(New York, November 11, 2013)
His Excellency Néstor Osorio President of the Economic and Social Council
Introduction of the Economic and Social Council report to the General Assembly
His Excellency John Ashe, President of the 68th Session of the General Assembly,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour and pleasure to address the General Assembly and to introduce the 2013 Report of the Economic and Social Council.
2013 was indeed a year of great significance for ECOSOC. The General Assembly's review of resolution 61/16 on the strengthening of ECOSOC formed a backdrop to the Council's work throughout the year. The Special ECOSOC Ministerial Meeting of September 2012 contributed substantive guidance to this strategic re-thinking.
The culmination of these efforts was the adoption of General Assembly resolution 68/1, which has brought about the most far reaching reform of the Council since 1991. Implementing the provisions of resolution 68/1 is a top priority of the Council, which is continuing its own efforts to further strengthen the Council and its operating system.
Against this background, during 2013 the Council addressed several ways to improve its contribution to development. In particular, the Council focused on conceptualizing its role and contribution to the post-2015 framework, including envisaging its potential role in monitoring and overseeing implementation.
The Council also devoted its attention to making itself 'fit for purpose' by improving its working methods and oversight of subsidiary bodies. It also worked to improve its interaction with the Peacebuilding Commission and the General Assembly's Second and Third Committees.
The Council will continue addressing substantive themes under the perspective of sustainable development, as was the case of the Annual Ministerial Review theme of science, technology and innovation and the role of culture, and of productive capacity, employment and decent work.
The Council will also continue to deepen the dialogue on international cooperation to promote greater accountability.
Allow me to now briefly highlight the Council's main broad accomplishments. The Council's 2013 High-level Segment that was held in Geneva in July counted with an outstanding level of engagement. The Annual Ministerial Review (AMR) brought together a broad range of stakeholders and helped amplify the United Nations's development agenda. The focus of the Review was on science, technology, innovation (STI) and the potential of culture for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.
I wish to commend the Governments of France, Nigeria, Peru and Viet Nam on their invaluable National Voluntary Presentations. They provided rich information on country success factors and experiences. The National Voluntary Presentations have grown into a vital platform for sharing best practices and lessons learned at the national level. I want to report that in the Ministerial Declaration there 50 paragraphs of which 48 have already been agreed and I continue the facilitation work for the 2 paragraphs pending. The delegations have asked me more time to reach an agreement and, with your approval, I think I should grant it, considering that is of great importance to reach a statement.
Regarding the Ministerial Declaration, as you all know, 48 of the 50 paragraphs of the Declaration have been agreed to. I am still holding consultations to reach an agreement on the two paragraphs left. I have been requested more time by some delegations, and I will grant this time. The Declaration is of the outmost importance, and so I will continue striving to reach an agreement on the two paragraphs left.
During the Coordination Segment, we were reiterated that international agreements need to be effectively monitored in order to gauge their levels of implementation and promotion of sustainable development. As part of these efforts, we focused on the follow-up to last year's Ministerial Declaration on productive capacity, employment and decent work, and on Financing for Development.
This year's Operational Activities Segment gave Member States the opportunity to start a dialogue on the changing nature of commitments which involves promoting development and overdue shifts in ways of doing business in the UN development system. The UN must deliver on the MDGs and on a post-2015 sustainable development framework.
While participants were generally encouraged by the progress made in the early implementation of the resolution on the 2012 QCPR, Member States want to see action stepped up by the UN system in several areas, including:
€ Strengthening national institutions and capacities;
€ Simplifying and harmonizing business practices and reporting;
€ Implementing fully the delivering-as-one approach;
€ Reducing unnecessary competition for funds at the country level; and
€ Reviewing the role of the UN resident coordinator.
The 2013 Humanitarian Affairs Segment examined how we, collectively - as the UN, governments, the private sector, affected communities, and other new actors, such as the volunteer community - can adapt and better respond to the changing humanitarian landscape. This helped propel the dialogue toward the World Humanitarian Summit in 2015.
This year's General Segment brought a sharper focus to a number of key concerns, including the implementation of the 10 Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production, mandated by Rio+20, reasserting the Council's role in sustainable development issues.
On the interface between peace and security, the Council considered lessons learned related to the transition of some African countries emerging from conflict, drawing upon lessons from different cases, and among them, South Sudan. Haiti remained central to our focus. We reviewed tangible progress and obstacles prevailing, and extended the mandate of the Ad Hoc Advisory Group. In doing so, the Council has marked the necessary scope for deepening its relationship with the Peacebuilding Commission.
During the Council's thematic debate, and as its contribution to the President of the General Assembly's Special Event on the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda, held in September, there was a widely shared view that the post-2015 development agenda should build on the Millennium Development Goals with sustainable development at its core. Part of this effort would need to promote the integration of environmental, economic and social affairs, rather than dealing with them as silos.
The Council also stressed that the global partnership for development needs to be renewed to support the new development agenda, and needs to be accompanied by sufficient financial support. There was a clear message on the need for an effective accountability and monitoring framework at all levels to ensure that the post-2015 agenda leads to tangible and concrete results.
To support the new post-2015 development agenda effectively, the United Nations, as an organization, needs to ensure that it has the conditions and the competence to carry out its work.
The United Nations will need to continue to strengthen its role in improving global dialogue and policy making. It will need to streamline the work of the UN system both vertically and horizontally, especially in setting new global norms and standards. And it will need to deepen its operational oversight role and the linkages between the normative and operational aspects of development.
I believe that with the reform approved by this Assembly, the Council is prepared to assume its rightful responsibilities and perform these functions.
The Council also welcomes the decision to convene the recently established High-level Political Forum under the auspices of ECOSOC to advance sustainable development and deepen the Council's role in being a platform for sustainable development and in integrating its three dimensions.
With this new intergovernmental architecture, the General Assembly, ECOSOC and the High-level Political Forum are well positioned to contribute to monitoring and global accountability in the post-2015 era.
Implementing the provisions of the newly adopted resolution 68/1 will be a priority for the Economic and Social Council, while continuing to address progress in the MDGs and helping to shape the post-2015 agenda.
All retaining their essential function of responding to the issues and concerns of countries in special situations. On this, the Council remains fully committed.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I wish to conclude by stating that our collective relevance and our ability to guide the international community and States on the path to a more balanced and more inclusive development, is a historic compromise that requires from us a coherent and coordinated multilateral action. Before us is a historic opportunity of great dimensions, to which we must respond by agreeing on policies conducive to the sustainable development we advocate, for the planet to be better preserved and for humanity to live in better conditions.