19 July 2002
Economic and Social Council Begins 2002 Session's General Segment, With Focus on Summit Follow-Up, Coordination
Least Developed Countries, UN-Habitat, Gender Equality, Haiti Assistance, Tobacco Control Among Issues Addressed
NEW YORK, 18 July (UN Headquarters) -- Upon the opening today of the general segment of the 2002 session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Council President Ivan Simonovic (Croatia) praised the first two weeks of the substantive session, which had included a discussion of complex humanitarian emergencies compounded by natural disasters, and pressed the Council now to take up the "nuts and bolts" of its work.
During the general segment, ECOSOC would fulfil its management role and provide guidance for its functioning commissions and subsidiary bodies, he said. It had been an important year, especially with the creation of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples, which would be reporting to the Council for the first time.
Introductory remarks were also made this morning by: Council Vice-President and Chair of the general segment, Gert Rosenthal (Guatemala); Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, Executive Director, UN-Habitat; Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs; and Anwarul Chowdhury, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States.
Mr. Chowdhury presented an oral report on the work of the new Office, which had been established to undertake responsibilities related to follow-up of the Brussels Programme of Action for Least Developed countries for 2001-2010. That action plan, which had as its objective to achieve substantial progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty by 2015 and promoting sustainable development, was the framework for a strong global partnership to accelerate sustained economic growth and development and end marginalization, he said.
Several speakers in the general discussion that followed, including from least developed countries, said the establishment of the Office of the High Representative would provide the necessary impetus to ongoing efforts to fulfil the Brussels Programme of Action. To better monitor implementation of the programme, the representative of Benin, on behalf of the group of least developed countries, suggested that the High Representative draft a summary table, for adoption by the Council, which could indicate both anticipated and achieved action by each participant.
Other delegations stressed the need to avoid duplication of efforts with the creation of the new Office of the High Representative. Japan's representative said the Office bore overall responsibility for coordination, advocacy, reporting and review of implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, while implementation of programmes by the United Nations system to follow up the Brussels action programme would be carried out by other bodies, especially the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
Wasteful overlap should be avoided, the United States' speaker said. She supported coordinated implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action, as well as the effective operation of the new Office of the High Representative. When it was first established, her delegation had expressed concern over possible confusion of mandates between it and existing offices. The Office of the High Representative was set up to concentrate responsibility for coordination of the implementation of the least developed countries Programme of Action; the others should be restructured or dissolved in recognition of that.
This afternoon, under the item "Coordination, programme and other questions", the Council reviewed reports of coordination bodies and proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for 2002-2005, as well as considering the reports on international cooperation in the field of informatics, long-term programme of support for Haiti, tobacco or health, and mainstreaming a gender perspective at the United Nations.
Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, Angela King, said she was gratified by the strong commitment among Member States to the gender mainstreaming strategy, elaborated in ECOSOC resolution E/2001/41 and the many examples of implementation efforts at the national level. Introduction of the new sub-item in the Council was an important step in support of more consistent and systematic attention to gender perspectives in all aspects of the Council's own work and that of its subsidiary machinery.
Several speakers praised the progress made thus far in gender mainstreaming at the United Nations, saying that such advances would help implementation of their national programmes and policies. At the same time, many regretted the lack of disaggregated data, which was key to assessing the remaining obstacles and searching ways to overcome them.
Introductory remarks were also made this afternoon by: Thomas Friedrich Heinrich Mazet, Chairman of the Committee for Programme and Coordination; Yukihisa Kageyama, Acting Chief, Systems Management Section of the Information Technology Services Division, Office of Central Support Services; and Vera da Costa e Silva, Project Manager, Tobacco Free Initiative, World Health Organization (WHO).
Statements in the general discussion were also made today by the representatives of Denmark, on behalf of the European Union, Norway, Chile, China, Russian Federation, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Australia, Haiti, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Zimbabwe and Cuba, as well as a representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).
Representatives of the following non-governmental organizations also participated in the morning and afternoon discussions: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows, Inc.; and International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity.
The Economic and Social Council will meet again tomorrow at 10 a.m. to continue its general segment.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met today to begin its general segment. During this segment, the Council was expected to consider integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits.
In the report on coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda (document E/2002/48), the Secretary-General concludes that the millennium development goal of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers by 2020, which is central to the Habitat Agenda adopted in Istanbul in June 1996, poses a major challenge to United Nations Human Settlements Programme ((UN-Habitat) and to the whole United Nations family. One of the central functions of UN-Habitat is to provide advisory services and implement human settlement programmes at the request of Member States.
The report notes that this function has been performed over a period of 20 years through projects and programmes, including the Urban Management Programme, the Disaster Management Programme and the Cities Alliance, and continues to be the most visible and direct evidence of the contribution of UN-Habitat to sustainable development. It is, however, severely limited by the decreasing flow of resources available for technical cooperation and is characterized by an increasing proportion of tied contributions. Efforts should, therefore, be made to enhance the operational role of UN-Habitat for a more productive and effective collaboration with the agencies; to diversify sources of financing for technical cooperation project and programmes; and to identify new avenues for inter-agency collaboration, the report says.
It notes that the General Assembly at its fifty-sixth session supported the proposal for revitalization, through partnerships with international development banks and other finance institutions, of the Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation, originally created as a revolving fund to support, among others, selected shelter and human settlements programmes in developing countries and the strengthening of housing finance institutions. Strengthening the Foundation will make the funding and activities of UN-Habitat more predictable and prevent its programmes from experiencing excessive and disruptive volatility.
The Secretary-General makes several recommendations, including promoting recognition of cities and local authorities as partners of the United Nations in the quest for a safer and better world; enhancing dialogue among governments and Habitat Agenda partners on issues related to decentralization and strengthening of local authorities; supporting non-governmental organizations in their advocacy work; and identifying new strategies for involving the private sector in public-private partnerships for slum upgrading and sustainable human settlements development.
According to the progress report on basic indicators for the integrated and coordinated implementation of and follow-up to major United Nations conferences and summits (document E/2002/53), the quality of the dialogue on indicators has generally improved. The ECOSOC has successfully put the issue of indicators and measurement of progress in the agenda. That has heightened awareness of the need for quality information for policy decision-making. More stakeholders -- users, as well as producers, of information -- have been involved in a broader dialogue at all levels. However, a problem remains with the formulation of new indicators derived from current policy debates.
The report states that the technical quality assessment of more than 280 indicators conducted by national statistical experts had led in the advance towards [a structured priority set]. Furthermore, the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration and its follow-up process have focused the debate on how to measure development progress. Thus, while there is now a consensus slowly emerging regarding a limited list of key developmental indicators, there was still a need for further harmonization and rationalization, owing to the existence of multiple indicator lists, with incomplete overlap. The Statistical Commission is recommending a process to address the problem.
Efforts to build statistical capacity in Member States should be intensified, the report says. The ability of Member States to regularly produce relevant and reliable data is crucial for the success of all major development initiatives. A coordination problem with respect to global data collection and data production in the United Nations systems (and beyond) remains. The statistical services of Member States are still too often overburdened by the sheer volume of data requests received from international organizations. There is often a lack of effective coordination among international agencies with respect to questionnaire design, estimation and aggregation techniques. The Statistical Commission is currently working on the identification of the most serious problems.
In his report on implementation and follow-up to conferences and summits, including the Millennium Summit (document A/57/75-E/2002/57), the Secretary-General analyses how the three-tiered system for follow-up and review of conferences functioned in 2001-2002. He examines the specific roles played by the Assembly, the Council and the functional commissions in the context of a process launched the previous year by the Council to improve review at the intergovernmental level and provide elements for the Assembly to consider in addressing reviews of outcome implementation.
