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New leader charts plans to rejuvenate UN Economic and Social Council

New leader charts plans to rejuvenate UN Economic and Social Council

The newly-elected President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today proposed ways to revitalize that body by involving a wider variety of people in its work, from government ministers to activists to academics to business executives, as it reaches for a more prominent role in 2007.

“We have,” Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania said in a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York, “a very interesting and challenging year ahead.”

This year, ECOSOC will be tasked with two new functions aimed to strengthen the body. Firstly, the Annual Ministerial Review will assess the progress, or lack thereof, that ECOSOC has made in reaching objectives such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets for tackling poverty, hunger and other social ills by 2015.

The second, the Development Cooperation Forum, aims to have the voices of people at different levels – governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia and the private sector, among others – heard in discussions on international development and aid cooperation.

ECOSOC, comprised of 54 members elected by the General Assembly, is a UN body which meets yearly to further economic and social cooperation and development. Its mandate was enhanced during the UN 2005 World Summit to improve the effectiveness of aid and monitor the implementation of targets, such as the MDGs, agreed upon by Member States.

When asked by a journalist to cut through the jargon in explaining ECOSOC’s work, Mr. Cekuolis pointed to the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum as the body’s means to “coordinate the international community’s effort for the development agenda… and there for to maybe make it stronger and [increase] its authority on those issues.”

Referring in particular to the Review, set to take place this July, Mr. Cekuolis stated that he hopes it will “soberly assess the progress of implementation, see the gaps, lacks of progress and therefore make recommendations.”

Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told ECOSOC that its work for development is an integral part of the UN’s mission. “Together with security and human rights, it represents our core aspirations for a peace and better world,” he stated.