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Economic and Social Council

25 July 2000, New York

Introductory Statement by Ms. Danuta Hübner, Executive Secretary of UN/ECEand current Coordinator of the Regional Commissions

Agenda Item 10: Regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields

Mr. President, distinguished delegates

It is a privilege for me to introduce on behalf of my colleagues, the Executive Secretaries of the regional commissions, the Report of the Secretary-General on "Regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields" - documents E/2000/10 and addenda 1, 2 and 3. This document should provide the Council with a detailed account of the commissions' main areas of work and the issues with which they are seized since the last session of the Council.

You would have noted that the report responds directly to the mandate of the Council's resolution 1998/46. In Annex III of that resolution, the Economic and Social Council underscored the dual role of the regional commissions as outposts of the United Nations and as the regional expression of the Organization in that they form a part of the institutional landscapes of their respective regions. The report before you indicates that the regional commissions during the period under review continued to act decisively in response to the overall guidance of the Council with respect to this dual role. Addendum 3 of the report, contains resolutions and decisions that have emanated from recent sessions of the commissions that require action by the Council or are brought for its attention.

I should also like to draw the attention of the Council to the summaries of the economic surveys, which are based on the commissions' surveys, all of which contain information and analysis on the major regional issues at hand. Some of these issues, Mr. President, such as the recent phase of financial turmoil and the necessary reforms in the international financial architecture, the interrelared processes of globalization and regionalization, and their impact on development are of deep and wide implications for the international community.

Mr. President, Section 1A of the Report of the Secretary-General on Regional Cooperation, indicates that the commissions as outposts of the United Nations participated very actively and effectively in the Executive Committee on Economic and Social Affairs and in the meetings of the United Nations Development Group. Moreover, cooperation between the commissions and UNCTAD is quite strong and on track. Only recently, the regional commissions and UNCTAD organized an interactive debate on Information Technology and Development under the High-Level Segment and an earlier one with the Secretary General of UNCTAD on the issue of globalization, regionalism and development at the tenth session of UNCTAD. We are also participating in the substantive arrangements for the regional consultative meetings on Financing for Development to be organized by the commissions between September and December 2000.

With respect to cooperation with UNDP, I am pleased to report that earlier in the month, Mr. Mark Malloch Brown and I, on behalf of the Executive Secretaries, signed a Strategic Compact for the collaboration between UNDP and the regional commissions. This we hope, should further improve our cooperation at the regional and subregional level.

Section IB of the report shows that the commissions, as the regional expression of the United Nations, have brought and will continue to bring significant regional issues and perspectives to global debates. This is well illustrated in the regional meetings held in the follow-up to world conferences; in preparation for the Millennium Assembly; for the High-Level Segment of the Council on Information Technology for Development; and the consultative regional meetings to be held in preparation for the High-level Event on Financing for Development. Mr. President, I would emphasize, that all these meetings have been or are being organized in consultations or in cooperation with other regional bodies, on the bases of a division of labour and proven comparative advantages - Addendum 1 of the report includes more details on these working relationships.

In response to ECOSOC resolution 1998/46 annex III, the regional coordinating meetings were held under the aegis of the Executive Secretaries during the current year. Through these meetings, we and the rest of the organizations and agencies of the UN system are improving our cooperation at the regional level. Agreement is emerging on the important issues and priorities for each region and there is improved exchange of information on who is doing what as well as cooperation and joint activities in this regard.

Addendum 2 includes a survey of our normative and operational activities. Although we all undertake activities in response to mandates and functions common to all commissions, our activities also reflect a response to the specificities of our respective regions, and are in compliance with the collective guidance given by our respective member States. At the same time, our commissions continue to serve as funnel points through which international cooperation is directed at the regional level.

Mr. President, with respect to the theme on interregional cooperation - namely Section III on follow-up to major United Nations Conferences and Summits, the regional reviews show that all regions are confronted with decisive internal and external challenges related to the issues addressed by these global events. Many of these challenges are common to most regions, and cut across most of the conferences' outcomes. All the regional reviews reflect the serious need for the development of a system of indicators, benchmarking and monitoring which would refine and complete what is being utilized at present.

On cooperation among the commissions, I would like to emphasize, if I may, that the commissions are working in earnest in strengthening their collaboration and cooperation with each other. We are working together in the area of trade facilitation, in transport and communications and at least two or more commissions are collaborating in the area of trade and investment, agricultural standards in the Mediterranean region and in the Special Programme for the Economies of Central Asia, which in this case entails on-going cooperation between ECE and ESCAP. The Executive Secretaries also exchange information and views on regular intervals, through their joint meetings, on recent and on-going initiatives by their respective secretariats to achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency. Information in this regard is contained in Section IV.

Mr. President, the report of the Executive Secretaries, which is under Section V includes our regional perspectives on the prevention, management and resolution of international financial crises. My colleague J. Antonio Ocampo led a Task Force Team of the Executive Committee for Economic and Social Affairs that prepared a paper entitled "Towards a new international financial architecture" in early 1999. With the adoption of resolution 54/197 by the General Assembly we have since reviewed and deliberated the subject and this part of the report reflects our collective views and contribution on the subject.

The report of the Executive Secretaries also includes our views on globalization and regionalism, and globalization and development. We are naturally of the view that regionalism is a step towards preparing countries to face the challenges of globalization. We are also unanimous in underlining the asymmetrics in globalization and the risks this poses for development.

Mr. President, the report of the Executive Secretaries, under Section V also includes two proposals for consideration by the Council. In the view of the Executive Secretaries, these two proposals will help strengthen the interaction between the regional commissions and the Council. The first is that the report next year be more focussed on new developments and significant initiatives undertaken by the commissions. The second proposal is that providing the summaries of the regional economic and social surveys, to the High-level debate at the beginning of the substantive session of the Council would also strengthen this interaction.

Thank you Mr. President.