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ECOSOC/7063
22 July 2021
13th Meeting (AM)

Weighing Global Impact of COVID-19 across Myriad Sectors, Economic and Social Council Adopts Texts on HIV/AIDS response, Crime Prevention, Technology for Development

The Economic and Social Council continued its 2021 Management Segment today, adopting 12 resolutions, nine decisions and three recommendations — as well as several texts to be forwarded to the General Assembly — recommended by subsidiary bodies working on issues ranging from the global HIV/AIDS response to crime prevention to science and technology for development, much of which was heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the texts adopted were a draft resolution and draft decision contained in the 2020 report of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, whose director, Antonia Marie de Meo, briefed the Council today for the first time in the Institute’s more-than-50-year history.  She said the COVID-19 context led the Institute to focus more on addressing the emerging activities of terrorist, violent extremist and organized criminal groups seeking to capitalize on the destabilizing effects of COVID-19.  “For anyone using or concerned about social media, this is an eye-opening report,” she said, adding that the Institute worked with local communities and civil society to strengthen capacities and build resilience, with particular attention to youth and vulnerable groups.

Similarly, Jagjit Pavadia, President of the International Narcotics Control Board — while introducing that body’s 2020 report — said that the COVID-19 pandemic starkly demonstrated the necessity of universal access to health care, including access to medicines containing controlled substances.  With the pandemic far from over, greater efforts are required to ensure continued access to controlled medicines for all COVID-related and other ongoing medical needs, she said.

Peter Major, Chair of the twenty-fourth session of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, introduced that body’s report as well as a report of the Secretary-General on progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels.  He said participants at the session noted with concern the unequal access of countries to the benefits of science, technology and innovation in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.  They also cited emerging challenges, such as cybersecurity risks, misinformation and disinformation, and spotlighted the crucial role that information and communications technologies have played in supporting education, health care and remote work during the pandemic.

The Council also adopted a draft resolution titled “Open-source technologies for sustainable development”, which was introduced by the representative of Pakistan.  By its terms, the Council noted the availability of open-source technologies that can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals — including the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries — and invited the Secretary-General to develop specific proposals on ways to better leverage such technologies for sustainable development.

The ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic also came into focus, as Winifred Karagwa Byanyima, Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), briefed the organ and introduced her most recent report.  Recalling that 2021 marks 40 years since the first cases of the virus were identified, she said more than 35 million lives have been lost since then.  “Inequalities, including gender and racial inequalities, stigma and punitive laws and the denial of human rights … prevent people from accessing the treatment and services that they need,” she said, noting that six in seven new infections among adolescents occur among girls and 40 per cent of new infections globally occur in Africa.  She warned that COVID-19 is overwhelming many national health systems, preventing people from accessing their HIV treatment, and that countries with high rates of HIV prevalence have among the lowest rates of access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Against that backdrop, the Council adopted a draft resolution titled “Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS”, recognizing that “the AIDS epidemic is not yet over” and calling for urgent action and partnership by Member States, the United Nations system and others to scale up evidence-based HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and retention services. 

In a similar vein, Werner Obermeyer, Director of the New York Office of the World Health Organization (WHO), introduced the report of the Director-General on the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases.  He highlighted that only 17 of the world’s countries are on track to reduce by one third the level of premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030.  “The COVID-19 pandemic should remove all doubt as to why addressing non-communicable diseases is crucial for health and sustainable development,” he said, emphasizing that in different contexts worldwide, such diseases — and their risk factors — increase susceptibility to COVID-19 infection and the likelihood of severe outcomes, including in younger people.

The Council adopted a related draft resolution, titled “United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases”.

In other business, the Council decided to defer its consideration of a draft resolution titled “Revised terms of reference of the Inland Transport Committee”, recommended by the Economic Commission for Europe, to a later date.  It approved a draft decision titled “Proposed dates of the meetings and segments of the Economic and Social Council in 2022”, laying out a series of proposed dates for the session’s meetings and segments, which were annexed to the decision. 

Acting by acclamation, it approved the nomination of 24 experts for appointment to the Committee of Experts on Public Administration and 25 experts to serve on the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters.  It elected Algeria to serve on the Commission on the Status of Women; Kazakhstan to serve on the Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting; Australia, France, Germany and Monaco to serve on the Executive Board of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and Sweden to complete the term of office of New Zealand; Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden to serve on the Executive Board of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)/United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), and Switzerland to complete the term of office of Denmark.

