Magazine article UN Chronicle

Economic and Social Council: May Become 'As Important as Security Council.' (United Nations)

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Economic and Social Council: May Become 'As Important as Security Council.' (United Nations)

Article excerpt

More than 130 resolutions and decisions on human rights, social development, crime, narcotic drugs, the acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), women, international economic cooperation, humanitarian aid and other issues were adopted by the Economic and Social Council at its first restructured substantive session (29 June-31 July, New York), deemed as one of the most productive in recent years.

The diversity of matters addressed by the Council was interwoven by strong common threads: that poverty is the biggest challenge facing the international community; that peace and security are inextricably linked to economic and social development; and that UN activities must be reshaped to achieve the integrated approach mandated by the interdependence of those issues.

Stressing these important linkages, Secretary-General Boustros Boustros-Ghali said he hoped "the Economic and Social Council will become as active and important an organ as the Security Council, and will become the Council of the twenty-first century".

"The need for a strengthened role for the United Nations has never before been more compelling", said Ji Chaozhu, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Development, at the session's conclusion. "Future peace, security and global stability will depend upon the world's collective ability to improve the living standards and economic and social prospects for the majority of men and women throughout the world."

Among the highlights of the five-week meeting - the Council's first unified substantive session (two sessions were previously held each year) - were recommendations for convening a World Summit on Social Development in 1995 and adoption of a draft declaration on the rights of persons belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities.

The Council also recommended that the General Assembly proclaim in 1993 a Third Decade to Combat Racism and Racial Discrimination. Egypt's offer to host the International Conference on Population and Development was accepted. The global meeting will take place in Cairo from 5 to 13 September 1994.

At a resumed meeting on 18 August, the Council endorsed a text condemning the practice of "ethnic cleansing" and all violations of human rights in the former Yugoslavia, especially in Bosnia, and Herzegovina. The resolution had been adopted by the Commission on Human Rights at an unprecedented special session on 13 and 14 August.

High-level meeting

During a high-level special meeting (6-8 July) held during the session, some 20 Ministers and other senior officials addressed the role of the UN in enhancing international cooperation for development, a theme Secretary-General Boustros-Ghali termed "the most fundamental task of our time".

Mr. Boustros-Ghali said: "All humanity's hopes - for peace and security, for health and prosperity, for justice and opportunity - rest upon sustainable, equitable and dynamic development."

To further an integrated approach, he urged that the Council introduce a "flexible, high-level inter-sessional mechanism", which would enable it to respond in an ongoing and timely way to developments in the economic and social spheres, and provide reports to the Security Council on developments that may threaten international peace and security.

The focus of the UN, he added, should be in the field, "where economic, social and political decisions take effect and where artificial lines between them tend to disappear".

Other speakers during the high-level segment shared a vision of development that was people-centred, equitable and sustainable. They also stressed the need for integrating social goals, including the advancement of women and the protection of vulnerable groups, into adjustment programmers and development strategies.

During the meeting, heads of multilateral institutions, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, undertook a high-level policy dialogue on international economic cooperation. …

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