Activities of the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)

ECE/ESCAP visits to SPECA countries

In February 2004, Secretary-General Kofi Annan wrote to the Presidents of the six countries which are members of the UN Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia (SPECA): Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In his letter the Secretary-General reconfirmed the importance of SPECA and the United Nations commitment to it. He also suggested that the Executive Secretaries of ECE and ESCAP—the two entities jointly implementing the Programme—undertake high-level visits to SPECA countries to discuss with their leaders how to strengthen the programme.

Ms. Brigita Schmögnerová, Executive Secretary of ECE, and Mr. Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of ESCAP, visited Uzbekistan from 20-21 May 2004. This was followed by visits to Turkmenistan (26-27 May) and Tajikistan (2-3 June). The Executive Secretaries discussed the future of SPECA with the Heads of Governments of the Central Asian countries within a new strategic approach of the two regional commissions to Central Asia. The visits helped to identify national and sub-regional priorities, modalities for effective follow-up to work already carried out, as well as areas for future cooperation.

Executive Forum on “Competing in a Changing Europe” Opportunities and Challenges for Trade and Enterprise Development

This Forum, organized by ECE in Geneva on 11-12 May, focused on the consequences of EU enlargement for competing in Europe, especially for the non-acceding countries in the ECE region. It provided an opportunity for the countries in the Euro-Asian region, their enterprises and NGOs to gain a better understanding of the business and economic consequences of EU enlargement. In particular, its objective was to help create an increased awareness of the benefits and opportunities that enlargement offers the enterprises and traders, and give policy makers and economic actors a roadmap of where to obtain the support they need in responding to the changing trading environment in Europe.

The Forum examined best practices, and through these, pointed to new strategies that need to be developed by policy makers and economic actors in transition economies in order to participate even more fully in European and global markets.

Speakers and participants included representatives of international organizations, Governments and parliaments of ECE, member countries, OSCE, the European Commission, business, and NGOs and academia.

Capacity-Building for Air Quality Management in Central Asia

This project, under the Fourth Tranche of the UN Development Account for 2004-2006, was approved by the General Assembly in December 2003 for funding of US$ 680,000. The key project objective is to strengthen the capacity of air quality management institutions in Central Asia to implement the ECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution Convention and its Protocols, and to promote the deployment of appropriate clean coal combustion technologies for heat and power generation from solid fuels. The project implementing entities include ECE as the lead agency, together with ESCAP and the UNEP Regional Resource Centre for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok.

Internet Piracy Undermines Enterprise Competitiveness

The use by criminals of the Internet is creating significant economic problems for enterprises in the ECE region as well as putting at risk the benefits that can come from the new Information Society. This was one of the main issues that emerged from a two-day conference on Intellectual Property Exploitation in the Internet Era, organized by the Polish Ministry of Culture and the ECE Intellectual Property Advisory Group in Warsaw, Poland, on 1-2 April 2004. Europe's music and media industries are suffering from illegal downloading made much easier by new technologies. At the same time, solutions are not easy to find. The Conference concluded that national and international policy makers as well as industry and consumers need to be better informed of the importance of intellectual property for the Information Society; and that cooperation between the public and private sector needs to be improved.

Seminar on Aggressive Driving

ECE organized a two-day seminar in April on aggressive driving, on the occasion of the European Road Safety Week and whose slogan was “Respect is Safety.” About 1.2 million people are killed and 50 million injured in road accidents worldwide every year, according to 2001 figures from the UN, with ex-Soviet States suffering from some of the highest road accident death rates - seven times those of West European countries. Based on accident statistics, young men and high mileages are universally rated by insurers as the most volatile mix behind the wheel. But a study carried out in Britain, the Netherlands and Finland found that intentional aggression or deliberate violation of road rules, rather than a propensity to make mistakes due to inexperience or misjudgment, is a more appropriate way of judging risk. According to ECE, anyone can fall victim to aggressive behaviour on the road and anyone can be the culprit.

Preparing the entry into force of the Protocol on Water and Health

With the current 11 ratifications and eight more expected by the end of 2004, the Protocol on Water and Health, adopted in 1999 under the ECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, is quickly approaching the 16 ratifications needed for its entry into force. The third meeting of the Working Group on Water and Health, held in Budapest on 11-12 March, was therefore devoted to the preparation of the first Meeting of the Parties, planned for 2005. Besides, Norway hosted a Round Table Consultation on Water and Health in Oslo, on 1-2 June, that focused on financing non-structural measures under the Protocol, such as reduction of infant mortality, water resource management, access to safe drinking water, sanitation including ecosanitation, and gender issues in water supply.

Standard for Llama Meat products

Following a proposal from Bolivia, the Specialized Section on Standardization of Meat has agreed on the text of a new ECE Standard for Llama Meat, the provisions of which will cover both llama meat and alpaca meat. This new standard follows the format used for the already adopted standards on bovine and ovine meats. Countries of South America hope to develop the market for this high quality, low-fat meat.

New CD games for children

This CD is a compilation of games to show how the United Nations helps children and adults all over the world to “live better lives, in safety and dignity”. The Games illustrate the work of the UN and its agencies towards making the world a better place. The agencies include WHO, FAO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNEP, UNCHR and UNECE.

 The CD-Rom is available from the UN Sales and Marketing Section (, Sales No.: GV.E/F/S.04.0.6.


ECE selected meetings


14 July

Sub-committee of Experts on the Globally Harmonized System of  Classification and Labelling of Chemicals



Workshop on the Extent and

Causes of Illegal Logging in the ECE Region


Steering body to the Cooperative Programme for Monitoring and Evaluation of the long-range Transmission of Air Pollutants in Europe


Forum on Youth


Committee on Human Settlements

4-8 October

Joint Session of the Timber Committee and the FAO European Forestry Commission

ECE selected publications

The Role of Institutions in Economic Development (Sales No. E.03.II.E.50; ISBN 92-1-116880-5)

The Dynamics of Fertility and Partnership in Europe:  Insights and Lessons for Comparative Research (Sales No. E.02.E.10; ISBN 92-1-116807-4)

Generations and Gender Programme - Exploring Future Research and Data Options  (ECE/EAD/PAU/00/17)

Ageing Populations:  Opportunities and Challenges for Europe and North America ECE/EAD/PAU/2003/1 (Sales No. E.03.II.E.39; ISBN 92-1-116856-2)

Strategy for a Sustainable Quality of Life in Human Settlements in the 21st Century ECE/HBP/120 (Sales No. E/F/R.01.II.E.10; ISBN 92-1-116778-7)

UNECE Standard for Porcine Carcasses and Cuts ECE/AGRI/135 (Sales No. E.98.II.E.2; ISBN 92-1-116684-5)