Press Releases

    ECOSOC/5944
    4 May 2001

    ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ELECTS
    MEMBERS TO 18 ORGANIZATIONS

    United States Not Re-elected to Human Rights Commission

    In two meetings of its resumed organizational session today, the Economic and Social Council elected members to 18 organizations and adopted seven decisions.

    The Council elected:

    • Seven members of the Statistical Commission;
    • 13 members of the Commission on Population and Development;
    • 14 members of the Commission on Human Rights;
    • 13 members of the Commission on the Status of Women;
    • 19 members of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs;
    • Two members of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice;
    • 18 members of the Commission on Sustainable Development;
    • One member of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development;
    • One member for the Commission on Human Settlements;
    • One member for the Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting;
    • 11 members of the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF);
    • 11 members of the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/ United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA);
    • Four members of the Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP);
    • Seven members of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB);
    • Three members of the Board of Trustees for the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women;
    • One member of the Committee for the United Nations Population Award;
    • Eight members for the Coordination Board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS);
    • One member of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

    For the election of members of the Human Rights Commission, the Council elected, among others, three members from the Group of Western European and Other States: Austria, France and Sweden. The United States, one of the candidates in that geographical group, did not receive enough votes for election for the first time since the Commission’s inception.

    The Council also nominated seven candidates for election by the General Assembly for the Committee for Programme and Coordination, and endorsed the Secretary-General’s decision to approve the applications for membership in the reconfigured Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals.

    From the report of the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), the Council adopted, without vote, two decisions.

    Regarding granting consultative status to "Hadassah", a United States-based NGO, the observer for Palestine, speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, voiced objections to the procedure followed in the Committee and to the work of the NGO itself. Representatives of Syria, Sudan, Bahrain, and Iran also spoke against that procedure and the NGO. The representatives of the United States and Israel spoke in favor of the NGO.

    Without a vote, the Council adopted decisions on regional cooperation for its 2001 substantive session, on the restructuring and revitalization of the United Nations in the economic, social and related fields, and on inclusion on its agenda of an item entitled "discrimination and genetic privacy". Also without a vote, it adopted a draft decision on the enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and a draft decision on five substantive sessions of the United Nations Forum on Forests.

    The Council decided to defer consideration of the report of the second session of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and to defer to its substantive session in July 2001 its consideration to include in its agenda an item on "Measures to be taken for the implementation by Myanmar of the recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Commission of Inquiry on forced labour".

    The representatives of Denmark, Canada and Peru spoke on the establishment of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

    During this morning’s meeting, the Council heard a briefing by Patrizio M. Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, on the recent session of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) held on 2 and 3 April in Nairobi, Kenya. Adnan Amin, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Office in New York, also spoke.

    The representatives of Namibia, Nigeria and the Czech Republic made procedural remarks.

    Background

    The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met this morning to hold elections to its subsidiary bodies and to hear a briefing by the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, Patrizio M. Civili.

    Elections

    For its Statistical Commission, the Council elected, without a vote, seven members: Algeria, Ghana and South Africa from the Group of African States; the Russian Federation from the Group of Eastern European States; and Denmark, New Zealand and Spain from the Group of Western European and Other States. Members were elected for a four-year term beginning on 1 January 2002. Regarding one remaining vacancy, the Council decided to postpone to a later stage the election of one member from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States.

    It elected, without a vote, 11 members for the Commission on Population and Development for a four-year term beginning on 1 January 2002: Botswana, Gambia, Nigeria and Zambia from the Group of African States; China from the Group of Asian States; Jamaica, Mexico and Nicaragua from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States; and Ireland, Norway and the United States from the Group of Western European and Other States. By secret ballot, it elected the Russian Federation and Poland from the Goup of Eastern European States.

    The Council decided to postpone the election of five members, three from the Goup of Asian States and two from the Group of Latin American and Caribbean States. From the Group of African States, Egypt was elected to start its membership on the date of election, until the term expires on 31 December 2004.

    For its Commission on Human Rights it elected, without a vote, six members for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2002: Sierra Leone, Sudan, Togo and Uganda from the African States; and Chile and Mexico from the Latin American and Caribbean States. By secret ballot, the Council elected Bahrain, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea from the Asian States; Armenia and Croatia from the Eastern European States; and Austria, France and Sweden from the Western European and Other States.

