Global Policy Forum

UN Secretary General's Address to the Economic and Social Council

United Nations
January 17, 2007


President of the Council,


Distinguished Delegates,

It is an honour to join you for today's handover ceremony. Let me begin by wishing everyone a happy and productive new year.

Your Excellency, Ambassador Ali Hachani of Tunisia thank you for your work over the past year to make the Economic and Social Council a stronger and more effective body. I particularly appreciate your efforts to realize the World Summit's expanded mandate for the Council. Today, leadership on this vital endeavour passes to His Excellency, Ambassador Dalius íˆekuolis (Che-KOH-liss) of Lithuania. As ECOSOC's outgoing Vice President, I know he is already well prepared for this challenge. Mr. Ambassador, please accept my best wishes for a successful and productive term. As Council President, you can always count on my full and unstinting support.

Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

Development for all is central to the UN's mission. Together with security, and respect for human rights, it represents our core aspirations for a peaceful and better world. Through a landmark series of global conferences and summits, the UN has helped establish an ambitious development agenda, one that emphasizes concrete goals and deliverable results.

The primary responsibility for achieving these results rests with national governments. But our Organization -- and the Economic and Social Council in particular -- has a crucial role as well, especially in facilitating effective implementation by Member States.

The new year presents a tremendous opportunity for ECOSOC to advance this role. I see five critical areas:

First, ECOSOC should become the forum for intergovernmental oversight and assessment of the implementation process. To make sustained advances we must constantly monitor our progress, evaluate obstacles and, when necessary, realign our efforts. And we must do so with a constant eye on 2015, the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The new Annual Ministerial Review provides a promising platform to accomplish this. The Ministerial Review can serve as a high-profile forum for political engagement, strengthening accountability for international commitments to the agreed development goals, and knowledge exchange. By promoting synergies and linkages, they can also contribute to more unified implementation while addressing any implementation gaps.

Second, we need to engage in a broad-based dialogue on the policy issues affecting development cooperation, whether multilateral, North-South or South-South. The international development cooperation landscape has expanded dramatically in recent years. There are lots of new actors, many of whom are already engaged with the UN at the country level. We need to involve all of them at the policy level as well.

ECOSOC's new Development Cooperation Forum provides a unique global platform to achieve that. It can bring the discussion on aid and aid effectiveness to a truly multilateral arena, drawing in a range of other stakeholders, from the Bretton Woods institutions and other international organizations, to representatives of civil society and the private sector. At the same time, the Forum can also strengthen partnerships between donor and developing countries.

Today, no UN development effort -- whether advocacy for a broad cause or support for specific goals -- can make real headway without support from civil society. ECOSOC remains our Organization's primary forum for engaging this essential constituency in our development work. Let me use this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to the many civil society and private sector organizations that promote the UN development agenda, particularly the MDGs.

Third, I hope the Council will take a leading role in promoting coherence and coordination of global efforts to deliver on the development agenda. We need to support Member States more effectively, while reducing overlap and duplication in our efforts.

Here, I would like to single out the thoughtful recommendations of the High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence. Putting in place these changes will demand not only strong and sustained support from Member States, but also collective leadership and ownership within the UN system.

Fourth, ECOSOC is now able to respond to humanitarian emergencies by convening ad hoc sessions. Building on its experience in reconstruction and development, the Council can use this new mandate to promote a more enduring, effective and seamless United Nations response to emergencies.

Finally, peace and security remain inseparable from the UN Development Agenda. This Council already plays a significant role in promoting long-term sustainable development in post-conflict societies. We now need to ensure that the Council's experience and institutional knowledge benefits the work of the new Peace-building Commission. That is why I look forward to continuous and meaningful engagement between these two bodies.


I began by noting that development is central to the UN's mission. Let me conclude by reemphasising that all of us in the Organization need ECOSOC to lead the way.

Indeed, I believe the Council is on the cusp of renewal. The opportunity to revitalize its original vision is within reach. I hope that new leadership at both the Secretariat and the Council can work together to seize this moment, and advance our common development goals.

Together, we can and must restore trust in the United Nations. And we will work to ensure that our Organization delivers on its promise.

I thank you very much and look forward to working with you.




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