Press Releases

                                                                            26 April 2004

    Economic and Social Council Concludes Preparations for Monday’s High-Level Meeting with Bretton Woods Institutions and World Trade Organization

    NEW YORK, 23 April (UN Headquarters) -- The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this morning finalized its preparations for the high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on Monday, working out final details of its programme of work.

    The one-day meeting will be devoted to the overall theme “Coherence, coordination and cooperation in the context of the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus”.  Following opening statements, various aspects of the main subject will be discussed in six round tables addressing the impact of private investment and trade-related issues on financing for development; the role of multilateral institutions in reaching the Millennium Development Goals; and debt sustainability and debt relief. 

    Seeking to “take on board” all views and suggestions, this morning’s meeting addressed, among other things, a proposal -- made in the course of preparatory meetings -- to include the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in the title “Special high-level meeting of the Economic and Social Council with the Bretton Woods institutions and World Trade Organization”.

    Following his report on the preparatory process, the Council’s acting President, Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius), said that Monday’s themes had been selected on the basis of consultations with the members of the Council’s Bureau and institutional stakeholders.  The selection was also based on the agenda of institutional stakeholders’ intergovernmental bodies. Following those wide-ranging consultations, it had been suggested that the meeting continue to have a broad overall theme, in line with the holistic, integrated approach of the Monterrey Consensus, as well as three more focused themes for the round tables.

    He said that the Bureau had proposed that there be no change to the themes, but that the President, in her opening statement, would reflect the context of the discussions and concerns expressed about the themes.  Those concerns included the wish of many countries to raise the issue of participation and representation by developing countries in the international economic and financial decision-making process.

    The acting President also listed the preparatory meetings that had taken place, saying that this year the work had been greatly facilitated by the much-earlier start of preparations, which had enabled more in-depth intergovernmental interactions among all relevant institutional stakeholders.  The latest consultations had included the ECOSOC Bureau’s meetings with the executive directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank on 23 and  26 March.  In late March, the President had held meetings with WTO and UNCTAD representatives in Geneva.

    Speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the representative of Qatar underscored the importance of transparent and inclusive consultations, which should have been held sufficiently in advance to allow for a better exchange of ideas and understanding on the issues of Monterrey, as well as the concerns of Member States and all relevant stakeholders.  The Group had no objection to going along with the Bureau’s proposal, despite reservations about how the consultations had been conducted.  There was an understanding that the Group’s concerns would be addressed during the meeting and that provisions would be made for delegations to address issues of concern in the round tables, as well as during the afternoon session, on all aspects of the follow-up to the Monterrey Consensus.

    In that context, he highlighted the Group’s interest in holding discussions at the Monday’s meeting on the issue of the developing countries’ voice, participation and representation in international economic and financial decision-making.

    Regarding the meeting’s title, he reiterated that it should include UNCTAD alongside the other intergovernmental bodies, in accordance with ECOSOC resolution 2003/47 and General Assembly resolutions 58/230 and 57/270B.  Action in that regard had been initiated sufficiently in advance, and it was surprising that a few delegations had expressed reservations on that matter.

    Expressing support for the Group’s position, Cuba’s representative deplored the fact that the preparatory process had not been held in a transparent, participatory and inclusive fashion.  The concerns of the Group of 77 had not been taken into account, and it was also extraordinary that a few countries had made their own interpretation of the action originating from relevant Assembly and ECOSOC resolutions, which provided that UNCTAD would be included in the institutions participating in the high-level meeting.  The institution was not being placed on an equal footing with other participating bodies.

    In a general comment, the representative of Benin said several problems could have been avoided had the Bureau engaged in more consultations.  To ensure the success of the substantive ECOSOC session, it should expand the consultative basis in order to avoid a situation where the Bureau was increasingly taking on a negotiating role.  That would spare the Council various legal complications. 

    The high-level meeting is scheduled to open at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, 26 April.

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