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Intervention on behalf of the EU at the informal meeting to exchange views on the strengthening of the Economic and Social Council

Date of Speech : 05-05-2005

Place : New York

Speaker : Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations

Policy area : General Affairs and External Relations

I take the floor on behalf of the European Union.

We thank you for convening this informal brainstorming session to exchange views on the strengthening of ECOSOC. We considered with interest the non paper you provided us with. It contains useful suggestions.

This year the European Union expressed itself several times on the methods of work and on the strengthening of ECOSOC. In March we intervened during an exchange of views in ECOSOC on the topic of improving the working methods of the Council. And last week, during the General Assembly consultation of Cluster IV on “Strengthening the United Nations�?, the EU intervened on the overall role of ECOSOC in the UN.

We understand that this non-paper would provide, under your responsibility, an input to the preparatory process conducted by the President of the GA. In this framework, we are glad to participate in the informal discussion, with the following comments:

Your paper is divided in two sub chapters, for clarity I will follow your structure. On

A) Functions:

1. As a Charter body of the UN, ECOSOC needs to become a more effective multilateral instrument that meets the challenges in the economic, social, environmental, humanitarian and human rights fields. The Council can build on its convening power and foster its system-wide coordination role. Furthermore ECOSOC can follow-up and review effectively the implementation of major UN Conferences and Summits, including the Millennium Summit and its review.

2. In general closer linkages between the main UN organs should be established to promote synergy among their different fields of action. We should build on the progress made in organizing exchanges of views with key actors of the system, in particular with the representatives of the CEB, as well as with the Chairs of Functional Commissions, Heads of Agencies, Funds and Programmes, the Chair of UNDG, and also outside of the system with the BWIs, WTO, the multilateral regional banks and regional organizations such as OECD and of course the NGOs and the private sector, as outlined in the Cardoso report.

3. The EU considers that ECOSOC has different functions:

- ECOSOC should continue to play a key role in convening dialogue at international level on trends and emerging issues in the economic, social and environmental fields, with all relevant actors.

- ECOSOC should also play a major role in the follow-up to and the implementation of the outcomes of major UN conferences and summits, including the Millennium Declaration and the MDGs. The GA resolution 57/270B and the subsequent resolutions of the Council launched an important process. We can already see some results in the work of the functional Commissions and in their relationship to ECOSOC. We should encourage them to continue this effort. The Commissions should continue to examine, in a constructive and critical way, how they are operating in practice and what lessons might be learnt from their experiences to date.

- ECOSOC should also serve as a high-level development cooperation forum. The ambitious agenda on development requires bold action on the institutional side. We have to ensure that UN institutions, in particular ECOSOC and the operational activities machinery, are better able to cope in a coherent manner with the challenges of the XXIst century in the economic, social and environmental fields. In this regard, we would favor an examination of the role played by the Committee on Development Policy.

- We support the proposal in the Secretary General’s report, to hold a meeting, for example, every two years at ministerial level. Such a meeting, in order to be meaningful and not limited to a generic exchange of views among Member States, will require an adequate preparation by the ECOSOC in close cooperation with all major actors in development cooperation, i.e. IFI, UN Funds and Programs, Specialized Agencies, regional banks and OECD.

- ECOSOC also has to play a role in post-conflict situations. The EU supports a strong linkage between ECOSOC and the Peacebuilding Commission as proposed in the Secretary General’s report and explanatory note. We should ensure that ECOSOC highlights the medium and long-term economic, social and environmental dimensions of post-conflict situations.

The experience of the ad hoc working groups for Guinea-Bissau and for Burundi proved to be very useful. It helped us to understand better the complex economic and social issues in situations of post-conflict. We await with interest the report of the work to date of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Haiti. We will have to consider the ways, in which ECOSOC can contribute in this field, in particular to ensure the coherence with long-term development objectives.

-  The EU supports the recommendation of the Secretary General that the Council should convene timely meetings, as required, to assess threats to development, such as famines, epidemics and major natural disasters, and to promote coordinated responses to them.

- Finally, ECOSOC should continue to support the coordination and harmonization among operational and humanitarian agencies.

- In order to fulfill these tasks, ECOSOC has an important coordinating role. We should be committed to improve its methods of work if we want this role to be more effective. We must seek practical solutions to improve ECOSOC’s role as the central mechanism for the coordination of UN system wide activities in the economic, social and environmental fields. Furthermore, in its areas of competence, ECOSOC could be entrusted with monitoring the consistency of UN policies in terms of harmonization and coordination.

- EU supports to improve also the cooperation and coordination between ECOSOC and the Bretton Woods Institutions. The Spring meeting represents a unique chance to facilitate a free-flowing dialogue among ministers of finance, ministers of development, high-level officials of foreign affairs, directors of the bank and the fund and also civil society and private sector representatives. In order to continue to be successful, we need to reinforce the sense of ownership of this meeting by all actors involved. This common framework of discussion needs to be better serviced by the relevant secretariats. Progress in these areas would be of great relevance to build on the momentum created by the Monterrey Consensus.

- ECOSOC’s role in strengthening operational coordination is to ensure coherence. It should not intervene directly in operational management of specific situations. In this context, ECOSOC could highlight lessons learned of such situations and examine the possibilities to improve coordination between implementing actors. In that respect, the work of the specialized agencies should take into account

B) Organization of work

4. The reform of ECOSOC is addressed in the overall reform process of the UN. We should however not miss the opportunity to seriously improve ECOSOC’s organization of work in its own right, even if these elements are not relevant for the Heads of State and Government.

5. A strong and more effective ECOSOC can be realized within its current mandate. The EU is of the view that the agenda of ECOSOC needs reform and focus. At the same time, the resolutions adopted by ECOSOC should concentrate more on substance.

6. We welcome your proposal that DESA should prepare a study to delineate between the work of ECOSOC and the General Assembly. Such a study should contribute to exploring ways on how the implementation of ECOSOC's decisions could be improved.

7. We need to find ways to prepare the substantive session in a more rational manner than the current practice. A comprehensive annotation of the agenda and its early availability, as well as a streamlined format of the reports could facilitate our work. We should be able to use the weeks preceding the session to prepare a coherent program. This would allow delegations to participate fully in the debates of the various segments and to negotiate a few but meaningful resolutions.

8. Member States should be in a position to distinguish earlier the items, that don’t require substantive debates. We agree that the agenda of the General segment should be rationalized and that we should use clustering of topics, wherever possible. As we already stated last year there could be a focus on select reports according to need within each cluster. Oral presentation of reports would ensure a more concrete and transparent debate. We would welcome a better ordering of the formal debates and informal negotiations on draft resolutions in order to allow delegations to be present at both.

9. We agree with your proposal that more efficient procedures to select themes for the High level segment should be developed.

10. We also agree that it is important for the High level segment of the Council to be attended by high-level representatives from Member states.

11. The EU is looking very carefully at your proposals for the reorganization of the different segments of ECOSOC. The substantive session of ECOSOC is at the center of its activities. The EU recalls its strong attachment to the current balance between Geneva and New York. We could explore ways to organize additional meetings of ECOSOC on an ad hoc basis. At the same time, we should strive to ensure that we do not create overlaps with meetings of other intergovernmental bodies. In any case, this should be decided within the existing allocation of conference services and costs.

12. Finally, in order to achieve a more focused and effective ECOSOC, we should not forget that we also need to strengthen the effectiveness of its secretariat.

Thank you, Mr. President.

This page was last modified on : 06-05-2005

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