Pakistan elected to lead Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a principal UN organ, july 23, 2020

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Pakistan elected to lead Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), a principal UN organ, july 23, 2020

ISLAMABAD-UNITED NATIONS, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Munir Akram was on Thursday unanimously elected as the President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the world body's economic arm, for a year (2020-2021).

It will be the second time for Ambassador Akram to head the 54-Member EOSOC, which is the third principal organ of the UN, along with the General Assembly and Security Council.

Ambassador Akram 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 (ILO).

ECOSOC was established in 1945 under the UN Charter to promote international economic cooperation and oversee the work of all international economic organizations.

Pakistan has been elected as ECOSOC President six times.

In his acceptance speech, Ambassador Akram, outlining  the objectives of the Pakistan's residency of the Council, said UN Member States face three simultaneous challenges: the coronavirus health and economic crisis, the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the existential threat of climate change.

The commitments made in each area must be implemented, he said.

Quoting the UN Secretary-General, he said, “Inequality defines our times”. The legacy of colonialism, foreign occupation and racism is “a major systemic cause of inequality”, among and within nations.

Ambassador Akram hoped that a COVID-19 vaccine will be developed soon. “Everyone, everywhere – rich or poor – must have equal access to the vaccine”.

He proposed that in the coming year, ECOSOC should focus on three area -- financing of the COVID-19, SDG and climate change goals; sustainable infrastructure investment; and application of advanced science and technology for development. He would convene special meetings to advance action in these areas.

Noting that the IMF Managing Director has estimated that developing countries will need over $2.5 billion to recover from the current COVID induced recession, the Pakistani envoy recalled the early call by Prime Minister Imran Khan for a “Global Initiative on Debt Relief”.

He also mentioned the proposals for new SDRs and other financing proposals under consideration. He said the pledge of the advanced countries to raise 100 billion annually for climate action must be fulfilled.

Additional investment of over $1.5 trillion annually in sustainable infrastructure was “most essential” for achievement of the SDGs, he added. He proposed the creation of an Infrastructure Project Preparation and Investment Centre.

The incoming ECOSOC President called for preferential access for developing countries to advanced technologies and for making the intellectual property regime “compatible with the SDGs”. The “digital revolution has opened vast opportunities” for the developing countries, not so much to “catch up” with the advanced countries, but to “leap frog” into a “new and modern development paradigm”.

Ambassador said he would work closely with the incoming President of the General Assembly’s 75th Session, Ambassador Volkan Bozkir of Turkey, who is set to visit Pakistan soon.