Economic and Social Council Holds Second Session in Geneva; Impact of Changes in Eastern Europe Discussed

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Economic and Social Council holds second session in Geneva

In a session devoid of confrontation and marked by "a greater convergence of views and a pragmatic approach", according to Council President C.R. Ghrekhan of India, the Council adopted 171 resolutions and decisions on subjects ranging from transnational corporations and African fisheries to acquired immunodeficiency syndrom (AIDS) and the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

Many had been previously discussed and approved by Council subsidiary bodies such as the Commission on Human Rights and the Committee on Crime Prevention and Control. That allowed the Council to focus a great deal of time and energy on a few key issues.

The state of the world economy, recent UN efforts to regain momentum for development in the third world and the impact on developing countries of the transition in Eastern and Central Europe were among those that commanded the widest attention.

The early resolution of the debt problem and the reversal of negative trends in the transfer of resources were also recognized as major issues.

Other key issues discussed were the centrality of the human factor in development, the protection of the environment as a necessary element of sustained development and the role of the UN system in the world of the 1990s and, in this context, the revitalization of the Council itself.

In a report, Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar recommended that the Council "provide more analytical and more focused documentation", and give "more professional and functional consideration to issues on its agenda".

"Extraordinary

developments..."

In the opening address, Mr. Perez de Cuellar told the Council that "the extraordinary developments in the political arena that have dramatically narrowed the ideological differences between East and West have the potential for helping to achieve greater harmony in international economic and social relations".

He urged the body to see how "this renewed political will can make a positive contribution to the elaboration of the international development strategy for the fourth United Nations development decade". The Secretary-General also stressed that the external debt of developing countries--one of the most crucial issues of the 1980s for them--now stood at $1,200 billion, a crippling weight on their economies.

The Council reviewed the conclusions of the World Economic Survey 1990, an annual analysis of the global economic situation, in its traditional debate on international economic and social policy. This survey examined the external economic factors and the social situation in the developing countries, inflation, stabilization and economic reform in China, Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and Viet Nam. It also analysed the factors behind the prolonged economic expansion in the developed market economies.

In summarizing the debate, Council President Gharekhan said that developing countries, while welcoming the changes in Eastern Europe, were apprehensive about the diversion of development resources to that region. Industrialized countries, on the other hand, reiterated their commitment to economic and technical cooperation with the South.

Against apartheid

The Council condemned those transnational corporations that continued to collaborate with the South African regime, in defiance of UN resolutions and international public opinion. It also condemned the decision of the United Kingdom to lift unilaterally the ban of the Commission of the European Communities on new investments in South Africa and called on that country to rescind its decision without delay.

Food aid to Palestinians

The World Food Programme was requested to provide food assistance to the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory. The Secretary-General was asked to prepare a report on Israeli land and water policies in the occupied Palestinian and other Arab territories. …