12 December 1995

Press Release


19951212 Decision Follows Protracted Negotiations; Among Other Actions, Elects Members to Board of World Food Programme

The Economic and Social Council this morning decided to enlarge the membership of the Commission on Population and Development from 27 to 47 members. That was among a series of decisions adopted without a vote, as the Council met in a resumed substantive session.

The review of the membership of the Population and Development Commission was among the recommendations of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development.

After protracted negotiations, which in the latest stage were conducted by George Papadatos (Greece), a Council Vice-President, it was decided that the geographical distribution of seats would be as follows: 12 to African States; 11 to Asian States; 5 to Eastern European States; 9 to Latin American and Caribbean States; and 10 to Western European and Other States. It was also decided that Commission members would be elected by the Council from among members of the United Nations and the specialized agencies and in time for their participation in the Commission's twenty-ninth session, scheduled for February 1996.

Following the decision's adoption, several delegations expressed displeasure with the outcome of the consultations on the matter and stressed that they had joined consensus with reluctance and in the spirit of compromise.

The representative of the United States said it would have preferred the decision to be taken in the context of the review of resolution 48/162, on further restructuring of the United Nations in the economic and social fields. The representative of the Russian Federation said the distribution of seats should not constitute a precedent as far as other United Nations bodies were concerned. The representative of Spain, on behalf of the European Union, regretted that there had not been agreement on enlarging the membership to 45.

The representative of Norway, stressing that revitalization did not necessarily mean expansion of membership, expressed the hope that the result arrived at and the process by which it was conducted would not set a precedent. The representative of the Philippines, on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, said it would have preferred 53 members. Algeria's representative said the negotiations had not taken into account objective criteria, which was politically unacceptable because there were rules that must be respected. The representative of Canada expressed reservations over the improvised nature of the decision. The representative of Japan regretted that a decision to increase from 45 to 47 had been so easily made.

Uganda's representative stated that he was not happy with the geographical distribution of seats and stressed the need to arrive at some acceptable principle on the distribution of seats on all the commissions. The representative of Egypt said that although the result was not the best, it was the best result to achieve an acceptable consensus. The representative of China said the final result had not fully reflected the principle of equal geographical distribution, especially in regions with large populations and facing development problems.

The Council President, Ahmad Kamal (Pakistan), said he would initiate an informal round of consultations in the context of the review of resolution 48/162 as a way of providing input to the consultations on the matter currently taking place in the Assembly.

In other matters this morning, the Council decided that a theme of its 1996 coordination segment would be "Coordination of the United Nations system activities for poverty eradication", which should focus on three areas:

-- Coordination of the United Nations support for and availability of resources to the United Nations system for facilitating national poverty eradication plans and programmes, as well as the provision of basic social services, particularly at the field level;

-- Coordination of United Nations efforts to ensure that all its activities for poverty eradication take fully into account the gender perspective; and

-- Ways of monitoring United Nations performance in the field of poverty eradication, in the context of the harmonization of the multi-year programmes of work of the functional Commissions, as contained in its agreed conclusions (paragraph 13) from the Economic and Social Council substantive session of 1995.

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After action, the Director, Division for Policy Coordination and Economic and Social Council Affairs, Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, Miles Stoby, noted the heavy burden being put on the Secretary-General in terms of the number of reports that would be required for the consideration of that theme. Noting that poverty eradication would also be considered under other items before the Council, as well as before other bodies, he said the Secretariat would attempt to integrate the reporting system in the interlinked requests.

Mr. Stoby said that when the Council considered the second theme for its coordination segment, "gender equality, equity and empowerment of women" would be taken into account. That theme had figured prominently in almost all the conferences and was also relevant to the work of almost all organizations of the system.

Also this morning, the Council took note of the note by the Secretary- General (document A/50/747-E/1995/126) and of the report of the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) (document A/50/785-E/1995/128) relating to the proposed merger of the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and forwarded them to the Assembly for consideration.

Speaking before action, the representative of the Dominican Republic said the Secretariat was ignoring mandates given to it. Assembly resolution 49/160 had urged the Secretary-General to appoint a Director to INSTRAW and to fill existing vacancies so the Institute could carry out its mandate. Almost a year had passed since the text's adoption and those mandates had not been fulfilled. In addition, the merger question had been dealt with in a series of manoeuvres. The latest of those manoeuvres had been to replace a requested report with a note. The United Nations Secretariat was disregarding mandates and she hoped that such behaviour would not be repeated.

Responding to the statement by the representative of the Dominican Republic, Mr. Stoby stressed that he was not in a position to accept that the staff of the Organization had acted in that manner, had engaged in manoeuvres, had acted in bad faith or that staff was in non-compliance with mandates.

Also this morning, the Council elected the following States by acclamation for three-year terms beginning 1 January 1996 to the new 18-member Executive Board of the World Food Programme: Angola, Cameroon, Uganda, Finland, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The elections of two members from the African States Group and one member from the Latin American and Caribbean States Group were postponed. As the initial terms of office will be staggered, after all members of the Executive Board are elected, the Council President will draw lots to determine which members will serve for three, two

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and one year on the new Executive Board. (For background information on the new Executive Board of the World Food Programme see Press Release GA/8980 of 1 November.)

In other matters, the Council took the following actions:

-- Decided that at a special session, to be held from 21 to 30 May 1996, the Commission for Social Development will consider "Strategies and actions for the eradication of poverty: formulation of integrated strategies; meeting basic human needs of all; and promotion of self-reliance and community-based initiatives";

-- Took note with satisfaction of the exchange of letters between the Director-General of the World Trade Organization and the Secretary-General setting out a framework for cooperation between the United Nations and the new organization (document E/1995/125), as well as noting the recommendation that present arrangements governing the status of the International Trade Centre as a joint body be confirmed and renewed with the World Trade Organization;

-- Decided that at its organizational session in February 1996 it would allocate a number of sessions within the 1996 general segment of its substantive session to determine how to ensure the harmonization and coordination of the agendas and multi-year work programmes of functional commissions; and

-- Postponed until 1996 consideration of matters related to public administration and development due to current unavailability of documentation.

The Council will meet again at a date to be announced.

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For information media. Not an official record.