ECOSOC votes for World Tourism Organization to be specialized UN agency

10 July 2003

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) adopted a resolution today recommending to the General Assembly that the World Tourism Organization, an intergovernmental organization that serves as a global forum for tourism policy and issues, become a specialized agency of the UN.

The change, which would put the organization on the same footing as other UN agencies like the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) or the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), entails increased status and would give it a voting role in inter-agency mechanisms such as the chief executives' boards.

After the adoption of the resolution during ECOSOC's annual meeting in Geneva, the Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, Francesco Frangialli, said the next step would be to conduct parallel negotiations with the General Assembly, and within a few months, he hoped the first new specialized agency since 1985 would be admitted.

He noted that while there was no material implementation for the UN itself, the benefit of the move would be found in increasing the significance of the World Tourism Organization and its work.

Introducing the resolution, Marco Balarezo, Chairman of the Committee on Negotiations with Intergovernmental Agencies, said the move would be important for the future of the World Tourism Organization and for the work of the UN in a critical area. Tourism was an area of economic, social and environmental importance to many countries.

As a specialized agency, the World Tourism Organization would be able to work more closely with the UN system as a whole, he added. Tourism could become one of the substantive areas of the Council's work and could also provide the subject for a future high-level segment.