ECOSOC holds coordination and management meeting

?Security Sector Reform?The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held its coordination and management meeting addressing a number if issues on 14 – 16 July at UN Headquarters in New York.

The Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action (IPoA), which was introduced by Mr. Khalil Rahman, Principal Officer of the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS). The report was a progress report on the eighth priority areas of the IPoA. It also included a special section on steps taken to promote mutual accountability as well as proposals to include the IPoA in the agenda of the Chief Executives Board (CEB).

Review and coordination of the implementation of the Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs for the Decade 2011-2020

Seven delegations took part in the general discussion (Italy (on behalf of the EU), The Russian Federation, Benin (on behalf of the LDC Group), Turkey, Bangladesh, Haiti and Mexico).  Speakers stressed the need for continued support and predictable ODA to LDCs, given the difficulties faced by most of them to graduate by 2020.  Turkey announced its readiness to host the mid-term review conference on the implementation of the IPoA. The Russian Federation stressed the need for continued involvement of ECOSOC to strengthen support to LDCs in the trade and financial areas.  Bangladesh supported the holding of the high-level expert group on the technology bank for the LDCs which is to be established by the 70th session of the GA. Support was also expressed to OHRLLS and the increased means put at its disposal. Action on a draft resolution was deferred to a later stage.

Non-governmental organizations

The Council adopted the draft decisions contained in the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations at its May session, all by consensus. By doing so, the Council granted consultative status to 158 NGOs, closed the consideration of the request for consultative status made by 29 NGOs who had failed to respond to queries by the Committee, and decided not the grant consultative status to one NGO.

In addition, the Council took note of the quadrennial reports (‘quads’) of 129 NGOs.  It suspended, for a period of one year, the consultative status of 106 NGOs with outstanding quads, withdrew the status of 129 NGOs with continued outstanding quads, and reinstated the status of 21 NGOs that had submitted their outstanding quads.

Crime prevention, criminal justice and narcotic drugs

Following-up on requests contained in resolutions emanating from the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to organize an high level event on drugs, the Council held a High-Level Panel Discussion entitled “Sustainable Development and the World Drug Problem: Challenges and Opportunities”.  The Panel focused on the impact of the drug problem on development (including food security and lack of sustainable livelihoods, as well as citizen security, violence and corruption) and on the obstacles it creates for member states to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  The panel was also meant to contribute to the substantive preparations for the General Assembly Special Session on the World Drug Problem, to be held in 2016.

The Council considered the reports of the two Vienna based Commissions, which were introduced by Ambassador Khaled Shamaa, Permanent Representative of Egypt to the United Nations in Vienna and Chair of the 57th session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and by Ambassador Vladimir Galuska, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the United Nations in Vienna and Chair of the 23rd session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ).

The Council adopted by consensus the resolutions recommended for its adoption by these bodies.  Among them, a resolution entitled “Special session of the General Assembly on the world drug problem to be held in 2016”, launches the preparatory process for the UNGASS and decides that CND will lead that process by addressing all organizational and substantive matters in an open-ended manner.  This resolution, which is now submitted by the Council to the General Assembly for adoption at its 69th session, was subject to intensive consultations in Vienna, as some Latin American countries advocated for a process that would be led in New York, outside of the UNODC ambit. During the general discussion at the Council, the delegate of Mexico stated that the President of the General Assembly should be involved in the preparatory work of the UNGASS in order to promote concerted international action around this process.

Among the resolutions emanating from the CCPCJ, one sets out the organizational arrangements for the Thirteen UN Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, to be held in Doha (Qatar) in 2015.  A resolution connects the rule of law to crime prevention and criminal justice policies and stresses their relevance to the post 2015 development agenda. Resolutions also contain normative instruments on the elimination of violence against children and on responses to trafficking in cultural properties.  These resolutions are recommended by the Council to the General Assembly (Third Committee) for adoption.

Coordination, programme and other questions

The Council had before it the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2013, which was introduced by Ms. Simona Petrova, Director of the CEB Secretariat. In an ensuing discussion, the representative of Cuba praised the work of CEB to promote coordination and coherence and to simplify institutional practices, and stressed that actions undertaken by the Board had to be aligned with the priorities of Member States.

The following day, Mr. Ramadhan Mwinyi, Chair of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC), presented the report of the 54th session of the Committee, which contained the outline of the strategic framework for the period 2016-2017.  During the general discussion, the representative of Cuba requested that the review of CPC and CEB reports should be done at the same time in future.

Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples 

The Council had before it the report of the President of the Council on consultations with the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, which was introduced by Ambassador Xavier Lasso-Mendoza, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the UN and Chair of the Special Committee on Decolonization. The report, based on the information supplied by specialized agencies and other organizations, examined the progress made in improving social and economic development of Non-Self-Governing Territories, including through the support provided by the UN system.

It encouraged further support and integration of the Non-Self-Governing Territories in the post-2015 development agenda and requested that the UN agencies that did not provide information for the report, such as UNDP, reported on their progress in this area. The Council adopted a draft resolution under this item, introduced by Mr. Lasso-Mendoza, by a vote of 26 in favour and 21 abstentions.  The representative of the United States explained the US abstention by the fact that it was up to the administering power to determine participation in activities carried out by UN organizations in Non-Self-Governing territories, and, in that sense, the resolution in its current formulation infringed upon the US Constitution which laid that responsibility to the Federal Government.

Economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan

The consideration of the item began with the introduction of the report of the Secretary-General by Mr. Tarik Alami, Director of Emerging and Conflict-Related Issues Division at the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). The report presented the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, marked by unequal access to housing, land and sewage systems, food and water insecurity, restricted mobility, mistreatment of prisoners, and institutionalized segregation.