    Thirteen members were elected without a vote to the Commission on the Status of Women for a four-year term beginning on 1 January 2002: five from the African States: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Gabon, South Africa and the Sudan; and three from the Latin American and Caribbean States: Cuba, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

    The Council elected 19 members to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs for a four-year term beginning on 1 January 2002. Without a vote, it elected Burkina Faso, Gambia and Nigeria from the African States; Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine from the Eastern European States; and Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico and Nicaragua from the Latin American and Caribbean States. By secret ballot, it elected China, Indonesia, Japan and Pakistan from the Asian States; and Australia, Netherlands, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom from the Western European and Other States. One member from the African States will be elected at a later stage.

    The representative of Namibia, on behalf of the Group of African States, made a correction regarding the Group’s candidates for the Commission.

    To fill outstanding vacancies from last year, the Council elected -– by acclamation -- Chad and Zimbabwe (African States) to its Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice for a term which will begin today and expire on 31 December 2003.

    Eighteen members were elected to the Commission on Sustainable Development for a three-year term which will begin at the organizational meeting of the Commission’s eleventh session in 2002 and expire at the close of the Commission’s thirteenth session in 2005. Without a vote, the Council elected Egypt, Lesotho and South Africa from the African States; Azerbaijan and Croatia for the Eastern European States; Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Costa Rica and Peru from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Belgium, Canada, Germany, Norway and Turkey from the Western European and Other States. From the Group of Asian States, it elected by secret ballot China, Nepal, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan. Election of two members from African States was postponed to a later stage.

    Sri Lanka (Asian States) was elected, by acclamation, to fill last year’s outstanding vacancy on the Commission on Science and Technology for Development for a term starting today and expiring on 31 December 2004. Regarding the four remaining vacancies, the Council further postponed two members from the Asian States and two members from the Western European and Other States.

    For the Committee for Programme and Coordination, the Council nominated seven candidates for election by the General Assembly for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2002. Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tunisia were nominated from the Group of African States; China, Japan and the Republic of Korea from the Asian States; and Uruguay from the Latin American and Caribbean States.

    Belgium (Western European and Other States) was elected by acclamation to fill the outstanding vacancy from last year in the Commission on Human Settlements for a term which would begin today and expire on 31 December 2004.

    Costa Rica (Latin American and Caribbean States) was elected by acclamation to the Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting to fill one of last year’s outstanding vacancies. Its term began today and will expire on 31 December 2003. The election of one member from the Eastern European States and one member from the Latin American and Caribbean States was further postponed.

    For a three-year term, on the Executive Board of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), beginning on 1 January 2002, the Council elected without a vote Lesotho from the African States; the Russian Federation and Slovenia from the Eastern European States; Ecuador and Jamaica from the Latin American and Caribbean States; and France, Ireland, Netherlands and Switzerland from the Western European and Other States. By secret ballot, it elected China and Nepal from the Asian States.

    Briefing

    PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, and Secretary, Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC), briefed the Council on the first regular session of the Coordination Committee for 2001.

    The main themes of the session, held in Nairobi, were African development and the follow-up to the Millennium Summit, he said. A major focus was on the challenges facing the continent. Exceptionally frank discussion ensued on international initiatives in support of Africa. The discussion demonstrated that the system was indeed capable of being "sober and self-critical" when it needed to be. The self-criticism related particularly to the multiplicity of initiatives, the limited impact where it counted the most -– additional generation of resources -- and the burden those imposed on the coordination and reporting capacities of African countries.

    At the same time, he said, the discussion was forward-looking and constructive, both in identifying elements of progress and common ground on which the system could build, and in developing a shared view of ways in which the support of the system could maximize its future impact. The ACC perceived overall progress in the evidence of a renewed, strong determination among African governments and leaders to assert, individually and collectively, ownership of their development processes. There was also evidence of greater openness and a new candor throughout the international community in analysing problems and responsibilities. Also, and perhaps most important, was the emergence of an increasingly strong consensus -- both in Africa and globally -– on addressing peace, democracy and development in an integrated and mutually reinforcing way.