Further, the report addresses the importance of integrating the millennium follow-up with others. It reviews the Council's role and that of the functional commissions in that regard, with particular attention to the global campaign for the Millennium Development Goals. Also, recent developments in conference follow-up are examined, notably in regard to gender mainstreaming and the 2001-2010 decade devoted to the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries. Finally, the report looks at the Council's role in enhancing policy coherence in the follow-ups to the development financing conference and the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
With regard to the Millennium Declaration, the report recommends that the Council express its commitment to giving the highest priority to supporting the General Assembly and the United Nations system in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. The Council could also propose ways of linking Millennium Summit follow-up with other follow-ups, and proposals for ensuring greater coherence and consistency in reporting. It could encourage efforts to harmonize indicators and development indicator sets, including those for the Millennium Development Goals. It could reiterate the need to support and develop core statistical capacity in Member States. Finally, it could invite the Secretary-General to report to the Council in 2003 on progress in supporting the global campaign.
On other matters concerning conference follow-up, the report recommends that the Council consider ways to strengthen its capacity for developing system-wide responses to the challenges of follow-up. It recommends that the Assembly take into consideration the guidance of the Council in discussing periodic conference review processes. It also recommends that the Assembly reaffirm the Council's role in promoting coordinated follow-up to conference goals and in addressing cross-cutting conference themes as a key ingredient in conference reviews. Further, the Council should keep under review any proposals made by the functional commissions to improve the review of conferences and summits, ensuring that all stakeholders are systematically involved in such reviews.
The Council also has before it a report of the Secretary-General (document E/2002/64) on the implementation of agreed conclusions 2001/1 of the Economic and Social Council on the role of the United Nations in promoting development, particularly with respect to access to and transfer of knowledge and technology, especially information and communication technologies, inter alia, through partnerships with relevant stakeholders, including the private sector. The present report highlights the major implementation efforts of the United Nations system to follow up Council agreed conclusions 2001/1, which placed emphasis on identifying ways to provide and improve effective access to and transfer of knowledge and technology to developing countries.
The report states that continuous efforts are required of the international community, including governments, the private sector, civil society and other relevant stakeholders to keep up with the rapid progress of technology in order to support developing countries, so that they can fully benefit from digital and technological opportunities. It is also recommended that the United Nations system further explore the potential of common system-wide mechanisms through sharing information and resources. The United Nations system is encouraged to continue to play a catalytic role in the preparation of the World Summit on the Information Society.
Also before the Council was a report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) for its forty-second session (document A/57/16). During its substantive session, which was held in New York from 10 June to 5 July, the Committee reviewed the proposed programme budget outline for the biennium 2004-2005. The CPC makes several recommendations on the budget outline. It also considered the issue of effective measures for management improvement and different methodologies to correct geographical imbalances in hiring consultants. Also during the session, the CPC reviewed United Nations programme performance for the biennium 2000-2001 and proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for 2002-2005.
The report also includes summaries of the Committee's review of evaluation questions, including an in-depth evaluation of the subprogrammes on General Assembly and Economic and Social Council affairs and Council support and coordination. Under coordination questions, the Committee considered several issues, including the 2001 annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination; the Joint Inspection Unit's report; and strengthening the investigations functions in the United Nations system.
The Council also had before it the 2001 annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board (CEB) for Coordination (document E/2002/55). According to that report, with the adoption of the Millennium Declaration as the overarching policy framework to guide its efforts in the global development, the CEB focused on orchestrating closer inter-agency cooperation towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The increasing number of Secretary-General's reports to the ECOSOC and other bodies reflected the rising trend towards more system-wide cooperation and initiatives.
During 2001, the report says the executive heads discussed the interrelated dimensions of globalization and noted the need to redress its negative aspects particularly as regards poverty, hunger, health, education employment and the environment. It also noted the links between migration and problems posed by refugees and internally displaced persons. The CEB's main focus in 2001 was to ensure a systematic follow-up to the Millennium Declaration and a system-wide response to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. In that regard, the CEB addressed a two-pronged strategy, namely, resource mobilization, and monitoring and review processes.
The CEB also devoted attention to strengthening system-wide support for the sustainable development of Africa through the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the report explains. The NEPAD, an Africa-owned and Africa-led initiative, provided the framework for United Nations system interventions in support of Africa's development. The report also addresses administrative issues, including staff security and safety.
Also before the Committee was a note by the Secretary-General on preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society (document A/57/71-E/2002/52). The report explains that pursuant to decisions of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Council and the General Assembly's endorsement in December 2001, the ITU has launched a preparatory process for the World Summit. General Assembly resolution 56/183 recommends an intergovernmental preparatory process with active participation and direct contributions on the part of other stakeholders. Three preparatory meetings will set the framework with the first to be held in Geneva in July 2002.
The ITU, in coordination with United Nations agencies and partners, will take the lead in Summit preparations, the report continues. An action plan endorsed at the fall 2000 session of the Administrative Committee on Coordination (ACC) called for the creation of the high-level summit organizing committee to coordinate the work of the agencies assisting with Summit preparations. The executive secretariat of the World Summit began work in September 2001 to support the preparatory process.
Also before the Council is the Secretary-General's report on the long-term programme of support for Haiti (document E/20002/56), which provides an overview of the situation in Haiti since 2001, including its political and institutional crisis and its repercussions on the general economic situation and on the decline of official development assistance (ODA). In spite of this difficult context, the Resident Coordinator and the United Nations country team have continued to provide assistance in various fields, such as governance and the rule of law, in the framework of transition activities following the International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti, as well as poverty reduction and HIV/AIDS. The report provides information on these activities and on progress made in the elaboration of a long-term programme of support for Haiti, including an update on the United Nations Development Framework and the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.
The Secretary-General stresses that the resolution of the political, electoral and institutional crisis existing in Haiti since 1997 is a prerequisite for the implementation of a long-term programme of support with the Government. However, the current political context and the continued decline of ODA to Haiti prevent any significant additional step forward in this process. Efforts currently made by the Organization of American States (OAS) to assist Haiti in bringing an end to this crisis may open the way for a more favourable environment for international assistance. The consideration of a long-term programme of support by international development partners depends on the outcome of this initiative.
The Secretary-General says the Council may now wish to consider whether it should continue to be kept regularly informed of progress achieved in the elaboration of a long-term programme of support to Haiti, or decide to subordinate its consideration of the matter to positive developments in the political situation.
The report on the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (document E/2002/66) reviews implementation of those outcomes and that of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly and assesses progress made in mainstreaming a gender perspective within the United Nations system. The Secretary-General says this report is also intended to facilitate the Council's first-time consideration of that item. The report notes that the Commissions that met in 2002, as well as the Council during its 2001 substantive session, addressed gender issues to varying degrees, and in different forms.
The report finds that several commissions dealt with situations that are specific to women within their sectoral mandates, such as in relation to crime prevention, human rights, or drug abuse. Others agreed on the need for more and better data disaggregated by sex and gender-specific analysis to achieve comprehensive and adequate treatment of particular issues, and as a basis for policy development. While some progress is noted, gender perspectives are still not always addressed as a matter of routine, and the analysis of issues and the formulation of policy options are not always informed by a consideration of gender differences and inequalities.
Thus, the Secretary-General says, opportunities are not yet consistently identified to narrow gender gaps and support greater equality between women and men. The nature of the topic and the availability of gender-specific information influence the degree of attention paid to gender perspectives. Progress was made by the Commission on Social Development in addressing the gender perspectives of the interface of macroeconomic and social policies. The United Nations Forum on Forests also has significant opportunities for addressing gender perspectives.
