Press Releases

    ECOSOC/6232
    25 July 2006

    ECOSOC Discusses Israeli Occupation of Arab Territories, Regional Cooperation and Coordinating Questions

    Also Debates Implementation of Declaration on Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by Specialized Agencies

    NEW YORK, 24 July (UN Headquarters) -- The Economic and Social Council this morning discussed a number of issues including regional coordination; economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan; the implementation of the Declaration of the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies; international cooperation in the field of informatics and reports of coordination bodies.

    During the debate, the representative of Palestine said Israeli warplanes, tanks and navel gunships were firing death at Palestine and Lebanon.  The extensive killing of civilians and massive destruction of vital infrastructure by Israel had brought the region to the brink of a full-fledged war.  If the international community continued to be silent, the whole region would be plunged into more needless suffering with grave and far-reaching consequences for times to come.  The current Israeli internecine escalation in Palestine and Lebanon showed that Israel was not interested in peace.

    Also speaking was the representative of Israel who said that Gaza was freed; yet, Gaza waged war.  That revealed the true agenda of the Palestinians.  Gaza was free of occupation, and yet, it waged war, as this war had nothing to do with occupation as allegedly claimed: there was a consistent Palestinian effort to use violence as a means to scope political gains.  Israel was currently conducting a painful battle to protect the lives of its citizens.  Yet even in these extremely difficult times, Israel was doing its utmost to minimize hardship on the civilian population.

    Addressing the Council on the issue were the representatives of Malaysia; Japan; Lebanon; Finland, on behalf of the European Union; Cuba; Algeria; Australia; Indonesia; Venezuela; United States; Haiti; and Egypt.  The representative of World Health Organization (WHO) also spoke.

    The Council heard the introduction of a draft resolution entitled Economic and Social Repercussions of the Israeli Occupation on the Living Conditions of the Palestinian People in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, without taking any action.

    In other business, the Council heard reports on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, of the Secretary-General on international cooperation in the field of informatics; on the information and communication technologies task force; and reports of coordination bodies.

    Sarbuland Khan, Director, ESCOSCO Support and Coordination Division of DESA, in introducing the report of the Secretary-General on international cooperation in the field of information (E/2006/79) and on information and communication technologies task force (E/2006/63), said the reports aimed at enhancing the use of informatics throughout the United Nations system and the United Nations secretariat within the existing resources.

    Patrizio Civili, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, introducing the report of coordination bodies (E/2006/66), said that the work of the coordination bodies was at a turning point, evolving from a focus of self-assessment of the response of the United Nations system to the Millennium Declaration.

    Speakers in the debate included the representatives of the Russian Federation, Belarus, China, Finland on behalf of the European Union, the United States and Sri Lanka.

    Before adjourning its debate, the Council took note of the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2005/06 (E/2006/66), which provides an overview of major developments in inter-agency cooperation within the framework of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, during the period covering its fall 2005 and spring 2006 sessions.

    When the Council meets at 3 p.m., it will take up economic and environmental questions and, will continue its discussion with the issue of coordination.

    Statements on Regional Cooperation and on the Economic and Social Repercussions of the Israeli Occupation on the Living Conditions of the Palestinian People and Arab Population in the Occupied Territories

    IDHAM MUSA MOKTAR (Malaysia) said Malaysia was deeply concerned about the continuing deterioration of the situation in the Middle East.  The ongoing excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Israel had continued to cause extensive damage to properties, serious injuries and the loss of a great many civilian lives, including women and children.  The Israel military aggressions were being systematically executed by Israel in total disregard to international law, as well as international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.  The Israeli bombardment and wanton destruction of infrastructure, government buildings, water and power plans in the occupied Palestinian territory, arbitrary arrests and detention of democratically elected Palestinian Ministers, members of the Palestinians parliament and other Palestinian officials were indeed excessive, disproportionate and certainly deplorable.

