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    For information only - not an official document.
      UNIS/GA/1734
        10 November 2000
     Second Committee Takes up Annual Report of Economic and Social Council

    NEW YORK, 8 November (UN Headquarters) -- The Economic and Social Council had made a new beginning with regard to its capacity to respond in a timely way to developments within its sphere of responsibility, the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) was told this morning, as it met to consider the Council’s annual report.

    In his introductory remarks, Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that the Council had met on 28 February, in the wake of the Security Council’s month on Africa, to address, together with the Presidency of the Security Council, the implications of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  Also in March, it had convened an emergency meeting to deal with the impact of devastating floods affecting Mozambique and to provide assistance to United Nations agencies humanitarian agencies.   

    In addition, he continued, at its substantive session in July, the Council had broken new ground and served to consolidate past achievements in the effort to strengthen international support for the integration of developing countries in the world economy.  The high-level segment, in particular, had been widely regarded as a major step forward in harnessing the information revolution for achieving agreed development goals.  

    Like other speakers this morning, the representative of France, speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, attached great importance to the revitalization of the Council.  In that connection, the strengthening of ties between it and the Bretton Woods institutions was imperative, given the role those institutions played in the international economic and social scene. 

    He said the visit to New York by the administrators of the International Monetary Fund in October 1999, the trip by to the World Bank by Council ambassadors in March, the now customary high-level meeting held in April and the recent visit to New York by the Fund’s Managing Director, had all confirmed that a real partnership was being forged.  At the same time, he expressed dissatisfaction with some of the organizational aspects of the last substantive session, and called on the Secretariat and bureau members to ensure that there was no repeat of the difficulties, including a lack of interpretation facilities and the last minute distribution of reports.  

    While several speakers expressed regret at the lack of agreement reached on the draft conclusions of the humanitarian segment of the substantive session, the representative of Belarus noted that the lack of full agreement could be viewed as a sign of the responsible approach taken by the Council to reach mutually acceptable solutions that reflected the balance of interests of all its members.

    Also this morning, representatives of Nigeria (on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China) introduced draft resolutions on:  industrial development cooperation; the Convention on Biological Diversity; further implementation of the outcome of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States; and protection of the global climate for present and future generations.

    In addition, the representative of Japan introduced a draft resolution on the United Nations University.

    Statements were also made by the representatives of Nigeria (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), China, Japan, Ukraine, Indonesia, Egypt and Kazakhstan. 

    The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 9 November, to continue its consideration of training and research.

    Committee Work Programme

    The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) met this morning to consider a number of issues.

    It had before it the report of the Economic and Social Council (document A/55/3).  Among other things, the report highlights matters calling for action by the General Assembly or brought to its attention, as well as the special high-level meeting of the Council with the Bretton Woods institutions.  The report also discusses the 2000 substantive session of the Council, including the Ministerial Declaration adopted at the session.  The economic and environmental questions the report addresses include sustainable development, public administration and finance, water supply and sanitation, cartography, and population and development.

    Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on the United Nations Population Award (document A/55/419).  According to the report, the Committee for the Award, in March, selected Professor Ismail Awadallah Sallam in the individual category and the Fundacion Mexicana para la Planeacion Familiar (Mexfam) in the institutional category as the laureates for 2000.  

    Professor Sallam, the report states, was selected for his extensive contributions to the field of population, especially from the biomedical perspective.  The Mexfam was selected as an innovator and leader of Mexican civil society in the fields of family planning and sexual and reproductive health.  On financial matters, the report states that the closing balance of the Trust Fund as at 31 December 1999 was $760,858.

    The Committee was also expected to hear the introduction of several draft resolutions.  By the terms of a text sponsored by Nigeria, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, on industrial development cooperation (document A/C.2/55/L.22), the Assembly would stress the importance of domestic industrial transformation in developing countries as a way of increasing the value added of their export earnings, so that they may benefit fully from the process of globalization and trade liberalization.  

    Also, the Assembly would reiterate the importance of cooperation and coordination within the United Nations system in providing effective support for the sustainable industry development of developing countries.  Further, the Assembly would strongly urge the donor community to provide adequate financial support to enable the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) to fully implement its portfolio of integrated technical cooperation programmes and strengthen its global forum activities. 