Also acting by acclamation, the Council further elected Indonesia and Lebanon to serve on the Committee for the United Nations Population Award, and New Zealand to complete the term of office of Switzerland on the Council to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission.

The Council will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Friday, 23 July, to hold the organizational meeting of its 2022 session.

Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice

ANTONIA MARIE DE MEO, Director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, introduced the Secretary-General’s note (document E/CN.15/2021/8) transmitting the report of the Institute on its work in 2020.  She noted that, while long ties exist between the Economic and Social Council and the Institute, today marks the first time the latter’s director has formally briefed the former.  Outlining the Institute’s work in 2020, she said that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, it continued to develop, test and promote innovative measures in criminal justice and crime prevention in order to build the knowledge and capacity of Member States.  Among other things, it organized an unprecedented number of virtual capacity-building and knowledge-development activities, with participation that far exceeded previous years.  All of the Institute’s work aimed to further Sustainable Development Goal 16 to prevent and counter crime, strengthen the rule of law and build resilient societies.

She said the pandemic context led the Institute to focus more on addressing the emerging activities of terrorist, violent extremist and organized criminal groups seeking to capitalize on the destabilizing effects of COVID-19.  “For anyone using or concerned about social media, this is an eye-opening report,” she said, adding that the Institute worked with local communities and civil society to strengthen capacities and build resilience, with particular attention to youth and vulnerable groups.  In the Sahel-Maghreb region of Africa, the body analysed data on the type of local strategies and measures that effectively strengthen community resilience to violent extremism.  It also expanded its capacity-building to reinforce border security, carrying out training courses in Albania and Kenya, and worked closely with Member States in the Caucasus, Eastern Europe and North Africa to identify country-specific policies to recover illicit assets linked to organized crime and corruption and to create mechanisms to distribute recovered assets.

The representative of Italy described the Institute as a unique body that adds value to the United Nations work.  Its 2020 report clearly shows the quality of the Institute’s research and analysis, which was particularly important in a year when Sustainable Development Goal 16 was one of the goals under review at the Council’s high-level political forum, and when issues such as transnational organized crime and cybercrime are gaining prominence. 

The representatives of Germany and the United States echoed those points, with the former welcoming the Institute’s first briefing to the Council and expressing his hope that that good practice will continue in the future. 

ALESSANDRO CORTESE (Italy), Chair of the thirtieth session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, introduced that body’s report (document E/2021/30) in a pre-recorded video message.  Recalling that the body held its thirtieth session in a hybrid format in May, with high rates of participation from around the globe, he said attendees marked the Commission’s thirtieth anniversary with a high-level ceremonial segment.  The body ultimately adopted a series of resolutions covering topics that range from combating crimes that affect the environment to integrating sport into youth prevention strategies, and from combating trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants to strengthening crime prevention in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Each text contains elements that further the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Goal 16, he said, adding that participants also considered a potential new standing agenda item on an exchange of views regarding the Commission’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  In addition, he recalled that the Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice was held in Kyoto, Japan, and that participants adopted a Declaration which will serve as a key political commitment on crime prevention and criminal justice going forward.  

The representative of Cuba, speaking after that introduction, reaffirmed his delegation’s commitment to crime prevention and criminal justice.  However, many countries continue to apply unilateral coercive measures that are detrimental to targeted countries’ efforts to pursue crime prevention and advance justice.  In the case of Cuba, the longstanding economic blockade imposed by the United States continues to impede Havana’s efforts to improve its work in those critical arenas.  In particular, he said, a recent cyber effort by persons in the United States used mass media and social networks to deliberately spread misinformation in his country.

The representative of the United States, raising a point of order, asked what the Cuban delegation’s statement has to do with the matter being addressed by the Council today. 

The Council then approved a total of six draft resolutions and one draft decision contained in the report.  Five draft resolutions were adopted with the intent of forwarding them to the General Assembly for adoption.  By the terms of draft resolution I, titled “Fourteenth United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice”, the Assembly would express its satisfaction with the results achieved by the Fourteenth Crime Congress held in Kyoto, Japan, from 7 to 12 March 2021, and express its gratitude to the people and Government of Japan.  Taking note of the Congress’ report, it would endorse the outcome document — titled “Kyoto Declaration on Advancing Crime Prevention, Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law: Towards the Achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, and invite Governments to take it into consideration when formulating legislation and policy directives. 

