assembly

Plenary

28th Meeting (PM)

By Working Together, General Assembly, Economic and Social Council Can Promote

Role of UN in Building More Secure, Equitable World, Assembly President Says

Speakers Say Council Integral to Defining Sustainable Development

Goals, Must Be ‘Window to Realities Outside Halls of United Nations’

Emerging from the “Rio+20” with a reaffirmed mandate as one of the primary United Nations bodies responsible for sustainable development, the Economic and Social Council must be reinvigorated to play an active role in following up the outcomes of that summit and in setting the post-2015 development agenda, the General Assembly was told today as delegates gathered for their annual joint debate on the Council’s work.

In light of the mandate the Council had received from the world leaders gathered in Rio in June for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Assembly President Vuk Jeremić opened the debate by welcoming the 54-member body’s commitment to play a more pronounced role in the development agenda following the deadline of the Millennium Development Goal targets, slated for 2015.

Indeed, he said, in line with the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference — known as “The Future We Want” — a more sustainable development model could only be achieved through a broad alliance of peoples, Governments, civil society and the private sector.  The Council, alongside the Assembly and the Secretariat, shared a mandate to follow up on the outcome document with a view towards making sustainable development a reality.

Further, he noted that a more dynamic Council “can make an even stronger contribution to the work of the United Nations,” echoing a sentiment that resounded through the Assembly this afternoon.  “This task is of the utmost importance for the General Assembly,” he stressed in that regard, adding that he would shortly announce the appointment of co-facilitators to lead consultations on how to strengthen the Council.

“[The Economic and Social Council] must continue to build on the achievements made over the course of 2012,” said Council Vice-President Luis Alfonso De Alba ( Mexico), noting that the year had been a productive one, as well as a time of preparation for addressing new challenges.  Introducing the Council’s report, he described some of those achievements, including, in particular, the Annual Ministerial Review, which focused on the global jobs crisis.  The Council had served as a platform for some 40 ministers and other policy-makers, academics and global leaders from the private sector and civil society to share perspectives and consult on the creation opportunities for decent work for all.

In association with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations system, the Council had advocated for an integrated and results-oriented approach to tackle the global employment crisis, he continued.  It had recommended that collective efforts should centre on productive employment, employment in the “green economy” — especially for young people — and on social protection.  Those recommendations, among others, had been laid out in a comprehensive Ministerial Declaration, he said, which called for immediate measures for productive job creation.

During the Council’s series of meetings on coordination, particular attention had been paid to the follow-up to the Monterey Consensus (2002) and the Doha Declaration (2008), with an eye towards avoiding duplication between those financing for development processes, and the results of the Rio+20 Conference.  A special meeting was held on innovative development funding mechanisms.  In addition, he said, the Council’s Development Cooperation Forum, which to date had only met on three occasions, had already consolidated its position as a critical space for dialogue on development.

Agreeing that the Rio+20 outcome had, in effect, renewed and strengthened the Council’s mandate, he said that it reflected the need to develop the Council’s capacity in integrating the three key pillars of sustainable development, as well as to attract all relevant actors and get them involved.  In that regard, he invited Governments, United Nations system entities and other actors to submit proposals on the strengthening of the Council’s work in 2013.

The European Union was encouraged by the progress in the Council’s revitalization, the representative of that delegation said, noting that the Development Cooperation Forum and the Annual Ministerial Review, for instance, had become important elements of the body’s annual substantive sessions.  He welcomed the Forum’s contribution in promoting the broader post-2015 development agenda, especially in issues related to development effectiveness, mutual accountability and development-oriented partnerships.

“The [Economic and Social Council] has to be a window to realities outside the United Nations halls,” he continued, stressing that strengthening the Council’s interactions with all stakeholders would improve public perception not only of that body, but also of the United Nations as a whole.  Indeed, there was always scope for improvement; in that respect, the Council could also build on its convening power at the international level on global challenges, trends and emerging issues in the economic, social and environmental fields.

