ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL BEGINS 1996 ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION, ELECTS JEAN-MARIE KACOU GERVAIS, OF COTE D'IVOIRE, PRESIDENT
ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL BEGINS 1996 ORGANIZATIONAL SESSION, ELECTS JEAN-MARIE KACOU GERVAIS, OF COTE D'IVOIRE, PRESIDENT19960125 Also elects Members to New WFP Executive Board And Enlarged Commission on Population and Development
How many socio-political shipwrecks and ethnic-religious conflicts will be necessary for a global move out of collective emotion and into coherent actions towards development? Jean-Marie Kacou-Gervais (Côte d'Ivoire) asked this morning as he addressed the Economic and Social Council as its newly elected President for 1996.
How could activities be maximized "within existing resources" if resources did not exist? he wondered. When the United Nations was created, there was an agreement on the question of cooperation between rich and poor countries. However, such agreement had now been apparently broken, as the shrinkage in resources demonstrated. In the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty, he called on Council members to work towards such eradication.
Also addressing the Council, its outgoing President, Ahmad Kamal (Pakistan), said "the struggle for development is becoming a losing battle". Instead of addressing the structural causes of underdevelopment, recourse was taken to simplistic exhortations of self help. A series of United Nations conferences had established priorities and provided guidance in different areas of development; however, he questioned whether Member States were ready to put their money where their resounding rhetoric emanated from. He called for a bold approach to reforming the Council.
The Council also elected as Vice-Presidents Karel Kovanda (Czech Republic), Emilio J. Cardenas (Argentina), Gerhard Walter Hense (Germany) and Samir Moubarak (Lebanon).
In addition this morning, the Council elected 20 new members of the Commission on Population and Development. (It should be recalled that by resolution 50/124, of 20 December 1995, the Assembly endorsed the Council's decision to enlarge the Commission's membership from 27 to 47 members.) Elected today were Cuba, El Salvador, Finland, Iran, Italy, Malta, Nepal, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Syria, The former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia, Ukraine and Venezuela. The election of five members of the African Group of States was postponed.
In another action, the Council held elections to the newly created Executive Board of the World Food Programme (WFP). The following States were elected by acclamation for three-year terms to fill remaining vacancies: Dominican Republic, Mauritania and Tunisia.
Today's action relates to General Assembly resolution 50/8, of 1 November 1995, by which the Assembly decided to transform the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes of the WFP into an executive board of 36 members, 18 to be elected by the Economic and Social Council and 18 by the Council of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The basis for such transformation had been outlined in Assembly resolution 48/162, of 20 December 1993, on further measures for the restructuring of the Organization in the economic and social fields. The first session of the Board is currently being held in Rome.
On 12 December 1995, the Council had elected 15 members of the new Board. As the initial terms of office have to be staggered, the Council President drew lots to determine which members would serve for three-, two- and one-year terms. The result was the following: Cameroon, Finland, India, Paraguay, Sweden and Tunisia will serve for three years; Indonesia, Hungary, Italy, Mauritania, Norway and Pakistan will serve for two years; Angola, Dominican Republic, Japan, Philippines, Uganda and the United Kingdom will serve for one year.
The Council also approved its provisional agenda as contained in document E/1996/2.
The organizational session of the Council is scheduled to resume on 6 February.
AHMAD KAMAL (Pakistan), the outgoing Council President, said that a vigorous Council, acting as a lead development organ of the United Nations, was of the utmost necessity in the present period. "The struggle for development is becoming a losing battle", he said, adding that "there is a tendency to give up the fight, to trust in God and the market to lift countries out of the cycle of underdevelopment and poverty." Instead of addressing the structural causes of underdevelopment, recourse was taken to simplistic exhortations of self help.
Much of the current discourse on development acted as an opiate that diverted attention from the real issues, such as how to ensure economic growth, regulate private financial flows, build equitable regimes covering all
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areas of trade, and effect technology transfers, he said. There was no reason why that should be so. A series of United Nations conferences had established priorities and provided guidance in different areas of development. However, were member States ready to put their money where their resounding rhetoric emanated from? he asked.
Only a positive answer to questions such as that could ensure the Council's effectiveness in promoting development, he continued. Reform of the Council must be approached boldly. The questions posed by its critics must be confronted head on. "Is the Council addressing the relevant development issues? Can its deliberations be crystallized into actionable decisions? Can its effectiveness be increased while maintaining its democratic functioning?" It was within the framework of such questions that specific reform proposals should be put forward and evaluated.
Mr. GERVAIS (Côte d'Ivoire), the newly elected President, said that heads of States and government had stressed, on the occasion of the Organization's fiftieth anniversary, the irreplaceable role of the United Nations in promoting both peace and development and had reaffirmed the importance of socio-economic development as a way of achieving peace. However, the political will to act for development was sadly lacking, and in different degrees all members of the Organization were responsible for that.
He said the roots of poverty and underdevelopment, although much studied and researched, had not been tackled. In this International Year for the Eradication of Poverty, the Council must direct its work towards such eradication. Also, the question of development of the poorest countries should be given attention in 1996. The 1995 high-level segment of the Council's substantive session, which had focused on Africa's development, had also discussed that issue. It was deplorable that the conclusions of Mr. Kamal (Pakistan), as Council President, on the matter had not been publicized. The work on the follow-up to major international conferences must continue. The work of the specialized agencies must be strengthened so the outcome of those conferences would not be blurred in red tape.
When the Organization was created, there was an agreement on the question of cooperation between rich and poor countries, he continued. However, it seemed that such agreement had now been broken, as could be seen in the shrinkage of resources which was creating difficulties for the work of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among other factors. How could activities be maximized "within existing resources", according to the language currently being used in that regard, if resources did not exist? How many socio-political shipwrecks and ethnic-religious conflicts would be necessary for the international community to move out of collective emotion and into coherent actions towards development, whose aim was exactly to avoid such conflicts? He called for global solidarity to tackle those problems.
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Membership of Council
The 54 members of the Council for 1996 are Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guyana, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States, Venezuela and Zimbabwe.
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