By the terms of draft resolution II, titled “Reducing reoffending through rehabilitation and reintegration”, the Assembly would encourage Member States to develop comprehensive strategies or action plans to reduce reoffending through effective interventions for the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders.  It would also encourage Member States to promote a rehabilitative environment in correctional facilities; promote multi-stakeholder partnerships to reduce reoffending by fostering inter-agency coordination among relevant government authorities; and request the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), subject to the availability of extrabudgetary resources, to convene an expert group meeting to share information on promising practices to reduce reoffending.

By the terms of draft resolution III, titled “Integrating sport into youth crime prevention and criminal justice strategies”, the Assembly would reaffirm that sport is an important enabler of sustainable development and recognize its growing contribution of sport to the realization of development, justice and peace in its promotion of tolerance and respect.  It would call on Member States and relevant stakeholders to support and encourage relevant domestic authorities at all levels, in the creation of safe spaces for sports and physical activities and the provision of equal access to sports facilities for all youth.  It would further request UNODC to continue supporting Member States in such activities, through technical assistance and the development of tailored guidance.

By the terms of draft resolution IV, titled “Strengthening criminal justice systems during and after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic”, the Assembly would underline that the COVID-19 pandemic poses cross-cutting, multifaceted challenges to the criminal justice system and requires comprehensive, integrated, multisectoral and coordinated responses, including through cooperation between the justice and health sectors.  Calling on Member States to implement the Kyoto Declaration, it would recommend that they take into account lessons learned and best practices applied during the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to make criminal justice systems more effective, accountable, transparent, inclusive, responsive and better prepared.  It would also recommend that Member States take appropriate measures to improve the overall effectiveness and capacity of the criminal justice system and request UNODC to conduct further studies on the impact of COVID-19 on criminal justice systems and to provide relevant recommendations, together with Member States and within existing extrabudgetary resources.

By the terms of draft resolution V, titled “Preventing and combating crimes that affect the environment”, the Assembly would urge Member States to adopt effective measures to prevent and combat crimes that affect the environment, such as illicit trafficking in wildlife, and adopt concrete and effective measures to recover and return, in appropriate cases, the proceeds of such crimes, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.  Urging all States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to those agreements, it would also call on Member States to develop or amend national legislation, in accordance with domestic law, so that crimes that affect the environment falling within the scope of the Organized Crime Convention are treated as predicate offences.  Among other things, it would also strongly encourage Member States to improve and enhance the collection, quality, availability and analysis of data on crimes that affect the environment.

The Council itself adopted one draft resolution contained in the report, titled “Implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons”.  By its terms, the Council urged Member States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding to, as a matter of priority, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and urged States parties to make full and effective use of those instruments.  Among other things, it requested UNODC, within its mandate, to continue to integrate the Global Plan of Action into its programmes and activities.

The Council also adopted one draft decision contained in the report, titled “Report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its thirtieth session and provisional agenda for its thirty-first session”.  By its terms, the Council took note of the report of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice on its thirtieth session, reaffirmed Commission decision 21/1 of 27 April 2012 and approved the provisional agenda for the thirty-first session.

Narcotic Drugs

DOMINIKA KROIS (Poland), Chair of the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, speaking via video-teleconference, introduced that body’s report (document E/2021/28).  The report outlines the sixty-fourth session of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, held from 12 to 16 April 2021.  Chapter I contains the text of the resolutions and decisions adopted by the Commission or recommended by the Commission for adoption by the Economic and Social Council.  Among other things, it lists substances the Commission newly decided to include in Schedules I, II and IV of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, and the Convention on Psychotropic Substance of 1971.  It also lists the decisions that the Commission recommended for adoption by the Council.

She said that the resolutions adopted at the sixty-fourth session dealt with different aspects of the world drug problem, such as alternative development; scientific evidence-based drug prevention, treatment and sustained recovery; addressing the harmful effects of the non-medical use of pharmaceuticals; and demand reduction for people impacted by social marginalization.  The Commission also adopted a joint statement on the impact of COVID-19 on the world drug problem, which went on to be submitted to the 2021 high-level political forum on sustainable development.  Through the eight decisions adopted at the sixty-fourth session, the Commission added new substances to the schedules of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the fiftieth anniversary of the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances, she said.

