ECOSOC President says humanitarian assistance will be overhauled

21 October 2003
Amb. Gert Rosenthal

Informal consultations early next year will develop programmes to implement "a new and ambitious agenda on financing for the humanitarian community," the President of the United Nations council charged with coordinating humanitarian aid, as well as the follow-up to the major United Nations conferences, said.

Ambassador Gert Rosenthal of Guatemala, President of the 54-member Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), presented to the General Assembly yesterday the annual ECOSOC report.

"Member States reached agreement on an action-oriented resolution containing a new and ambitious agenda on financing for the humanitarian community - donors and recipients alike - which is now being followed up by the humanitarian agencies," he said.

The resolution calls on UN agencies to improve the quality, transparency and accuracy of needs assessments and to include governments and members of the humanitarian community in assessment missions. It also requests donors to give according to need and to create mechanisms to review the results of their contributions.

The Council had renewed its dynamism in considering development cooperation, Ambassador Rosenthal said. Panels provided the opportunity for frank discussion of difficult issues, such as lessons learned from the funding of the UN's development entities and from the evaluations of the system's activities.

ECOSOC had also held extensive consultations with the management of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Bretton Woods Institutions - the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - in preparation for a high-level meeting in April that would help it to perform its new role in following up on the commitments from the Monterrey Conference.

The Monterrey Conference, held in Mexico last year, dealt with financing for development and produced a number of resolutions to be implemented.

"When the (Assembly's) High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development meets on 29 October, it will be able to build on the discussions of ECOSOC's joint meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO," Ambassador Rosenthal said.

Having called for a new integrated approach to rural development, the Council adopted a Ministerial Declaration highlighting "the overriding impact of international cooperation and market access on rural development," he said.

"A UN public-private alliance was launched in response to the Ministerial Declaration. It encourages business approaches that promote economic and social advancement and profitable investment in rural areas, starting with Madagascar as the pilot country," he said.

"Overall, ECOSOC put rural development back on the international agenda, after a period of relative neglect by governments and their development partners."


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