    A draft resolution on the Convention on Biological Diversity (document A/C.2/55/L.20), sponsored by Nigeria (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China), would have the Assembly decide to proclaim 22 May, the date of the adoption of the text of the Convention, as the International Day for Biological Diversity.  The Assembly would call on Member States that are parties to the Convention to sign and ratify the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety as soon as possible.  It would also call on States parties to the Convention to settle urgently any arrears and to pay their contributions in full and in a timely manner, so as to ensure continuity in the cash flows required to finance the ongoing work of the Conference of the Parties, the subsidiary bodies and the Convention secretariat.

    In addition, the Assembly would urge developed countries to facilitate the transfer of environmentally sound biotechnology for the effective implementation of the Cartagena Protocol.  

    The Committee also had another text sponsored by Nigeria (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) before it, on further implementation of the outcome of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States (document A/C.2/55/L.21).  The text would have the Assembly call on Member States, particularly the donor community, as well as the relevant organs and agencies of the United Nations system and the regional commissions and organizations, to support the efforts of small island developing States in the further implementation of the Programme of Action through, among other things, the provision of adequate technical and financial resources, taking into account the Declaration and review document for further implementation and effective follow-up.

    The Assembly would also call on the organizations of the United Nations system to assist small island developing States in their efforts to respond adequately to the challenges of globalization, including in the field of information and communication technologies and to enhance their capacity to effectively utilize the benefits and mitigate the implications of globalization.  Further, it would urge all relevant organizations to finalize, as a matter of urgency, the work on the development of a vulnerability index for small island developing States, and decide to defer any decision on the graduation of least developed countries until the work on the vulnerability index can properly inform discussions on such a decision.  

    By the terms of a text sponsored by Nigeria (on behalf of the Group of 77 and China) on protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind (document A/C.2/55/L.23), the Assembly would call on all parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to intensify their efforts towards reaching a successful outcome of the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention, including the consensus necessary for the timely entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.  

    Also, the Assembly would urge all parties to the Convention that have not yet ratified or acceded to the Kyoto Protocol to do so as soon as possible with a view to ensuring its early entry into force, bearing in mind the Millennium Declaration.  Further, it would invite the Conference of the Parties at its seventh session to contribute to the preparation of the 10-year review of the implementation of Agenda 21 and the Programme for the Further Implementation of Agenda 21 and request the Executive Secretary of the Convention to report to the Commission on Sustainable Development at its tenth session to this end.  

    By the terms of a text on the United Nations University (document A/C.2/55/L.24), the Assembly would request the University to broaden the reach of its dissemination activities, using innovative methods, including new information and communication technologies, to ensure that the knowledge developed by the University is made available to all those to whom it may be of benefit.  It would also request the University's Council and Rector to continue to make further efforts to ensure the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the University's activities, as well as its financial transparency and accountability, to intensify efforts to augment its Endowment Fund and to find innovative ways to mobilize operating contributions and other programme and project support.

    Further, the Assembly would request the Secretary-General to continue his consideration of innovative measures to improve interaction and communication between the University and other relevant bodies of the United Nations system and to ensure that the work of the University is taken into account in all relevant activities of the system, so that the system may draw more extensively on the work of the University.  

    The text is sponsored by Australia, Azerbaijan, Canada, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Ghana, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Peru, Republic of Moldova, Thailand and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

    Introduction of Draft Resolutions

    AUSTIN PETER ETANOMARE OSIO (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, introduced the draft resolution on industrial development cooperation. 

    Next, OSITADINMA ANAEDU (Nigeria), also speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, introduced the text on the Convention on Biological Diversity.

    He then introduced the draft resolution on further implementation of the outcome of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States.

    Lastly, he introduced the text on protection of global climate for present and future generations of mankind.

    YOSHIYASU KAWAGUCHI (Japan) introduced the draft resolution on the United Nations University.  Fiji, Zambia, Haiti, Turkey, Norway, Georgia, Iceland, Romania, Iran, Slovenia, Latvia, Malta and Germany had also joined as co-sponsors, he said.  Among other things, the University should be a community of international scholars and a think-tank for the United Nations system.  It should contribute to capacity building, particularly in developing countries.  

    Consideration of Economic and Social Council Report

    PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said that an area in which the Council had made a new beginning this year was in its capacity to respond in a timely way to developments coming within its sphere of responsibility.  On 28 February, the Council met, in the wake of the Security Council’s month on Africa, to address –- together with the Presidency of the Security Council -– the implications of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  In March, it had convened an emergency meeting to deal with the impact of devastating floods affecting Mozambique and to provide assistance to United Nations agencies providing assistance to the country.  