Under recommendations, the Secretary-General says the Council may wish to express its appreciation to its functional commissions for the progress made in attention to situations that are specific to women and to the mainstreaming of gender perspectives into the work of the subsidiary bodies. It may wish to invite the subsidiary bodies to continue these efforts, so that a comprehensive assessment of progress over time can be undertaken, and gaps identified when the Council takes up gender mainstreaming at one of its future coordination segments, before 2005.
The Secretary-General says that the Council could invite its subsidiary bodies to address gender perspectives in relation to the thematic issues of their multi-year programmes of work, or in relation to annual themes, as appropriate. It could request its functional commissions, when preparing draft multi-year programmes of work, to identify priority opportunities for reflecting gender perspectives. The Council may wish to recognize that lack of data disaggregated by sex, and gender-specific information constitute challenges in addressing gender perspectives. At the same time, the Council should recognize that available information and analysis should be used more systematically.
Finally, the Council had before it a report of the Secretary-General on the Ad Hoc Inter-Agency Task Force on Tobacco Control (document E/2002/44). The Task Force, which was established in 1999, is under the leadership of the World Health Organization (WHO) and submitted its first report in 2000. Along with HIV/AIDS, cigarette smoking is the largest growing cause of death in the world. According to recent estimates, in 2002, some 4.2 million deaths per year were caused by tobacco. That figure is expected to rise to about 8.4 million in 2020. It is predicted that tobacco will cause about 1 in 8 deaths in 2020 and, of those deaths, some 70 per cent will occur in developing countries. Tobacco-related diseases are the single most important cause of preventable deaths in the world.
Regarding tobacco consumption among women, the total number of female smokers is expected to rise from about 257.8 million in 2000 to 324 million in 2020. Unless measures to curtail the epidemic are addressed, the large increase in the number of female smokers will have enormous consequences for health, income and family. Governments have been reluctant to implement tobacco control policies because of fears of harmful economic consequences. Those fears are largely unfounded. Cigarette smuggling leads to a loss to tax revenues for governments and an increase in tobacco consumption due to lower prices.
The Council also had before it a report of the Secretary-General on international cooperation in the field of informatics (document E/2002/78). The Secretary-General summarizes actions taken by the United Nations Secretariat, funds and programmes to respond to ECOSOC resolution 2001/24 of July 2001. In that resolution, the Council asked the Secretary-General to report on initiatives taken by the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Informatics. It also underscored the high priority attached to easy and economical access for Member States and observers through their permanent missions to computerized databases and information systems and services. Furthermore, the Council stressed the importance of improving electronic connectivity via the Internet for all Member States, as well as electronic mail links between Member States and the United Nations system. Various steps taken by the United Nations system to respond to the terms of the resolution are reflected in the report.
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) opened the general segment by praising the work accomplished during the first two weeks of the substantive session. "So far, so good", he said. But now the Council must take up the "nuts and bolts" of its work. During its general segment, the Council would work to fulfil its management role and provide guidance for the functioning commissions and subsidiary bodies. This year was an important year, particularly as it followed the creation of the Forum on Indigenous Peoples. The Forum would report to the Council for the first time. He added that, also for the first time, the Bureau would meet with the chairs of the functioning commissions.
GERT ROSENTHAL (Guatemala), Council Vice-President, who would chair the general segment, called on delegations to work to clarify the many issues on the agenda.
PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, explained that while the scope of the coordination segment related to the United Nations system as a whole, the general segment addressed itself largely to the functional commissions and other committees that made up the subsidiary machinery of the Council itself, and to the regional commissions and other bodies that constituted the basic elements of the United Nations' own structure.
He said that advancing an integrated and effective follow-up to the Millennium Declaration and to the conferences was increasingly providing the unifying policy thrust and the overriding substantive purpose that underlay the exercise by the Council of its managerial functions, through this segment. The functional commissions of ECOSOC were at the origin of most of the global conferences of the 1990s and the main forums where their follow-up was being organized and steered.
Hopefully, he said, the report identifying cross-cutting issues arising from the work of the commissions (document E/2002/73) would help the Council in providing guidance and ensuring that the commissions' contributions in advancing the development objectives set out in the Millennium Declaration was more than the sum of its parts. An event would be organized during the segment involving a dialogue with the chairs of individual commissions.
Among the functional commissions, he said that the Statistical Commission was at the forefront of two key dimensions of the follow-up to the development goals: coordination of work for the development of the commonly agreed indicators for global monitoring of the follow-up to the Millennium Declaration; and the provision of policy guidance for the support that the system extended to capacity-building in data gathering and analysis in developing countries.
He said that it had been the Council that had pioneered the concept of the integrated follow-up to conferences. Thus, it was the Council that had, in many ways, defined the challenge against which performance would be judged. The report on integrating follow-up processes for maximum impact would be debated by the General Assembly, which would also have before it the report on the subject prepared to the current Council session (document E/2002/57). The respective roles of the functional commissions of the Council and the Assembly in those follow-up processes were key.
The outcome of discussions should help ensure that the Assembly reached conclusions that would advance the objectives of integration and effectiveness, and, at the same time, provide for a role for the Council in line with its important Charter functions. Turning to the Monterrey Consensus, he cited two basic challenges to follow-up arrangements as: laying the policy ground and the means for achieving progress in reaching the Millennium Declaration targets; and in strengthening the coherence of the work of the system in promoting that progress.
Continuing, he said that the Council must be responsive to the central responsibilities that the Monterrey Consensus had entrusted to it, particularly to its annual meetings with Bretton Woods institution. The second challenge was to see to it that the follow-up to Monterrey was effectively integrated into the Council's overall work in support of the follow-up of conferences and the Millennium Declaration. The overriding objective was to maintain and nurture in those discussions the important political momentum generated at Monterrey.
The 1990s, and the many global conferences, represented a turning point in inter-agency relations characterized by a growing, shared commitment to advancing common objectives, he said. The Millennium Summit and Declaration were both the culmination of that phase and the beginning of a new one where the organizations of the system had now in the Millennium Declaration a single, overarching policy framework to which they were individually and collectively committed. The United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination should reflect that state of affairs and the collective commitments of the secretariats to bring fully to bear the executive functions they exercised in their respective organizations in support of the overall policies set by Member States for the system as a whole.
ANWARUL CHOWDHURY, Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Countries and Small Island Developing States, presented an oral report on the work of his Office. He said the Brussels Programme of Action for Least Developed Countries for 2001-2010 provided the framework for a strong global partnership to accelerate sustained economic growth and sustainable development for those countries, as well as a framework for ending marginalization.
He said poverty eradication, gender equality, employment, governance, capacity-building, as well as special problems faced by least developed countries affected by conflict, had been singled out in the Programme as cross-cutting priority issues. The plan's objective was to achieve substantial progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals of reducing poverty by half by 2015 and promoting sustainable development. His Office had been established to undertake the responsibilities related to follow-up, coordination and review of the implementation of the Programme.
He said the Office would be working with a framework that would focus on country-level implementation, work with the relevant entities of the United Nations family and other multilateral organizations, as well as work closely with civil society and the private sector. The Office's first medium-term plan had been presented to the General Assembly's Committee for Programme and Coordination (CPC) on 21 June. Initial activities had commenced with a three-pronged approach -- placing the issue of least developed countries high on the intergovernmental agenda through legislative mandates, centering its focus on Africa, particularly in the context of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), and supporting the establishment of country-level implementation arrangements.
