Pakistan completes year-long ECOSOC presidency
UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan on Friday completed its presidency of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), after leading the 54-member body, amid the deadly coronavirus pandemic that created the greatest economic and social crisis around the world, especially in the developing countries.
“It was a unique experience,” Ambassador Munir Akram said, as he handed over the presidency to Botswana’s Ambassador Collen Vixen Kelapile at a ceremony.
Several ambassadors, including the Chinese, Tunisian, Thai and Botswana, paid rich tributes to Ambassador Akram’s leadership during an extreme period that led to a consensus on debt relief and restructuring to enable the Covid-hit nations to build back better.
Ambassador Akram was elected last year for the second time to head ECOSOC, which is the third principal organ of the UN, along with the General Assembly and Security Council.
He last served in that capacity in 2005. The only other ambassador to have had this distinction was Juan Somavia of Chile, the former director-general of the International Labour Organization.
ECOSOC was established in 1945 under the UN Charter to promote international economic cooperation and oversee the work of all international economic organisations. Pakistan has been elected as ECOSOC president six times.
In his remarks, Ambassador Akram said that throughout the last year, ECOSOC was at the centre of the intense international discourse on ways and means to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and its consequences, while also persisting in the endeavour to implement Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and avert the existential threat of a climate catastrophe.
During the year, he said, ECOSOC made its contribution to building the responses to these challenges; it set out the actions needed to provide “a vaccine for all”.
Other contributions included agreement on measures for financing recovery from the pandemic and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); drew attention to the special needs of the poor countries; reviewed the systemic causes of inequality; identified concrete ways to utilise science, technology and innovation, especially digitalisation, to advance the SDGs; promoted dialogue and action on sustainable infrastructure investment; and not the least, achieved consensus on a comprehensive Ministerial Declaration, at the just concluded High Level Political Forum, which constitutes a comprehensive agenda for action.
Unfortunately, Ambassador Akram said that the challenges being faced by the international community are far from being overcome, adding that the WHO director-general’s recent statement that the world is failing the test of solidarity in assuring the availability of the Covid vaccine to all.
“If we fail this test, we will put in jeopardy the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people in the developing world, as well as the prospects of a quick recovery of the world economy.”
Despite the consensus in ECOSOC, the Pakistani envoy said, the developing world has yet to find the financing needed to recover from the recession and economic downturn triggered by the pandemic.
The burden of debt is triggering the collapse of weaker economies, he said, adding that with the large financial injections; the rich are recovering, while the poor slide further into poverty even as new strains of the virus spread to unvaccinated populations.
“The promises of vaccine unity, larger concessional funds SDR creation and reallocation, must be fulfilled on an emergency basis,” Ambassador Akram said.
Actions on climate and the environment also hang in the balance, as there is so far no assurance that the developed countries will fulfill their promise of providing $100 billion in climate finance annually, he added.
“Unless there are visible steps taken towards international solidarity, the success of COP-26, and achievement of the goals and objectives of the Paris agreements, will be in jeopardy.”
He wished success to Ambassador Kelapile, and expressed the hope that under his leadership, ECOSOC will respond actively and boldly to meet these challenges during the next year.
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