ACCESSIBILITY AT UNOG A A A A The United Nations in the Heart of Europe

ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL ADOPTS THREE RESOLUTIONS AND TAKES NOTE OF TWO REPORTS

26 July 2013

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this afternoon suspended its 2013 substantive session after adopting resolutions on follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020.  The Council took note of the appointment of 25 members to the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters and the report of the Council of the United Nations University on the work of the University.

The Council decided to continue negotiations on the draft Ministerial Declaration in October in New York with the goal of finding consensus on the text.

Nestor Osorio, President of the Economic and Social Council, in concluding remarks, highlighted key accomplishments of the session, starting with the High-Level Segment.  He emphasized the importance of the Council as a hub and platform for multi-stakeholder cooperation given increasing roles played by non-State actors.   During the Coordination Segment, the Council had considered how to gauge the impact of international agreements on sustainable development challenges.  The Operational Activities Segment had given Member States the opportunity to start a dialogue on the changing nature of development challenges.  The Humanitarian Affairs Segment considered the challenging humanitarian landscape, while the General Segment had brought a number of key concerns into sharper focus, and had also seen the establishment of the High-level Political Forum to replace the Commission on Sustainable Development. 

Navid Hanif, Director of ECOSOC Support and Coordination at the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in closing remarks on behalf of Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the resolutions adopted by the Council at this session would help shape development in the coming years.  The economic context continued to challenge efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, although there had been progress towards the Goals.  Important challenges remained and ECOSOC had the primary role in building a unified post-2015 development agenda. 

During a discussion on the draft Ministerial Declaration speakers outlined their positions and suggested reasons for the failure to reach consensus.  Most speakers agreed that a consensual outcome was very important not only for the substance of the Ministerial Declaration but also for the Economic and Social Council itself, and suggested that negotiations to find consensus on the outstanding paragraphs of the declaration continued in October in New York.  One delegation suggested that there were probably conclusions to be drawn on the working methods and reform of the Council. 

Speaking during the discussion on the draft Ministerial Declaration was Lithuania on behalf of the European Union, Fiji on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, Russia, New Zealand, Palestine, Sudan, Republic of Korea, Syria, Cuba, Egypt, Mexico, Unites States, Bolivia, Canada, Pakistan, Turkey, France, Germany and Japan.

Speaking in general comment were the Netherlands, Senegal and Kyrgyzstan.  Russia, Turkey and Benin also spoke during the adoption of the resolutions.

General Comments

Netherlands, regarding the vote on a resolution on support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations (E/2013/L.24), said that while the delegation had not been in a position to vote on this draft, it would have abstained and asked the President to take note of this in the report.

Senegal asked for the floor to make it clear that they would have voted in favour of the resolution on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (E/2013/27) and asked the Secretariat to take note of this.

Kyrgyzstan, regarding resolutions adopted yesterday, said that it would have supported the resolutions on support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialized agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations (E/2013/L.24), and on the situation of and assistance to Palestinian women (E/2013/27), if it had been present during the voting and asked the President to reflect this in the records.

Action on Texts

The Council took note of the note by the United Nations Secretary-General
on the appointment of 25 members to the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters (E/2013/9/Add.10).

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, said the membership of the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters was now fully constituted and the newly-appointed members would begin their term of office as of today and it would expire on 30 June 2017.

In a resolution on follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development (E/2013/L.33), the Council reaffirms the importance of staying fully engaged, nationally, regionally and internationally, in ensuring proper and effective follow-up to the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus of the International Conference on Financing for Development as reaffirmed in the Doha Declaration on Financing for Development, adopted by the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus,  and of continuing unremitting efforts to build bridges between all relevant stakeholders within the holistic agenda of the financing for development process; and requests the President of the Council, in close consultation with Member States, to continue close cooperation and dialogue with the relevant organizations and stakeholders on all the elements of the preparations for the special high-level meeting of the Council, in particular the date and agenda of the meeting of the following year, in order to seek a more interactive, dynamic and substantive discussion on key issues related to the financing for development framework.

In a resolution on the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (E/2013/L.30/Rev.1), the Council takes note of the report of the Secretary-General; and also takes note that initial discussions have been held between the Secretary-General and the Board of Trustees of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research to explore the implications of the proposed consolidation of some United Nations entities dedicated to research, training and knowledge services, including the Institute, and in this regard requests the Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly, within existing resources, a report on the ongoing consultations.