Taking into account the decisions incorporated in the Brussels Programme of Action, he said the Office recommended, among other things, that ECOSOC set aside one day during the annual general segment for a specific review of the Programme. It also recommended that all efforts be made to adopt and implement a focused outcome following such a review. The Council might reiterate the invitation of the Assembly to organs of the United Nations system and other multilateral organizations to mainstream the implementation of the Programme within their respective frameworks. The Council might also decide to devote the high-level segment of its 2004 substantive session for the review and coordination of the implementation of the Brussels Programme.
ANNA KAJUMULO TIBAIJUKA, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), said that General Assembly resolution 56/206 entitled "Strengthening the mandate and status of the Commission on Human Settlements and the status, role and functions of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)" was the crowning decision of intense work undertaken during the past year in implementing the checklist for action contained in ECOSOC resolution 2001/22.
She said that Assembly resolution 56/206 had transformed the Commission on Human Settlements into the Governing Council of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, a subsidiary organ of the Assembly; and the Centre for Human Settlements into the secretariat of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, known as UN-Habitat, effective since January. That upgrading enhanced the status of the governing body of UN-Habitat, thereby strengthening its relationships with the governing bodies of other relevant organizations.
The Assembly resolution also devoted a full section to the issue of financing human settlements, and called on UN-Habitat to strengthen the primary operative objective of the United Nations Habitat and Human Settlements Foundation of supporting implementation of the Habitat Agenda, she said. Since its establishment, one of UN-Habitat's central functions was to provide advisory services and implement shelter and human settlements projects and programmes at the request of Member States. The need to strengthen technical cooperation had been reiterated in numerous decisions of the relevant bodies.
She highlighted the recommendations contained in the report on UN-Habitat. Among them, it should play a stronger role in the exchange of information and in providing policy support to Habitat Agenda partners; advocate for cities, local authorities and their world associations as partners with the United Nations; strengthen partnerships with civil society and identify new strategies for involving the private sector in slum upgrading. The UN-Habitat was ready to play its expected role of assisting Member States in implementing the Habitat Agenda, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium and the Millennium Development Goals.
TOMAS CHRISTENSEN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Islands Developing States would provide the basis for a coherent follow-up to the Programme of Action adopted by the Third United Nations Conference in Brussels last year. A genuine partnership was the foundation of that Programme, clearly outlining commitments on the part of the least developed countries and development partners.
Implementing the Programme of Action depended first and foremost on its integration into national poverty reduction strategies. Evidence from the field showed that the approach underpinning the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers was increasingly used to govern the overall framework for national development efforts, and also for supporting efforts of all bilateral and multilateral donors. A broad-based national dialogue -- including civil society and the private sector -- should form the basis for drawing up those strategies.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said that global conferences had laid down an integrated framework and set up a global partnership for development. The substantive follow-up should be channeled into the regular work of the main organs of the United Nations, mainly the General Assembly and ECOSOC. The follow-up should be closely linked to joint efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and should be monitored and coordinated by ECOSOC.
He noted that the Monterrey Consensus reached at the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development had provided an important platform for development policies. It stressed the fundamental role of national policies in attracting investment and exploiting trade opportunities, and in using official development assistance (ODA) effectively. The Consensus also called on developed countries to support national development efforts by increasing ODA and opening markets.
However, he continued, new ODA commitments made at Monterrey fell far short of doubling current levels needed to finance the Millennium Development Goals. ECOSOC should strive to mobilize continued support and political commitment for the Consensus through substantive and innovative preparations that build on those Goals. Key actors that should be involved in the follow-up should include national ministries, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD), regional development banks and civil society.
CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said it was very important for ECOSOC to establish a substantive basis for working with the Bretton Woods institutions. It was also important for ECOSOC to be in a position to address all issues related to the Monterrey Consensus, and to put forward its views on components of the various segments being considered at the current session. With respect to the follow-up process, importance should be attached to implementation of social agreements reached at Monterrey. While attempting to improve the economic indicators in the various countries, he looked to the Monterrey Consensus to also improve the social indicators.
He urged ECOSOC to take up the question of Haiti and request the Secretary-General to submit a report identifying the ways in which the development process in that country could be integrated into ongoing efforts under way in the post-conflict peace-building period. That would allow for an assessment of the way in which ECOSOC operated in the face of such a situation. For Chile, the establishment of the Indigenous Forum was very important. He noted, however, that the Forum was not a functional commission of the Council and thus, had its own mechanisms for submitting recommendations. Accordingly, its submission of its reports to the Council should be structured differently.
Also important to Chile in the context of the integrated and coordinated follow-up to conferences was for ECOSOC to resolve some of the matters that had been left pending, including the frequency of follow-ups and their nature, he said. All follow-ups required a progressive analysis of the substantive commitments. Undoubtedly, that would require much imagination and coordination. Also, the contribution of the heads of agencies was of critical importance and should be warmly welcomed as facilitating governments in their work.
SICHAN SIV (United States) welcomed an interactive and vibrant Economic and Social Council not for coordination's sake, but to reach the goals and objectives agreed to at United Nations conferences. In that regard, monitoring was an essential element because it promoted accountability.
He said recent United Nations conferences provided a framework for development that contained simple, direct, concrete targets and benchmarks. ECOSOC should help the United Nations system and Member States work together to achieve those goals. He encouraged the United Nations and bilateral and multilateral donors to support, develop and provide technical assistance, so that Member States could build core statistical capacity. ECOSOC should promote the use of statistics to support effect national policy development.
He said the United States shared the Secretary-General's view, expressed in his report, that the International Conference on Financing for Development had established a mechanism for follow-up that was different from the mechanisms of earlier conferences. "Now that the current cycle of conferences has concluded, we all need to focus on implementation," he said. With the leadership demonstrated by the ECOSOC bureau and secretariat, and the commitment of Member States, the international community should be able to make progress in implementing the documents agreed to at the United Nations conferences and summits.
SUN XIAOBO (China) said that the report submitted by the Secretary-General on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda had put forward some concrete recommendations on the future work of UN-Habitat. Those recommendations should strictly follow the consensus reached in the past. Citing paragraph 18 of the report, which recommended that UN-Habitat should play a role in promoting "new partnerships", he said that concept was very vague. As was paragraph 19's recommendation that UN-Habitat should also promote the recognition of cities and local authorities and their world associations as partners of the United Nations.
He said those recommendations were not consistent with the consensus reached in the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, the Declaration on Cities and Other Human Settlements in the New Millennium and relevant resolutions of the Commission on Human Settlements. Therefore, he could not endorse those recommendations in the Secretary-General's report.
EVGENY STANISLAV (Russian Federation) said the Millennium Declaration, which incorporated the outcomes of the United Nations conferences of the 1990s, served as an excellent basis for considering coordination and follow-up implementation measures. He said that perhaps it was necessary to now consider moving away from the practice of holding automatic five-year reviews of such conferences. There was now an opportunity for a more effective use of intergovernmental machinery, perhaps in the form of ad hoc meetings during regular sessions of the General Assembly.
He said all issues related to reviewing the Third United Nations Conference on Least Developed Countries had been dealt with in the Council last year. He said his delegation had supported the Assembly's resolution to strengthen the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat). That agency's proposal for the creation of a "World Cities Forum" was an innovative way to promote dialogue between the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, and other international actors for the development of cities and other human settlements and protecting them from natural disasters and terrorism.
OM PRADHAN (Bhutan) said that more than two decades had elapsed since the convening of the first conference for least developed countries without any significant results. Recent efforts by the United Nations system to ensure that the Third Conference in Brussels would be a real turning point in the everyday life of poor people in the poorest countries, however, had been encouraging. Also, the establishment of the Office of the High Representative would provide the necessary impetus to ongoing effort to fulfil the Brussels Programme of Action.