“An inclusive post-2015 development agenda can only be built if equity and poverty eradication remain its defining contours,” said Derek O’Brien, a Member of Parliament of India, as he took the floor.  The building blocks for sustainable development, agreed upon in Rio, must be put in place shortly, he stressed.  “We have just begun this century, but let us not postpone its most efficacious and necessary achievements to too late,” he said, referring to missed opportunities regarding implementation of the Millennium Goals.

“We did that in the twentieth century and look how our world suffered,” he said.  It was crucial that developing countries be given due voice and participation in the decision-making structures of global economic and financial institutions, he added, calling, in that respect, for an expanded Security Council, a revitalized General Assembly and a strengthened Economic and Social Council.

The representative of Argentina said the Council was not up to the present economic and social challenges, and stressed the need to find a way to make the body more efficient so that it could contribute decisively to the promotion of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely social development, economic growth and environmental protection.  To do that, the Council’s agenda should be streamlined, as it now dealt with countless reports on diverse topics without achieving the expected results.  The Council should monitor the effective implementation of adopted resolutions, including one this year on the need to attach the highest priority in the United Nations development agenda to the eradication of poverty.

In other business today, the Assembly concluded its joint debate on development in Africa, including progress on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the causes of conflict and the search for durable peace and development on the continent, and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa.  It also addressed an agenda item on the follow-up to the outcomes of the Millennium Summit.

Also speaking on the report of the Economic and Social Council were the representatives of Belarus, United States, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Russian Federation and Mexico.

Wrapping up the debate on development in Africa were the representatives of Namibia and Libya, as well as a representative of the observer delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

The Assembly will reconvene on Monday, 29 October, at 10:00 a.m., to discuss the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits in the economic, social and related fields, and to launch the International Year of Quinoa (2013).

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, among other agenda items.

For those discussions, the Assembly had before it the Report of the Economic and Social Council for 2012 (document A/67/3), a 10-chapter preliminary version of those sections of the 54-member body’s report relating to its 2012 organizational, resumed and substantive sessions.

It covers various matters, including those calling for attention by, or brought to the attention to, the Assembly and the special high-level meeting of the Council with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  The remaining chapters focus on the work of the Council’s 2011 session, including its high-level policy segment, operational activities segment, coordination segment, humanitarian segment and general segment, as well as elections, nominations, confirmations and appointments and other organizational matters.

A note by the Secretary-General (document A/67/298) transmits the report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the United Nations Population Award 2012, which says that Adrienne Germain of the United States was selected as the laureate in the individual category, and the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia was selected in the institutional category.

The UNFPA Committee on the Award selected Ms. Germain in recognition of her pioneering contribution in linking population policies with the status of women, as far back as 1975, as well as for her contribution to reshaping the global agenda on women’s health and human rights.  The Committee cited her role in elaborating and championing the concept of reproductive health and her extensive writing in the areas of family planning and reproductive health.  In addition, it considered Ms. Germain’s contribution to global efforts to improve the status and health of women and girls, and her role as an advocate in building worldwide networks to promote sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

The Federation of Reproductive Health Associations, Malaysia, which is composed of 13 State member organizations, was chosen for its achievements in advocating reproductive health, in advancing the health and status of women and children in Malaysia by promoting family planning, and for its success in serving one of every four new users of family planning services and one sixth of all users of family planning services in Malaysia.  The Committee cited the role of the Federation in bringing visibility to family planning in Malaysia and elsewhere in Asia, as well as for its commitment to improving the lives of disadvantaged communities, including refugees, sex workers and transsexual and marginalized youth at juvenile homes and orphanages.

Also before the Assembly was a note by the Secretary-General on periodicity and scope of future reports on the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits (document A/67/82 — E/2012/64).  It states that, as noted in the report of the Secretary-General submitted to the Economic and Social Council at its 2010 substantive session, given that the integrated review of conferences was now being pursued under the annual ministerial review process, a separate annual report on the integrated follow-up to conferences added little substantive value to the existing reports prepared annually for the review process and coordination segment.