JAGJIT PAVADIA, President of the International Narcotics Control Board, introduced that body’s report for 2020 (document E/INCB/2020/1).  She said that the COVID-19 pandemic starkly demonstrated the necessity of universal access to health care, including access to medicines containing controlled substances.  The report’s thematic chapter focuses drug use among older people, which is increasing at a faster rate than among young people.  The report contains an analysis of the pandemic’s impact on the availability of internationally controlled substances for licit purposes and on illicit drug activity.  It also draws attention to the disruption in treatment services for people with substance use disorders as well as the need to step up evidence-based prevention and treatment services, particularly given the pandemic’s mental health impact.  She underscored the Board’s ongoing concern over the legalization of cannabis use in some countries, adding that non-medical use and legalization of controlled substances are inconsistent with the obligations of States parties to the 1961 Convention.  With the pandemic far from over, greater efforts are required to ensure continued access to controlled medicines for all COVID-related and other ongoing medical needs, she said.

The Council then adopted the draft decisions “Report of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs on its sixty-fourth session and provision agenda for its sixty-fifth session” and “Report of the International Narcotics Control Board,” contained in chapter 1, section A of the Commission’s report, through which it took note of both reports.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

The Council then turned its attention to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS).

WINIFRED KARAGWA BYANYIMA, Executive Director of UNAIDS, introduced a note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (document E/2021/64).  Recalling that 2021 marks 40 years since the first cases of the virus were identified, she said more than 35 million lives have been lost since the start of the crisis.  “This continues to be one of the deadliest pandemics of our time,” she stressed.  Citing progress made in curbing the spread of the virus and providing access to life-saving drugs over the last four decades, she nevertheless described that progress as uneven.  Inequalities, including gender and racial inequalities, stigma and punitive laws and the denial of human rights … prevent people from accessing the treatment and services that they need,” she said, noting that six in seven new infections among adolescents occur among girls.  Forty per cent of new infections globally occur in Africa, with the majority occurring in young women and girls.  Also disproportionally affected are men who have sex with men, sex workers and their clients.

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, she warned that COVID-19 is overwhelming many national health systems around the globe and preventing people from accessing their HIV treatment.  Countries with high rates of HIV prevalence are also facing some of the lowest rates of access to COVID-19 vaccines, and it is now known that persons living with HIV/AIDS are more vulnerable to the negative health impacts of COVID-19.  UNAIDS continues to support countries in their gender-responsive and multi-sectoral responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but its budget of $187 million in 2020 represented less than 1 per cent of the total resources invested in the global AIDS response.  As outlined in the report, she said UNAIDS continues to constantly refine its working methods to increase its collaboration, coherence and effectiveness, and has embarked on a new work plan for the next five years.  She also recalled that a crucial new Political Declaration was adopted in June by the high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS in New York.

KALUMBI SHANGULA (Namibia), Chair of the Programme Coordinating Board of UNAIDS, introduced a note by the Secretariat transmitting a report of the Programme Coordinating Board of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (document E/2021/67).  He recalled that the Economic and Social Council had “remarkable foresight” when it established UNAIDS as a multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder agency in 1994.  The Programme Coordinating Board is composed of Member States and intergovernmental organizations, and brings representatives of civil society — including persons living with HIV/AIDS — together around the same table.  That ensures that UNAIDS’ work responds to the real situation on the ground and draws on the skills and benefits of a diverse range of stakeholders.  Outlining the many themes examined by the Programme Coordination Board, he said the aim of such work is to link investments with specific results. 

While the governance of UNAIDS remains aligned with the founding resolutions of the Economic and Social Council, he outlined recent steps taken to strengthen joint governance, especially in line with recommendations of the Joint Inspection Unit.  Among those changes were the establishment of an independent oversight committee and a new model of catalytic funding.  The Programme Coordinating Board also adapted its work to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring full business continuity in spite of difficulties in convening meetings and negotiations.  Noting that core funding accounts for some 80 per cent of the work of UNAIDS, he warned that underfunding continues to pose challenges.  Increases in both core and non-core funding are needed for the Agency to continue its critical work and press forward towards the goal of ending HIV/AIDS.  Finally, he recalled that the Joint Inspection Unit recommended that term limits be instituted for the position of UNAIDS Executive Director.  Discussions on that request are contained in the resolutions adopted by the Programme Coordinating Board for the Council’s approval.

