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ECOSOC looks to boost role as UN's leading development forum

ECOSOC looks to boost role as UN's leading development forum

Louise Fréchette
A strong and effective Economic and Social Council is essential for the United Nations to be able to play a leading role in helping the people of the world achieve a better future, Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette said today as the Council began a discussion on how to strengthen ECOSOC, as it is known, and follow up recent UN conferences.

"Our aim must be to make ECOSOC the UN system's leading development forum, a place where thinkers, policy-makers and practitioners can come together and provide intellectual leadership in development policy," Ms. Fréchette said in a statement to the opening of the Council's coordination segment.

"It must ensure that actions taken by the various parts of the UN system are properly sequenced, coordinated and mutually reinforcing so as to maximize overall progress," she stressed. "Through its various segments, ECOSOC has a unique capacity to orient and affect not only the analytical work of the system but also its operational activities for development and its humanitarian work."

The Deputy Secretary-General noted that making an effective contribution towards realizing the goals set at the various UN conferences would test the Council's capacity to achieve policy coherence, monitor progress and guide the work of the UN system. That was by no means an easy task, she said, since "we are dealing with a complex set of inter-connected issues and a broad range of actors."

The follow-up must be done in an integrated fashion, as the Council had decided, Ms. Fréchette said, lest the interconnections were lost and the sum became less than the parts. That was why ECOSOC and the UN Secretariat must continue to improve their approach and method of work.

"In recent years, ECOSOC has taken on new life, and is being rediscovered for the potential it offers as a catalyst for enlightened policy and creative partnership," Ms. Fréchette said. "Let us do our utmost so that this revitalization continues, so that ECOSOC and the United Nations in the broadest sense can better serve the world's peoples."

For his part, ECOSOC President Ambassador Ivan Šimonovic of Croatia said the Council had great potential for coordination within the UN system and between the UN system and other entities, especially since it was also the entry-point of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), whose role in the international system was gaining greater importance. Strengthening ECOSOC would be a difficult task, but doing so was in the interest of all.