[Solved] What are the main functions of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)? Explain different functional commissions attached to it ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)
United Nations ECOSOC is one of the six principle organs of UN having 54 members based on geographic representation. It is responsible for coordinating the economic, social, and related work of 15 UN specialised agencies, their functional commissions and five regional commissions.
Main functions are-
• It is the principal body for coordination, policy review, policy dialogue and recommendations on economic, social and environmental issues, as well as for implementation of the internationally agreed development goals.
• It serves as the central mechanism for the activities of the United Nations system and its specialized agencies, and supervises the subsidiary and expert bodies in the economic, social and environmental fields.
• It engages a wide variety of stakeholders – policymakers, parliamentarians, academics, major groups, foundations, business sector representatives and 3200+ NGOs – in a productive dialogue on sustainable development.
• Its annual high- level segment includes High Level Political Forum that provides political leadership, guidance and recommendations for sustainable development, and development Cooperation Forum that reviews trends and progress in development cooperation.
The different functional commissions attached to it are-
• UN Commission for Social Development- Its purpose is to advise ECOSOC on social policies of a general character and, in particular, on all matters in the social field not covered by the specialised intergovernmental agencies. It is also in charge of the follow up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.
• UN Human Rights Council- It is an intergovernmental body that addresses human rights-related situations in all UN member states. The UNHRC also addresses important thematic human rights issues such as freedom of association and assembly, freedom of expression, freedom of belief and religion, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.
• Commission on Narcotic Drugs- is the central drug policy-making body within the United Nations system.
• UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development- IT provides high-level advice on relevant issues through analysis and appropriate policy recommendations on science and technology.
• Commission on Sustainable Development- It is tasked with overseeing the outcomes of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development/Earth Summit.
• UN Commission on the Status of Women- It is a global intergovernmental body dedicated to promoting gender equality, and empowering women.
• UN Statistical Commission- It promotes the development of national statistics and the improvement of their comparability and coordinates the statistical work of specialized agencies.
ECOSOC – Basics
- The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is the main body responsible for coordination, policy dialogue, policy review and recommendations on social, economic and environmental issues, and also the implementation of internationally agreed development goals.
- It functions as the central mechanism for all the activities within the UN and also its specialised agencies in the social, environmental and economic domains.
- It is the main arena in the UN for encouraging debate and innovative thinking, forming consensus on future courses of action, and coordinating efforts to attain globally agreed goals.
- ECOSOC is also responsible for the follow-up to United Nations summits and conferences.
- ECOSOC was established as one of the principal organs of the UN by the UN Charter in 1945.
- ECOSOC is headquartered in New York.
- ECOSOC Role
- ECOSOC plays a very important role in the UN system.
- It plays the important role of acting as a link between the diverse body of agencies, conventions and organizations within the UN.
- ECOSOC plays a leading role in identifying emerging challenges, encouraging innovation, and attaining a balanced integration of the three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental.
- It acts as a gateway for UN partnership & participation by the rest of the world.
- It is an international meeting point for governments, leaders, academicians, policymakers, parliamentarians, NGOs, etc.
- High-Level Political Forum (HLPF)
- The UN HLPF on Sustainable Development is held under the auspices of the ECOSOC.
- The High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) meets once every year in July to review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
- It acts as the central UN platform on sustainable development.
- The Forum first met in 2013 when it replaced the Commission on Sustainable Development.
- It also encourages member states to conduct regular reviews of their progress on achieving the SDGs.
- To know more about the other Principal Organs of the UN, click on the linked article.
The functions of the ECOSOC encompasses the following areas:
- Promoting sustainable development – ECOSOC is the unifying platform for integration, action on sustainable development and follow-up and review.
- Advancing policy integration – The Integration Segment of ECOSOC meets once in a year to help member countries chart ways to achieve the three pillars of sustainable development (social, economic and environmental).
- Development Cooperation Forum – The Forum reviews the latest trends and progress in international development cooperation and promotes coordination across diverse actors and activities.
- Financing for sustainable development
- Coordinating humanitarian action – Here, the focus is on how to tackle pressing issues of humanitarian concern.
- Guiding operational activities for development
- Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) comes under this head in ECOSOC.
- The QCPR is the chief policy instrument of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to define the manner in which the UN development system would work to support countries in their developmental efforts.
- Providing coordination and oversight – This is the management segment of ECOSOC’s functions.
- Partnership Forum – This Forum brings together influential government leaders, civil society, the private sector and the non-profit sector also to foster international development.
- It conducts special meetings to address emergency issues and situations such as health emergencies like the Ebola outbreak, the global food crisis in 2008, etc.
- ECOSOC engages in enhancing the peace and development nexus and coordinating support to countries emerging from conflict.
- It also has a Youth Forum where the voices of the youth and youth-led organizations are heard.
- The ECOSOC has 54 members that are elected by the UNGA. India is currently a member and its term expires in December 2020. Each member has one vote and voting is done by a simple majority. ECOSOC Presidency is for a one-year term.
- Disbanded and replaced commissions: Commission on Human Rights was replaced by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
- The Commission on Sustainable Development was replaced by the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.
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