The relevance of future reporting depended on developments in the definition of the United Nations development agenda.  Rather than having a fixed periodicity, future reports should be submitted when intergovernmental decisions called for the renewed consideration of the integrated follow-up to conferences by the Economic and Social Council.  The major events that would call for such a review were the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ( Rio+20), held in June 2012, and the review of the Millennium Development Goals, to be held in 2015.

Consequently, it states, the Council might wish to request that reports on the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits be submitted to it at its substantive session of 2013, in order to take into account the outcome of Rio+20, and at its substantive session in 2016, to take into account the outcome of the view of the review of the Millennium Declaration.  Thereafter, the Council might choose to consider those reports in such a way as to coincide with the review cycle of the Millennium Goals, which was likely to continue to take place every five years.

Finally, the Assembly had before it a note by the Secretary-General on integrating non-discrimination and equality into the post-2015 development agenda for water, sanitation and hygiene (document A/67/270), which transmits the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation.

The report emphasizes the importance of proposing targets and indicators that integrate equality, non-discrimination and equity into post-2015 development goals, one of the major gaps in the Millennium Goals.  The human right to water and sanitation serves as an exemplary illustration of the importance of these human rights principles, it states, noting that the inclusion of equality and non-discrimination considerations in the design and implementation of policies and programmes benefit the most marginalized members of society and those most discriminated against.  They also contribute reducing gaps in access to fundamental services around the world.

The Special Rapporteur underlined the need to ensure that water, sanitation and hygiene are considered on equal footing with other priorities by devoting a specific stand-alone goal to these areas for the post-2015 framework.  The report also underlines the need for enhanced data collection and monitoring to determine who is excluded, and calls for incentives to reduce inequalities and focus on the most disadvantaged.

Among numerous other recommendations set out in the report are ensuring that goals, targets, and indicators are explicitly designed to reveal who is left behind; and the provision of incentives for progress towards ensuring access for the most disadvantaged.  The stand-alone equality goal must address the root causes of exclusion and deprivation, and an equity approach should complement the principles of non-discrimination and equality.  Embracing both approaches provides an important political foothold by emphasizing areas where human rights law has traditionally been less robust — especially in relation to wealth inequities and global disparities — while also underlining the legal obligation to eliminate discrimination.

The Assembly was also expected to conclude today its joint debate on development in Africa, including progress on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the causes of conflict and the search for durable peace and development on the continent, and the 2001-2010 Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, particularly in Africa (see Press Release GA/11302 of 17 October for background and further information).

Opening Remarks

VUK JEREMIĆ, President of the General Assembly, recalled that, in his address to the Economic and Social Council Special Ministerial Meeting, one of the questions he had raised was that of how to fortify multilateral responses to development challenges.  In that regard, he had welcomed the Council’s commitment to play a more pronounced role in the post-2015 discussions, in light of the mandate it had received from the world leaders gathered at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June.  The statement at the end of the Ministerial Meeting had reaffirmed that “a more sustainable development model can only be achieved through a broad alliance of peoples, Governments, civil society and the private sector,” in line with the message of “The Future We Want”, the outcome document of the Rio conference.

Indeed, a mandate had been given to the General Assembly to establish an intergovernmental process to propose options for an effective financing strategy to advance the Rio agenda.  It was given the responsibility to prepare a high-level forum to be launched at the beginning of the next session.  In addition, the Assembly had been charged with establishing a working group to propose a list of sustainable development goals for consideration and adoption by the plenary.  The Secretary-General’s High-level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda was another significant part of that process, he said, as was the role of the Economic and Social Council.  Such work should be mutually reinforcing and complementary, and duplication of efforts should be avoided.  He referred, in particular, to the African continent, stressing that its singular needs should be better addressed and the gap between the continent’s promise and the reality on the ground must be bridged.

The General Assembly should play a more pronounced role in the ongoing debate on global economic governance, he said.  In that regard, the intent was not to “infringe” on established prerogatives, but to complement existing efforts in order to help answer a number of questions related to transparency, inclusivity and legitimacy.  To that end, he highlighted three mutually enforcing initiatives, namely:  the Council’s participation in helping organize an informal, high-level debate in the Assembly on the United Nations role in world economic governance; building closer and more formalized relations with the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF); and holding debates and conferences on global economic issues under the auspices of the Assembly ahead of the “Group of 20” Summit in St. Petersburg, Russian Federation, next year.  In that context, he was pleased to welcome Kazakhstan’s idea to coordinate the agenda of the May 2013 Astana Economic Forum with related efforts in the United Nations.

