Incoming ECOSOC president hails important era for development

27 Jul 15

The new president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council has said the body must evolve and adapt because the world is on the cusp of a significant development era.

Oh Joon, Korea’s ambassador to the UN, took up presidency of the council on 24 July, succeeding Martin Sajdik, whose extended 18-month tenure came to an end. The body is responsible for coordinating the economic and social related work of 14 UN specialist agencies including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank Group and World Health Organization (WHO).

In his first statement, Oh said ECOSOC needed to keep up-to-date in “this fast changing world”, adding that the body should work towards being more relevant to what is happening in the world in order to fulfil the new responsibilities of the post-2015 development agenda.

“We are at the cusp of an important era. It is time for us to take a new step in the process to create a better world for all. But of course, all of our future efforts should be based on what we have achieved so far. Our systems and structures are in place. And the issues have been well defined,” the new ECOSOC president said.

Oh, who currently serves as the president of the Conference of State Parties to the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, said that ECOSOC needed to start a new debate if it wanted to be relevant.

“Relevance is the key word. If we, in the ECOSOC, look like continuing the same debate that we have had for decades, it is time for us to look out to see what is happening in the world,” he said.

He said the council needed to “consolidate its niche by being more flexible in its agenda and its coverage of issues”.

The post-2015 development agenda builds on the progress achieved through the Millennium Development Goals. The UN is now in the process of defining Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of a new agenda to finish the job of the MDGs. The new SDGs will target health care, education and social protection systems and are expected to be rolled-out over the next 15 years. They will be launched at a Summit in September.

Oh said he was confident that ECOSOC could fully support the start-up of the new development agenda.

“Let us do our best together, and let us make sure that one day in the future, when we look back on what we did in 2015, we can say that we could not have done it better.”

Oh will serve as the president of the ECOSOC for one year.

The ECOSOC includes – Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, East Europe, and West Europe and the other developed countries. Each year, a representative from a different region is chosen to head the Council as its president.

The 54-member body also elected four vice-presidents which are: Argentina ambassador Maria Cristina Perceval; Croatian ambassador Vladimir Drobnjak; Swiss ambassador Paul Seger; and Zimbabwe ambassador Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava.


  • Judith Ugwumadu
    Judith Ugwumadu

    Judith writes about public finance, public services and economics across Public Finance International and Public Finance. She previously undertook reporting stints at Financial Adviser, Global Security Finance and The Sunday Express.

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