Russia drew attention to the fact the Russian text of draft resolution L.30/Rev. 1 was not in keeping with the English version and did not reflect the agreement achieved in the consultations.  The words ‘General Assembly’ did not appear in the final line of the Russian text version of the draft resolution.  Russia asked the Secretariat to amend the Russian text version.

The Council took note of the report of the Council of the United Nations University on the work of the University (E/2013/88).

In a resolution on the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020 (E/2013/L.21), as orally revised, the Council takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2011-2020; reaffirms the commitment to assist the least developed countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development, and also reaffirms the agreement to effectively implement the Istanbul Programme of Action and to fully integrate its priority areas into the framework for action contained in the outcome document, the broader implementation of which will contribute to the overarching goal of the Programme of Action of enabling half the least developed countries to meet the criteria for graduation by 2020; expresses its concern that the ongoing impact of the financial and economic crisis demonstrates the need for appropriate regional and international support to be deployed in a timely and targeted manner to complement the efforts of the least developed countries aimed at building resilience in the face of economic shocks and mitigating the effects of such shocks; and notes the efforts made by the least developed countries towards full employment and decent work for all, expresses its concern that, despite considerable efforts, those countries are yet to generate a sufficient number of decent jobs for their growing working-age populations, including because of the structural constraints of their economies, and in this regard encourages further action by the least developed countries to strengthen productive capacities, as outlined in the Istanbul Programme of Action, and recalls the commitments made by the development partners in the Programme of Action to provide, inter alia, enhanced financial and technical support to the least developed countries to develop productive capacities, in order to support the efforts of the least developed countries to achieve structural transformation and generate full and productive employment and decent work for all.

Turkey said that as facilitator, and taking into account the state of affairs over the draft Ministerial Declaration, it proposed amendments to the preambular paragraph 7 of draft resolution L.21 to be replaced with the following: “Noting that the theme of the 2013 annual ministerial review is ‘Science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals”.  Turkey stood ready to host a technology bank and a science, technology and innovation supporting mechanism dedicated to the Least Developed Countries. 

Benin said as President of the World Bureau of Least Developed Countries, Benin thanked the Presidency, China and all development partners for their diligence and flexibility regarding resolution L.21.  Thanks were particularly addressed to Turkey.  Benin looked forward to hoping that half of the Least Developed Countries would move forward into the middle income group by 2020. 

Discussion on Draft Ministerial Declaration

Lithuania, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the European Union would have liked to see an agreed Ministerial Declaration and saw no practical value in a non-consensual declaration, nor any political value in a non-consensual declaration, which would be unproductive.  The text put forward by the President could serve as a useful basis for further discussion and the European Union would not like to devalue this valuable outcome.

Fiji, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that the Group of 77 and China would like to commend the way the President had conducted the work of the Council and the extensive engagement of diplomats in an effort to achieve a consensual text.  The Group also thanked the facilitator of the consultations on the declaration and the Secretariat’s staff.  Regretting that the Council was not in the position to achieve a consensus on the Ministerial Declaration, the Group of 77 and China considered the declaration to be a significant text given the importance of its subject matter for sustainable development.  The Group also regretted that previously agreed language had been questioned by some and proposed to defer consideration of this agenda item until the resumed session of the Council in New York.  The Group considered the circulated text as a basis for negotiations and reiterated its right to call for a vote on the declaration in the future.  The Group of 77 and China thanked Switzerland for the hospitality and welcome extended to all delegations.

Russia thanked the Chairperson for his work on the intense and fruitful negotiation process on the draft Ministerial Declaration, and joining the request of previous delegations appealed to the Chairperson to continue the negotiations in order to achieve a consensus document which could be presented for adoption by consensus at the renewed session of ECOSOC. 

New Zealand said a consensual outcome was very important not only for the substance of the Ministerial Declaration but also for ECOSOC itself.  The Ministerial Declaration highlighted the importance of science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture, for promoting sustainable development and achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and a non-consensual Declaration could undermine that.  New Zealand would support more time needed to be taken for consultations in New York.

Palestine aligned itself with the statement made by Fiji on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and said regrettably, following an arduous process over the last four weeks, consensus had not been achieved on the Ministerial Declaration due to disagreement on critical paragraphs containing language that was adopted by consensus in the 2012 Ministerial Declaration.  Despite this, a handful of partners had gone back on the language they agreed only last year; this was an unprecedented move in ECOSOC which opened a dangerous precedent for the future. 