The Council then approved a related draft resolution, titled “Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS” (document E/2021/L.30), without a vote.  By its terms, the Council took note of two reports introduced today and recognized that the AIDS epidemic is not yet over, and stressed the need to act with urgency to meet the 2025 milestones and targets.  It called for urgent action and partnership by Member States, the United Nations system, civil society, local communities, the private sector and others to scale up evidence-based HIV prevention, testing, treatment, care and retention services.  It also called for strengthened coordination and collaboration between tuberculosis and HIV programmes; requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the establishment of two four-year term limits and performance expectations for the position of Executive Director; and called for urgent action to close the HIV/AIDS resource gap, taking into account the need for annual investments of $29 billion in order to reach the 2025 targets.

The representative of Namibia, delivering a joint statement on behalf of her delegation and that of Thailand in their capacities as Chair and Vice-Chair of the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board, said new HIV infections have decreased —although not fast enough — with deep disparities within and among countries, between men and women, different age groups and for key populations who are at high risk.  “We did not reach the 2020 targets we had all agreed to,” she said, adding that the draft adopted by the Council recognizes the importance of the new 2025 targets and commitments in the General Assembly Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS and in the Global AIDS Strategy, which are complementary and aligned with the 2030 Agenda and calls on the Joint Programme to support countries to implement these.  It also stresses the importance of a fully funded Joint Programme budget, she said.

The representative of the United States, speaking on behalf of a group of States, said that since the Economic and Social Council resolution in 1994 established UNAIDS, civil society has continued to serve as “the eyes and ears” of the United Nations HIV/AIDS response.  It is with and through the meaningful involvement of civil society that policies are monitored and the day-to-day reality of living with HIV is best understood.  Against that backdrop, he warned against increasing attempts over recent months to diminish the role of civil society in the UNAIDS governing board, and their participation in meetings at the United Nations, such as the high-level meeting on HIV/AIDS in June.  Underlining the particular need for the participation of voices that question Government actions and shed light on “neglected and contentious issues”, he said the draft resolution adopted by the Council represents an opportunity to once again support, protect and celebrate civil society’s role in the UNAIDS governing body.

The representative of Portugal echoed those points and aligned himself with the joint statement delivered by the representative of the United States. 

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that his delegation joined the consensus on the draft resolution, outlined the Russian Federation’s long history of work with UNAIDS and its significant contributions to the Agency over the years.  Also voicing support for the new targets adopted by UNAIDS, he welcomed the inclusion of language in today’s text that takes into account the national priorities of Member States.  However, he reiterated his country’s previously stated concerns about language used in the UNAIDS Global Strategy for 2021-2026, and put on record his delegation’s reservations about language in preambular paragraphs 12 and 16, and operative paragraph 6, in today’s resolution. 

The representative of Egypt also voiced concerns about the language in operative paragraph 6, noting that various forms of violence can be understood differently in different contexts.  Egypt’s National Strategy for Combating Violence against Women defines domestic violence as “acts of violence committed by husbands or other members of the family against women or girls”.  Community violence is defined as “acts of violence committed by strangers, not members of the family or friends”.  In that regard, prohibition of all forms of violence is governed by relevant national legislation.  Egypt also considers that the category of “people in vulnerable situations” includes only such categories that enjoy international consensus, such as women, girls, children, people with disabilities, refugees and migrants.  He also drew attention to preambular paragraph 8, which reaffirms the sovereign rights of Member States to implement the commitments and pledges in the 2021 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS consistently with national laws, national development priorities and international human rights.

Non-communicable Diseases

WERNER OBERMEYER, Director, New York Office of the World Health Organization (WHO), introduced the report of the Director-General of the WHO on the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases (document E/2021/48/Rev.1).  It highlighted that only 17 countries are on track to reduce by one third the level of premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 2030.  It also shows that only 32 Member States are on track to achieve the voluntary WHO target of a 30 per cent reduction in the prevalence of tobacco use between 2010 and 2025.  “The COVID-19 pandemic should remove all doubt as to why addressing non-communicable diseases is crucial for health and sustainable development,” he said, emphasizing that in different contexts worldwide, such diseases — and their risk factors — increase susceptibility to COVID-19 infection and the likelihood of severe outcomes, including in younger people.

He went on to say that the WHO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have joined forces to establish the first-ever United Nations trust fund dedicated to supporting Member States in tackling non-communicable diseases and mental health conditions.  It is designed to catalyse action in low-and middle-income countries to strengthen their responses to such illnesses as heart conditions and strokes, diabetes, breast and cervical cancer, and mental health conditions such as depression.  The Fund aims to raise $250 million over five years, he said, adding that has the potential to save 8 million lives and create $350 billion in economic benefits for low- and middle-income countries by 2030 as they build back better from COVID-19.