    Today, hearts and minds must be with the people of Palestine at this difficult and traumatic time, as well as the Arab population of the occupied Syrian Golan who were living under the Israeli occupation.  And the world must not forget the plight of the people of Lebanon who had come under the Israeli military attacks.

    TADAYUKI MIYASHITA (Japan) said the role and leadership of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) was commended, as it had contributed to the socio-economic well-being of the region since its inception.  Japan would accelerate its efforts to integrate with the region.  The Council should support resolution L.17.

    NADA AL AKL (Lebanon) said on the issue of the Israeli occupation, the draft resolution expressed the sufferings of the Palestinian people, as a result of the occupation.  The new and continued aggression on the rights of the Palestinian people by Israel was causing untold harm.  Lebanon supported the Palestinian brothers.  The massacre that was taking place in Lebanon at the hands of Israel was levelling the people and properties of that country, with many thousands displaced.  Israel was using Lebanon as an experiment for its unlawful weapons, and was demolishing the people, properties and infrastructure, causing hunger and an economic blockade in full violation of international law, human rights and the right to life.  This murder would not solve the problem, but, would make it worse, causing greater threat to peace and security in the Middle East.  There should be an immediate cease of the attacks, and Israel should rebuild Lebanon.  Resolution L.17 should be adopted.

    JARL-HAKAN ROSENGREN (Finland), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union highly valued regional cooperation for economic and social development.  It supported the recent reform of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, and its result was positive.  The reform process was in line with the resources available to it.  The new governance structure allowed the decision-making process that had been changed to make it effective.  Once the reform was fully implemented the members of the Commission would benefit from it.  With regard to the Middle East situation, the deteriorating human rights situation and the loss of civilian population concerned the Union.  The Union believed that the parties should work for peace to bring lasting peace for the Palestinian people.

    MOHAMMAD ABU-KOASH (Palestine) said Israeli warplanes, tanks and navel gunship were firing death at Palestine and Lebanon.  The extensive killing of civilians and massive destruction of vital infrastructure by Israel had brought the region to the brink of a full-fledged war.  If the international community continued to be silent, the whole region would be plunged into more needless suffering with grave and far-reaching consequences for times to come.  The international community should act now to avert further Israeli-inflicted carnage.  Israel's current formidable aggressions were not a new phenomenon.  Israel had, for decades, practiced State terrorism against defenceless Palestinians and other Arab civilians, killing children, demolishing homes, levelling agricultural land, grabbing land by force, building illegal settlements, and destroying public and private property.

    The ongoing Israeli military attacks on the occupied Palestinian territory had led to the killing of more than 100 civilians in less than three weeks; half of them were children.  Continued Israeli raids had also sustained a great number of serious injuries among the population.  In addition, the Israel incursion into northern Gaza and its air strikes against other areas of the Gaza Strip had caused colossal destruction in public infrastructure and Palestinian institutions, including the only power plant, water networks, bridges, schools and ministries including the Ministry of Economy.  In the amidst of all that suffering, Palestinians had been impoverished due to the Israel's unlawful withholding of Palestinian tax revenues and the severance of external aid following the election.  The current Israeli internecine escalation in Palestine and Lebanon showed that Israel was not interested in peace.

    OSCAR LEON GONZALEZ (Cuba) said with regards to the impact of the occupation on the Palestinian people, Cuba rejected the escalation of the military campaign engaged in by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories, and also in Lebanon, and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people and those of Lebanon who were suffering this aggression.  The international community had never recognised the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people, and there had been a trampling of humanitarian rights by the occupying power.   Selective assassinations, killing, blocking borders, torturing detainees, the indiscriminate use of force and collective punishments had become commonplace in the Syrian Golan and in Lebanon, ignoring the repeated statements of the international community.  International law had been trampled on, as had been international humanitarian law and human rights themselves.