“A more dynamic [Economic and Social Council] can make an even stronger contribution to the work of the United Nations,” he said, adding that he would shortly announce the appointment of co-facilitators to lead consultations on how to strengthen the Council.  “This task is of the utmost importance for the General Assembly,” he stressed, especially given the mandate that the Assembly shared with the Council and the Secretariat to follow up on the outcomes of the Rio conference, as well as their common responsibilities to set the post-2015 agenda.

Introduction of Report

LUIS ALFONSO DE ALBA (Mexico), Vice-President of the Economic and Social Council, presented the report of the Council to the General Assembly (document A/67/82-E/2012/64) on behalf of the body’s President, saying that the past year had been a productive one, as well as a time of preparation for addressing new challenges.  As the principal organ of the United Nations on development matters, the Economic and Social Council had served as a platform for over 40 ministers and other policy-makers, academics and global leaders from the private sector and civil society, among others, to share perspectives and consult on the creation opportunities for decent work for all.

In association with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations system, the Council had advocated for an integrated and results-oriented approach to tackle the global employment crisis, he said.  In particular, it had recommended that collective efforts should centre on productive employment, employment in the green economy — especially for young people — and social protection.  Those recommendations, among others, had been laid out in a comprehensive Ministerial Declaration, he said, which called for immediate measures for productive job creation.

In addition to the work of the Preparatory Committees in Africa, Asia and the Pacific and Latin America and the Caribbean, he described voluntary national contributions which had been made by eight countries over the period under review.  Those contributions had informed the Council of progress made in realizing the objectives of national development, as well as the difficulties encountered on achieving the aims and objectives related to employment.

The Council’s Development Cooperation Forum, which to date had only met on three occasions, had consolidated its position as a critical space for dialogue on development.  In a series of coordination meetings, consideration was also given to the follow-up to the 2011 Ministerial Review theme on education; emphasis in that regard had been placed on collaboration between the United Nations, civil society and the private sector.  During the Council’s series of meetings on coordination, particular attention had been paid to the follow-up to Monterey Consensus and the Doha Conference, with an eye towards avoiding duplication between those financing for development processes, and the results of the Rio+20 Conference.  A special meeting was also held on innovative development funding mechanisms.

Preparations were completed for the Quadrennial Comprehensive Review on operational activities for development, he continued.  Consideration was given, among other things, to the establishment of better instruments to boost coherence, strengthening the Resident Coordinator system and boosting the efficiency of entrepreneurial activities.  As in past years, the Council’s series of sessions on humanitarian matters had focused on the most complex emergencies throughout the world, as well as on ways to improve future responses to future crises.  A particular focus during the reporting period had been on the transition from aid to development, especially in meeting the challenges of the Sahel region.

The Council had adopted measures related to a wide range of issues.  First, it had adopted a new Plan of Action to ensure that the whole system could better focus on gender equality and the empowerment of women.  The Council had included South Sudan among the list of least developed countries and had removed Vanuatu and had discussed the follow-up to the Istanbul Programme of Action.  Attention was given to the efficiency of aid, and the Council had discussed matters related to commitment, transparency and accountability.  It had also recognized 286 non-governmental organizations in addition to those already existing as consultative entities to the United Nations.

“[The Economic and Social Council] must continue to build on the achievements made over the course of 2012,” he stressed.  Moreover, he noted, the Rio+20 outcome had reaffirmed the Council’s mandate as one of the principal organs charged with the integrated and coordinated follow-up to the results of major United Nations summits and conferences in the economic, social and environmental spheres.  That renewed and strengthened mandate demonstrated the need to develop the Council’s capacity in integrating those three key pillars, and to attract all relevant actors to be involved.  In that regard, he invited Governments, United Nations system entities and other actors to submit proposals on the strengthening of the Council’s work in 2013.