    He said the meetings had provided ample confirmation that a main element of progress on which to build was that the policies and actions of the United Nations systems were increasingly guided by common approaches -– not least among them the objective of reinforcing African ownership of projects and activities. There was also a growing common focus on capacity-building, including activities specifically aimed at strengthening countries' own aid coordination capacities. There was a deliberate effort on the part of organizations to build on and complement each other in that work. The kind of support that the United Nations system was best able to provide was not limited to capacity-building. Work relevant to the other side of the development equation included the promotion of an external environment conducive to development and geared towards supporting the integration of African countries into the global economy.

    The basic conclusions reached by the ACC were twofold, he said. First, the system should do its utmost to support the development of a unified framework for action that would be Africa-led and Africa-owned. It should encourage regional cooperation and economic integration, while also acknowledging the diversity of development challenges in the region and giving individual countries the opportunity to translate Africa-wide approaches into country-specific priorities and strategies.

    Second, he continued, the forthcoming High-level Segment of ECOSOC devoted to Africa provided an excellent and timely opportunity to engender support for such a framework and set forth the system's commitment to placing separate ongoing initiatives under that framework. The system should provide an open way of reviewing current initiatives and exercise the utmost restraint in launching new ones. The impact of ongoing initiatives should be enhanced.

    The ACC members strongly reiterated that a basic foundation for renewed progress in the region was a substantial increase of official development assistance (ODA) flows to Africa, he said. That was essential for tackling the basic constraints of the region. The strong belief was expressed that a unified framework for action, built on African ownership and leadership, could and should serve to promote donor engagement and enhance the capacity of the international community to monitor commitments and progress. Strong interest was also expressed in the "Millennium Africa Recovery Programme" being developed by the heads of State of South Africa, Algeria and Nigeria, under the aegis of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). There was also a strong sense that the forthcoming conference on least developed countries would provide a first important test of the commitment of the world community to development, particularly in Africa.

    He said that the timing of the session -– the first since the Millennium Assembly –- had led the ACC to address the issues in the context of a broader debate on the ambition of the Millennium targets and the strong political commitment those embodied. A sobering conclusion was that progress required simultaneous movement on many fronts. Integrating social impact and social dimensions in macroeconomic policies, for example, was essential, but required major new efforts to complete the economic agenda itself. There was a strong sense of commitment on the part of all agencies to make the Millennium Declaration the common overriding agenda of the system.

    ADNAN AMIN, Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Office in New York, said his organization had been host to the ACC meeting. The UNEP and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) were the only two United Nations organizations that had headquarters in Africa. He hoped the fact that the ACC had met in Africa would be perceived as a signal by the United Nations family stressing the importance of the location. Logistical arrangements had worked very well. It proved there were opportunities to have a headquarters in Africa and that the occurrence could be repeated in the future.

    Continuation of Elections

    For a three-year term on the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme/United Nations Population Fund, the following were elected by acclamation: Comoros, from the African States, Czech Republic and Romania from the Eastern European States; and Canada, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States from the Western European and Other States. Pakistan and Yemen, from the Asian States, and Antigua and Barbuda and Peru from the Latin American and Caribbean States, were elected by secret ballot. As three members of the Board –- France, Germany and Norway -– had advised the Council that they would not be completing their terms of office, Spain, Turkey and Luxembourg were approved, by consensus, to complete those countries’ respective terms.

    Algeria and Cameroon were elected by consensus, for a three-year term, to the Executive Board of the World Food Programme from the African States, as was Iraq from the Asian States and Cuba from the Latin American and Caribbean States. The Council agreed to postpone to a later stage the election of two members from the Western European and Other States.

    For five-year terms on the International Narcotics Control Board, five individuals were elected, by secret ballot, from among the candidates nominated by governments. Candidates proposed by the Governments of Costa Rica, Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Spain had been withdrawn. The representative of Belarus withdrew that country’s candidate as well.

    The Council elected in the first round of secret balloting for candidates nominated by governments for the International Narcotic Control Board Rainer Wolfgang Schmid (Austria) and Robert Lousberg (Netherlands). In the second round of secret balloting, the Council elected Jacques Franquet (France) and Rosa Maria del Castillo (Peru). In the third round of secret balloting, the Council elected Madan Mohan Bhatnagar (India).

