|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-eighth General Assembly
50th Meeting (AM)
Economic and Social Council Critical to Guiding Global Dialogue on Post-2015
Development Agenda, Delegates State during General Assembly Debate
Strengthening Body’s Role Should
Aim at Following up on All Conference Outcomes, Urge Speakers
Supporting the new post-2015 development agenda depended on the United Nations being “fit for purpose”, with a strengthened role in improving global dialogue and policymaking, the head of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) told the General Assembly today during an open debate on that body.
“Our collective relevance has never been greater than it is today,” said Néstor Osorio ( Colombia). “Our collective commitment to multilateralism has never been more reassuring. And our collective mandate to sustainable development, and to make the world a better place, has never been more important.”
Delegates broadly supported the Council in its role in guiding global discussions on critical issues, including sustainable development, with some hailing its essential role in that regard. A representative of the Russian Federation said he hoped that the newly created High-Level Political Forum would examine and learn from ECOSOC’s Annual Ministerial Review successes.
Yet challenges remained, some delegates said. Kuwait’s delegate pointed out obstacles that were preventing countries from attaining the Millennium Development Goals. He said the Council should continue to play its important role, with the next stage involving bolstered efforts to turn the Rio+20 conference outcomes into a reality that would help countries in meeting the Millennium Goals.
Looking further, Fiji’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said the since the inter-related challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development were at the heart of ECOSOC’s mandate, strengthening the body should aim at making it a responsive multilateral intergovernmental body to follow up on the outcomes of all United Nations conferences. He urged the Council to strengthen its relations with other intergovernmental bodies, especially the newly established High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, regional commissions, Bretton Woods institutions, ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and other key stakeholders. Such strengthening should bring greater coherence to its work, making it an effective and relevant United Nations body, he said.
Also delivering statements were representatives of India, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia and Ukraine.
Before the debate, General Assembly President John Ashe ( Antigua and Barbuda) express the Assembly’s condolences to the Government and people of the Philippines for their losses following the recent typhoon, leading delegates in observing a minute of silence for those who perished.
The General Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 November, to elect 14 members to the Human Rights Council.
As the General Assembly met today to consider 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, it had before it the report of the Economic and Social Council for 2013 (document A/68/3); the Secretary-General’s note (document A/68/229) transmitting the Report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund on the United Nations Population Award, 2013; and the Secretary-General’s report on Implementation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council (document A/67/736). The Assembly would also consider its agenda item on follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit.
JOHN ASHE ( Antigua and Barbuda), President of the General Assembly, prior to taking up the items on its agenda, said the Assembly extended its deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of the Philippines for the tragic loss of life and damage resulting from the recent typhoon. He then led delegates in observing one minute of silence in tribute to the memory of those who had lost their lives.
Introduction of Report
NÉSTOR OSORIO ( Colombia), President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), introduced the Council’s latest report (document A/68/3), and highlighted its work over 2013. Among ECOSOC’s main accomplishments, its High-Level Segment held in Geneva in July helped to amplify the United Nations development agenda, with a focus on science, technology, innovation and the role of culture, for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development. The Coordination Segment emphasized that international agreements needed to be monitored in order to gauge their impacts on challenges to sustainable development. In the Operational Activities Segment, Member States indicated they wanted to see bolstered action by the United Nations system in areas including strengthening national institutions and capacities and implementing fully the “delivering-as-one” approach.
He said the 2013 Humanitarian Affairs Segment examined how the United Nations, the private sector, stakeholders and volunteer community collectively could adapt and better respond to the changing landscape. The segment also helped to propel the dialogue towards the World Humanitarian Summit in 2015. The General Segment brought a sharper focus to key concerns including the implementation of the 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production. On peace and security, ECOSOC considered lessons learned related to the transition of some African countries emerging from conflict, particularly with regard to South Sudan. During its thematic debate and as its contribution to the Assembly’s Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda, there was a widely held view that the post-2015 agenda should build on the Millennium Development Goals, with sustainable development at its core.
To support the new post-2015 agenda effectively, the United Nations needed to ensure that it was “fit for purpose”, and to strengthen its role in improving global dialogue and policy making, he said. ECOSOC was prepared to do its part to fulfil those roles. “Our collective relevance has never been greater than it is today,” he said. “Our collective commitment to multilateralism has never been more reassuring. And our collective mandate to sustainable development, and to make the world a better place, has never been more important.”
PETER THOMSON (Fiji), speaking on behalf of the “Group 77”, developing countries and China, welcomed the report of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and a number of meetings held under that body’s auspices, which had provided Member States the opportunity to review and strengthen the relationship between the Council and other stakeholders through constructive debates on important global development issues. However, he noted with concern that work was still pending on that body’s substantive session. “We regret that three and a half months after its July session, we are still not in a position to adopt the coordination segment resolution or the Ministerial Declaration”, he said, urging the President to continue his leadership to guide Member States to reach consensus as soon as possible.