    This was a high-scale military campaign in the occupied territories, with the violation of Syrian airspace and the incessant bombing on heavily populated civilian areas.  Essential services such as water and electricity had been cut off, and these were reason for deep concern.  These activities were rejected, and the international community should act quickly to bring to an end these acts of barbarism and the massacre of the civilian population.  There should be swift humanitarian action to relieve the people, with a free movement of convoys and the protection of transport, including ambulances.  Israel was once more committing criminal activity against the Palestinian people.  The international community should call for the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.  There should be a stop to these terrorist activities, and respect for human rights.  The resolution should be adopted overwhelmingly.

    IDRISS JAZAÏRY (Algeria) said concerning the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation, the report of the Secretary-General had been presented, and had pictured the situation in Palestine and Lebanon.  The inhuman practices by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories, and the isolation of these territories from the world were a prejudice to the dignity and very life of the Palestinian people.  These territories were like ghettoes, with Israel levelling the lives and economy of the Palestinian people, exploiting all natural and human resources.  The apartheid wall continued to be built, in total disregard of the legal opinion handed down by the ICJ, and the relevant institutions that had spoken with regards to the illegality of the wall. The Palestinians underwent discrimination in all walks of life, as well as abductions and continuing displacement.  In the occupied Syrian Golan, the occupying authorities continued to exploit the riches of the region, and dumped toxic waste.

    The policies and practices of the occupying authority were a collective punishment of the Palestinian people, and what they were undergoing was unacceptable, be it legally, politically or morally.  It was a scene of continuous wide-spread killing of Palestinians, with a continuing siege, undermining all infrastructures, including water and electricity, as well as mosques.  Israel blocked the work of the ICRC and the movement of ambulances, to thank the international community for the resolution taken recently with regards to the resolution accepting Israeli membership to the ICRC.  The barbaric attack and comprehensive destruction in Lebanon and the use of internationally prohibited weapons by Israeli armed forces were further evidence of the barbarity of Israel and the flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.  Resolution L.17 should be adopted by consensus.

    ROBYN MUDIE (Australia) said Australia was concerned by the one-sided nature of the draft resolution, L. 17.  The singling out of one side only for blame in a complex situation was unhelpful and would do nothing to advance the cause of peace in the region.  Australia was strongly committed to efforts to provide direct, practical assistance to the Palestinian people, without supporting Hamas.  In 2005-06, Australia had allocated 16 million dollars to the people through the UN and NGOs.  Australia also recognized that real improvements to the economic and social conditions in the Palestinian territory would remain difficult without the commitment of all parties to a comprehensive, negotiated settlement of the conflict that recognized Israel's right to exist and the Palestinian people's right to an independent State.

    GUSTI AGUNG WESAKA PUJA (Indonesia) said the Indonesian delegation would like to convey its grave concern about the latest spate of developments in Gaza.  Most countries viewed them as extremely disturbing.   The report had described how the Palestinian people were suffering from the Israeli use of force in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Israeli army was inflicting heavy destruction to the infrastructure in addition to the killings and wounding of the civilian population. The human rights situation had been deteriorated because of the Israeli actions, which were in defiance of international law.  The disproportionate measures taken against Palestinians had resulted in the destruction of the infrastructure of Palestine; Israel had destroyed the only power station, thus leaving the people to live in darkness.  Indonesia fully supported the draft resolution L.17 and urged other delegations to do the same.

    RAQUEL ALEXANDRA POITEVIEN CABRAL (Venezuela) said that all peoples had the right to define their political conditions without interference, to provide for economic and social development, and to maintain their territorial integrity in compliance with the United Nations.  The Palestinian people had the right to self-determination, and it should be remembered that the PLO was recognised by Venezuela in 1988 as the only representative of the Palestinian people.  An independent Palestinian State should be established, allowing the people to enjoy the inalienable right of self-determination within safe and recognised borders.  The international community was facing a serious situation.  The resolution examined economic and social conditions that were the result of the Israeli occupation, and had an effect on the lives of the Palestinian people in East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan. 

