Press Releases

    ECOSOC/6017
    12 July 2002

    Reform, Coordination Stressed in Economic and Social Council Debate

    Speakers Also Emphasize Council's Follow-Up Role

    NEW YORK, 11 July (UN Headquarters) -- As the Economic and Social Council continued the coordination segment of its annual substantive session this afternoon, speakers addressed Council reform and the important coordinating role the Council had to play in ensuring effective follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits.

    Egypt's representative said the Council had the responsibility to promote a common vision and common policy coherence from the various United Nations conferences and summits. The annual dialogue between the Council and the Bretton Woods institutions was a positive and necessary step to further develop that interaction building on the International Conference on Financing for Development, held recently in Monterrey, Mexico, which highlighted the need for the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to remain engaged. He acknowledged that the World Bank, in particular, had taken steps in recent years to enhance cooperation with the United Nations.

    Regarding follow-up to the Monterrey Conference, a representative of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) said the dialogue between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions should be extended, on a case-by-case basis, also to specialized agencies which, in light of their respective mandates, might have truly relevant contributions to make. An important role of the Council would be to bring together the various development constituencies -- those that negotiated financing for development, those that were negotiating the upcoming World Summit in Johannesburg, and those that sat in the decision-making bodies of the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO.

    The Council should improve the oversight of its subsidiary organs, Brazil's representative said. It was important, for example, to harmonize and coordinate the work programmes of the functional commissions. Furthermore, the Council should provide the United Nations funds and programmes with clearer policy guidance. In order to accomplish those tasks, the Council needed to improve its working methods, including through the inclusion of a high-level part in the operational activities and humanitarian segments, which could be held in a period other than that of the substantive session.

    El Salvador's representative said the Council should play a more active role in the consolidation of peace and the prevention of conflicts. It must undertake extensive reform so that it would be able to take rapid and effective action in that regard. He reiterated his country's commitment to the Council's reform process, which would enable it to respond to the new challenges arising from globalization and development.

    Other speakers this afternoon included the representatives of Azerbaijan, Republic of Korea, Cuba, Romania, Indonesia and Nepal.

    Representatives of the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations (CONGO) also spoke during the debate.

    This morning, the Council held a panel discussion on giving its work a greater impact. Participating in that discussion were: Makarim Wibisono (Indonesia), a former President of the Council; Ahmad Kamal (Pakistan), another former President of the Council; Eduardo Doryan, Special Representative of the World Bank to the United Nations; Bruce Jenks, Director, Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs.

    The Council will meet again at 4 p.m. tomorrow, 12 July, to continue its work.

    Background

    As the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met to continue the coordination segment of its 2002 substantive session today, it was scheduled to begin its work with a morning panel discussion on "Economic and Social Council reform: making ECOSOC's work have a greater impact".

    Later, it would continue its general debate, focusing on strengthening the Council further and, building on its recent achievement, to help fulfil the role ascribed to it in the Charter, as contained in the Millennium Declaration.

    The Economic and Social Council met today to continue its coordination segment on the theme of further strengthening of the Council. The morning meeting was devoted to a panel discussion on "making the Economic and Social Council's work have a greater impact".

    Participating in the panel discussion were: Makarim Wibisono (Indonesia), former President of the Council; Ahmad Kamal (Pakistan), former President of the Council; Eduardo Doryan, Special Representative of the World Bank to the United Nations; and Bruce Jenks, Director, Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

    Opening Statements

    MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) outlined a number of ways in which the Council could improve its work. It should put in place a more ambitious agenda for the annual special high-level meetings with the Bretton Woods institutions. The thematic meetings with the various agencies should be improved and there should be regular consultation between the Council President, the Bureau and the Secretary-General. If he was to single out one crucial area for Council follow-up in the future, it would be that of implementing the Millennium Development Goals.

    He said there was a major responsibility and unique opportunity for the Council to develop and promote an integrated and consistent follow-up to those pre-eminent goals of the Millennium Declaration and other commitments. In that context, he said the role of the Council as a catalyst in bringing together all actors must be ensured. The Council's ability to respond in a timely manner to various events, including national disasters, was also key. He stressed the need to build on the Council's successes and lessons learned.

    AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan) said all present were intimately connected with the Economic and Social Council. He drew attention to a letter he had written seven years ago on the reform of the Council -- not much had changed since that time. He noted the caveats attached to the mandate of the Council. The Council was supposed to exercise oversight of the subsidiary agencies, but it had "no teeth". It wielded no control over the subsidiary bodies. The infrequency of the Council's meetings was another problem -- it met only once a year in a segment that was "far too long". The relationship of the Council with the Bretton Woods institutions was another problem -- cohesion and "single-focused objectives" between the Council and the institutions.