He concurred with the recommendation in the Secretary-General’s report that the Council needed to transform itself into an issue-oriented, knowledge-based, stakeholder-friendly intergovernmental body. It should play a pivotal role in the United Nations, especially towards accelerating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and elaborating the post-2015 development agenda. The inter-related challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development were at the heart of ECOSOC’s mandate. Efforts to strengthen the Council should focus on making it a responsive multilateral intergovernmental body that followed up on the outcomes of all United Nations conferences, including the political commitments renewed at the Rio+20 Conference. In that regard, he urged ECOSOC to strengthen its relations with other intergovernmental bodies, especially the newly established High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the regional commissions, the Bretton Woods institutions, ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and other relevant stakeholders. Such strengthening should bring greater coherence to its work, making it an effective and relevant United Nations body.
ANTO ANTONY, Member of Parliament, India, said that the Economic and Social Council and the recently created High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development together would play a key role in the articulation of global priorities for the post-2015 period. Poverty eradication must be pursued with renewed vigour and determination. As well, other human development imperatives enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals remained equally important, and must be carried forward. To achieve that, the partnership between developed and developing countries must be strengthened and become more meaningful and genuine. The post-2015 agenda must remain an agenda for development, with a focal point on a more equitable distribution of resources and wealth not only among nations, but within them. ECOSOC must also promote an international system conducive to development. Outlining India’s development efforts, he said experience had shown that human development indicators could be approved even with low per capita incomes.
YURY YAROSHEVICH ( Belarus) said his country preferred strengthened relationships between key players in the area of sustainable development. He also supported holding an Economic and Social Council meeting with the World Trade Organization, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and others to develop practical steps to bolstering national economies, as well as the world as a whole, in terms of financing for development. There was no ministerial declaration on sustainable development in 2013, which was not acceptable, as no country should block its adoption.
DMITRY MAKSIMYCHEV (Russian Federation), noting that ECOSOC members agreed on broad issues, said that the increasing scientific, technological and cultural challenges must be overcome to meet the Millennium Development Goals. He supported the work of the Council in achieving consensus on remaining outstanding issues. As well, the work of the High-Level Political Forum should take into account the successful results of the Annual Ministerial Review. Further, the United Nations operational activities should remain on the agenda of the Council. This year, ECOSOC also demonstrated its key role in the meeting on Financing for Development. One strategic task of the Council was to increase cooperation with the United Nations, the private sector and non-governmental organizations in the field of sustainable development. The Council remained a core United Nations forum in developing collective approaches in resolving important issues, he said.
NURAN NIYAZALIEV ( Kyrgyzstan) viewed ECOSOC as the main multilateral forum in addressing global development issues. He also welcomed the joint session on food security held by the Council and the Second Committee (Economic and Financial), as well as the special High-Level meeting of ECOSOC with the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). ECOSOC was an important political forum for Member States to exchange views while designing the post-2015 agenda. It should strengthen its relationship with the Assembly in order to ensure that the work of the two organs both avoided overlap and was mutually beneficial. Furthermore, the post-2015 agenda must take into account the special needs and circumstances of developing countries, especially least developed countries, small islands developing countries and landlocked developing countries.
HUSSEIN HANIFF ( Malaysia) recalled that the Assembly had adopted a resolution in September, containing the most far-reaching reforms of ECOSOC since 1991. That reform process would make the Council a stronger, more issue-oriented body, responsive to the mounting global economic, social and environmental pressures. Ensuring that an internationally agreed post-2015 agenda was followed by effective action would require international institutions to adapt to the increasingly global, multidimensional and interconnected nature of development challenges. The High-Level Political Forum should complement the work of ECOSOC, and benefit from the latter’s strength. The efforts to eradicate extreme poverty should be the over-arching goal for the post-2015 development agenda. It had to be complemented with improved access to a core infrastructure. Equal priorities should be given to improving access to basic services. In that regard, he called on developed countries to fulfil their official development assistance commitments.
YEVHEN TSYMBALIUK ( Ukraine) said the Council’s achievements this year included supervising operational activities for development and contributing to improved coordination and effectiveness of United Nations humanitarian assistance. But challenges remained, including the Council’s working modalities, its final agenda and main themes. “In the run up to 2015, it is essential to ensure that the transition period in the work of ECOSOC does not take much time,” he said. “It is crucial we act with a sense of urgency.” Equally important in strengthening the Council was ensuring adequate assistance by the Secretariat. Thus, it was up to Member States to translate General Assembly resolutions 67/290 and 68/1. In doing so, “we must not lose sign of the ultimate goal of ECOSOC reform: to ensure that the Council was a principal body with sufficient authority to make decisions on global social and economic affairs and to improve its ability to fulfil tasks assigned to it in the United Nations Charter,” he stated.
FAISAL AL-ADWANI ( Kuwait) said ECOSOC had overcome obstacles to achieve accomplishments as the central body to coordinate and oversee subsidiary bodies. However, challenges still remained, including difficulties that were preventing countries in attaining the Millennium Development Goals, an area in which the Council should continue to play its important role. The next stage involved bolstered efforts to turn the Rio+20 conference outcomes into a reality that would help in achieving the Millennium Goals. Since 1976, Kuwait had established a reserve fund for future generations, setting aside 10 per cent of its oil revenues. Discussions were ongoing to increase that fund to 25 per cent. His country’s development fund had focused on increasing the standard of living in more than 100 recipient countries that received $18 billion.
The Assembly then took up and concluded its consideration of its agenda item on follow-up to the outcome of the Millennium Summit, with no delegates making statements.
* *** *