9 February 1996

Press Release


19960209 Council Also Adopts Provisional Agenda for Substantive Session, New Agenda Item Included on 'New Innovative Ideas for Generating Funds'

International cooperation against the illicit production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotics and psychotropic substances will be the theme of the 1996 high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council. That decision was taken this morning, as the Council resumed its organizational session.

Action on the theme was one of 12 decisions taken by the Council without a vote concerning the organization of its work for the current year. At the conclusion of today's meeting the organizational session was suspended. It is scheduled to resume on 2 May.

The Economic and Social Council holds an organizational and a substantive session every year, the latter divided into four segments. Three of those -- the high-level segment, the coordination segment and the operational activities for development segment -- discuss particular themes. The fourth, the general segment, focuses mainly on: social, humanitarian and human rights questions; economic and environmental questions; and coordination questions.

By another decision this morning, the Council adopted, as orally amended, its provisional agenda for the substantive session, which will be held at Headquarters from 24 June to 26 July.

According to that agenda, the Council will discuss at its coordination segment the question of coordination of the United Nations system activities for poverty eradication. Also, as part of its operational activities segment, it will consider the strengthening of the collaboration between the United Nations development system and the Bretton Woods institutions in social and economic development at all levels, including the field level.

With regard to the provisional Agenda, the Council President, Jean-Marie Kacou Gervais (Côte d'Ivoire), proposed an oral amendment by which an item entitled "Public administration and development" would be renamed as "Follow- up to General Assembly resolution 50/106 entitled 'business and development'". In addition, following a proposal by Australia, the Council decided to include a new item in the agenda under the general segment, entitled "New and innovative ideas for generating funds".

After adoption of the President's oral amendment, the representative of Costa Rica, speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, expressed support, adding that in the annotated provisional agenda of the substantive session, paragraph six of the resolution should be included. [That paragraph reads as follows: "Recommends that the Economic and Social Council, at its organizational session of 1996, consider the appropriate time- frame and procedure for the continuation of the work with a view to completing the draft international agreement on illicit payments, including consideration of the draft at the substantive session of 1996 of the Council, and recommends that the Council report to the Assembly at its fifty-first session."]

Costa Rica's representative also expressed support for the new agenda item, saying that the Group's understanding was that the new item did not involve any form of financing that would replace official development assistance (ODA) and that the new resources for financing should be available for the United Nations operational activities for development, but not for peace-keeping activities. In addition, only international sources would be considered and not those generated at the national level, she continued. She stressed that the discussion in the Council should be of an exploratory nature, as the General Assembly was the main body for discussing those issues.

The representative of Italy, on behalf of the European Union, also welcomed the introduction of the item, stressing that its discussion should be kept separate from those on the United Nations regular and peace-keeping budgets. The representative of the United States also welcomed the proposal, but added that he, however, could not consider any funding mechanisms that were not voluntary.

Other statements concerning the adoption of the programme of work were made by the representatives of Mexico, who said discussion of the theme of the high-level segment would be a valuable input to the preparatory process of an international conference on that theme, and the representative of Italy, on behalf of the European Union, who said the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) must make a major contribution to the debate on the eradication of poverty and the agreed conclusions to be adopted must contain clear guidance to the United Nations system.

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In other actions, this morning the Council:

-- decided that under its consideration of regional cooperation it would discuss "Trends in regional economic and social cooperation, including trade issues and the work of the regional commissions in this regard".

-- Postponed to its 1997 substantive session consideration of the biennial progress report of the Secretary-General and the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the goals and objectives of the World Decade for Cultural Development;

-- rescheduled the third session of the Committee on Natural Resources, which was to be held at Headquarters from 4 to 15 March, to 6 to 17 May;

-- also rescheduled the 1996 session of the Committee on Non- Governmental Organizations, which was to be held at Headquarters from 6 to 17 May, to take place from 13 to 17 May and from 26 to 30 August;

-- postponed to its 1996 substantive session consideration of the report of the Joint and Co-Sponsored United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; and

-- took note of the request by Ireland concerning the enlargement of the membership of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) from 50 to 51 States, and recommended that the Assembly should act on the matter at its current session.

In addition, the Council decided to invite, on an exceptional basis, all non-governmental organizations accredited to participate in the Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women and the Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development that are not in consultative status with it to participate, respectively, at the fortieth session of the Commission on the Status of Women and the special session of the Commission for Social Development. By that decision, those non-governmental organizations should be accorded rights of participation equivalent to Roster status.

Among procedural questions considered today, the Council decided to transmit directly to the Assembly for consideration the report of the Trade and Development Board on the second part of its forty-second session (Geneva, 23 September to 4 October). It also decided to transmit directly to the Assembly the report of the Council of the United Nations University on its work during 1995.

In other matters, the Council President announced that his predecessor, Ahmad Kamal (Pakistan), would chair the ad hoc open-ended working group on the need to harmonize and improve United Nations information systems for optimal utilization and accessibility by all States. Mr. Kamal would also be the

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facilitator in the informal meetings of the open-ended working group on the review of arrangements for consultations with non-governmental organizations, which would be held from 21 to 27 February. A formal meeting of the working group was scheduled to be held on 2 May. The representative of Pakistan noted that further consultations on the dates were required.

In other action, the Council took note of a report before the organizational session concerning the transformation of the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes into an Executive Board of the World Food Programme (document E/1995/131 and Add.1).

In addition, the Council elected by acclamation to the Committee on New and Renewable Sources of Energy and on Energy for Development William Michael Mebane, of Italy, to complete the unexpired term of the late Giovanni Carlo Pinchera, also of Italy. Elections to several other bodies were postponed.

The Council also confirmed the names of persons nominated to serve as representatives on its functional commissions, as follows: Zhang Sai, of China, and Mian Tayyab Hassan, of Pakistan, to the Statistical Commission; Jose Augusto Lindgren Alves, of Brazil, and Simon Barmasai Arap Bullet, of Kenya, to the Commission on Population and Development; Heike Schmitt, of Germany, and Mercedes Pulido de Briceno, of Venezuela, to the Commission for Social Development; Sabria Boukadoum, of Algeria, Marcela Maria Nicodemos, of Brazil, Wang Shuxian, of China, Fady Habib Karam, of Lebanon, and Zuzana Vranova, of Slovakia, to the Commission on the Status of Women; and Gholamhossein Sadeghi Ghahareh, of Iran, to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

Documents before Council

Among the documents before the organizational session were the following: basic programme of work of the Council (document E/1996/1 and Add.1); on the agenda and other organizational matters (document E/1992/2); on the Joint and Co-Sponsored United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, documents E/1996/11 and E/1996/L.2; and on the increase in the membership of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (documents E/1996/5 and E/1996/L.3).

Officers, Membership

The President of the Council is Jean-Marie Kacou Gervais (Côte d'Ivoire). The Vice-Presidents are Karel Kovanda (Czech Republic), Emilio J. Cardenas (Argentina), Gerhard Walter Henze (Germany) and Samir Moubarak (Lebanon).

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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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For information media. Not an official record.