    From among the candidates nominated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Council elected in its first round of balloting Hamid A. Ghodse (Iran) with 36 votes out of 53. Brazil’s candidate had 24 votes, and Canada/Chile’s and Pakistan’s candidates each 16. [According to the Council’s rules of procedure 69 and 70, the ballot would be restricted to the candidates having received the greatest number of ballots for the remaining seat. If, however, there was a tie between two candidates, a separate secret ballot would have to be held to break that tie.] The special election by secret ballot to break the tie was won by the candidate of Canada/Chile. Elisaldo Carlini (Brazil) was elected in the second round of secret balloting.

    Haiti (Latin American and Caribbean States) was elected to the Committee for the United Nations Population Award by acclamation to fill one of last year’s outstanding vacancies. Its term would begin today and expire on 31 December 2003. The election of two members from the Asian States and one member from the Latin American and Caribbean States was further postponed.

    For the Programme Coordination Board of the joint United Nations Programme on Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) (UNAIDS), the Council elected, without a vote, eight members for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2001. From the African States, the Council elected Burundi and Kenya, from the Asian States, India and the Philippines, from the Eastern European States, the Russian Federation, from the Latin American and Caribbean States, Brazil, and from the Western European and Other States, Germany and Spain. As Finland would relinquish its seat on the Board, the Council elected Norway for a term beginning today and expiring on 31 December 2002.

    As the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had been enlarged by one seat, according to General Assembly resolution 55/72 of 4 December 2000, the Council elected Mexico, without a vote, to fill it. As the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been admitted to membership in the United Nations by General Assembly resolution 55/12 of 1 November 2000, the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia ceased to be a member of the Executive Committee effective the same date. The name Yugoslavia would, therefore, be deleted from the list of members of the Executive Committee.

    The Council endorsed the decision of the Secretary-General in which he approved the applications for membership in the reconfigured Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and on the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. The approved applications were from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Qatar, Russian Federation, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States.

    To the Board of Trustees of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, Gloria Valerin (Costa Rica) and Cecilia Valcarcel Alcazar (Spain) were appointed by acclamation from the Latin American and Caribbean States and the Western European and Other States, respectively. From the African States, Juka Fatou Jabang (Gambia) was elected by secret ballot.

    Statements Regarding Elections

    The representative of Denmark drew attention to last year’s Economic and Social Council resolution 2000/2 of 28 July, by which the Council established a Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, and recalled the Secretary-General’s call for that Forum to be in place by the year 2002. He urged that all appropriate measures be taken to make that possible.

    The representative of Canada hoped the Council might be in a position to take decisions on the matter during its upcoming substantive session.

    The representative of Peru said preliminary consultations needed to be held relating to the manner in which the eight seats would be distributed.

    Adoption of Agenda and Other Organizational Matters

    This afternoon, the Council also approved, without a vote, three draft proposals submitted by the Vice-President of the Council, Ivan Simonovic (Croatia), contained in document E/2001/L.6.

    By draft decision I, regarding the theme for the agenda item on regional cooperation of the substantive session of 2001 of the Economic and Social Council, the Council decided that the theme should be:

    "Regional perspective on globalization: an opportunity for catching up or a risk of falling behind in the development process."

    By draft decision II, on the restructuring and revitalization of the United Nations in the economic, social and related fields (documents E/2000/67 and E/2000/85), the Council decided to examine the issue at the substantive session of 2001, taking into account the progress made thus far in the implementation of the various provisions of resolutions 50/227 and 52/12 B.

    In draft decision III, the Council decided to include a supplementary sub-item, entitled "Discrimination and genetic privacy", under item 14 of its provisional agenda, which concerns social and human rights questions (document E/2001/43).

    The Council decided to defer adoption of the report of the second session of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (document E/2000/32, Suppl. 12), along with an included draft resolution on case studies from governments and international institutions on matters relating to integration of water and land management in the context of Agenda 21 for sustainable development, after Mr. Simonovic reported on the consultations held in the matter.

    The Council then took up consideration of the report of the Committee on Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) on its resumed 2000 session (New York, 15-26 January) (document E/2001/8).

    Mr. SIMONOVIC reported on informal consultations on the report saying that, although consensus had been reached on all but one NGO application for consultative status the Committee had recommended. Different opinions had been expressed on that one organization: Hadassah.