Statements

AMERICO BEVIGLIA ZAMPETTI, Delegation of the European Union, said the Union was encouraged by the progress in the revitalization of the Council.  The Development Cooperation Forum and the Annual Ministerial Review, for instance, had become important elements of the body’s annual substantive sessions.  However, there was room for improvement in many areas to make the body’s working methods more effective and efficient.  The Council’s relevance ultimately depended on its own willingness to make it work.  The Union appreciated the role of the Council in fostering dialogue and helping to forge converging views and a coherent policy vision on the Rio+20 follow-up.  It also welcomed the Development Cooperation Forum’s contribution in promoting the broader post-2015 development agenda, especially in issues related to development effectiveness, mutual accountability and development-oriented partnerships.

The Council was an important, and in some respects, essential institutional home for debates.  It provided a useful mechanism for oversight and coordination of the crucial United Nations work in the economic, social and environmental fields.  However, he reiterated, there was always scope for improvement.  The Council could build on its convening power at international level on global challenges, trends and emerging issues in those fields.  It had a unique position as the main body for system-wide coordination, as well as an adequate forum to the follow-up to and implementation of the outcomes of United Nations conferences and summits in those fields.  The Council’s multi-stakeholder nature was one of its most important features.  “[Economic and Social Council] has to be a window to realities outside the United Nations halls,” he said, explaining that strengthening the Council’s interactions with all stakeholders would improve public perception not only of that body, but also of the United Nations as a whole.

VADIM PISAREVICH ( Belarus) said that the Council remained key to formulating strategies for collective action on worldwide development.  As coordinator for implementation of the global transition to sustainable development, it must not allow arguments on procedural issues to prevent substantive debate on formulating the post-2015 agenda.  Further, the Council should work towards balanced economic growth worldwide, protecting the principle of free and fair trade without the imposition of protective measures or unilateral sanctions.  The Council must also aim to realize sustainable development and a green economy without exacerbating the development divide or increasing the technological dependence of developing countries.

Praising the work of the Council’s regular session, he singled out the Member States’ dialogue with the Organization’s principal operational funds and programmes on preparations for the four-year review of United Nations operational activities, and with the chairs of regional commissions.  He also noted the side events on urgent issues for Member States, and said that the thematic events for middle-income countries and gifted youth had allowed for discussion of cooperation on those issues between Member States and the Organization’s agencies.  Further, he supported continued high-level meetings with the leaders of the Bretton Woods institutions and expected that those discussions would provide practical steps to stabilize the world economy.  He called on Member States to strengthen the Council.

JOAN PRINCE ( United States) said that her delegation valued the Economic and Social Council as an essential platform for sharing ideas, as well as collective thinking about a “next generation global development agenda”.  In the run-up to the Rio+20 Conference, she said a renewed conversation had begun regarding multilateral institutions and how they could be better adapted to face global challenges.

The development landscape had changed dramatically.  There were new drivers of wealth, and the world population would grow to 8.3 billion by 2030, which would place increasing demands on the planet’s resources.  A growing youth demographic would coexist with ageing populations.  “The international architecture for development will have to evolve apace,” she stressed, including by better mobilizing and targeting multilateral expertise and capacities.  Among other things, a degree of flexibility would be required, as the world was just at the beginning of the process of elaborating a post-2015 development agenda.

The Council must continue to emphasize “convergence, value-added and results”, she went on.  For example, women’s empowerment could be established as a thread that could run through all of the Council’s programmes.  “We know we must collaborate in new ways,” which, among other things, bridged institutional barriers, including those between the United Nations and non-governmental, local and other actors.  Such cooperation must be focused, serious, credible and responsive, she stressed, adding:  “We need to deliver results to people around the world who are rightly demanding them.”  In addition, she said that the United States was gratified that the contributions of the prominent American Adrienne Germain — who had served as a member of and consultant to the United States delegation — had been acknowledged for the United Nations Population Award.