    Venezuela supported the rights of the Palestinian people wholeheartedly, and wished the international community to take note of the situation faced by women, children, and the elderly in the occupied Palestinian territories.  Venezuela totally rejected the war and military activities engaged in by Israel in the Palestine territory.  A halt should be brought to these, as well as to the economic and financial blockade, and Israel should withdraw from the territories.  The Security Council had its hands tied, and could not act due to a veto.  There should be thought of the reform of the Security Council, since in its present form, it could not attain the goal of keeping peace.  Venezuela was fully in favour of the draft resolution L.17 which should be adopted by consensus.

    ITZHAK LEVANON (Israel) said Gaza was freed; yet Gaza waged war.  This revealed the true agenda of the Palestinians.  The report of the Council covered the period of one year starting from 2005, the same year that Israel completely disengaged from Gaza; the first Palestinian territory in history to be fully in the hands of the Palestinians.  Gaza was free of occupation, and yet it waged war, as this war had nothing to do with occupation as allegedly claimed: there was a consistent Palestinian effort to use violence as a means to scope political gains.  Israel was currently conducting a painful battle to protect the lives of its citizens.  Yet even in these extremely difficult times, Israel was doing its utmost to minimise hardship on the civilian population and to ensure that humanitarian organizations were able to conduct their activity as smoothly as possible.

    Considering the actual circumstances, the debate on the report seemed misplaced, and the scope had been narrowly set with the intention of discrediting Israel.  The Council should refrain from considering reports framed in language that was biased to one side of the conflict.  It took the Palestinian socio-economic situation out of context, and ignored the campaign of terror perpetrated against Israeli civilians.  The focus was deliberately diverted from burning humanitarian situations that required help.  Thanks to Hamas, and now Hizbullah, Palestinians were dying, Lebanese were dying, and Israelis were dying.  One more resolution would not help in assisting the Palestinian people; the accumulation of such resolutions would not bring the Palestinians closer to their aspirations.

    TERRY MILLER (United States) said that the United States strongly supported the reform of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe /UNECE) and the reform provided a bottom-up process in decision-making.  Beyond being politicized, the report on the Middle East provided materials from various sources.  The report did not mention the number of Palestinians living beyond the fence built by Israel.  One-sided documents like this would not allow the United Nations to procure peace to the region.  The draft resolution to be introduced in the Council and the report did not reflect the wish to bring a peaceful solution to the region.  They failed to mention the actions and inaction of the Palestinian people.

    The unbalanced debate in the Council would not help bring peace in the region.  The G-8 statement supported the existence of two States living in peace.  The United Sates had announced in May that it would provide food and medicine worth $ 10 million for the Palestinians.  Both sides should work together to establish peace and security in the region.

    LEO MERORES (Haiti) said, on regional cooperation, the very important role played by the regional commissions for developing countries and for the least-developed countries was appreciated.  A close understanding of the problems and challenges facing the economies of the developing countries was a contributing factor to the important role of the regional commissions, which should be noted with satisfaction.  Following the establishment of a democratic regime, both the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Organization of American States (OAS) had contributed to the stabilisation of the country, helping the Government in efforts to this end.  The important role played by the regional commissions was appreciated.

    KHALID SHIBIB (World Health Organization) said the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially in the Gaza Strip, was continuously deteriorating due to military activities and movement restriction.  Should the crisis continue, the Palestinian health system would further deteriorate and services would be disrupted, with grave consequences to the health of the Palestinian people.  WHO's work in the occupied Palestinian territories comprised three components of assistance: support to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency; a regular budget programme for supporting key developments in public health; and a humanitarian health component within the revised Consolidated Appeal Process.  The international community had recently formulated a plan of action under the umbrella of the Quartet, which was still being operationalized.  It was important, however, to ensure that essential public health functions and delivery of critical health services were not compromised in the meantime.  The WHO was planning to scale up its technical presence for better coordination and advocacy, and to sustain the delivery of essential health services and programmes through supporting the basic public health functions, provision of vaccines, consumables, essential supplies and response to other urgent needs.

