|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Economic and Social Council
2013 Substantive Session
53rd Meeting* (PM)
Science, Technology Occupy Overarching Position on Development Agenda,
Economic and Social Council President Tells Delegates
Body Adopts Draft Resolution on Geospatial Information
Resuming its substantive session today, the Economic and Social Council adopted a draft ministerial declaration of its 2013 high-level segment and two draft decisions, and filled a vacancy on its Peacebuilding Commission.
By the terms of the ministerial declaration — entitled “Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals” (document E/2013/L.18) — the Council would stress the need to remove the obstacles to the full realization of all rights of people living under foreign occupation.
Further by that text, the Council would stress the importance of fostering synergies between modern science and technology and local and indigenous knowledge, practices and innovation as a vehicle for achieving sustainable development. It would also stress the need to promote capacity-building at all levels for the development of a dynamic cultural and creative sector, in particular by encouraging creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Since that text had only been circulated that afternoon, the Council decided to waive the relevant provision of rule 54 of the rules of procedure of the Economic and Social Council, which reads as follows “…Unless the Council decides otherwise, proposals and substantive amendments shall be discussed or put to the vote no earlier than 24 hours after copies have been circulated to all members.”
Nestor Osorio ( Colombia), President of the Economic and Social Council, said he looked forward that the text would play a fundamental role by contributing to future negotiations on the manner. Science, technology, and innovation occupied an overarching and important position in the post-2015 development agenda.
When the floor was opened, the representative of Fiji, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the adoption of the text demonstrated solidarity and underlined the importance of the right to self-determination. The United Nations must create an enabling environment for science, technology, innovation and culture to flourish.
The representative of Pakistan, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said needed were partnerships and international cooperation to meet today’s technological challenges. He underlined the reference in the text to the right to self-determination. That right was understood to be included in all rights. It was all encompassing and must not be situational or country specific, he stressed.
The representative of the United States said that the rapid pace of technological advancements had improved the quality of people’s lives all over the world. It was an agenda that the United Nations was also deeply committed too. Her country would continue to be among the world’s greatest providers of technical assistance, and support training, technical assistance, and numerous other activities. Lastly, she pointed out a correction in the document.
The representative of Bolivia, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, expressing his reservation with the text, rejected a green economy as a new way to privatize and exploit the environment and planet. He reserved support to any references made in the text to the green economy. He recalled that all countries had the sovereign right to focus their own model of sustainable development and reaffirmed the principles of international law in that regard. There should be no conditionalities in order to achieve sustainable development and poverty eradication. Technology transfer and financing for it should not be made a condition for the green economy and as a tool of sustainable development.
In other action, the Council adopted a draft decision contained in the report of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management (document E/2013/46). By the terms of another draft decision entitled “Transitional arrangements for the election of the Bureau of the Economic and Social Council” (document E/2013/43), it would decide that the term of office for the next President and the four Vice-Presidents of the Council shall be from the date of election, to be held on 14 January 2014, until their successors are elected, which is expected to be at the beginning of the new cycle in July 2015.
The Council also elected to postpone action on a draft decision that would decide the theme for the discussion of the high-level segment of 2014.
Turning to elections, the Council appointed Croatia, by acclamation, to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission to complete the term of office of Bulgaria from 1 January 2012 through 31 December 2014.
The Council took note of several reports by the Secretary-General including one on science, technology and innovation and the potential of culture for promoting sustainable development. It also took note of a report by the Secretary-General on the contribution of the Economic and Social Council to the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda as a principal body for policy review and dialogue.
Under its cluster on sustainable development, the Council took note of the report of the Commission on Sustainable Development on its twentieth session. It also noted two reports under its agenda item on cartography — the report of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Global Geospatial Information Management at its third session, held from 24 to 26 July, and a second report of the tenth United Nations Regional Cartographic Conference for Americas, which took place from 19 to 23 August.
The Council then heard from a briefing by Kim Won-soo, Secretary of the United Nations Chief Executives Board, on the work of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination.
Kim Won-soo then briefed the Economic and Social Council on the work of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) on the Board’s work and reported that the CEB executive heads were acutely aware that much remained to be done before the 2015 deadline to meet the Millennium Development Goals. The CEB was using its Millennium Development Goals review at the country level as a vehicle to help accelerate progress towards achieving the development agenda. Given its strategic nature, the Board had been exploring the subject from its unique vantage point in an effort to contribute to Member States’ deliberations.
The CEB was also focused on an assortment of other issues, including cybercrime and cybersecurity. The High-level Committee on Management was stepping up its efforts to coordinate the work of the United Nations system entities in crisis preparedness and response, business continuity and cybersecurity. Human rights issues figured prominently during the High-level Committee on Programmes session in October. The progress made in recent years in mainstreaming human rights into development work and linking human rights with peace and security and the rule of law was welcomed. The CEB and the High-level Committee on Programmes continued to advance the work of the United Nations in the area of climate change, while 2013 was a critical year for advancing the agenda on migration and development.
A range of management issues of system-wide interest continued to be moved forward by the High-level Committee on Management through its Strategic Plan for 2013-2016, which was closely linked to the quadrennial comprehensive policy review. Current priorities for the body included engaging in dialogue with the International Civil Service Commission in the context of its review of the conditions of service for United Nations system staff. Following the May relaunch of CEB’s website, new content had been added to continuously improve the site. The CEB Secretariat was planning to improve the presentation of the United Nations system human resources data in 2014, as the website was recognized as an important tool for promoting transparency and accountability to Member States.
Following Mr. Kim’s briefing, Mr. Osorio asked him how often the CEB met. The Council President stated that the Board meetings at the principal level took place twice a year; once in the spring and once in the fall.
The representative of Cameroon said that opportunities to interact with the CEB were rare and that he believed the Board should provide regular updates to the Economic and Social Council, as Mr. Kim had just done. However, it was important for Member States to receive feedback from the CEB in a critical framework. In other words, it was important to know what the United Nations family was doing, but also, what work should have been completed but wasn’t, over a specified period. The representative also said the United Nations was delayed in terms of International Public Sector Accounting Standards. He believed the same held true with regard to information technology and business continuity.
The representative of Brazil said that the Economic and Social Council had consistently asked for a more robust and consistent information sharing process with the CEB to promote accountability to the Member States. It was critical that the Secretary-General had an understanding of the disappointment that Member States had in the lack of transparency in the United Nations system. His delegation believed that cybersecurity and human rights were interlinked and it was essential that the Organization be responsive to the atrocities committed against privacy rights.
In response to the comments from the representative of Cameroon, Mr. Kim stated that the CEB was not designed to be a decision-making body, but rather was a coordinating body. The Board looked at issues that required system-wide coordination at the highest level. When CEB principals met they focused on issues that affected most, if not all agencies and required large-scale coordination. It also tried to identify issues that could potentially affect the international civil service, as a whole, while fostering mutual understanding and utilizing comparative expertise in different areas to develop better system-wide responses.
Regarding the statement from the representative of Brazil, Mr. Kim said that the CEB had a difficult challenge in the delicate balancing act required for issues such as cybersecurity. He reminded the delegate that the Board was not empowered to take decisions, but rather improve coordination on a system-wide level.
In his concluding remarks, Mr. Osorio said that following the outcome of Rio+20, all the institutions needed to play an active role in creating a common language and common message moving forward.
* *** *
* The 52nd Meeting was not covered.