62nd Session of the General Assembly
Agenda item 43: Report of the ECOSOC
Jorge Lobo de Mesquita
Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Portugal to the United Nations
on behalf of the European Union
New York, October 30th, 2007
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Croatia* and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
The European Union welcomes this opportunity to discuss the report of the Economic and Social Council and the work of the Council in 2007. Indeed, this year has been a historic one for the ECOSOC, having seen the holding of the first Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) and Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), giving life to the reforms instituted by our Heads of State and Government back during the 2005 World Summit.
These new modalities ensure that the Economic and Social Council will remain the central mechanism for the follow-up of the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other internationally agreed development goals (IADGs). Indeed, the AMR and DCF will serve as a vehicle to step up efforts to bring the international community on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and to reinforce the Council’s coordinating role in the economic, social, environmental and related fields.
The decision by the Council to focus the first Annual Ministerial Review on the theme “Strengthening efforts to eradicate poverty and hunger including through the global partnership for development” was an appropriate one, thereby channeling the efforts of the High Level Segment of the ECOSOC around MDG1. As the objective of this meeting is to provide a global high-level forum where a systematic review of progress is made in the implementation of the United Nations development agenda, including offering a platform for an exchange of lessons learned and successful practices and approaches, the EU remains committed to continue focusing these efforts on the MDGs in an individual or clustered basis so as to keep the MDGs under systematic and substantive review, thereby increasing the attention given to these critical development areas.
With its new functional architecture and potential to advance implementation by promoting synergies and linkages, the AMR started already this year to present itself as high-level and well participated forum aimed at looking more deeply at strategic issues of the international development agenda and associated policy responses. In this regard, the organization of the informal high-level roundtables which dealt with climate change and its complex linkages with poverty eradication and sustainable development, desertification and public health deserve a very positive mention. The EU strongly believes that the UN must be at the centre of global efforts to tackle climate change and therefore strongly advocates constructive dialogue and encourage consideration of these issues in all appropriate fora, as long as these efforts remain linked to the UN process.
The EU is pleased that the Council, during its resumed substantive session, adopted a two year programme of work for the Annual Ministerial Review, following on the recommendation of General Assembly resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of the work of the ECOSOC. This programme of work for the high level segment will provide a solid work plan that will aid in raising the profile of the work of the Council and that will provide the predictability necessary for the subsidiary bodies of the Council and other relevant actors to best contribute to its considerations in a timely manner. The ECOSOC should not act alone, but build on the work done by its subsidiary machinery and also benefit from outside contributions, be they from the wider international community or from civil society. To maintain the required predictability to ensure the best level of preparation for and participation in the AMR, the EU is of the view that the Council must ensure that themes for future sessions are adopted preferably 2 years in advance of their organization.
The European Union fully expects that the DCF will become an important part of the international discussion on the development cooperation agenda and the global partnership for development, as well as a crucial mechanism to emphasize the Council’s role as the policy coordination body of the United Nations system for economic, social and environmental matters. The DCF could be an important coordination and cooperation mechanism in a context of an array of multilateral and bilateral players’ existence, a growing number of new donor countries and increasing number of special purpose global funds, added to the growing role of Non-Governmental Organizations and the private sector in development cooperation. The very fact that this Forum is open to participation by all stakeholders, including the organizations of the United Nations, the international financial and trade institutions, the regional organizations, civil society and private sector representatives strengthens the Union’s conviction of the utility of such a Forum. Regarding the agenda of the DCF, the European Union considers important that the Forum could also address issues like aid architecture, the implementation of the Paris Declaration, and the role of new and emerging donors. This dialogue should also contribute to ensuring that important principles relevant to development cooperation, such as the principle of national ownership and leadership, are fully taken into account by all stakeholders. The EU looks forward to the shaping of an agenda of the next year’s DCF that raises the added value of this new modality and does not duplicate work done by others.