DEREK O’BRIEN, Member of Parliament (India), speaking of the Millennium Development Goals, said that more than a billion people in developing countries continued to live in “extreme poverty, hunger and hopeless desperation”.  The record on maternal and infant mortality and malnutrition were of particular concern.  India, for its part, was pursuing inclusive growth towards poverty eradication and had brought down poverty numbers significantly, yet over 300 million people in India, more than the entire population of the United States, lived on less than $1.25 a day.  Among other statistics, he said that India had achieved nearly 100 per cent enrolment in primary education, with more female literates than males, yet experienced health and social development gaps.

“An inclusive post-2015 development agenda can only be built if equity and poverty eradication remain its defining contours,” he continued.  The building blocks for sustainable development, agreed upon in Rio, must be put in place shortly.  “We have just begun this century, but let us not postpone its most efficacious and necessary achievements to too late.  We did that in the twentieth century and look how our world suffered,” he said.  Sustainable Development Goals must form the crux of the post-2015 agenda and be formulated based on lessons learned from the Millennium Development Goals.  The world economy must be put back on track; the Doha Development Round of WTO talks must progress, and climate change negotiations must reach a comprehensive and balanced outcome.  South-South cooperation should grow and be complemented by North-South cooperation.

It was crucial that developing countries be given due voice and participation in the decision-making structures of global economic and financial institutions, especially the Bretton Woods institutions, he continued.  The Security Council must be expanded in both categories, the General Assembly revitalized and the Economic and Social Council strengthened.  The Convention on Biological Diversity was a seminal global compact on development and movement on its goals and actions were vital to sustainable and equitable development.

MANSOUR ALOTAIBI ( Kuwait) said his delegation believed in the concept of international involvement in supporting and helping the developing countries overcome the obstacles and difficulties they faced.  Kuwait consistently participated in development financing and economic growth in those countries.  The Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development had provided, over five decades, grants, technical support and soft loans to over 100 developing countries, in the total amount of more than $18 billion, to achieve sustainable development.  Kuwait had also continued to launch initiatives, and had called for the establishment of specialized funds covering different parts of the world to deal with environmental, economic, educational, health and development issues, as well as to work towards solving questions of unemployment, food security and other challenges.  The latest such initiative included a $2 billion programme aimed at financing development in non-Arab Asian countries, which had been launched during the First Summit of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue hosted by Kuwait this month.

Kuwait attached great importance to the activities of the Economic and Social Council and adhered fully to relevant resolutions and policies, with a view towards advancing development and reaching the goals to which all aspired, such as poverty eradication, combat against serious and communicable diseases and achievement of sustainable development.  Kuwait had never spared any effort in supporting and backing the work of international and regional institutions in the field of development.  Out of its belief in the important role of the Economic and Social Council, Kuwait had presented its candidature for membership in the body for 2013-2015, he said, asking for the support of Member States.

MUSTAFIZUR RAHMAN ( Bangladesh) said the Economic and Social Council had played an important role in advancing a concerted approach to a global development agenda.  It was striving to promote integrated and coordinated implementation of the commitments made in the major United Nations conferences and summits.  The two innovative functions entrusted to that body, namely the Annual Ministerial Review and the biennial Development Cooperation Forum, were considered useful in providing substantive inputs, and thereby contributing to a more effective follow-up.  Through those mechanisms, the Council was able to assess national and international efforts to achieve the development goals.  It was now possible for the Council to look deeper into the cross-cutting areas of the outcomes of the major global events in economic and social areas.

He also pointed out that international trade was a critical development engine, especially for developing countries that were dependent on exports.  Undoubtedly, tariff and non-tariff barriers and other forms of export restrictions negatively impacted trade prospects.  Lack of market access, lagging aid-for-trade initiatives and the absence of a multilateral rule-based trading system kept the playing field uneven.  Stressing the need to conclude the Doha Round, he insisted that duty-free, quota-free market access and support for productive capacity-building for the least developed countries should be pursued expeditiously and comprehensively.

HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) said the ongoing global financial and economic crisis had reversed much of the world’s economic growth, threatening the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.  Against that backdrop, Malaysia had adopted forward-looking macroeconomic policies through its tenth National Plan, aimed at delivering high economic growth in a sustained, inclusive and equitable manner, to ensure that the country was on track towards becoming a high income nation by 2020.  At the global level, Malaysia would continue to share its knowledge and experience in economic and social development with others, especially with least developed countries.  His country was “grateful and elated” by the selection of the Federation of Reproductive Health Associations of Malaysia as recipient for the 2012 United Nations Population Award in recognition of its outstanding achievements in advocating reproductive health and advancing the health and status of women and children in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Government, he continued, concurred with the two functions entrusted to the Council by the Assembly’s 2005 World Summit, namely the Annual Ministerial Review and the biennial Development Cooperation Forum, which aimed for effective implementation of the development agenda.  He urged the Council to adopt the theme of the Reviews well in advance of its substantive sessions so that stakeholders had sufficient time to actively contribute to its deliberations.  Malaysia felt that, going forward, the Council should review its role within the United Nations system in the integrated follow-up to conferences and the modalities through which actors within the Organization contribute to such follow-up.

DMITRY I. MAKSIMYCHEV ( Russian Federation) supported strengthening the coordinating functions of the Economic and Social Council in the sphere of development and said that the body was key to formulating collective approaches to the most pressing socio-economic problems.  He welcomed the Council’s Special Ministerial Meeting on strengthening its work in support of sustainable development, which had laid a good foundation for the second round of consultations on reviewing progress in implementation of Assembly resolution 61/16.  The principal goal of the review, he said, had been to determine the Council’s role in setting priorities for the post-2015 development agenda and also its place in the global architecture of international cooperation for development.

Reform of the economic and social sector of the United Nations must take into consideration the outcome of Rio+20, he said.  A high-level forum on sustainable development was integral to strengthening the Council in that regard.  The Council’s efforts on the issue of decent work would be taken into account in preparation for the upcoming International High-level Conference on Decent Work in Moscow in December.  Going forward, the Council should develop mutually beneficial and reinforcing relationships for sustainable development between the Organization and the international financial and trade institutions, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.  The Russian Federation was prepared to study the question of the Organization’s role in global economic governance among other ways to strengthen the Council.

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) said the Economic and Social Council was not up to the present economic and social challenges, stressing the need to find a way to make the body more efficient so that it could contribute decisively to the promotion of the three pillars of sustainable development, namely social development, economic growth and environmental protection.  To do that, the Council’s agenda should be streamlined, as it now dealt with countless reports of diverse topics without getting expected results.  The Council should monitor the effective implementation of adopted resolutions, including one this year on the need to attach the highest priority in the United Nations development agenda to the eradication of poverty.

She went on to say that the Council should generate lively debate on current issues, such as economic growth with social inclusion, to which Argentina attached the greatest importance.  By focusing on employment, social inclusion and industrial growth, Argentina had been able to achieve some of the highest growth rates in the world, while creating jobs and reducing poverty levels.  The investment rate had reached a record 24.5 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011, with the unemployment rate falling dramatically from over 20 per cent in 2002 to 7.2 per cent in the second quarter of this year.  The Council should invite relevant international organizations, such as UNCTAD, to participate in discussions in order to reach solutions to specific problems of society.

YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said that the Council was the “natural forum” to tackle many global questions linked with development.  However, it was necessary for the Council to become more effective and to better involve the relevant actors.  The Rio+20 Conference had restated the mandate of the Council as one of the principal organs charged with the integrated and coordinated follow-up to the major United Nations summits and conferences in the economic, social and environmental fields.  In that regard, a “new and strengthened” Council would require leadership and integration capacity, promotion of coordination and follow-up on a global development agenda, and greater coherence within the system.  It should also recognize the dynamism that could be given to the Council with regard to challenges currently facing the international community.