    The observer for Palestine, speaking on behalf of the League of Arab States, said the vote by which the Committee had granted consultative status to Hadassah had been a violation of approved rules and tradition. Members had not had sufficient time to hear the organization’s response to questions posed by the Committee and a vote had been taken under pressure and protest. Moreover, the organization had adopted Israeli positions and had launched attacks against Member States that were party to the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    Where was the humanitarian nature of the organization? she asked. The organization claimed position contrary to Security Council resolutions regarding Jerusalem and considered that city the capital of Israel. That attitude was not accepted by any Member State. The league of Arab States wanted to make a reservation and would closely follow the organization’s activities in the future.

    The representative of Syria supported the statement made by the observer for Palestine. He took note that the decision of the Committee regarding the feminine Zionist-American organization had been adopted over the objection of a large number of members and the abstention of one. The process contained flagrant violations of the rules for granting consultative status for NGOs; it had been carried out under considerable pressure.

    The organization in question, he said, would not work within the United Nations system, as it was opposed to Security Council resolutions relating to the Middle East. It held some of the most extreme positions of Israel. It also opposed fundamental humanitarian law by attacking States parties to the Geneva Convention and the 2000 Geneva meeting related to Israeli practices in the occupied territories.

    He requested that members follow the activities of the organization, to determine its true nature. Syria put forward its very strong reservations on the granting of consultative status. It would follow its activities and would submit documentation of its violations of the rules of consultation.

    The representative of the Sudan supported the statement of the observer for Palestine. As a member of the Committee, he brought the procedure by which it had adopted the application of Hadassah under the Council’s attention. That procedure had been unfortunate and out of context, he said, simply because the Committee had not been given time to discuss questions, answers, and concerns raised by a number of Committee members. He hoped that the Council could provide guidance to the Committee regarding the need to observe the rules of the Committee and its methods of work.

    The Council then adopted, without a vote, the first draft decision contained in the report, by which the Council granted consultative status to 52 NGOs that had applied; reclassified two NGOs from special to general consultative status; decided not to grant consultative status to six NGOs; and noted that the Committee had decided to close consideration of the application of two NGOs. By the decision, the Council also took note that three cases of complaints submitted by States had been closed.

    The representative of the United States said his delegation supported the report of the Committee, even if it did not agree with everything in it. He expressed his appreciation for the decision to grant status to Hadassah. That organization was an NGO based in the United States conducting humanitarian work.

    The Council then adopted, without a vote, draft decision II of the report, by which it took note of the report.

    The representative of Bahrain also lodged absolute reservations about the granting of consultative status to Hadassah, because the convictions of that Zionist organization included ideas of racial supremacy and supported terrorist activities. It also held objectionable positions on Jerusalem and on Arab countries having weapons of mass destruction, while Israel was the only State in the region with such weapons. His delegation would follow the organization’s activities closely.

    The representative of Israel responded to the statements made about Hadassah by saying that they were reminiscent of the darkest periods of the United Nations history, when zionism was compared to racism. He also questioned the relevance of the issue of nuclear weapons to consideration of Hadassah -- a humanitarian organization that assisted Palestinians within and outside of the region. He thanked the Economic and Social Council for granting consultative status to the organization.

    The representative of Iran then registered his reservations about the granting of consultative status to Hadassah.

    The Council then considered inclusion in its agenda of an item on "Measures to be taken for the implementation by Myanmar of the recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Commission of Inquiry on forced labour".

    The Council’s Vice-President, Mr. Simonovic, proposed a draft decision by which the Council would defer consideration of the request of the ILO for inclusion of the agenda item until its substantive session in July 2001.

    The Council adopted that draft decision without a vote.

    Also without a vote, the Council approved a draft decision (document E/2001/L.5) on a request, transmitted by Guinea, for the enlargement of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 57 to 58 States. It recommended that, at its fifty-sixth session, the General Assembly decide the issue.

    Again acting without a vote, the Council adopted a draft decision contained in the report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its organizational session (document E/2001/42 (Part I). In doing so, the Council decided that the first and fifth substantive sessions of the Forum would be held in New York, and that two of the three intervening sessions would be held in Geneva, and that one would be held in San Jose, Costa Rica. Any ministerial segment to be convened during the intervening period would be held during the session in San Jose.

    * *** *