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UN Economic and Social Council

From Academic Kids

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations assists the General Assembly in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development. ECOSOC has 54 members, 18 of whom are elected each year by the General Assembly for a three-year term. Even though all UN members can be elected, members representing "First World" countries have been consistently favored over the years. The president is elected for a one-year term and chosen amongst the small or middle powers represented on ECOSOC. Each member of ECOSOC has one vote, and decisions are made by a majority of the members present and voting. ECOSOC meets once a year in July for a four-week session. Since 1998, it has held another meeting each April with finance ministers heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Viewed separate from the specialized bodies it coordinates, ECOSOCs, like the other organs', functions include information gathering, advising member nations, and making recommendations. In addition, ECOSOC is well positioned to provide policy coherence and coordinate the overlapping functions of the UNs subsidiary bodies, it is for these are the roles that it is becoming most useful.

Contents

Reform

Through much of its history, ECOSOC has served primarily as a discussion vehicle for economic and social issues. ECOSOC had little authority to force action and a number of member states were concerned that its utility was only marginal. However, beginning in 1992, the US and other nations began an effort to make ECOSOC more relevant by strengthening its policy responsibilities in economic, social, and related fields, particularly in furthering development objectives.

The resulting reform made ECOSOC the oversight and policy-setting body for UN operational development activities and established smaller executive boards for the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) which would provide those agencies with operating guidance and promote more effective management. The reform also gave ECOSOC a strong hand in ensuring that UN agencies coordinated their work on issues of common interest, such as narcotics control, human rights, the alleviation of poverty, and the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

One positive impact of this reform was the manner in which the UN development system began to respond more coherently and efficiently to humanitarian crises around the world. Secretary General Annan's recent reform initiatives have attached considerable importance to further strengthening coordination among relief agencies.

Another example was the ECOSOC decision in 1994 to authorize the creation of a new joint and cosponsored UN program on HIV/AIDS. This program will bring together the existing AIDS-related resources and expertise of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, and the World Bank into one consolidated global program, eliminating duplication of effort and enhancing the ability of member states to cope with the AIDS pandemic. It began operating in January 1996.

Functional Commissions

Regional Commissions

Specialized Agencies

The Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the coordinating machinery of the Economic and Social Council.

  • ILO - International Labour Organization
  • FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization
  • UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • WHO - World Health Organization
  • World Bank Group
    • IBRD - International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
    • IDA - International Development Association
    • IFC - International Finance Corporation
    • MIGA - Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
    • ICSID - International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
  • IMF - International Monetary Fund
  • ICAO - International Civil Aviation Organization
  • IMO - International Maritime Organization
  • ITU - International Telecommunication Union
  • UPU - Universal Postal Union
  • WMO - World Meteorological Organization
  • WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization
  • IFAD - International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • UNIDO - United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • IRO - International Refugee Organization(ceased to exist in 1952)
  • INCB - International Narcotics Control Board

Other Entities

  • United Nations Forum on Forests
  • Sessional and Standing Committees Expert, ad hoc and related bodies

Consultative status

See also


The United Nations UN Flag

UN System
General Assembly | Security Council | Economic and Social Council |
Trusteeship Council | Secretariat | International Court of Justice


United Nations Resolutions
General Assembly Resolutions | Security Council Resolutions

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