Although the paragraph represented the unshakeable position of the Group of 77 and China, the Palestinian delegation and the G77 and China had shown flexibility and proposed alternative language.  However, that gesture was rejected by the esteemed partners, thus bringing the Council to the current regrettable situation about which Palestine was seriously disappointed.  Palestine now supported the position of the 132 countries of the G77 and China which was to stick firmly to the position of maintaining the agreed language, and to discuss it further at the next substantive session of ECOSOC in October, in New York.  If agreement could not be reached, then Palestine would support a motion to hold a vote on the draft Ministerial Declaration.  A motion to vote would be an unsatisfactory but unnecessary gesture.  In order to avoid weakening the Ministerial Declaration, Palestine urged partners to accept the agreed paragraphs and join the majority of the world’s countries who supported it. 

Sudan saluted the efforts of the President to achieve consensus on the declaration and hoped that a consensus outcome could be achieved in New York.

Republic of Korea expressed appreciation for the efforts of the President to continue consultations on the Ministerial Declaration.  The declaration was an integral part of the Ministerial dialogue and the Republic of Korea hoped that a consensus could be found.

Syria expressed deep appreciation for the continuous efforts of all parties to bring the substantive session to a successful outcome.  Syria thanked all participants for the efforts which had led to the adoption of an important resolution.  Syria deeply regretted the failure to find an agreement on the draft Ministerial Declaration.  The Group of 77 and China had cooperated towards reaching a comprehensive declaration reflecting the views of Ministers.  In order to help bring a successful conclusion to this session, the Group of 77 and China had decided to allow for additional consultations but this did not mean that they would agree to undermine the wording, which would undermine their nations.  Syria reiterated that this constituted previously agreed language. 

Cuba fully aligned itself with the statement of Fiji on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.  It also underscored other serious issues.  Cuba said consensus could not be achieved because of opposition to two key paragraphs.  It was unconceivable that a small number of countries could take hostage an entire text on the basis that they did not like one or two paragraphs, particularly as they contained language that they agreed upon in 2012.  No weighty or convincing arguments justified the opposition to those paragraphs.  Cuba called on the opposing delegations to join the vast majority of countries which supported the language put by the G77 and China.  It was important that today’s meeting ended with an official document being put on the record. 

Egypt aligned itself with the statement of Fiji on behalf of the G77 and China.  Egypt noted that ECOSOC had resorted to voting on several resolutions regarding development, women, or certain regions, and even resolutions on the impact of the social and economic consequences of the Israeli occupation.  The lack of consensus was due to refusal to accept language that had formally been approved. 

Mexico thanked the President for the efforts made to try to find consensus and welcomed that agreement on 48 paragraphs had been achieved, which had been the result of intensive work.  Mexico hoped that consensus could be found on the remaining paragraphs and included in a final text.  There was not that much time available and it was important to ensure the inclusion of science and technology in the sustainable development agenda.

Unites States commented on the document circulated by the President regarding the draft Ministerial Declaration, which did not reflect a single proposal.  Since this text reflected conflictive proposals, it might not be appropriate to issue as an official document of the Council.  The United States was deeply committed to the issue of development and working with all partners to end poverty in the next generation.  The United States also remained committed to the Council, its characteristic pragmatism, spirit of collegiality, and solution-oriented discourse, and warned about detracting from this background.  The United States remained committed to constructive engagement in the Council and to finding consensus on this declaration in New York. 

Bolivia expressed support for the cause of its brotherly people in Palestine who were seeking their right to self-determination.  The debate showed trouble around paragraphs despite them being adopted by consensus last year.  This unconstructive and unhelpful spirit was being shown by a small number of countries who were fully aware that this concerned previously agreed language.  Bolivia had its own reservations about the inclusion of language about a ‘green economy’.

Canada recognized the important contribution of science, technology and innovation, and the potential of culture in achieving prosperity and providing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges, including health and agriculture.  Canada had participated in the negotiations on the Ministerial Declaration in good faith but was disappointed by what had taken place over the past four weeks and reserved its position.  It would continue to work for consensus. 

Pakistan complimented the President for the manner in which the work of the Council had been conducted and efforts to find consensus on a Ministerial Declaration.  Pakistan found it regrettable that the opposition from a minority to the inclusion of agreed language had prevented agreement on a comprehensive declaration.

Turkey hoped that a consensus could be found during the resumed session of the Council in New York.