A systemic approach allowing the Council to retain its capacity to act and to better respond to the challenges of development was needed.  Among other things, the body should renew its schedule of meetings and cease conducting its work within a particular month of the year, she said.  The Development Cooperation Forum should also be strengthened.  Mexico believed that the Council, in view of the post-2015 development agenda, must strengthen its role as a central platform for reviewing progress towards international development commitments.  The reform of the multilateral institutions dealing with development was an urgent necessity.  Diffuse, “fragmented” efforts must be made coherent, and the scattering of resources must be avoided.  Moreover, the United Nations should not have parallel development agendas, she said, calling, “once and for all”, for an approach that that encompassed different pillars complementing and reinforcing each other.  All Member States, without exception, must act to improve the quality of life of the world’s citizens.

The Assembly then took note of the report of the Economic and Social Council.

New Partnership for Africa’s Development

WILFRIED EMVULA ( Namibia) said global action to combat malaria had reduced deaths by more than one third, saving 1.1 million lives in sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade.  Namibia had made significant progress in the fight against malaria in that period.  Although the country was not yet malaria-free, the number of cases recorded nationwide had dropped by 97 per cent between 2001 and 2011.  Malaria deaths had also fallen from 1,747 in 2001 to 45 in 2010, a reduction of 98 per cent.  That was due to a campaign that had included the distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and massive treatment for people who had contracted the disease.  Namibia was on track to eliminate malaria by 2015.

He also noted that the adoption of NEPAD at the meeting of African Heads of State and Government in 2001 was hailed in Africa and by the international community at large as a milestone and an important paradigm shift in the approach to economic and social development.  That framework had been designed as a development plan to extricate the continent and its people from the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment.  The implementation and political championing of the strategies and active promotion of Africa’s regional infrastructure, through the work of the High-level Committee of Heads of State and Government on Infrastructure, would enable NEPAD and the African Union succeed in sourcing adequate funding for projects.  The primary responsibility for funding for Africa’s development lied with African countries.  “To depend on foreign funding for development programmes is not sustainable,” he said.

ELMAHDI ELMAJERBI (Libya), joining with statements made last week on behalf of the Group of African States and the Arab States, said that African countries, with the support of the international community, had adopted development-related commitments and achieved remarkable progress in the consolidation of democracy, human rights and economic development, among other areas.  However, Libya wished to note increasing challenges, such as the effects of climate change and the global economic and financial crisis.  Since the African continent was the more disadvantaged by the financial crisis, it was necessary to undertake efforts to boost food security in the budgets of the African countries.  The international community should provide technical and financial support in that regard.

There was a pressing need to rectify the measures inimical to trade, he went on.  All States and financial institutions should, among other things, align their policies with those of the African States, extend aid in that interest, and help enable Africa to “liberate trade”.  In addition, developed countries must fulfil the commitments they had pledged in the area of official development assistance (ODA).  That would make it possible for developing countries to attract investment, he said.  In addition, the international community should assist Africa in carrying out the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.  Given the fact that Libya was part of NEPAD, he said, it would continue to collaborate with African States and conclude agreements to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

CHRISTOPHE LOBRY-BOULANGER of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said the international community had collectively made significant progress in the fight against malaria over the past 10 years, asserting that such success was the result of a significant scaling up of malaria prevention and control measures.  Such measures included the widespread ownership and increased use of bed nets, better diagnostics and a wider availability of effective medicines to treat malaria.  Despite those results, gains remained inequitable, however.  While some countries were moving towards the elimination of the disease, many others continued to suffer unacceptably high burdens of malaria and required a rapid increase in prevention and control efforts.

Urging the international community not to take for granted the recent hard-won advances in the global fight against malaria, he called for more efforts to “do more, do better and reach further”.  IFRC had urged greater recognition, support and investment in community-based solutions, including a focus on the most vulnerable, marginalized and hard-to-reach communities in order to ensure equitable access to malaria prevention, diagnostics and treatment.  Malaria was first managed in homes and communities and it would be at that level that the biggest returns on investment would continue to be seen, he said.  IFRC also believed that malaria control and reaching the Millennium Development Goals would depend on sustained and increased funding.  “Early and continued investment in malaria control will greatly assist malaria-endemic countries along the path to achieving the Goals, especially those relating to improving child survival and maternal health, eradicating extreme poverty and expanding access to education,” he stated.

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