EVGENY Y. VARGANOV (Russian Federation) introduced the draft resolution “United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases” (document E/2021/L.35), saying that the text stresses the need to address non-communicable diseases as an integral part of the world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to achieve universal health coverage.  Through the text, the Task Force’s member agencies would be invited to assist interested countries in this regard.  The Council would also welcome the long-awaited establishment of a United Nations multi-donor trust fund to combat non-communicable diseases.  Since the Task Force’s establishment in 2013, its work has proven to be necessary and effective, and it deserves the Council’s recognition and careful guidance, he said.

The Council then adopted “L.35” without a vote.

Science and Technology for Development

The Council then took up the report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development at its twenty-fourth session (document E/2021/31) and the report of the Secretary-General on the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the World Summit on the Information Society at the regional and international levels (document E/2021/11).  

PETER MAJOR (Hungary), Chair of the Commission’s twenty-fourth session, said that the Commission met in a hybrid format on 17 to 21 May.  It featured a high-level segment on the role of science, technology and innovation in a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.  During that event, participants noted with concern the unequal access of countries to the benefits of science, technology and innovation in the context of the pandemic, in addition to persisting digital divides which can exacerbate inequalities.  Taking up the priority theme “Using science, technology and innovation to close the gap on Sustainable Development Goal 3 on good health and well-being,” participants discussed how sexually transmitted infections’ tools and frontier technologies contribute to health care across the world, including in the COVID-19 context.  In reviewing the progress made in implementing the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society, participants highlighted such challenges as the digital divide, cybersecurity, misinformation and disinformation, as well as the central role that information and communications technologies have played during the pandemic in supporting learning and health care and facilitating remote work and conferences.  He went on to say that the Commission’s twenty-fifth session will be held on 28 March to 1 April 2022 with two priority themes:  “Industry 4.0 for inclusive development” and “Science, technology and innovation for sustainable urban development in a post-COVID world”.

The Council then adopted two draft resolutions contained in the Commission’s report, titled “Assessment of the progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society” and “Science, technology and innovation for technology”.

It then adopted five draft decisions, contained in that same report, titled “Extensions of the mandate of the Gender Advisory Board of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development,” “Participation of non-governmental organizations and civil society entities in the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development,” “Participation of academic and technical entities in the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development,” “Participation of business sector entities, including the private sector, in the work of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development” and “Report of the Commission on Science and Technology for Development on its twenty-fourth session and provision agenda and documentation for the twenty-fifth session of the Commission”.

MUHAMMAD IMRAN KHAN (Pakistan) then introduced the draft resolution “Open-source technologies for sustainable development” (document E/2021/L.27).  By the terms of that text, the Council would note the availability of open-source technologies that can contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals and acknowledge the existence of various mechanisms that promote open-source use and offer databases, including the Technology Facilitation Mechanism and the Technology Bank for the Least Developed Countries.  Acknowledging the importance of enhancing international support for effective and targeted capacity-building in developing countries — including in relation to open-source technologies and their implementation — it would invite the Secretary-General to develop specific proposals, based on inputs from interested Member States and other stakeholders, on ways to better leverage open-source technologies for sustainable development, within existing resources.

The Council then adopted “L.27” without a vote.

Geospatial Information

PIERRE JAILLARD (France), Chair of the 2021 session of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, introduced that session’s report (document E/2021/69).  The meeting, which was held virtually, focused on the theme “Geographical Names Supporting Sustainable Development and Management of the Pandemic”, in support of General Assembly resolution 70/1.  One of its principal outcomes was a recommendation seeking the Economic and Social Council’s adoption of the Group’s Strategic Plan and Programme of Work (2021-2029), which is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and will build on advancements made in streamlining and making the Group of Experts more efficient. 

He went on to note that the Strategic Plan and Programme of Work stresses that “the monitoring of [Goals] should be adequately supported by thematic analyses based on a set of geospatial data, of which geographical names are a core element”.  It offers the Group of Experts’ expertise for capacity-building across Member States.  In addition, he said, the report before the Council today includes technical decisions on the Group of Experts’ regular work programme in areas such as social and economic benefits; supporting sustainable development; geographical names as culture, heritage and identity, including indigenous, minority and regional languages and multilingual issues; education; and cooperation with other organizations. 