Also welcome were the decisions by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) at their 2002 executive board meetings to mainstream the Brussels Programme of Action within their respective work programmes, he said. Among the critical issues of concern for least developed countries were those relating to trade and aid. A growing emphasis had been placed on mutual economic self-interest, with "trade and not aid" as the ultimate goal of economic development strategies. Trade underpinned equal partnership, and reversing dependence on aid should be a priority for all developing countries. But, the emphasis on trade alone was not a sufficient condition for sustainable development, as its success depended on the building of a dynamic export sector.
That, he went on, was severely inhibited in least developed countries due to their capacity constraints, including the lack of efficient networks of transport, banking and communications. Of immediate consequence to the development process was the resource constraint in providing essential social services. The availability of predictable and adequate financing for both the social and economic sectors was critical for the long-term sustained economic growth of those countries. In that regard, while he recognized that least developed countries had the primary responsibility for their own development, the role of the international community in meeting the "resource gap" in a timely and predictable manner was most essential.
DER KOGDA (Burkina Faso) said that one year after commitments had been made by the international community to assist the least developed countries in emerging from the plague of poverty, some progress had been made. But, above and beyond mere lip service, the commitment of the international community in that regard should be manifest, together with an obligation to produce results on both sides to extract the least developed countries from infernal trap of poverty. Countries should abide agreements made in Brussels. The Monterrey Consensus also offered hope, and the upcoming World Summit should take account the objective of poverty reduction in the most vulnerable countries.
He said that the long-standing concerns of the least developed countries were well known. Whether a matter of ODA, capacity-building, debt alleviation or market access, the degree to which donor countries fulfil their commitments could have a profound effect. They should make explicit those commitments and implement them rapidly. Further, ECOSOC should play a key role in the follow-up to the Brussels meeting and inscribe it on the agenda of its high-level segment through 2005. He congratulated UNDP and UNICEF for the decisions of their executive boards to incorporate the relevant commitments in their work programmes. Other bodies should follow their example.
MURARI SHARMA (Nepal) said, one by one, the isolated five-year reviews of major United Nations conferences had yielded limited, passive and spotty results. He said the Organization was facing a serious gap in implementation. Frameworks would have to be put in place and wider international efforts would have to be synchronized, if the goals agreed at those conferences and the Millennium Declaration Goals were to be met. The Council was at a critical juncture, because it had become obvious that existing review mechanisms were inadequate. There was no time to lose in the search for effective ways to coordinate and ensure concrete follow-up measures.
He welcomed the proposed establishment of an ad hoc advisory group on African countries emerging from conflict as one of the highlights of the Council's work during this session. He also said that the technological revolution was progressing faster than any could have expected. It was, therefore, urgent to implement the agreed conclusions of last year's substantive session, which had been devoted to information and communication technologies. In order to avoid the impending catastrophe of the widening digital divide, prompt action must be taken so the entire international community could at least be moving in the same direction, if not at the same place. The Council would have a significant role to play in coordinating such efforts and removing constraints and obstacles.
FUMIO IWAI (Japan) reiterated the importance of a clear division of labour between the Office of the High Representative and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The Office of the High Representative bore overall responsibility for coordination, advocacy, reporting and review of implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action. Implementation of projects and programmes by the United Nations system to follow up the Brussels Programme of Action would be carried out by other bodies, especially UNCTAD.
Also regarding conference follow-up, he said he strongly supported the recommendation made in the oral report delivered by Mr. Chowdhury that ECOSOC undertake a regular review of implementation of the Brussels action programme. In so doing, the Council should take a result- and country-oriented approach, in order that tangible progress on the ground, in each and every least developed country, could be measured. He welcomed the fact that the report had emphasized country-level implementation as a framework for action.
OUSSOU EDOUARD AHO-GLELE (Benin), on behalf of the group of least developed countries, said that the commitments made at the Millennium Summit to support the most vulnerable segment of the international community had been solidified by the adoption of a Programme of Action for the decade, 2001 to 2010. An essential task of its implementation revolved around coordination and accountability. He was pleased with adoption of resolution E/2001/320, by which ECOSOC decided to place on the agenda of its substantive session a review of implementation of the programme for the decade. Its implementation was of the utmost importance and he hoped to see specific, concrete results at national, regional, subregional and local levels.
In order to ensure such results, the bodies of the United Nations system should incorporate implementation of that action programme into their work programmes, following the examples of both UNICEF and UNDP. To better monitor implementation of the programme, the group of least developed countries suggested that the High Representative draft a summary table for adoption by the Council on monitoring and follow-up of implementation of the action programme. Such a table could indicate both anticipated and achieved action by each participant. That request was aimed at advancing concrete, tangible results.
WENDY FLANNERY, speaking on behalf of the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, noted that the debt burden was extracting a heavy toll on indebted poor countries, and crowding out investments in education, health and other basic services. Malnutrition was on the rise and poverty was spreading fast. The non-governmental organization community wanted to reiterate its fundamental position, which called for the immediate and unconditional debt cancellation for the poorest countries, notably for countries classified as least developed countries. It urged that a fair and transparent arbitration mechanism be adopted, under the auspices of the United Nations, to deal with the debt of all other indebted countries.
The non-governmental organization community called on the United Nations Secretary-General and all Member States to examine and give due consideration to its proposal during the current ECOSOC session. If there was to be any hope of achieving the Millennium Development Goals, the international community must make a concerted effort to address without further delay the huge cost of debt in all heavily indebted countries.
CAROL R. LUBIM, representative of International Federation of Settlement and Neighbourhood Centers, said her agency was most concerned with the fact that non-governmental organizations were told again and again that they were respected, and that their suggestions and recommendations were welcome. But, in fact, no real partnership contracts were ever made with civil society actors. Such partnership and real participation was crucial to ensure adequate evaluation and determination of indicators to inform donors and other partners what was needed, in order to meet the goals agreed at the major United Nations conferences and summits.
REMIGIO MARADONA, representative of the World Association of Former United Nations Interns and Fellows (WAFUNIF), said his group, an official United Nations Peace Messenger and non-governmental organization, was the sole alumni organization of the United Nations. It's current work focused on creating effective partnerships and policies to enable all countries, especially those in the developing world and those with economies in transition, to benefit from all aspects of the information and communications technology revolution. Recent work to that end had focused on the subject of the digital divide, technical cooperation and capacity-building.
He said the transfer and development of technologies, especially information and communication technologies, were essential components of a successful strategy for sustainable development. Accordingly, effective modalities for the creation, development, favourable access to and transfer of technologies to developing countries, especially the least developed countries, on concessional, preferential and non-commercial terms should be examined and put into practice. His organization believed there was a need for substantial strengthening of technical expertise, institutions and legal systems in developing countries.
JANINE GUSTAFSON (United States) said her country strongly supported coordinated implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action and was carrying out its commitments. The conclusions of important meetings since Brussels, namely the fourth World Trade Ministerial meeting at Doha and the International Conference on Financing for Development at Monterrey, should be taken fully into account with respect to trade and other development financing issues related to least developed countries.
She said she also supported the effective operation of the new Office of the High Representative. When the new Office was first established, her delegation had expressed concern over possible confusion of mandates between it and the existing least developed country office at UNCTAD, as well as the Office of the Special Coordinator for Africa and Least Developed Countries. Wasteful overlap should be avoided.
The Office of the High Representative was established to concentrate responsibility for coordination of the Least Developed Countries Programme of Action implementation, she said. The other offices should be restructured or dissolved in recognition of that. Mr. Chowdhury's recommendations were a good basis for negotiation and she looked forward to working with her colleagues on any future resolution in that regard.
