23 July 2018
Seventy-second Session, 107th Meeting (AM)

General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Resolution Urging Economic and Social Council to Strengthen Leadership, Policy Guidance Role

Text Falls Short of Ambitious Objectives, Delegates Say

The General Assembly today unanimously adopted a resolution calling on the Economic and Social Council to continue strengthening its leadership and policy guidance role, while placing particular focus on addressing new and emerging economic, social and environmental issues.

Adopting a resolution titled, “Review of the implementation of General Assembly resolution 68/1 on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council” (document A/72/L.64) without a vote, the Assembly said the working modalities of the Economic and Social Council should be guided by the principles of inclusiveness, transparency and flexibility.

Also by the text, the Assembly called on the Economic and Social Council to create synergy and coherence, while also avoiding duplication and overlap in its work to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.  In addition, the Economic and Social Council should improve its outcomes, and those of its subsidiary bodies, making them more relevant, coherent and solution‑oriented.

Further, the Assembly also decided that the arrangements contained in the resolution and its annex would be reviewed at its seventy‑fourth session.

Several speakers expressed regret that the text fell short of the ambitious objectives that guided the negotiation process, particularly at a time when the leadership of the Economic and Social Council is needed to ensure the effective implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“At a time when we should be striving to strengthen the legitimacy of the system, our collective inability to meaningfully strengthen the Economic and Social Council undermines it,” said Jan Kickert (Austria), speaking for the European Union.  The Economic and Social Council integration segment has lost its purpose since the creation of the High-Level Political Forum and should be eliminated.  The artificial duality of the High‑Level Political Forum and the Economic and Social Council high‑level segments continues to negatively affect the credibility of the body.  Further, the final text is silent on the link between the Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, despite the existence of agreed General Assembly language on that matter.

Sheyam Hamed Abdelhamied Elgarf (Egypt), speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, while noting that she was joining the hard consensus of the resolution, voiced several concerns, including the matter of the ongoing the synergies and coherence between the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.  She urged that the reference to “synergies and coherence” not be interpreted to undermine or compromise the Group’s position on such a process.

“The Economic and Social Council cannot remain static,” warned Vitavas Srivihok (Thailand), speaking for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China.  Rather, it needs to be reformed to respond to and address pressing realities and challenges.  As the depository of the wealth of knowledge on economic and society issues, the body should be tapped into by Member States to support their national efforts.

Ms. Clifford (Australia), also speaking for Canada and New Zealand, said that while the resolution is a step in the right direction, it fails to make progress on a number of key issues, including with regards to the Development Cooperation Forum, the high‑level segment and the absence of language on the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the urgent need to reform the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

Other speakers placed particular emphasis on the work of the Committee on Non‑Governmental Organizations.  As a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council, some delegates expressed disappointment that the resolution only contained a passing reference to the Committee.

Jay Marshall Kimmel (United States) expressed concern that the Committee on Non‑Governmental Organizations continues to hinder the participation of many well‑known and credible organizations.  Underscoring that the strength of the Economic and Social Council is in its convening power, he said that, regrettably, the resolution falls far short of the reforms that are needed.

Evgeny Y. Varganov (Russian Federation) said that, while the participation of non‑governmental organizations is important to the work of the Economic and Social Council, their participation should not impede the intergovernmental nature of the body’s work.  In that context, he stressed the need for the participation of such organizations to be governed by the applicable rules and regulations.

In other business, the General Assembly appointed Takeshi Matsunaga of Japan to fill a vacancy created on the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions.  Mr. Matsunaga will serve on behalf of the Asia‑Pacific States for a term beginning on 15 August 2018 and ending on 31 December 2018.

Also speaking today were representatives of Mexico, Republic of Korea and Qatar (for the Co‑Facilitators for the review of General Assembly resolution 68/1).

The General Assembly will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 24 July.

For information media. Not an official record.