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Ministry for Foreign Affairs

Report of the Economic and Social Council [42]

The Permanent Mission of Iceland to the United Nations

Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson,

Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations

Sixty-first Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Report of the Economic and Social Council [42]

New York, 3 November 2006

I would like to begin by thanking my dear friend and colleague Ambassador Ali Hachani, the President of the Economic and Social Council, for introducing the 2006 report of the ECOSOC, which provides a very good overview of the work of the Council.
I would first like to highlight a few issues that emerged from this year’s substantive session of the ECOSOC.
The theme for the high-level segment this year was well chosen. Decent work for all is a key tool to harness the energy of individuals in the fight against poverty and threats to our security. A decent job constitutes a stake in the society and therfore a contribution to stability – sustainability follows. We are therefore of the view that an employment strategy should be a fundamental component of any development strategy. In the outcome of the segment the Ministers and Heads of Delegations highlighted the importance of harnessing this societal energy; they recognized the important role of the International Labour Organization to that effect, as well as the importance of ratification of and implementation of the ILO conventions.
I would like to draw your special attention to the importance of promoting gender equality in this context. By empowering women and ensuring equal opportunity, countries can achieve great gains, both economically and socially. 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 employment strategy and ensuring gender equality is vital to sustainable development and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals.
During the operational activities segment ECOSOC launched the triennial review of funding for development cooperation. The substantive resolution adopted by the Council on operational activities shows its determination to perform its role by providing detailed guidance to the UN development system to improve its functions at the country level, as well as guidance to the UN Secretariat to strengthen its assessment and analytical work.
Let me turn now to the coordination segment, which dealt with another central issue for the on-going efforts to implement the development agenda: how to translate economic growth into effective social development, including eradication of poverty and hunger. It became clear during the deliberations that we do not have definite answers in this regard and the Council asked the UN system to continue to study this question.
From all the issues covered by the general segment, I would 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. 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. I would now like to turn to the future role of ECOSOC, which is facing new challenges with its new functions mandated by the Summit. It is now more important than ever that we avoid overlap and duplication of work. The new Annual Ministerial Review of ECOSOC and the annual meeting at the General Assembly, mandated by the development follow-up resolution (60/265), para 56, should, for example, build on each others’ outcome, rather than to duplicate what the other is doing. ECOSOC should follow closely the work of the Peace Building Commission and prepare for a long term foundation of the economies concerned, rather than waste its energy on duplicating the PBC. Another new challenge for ECOSOC will be 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 panel will strengthen the work of ECOSOC in that area.
As I have had the honour to serve as the Vice-President of the Council this year, the ECOSOC has become closer to my heart than before. I would, therefore, like to express my deep concern for the lack of progress in the negotiations on the strengthening of ECOSOC. If we are to have a meaningful session of the Council next year, we all have to show flexibility and find compromises very soon.


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