Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
I would like to begin by thanking my dear friend and colleague Ambassador Dalius Čekuolis, the President of the Economic and Social Council, for introducing the 2007 report of the ECOSOC, which provides a very good overview of the work of the Council. I would also, on a personal note, like to thank him for the close cooperation in the ECOSOC Bureau during the last two years.
I would first like to say a few words on this year?s substantive session of the ECOSOC.
The themes for the Annual Ministerial Review and the thematic discussion of the high-level segment this year were well chosen for this first session of the reformed ECOSOC. Both themes focused on the eradication of poverty, which is certainly at the heart of the global partnership for development. I am particularly pleased with how successful it was to make the link between sustained economic growth and the eradication of poverty in the two themes.
I would like to draw your special attention to the importance of promoting gender equality in our efforts to eradicate poverty. By empowering women and ensuring equal opportunity, countries can achieve great gains. There is, however, a long way to go. Women are still much more likely than men to be poor, malnourished and illiterate. They usually have less access than men to employment and they are far less likely than men to be politically active. Women's empowerment should be at the center of any development strategy and ensuring gender equality is vital for pro-poor sustained economic growth and eradication of poverty.
I will not elaborate on the other segments of the Council. I would, however, like to highlight only the decisions dealing with the Ad-hoc Advisory Groups on countries emerging from conflict where we have once again established the primary importance of ECOSOC in the area of long-term sustainable development in post-conflict situations. Further continuation of the groups on Haiti and Guinea Bissau is an indication of this importance.
We can be fairly satisfied with the overall outcome of this year?s substantive session, which marked a milestone in the life of ECOSOC by making the Annual Ministerial Review a success as well as by launching the biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF).
I would now like to turn to the future role of ECOSOC, which is facing new challenges with its new functions.
ECOSOC will hold its first substantive session of the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) next year. The universal and political legitimacy of the forum, involving all Member States of the United Nations and a broad range of stakeholders engaged in development cooperation, makes it an ideal forum for providing global oversight of aid commitments and aid quality. The findings and recommendations of the 2008 DCF should also become a reference point for the discussions taking place in next year?s Monterrey Follow-up Conference in Doha as well as the Accra High-level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. For the DCF to add value to these important intergovernmental processes, it is imperative that the analytical preparations and the consultative process are focused. It is now more important than ever that we avoid overlap and duplication of work.
Another challenge for ECOSOC is the outcome of the Secretary-General?s High-level Panel on System-wide Coherence. Co-ordination remains central to ECOSOC functions and I am sure that the outcome of the follow-up to the panel?s report will strengthen the work of ECOSOC in that area.
As I have had the honour to serve as a Vice-President of the Council for two years, the ECOSOC has become closer to my heart than before. I am, therefore, proud of this year?s session of a reformed and stronger ECOSOC. We should however not become complacent. Reform is not over, far from it. It is in our hands to make sure that the Develoment Cooperation Forum will become a real forum for development cooperation. A successful ECOSOC meeting here in New York next year will be critical, as well as inspirational, for a stronger ECOSOC in the future.