    SAMEH SHOUKRY (Egypt) said the situation in the Middle East had negative social and economic impacts on the living conditions of the Palestinian and Syrian populations in the occupied territories.  The continued occupation of the Palestinian territory by Israel had had a devastating effect on the living conditions of the people.  Their suffering had continued as the occupation was continuing. The disproportionate measures and the siege by the Israeli army had worsened the conditions of the Palestinian population. The blockade and restriction of movement of the Palestinian people had gravely affected their economic and social living conditions.  The confiscation of Palestinian land was against all international laws and other humanitarian norms.  The escalation of the military attacks against the Palestinian people had not only worsened the livelihood of the people but had badly affected the agricultural activities of the people. 

    Assistance to the Palestinian people had been considerably decreased and the international community should now react to help the people.  The Council should adopt a very strong resolution with the view to end the siege of the Palestinians.  The Israeli occupying power was also discriminatorily treating Syrians in the occupied Golan Heights.  The international community should also act in order to help the Palestinian people and to force the Israeli army to end its blockade.  The rights of the Palestinian people to their resources should be reserved.  The international community should further make efforts to end the heinous occupation by Israel.

    KAZI AFZALUR RAHMAN, Chief of the Regional Commissions New York Office, said first, on regional cooperation, the delegations had expressed very effective and interesting opinions on the work of the regional commissions.  The Council was to be assured that all the regional commissions were undergoing a reform process.  In the exercise that had been going on, there was increasing synergy, with work done in a more complementary manner, with increased cooperation between the agencies of the United Nations system and other regional and sub-regional organizations in the respective regions.  Some of the delegations had put emphasis on trying to build inter-regional cooperation.  This was an increasingly important dimension.  An increased effort had been made to cooperate between the Commissions, and this took various forms. In the 1980s, an effort had been made to increase regional cooperation, but there had been no funding.  Today there was funding, and this was increasing, with the aim of attaining the Millennium Development Goals and other development objectives.

    On the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people, the discussion had been very wide-ranging.  The production of the document had involved a number of United Nations organizations and other organizations that worked in the occupied Palestinian territories.  There was a real aggravation of the situation and the people were suffering from its consequences, and this should be of concern for all.

    Documents on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples

    A letter dated 16 May 2006 from the Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (E/2006/75) contains the Plan of Implementation of the Decolonization Mandate 2006-2007, which  serves to update the previous document for the period 2005-06 following extensive consultations with Member States and senior officials of the U.N. Secretariat.  It is important to note that the accelerated implementation of the self-determination and decolonization mandate of the United Nations is in furtherance of the promotion of democratic governance and the universal realization of human rights.  In this connection, the major human rights conventions, particularly the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, all contain commitments to promote the right to self-determination among peoples.

    A report of the Secretary-General (E/2006/72) on assistance to the Palestinian people says the year under review was marked by the implementation of Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, the attainment of an Agreement on Movement and Access which was only partly implemented, ongoing violence claiming innocent lives on both sides, the continuation of a tight closure policy by the Israeli authorities, the incapacitation of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and legislative elections both in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territory.  Following the Hamas victory, many donors undertook a review of their assistance policy to the Palestinian Authority, in the context of the principles spelled out by the Middle East Quartet in its statement of 30 January 2006. The Government of Israel also decided to withhold the payment of the taxes and duties collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.  The latter is consequently facing an acute fiscal crisis, which risks further exacerbating an already precarious economic and social situation in the occupied Palestinian territory.

    A report of the President of the Council on consultations with the Special Committee with regard to the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (E/2006/47) says that at its substantive session of 2005, the Economic and Social Council adopted resolution 2005/49 of 27 July 2005 on the implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples by the specialized agencies and the international institutions associated with the United Nations, in which it requested the President of the Council to continue to maintain close contact with the Chairman of the Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples on the matters contained in that resolution and to report thereon to the Council.  Information submitted by the specialized agencies and the international organizations associated with the United Nations on their activities in relation to Non-Self-Governing Territories is set out in the report.

