Head of UN economic and social body underscores priority of health, safety during ‘unprecedented’ COVID-19 challenges

19 March 2020

Confronted with widespread human, social, and economic ramifications surrounding COVID-19, the President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) stressed the priority of ensuring “the health and safety of people”.

In light of this “unpredictable and volatile situation”, Mona Juul tweeted on Thursday that she and the President of the General Assembly have decided to postpone the upcoming meeting to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development for Least Developed Countries (LDC). 

She also gave her assurances that they would work with the LDC chair “to find new timing for this crucial cooperation” to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“The coronavirus pandemic is truly a test of all of our countries and societies”, Mona Juul said in a statement on Wednesday, announcing her decision to postpone the UN75 Youth Plenary and ECOSOC Youth Forum.

Moreover, she said, “the Bureau will propose to further postpone or cancel all ECOSOC meetings in the coming eight weeks.

‘Unprecedented challenges’

Ms. Jull noted that as the world faces “unprecedented challenges” that “jeopardize economic and social development for us all”, countries in special situations and vulnerable groups “feel the effects acutely”. 

“It is evident that the UN must take a coherent approach across bodies and mandates”, she said. “One based not only on accurate information and assessment of risks, but also on solidarity among Member States”. 

She expressed her confidence that ECOSOC is “well placed and prepared” to play its role in these efforts and, as its president, believed that it was her responsibility to ensure that the body’s work continues. 

“Not only here at headquarters in New York, but even more importantly on the ground, through the critical work of ECOSOC subsidiary organs and their experts”, Ms. Juul elaborated, while ensuring the health of all involved.

Staying flexible 

Given the rapidly evolving situation, “it is clear that we need to remain flexible”, she said, noting that ECOSOC is exploring virtual options and solutions. 

Working in close cooperation with Member States, Ms. Juul ensured that ECOSOC’s schedule will continue to be updated as things evolves. 

“I believe we all share the overarching priority of putting health and safety first, while also ensuring accelerated action to implement the SDGs throughout this crisis”, she said. 

The ECSOC president gave assurance that she would continue to keep everyone informed with further information and proposals.
In closing, she stressed that “a challenge of global proportions requires a global response”. 

“The growing scale of this issue, and the sheer number of individuals affected underscores that we need to show true solidarity in all our efforts to address COVID-19”, Ms. Juul concluded.

 

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