15 January 2009


15 January 2009
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Economic and Social Council

2009 Organizational Session

1st Meeting (PM)




Permanent Representative of Luxembourg Elected New President;

Vows to Strengthen Quality, Relevance of Council’s Development Work

With the effects of the recent financial turmoil continuing to reverberate around the world and the food crisis still “very much with us”, Deputy Secretary-General Asha‑Rose Migiro today stressed that the Economic and Social Council was in a unique position to forge closer ties among all relevant actors, so as to maximize the United Nations potential to address critical issues and serve the needs of humanity.

At the first organizational meeting of its 2009 session, the Council elected Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg as its new President.  The 54‑member body also elected four Vice‑Presidents and adopted the provisional agenda for its 2009 organizational session (documents E/2009/2 and Corr.1).

Reviewing the compelling events of 2008 and the ripple effects of the global financial crisis, the Deputy Secretary-General said that years of painstaking efforts hung in the balance.  The developed world had led the economic downturn, but developing countries were being dragged down, too.  Despite recent progress at the midpoint towards the Millennium Development Goals, more people were suffering from poverty and hunger.

Efforts had to be redoubled to reach the Goals by the 2015 target date.  Initiatives for agricultural development had to be stepped up.  Action was needed on energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy.  “Above all, the international community must keep its promises to the world’s poor,” she said.

On the work of the Council, she said that in 2008, the body had taken important steps forward on the biennial Development Cooperation Forum and on the Annual Ministerial Review.  It had also been actively engaged with a range of players from around the world who shared concerns about economic and social development.

Encouraged by commitments made at the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development to increase official development assistance (ODA), despite the challenges posed by the financial crisis, she said substantial progress was needed on the implementation of both the Monterrey Consensus and the Doha Declaration.  The Council was in a unique position to forge closer ties among all relevant actors, so as to maximize the United Nations’ potential to serve the needs of humanity, she said.

Following her election by acclamation, the Council’s new President, Ms. Lucas ( Luxembourg), said the coming year offered the opportunity to capitalize on the progress made over the last three years to fully exploit the new functions the 2005 World Summit had bestowed on the Council.

The main challenge was to further strengthen the quality and relevance of the Council’s work on development.  In 2008, the Annual Ministerial Review would focus on “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global health”.  The Council would organize a special event on philanthropy on global public health on 23 February, she added.

She said the outcome of the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development had addressed some very specific requests to the Council, including for it to consider a strengthened and more effective intergovernmental inclusive process to carry out the development financing follow‑up at its spring meeting and its 2009 substantive session.  To that end, she planned to start consultations to prepare that high-level meeting with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 27 April.

She said another priority for the Council was to continue to strengthen the Development Cooperation Forum.  She would also seek to strengthen the Council’s action in promoting inclusive financial sectors and its capacity to respond to emerging issues and crises, of which there was no shortage.  The Council should also enhance its relationship with the Peacebuilding Commission.

In conclusion she said, “We are in the middle of a deep financial and economic crisis, which is affecting the whole world and risks to set back the clock for development.  This Council should offer a venue to address the crisis’ multiple dimensions and implications for poverty and sustainable development, and solicit concrete initiatives to help alleviate its impact on the most vulnerable.

Outgoing President Léo Mérorès ( Haiti) said 2008 had been a remarkable year.  The Council had tackled a number of important development issues, setting the stage for crucial discussions on sustainable development and negotiations on climate change, as well as development cooperation at the Doha Review Conference.  It had also promoted a range of actions to advance the realization of the development agenda.

The annual Ministerial Review had focused on ongoing action to realize the goal of sustainable development and on strengthening international efforts to achieve that goal, he said.  The Council had also held its first Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), which had made significant strides in positioning the Council as the principal forum for global dialogue and policy review on the coherence and effectiveness of international development cooperation.

With a special meeting in May on the global food crisis and the discussion on rural development during the high-level segment, the Council had made significant strides in fulfilling its responsibility to address and respond effectively to emerging humanitarian crises.  He hoped the Council would increase its engagement with the Peacebuilding Commission.

He said the Council had also made important progress in increasing its profile as a relevant, flexible and constructive multi-stakeholder mechanism for advancing the implementation of the development agenda, among other things through the February event on the contribution that philanthropy could make towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Looking ahead, he said that one of the challenges for the Council would be ensuring the continued engagement of Member States in its work at the highest political level.  Another challenge was to ensure follow‑up on the Council’s legislation, as there seemed to be a gap between the guidance from the Council and the work of the subsidiary bodies, especially at the country level.

In other business today, the Council elected by acclamation four Vice‑Presidents:  Somduth Soborun (Mauritius) from the African States Group; Hamidon Ali (Malaysia) from the Asian States Group; Tiina Intelmann (Estonia) from the Eastern European States Group; and Carmen María Gallardo Hernández (El Salvador) from the Latin American and Caribbean States Group.

Following tradition, the 54‑member Council then set the seating arrangements for the new session by lottery.  According to the results, Liechtenstein would take the first seat, followed by Luxembourg.  The seating of the remaining members would follow in English alphabetical order.

Welcoming the election of the new President and her Bureau were the representatives of the Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) and Japan.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

* *** *

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