The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) concluded its 64th session, held on 29-31 March 2011 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, reconfirming that UNECE provides a multilateral platform for promoting Pan-European and Transatlantic economic integration and facilitating greater cooperation among its fifty-six member States.
The Commission also confirmed that UNECE “makes a useful contribution to the promotion of sustainable development and the achievement of the MDGs and general stability in the region” and that it “is well placed to continue to address transboundary issues and contribute to building a coherent regional economic space”.
In his opening remarks to the 64th session, the chairman, Herman de Croo, Minister of State of Belgium, stated that “UNECE is more than a technical organization. It is also a political platform to meet with transatlantic and pan-European strategic partners”. Ján Kubiš, UNECE Executive Secretary, emphasized that “UNECE’s strength is to be an inclusive and neutral forum for discussing issues of a transboundary nature and forging practical legal tools to address them”.
Many of these practical tools were highlighted by the panels under the high-level segment, which this year centred on two topics at the core of UNECE’s mandate:
- Economic integration in the region: new developments and new challenges in light of the economic crisis; and,
- The role of regional integration and cooperation for promoting sustainable development in the region, focusing on two key components: transport and trade infrastructure, and energy cooperation.
“Presentations at the high level segment demonstrated the importance attached to these subjects by member States, our partner organizations, businesses, research centres and think-tanks” said Ján Kubiš. He stressed that “UNECE’s practical, pragmatic work and approach to addressing today’s issues contributes to enhancing our countries’ economic potential and to putting them in a better position to act in the face of new economic and social realities”.
The Commission encouraged UNECE to continue to exercise its catalytic role by bringing the sustainable development goals down to the regional level and supporting their implementation. In this respect, it decided to organize the Regional Preparatory Meeting for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development on 1–2 December 2011 in Geneva.It stressed the need to continue to support the integration into the world economy of economies in transition, which benefit from UNECE technical cooperation activities. It also welcomed the global outreach of UNECE’s instruments, norms and standards, and recognized that UNECE had reinforced cooperation with partner organizations, which helps to increase the impact and relevance of its work.
Finally, the Commission, welcoming the implementation and achievements of the reform adopted in December 2005, underlined the importance of the first five-year review that will take place in 2011-2012, with a view to drawing conclusions on UNECE’s future work priorities.
In his concluding remarks, Ján Kubiš, welcomed the interest of member States in setting priorities and guiding the work of UNECE. “In the current circumstances of budgetary constraints, we need to revisit UNECE’s priorities”, he said. “I therefore, welcome the planned review by member States, which I hope will further strengthen UNECE’s relevance.”
In his closing remarks, Belgian Ambassador François Roux, who chaired the Commission during the General Segment, called for member States to “remain engaged in UNECE, remain focused on what UNECE does best, and remain optimistic and confident about the integration and cooperation of our wide European continent”.
The Commission elected Serbia as Chair and Israel as Vice-Chair of the sixty-fifth session.
The next Commission session will be held in 2013.
All the documents of the session are available at: http://www.unece.org/commission/2011/64th_index.htm
UNECE - Jean Rodriguez
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