24 June 2005

Background Release

Economic and Social Council to Meet in New York, 29 June-27 July, with Focus on Achieving Millennium Development Goals

High-Level Segment, 29 June - 1 July, to Provide Major Input to General Assembly September Summit

NEW YORK, 23 June (UN Headquarters) -- The 2005 substantive session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will open on 29 June at Headquarters, focusing on the Millennium Development Goals, a set of internationally agreed targets set by world leaders five years ago, and seeking to provide concrete recommendations on how to achieve them.

Achieving internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, will be the focus of the Council’s three-day high-level segment, which will bring together Member States; heads of United Nations agencies, funds and programmes; and representatives from civil society and international financial institutions.

The Millennium Development Goals, endorsed by heads of State at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000, are a set of qualified targets ranging from halving extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by 2015.

In addition to high-level round-table discussions, the segment will also feature keynote addresses by heads of State and government on the Millennium Goals and follow-up to the major United Nations conferences and summits.

The high-level segment, together with the coordination segment, will constitute a major input to the upcoming 2005 high-level review by the General Assembly of the progress made in the implementation of the United Nations Millennium Declaration, including the internationally agreed Development Goals and the global partnership required for their achievement.

This year’s session, scheduled to run through 27 July, will also feature a new element of "voices against poverty", during which non-United Nations actors, including 2001 Nobel Laureate in Economics Joseph Stiglitz, will give their views on the Millennium Goals.

Substantive Session

The Council’s coordination segment (5-7 July) will provide an opportunity to review the contribution of the United Nations system, at all levels, towards the follow-up and implementation of the internationally agreed Development Goals, including those contained in the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

The operational activities segment (8-12 July) will include an interactive dialogue on operational activities for development of the United Nations system, a discussion on funding options and modalities to enhance financing of the United Nations development cooperation for the pursuit of a new development agenda, and a dialogue with Executive Heads of United Nations funds and programmes.

The humanitarian segment (13-18 July) will focus on strengthening the coordination of United Nations humanitarian assistance, including capacity, as well as organizational aspects. The Council will also hold a panel on “Lessons learned from the recent earthquake/tsunami Indian Ocean disaster”.

The aim of the general segment (18-25 July) is to strengthen coherence in the United Nations through the Council’s review of the reports of its subsidiary bodies. Some of the resolutions contained in the reports of its subsidiary bodies require action by ECOSOC. The Council is expected to finalize all outstanding matters and conclude its work on 26 and 27 July.

Secretary-General’s Report

For its consideration, the Council has before it the report of the Secretary-General entitled, “Towards achieving internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration” (document E/2005/56), which identifies the core issues that hold the key to the achievement of the development goals and uses them as a tool to review progress in implementation. It concludes that there is an implementation gap, which needs to be addressed. To that end, the report makes a number of recommendations for action by governments, the United Nations system, and the international community.

The report states that progress in the implementation of the development agenda has been made in several areas, but is slow and uneven. Given the current pace, neither the Millennium Goals nor the broader United Nations development agenda, of which they are a part, will be achieved. That lag between implementation and commitments must be bridged. First and foremost, the United Nations development agenda and its components, particularly the Millennium Goals, must be truly embraced at the national and international levels. Its goals and objectives should be acted on as achievable targets and not approached merely as aspirations or mechanical indicators. They should be backed by practical strategies and long-term commitments.

Secondly, the report continues, existing sectoral approaches to development must be replaced by a more integrated, synergistic and holistic framework, which the United Nations development agenda provides. Thirdly, the necessary resources must be invested in the pursuit of that agenda. The realization of those goals must be considered a priority by all. Fourthly, the institutional impediments at the national and international levels that have contributed to the slow pace of progress must be urgently addressed. Finally, constant monitoring and evaluation are essential to ensure that the process of implementation remains on track. And that must be a truly integrated process to ensure that the pace of progress is even and that one goal is not being pursued at the expense of others or by ignoring other equally important sectors.

Among the report’s recommendations is for the Economic and Social Council to establish arrangements that would enable it to keep under constant review progress in implementing the United Nations development agenda, particularly the Millennium Goals. The Council should organize peer reviews of progress, drawing on its functional and other commissions, particularly the regional commissions, and other international institutions.

The Council, the report adds, provides an appropriate platform for serving as a Development Cooperation Forum, where global, regional and national strategies and policies for development cooperation can be reviewed, and policy guidance provided geared to maximizing its contribution to the pursuit of the United Nations development agenda, including the Millennium Goals. An existing meeting or segment of the Council can be transformed once every two years into such a forum.

Also, the Council should convene timely meetings to mount coordinated responses to natural disaster and other actual or imminent threats to development, and to provide timely inputs or address developments in other forums that have major implications for achieving the development goals.

The challenge for the high-level segment, states the report, is to contribute to an ambitious outcome of the Summit, building on the outcomes of the 10-year reviews of the Beijing, Cairo and Copenhagen conferences, held earlier this year. To that end, the Council needs to endorse the core elements of the development agenda which have emanated from the conferences and summits. Also, it needs to identify the specific actions required by governments, United Nations organizations, multilateral financial institutions, private sector and civil society to implement the agenda.


The 54-member Economic and Social Council serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and to the United Nations. It makes or initiates studies and reports; makes recommendations on international economic, social, cultural, educational, health and related matters; and promotes respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms. Subsidiary bodies, commissions and committees of ECOSOC carry out its year-round work.

The ECOSOC strengthens cooperation within the United Nations system, coordinates the work of the specialized agencies and consults with non-governmental organizations. A substantive session of the Council is convened annually in July, alternating between Geneva and New York Headquarters, and supplementary formal meetings, as well as informal panels on topical issues are held throughout the year.

The current President of the ECOSOC is Munir Akram (Pakistan) and the Vice-Presidents are Ali Hachani (Tunisia), Agim Nesho (Albania), Jaime Moncayo (Ecuador) and Johan C. Verbeke (Belgium).

The ECOSOC’s membership consists of: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Brazil, Canada, Chad, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guinea, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Poland, Republic of Korea,

Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania and United States.

The organization of work and status of documentation for the session are contained in documents E/2004/L.9 and E/2005/L.10, respectively. The session’s annotated provisional agenda can be found in document E/2005/100. More background information can be found at:

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