    The strategic policy objective of the Council must be identified, he said. A time-phased action plan "in the line of a single objective" must be put in place. The Council was lucky in that the next president was identified a year in advance. Past presidents should also be associated with the bureau -- that "troika" arrangement would help to move things forward. He said shorter and more frequent meetings should be held. There must be some budgetary control over the specialized agencies -- without it, the Council would not get "any respect from any of the specialized agencies". There was no economic and social development possible without money, he concluded.

    EDUARDO DORYAN, Special Representative of the World Bank to the United Nations, said there were three concepts that allowed an organization to make a greater impact: its public values and beliefs; its authorizing environment; and its capabilities to deliver on those first two elements. Those objectives could be achieved by ensuring the strategy was substantively valuable, legitimate and politically sustainable, operationally and administratively feasible, as well as efficient.

    Noting a new change in the notion of development throughout the international community, he said the question now was whether global actors had the political will to put to rest the pre-Millennium Declaration notion of development. Could the requisite political will be generated to clean up the past? The chain must now progress from inputs to outputs. Stressing that negotiation was an important part of the United Nations, that process should be streamlined and examined more carefully. The concept of "results-based management" was something the Council should seriously consider, as it could promote efficiency in achieving objectives.

    BRUCE JENKS, Director, Bureau for Resources and Strategic Partnerships, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), said the challenge defined by the Millennium Declaration was to help strengthen the Council as defined by the Charter. That notion begged the question of identifying the Council's real strategic role. One of its first functions was to make studies or generate reports. In the modern era, however, it was hard to believe that writing a report would generate much excitement. But there was the notion -- over 40 years ago, at least -- that the Council was supposed to participate in the international debate of the major issues of the day.

    He said it was essential for the Council to maintain its ability to generate discussion and debate. It was obvious that debates should be deepened, but they also must be widened. In that regard, the Council must do more to ensure the participation of civil society and private sector actors in its work, which was crucial in adapting the Council to the twenty-first century. To simplify the Council's work, the route decisions or debate on a particular issue must be streamlined -- from relevant functioning commissions to the Council itself and on to the executive boards of agencies and funds, and finally to the Second Committee. The Council must find a way to turn such a system-wide perspective to its advantage. The forum of the Council could provide a unique platform to pursue vigorous debate and its statute could provide a unique platform to broaden participation.

    Questions and Answers

    When the floor was opened to questions, speakers noted that the Council's problems were not new. One speaker suggested going to the United Nations Charter and revising the Council's mandate, adding that political will must be harnessed to strengthen the Council. Another speaker noted that the Council had indeed made some progress, citing the relationship that had evolved between the Council and the Bretton Woods institutions.

    Responding to the various questions raised, Mr. WIBISONO noted the difficulty of actually ensuring coordination, given the fact that different government ministries handled different aspects of the Council's agenda. Broadening participation in the Council's meetings was essential and it should be ready to respond to any issue that arose.

    Mr. KAMAL agreed that the Council had made some progress, but raised doubts about its relationship with the Security Council, which remained "extremely chary" about sharing its pre-eminence. A coordinating mechanism was needed between the two bodies. He did not understand, even after many years at the United Nations, the relationship between the Council and the General Assembly. "What this institution needs is an injection of Viagra", he said. That injection was to be quantified in terms of financial resources.

    Mr. DORYAN asked what could be done, given the reality of the current situation, to make the role of the Council even more relevant. He noted the Council's relevance to, for example, the work of the World Bank.

    Mr. JENKS asked how political will would be generated if a clear strategic objective was now put in place, as Mr. Kamal had asked. He agreed with the emphasis placed on the resource side of the situation, adding that the power of ideas and the power of resources went very well together.

    PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said he had been struck by the very different types of interventions made. There had been one common point: the need to identify strategic policy objectives. That was the key to progress. The objectives set by the Charter for economic and social issues were "just as lofty" as for other areas. The United Nations had the ability in the economic and social area to harness the means and capacity of the various funds, programmes and agencies of the United Nations.

    During the second round of questions and comments, one speaker supported the notion of "doing less to do more". His having missed the opening of the discussion because he was in a regional coordination meeting was an example of just how overburdened the system had become. There was a definite need to re-examine how the Council set its agenda -- including the work of the functioning commissions, and the Second Committee -- to ensure that there was no overlapping or repeated negotiation of the same items.