When the Council resumed in the afternoon, it took up matters related to coordination, programme and other questions, including mainstreaming gender perspective into all policies and programmes of the United Nations, the long-term programme for support for Haiti, reports of the coordinating bodies, tobacco and health and the proposed revisions to the medium-term plan for the period 2002-2005.
ANGELA KING, Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, said she was gratified by the strong commitment among Member States to the gender mainstreaming strategy, evinced primarily by the Council's adoption of resolution E/2001/41 and the many examples of implementation efforts at the national level being presented to intergovernmental bodies, such as the Commission on the Status of Women.
She said the establishment of this new item was an important step in support of a more consistent and systematic attention to gender perspectives in all aspects of the Council's own work and that of its subsidiary machinery. Gender mainstreaming was certainly important for the promotion of equality, but it was also important for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the goals of other major United Nations conferences and summits. Since 1997, steady, but somewhat uneven, progress continued to be made at different levels and in various levels to identify gender perspectives and reflect them in all areas of work, she added.
Opportunities should be sought to monitor progress, gaps and challenges in gender mainstreaming in other intergovernmental processes, particularly the work of the governing bodies of the funds, programmes and specialized agencies. She said that at a panel discussion on 11 June, held in collaboration with the Division for ECOSOC Support and Coordination, a strong feeling had emerged that the Council's detailed guidance would further strengthen the ability of the commissions to integrate gender perspectives in their work. Participants also made a number of concrete suggestions to enhance capacity for gender mainstreaming and ensure consistent monitoring, including a call for regular reporting by the commissions on progress and challenges, and explicit attention to the issue at joint bureau meetings.
THOMAS FRIEDRICH HEINRICH MAZET, Chairman of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, briefed members on the Committee's work during its forty-second session. One of the Committee's main tasks had been to review the proposed revisions to the 2002-2005 medium-term plan. The Committee successfully completed its responsibility and recommended approval of all the proposed revisions submitted to it, with some modifications.
He highlighted several of the CPC's recommendations on programmes related to the work of ECOSOC. Regarding programme 7, economic and social affairs, the Committee recommended that, following the Assembly's endorsement of the Monterrey Consensus, the Secretary-General prepare a proposal for a new subprogramme on financing for development under that programme. Following the outcome of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Secretary-General should submit revisions to relevant subprogrammes for the Assembly's consideration at its fifty-seventh session. Regarding NEPAD, the Committee emphasized that the development needs of Africa should remain a high priority on the United Nations system.
YUKIHISHA KAGEYAMA, Chief of the Systems Management Section of the Information Technology Services Division, Office of Central Support Services (OCSS), briefed the Council on international cooperation in the field of informatics. The technical sub-group of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Informatics continued to be active, he said, focusing on issues related to information technology and included, close consultations with the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Task Force. Some activities in that area included a breakfast meeting in November 2001, a conference on global e-commerce last February and a series of presentations on e-government and the digital divide.
He said this year had been extremely challenging for the Division. It had lost some 25 per cent of its overall budget at the non-post level in the unprecedented resource reductions approved at the fifty-sixth session of the Assembly. As a result of losing a further 57 per cent of its budget for operations services, some services provided for the permanent missions were temporarily reduced and others were discontinued. Those services were reinstated, however, after the adoption of resolution 56/254 (2002).
In September 2001, the Division had completed re-engineering the Official Document System (ODS) -- formerly the Optical Disc System. The new ODS was purely a Web-based system. As such, all end users needed was a standard Internet browser and the ODS could be accessed from anywhere in the world. Completely new options were now available, he said. Now any official documents on the United Nations Web site could be directly hyperlinked for the Web to the ODS. Another advantage was that any documents could now be viewed in all six official languages. He said that, as of yesterday, that direct access function had been completely implemented.
VERA DA COSTA E SILVA, Project Manager of the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization, said that along with HIV/AIDS, tobacco was the largest growing cause of death in the world. Regarding tobacco consumption among women, the number was expected to rise to 324 million in 2020 and the large increase would have enormous consequences on health, income and family. Many governments had avoided taking measures to address the problem, however, because of potential harmful economic consequences. Those economic fears were largely unfounded.
The WHO had also examined future trends in tobacco consumption, she said. Results showed that, even if prevalence decreased by 1 per cent in next 20 to 50 years, the total number of smokers would remain at 2000 levels. Cigarette smuggling represented a public health problem. The task force had met several times since its establishment and had expanded opportunities for collaborative efforts throughout the system. Inter-agency work included Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and International Labour Organization (ILO) projects. No country could afford to go it alone. The globalization of the epidemic had produced a need for multilateral action to protect present and future populations. Future possible themes for collaborative work could include children and youth and smoke-free policies in the United Nations system.
TOMAS A. CHRISTENSEN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the Union looked forward to stepping up the dialogue between ECOSOC and the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) and felt that interaction between the two was essential if ECOSOC was to play its part in the coordination of the various funds, programmes and agencies.
He said because the Union put emphasis on strengthened United Nations coordination and welcomed the reform of the CEB, it would be very interested to hear the executive heads' views on their experience from the first year of working within the new format. The Union was aware that preparing for and following up major conferences increased the need for coordination in order to achieve the ambitious goals set by the international community and thus raised Member States' expectations of the various coordination arrangements.
The Union welcomed the CEB's focus on the contribution of the system to a comprehensive and effective follow-up of the Millennium Declaration and the contributions made by various bodies to preparations for the International Conference on Financing for Development, he said. The Union would further like to know the executive heads' views on how to support the Millennium Campaign and implementation of Millennium Development Goals at country level and on coordinated implementation of the HIV/AIDS declaration of commitments. Another area of interest was coordination regarding oceans and seas. In view of the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development, the Union was particularly interested to know executive heads' views on supporting the preparations for the World Summit and CEB's role in supporting the follow-up to the Summit.
HENRIK BRAMSEN HAHN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the European Union, but with specific focus on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes in the United Nations system, said while the Union noted some progress, gender issues were addressed to varying degrees and in different forms. Gender perspectives were still not always addressed as a matter of routine, and the analysis of issues and the formulation of policy options were not always informed by a formulation of gender differences and inequalities.
Consequently, he said, it was pertinent to continue efforts, so that a comprehensive assessment of progress over time could be undertaken when ECOSOC took up gender mainstreaming at one of its future coordination segments before 2005. He added that opportunities to narrow gender gaps should be consistently identified to support greater equality between men and women. The Commission on the Status of Women naturally played a catalytic role in support of gender mainstreaming as a cross-cutting issue to all activities of the United Nations system.
EIJI YAMAMOTO (Japan) said it was encouraging to see that women were increasingly perceived not only as beneficiaries with special needs, but also as active contributors in areas such as forest management, sustainable social development and crime prevention. Among the obstacles was the still inadequate coverage of gender disaggregated data, which was the basis for effective analysis and discussion. More efforts, therefore, should be made to develop such data. Coordination and collective efforts among United Nations bodies were also essential for the successful promotion of gender mainstreaming. Hopefully, the intergovernmental bodies, as well as the Secretariat, would continue regular meetings and open discussion.
He said that Member States, as well as the Council and its subsidiary bodies, and United Nations agencies should share their experiences about measures taken to mainstream gender. In Japan, the Council for Gender Equality and the Gender Equality Bureau of the Cabinet Office had taken the lead in implementing the "Basic Plan for Gender Equality", which was formulated to take into account the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly. It aimed at gender mainstreaming in the social system and contained concrete measures for achieving that goal. In addition, Japan was seeking to: expand women's participation in decision-making, promote a gender-equal perspective by supporting both women's and men's efforts to balance work and family, and eliminate all forms of violence against women.
