Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) - UPSC Notes

The Economic and Social Council or the ECOSOC is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations. It is an important topic for the UPSC international relations segment. In this article, you can read all about the ECOSOC, its functions and role within the UN system and India’s relations with it.

ECOSOC Latest Development

On 14 September 2020, India was elected as a member of the United Nation’s Commission on Status of Women (UNCSW), an ECOSOC body. India will be a member of this Commission for four years from 2021 to 2025. The UNCSW is a UN organ promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women, and is a functional commission of the ECOSOC. Along with India, Afghanistan was also elected to the UNCSW, while China failed to win a seat.

ECOSOC UPSC Notes:- Download PDF Here

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.

To know more about Important Headquarters of International Organizations, check the linked article.

UPSC Prelims Facts - ECOSOC

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.

ECOSOC Functions

The functions of the ECOSOC encompasses the following areas:

  1. Promoting sustainable development – ECOSOC is the unifying platform for integration, action on sustainable development and follow-up and review.
  2. 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).
  3. Development Cooperation Forum – The Forum reviews the latest trends and progress in international development cooperation and promotes coordination across diverse actors and activities.
  4. Financing for sustainable development
  5. Coordinating humanitarian action – Here, the focus is on how to tackle pressing issues of humanitarian concern. 
  6. Guiding operational activities for development
    1. Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) comes under this head in ECOSOC.
    2. 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.
  7. Providing coordination and oversight – This is the management segment of ECOSOC’s functions.
  8. Partnership Forum – This Forum brings together influential government leaders, civil society, the private sector and the non-profit sector also to foster international development.
  9. 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.
  10. ECOSOC engages in enhancing the peace and development nexus and coordinating support to countries emerging from conflict.
  11. It also has a Youth Forum where the voices of the youth and youth-led organizations are heard.

ECOSOC Members

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. 

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