    A key area where the Council had consolidated a role that it had been strengthening over the past few years had to do with its role as the forum where United Nations members could pursue an open and constructive policy dialogue with the international trade and financial institutions, he added.  In addition, the Council’s substantive session, held in July, had broken new ground and served to consolidate past achievements in the effort to strengthen international support for the integration of developing countries in the world economy.  The high-level segment, in particular, had been widely regarded as a major step forward in harnessing the information revolution for achieving agreed development goals.  

    In terms of methods of work, he said, there were two areas in which further improvements were needed.  One was the phasing of segments and meetings during the year, so as to maximize the Council’s capacity for timely responses and ensure that participation, in all instances, was at the necessary level and included decision-makers from capitals.  The second was further strengthening the focus of the general segment of the substantive session, which was a challenge, not only for the Council, but also for the Secretariat.   

    YVES DOUTRIAUX (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and the associated states of Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and Turkey, said that the Union attached considerable importance to the revitalization of the Economic and Social Council.  In that connection, the strengthening of ties between the Council and the Bretton Woods institutions was seen by the Union as imperative, given the role played by those institutions in the international economic and social scene.  The visit to New York by International Monetary Fund (IMF) administrators in October 1999, the trip by the World Bank by Council ambassadors in March 2000, the now customary high-level meeting in April 2000, and the recent visit to New York by the Fund’s Managing Director, had all confirmed that a real partnership was being forged. 

    Regarding the Council’s substantive session in July 2000, the Union considered the high-level segment to have been an unquestionable success, he said.  The massive private-sector participation was an innovation to be welcomed.  The new features to be added at the instigation of the Council’s President, such as the organization of an information technology exhibition and the holding of breakfasts on specific themes, brought a breath of fresh air to the segment and paved the way for new partnerships.  The adoption of a resolution concerning the establishment of an information and communication technology task force demonstrated a resolve on all sides that this session should bring concrete action.  The Union hoped that the next high-level segment, to be devoted to Africa, would also bring tangible results. 

    The Union, he said, was pleased at the general course taken by the segment on operational activities for development.  It hoped that the next triennial review of operational activities for development would be conducted in a constructive atmosphere.  The Union deplored that negotiations towards the adoption of agreed conclusions of the humanitarian segment had failed this year despite efforts.  The lack of results was especially regrettable, since both natural disasters and internal displacement crises required an appropriate response.  Lastly, the Union pointed to its dissatisfaction with some of the organizational aspects of the last substantive session.  The Union called on the Secretariat and bureau members to ensure that there was no repeat of the difficulties, including a lack of interpretation facilities and the last minute distribution of reports.  

    MR. OSIO (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the revitalization of the Council was of high importance to the Group.  He appreciated the unique elements featured during this year’s high-level segment, as well as the establishment of the Task Force on information technology.  He hoped the Task Force would find a way to enable developing countries to benefit from information and communication technology. 

    He regretted that no agreed conclusions had emerged this year during the humanitarian segment of the substantive session.  He hoped that whatever difficulties had prevented agreement could be surmounted.  Also, he appreciated the choice of themes selected for next year’s high-level and coordination segments, which would contribute to the acute problem of developing countries, particularly, the least developed countries.  With regard to funding, which had been taken up during the operational activities segment, he was heartened that, for the first time, agreement had been reached on increasing the core resources.  

    He thanked the Presidency of the Council for the improvements brought about, including strengthening the partnership and cooperation between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions.  Greater participation of that kind would encourage a greater understanding of the stake everyone had in development.  

    LIU JINTAO (China) said that in the past year, the Council’s working methods had improved.  The Council had also stepped up its consideration of the major economic issues faced by humanity.  This year’s high-level meeting had brought tremendous achievements.  The leaders of many multilateral organizations had sent representatives to take part in the meeting.  His delegation believed that the Council could play a key role in facing the challenges of the new millennium.  China fully acknowledged the work of the Council and expressed its appreciation to the bureau for its creativity.

    The reform work of the United Nations in the field of development had been concluded, he said.  The focus should now turn to providing the specific funds in the development field.  At present, the urgent task was for the international community to revitalize the development work of the United Nations.  In the last two years, the Council had stepped up its dialogue with the Bretton Woods institutions.  China hoped that further dialogue would help the international community to jointly face the challenges in the field of development. 

    He said that his delegation attached great importance to the participation of civil society at the national level to consider the results of global conferences. While indicators were important to gage the progress of global conferences, the major conferences were very different so it was not realistic to gage all of the work by indicators. The major responsibility to measure the progress of global conferences lay with national governments. 