    Another speaker said that any organization worth its salt should be able to revitalize itself -- the Council was what its members made it. For those commenting on the work of the functioning commissions, it was important to remember that if those bodies were operating effectively, the "searchlight" must be turned back to shine on the Council itself.

    Responding to those comments, Mr. WIBISONSO said the strategic policy objective was clear: the Council had before it the Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus. What was not clear was how the Council could realize those objectives. It would be a major challenge to identify ways to ensure cohesion and coordination among all the Council's forums.

    Mr. KAMAL agreed that the strategic objectives and political will had been laid out at various meetings and conferences. So, as much as Member States were the "Board of Trustees" of the new development agenda, the Council should act as the "manager" to usher in the implementation of those goals. The problem, he said, was that the objectives had "no teeth". He urged representatives of the European Union to ensure the objective of 0.7 per cent or more official development assistance (ODA) as a way of spurring other States to live up to their obligations. The absence of private sector representatives today was also disheartening.

    Mr. DORYAN said "coherence", "cooperation" and "coordination" were the three words that appeared most often in Council documents. The question was what real role those words played in the Council's work and which of those terms applied to its relationship with its functioning commissions, the General Assembly, the Security Council, United Nations funds and programmes, and other actors in the wider international community. That issue should be addressed frankly.

    Mr. JENKS said it should be possible to conclude that if a particular discussion would not lead to a concrete recommendation, then perhaps the discussion should not be continued.

    A speaker from the floor said specific efforts must be made to enhance even further the Council's significance in the system. Another speaker said that perhaps the Security Council was more operational, while the Economic and Social Council was hampered by procedural constraints. He supported opening the latter up to civil society and the private sector.

    The Council must be more relevant and much better known, another speaker said. The long-term perspective of the United Nations and the Council must be kept in mind, a speaker added, while another commended the concept of resource-based management.

    In their responses, the panellists stressed that all the issues facing the Council could not be resolved today. Political will for policy implementation must be strengthened. While poverty was endemic in the world, resources to confront it were diminishing. The target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) for ODA must be met. Another panellist noted that even if the target was reached, the conversation on how the Council should work would continue. The Council's role in ensuring a "visible" follow-up to the major United Nations conferences could not be overemphasized, said a further panellist.

    When the Council resumed this afternoon, it continued its general debate, focusing on strengthening the Council further, building on its recent achievements, to help fulfil the role ascribed to it in the Charter, as contained in the Millennium Declaration.

    Statements

    FIKRET PASHAYEV (Azerbaijan) said technological advancement and increased economic activity had produced unprecedented changes in the world order. However, in many parts of the world, the environment and natural resources continued to deteriorate and deplete at an alarming rate. Protracted and unsettled conflicts became common phenomena, along with terrorism, separatism, illegal arms trading and trafficking in human beings. Despite the follow-up conferences to Rio and the Millennium Summit, many of the goals set there had not been met. The Council should, therefore, play a vital role in ensuring the further engagement of all stakeholders in implementing the goals and main pillars of sustainable development.

    Without progress in financing for development, universally agreed goals might be in jeopardy, he said. Developing countries and countries with economies in transition had committed to take responsibility for their own development, based on sound economic policies, good governance and respect for human rights. Availability of open, rules-based, predictable and non-discriminatory trading and financial systems would secure the implementation of commitments.

    He supported the launching of a new round of trade negotiations in Doha. Increased interaction between the Council and the World Trade Organization (WTO) was of crucial importance. The Council should also be more proactive in facilitating the diffusion of information and communications technology. The implementation of all that required that the Council ensure system-wide coordination vis-à-vis its subsidiary machinery, agencies, funds and programmes.

    The realities of the present era demonstrated the link between stability, security and economic development he said. Today's conflicts were more violent and protracted. The international community should switch from a policy of reaction to one of prevention as the most desirable and cost-effective strategy to ensure lasting peace. Cooperation between ECOSOC and the Security Council should, therefore, be strengthened, he said.

    IHAB GAMALELDIN (Egypt) stressed the importance of strengthening and reinvigorating the Council as part of ongoing efforts to reform the United Nations as a whole. The Council was an important principal organ of the United Nations, whose mandate was well defined in the Charter. He encouraged the enhancement of its cooperation with both the General Assembly and the Security Council, welcoming in that regard the finalization yesterday of informal consultations on the ad hoc advisory group on African countries emerging from conflict, which would enhance cooperation with the Security Council.