France said as was the position of the European Union, it would continue to work in the spirit of consensus.  Colleagues in New York would be disappointed that the mature and well-considered text would not be adopted and to learn that there was still work to be done.  France looked at the positions of developing and developed countries, and hoped that areas of disagreement could be gotten around in order to achieve consensus.  There were probably conclusions to be drawn on the working methods and reform of ECOSOC, France added.

Germany aligned itself with the statement by Lithuania on behalf of the European Union and repeated that within the framework of an overall compromise it would be happy to see a consensual text.  Germany could see no practical or political use at all in a non-consensual outcome. 

Japan thanked the President for the efforts on the draft Ministerial Declaration and joined the request for continued discussions in New York.  Japan would like to see a consensual outcome achieved by the active participation of Member States.

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, thanked delegations for their kind words.  It had been because of the work of the delegations that progress had been achieved.  With great pleasures, Mr. Osorio agreed to the request to suspend this session, at least concerning the Ministerial Declaration, and to continue to work transparently and to spare not efforts.

Concluding Remarks

NAVID HANIF, Director of ECOSOC Support and Coordination, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, delivered closing remarks on behalf of Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the resolutions adopted by the Council at this session would help shape development in the coming years.  The economic context faced was complex and continued to challenge efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  Recovery from the financial crisis remained sluggish.  Employment gains were weak and employment remained a key challenge.  Countries faced major risks and uncertainties related to climate change and food security.  However in spite of that, there had been progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.  Extreme poverty was falling, the world had met the target of halving the proportion of people without access to safe water, parity in primary education between girls and boys had been achieved, access to treatment for people living with HIV had increased in all regions, and globally malaria deaths had declined. 

Important challenges remained.  Poverty was still widespread, inequality was on the rise, vulnerable employment had decreased only marginally, declines in maternal mortality were far from the 2015 target and hunger remained a key challenge.  The thematic discussion during the High-level Segment demonstrated that ECOSOC was well positioned to support the post-2015 development agenda.  It was not just the Council but the whole United Nations development agenda was on the cusp of change.  A unified development agenda with universal accountability required a seamless institutional architecture, and the Council had the primary role in streamlining that architecture.  In the final push to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda, the full weight and resources of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs would be with ECOSOC every step of the way. 

NESTOR OSORIO, President of the Economic and Social Council, said that much had been accomplished and highlighted some of the key moments of the session.  The High-level Segment had focused on science, technology, innovation and the potential of culture for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.  A strong message they heard was that ECOSOC must engage new development players.  Today the increasing number and roles played by non-State actors called for stronger partnerships and multi-stakeholder cooperation, and the Council should establish itself as a platform in this regard.  The Council was becoming a genuine hub for engaging with civil society organizations and stakeholders to discuss issues which were important to the international community.  The Innovation Fair and the launch of the Global Innovation Index had been important.  One recommendation put forward in the Implementation Forum was that the Council should establish a global database of innovation initiatives.  Mr. Osorio thanked France, Nigeria, Peru and Viet Nam for their inspiring national voluntary presentations.  Technological and environmental leapfrogging should be encouraged for sustainable development.  Regarding universal health coverage, the potential of new mobile and e-health technology had been emphasised. 

During the Coordination Segment, the Council had been reminded that international agreements needed to be effectively monitored in order to gauge their impact on challenges to sustainable development.  This year’s Operational Activities Segment had given Member States the opportunity to start a dialogue sooner, rather than later, on the changing nature of development challenges, and on overdue shifts in ways of doing business in the United Nations development system.  The Humanitarian Affairs Segment had built on the approach taken in the Secretary-General’s report to consider the current challenges of humanitarian action and to examine how collective efforts could be adapted and better respond to the challenging humanitarian landscape.  The General Segment had brought a sharper focus to a number of key concerns.  The Council should innovate in order to fulfil its role in the post-2015 context.  Mr. Osorio also welcomed the establishment of the High-level Political Forum, replacing the Commission on Sustainable Development.  In tandem with the process for the review of resolution 61/66 on the strengthening of the Council, several proposals were under discussion to streamline the Council’s agenda format and working methods, which would enhance the integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development and solidify ECOSOC’s standing as the premiere intergovernmental and multi-stakeholder forum.  Much ground had been covered this month, ideas should now be translated into concrete actions in the period ahead.       


For use of the information media; not an official record

ECOSOC13/038E


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