    ALYAKSEI MAZMUKHOU (Belarus) said that this year’s substantive session reflected considerable improvements within the Economic and Social Council, as well as implementation of relevant resolutions.  The relationship between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as with United Nations funds and programmes, needed to be further strengthened.  The improvement of system-wide coordination was, no doubt, a positive development in the Council’s work.  The 2000 substantive session had highlighted the importance of regional cooperation with the participation of all five regional commissions.  The lack of full agreement on the draft conclusions of the humanitarian segment could be viewed as a sign of the responsible approach taken by the Council to reach mutually acceptable solutions, which reflected the balance of interests of all its members.

    With regard to the future work of the Council, he said that priority issues for the high-level meetings with the Bretton Woods institutions should include financing for development and a new round of multilateral trade negotiations.  The Council’s meeting on 30 October, held in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) and devoted to hunger and food security, was a good example of new partnerships between it and other bodies of the United Nations system.  It was also necessary to strengthen coordination between the Council and the main organs of the United Nations, to have a comprehensive discussion of the Council’s annual report in the Assembly plenary, and to strengthen cooperation between the Economic and Social Council and the Security Council. 

    KOICHIRO SEKI (Japan) said that at the high-level segment of the Council’s substantive session, there had been a comprehensive discussion on issues relating to information and communication technology.  It was significant that a ministerial communiqué had been adopted on this matter.  It was also a great leap forward to agree on the establishment of an information technology Task Force within the United Nations.  His delegation hoped that the Task Force would coordinate the role that the United Nations played in its effort to bridge the digital divide. 

    With regard to the coordination segment, he said that it was a pity that there had not been an agreement on concrete measures for conducting review meetings on the implementation of major United Nations conferences of the 1990s.  Japan hoped that the issue would continue to be discussed by the functional commissions, and that tangible progress would be made at the substantive session of the Council next year. 

    Regarding the general segment, his delegation welcomed the adoption of the Resolution on the International Year of Volunteers in 2001.  Japan hoped that the Year would play a catalytic role in facilitating volunteerism and helping it to take deep root in many countries.  Finally, Japan also welcomed the resolution on the United Nations Forum on Forests. 

    VOLODYMYR RESHETNIAK (Ukraine) said that his delegation shared the view of the previous speakers who had positively assessed the work of the Economic and Social Council.  Ukraine welcomed the continued strengthening of the high-level dialogue between the Council and the Bretton Woods institutions.  The high-level meeting in April this year had reaffirmed the need for coordination and system-wide cooperation between different global institutions.  The Council’s substantive session held last June in New York had further contributed to promoting dialogue and consensus building.  The high-level policy dialogue devoted to the new challenges of the world economy had become an example of finding real solutions to acute global economic and social problems. 

    The discussions of the coordination segment, as well as its agreed conclusions, testified to the key role of the Council in promoting a coordinated and integrated follow-up to the major United Nations conferences.  His delegation believed that the agreed conclusions would provide the United Nations system with guidance in ensuring an effective review of the progress achieved in implementation of the goals set forth in those forums

    Turning to the general segment, Ukraine commended the work done by the Council on enhancing the efficiency of its functional and regional commissions.  At the same time, his delegation believed that the work of the general segment still left some room for improvement.  The experience of the recent session showed that further efforts were needed to rationalize the agenda of the general segment and to improve the Council’s work method.  His delegation paid tribute to the President of the Council, Makarim Wibisono of Indonesia, for his efforts and able leadership during the year 2000. 

    I. GEDE NGURAH SWAJAYA (Indonesia) thanked all those who had expressed appreciation to the Indonesian Presidency of the Council, as well as to all the members of the Bureau and all delegations who had extended their support to the Council.  He also thanked the Secretariat for their tireless efforts, which had led to a successful conclusion of the Council’s substantive session.  He took note of the various statements, with regard to strengthening the role of the Council as one of the main bodies in the United Nations system dealing with economic and social issues.

    IHAB GAMALELDIN (Egypt) requested the opportunity to come back to the Council’s report in the Committee’s next meeting.

    Committee Chairman Alexandru Niculescu (Romania) said that the item would be kept open in order to allow him to do so.  He also informed the Committee that Mongolia had joined as a co-sponsor to the draft resolution on integration of countries with economies in transition into the world economy.

    MARAT M. YESSENBAYEV (Kazakhstan) informed the Committee that Bulgaria, Iran and The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had joined as cosponsors to the draft resolution on transit environment in the landlocked States in Central Asia and their transit-developing neighbours.  

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