During the general discussion, the Permanent Observer of Palestine and the Permanent Representative of Brazil supported the content of the report noting the devastating effect of the ongoing conflict, including the recent escalation of the situation, on the lives and livelihoods of average Palestinians and the Palestinian economy. They called for humanitarian aid and broader economic and political support for the Palestinian people. The representative of the Syrian Arab Republic spoke on the situation of the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, noting poor living conditions, economic downturn, environmental damage, and destruction of historical monuments.

A draft resolution was submitted by the Plurinational State of Bolivia (on behalf of G77) who indicated that this year’s text was revised to reflect new realities on the ground, especially the deterioration of economic and social conditions, calling upon Israel to reinstate property and other rights to the populations residing in occupied territories.

The representative of Italy, speaking on behalf of the EU, said that he would vote in favour of the text but expressed discomfort with some terms used in the draft resolution, such as “Palestinian Government”, that implied recognition of a State of Palestine.  The representative of the United States expressed disappointment over the “one-sidedness” of the resolution and the failure to have a constructive dialogue on the issue.  The draft resolution was adopted by 44 votes in favour, 2 against and 2 abstentions.

After the vote, the representative of Israel made a general statement in which she expressed concern as to the unbalanced presentation of the Israeli-Palestinian relations in the report presented by ESCWA, noting in particular the lack of discussion on the role of Hamas in the deterioration of the living conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Representatives of the Syrian Arab Republic and Palestine responded by reiterating the extent of economic damages and human loss inflicted upon Palestinians by Israel.

Science and technology for development

The Council had before it the report of the seventeenth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) and the report of the Secretary-General on the follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The first report, presented by Mr. Andrew Reynolds, Chair of the 17th session of CSTD, included two resolutions for adoption by the Council entitled “Science, technology, and innovation for the post-2015 development agenda” and “Information and communications technologies for inclusive social and economic development.”

These resolutionsm which were adopted by the Council, emphasized inclusiveness and affordability in information and communication technology to ensure that innovations are broadly shared and used to promote progress in other development spheres, such as education, health, agriculture and food production, energy and environment.

The report of the Secretary-General, presented by Ms. Anne Miroux, Director of the Division of Technology and Logistics at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), provided a broad overview of current trends in this area and detailed the implementation of the WSIS outcomes at the regional and international levels. The UNCTAD report emphasized the growing demand for ICTs across all regions though warned of the unequal access to mobile and internet networks and devices as vast segments of the world population cannot afford costs associated with the use of these technologies and are thus unable to benefit from ICT advancements.

Public administration and development

The Council had before it the report of the thirteenth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA), which was presented by Ms. Margaret Saner, Independent Senior Adviser on Governance, Leadership, Change and Institution Building (UK) and the Chairperson of CEPA, who spoke via video link from London.

The report of the Committee stresses that the main goal of CEPA – to transform public administration for sustainable development – can be achieved by (1) strengthening national and local administrative strategic capacity through knowledge exchanges between governments, civil society actors, international organizations, and academics; (2) promoting leadership, innovation and risk management through development of robust analytical and risk management tools; and (3) encouraging professionalism, accountability, and cooperation in public service through strategic alliances with the UN and non-UN bodies.

The draft resolution contained in the report of the Committee was under consideration by the Council at informal consultations and would be taken up at a later date.

Population and development

Ambassador Bénédicte Frankinet, Permanent Representative of Belgium and Chair of the Commission on Population and Development, presented the report of the 47th session of the Commission, whose main theme was “Assessment of the status of implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)”.  Ambassador Frankinet referred to the improved working methods of CPD, in line with the strengthening of the ECOSOC machinery, and the unprecedented number of countries and NGOs who took part in its last session.

The resolution contained in the report of the Commission for adoption by the Council stresses the connection between the full implementation of the Programme of Action of ICPD and global efforts to eradicate poverty, and calls for measures to fill existing gaps in various sectors of ICPD.  The text also welcomes the special session to be held during the 69th session of the General Assembly to assess the status of implementation of the Programme of Action and to renew political support to it.  Through this resolution, the Council transmits the report of the Commission to the special session.  The Council adopted this resolution.

Cartography

The Council approved the report of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names on the work of its twenty-eighth session. The report primarily concerned the standardization of geographical names and the assistance provided to Member States by the Group of Experts. During the general discussion, the representative of Australia voiced support for holding the forthcoming session of the Group of Experts in Bangkok as it will help bring experts from South-Eastern Asian countries.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The Council heard an oral report by Mr. Udo Janz, Director of the New York Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  The representative of the United States praised the work of the UNHCR and recommended further cooperation between the UN, non-UN bodies and Member States as well as partnerships with NGOs for effective action and greater transparency on refugee issues.

The representative of Uruguay introduced a draft decision on the enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the UNHCR to include Armenia, Chad, Georgia and Uruguay.  The draft decision was adopted without a vote.

Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

The Council heard a presentation by Dr. Dalee Sambo Dorough, Chair of the 13th session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, on the Forum’s report contained in document E/2014/43. Among the decisions adopted by the Council, one relates to the hosting of an international expert group meeting on the theme “Dialogue on an optional protocol to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”, upon which the representative of the Russian Federation stated that it could not be viewed as support by member States to the subject.

Another decision foresees that the Forum will continue to discuss the possibility to change its name to “Permanent Forum on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples”.  One draft decision includes an extra day meeting of the Forum, without budgetary implications.  Answering to a question by the United States, Dr. Sambo Dorough explained that the additional one day meeting would be an opportunity to share views with the intent of improving the Forum’s working methods.  She added that the Forum is in dialogue with the Government of New Zealand regarding funding an inter-sessional meeting in November.  The draft decisions were adopted without a vote.

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ECOSOC Coordination and Management Meetings-CMM