    He said the Council had an important coordinating role within the United Nations system, as well as a responsibility to promote a common vision and common policy coherence from the various United Nations conferences and summits. The Council had received a clear mandate from the Monterrey Conference regarding follow-up.

    The annual dialogue between the Council and the Bretton Woods institutions was a positive and necessary step to further develop that interaction building on the Monterrey Conference, he said. It highlighted the need for the United Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO to remain engaged. The World Bank, in particular, had taken steps in recent years to enhance cooperation with the United Nations.

    He said he did not support the fragmentation or shortening of the Council's substantive session, which might compromise its political role, or the delinking of the humanitarian segment from the substantive session. The Council must play a more active oversight role regarding the meetings of the functional commissions, funds and programmes.

    SHIN BOO-NAM (Republic of Korea) said one of the greatest challenges before the Council was promoting a coordinated follow-up to the major United Nations conferences and summits, particularly the Millennium Summit, the Monterrey Conference and the upcoming Johannesburg World Summit. The Millennium Declaration had outlined a set of economic and social goals around which the Council must continue to rally the energy and resources of all United Nations system organizations in order to meet the ambitious target dates. The Council should follow-up with all those organizations by monitoring their results and administering progress reviews.

    The Council should make it a priority to improve the coordination of the United Nations system's operational work in support of development efforts, he said. It should, in that regard, increase dialogue among its subsidiary bodies. Coordination should be enhanced both horizontally among the Council's subsidiary bodies and vertically between the Council and its subsidiary machinery. The Council must also take on a greater role in conflict prevention and peace-building. To that end, a future high-level segment of the annual substantive session should be devoted to the root causes of conflict.

    He underscored the importance for the Council of introducing greater flexibility in the scheduling of its sessions, including the ability to hold its segments throughout the year in response to international events and issues. The July session could be shortened to three weeks. He welcomed the initiative to alternate biennially between a high-level two-day meeting on operational activities and one on humanitarian affairs. It was important to enhance the coordination, cooperation and collaboration between the Council and the other primary United Nations organs. Among other things, the Council could make more efficient use of its general segment by identifying issues with a political dimension and forwarding them to the General Assembly for review and action. The Council should also value the input and experience of the private sector and improve its outreach to other non-State actors, he said.

    MARIA CARIDAD BALAGUER (Cuba) supported the strengthening of the Council, taking into account the new world situation and the outcomes of international conferences and summits, including the Millennium Summit. For developing countries, implementation of the commitments of those conferences was a priority.

    The Council's coordination segment must continue to be the appropriate framework for an analysis of the goals set out in the conferences, but could not replace the discussions in the general session, she said. The general segment must continue its task of analysing the report from its discussion and analysing the results from its functional committees. The Secretary-General's consolidated report on the results of the Council's committees could be useful for the analysis of the functioning of those committees, but not a substitute for their reports.

    She supported the contribution of non-governmental organizations in all United Nations activities, saying it was necessary to ensure their broader and non-selective participation, especially those from developing countries and not only from industrialized countries. While Monterrey had recommended that the Council be charged with the follow-up through meetings with Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO, analysis should also be carried out in the general segment.

    VICTORIA POPESCU SANDRU (Romania) expressed support for the Secretary-General's proposal to use the coordination segment, in conjunction with the themes of the high-level segment, to systematically review the cross-cutting topics common to the major United Nations conferences and summits. Monitoring the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, as well as the results of the Johannesburg World Summit and other relevant United Nations conferences, should stay high on the Council's agenda. To ensure a coherent and integrated approach to the follow-up process, the Council needed to appropriately guide the work of its subsidiary machinery and that of the funds and programmes.

    She stressed the need to increase the impact of the Council's policies at the country level, particularly by improving coordination of United Nations operational activities in support of national efforts for sustainable development. The United Nations country teams should better assist the governments to avoid fragmented approaches to developmental, economic, social and environmental issues. They could also contribute to enhancing the effectiveness of development-related actions undertaken by the international community and the United Nations system at the national level.

    The Council was well placed to forge strategic partnerships in favour of sustainable development, by bringing together relevant national and international stakeholders, she went on. Developing the high-level dialogue with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO was one example of how the Council could fulfil its catalytic vocation. A new challenge was the need for the Council to address economic crises and to contribute to the effective implementation of conflict-prevention and peace-building strategies, including through joint consultations with the Security Council.