The Council then approved three recommendations contained in the report.  By the terms of Recommendation 1, it approved the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names’ strategic plan and programme of work for 2021–2029 and encouraged its Bureau to assess the structure of its subsidiary bodies to allow for efficiency in the implementation of the strategic plan and programme of work, and if needed, propose its reorganization.  It also encouraged Member States, divisions, working groups and task teams of the Group of Experts to report on their activities to implement the strategic plan and programme of work at the sessions of the Group of Experts.

By the terms of Recommendation 2, the Council decided that the Group of Experts shall consider current and potential connections between geographical names and the environment and incorporate examples of relevant practices, research or working relationships in its operations and deliberations.  It also decided that the Group of Experts shall consider current and potential connections between geographical names and the environment and incorporate examples of relevant practices, research or working relationships in its operations and deliberations.

By the terms of recommendation 3, the Council took note of the report of the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names on its 2021 session (document E/2021/69); decided that the 2023 session of the Group of Experts shall be held from 1 to 5 May 2023; and approved the session’s provisional agenda.

Regional Cooperation

The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Follow-up to the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean” (document E/2021/L.23/Rev.1).  Through that text, the Council would acknowledge the entry into force of that Agreement, also known as the Escazú Agreement, on 22 April.  It would request the Secretary-General to provide, within existing resources and in line with regular budgetary procedures, adequate, stable and predictable resources to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to perform its functions as the Agreement’s secretariat.  It would also invite ECLAC to continue seeking voluntary contributions to cover any necessary, immediate costs arising from the entry into force of the Agreement and encourage Member States in a position do so to contribute in that regard.

The representative of the Secretariat read a statement of programme budget implications, saying that in the absence of any certainty about voluntary resources, implementation of “L.23/Rev.1” in 2022 would require additional regular budget resources in the estimated amount of $500,400, for which no provisions were made in the proposed programme budget for 2022.  Should the Council adopt the text, these additional requirements will be brought to the attention of the General Assembly and its Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary) at their sixty-fifth session.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) introduced “L.23/Rev.1”, saying that with core financial contributions, ECLAC will hopefully be able to raise voluntary funds to carry out its functions as the Escazú Agreement’s secretariat.  Funding from the regular budget for 2022 would therefore be a one-off request.  Any financial contribution shall be subject to the normal budgetary procedures of the United Nations, for which the Secretary-General would present the revised estimates for the analysis of the relevant bodies and committees.  He added that launching ECLAC’s secretariat functions cannot be postponed if the region is to fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The representative of Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the bloc fully supports the Escazú Agreement, but it is concerned about the request for additional resources.  Those concerns were expressed during informal negotiations on the text, she said, adding that the European Union is puzzled by the revised statement on programme budget implications, which was distributed to Council members on 20 July, an official United Nations holiday.  Given that the Organization’s budget is already stretched, the bloc does not consider itself bound by the statement on programme budget implications nor will it support it in the Fifth Committee.  Hopefully, ELAC will find alternative funding sources.

The representative of the United Kingdom expressed her country’s strong support for the Escazú Agreement and thanked the facilitators for taking its budget concerns on board.  However, the late-stage reference to additional and substantial resource requirements is concerning.  She asked ECLAC to find voluntary sources of financing, as set out in the draft.

The representative of the United States congratulated the Latin American and Caribbean region on the Escazú Agreement’s entry into force but underscored his delegation’s view that there are no universally recognized human rights specifically related to the environment.  He also noted that certain principles referred to in the text — such as the precautionary principle — are ill-defined and subject to interpretation.

The representative of Bolivia said that the Escazú Agreement, which entered into force on International Mother Earth Day, is the first of its kind to address environmental matters in Latin America and the Caribbean.  It is also the first in the world containing provisions regarding human rights defenders in environmental matters.  In a world in which the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare vulnerabilities, achieving the Goals requires public participation, he said, emphasizing that under the Escazú Agreement, any person will have the authority to enforce his or her legal rights in defence of the environment.  ECLAC must therefore be provided with the resources it needs to perform its secretariat functions and achieve the Agreement’s timely implementation.

The representative of Japan said that the Escazú Agreement will hopefully be implemented steadily.  However, the oral statement on programme budget implications is regrettable, as it anticipates an additional burden on the Organization’s finances.  Funding the implementation of the draft resolution should have been discussed when the Escazú Agreement was adopted, with any requests being made in line with the regular budget procedure.  Going forward, both ECLAC and the parties to the Escazú Agreement should respect that procedure.