    Statement on Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples

    RODOLFO BENITEZ VERSON, Representative of the Special Committee on Decolonization, said on the subject of assistance to the Non-Self Governing Territories by the specialised agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations, the Special Committee on Decolonization considered this agenda item of the utmost importance to the people of the non self-governing territories, given that they could benefit considerably from cooperation with the United Nations and its institutions.  Thus, the successful implementation of the actions called for in the resolutions adopted by the Council and the General Assembly under this item would assist the territories significantly in the development of their capacity to assume the responsibilities of self-government.  A number of specialised agencies and institutions of the United Nations system included the territories in the projects within their respective mandates and had in place mechanisms to foster their participation in their programmes and activities.  Such participation provided for an important additional level of integration of the territories in the international development process. 

    The draft resolution under this item, which would be presented shortly and was contained in document E/2006/L.27, reaffirmed the recognition by the United Nations organs of the legitimacy of the aspirations of the peoples of the territories to exercise their right to self-determination.  The draft also recognised that this right entailed, as a corollary, the extension of all appropriate assistance to the people of those territories.  The Special Committee on Decolonisation was ready to continue its fruitful cooperation with the Council with a view to assisting the non self-governing territories to achieve future progress in their economic and social development, and to bring them closer to the ultimate objective of the total completion of the decolonisation process.

    Documents on Coordination, Programme and Other Questions on International Cooperation in the Field of Informatics and the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force

    A report of the Secretary-General (E/2006/79) on international cooperation in the field of informatics highlights the continuing cooperation of the working group in Informatics and the Secretariat, resulting in practical enhancements in the area of technology that facilitate the work of Member States and Observers of the United Nations, as well as of non-governmental organizations accredited to the United Nations. The Working Group has continued to collaborate closely with the Secretariat to direct its existing resources in practical ways that best meet the needs of Member States with regard to everyday use of information technology in accomplishing the work of the diplomatic community associated with the United Nations.

    A note by the Secretary-General (E/2006/53) contains the fourth annual report of the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, as requested in the report of the Secretary-General (E/2001/7) prepared as a follow-up to Council resolution 2000/29.  In its fourth year, the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force, through its core activities, working groups and regional nodes, made a substantive contribution to the preparations for the Tunis phase of the World Summit on the Information Society by sponsoring several regional meetings, organizing a series of global forums, producing several publications and participating actively in events organized by other stakeholders; organized three high-level round tables linking information and communication technology (ICT) with science and technology and the Millennium Development Goals; and provided substantial input to the Partnership on Measuring ICT for Development through the working group on ICT indicators and Millennium Development Goals mapping.

    While the mandate of the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force expired at the end of 2005, the task of harnessing the potential of ICT for advancing development is not finished. The global alliance for ICT and development was recently approved by the Secretary-General, and its mission will be to facilitate and promote further integration of ICT with development activities, thus contributing to linking the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society with the broader United Nations development agenda.  The alliance will build on and advance the work of past initiatives such as the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force as well as the experience of the World Summit on the Information Society process in addressing core issues related to the role of information and communication technology in economic development and eradication of poverty and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.

    Statements on Coordination, Programme and Other Questions on International Cooperation in the Field of Informatics and the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force

    SARBULAND KHAN, Director, ECOSCO Support and Coordination Division of DESA, in introducing the report of the Secretary-General on international cooperation in the field of information (E/2006/79) and on information and communication technologies task force (E/2006/63), said that international cooperation in the field of informatics had been developed under the ambassador of Malta.  In addition, an ad hoc group consisting of members of the Council had been working with the UN Secretariat.  The report aimed at enhancing the use of informatics throughout the UN system and the UN secretariat within the existing resources.  A new working group had introduced networks in which wireless informatics had been used.  The group had developed greater cooperation among States in matters of informatics.  The process that had been going on for many years would give a wider picture on how the reform of the UN would fit to it.

