Special Commission on UN Work in Economic and Social Fields Meets in New York

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Special Commission on UN work in economic and social fields meets in New York

A SPECIAL COMMISSION created by the Economic and Social Council to identify ways to simplify the United Nations intergovernmental structure and functions in the economic and social fields held its fourth session from 1 to 4 September in New York. An informal paper containing proposals by the "Group of 77' developing countries regarding the Economic and Social Council was discussed.

The paper includes, among other things, sections on the Council's mandate; the universalization of its composition; its relations with its subsidiary machinery; integrated reporting structure by intergovernmental bodies in the economic and social fields; increased duration of meetings and reorganization of working schedules; the Council's relationship with the General Assembly's work and its relationship with specialized agencies and regional commissions; and separate and identifiable Secretariat support structures.

Special Commission Chairman Abdel Halim Badawi of Egypt said on 4 September that the Commission had had a useful discussion on the role and functions of the Economic and Social Council, including the important question of its relationship with the General Assembly.

During the discussion, it had become clear that Governments had to recommit themselves to the Council's primacy and that the Council's strengthening was of crucial importance in the effective functioning of the United Nations system in the economic and social fields, the Chairman reported.

Earlier meetings of the body--the formal title of which is the "Special Commission of the Economic and Social Council on the In-depth Study of the United Nations Intergovernmental Structure and Functions in the Economic and Social Fields'--were held in March and April/May (see UN Chronicle, 1987, Nos. 2 and 3).

Mr. Badawi said a strengthened and effective Council would not compete with other United Nations bodies, but would complement and strengthen the respective roles of the General Assembly and subsidiary bodies, such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The Council should serve as an effective organ in the provision of policy recommendations to the Assembly in the economic and social fields and should effectively oversee and monitor the work of the subsidiary machinery thereby allowing the Assembly to focus on carefully selected policy issues.

Any measures to strengthen the Council, he observed, must include specific steps that would enhance its authority and credibility; improve its role in policy overview and co-ordination; and improve the interrelationships and the modalities for dialogue among major intergovernmental bodies of the United Nations system in the economic and social areas, particularly in the context of operational activities. …