The representative of the Russian Federation requested more details about the amounts that would be required for ECLAC to carry out its functions as the Escazú Agreement’s secretariat.  He emphasized that the Agreement is regional in scope and does not bring on board countries which are not party to it.

The Council then adopted “L.23/Rev.1” without a vote.

It then decided to further defer its consideration of draft resolution VI titled “Revised terms of reference of the Inland Transport Committee”, recommended by the Economic Commission for Europe, as contained in the addendum to the Secretary-General’s report on regional cooperation in the economic, social and related fields (document E/2019/15/Add.2), with a view to completing its consideration and taking action during its 2022 session and not later than the end of 2021.

South-South Cooperation for Development

ADEL ABDELLATIF, Director ad interim of the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation, introduced the latest report of the High-level Committee on South-South cooperation (document A/76/39), which held its twentieth session in June.  The report before the Council provides an overview of the documents considered by the Committee, as well as plenary and thematic discussions, decisions adopted, a list of participants and an overview of other organizational matters.  It also spotlights two decisions adopted by the Committee, the first of which focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery efforts. 

Among other things, he said, that decision called upon Member States, other partners and donors to urgently support funding and close the funding gap for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and its mechanisms — such as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility — and support equitable distribution of diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.  It urged countries to further explore innovative financing mechanisms aimed at ensuring continuity and strengthening of essential health services, and spotlighted the central role of South-South cooperation in all of those areas.  Meanwhile, he said, the High-level Committee’s second decision approved a provisional agenda for its twenty-first session, to be held in 2023.

Calendar of Conferences and Meetings in Economic, Social and Related Fields

The Council then approved a draft decision titled “Proposed dates of the meetings and segments of the Economic and Social Council in 2022” (document E/2021/L.34).  By its terms, the Council — noting that a final decision on the working arrangements for the 2022 session of the Council is expected to be adopted at the organizational meeting of the 2022 session, on 23 July 2021 — recommended a series of proposed dates for the session’s meetings and segments, which were annexed to the decision. 

Elections, Nominations, Confirmations and Appointments

The Council then approved, without a vote, the nomination by the Secretary-General of a list of 24 experts for appointment to the Committee of Experts on Public Administration for a four-year term beginning on 1 August 2021 and expiring on 31 July 2025.  Their names and biographical information are contained in a note by the Secretary-General (document E/2021/9/Add.12).

It approved, also without a vote, the nomination by the Secretary-General of a list of 25 experts to serve on the Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters, for a term beginning today and expiring on 30 June 2025.  Their names and biographical information are contained in a note by the Secretary-General (document E/2021/9/Add.13). 

The Council further elected Algeria, by acclamation, to serve a four-year term on the Commission on the Status of Women, beginning at the first meeting of the Commission’s sixty-seventh session in 2022 and expiring at the close of the Commission’s seventieth session, in 2026.  It elected Nigeria, also by acclamation, to serve a three-year term on the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, beginning on 1 January 2022.

Also acting by acclamation, it elected Kazakhstan to serve a three-year term on the Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting, beginning on 1 January 2022.

The Council elected Australia, France, Germany and Monaco, by acclamation, to serve three-year terms on the Executive Board of UNICEF, beginning on 1 January 2022.  In light of the resignations of New Zealand and Switzerland from that Board, it elected Sweden to complete the term of office of New Zealand, beginning on 1 January 2022 and expiring on 31 December 2023; and Denmark to complete the term of office of Switzerland, beginning on 1 January 2022 and expiring on 31 December 2022.

The Council further elected Germany, Greece, the Netherlands and Sweden, by acclamation, to serve three-year terms on the Executive Board of UNDP/United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)/United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), beginning on 1 January 2022.  In light of Denmark’s resignation from that Board, the Council elected, also by acclamation, Switzerland to complete the term of office of Denmark, beginning on 1 January 2022 and expiring on 31 December 2022.

It also elected, by acclamation, Indonesia and Lebanon, to serve three-year terms on the Committee for the United Nations Population Award, beginning on 1 January 2022.

In connection with Switzerland’s resignation from the Council to the Organizational Committee of the Peacebuilding Commission, members elected New Zealand, by acclamation, to complete the term of office of Switzerland, beginning on 1 January 2022 and expiring on 31 December 2022.

For information media. Not an official record.