    LUIZ TUPY CALDAS DE MOURA (Brazil) said that, in spite of its achievements, the work of the Council could be further enhanced, and the Secretary-General's report contained relevant proposals in that regard. The integrated and coordinated follow-up to an implementation of major United Nations conferences and summits was crucial, since there were many issues that cut across all of them. It was necessary to avoid duplication and tap into potential synergies.

    However, he continued, addressing that issue now, just a few weeks away from the World Summit on Sustainable Development, might turn out to be overly ambitious. Coordination should not be done at the expense of the individual follow-up to each conference. It should not prevent the Council, for instance, from starting to work on the follow-up to the Monterrey Conference, which assigned important tasks to the Council. In that regard, the paper recently circulated by the Council President contained useful suggestions.

    In addition, he said, the Council should improve the oversight of its subsidiary organs. It was important, for example, to harmonize and coordinate the work programmes of the functional commissions. Furthermore, the Council should provide the United Nations funds and programmes with clearer policy guidance. In order to accomplish those tasks, the Council needed to improve its working methods. He suggested the inclusion of a high-level part in the operational activities and humanitarian segments, which could be held in a period other than that of the substantive session.

    DERRY AMMAN (Indonesia) said that, in performing its critical functions, the Council should take into consideration lessons learned and best practices, particularly those relating to its effort to ensure an inclusive and participatory approach to all relevant stakeholders. The Council should also seek to enhance strategic partnerships among organizations of the United Nations system, the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO. Furthermore, the methods of work should promote genuine partnership based on mutual interest and shared responsibilities by engaging all members of the United Nations system, as well as the private sector, non-governmental organizations and civil society.

    He said that, in strengthening its support for the General Assembly to achieve the outcomes of major United Nations conferences and summits, coordinated follow-up should become a standing item of the coordination segment. An innovative and periodic deliberation involving strategic partners in the implementation of the conference follow-up should be considered. A more ambitious agenda for the annual special high-level meetings with the Bretton Woods institutions should also be put in place. There was also a need for more intensive interaction between representatives of the Council and the executive boards of the Bretton Woods institutions, as well as representatives of the WTO, on matters related to the conference follow-up. To promote deeper and more meaningful cooperation with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO, the existing dialogue and consultation should be shifted from the area of principles to that of implementation and action.

    To follow-up the outcome of the forthcoming Johannesburg World Summit, he said, the key challenge for the Council was to further enhance its role of coordination and coherence, as well as to integrate the economic, social and environmental aspects, as an underlying theme of all its segments. The Council should also promote the mainstreaming of the sustainability concept in the work of the United Nations system, as well as help in reviewing and monitoring progress in implementing Agenda 21 and the outcome of the Johannesburg Summit, he said.

    CARLOS ENRIQUE GARCIA GONZALEZ (El Salvador) agreed with the diagnosis of the Council's role and functions, as well as the need to continue and deepen reform of the Council. In that regard, he fully recognized the viability of the proposals contained in the Secretary-General's report. In that connection, he supported the proposed reduction in the length of the substantive session, which had been too long. Nonetheless, that proposal should not be considered in isolation.

    The Council should play a more active role in the consolidation of peace and the prevention of conflicts, he said. It must also undertake extensive reform so that it could take rapid and effective action in that regard. He said he was satisfied with efforts by the Secretariat in the long-term plan for Haiti and encouraged it to continue and strengthen its work in that field. He reiterated his country's commitment to the Council's reform process so it could respond to the new challenges arising from globalization and development.

    JOHN LANGMORE, International Labour Organization (ILO), said that given the extent and severity of human deprivation, the enormity of inequities in income, wealth and access to political power, as well as the vulnerability of the increasingly globalized economic and social systems to disorder and instability, the Council's role was potentially greater now than ever before. "We are all dissatisfied with the chasm between purpose and performance and recognize that revitalization is essential", he added.

    He said the Council was a globally representative institution, but it was not operating decisively or in a timely way in addressing global economic and social issues. That was one reason why adoption of the recommendations in the Secretary-General's report relating to the timing of meetings was so crucially important. Indeed, one of a number of necessary conditions for increasing the Council's effectiveness was that meetings be held during the year, whenever they were needed.

    The spring meetings with the Bretton Woods institutions would certainly be more interesting if specific issues were discussed, he said. Those meetings would also be more valuable if held before the spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), so that messages about the international political context could be heard by participants and taken into account at the Washington meetings. One way of fulfilling a key Charter and Council goal -- full employment -- would be to include the ILO among the agencies speaking at the spring meeting and at the opening of the Council's substantive session.

