The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is that branch of the United Nations (UN) which works with the General Assembly in promoting international economic and social cooperation and development. It has 54 members elected by the UN General Assembly for three-year terms.
The ECOSOC aims at:
- providing high standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development;
- providing solutions to international issues related to economic, social, health;
- securing international cultural and educational cooperation; and
- securing universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion.
The primary responsibility to discharge the above-mentioned responsibilities is on the General Assembly and the ECOSOC works closely with the General Assembly in the discharge of these duties. In the world summit of 2005, the need for a more effective and efficient ECOSOC was recognized and it was entrusted with the responsibility of holding Annual Ministerial Reviews (to advance and assess progress made in the implementation of the UN development agenda) and a biennial Development Cooperation Forum (to enhance the coherence and effectiveness of activities of different development partners).
The ECOSOC has one substantive session held annually between May and July. The session is called the July session. Throughout the year, The ECOSOC holds a number of short sessions/meetings/discussions in preparation for the July session. The July session is organized into five segments:
High level segment: This is a four day segment and involves a debate on major economic, social and environmental policy issues. Since 2007, the high level segment also features the Annual Ministerial Review and from 2008, the biennial Development Cooperation Forum. A Ministerial Declaration is generally adopted which provides policy guidance and recommendations for action
Coordination Segment: This segment works towards ensuring that policies, programme, operational work and country frameworks of all UN system organizations are consistent with key development goals, through collaborative reviews of progress and monitoring of results. In the Coordination Segment, the Council also addresses the follow-up action to major UN conferences and summits in support of the implementation of the UN development agenda.
Operational Activities Segment: This segment provides the UN guidance on priorities and strategies for implementing the policies formulated by the General Assembly in the field of operational activities. The Segment also monitors the cooperation within bodies of the UN with a view to enhancing the operational activities of the United Nations on a system-wide basis.
Humanitarian Affairs Segment: This segment provides an important forum for review of the humanitarian affairs activities of the system and for their coordination.
General Segment: This segment oversees the management of the Council. It reviews conferences and reports of the specialized agencies requested by the Council, and reviews/evaluates the annual reports of the Funds and Programmes, and its subsidiary bodies.