ROBYN MUDIE (Australia) speaking also on behalf of Canada and New Zealand, said the new sub-item on mainstreaming a gender perspective at the United Nations was an opportunity for the Council and its subsidiary bodies to focus on, evaluate and learn from efforts to mainstream gender across the Organization. It was also a chance to identify and address obstacles to the effective application of gender mainstreaming, so that it could serve as a key tool for the achievement of gender equality. Through the new sub-item, the Council also had a forum in which to prepare for a coordination segment before 2005 dedicated to the review and appraisal of the system-wide implementation of agreed conclusions 1997/2 on gender mainstreaming.
Above all, she continued, the new sub-item provided a valuable forum in which to raise awareness on the meaning and practical effect of gender mainstreaming at the United Nations. The Beijing Platform for Action set out a powerful agenda for women's advancement. The Secretary-General's report to the Council provided an encouraging account of progress within the functional commissions, as well as useful, practical examples of gender mainstreaming at work. Such steps were encouraging, but ECOSOC must ensure that United Nations programmes and policies that had not traditionally addressed women-specific or gender issues develop a clear understanding of how gender was relevant to their work and how gender mainstreaming could enhance it.
To address the remaining challenges, she recommended: ensure gender neutrality of key issues; address gaps in understanding, as well as the paucity of good data; identify entry points in those areas that had the most potential for leverage; emphasize measuring outcomes and developing results-oriented strategies; encourage the adoption of explicit decisions by ECOSOC's subsidiary bodies; and secure greater accountability. ECOSOC had a continuing responsibility through that sub-item to bring best practices and continuing challenges to the attention of its members, its subsidiary bodies and the broader United Nations constituency.
Mr. CHOULKOV (Russian Federation) said the establishment within the framework of the CEB of a high-level committee provided a solution to the problem of appropriate inter-agency representation in the combined work of all the functioning commissions, funds and programmes. Still, a drop of such representation had been witnessed on financial and budgetary issues. That issue should be addressed, as inter-agency cooperation was important in terms of strategic budgeting and exchange of information. Issues of coordination within the United Nations system must continue to be the focus of the CEB.
On the upcoming World Summit for the Information Society, he said Russia was gratified by the results of the first preparatory meeting for that important conference. He was most pleased that representatives had been able to debate the proposed agenda items of the Summit. He was convinced that the Summit should not focus narrowly on the technical issues of eliminating the digital divide. It must take a broader approach that included consideration of social, economic and cultural issues -- all with a view towards the promotion of sustainable development. Any possible outcome should address the challenges and emerging opportunities posed by the ICT revolution, as well as address realistic new initiatives. He added that adequate finances should be provided to ensure the success of the Summit.
JEAN C. ALEXANDRE (Haiti) said the Ad Hoc Advisory Group presented recommendations including the establishment, after consultation with the Haitian Government, of a long-term strategy for assistance. The Haitian Government was aware of the seriousness of the economic problems it faced and intended to make progess. It would do so with respect of democratic standards. Despite progress made, 70 donor nations had suspended essential assistance. The resumption of aid hinged on a solution of the political crisis in Haiti. Several measures were under way towards that end, including planned elections for all parliamentarians and reorganization of elections in 2003. The Haitian Government was honouring commitments made with the OAS. The deployment of a special mission was a striking illustration of that.
He said he deeply deplored the attitude of international partners that made the resumption of assistance contingent upon the resolution of Haiti's political crisis. Such an attitude would continue to shore up poverty. Some 30 per cent of the population lived in rural areas in extreme poverty and about 80 per cent of that number were without safe drinking water. Unemployment affected some two-thirds of the labour force. The 8 million people suffering from the economic moratorium had the right to hope, within the framework of the Millennium Declaration. The programme must not be the victim of political expediency. Haiti represented an extreme case in which poverty resulted in violence, which in turn halted the establishment of jobs. Financial assistance was key to promoting a break in the vicious cycle.
Mr. OUTTARA (Burkina Faso) said when considering ways to enhance or modify the United Nations various initiatives and programmes in Haiti, it was necessary to pay particular attention to the repercussions at the social and economic level. The political situation in the country should be closely monitored. The commitment of the international assistance system must, therefore, not waver. Global actors must continue to assist the millions of Haitian people living in poverty. He urged all to assist in the drawing up of a long-term assistance programme for Haiti.
CONNIE TARACENA SECAIRA (Guatemala) said her delegation appreciated the efforts being made by the United Nations with respect to gender mainstreaming. The Guatemalan Government and the Presidential Secretariat for Women were presently carrying out the Policy for the Promotion and Development of Guatemalan Women and the Plan for Equitable Opportunities. That was based on nine main requirements, namely equity in: economics; land and dwelling; education; health; protection of women against violence; working conditions; legal rights; institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women; and participation in socio-economic activities. The lack of disaggregated data, however, had made it difficult to include the gender perspective.
She supported the Secretary-General's recommendations to invite ECOSOC's subsidiary bodies to continue efforts in that area, undertake a comprehensive assessment of advances made, and address remaining challenges during the joint bureaus meetings of the functional commissions. She also agreed that the Council could ask its functional commissions, when preparing multi-year programmes of work, to identify priority opportunities for reflecting gender perspectives. Above all, mainstreaming gender perspectives in all United Nations programmes was key, as that would reinforce action taken by governments to implement the relevant national programmes. Universalization of gender mainstreaming would contribute to eradicating poverty and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
RAMON BLANCO DOMINGUEZ (Dominican Republic) said gaining access to and reaping the benefits of the ICT revolution had become a primary focus of his Government. His delegation supported all United Nations efforts to make technological progress available that would facilitate the speedy transfer of knowledge and the enhancement of national strategies and programmes of action. The Dominican Republic would reiterate its commitment to participate actively in the work of the upcoming World Summit on the Information Society.
He said the system-wide coordination on follow-up and implementation of the decisions and agreements of the last decades' conferences and summits was a major challenge for the United Nations. The Monterrey consensus and the upcoming Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development would provide a brilliant opportunity for ECOSOC to fully implement its mandate under the Charter. The Dominican Republic also supported the principle of gender mainstreaming into the work of the United Nations system. He said at the first meeting of the United Nations Forum on Forests, last March, the role of women had been emphasized as important to the creation of comprehensive and holistic strategies and initiatives. Finally, he supported the call for the strengthening of the United Nations efforts in Haiti.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said gender mainstreaming was now a widely accepted strategy for promoting gender equality and the human rights of women. While last year's resolution was an important step towards strengthening the work within the United Nations system on mainstreaming a gender perspective into all policies and programmes, real changes did not happen without real commitment, hard work and a strategic approach. Progress was being made, but there was still a long way to go before gender mainstreaming was fully implemented within the United Nations system. That ongoing process required resources.
He welcomed the recommendations in the Secretary-General's report, in particular the recommendation that the Council, subsidiary bodies and functional commissions should more systematically address gender perspectives in relation to thematic issues. He also agreed with the recommendation on the lack of gender-specific information and data disaggregated by sex, which was often a problem when addressing gender perspectives. Future reports on the issue should put more emphasis on analysis and lessons learned.
CARLOS VALERA (Mexico) said that the political crisis and decline in support for Haiti had contributed to the deterioration of the problem. Mexico was monitoring events in Haiti and the support given to Haiti by the OAS. He was pleased that consensus was reached to keep the long-term support programme for Haiti on the agenda. The programme should take into account Haitian proposals and should include, among other things, the strengthening of institutions and the promotion of human rights. Mexico had joined in co-sponsoring the related resolution.