    IRENE FREUDENSCHUSS-REICHL, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said the agency stood ready to intensify its cooperation with the Council by making more fully available its analytical resources and practical experience. In that context, it might be worth exploring whether the analytical capacity of the United Nations system could benefit from some orchestration, so that resources for background documentation and reports could be used in the most effective way.

    Regarding follow-up to the Monterrey Conference, she expressed the hope that the dialogue between the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions could be extended, on a case-by-case basis, also to specialized agencies that, in light of their respective mandates, might have truly relevant contributions to make. An important role of the Council would be to bring together the various development constituencies -- those that negotiated financing for development, those that were negotiating the Johannesburg Summit, and those that sat in the decision-making bodies of the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO.

    She said that while the goal of integrated follow-up to major United Nations conferences was a noble one, the practicalities were too complex. Rather than attempting to do a necessarily abstract overview of the entire agendas, it might be more useful if the Secretariat was entrusted with highlighting a few critical issues for each Council session, which required attention because of insufficient progress in implementation or blatant inconsistencies among separate conference strands. Based on the pre-selection of issues by the Secretariat, the Council could then devote in-depth attention to them.

    MURARI RAJ SHARMA (Nepal), noting that the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus had ascribed an important role to the Council in the follow-up of agreed commitments, said there had been some remarkable and innovative improvements, such as the dialogue with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO, and the ad hoc working group for African countries emerging from conflict. However, that was not sufficient, as reform was an eternal journey. Council reform should be treated with a sense of urgency.

    Several ideas had emerged from the Secretary-General's report and several panel discussions, he said. Need, rather than convenience, should dictate the number of meetings. Frequent meetings should be possible and they should be short. In emergencies, the Council should be able to meet on short notice. For that, the Bureau should be strengthened and have authority to act on behalf of the Council.

    The Council must also find a way to have its conclusions internalized in the policies and strategies of collaborating bodies, he said. The Millennium Development Goals and the Monterrey Consensus were waiting to be implemented, calling for collective energy and resources. Need, rather than periodicity, should determine review meetings. While thematic discussion should be continued, hearings on thematic issues in the Council should be introduced in which subsidiary bodies would participate. Although there was a need to change the substantive session structure, the existing frequency of the sessions should be preserved.

    S. SHAHID HUSAIN, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that some of the coordination issues described in the Secretary-General's report were similar to those experienced in his organization, namely, the gap between the guidance emerging from the Council and the day-to-day work of the system, particularly at the national level. The question as to how the Council's work could be made more efficient in that regard was one of mutual concern.

    He said that the OIC, together with other intergovernmental organizations, could enrich the Council's comprehensive reviews of progress in follow-up to major United Nations summits and conferences by contributing material on its own experience in that regard. The Council might wish to consider more effective roles whereby relevant intergovernmental organizations would complement the Council's work in areas of their competence, and on issues of mutual concern, in particular poverty eradication, HIV/AIDS, sustainable development, information and communications technologies, and the effects of globalization.

    RENATE BLOEM, Conference of NGOs (CONGO), said her organization was well placed to submit recommendations and proposals to the Council. Its structure included a wide range of substantive NGO committees, providing advocacy and input to the Council in matters relating to economic, social, cultural, education, health and human rights fields. Recent meetings in Geneva and New York with the NGO Section of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs had been very productive.

    She said CONGO/NGO members welcomed the Secretary-General's report, but felt that it concentrated too heavily on the financial/economic aspects of recent United Nations conferences and meetings. The members believed that human rights, including the right to development, should provide a firm underpinning for development goals. Further, the members welcomed the Millennium Development Goals as useful tools to focus on the most crucial issues of the day -- poverty reduction, health, education, gender and the environment.

    CONGO members recommended that the Council use those goals as a framework for its overall development agenda, she said. But, at the same time, it should find ways to break down the 2015 time frame into more indeterminate goals and targets that were achievable within the mandate of the current political leadership. Members also asked the Council to include civil society in the awareness-raising campaign and ongoing monitoring process surrounding the Millennium Declaration, and to use a human rights approach, particularly concerning the right to development.

    She said CONGO members advocated that the Council take a more proactive stance in the prevention of armed conflict, including the setting of an advisory group on African countries emerging form conflict. The Council should also establish specific programmes aimed at addressing the negative effects of globalization, take stronger steps against corruption and promote itself better to non-governmental organizations and the world.

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