    The information and communication task force had been a model for the full participation of the public and civil society.  The task force was a non-negotiating body and was represented by policy makers of governments.  It focused on the use of IT in various sectors at the national level, such as health and education.  The aim of the Geneva and Tunis agenda was to bring the private sector together to attain the goals set in the Summit outcome of Tunis.  The IT was aimed at serving developing countries, small and big, without the UN deploying a big resource.  The task force for technology lasted only for four years and during its function had brought together the civil society to fully participate in promoting the new technology.  It was also hoped that with the promotion of the new technology the UN would be able to function by using the new information and communication technologies.

    A.A. PETROV (Russian Federation) said the reports were very interesting, and the efforts of the Special Working Group on Informatics were supported, in particular with regards to support to the work of United Nations Member States.  Such activities had had very positive results, and advantage had been taken of various programmes including the Wi-Fi stations and wireless capacities.  All United Nations buildings and regional centres should be given such systems.  The United Nations should facilitate the work of diplomatic representations and ensure real coordination with the Secretariat.

    Work should be continued on teaching diplomatic representatives how to make use of cutting-edge ICT.  On the renewal of the ICT network of the United Nations, the mandate of the Working Group was endorsed for the upcoming year.  The work of the ICT Taskforce was appreciated, and their work to hold the Geneva and Tunis stages of the World Summit on the International Society commended, as well as the holding of round tables on science, technology, and innovation.  The work of this group would be carried out in the global analysis of ICT, and this would take place in Kuala Lumpur, and aid the delegations to implement the decisions of the World Summit.

    ANDREI TRIBUSH (Belarus) said the delegation of Belarus attached great importance to the role of the Information and Communication Technologies Task Force in attaining the Millennium Development Gaols.   He believed that the expansion of the IT would help countries in enhancing their national strategies in information technologies.  Inter-state cooperation in providing technologies and the implementation of a national strategy in the field of ICT would be vital.  Belarus had contributed to the development of ICT and would continue its efforts in doing so.

    LILI ZHONGXIN (China) said on international cooperation in informatics, the ad-hoc Working Group had carried out, since its inception, much work with concrete results, including wi-fi in the United Nations building, new electronic plugs and informative panels, and a website with information for delegates, as well as universal access to the ODS.  The work to carry out the Working Group's mandate was appreciated.  On the ICT Taskforce, in order to carry out its mandate, it had made particular progress.  China had always supported the work of the Taskforce.  It was hoped the Global Alliance would become a platform for multilateral dialogue among stakeholders, contribute to cooperation, and bridge the digital divide, so as to increase the progress towards the information and communication technology.

    ULLA-MAIJA FINSKAS (Finland), speaking for the European Union, said the Taskforce had had considerable success, and this demonstrated the necessity of full participation of all stakeholders in implementation of the World Summit on the Information Society outcomes.

    JASON N. LAWRENCE (United States) said the work to maximise the effectiveness of the Council had been significantly contributed to by the work of the Working Group on ICT, and the Council could continue to enhancing the work of all delegations through ICT.  The Taskforce should be thanked for its work and its contributions to harnessing the potential of ICT for development.  The Taskforce had effectively addressed its mandate, and a successor body created in the Global Alliance for ICT and Development.  New bodies should not proliferate, however, and existing bodies should be minimised, in order to increase digital opportunities for all.

    Document on Coordination, Programme and Other Questions, on Reports of Coordination Bodies

    The annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination for 2005/06 (E/2006/66) provides an overview of major developments in inter-agency cooperation within the framework of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), during the period covering its fall 2005 and spring 2006 sessions.  During that period, the preparations for the 2005 World Summit and the follow-up to its Outcome provided the main focus for the work of the Board, and that of its High-level Committees. Their contribution to the preparatory process culminated in the publication One United Nations: Catalyst for Progress and Change -- How the Millennium Declaration is Changing the Way the United Nations System Works, which, in reviewing progress in implementing the Millennium Declaration, also charts the way forward for the United Nations system.

