Haitian Ambassador Léo Mérorès has been elected by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) as its President for 2008, succeeding Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania.
Addressing the 54-member body after his election, the Haitian diplomat paid tribute to his predecessor for leading the Council through an important year that saw some changes in the outlook of the Council.
“He (Cekuolis) capably steered the implementation of the new functions of the Council and … to improve its effectiveness,” Mr. Mérorès said. He emphasized the importance of building on progress that his predecessor has established and to help bring to fruition improvements and new mandates of ECOSOC as per the recommendations of the outcome of the 2005 World Summit.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, also present at the meeting, was emphatic on the role of ECOSOC in advancing the development agenda. “The Council indeed is in a unique position to forge closer ties with all actors, including civil society and the private sector, and to maximize the potential of the UN system to serve the needs of humanity.”
Mr. Ban said the first Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), to be held in July, will pave the way for an inclusive framework for addressing the latest trends in development cooperation and the critical issues of aid quality and quantity.
“The UN development agenda, especially the Millennium Development Goals, can be achieved if immediate steps are taken to implement existing commitments,” Mr. Ban said, referring to the pledges made by world leaders to slash poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy by 2015.
“ECOSOC has a critical role to play in ensuring that we win the race to the Goals and that we advance our global development agenda,” said the Secretary-General.
Outgoing President Dalius Cekuolis said ECOSOC is well on its way to becoming “the Charter body that was envisaged by the founding members of this Organization,” noting that ECOSOC has raised the visibility of the development agenda, by engaging and mobilizing the international community to find practical measures to address poverty.
Two new functions of ECOSOC were introduced at its 2007 substantive session – the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum. The two represent a new vehicle to enhance the implementation of the MDGs by the 2015 target date, he said.
Highlighting the theme of the 2008 Annual Ministerial Review, “implementing the agreed goals and commitments in regard to sustainable development,” Mr. Mérorès said the Council can provide a forum for the integration of the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development that is presently lacking at the global level.
He added that he will make every effort to ensure the success of the first-ever Development Cooperation Forum, which he said is expected to become the centrepiece for global dialogue and policy review on key development cooperation issues.