Co-facilitators Release Zero Draft of ECOSOC Review Resolution
Photo by IISD | Lynn Wagner
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The co-facilitators for the review of ECOSOC reforms have issued a zero draft resolution outlining new structural and substantive arrangements for the Council.

The draft includes sections on the annual main theme and substantive focus, the structure of the ECOSOC cycle, and several other issues.

According to the co-facilitators’ letter, additional consultations will take place on 24 May, 25 May, 29 May and 13 June to finalize discussions on the process, with the hope to reach an agreement on the resolution by 15 June.

21 May 2018: The co-facilitators for the review of reforms to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) issued the “zero draft” of a resolution outlining new structural and substantive arrangements for ECOSOC. Per the co-facilitators’ accompanying letter, the draft will be considered during the sixth informal consultations on the review, scheduled for 24 May 2018, and agreement on the resolution should be reached by 15 June.

UN Member States are meeting through a series of informal consultations, which began in February 2018, co-facilitated by Einar Gunnarsson, Permanent Representative of Iceland, and Alya Ahmed Al Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar. The process is mandated in UNGA resolution 68/1, which calls for governments to review of a set of reforms adopted in 2006 to strengthen ECOSOC (A/RES/61/16 of 2006). During consultations in April and May, UN Member States considered an elements paper for the resolution, and a “food for thought” paper issued by the co-facilitators.

According to the zero draft resolution, circulated on 21 May 2018, ECOSOC should seek to, among other things: create synergy and coherence, and avoid duplication between its deliberations and those of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF); and make its outcomes and those of its subsidiary bodies more relevant and action-oriented and ensure their follow-up. The draft includes sections on: annual main theme and substantive focus; structure of the ECOSOC cycle; integration; ECOSOC High-level Segment (HLS) and HLPF; UN system-wide coherence and coordination; humanitarian affairs segment; the UN Peacebuilding Commission; emerging and frontier issues; stakeholder engagement; coordination and management; and ECOSOC subsidiary bodies and support. It notes that ECOSOC arrangements agreed as part of the resolution shall be implemented in an “expeditious manner,” and should be reviewed during the 74th session of the UNGA in conjunction with the first review of the HLPF, adding that future review cycles of ECOSOC and the HLPF will be harmonized.

On the annual main theme, the zero draft indicates that the UNGA would adopt, for the HLPF, “an annual core theme” that is fundamental to sustainable development, is universal in scope and not limited by social group or geographic location. ECOSOC would then adopt this core theme as its “main theme,” and the themes of its segments and subsidiary bodies would be “based on, or derived from the core theme.”

The zero draft notes that the current ECOSOC Integration Segment would be replaced by a stock-taking segment that would take place for one day, immediately before the HLPF, and would result in a President’s summary. The stock-taking segment would discuss and consolidate inputs from UN Member States, the UN system and other stakeholders, and develop action-oriented recommendations on the HLPF thematic review. The draft also invites ECOSOC subsidiary bodies to further review their working methods to best support implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adding that their work should reflect the need for an integrated and action-oriented approach to implement the SDGs.

On structure, the draft states that the ECOSOC annual cycle would continue to run from July to July, and that ECOSOC’s segments and forums would be categorized into three groups per cycle, as follows:

  • Group 1: ECOSOC fora that place a strong emphasis on means of implementation, such as the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF), the Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FfD Forum) and the Multi-stakeholder Forum on science, technology and innovation for the SDGs (STI Forum);
  • Group 2: Segments and events that address actions by the UN development system and other actors to implement the 2030 Agenda, along with distinct humanitarian assistance, such as the Operational Activities Segment (OAS), the Humanitarian Affairs Segment, the Partnerships Forum and the Youth Forum; and
  • Group 3: Segments and fora that review progress on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, including the stock-taking segment, the HLPF and the ECOSOC High-Level Segment (HLS).

According to a schema included in annex to the zero draft resolution, group 1 segments and fora would take place each year around April, group 2 would happen around May, and group 3 would be scheduled in July.

On the HLPF and the HLS, the draft notes that following the HLPF ministerial segment, the final day of the HLS would focus on future trends and scenarios related to the ECOSOC theme. It adds that the HLS’ outcome would be a President’s summary, while the HLPF outcome would remain a Ministerial Declaration. It invites the ECOSOC Bureau to review the Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs) framework to allow “sufficient time” for countries to present their VNRs during the HLPF.

On coherence, coordination and accountability, the zero draft indicates that the “strengthened” OAS should serve as a platform to provide accountability for UN system-wide performance in relation to the 2030 Agenda. ECOSOC would exercise oversight on the implementation of the resolution on the repositioning of the UN development system, as part of its work on the implementation of the quadrennial comprehensive policy review (QCPR), and would review UN system-wide support to the SDGs, the draft resolution notes. It would also strengthen oversight and coordination role of its subsidiary bodies.

On peacebuilding, the resolution encourages ECOSOC and the UN Peacebuilding Commission to cooperate more closely, including through “enhanced dialogue” that promotes coherence and complementarity between the UN’s peace and security efforts, and its support to the 2030 Agenda, human rights and humanitarian work. On stakeholder engagement, the resolution suggests to engage a “broader range of stakeholders” in the work of ECOSOC, adding that the Council could hold informal fora with other actors such as local government and indigenous peoples.

According to the co-facilitators’ letter, additional consultations on the resolution will take place on 24 May, 25 May, 29 May and 13 June, and the co-facilitators hope to reach an agreement on the outcome document by 15 June. [Co-facilitators’ letter on proposed meetings for May-June 2018 and zero draft] [Co-facilitators’ letter on 16 May informal consultation] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on elements paper] [SDG Knowledge Hub story on food for thought paper discussions]

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