    United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination, through the High-level Committee on Programmes (HLCP) and the High-level Committee on Management (HLCM), also addressed the cross-cutting issues of gender mainstreaming and knowledge management. In the programme area, priority issues for inter-agency attention included employment, migration and the system's support to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, as well as follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society. In the area of management and administration, efforts focused on ensuring the safety and security of United Nations system personnel, promoting transparency and accountability as principles of good governance, better employing information and communications technologies in management and operations, enhancing the financial and human resources management and coordinating the United Nations system response to the threat of the avian influenza.

    Statements on Coordination, Programme and Other Questions, on Report of Coordination Bodies

    PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, introducing the report of coordination bodies (E/2006/66), said that the report spoke of the many issues that had been under active discussion at the segments of the Council.  The work of the coordination bodies was at a turning point, evolving from a focus of self-assessment of the response of the UN system to the Millennium Declaration. The Presidency of the Council commended last year the significant progress in terms of renewed sense of common purpose around and across the different objectives and goals of the Millennium Declaration.  The coherence of the coordinating bodies had deepened the positive change in the UN system.  They should shape the process of cooperation and the way the meetings were reorganized.  The dialogue in the Council should contribute to a better coordination in order to achieve the internationally agreed development goals.

    TERRY MILLER (United States) said a lot was said about coordination and effectiveness, and about the reform of the Council and finding ways of making it more effective, and it seemed that the Council's lack of attention to this item of the agenda lay at the core of why the Council was viewed as a weak and inconsequential organ within the United Nations system.  A lot of documents had been put before the Council on this agenda item, and the speaker doubted that many, if any, in the room, had read them.  But if the Council was to exercise its collective responsibility to oversee the management of the economic and social areas of the Secretariat and to ensure that all the subordinate bodies and mechanisms of the system, then the Council would have to find a way of getting into the details of the documents which were provided, but which it did not spend much time considering.  This was an item which was very important, and the speaker hoped that the Council would find a way of paying more attention to it in the coming year.

    SARBULAND KHAN, Director of the ECOSOC Support and Coordination Division of DESA, said that this was a very important issue, that it was true that the Council was not able to, for many reasons, address this fundamental aspect of coordination responsibilities.  Every year, the Council spent no more than 30 minutes on addressing the documents, and this was one of the issues, apart from the broader reasons that could exist on how to deal with this, that if such an important issue was put at the end of the substantive session, with ten other important items, then delegations were overwhelmed with documentation and such a long period, that they could pay no attention to it, due to lack of time and due to the way the agenda was organised.  The Secretariat produced an assessment of how the Council had functioned every year, and the President of the Council produced recommendations on how to deal with the Council's responsibilities over the year.

    The Council was really not in a position to address such issues as part of a long one-month session.  There was a focal point of the coordination segment: the first three days after the high-level segment, during which all coordination issues should be addressed, and this proposal had been repeatedly made to the Council in the reports of the Secretary-General on how to deal with the coordination issues.  Many recommendations had been made and ignored, and it was time, in this year of reform, for the issue to be dealt with.  It was time for the Council to come to grips with and focus on this issue seriously, and thus the Council would have a full picture of what its coordination responsibilities were.

    SARALA FERNANDO (Sri Lanka) said the delegation of Sri Lanka had seen the document and it should be handled in an appropriate manner.  She asked if delegations could read the document in a more meaningful manner.  She suggested making shorter versions so that delegations would read it in a meaningful way.

    PATRIZIO CIVILI, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs, said there should be a distinction between the CBE annual report, which tried to capture policy elements, and the Secretary-General's reports over the years.  The Secretariat had been making suggestions that the report should be given the attention that it deserved were it to be taken up in the coordination segment of the Council, after the high-level segment, and greater detail could be seen as to how the system was working.  The United Nations Secretariat and other parts of the United Nations were covered by the United Nations programme budget.  There was a medium-term plan for the development of the Council.  With regard to the functional commissions, they had been asked to comment on the plan, and on the direction of the work in the economic and social area.  The document was prepared under certain guidelines, and was not prepared ad-hoc for the Council, but this did not mean that the Secretariat could not provide a summary of the contents of the argument, and would draw attention to certain elements.

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