Permit me now to make a few points regarding the other segments of the substantive session of the Council. By focusing its discussions and interaction on the theme of promoting of full employment and decent work within the UN system, following up on the 2006 Ministerial Declaration, the coordination segment this year allowed for a thorough assessment of the endeavors of the system-wide work of the UN in reviving the goals of employment and decent work for all, as essential elements of all international and national policies, in the context of the MDGs, poverty reduction strategies and other policy frameworks. Work and employment are really key elements in the context of sustainable development, in all its three dimensions, connecting the “economic” dimension of people’s lives with the “social” and the “environmental”. In this sense, decent work cannot be merely seen as a source of income, but perceived also as a condition for people to live a self-determined life, and to participate fully as citizens in their communities and in their natural environment.
Regarding the humanitarian segment of the substantive session, dedicated to the strengthening of the coordination of UN humanitarian assistance through enhancing the effectiveness of needs-based humanitarian assistance, we were very pleased with the discussions surrounding not only aspects of assistance and continued humanitarian reform in the larger sense, but also debate on important issues such as the use of military assets in natural disaster relief and needs-based humanitarian financing. The EU looks forward and is committed to working with others during this GA in order to continue the dialogue and make further contributions in the context of the humanitarian agenda for the benefit of the people in need.
The operational activities segment provided for a platform for extensive discussions on the upcoming Triennial Comprehensive Policy Review of UN system operational activities for development that will serve as an important basis for the General Assembly considerations and orientations on the reforms of this critical area of the United Nations. The EU welcomes the 2007 TCPR as a unique tool to further advance current reforms to improve the effectiveness of UN’s operational activities and their responsiveness to developing countries needs and national priorities and the achievement of the MDGs and the Internationally Agreed Development Goals (IADGs).
In the general segment of the substantive session was rather successful this year, having managed to resolve a majority of the issues before it for consideration. Indeed, a majority of the remaining issues have been dealt with during the recent resumed substantive session of the Council. Without disregarding other equally important items before the Council in its resumed session, the EU would like to recall the adoption of a Non-Legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests and the adoption of the Multi-Year Programme of Work (MYPOW) for the UNFF, for the period of 2007-2015, considering their particular importance in the context of international forest policy and cooperation around the shared global objectives on forests. The EU is of the view that the organisation of a special public event, coinciding with the adoption of the Non-legally Binding Instrument on All Types of Forests by the General Assembly, would not only increase public awareness on this landmark but also further contribute to strengthening political commitment and action, at all levels, around the shared global objectives on forests.
The Council, namely through its annual Spring meeting with the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization and UNCTAD, will have an important role in the run-up to the 2008 follow-up international conference on financing for Development to review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, to be held in Doha in the second half of 2008. The ECOSOC should use this meeting to its full potential in 2008 by selecting carefully and in a timely manner the themes to be considered at the Spring meeting, with a view to the summary of the President of the Council providing a substantive and concrete contribution to the deliberations of the conference later that year.
The European Union is committed to completing the mandate of the strengthening of the Council as mandated by paragraphs 155 and 156 of the World Summit Outcome. Indeed, the adoption of resolution 61/16 and the subsequent organization of the annual ministerial review and the launching of the development cooperation forum have made concrete steps towards two of the three aspects of this strengthening. In this context, the EU is looking forward to the discussions held on the adaptation of work of the Council, including its organization of work, agenda and the current methods of work as the third pillar of this strengthening, as per Council decision 2006/206. One critical issue that will need to be discussed in that exercise will be the structure of the high level segment and the balance between the sessions to be held in New York and Geneva. We look forward to discussion on these important issues in December.
Before closing, the Union takes this opportunity to thank the Bureau of the ECOSOC for its efforts ensuring the success of the substantive and its recent resumed substantive sessions of the Council. We also extend our congratulations to the Secretariat for all of its hard work, including in what regards the new ECOSOC website which proved to be an extremely useful tool.
Thank you Mr. President.
* Croatia and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.