On gender mainstreaming, he congratulated ECOSOC for including the new sub-item on its agenda. For a long time, Mexico had placed high priority on gender equality. Mexico had consistently supported important initiatives for the systematic inclusion of mainstreaming a gender perspective. Last year, the National Institute of Women was established with its own resources and at the ministerial level. Mexico would continue to work on the task with firm commitment. Mexico had agreed to co-sponsor a resolution on the sub-item, which he believed would be approved by the Council by consensus.
MISHECK MUCHETWA (Zimbabwe) said tobacco remained the largest foreign currency earner for Zimbabwe, contributing more than $663 million of national export earnings in 2001. Representing about 30 to 33 per cent of the total gross domestic product, it was also the nation's largest employer. The draft Framework Convention on Tobacco Control presented a serious economic and social threat to the future of Zimbabwe. There were some serious shortfalls in the modeling methodology used in the country case studies, in that they did not incorporate adjustment mechanisms. How did a country adjust from the existing equilibrium to a new one? he asked.
The Framework Convention should go beyond pure health matters, he said. The FAO was conducting country case studies on the impact of various policies on global tobacco production and consumption. The results of those studies should be analysed before considering promulgation of any legally-binding convention. Careful attention should be given to long-term impacts, research on the feasibility of tobacco alternatives and specific guarantees on funding to compensate for material and other losses incurred. Even though tobacco-related diseases were the cause of millions of deaths, that fact should not be overstated in comparison to other devastating epidemics, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. The employment aspect in the tobacco industry was grossly understated in the report.
A number of case studies had been carried out in Zimbabwe and Malawi on crop diversification, he said, but none had come up with a crop to replace tobacco. In developing alternative crops or industries, issues such as market potential and production bottlenecks should be addressed. Zimbabwe strongly recommended that the final version of the Framework Convention should embrace Zimbabwe's concerns and unique problem, as well as those of other countries in similar situations.
CLAUDIO ROJAS (Chile) said the Council should work to ensure broad cooperation in seeking solutions to the multiple problems arising out of the political, social and economic problems in Haiti. The Secretary-General's proposal to establish a programme of long-term support for the country was indeed welcome. Chile had participated in all initiatives aimed at improving the circumstances in Haiti through an active democratic process with functional and transparent solutions. All efforts should aim to enhance the social and economic conditions in the country. He urged international organizations to continue to provide the needed support.
Mr. CARTER (United States) said mitigating humanitarian distress in Haiti remained a priority of for his country. The United States supported efforts of the OAS and others to establish dialogue between the Government of Haiti and the opposition party. It also supported initiatives to address the human rights situation in the country. The United States was prepared to shortly table a resolution that include the views of United Nations "Friends of Haiti", as well as those of the OAS Friends of Haiti.
OUSSOU EDOUARD AHO-GLELE (Benin), speaking on behalf of the Group of Least Developed Countries, said any United Nations programmes and initiatives in Haiti should express a commitment to encourage assistance to populations and promote the fundamental principles of operational activities -- namely sovereignty and integrity. The long-term programme should be implemented without reservation or exception. Any resolution on the matter should make no reference to criteria or concepts aside from the programme itself. It should focus specifically on eliminating the plight of the people of Haiti and not be a blend of political initiatives that would only further complicate matters.
JULIO REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) supported the principle of gender mainstreaming in all the work of the United Nations system. If there had been any conference during the last decade, it had been Beijing that had prompted the most active participation by governments and other civil society actors. He expressed Cuba's support for efforts to improve the lives of the people of Haiti. At the same time, he cautioned against attempts to politicize those efforts.
He said Cuba was very interested in all efforts to address tobacco-related issues. He hoped there would be increased focus on the health matters related to tobacco, as well as alcohol. It was essential that, while making progress within the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, consideration should be given to the situations of tobacco producing countries in the third world. Integral solutions should be sought that would lead to progress on the health front, while at the same time addressing issues of poverty that might result from the elimination of jobs in developing countries that were producers of tobacco.
PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, thanked members for their positive assessment of the CEB report and the work of the system. He had noted the questions raised by the Council and assured members that their concerns would be addressed. On the issue of coordination in the finance area, two areas had been merged into a high level committee on management. That reform was intended to ensure the integrated treatment of the coordination of the personnel and finance areas. That reform paralleled other reforms taking place in the United Nations system.
BRIAN MOIR, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), said the FAO shared international concern over the harmful affects of tobacco smoking and supported measures to curtail smoking. The FAO had undertaken a number of studies on the various aspects of the global tobacco economy. Research was directed at identifying changes that might be expected in the tobacco industry in the current decade. The study considered the impact of effective tobacco control on the economies of tobacco-producing countries. Projections indicated that, with the continuation of present policies, global production and consumption would continue to grow. By 2010, tobacco consumption would amount to 7.1 million tonnes, compared to 6.5 million tonnes at the end of the 1990s.
If strong tobacco control measures were introduced, he said the impact would be felt by the economies of tobacco producing countries. The impact would depend on many factors, including the existence of alternative economic opportunities in agriculture or other sectors. Many farmers produced tobacco because it was the most remunerative crop for them. Some degree of adjustment away from tobacco production to other crops would become necessary to minimize economic losses if demand for tobacco weakened.
CARIN HAKANSTA, speaking on behalf of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said it was in the interest of all governments to use the workplace for education and raising awareness about smoking and other health-related issues. Because of the cost of employing smokers, it was also in the interest of employers to curb smoking at work. Those costs came from increased health costs, higher absentee rates, higher maintenance costs and a negative impact on insurance premiums and retirement funds.
Key principles for policy-makers should include: the right to a safe and healthy work environment; integration of occupational safety and health strategies into a common framework or management system; non-discrimination against workers on the basis of tobacco habits; universality of policies on smoking in workplaces; active participation of women in developing smoking policies; social dialogue on smoking policies between employers and workers; prevention of smoking in the workplace; and support to both non-smokers, and those who wished to quit smoking.
JOY DE BEYER, Tobacco Control Coordinator, World Bank, said that the Bank, along with the other United Nations agencies, especially the WHO, the FAO and the ILO, had listened carefully and taken seriously the concerns of many countries about whether tobacco control would cause a loss of jobs and livelihoods; cause hardship for the poor and increase smuggling, which deprived governments of much needed revenues.
She said studies that had been conducted confirmed earlier global evidence that most countries could reduce tobacco use, save lives and improve health, as well as increase government revenues. New jobs would be created in other sectors, offsetting the jobs lost in the tobacco sector. Smokers who quit or cut back in response to higher prices would enjoy longer, healthier lives, and be able to choose how to spend the 5 per cent or more of their expenditures on other goods and services, instead of spending it on tobacco products. Special measures may be necessary to help those countries -- such as Zimbabwe and Malawi -- that were highly vulnerable to falls in demand or falls in world tobacco prices and might be hurt if the world tobacco market declined. That sort of vulnerability, however, was not unique to tobacco, as it also affected many other primary commodities and related industries. Two important points to be borne in mind: the huge potential gains in health, productivity and life expectancy from reducing tobacco use; and the number of smokers and amount of tobacco used world-wide was rising, despite decades of intensifying tobacco-control efforts.
MOURAD WAHBA, UNDP, said the agency continued to be concerned with the follow-up to the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development. He believed that a review of support to development operations would be particularly helpful in that regard. He added that a presentation by the UNDP at the annual meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions would also be helpful. The UNDP strongly supported the idea of reporting to ECOSOC on its activities.
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