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UN Economic and Social Council

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations assists the General Assembly in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development. ECOSOC has 54 members, 18 of whom are elected each year by the General Assembly for a three-year term. The U.S. has been a member since the UN was founded. ECOSOC meets once a year. The president is elected for a one-year term. Voting is by simple majority.

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Reform Through much of its history, ECOSOC has served primarily as a discussion vehicle for economic and social issues. ECOSOC had little authority to force action and a number of member states were concerned that its utility was only marginal. However, beginning in 1992, the US and other nations began an effort to make ECOSOC more relevant by strengthening its policy responsibilities in economic, social, and related fields, particularly in furthering development objectives.

The resulting reform made ECOSOC the oversight and policy-setting body for UN operational development activities and established smaller executive boards for the UN Development Program (UNDP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), and UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) which would provide those agencies with operating guidance and promote more effective management. The reform also gave ECOSOC a strong hand in ensuring that UN agencies coordinated their work on issues of common interest, such as narcotics control, human rights, the alleviation of poverty, and the prevention of HIV/AIDS.

One positive impact of this reform was the manner in which the UN development system began to respond more coherently and efficiently to humanitarian crises around the world. Secretary General [[Kofi Annan|Annan's] recent reform initiatives have attached considerable importance to further strengthening coordination among relief agencies.

Another example was the ECOSOC decision in 1994 to authorize the creation of a new joint and cosponsored UN program on HIV/AIDS. This program will bring together the existing AIDS-related resources and expertise of the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, UNESCO, and the World Bank into one consolidated global program, eliminating duplication of effort and enhancing the ability of member states to cope with the AIDS pandemic. It began operating in January 1996.

Functional Commissions

  • Commission for Social Development
  • Commission on Human Rights
  • Commission on Narcotic Drugs
  • Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
  • Commission on Science and Technology for Development
  • Commission on Sustainable Development
  • Commission on the Status of Women
  • Commission on Population and Development
  • Statistical Commission

Regional Commissions

  • United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE)
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
  • United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC)
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP)
  • United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)

Specialized Agencies The Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and each other through the coordinating machinery of the Economic and Social Council.

  • ILO - International Labour Organization
  • FAO - Food and Agriculture Organization
  • UNESCO - United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
  • WHO - World Health Organization
  • World Bank Group
    • IBRD - International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
    • IDA - International Development Association
    • IFC - International Finance Corporation
    • MIGA[?] - Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
    • ICSID[?] - International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
  • IMF - International Monetary Fund
  • ICAO - International Civil Aviation Organization
  • IMO - International Maritime Organization
  • ITU - International Telecommunication Union
  • UPU - Universal Postal Union
  • WMO - World Meteorological Organization
  • WIPO - World Intellectual Property Organization
  • IFAD - International Fund for Agricultural Development
  • UNIDO - United Nations Industrial Development Organization
  • IRO - International Refugee Organization(ceased to exist in 1952)

Other Entities

  • United Nations Forum on Forests
  • Sessional and Standing Committees Expert, ad hoc and related bodies

See also



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