United Nations Economic and Social Council

United Nations Economic and Social Council
The room of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. UN headquarters, New York City, New York, U.S.
Abbreviation ECOSOC
Formation 1945 (1945)[1]
Type Primary organ
Legal status Active
Inga Rhonda King[2]
Website www.un.org/en/ecosoc

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC; French: Conseil économique et social des Nations unies, CESNU) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic, social, and related work of 15 UN specialized agencies, their functional commissions and five regional commissions. The ECOSOC has 54 members. The General Assembly selects 18 new members for ECOSOC each year for the term of 3 years with a provision that a retiring member can be re-elected. It holds one seven-week session each year in July, and since 1998, it has also held an annual meeting in April with finance ministers heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

ECOSOC serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues and formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states and the United Nations system.[3] A number of non-governmental organisations have been granted consultative status to the Council to participate in the work of the United Nations.


The president is elected for a one-year term and chosen from the small or mid-sized powers represented on the ECOSOC.[2] Inga Rhonda King was elected seventy-fourth President of ECOSOC on 26 July 2018.[4] Ambassador King is currently the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the United Nations in New York.

Term President From
2019Ms. Inga Rhonda King Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
2018Ms. Marie Chatardová Czech Republic
2017Mr. Marc Smith  Switzerland
2016Mr. Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava Zimbabwe
2015Mr. Oh Joon Republic of Korea
2014Mr. Martin Sajdik Austria
2013Mr. Néstor Osorio Londoño Colombia
2012Mr. Miloš Koterec Slovakia
2011Mr. Lazarous Kapambwe Zambia
2010Mr. Hamidon Ali Malaysia
2009Ms. Sylvie Lucas Luxembourg
2008Mr. Léo Mérorès Haiti
2007Mr. Dalius Čekuolis Lithuania
2006Mr. Ali Hachani Tunisia
2005Mr. Munir Akram Pakistan


The Council has 54 member states out of the 193 UN member states, which are elected each year by the United Nations General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. Seats on the Council are based on geographical representation with 14 allocated to African states, 11 to Asia-Pacific states, 6 to East European states, 10 to Latin American and Caribbean states and 13 to West European and other states.


Term African States (14) Asian States (11) Eastern European
Latin American &
Caribbean States
Western European &
Other States
2018-20[6]  Ghana
 Belarus  Ecuador
 El Salvador
2017-19[7]  Benin
Republic of Korea
 United Arab Emirates
 Russian Federation
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of)
 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2016-18  Algeria
 South Africa
 Viet Nam
 Republic of Moldova
 Czech Republic
 United States of America


Term African States (14) Asian States (11) Eastern European
Latin American &
Caribbean States
Western European &
Other States
2015-17  Burkina Faso
 Estonia  Argentina
 Trinidad and Tobago
2014-16  Botswana
 Democratic Republic of the Congo
Republic of Korea
 Russian Federation
 Antigua and Barbuda
 United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
2013-15  Tunisia
 South Africa
 Bolivia (Plurinational State of)
 United States of America
 San Marino
Before 2013  Botswana'  Bangladesh'  Albania  Antigua and Barbuda'  Austria
 Benin  China  Belarus  Bolivia (Plurinational State of)  Canada
 Burkina Faso  India  Bulgaria*  Brazil  Denmark
 Cameroon*  Indonesia  Croatia  Colombia  France
 Congo'  Japan  Georgia'  Cuba  Ireland*
 Democratic Republic of the Congo'  Kazakhstan'  Latvia*  Dominican Republic  Netherlands*
 Ethiopia  Kuwait  Russian Federation  Ecuador*  New Zealand
 Gabon*  Kyrgyzstan  Serbia'  El Salvador  San Marino
 Lesotho    Nepal  Guatemala'  Spain*
 Libya  Pakistan*  Haiti  Sweden
 Malawi*  Qatar*  Mexico*  Turkey*
 Mauritius Republic of Korea  Nicaragua*  United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
 Nigeria  Turkmenistan  Panama'  United States of America
 South Africa

Observer Inter-Governmental Autonomous organisations

Participation on a continuing basis:[8]

Participation on an ad hoc basis:[8]

  • African Accounting Council
  • African Cultural Institute
  • Arab Security Studies and Training Center
  • Council of Arab Ministers of the Interior
  • International Bauxite Association
  • International Civil Defence Organisation
  • Latin American Social Sciences Institute

Functional commissions

The UN Commission on the Status of Women formally became a functional commission of the Economic and Social Council on 21 June 1946[9]. The UN Commission on the status of women is a global intergovernmental body dedicated to promoting gender equality, and empowering women[9]. Originally, the proposal for the council was turned down with the thought that the Commission on Human Rights would be sufficient to deal with women’s issues[10]. Eventually at the urging of the then Danish delegate, Bodil Begtrup, the Commission on the Status of Women was formed as a freestanding functional commission, dedicated specifically to women’s issues, in 1946[10]. Bodil Begtrup went on to become the first chair of the Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission on the Status of Women engages with the Commission on Human Rights and serves as a lobby specifically for women, often working closely with women’s NGOs[10]. The commission was initially focused on women’s rights to equality, gradually shifting to a focus on issues of women’s education, social status, political equality etc[10].

Regional commissions

Specialised agencies

These specialised agencies are autonomous organisations working with the United Nations and each other inter alia through the coordinating machinery of the Economic and Social Council.[11]

"World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation"

In a report issued in early July 2011, the UN called for spending nearly USD 2 trillion on green technologies to prevent what it termed "a major planetary catastrophe", warning that "It is rapidly expanding energy use, mainly driven by fossil fuels, that explains why humanity is on the verge of breaching planetary sustainability boundaries through global warming, biodiversity loss, and disturbance of the nitrogen-cycle balance and other measures of the sustainability of the earth's ecosystem".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added: "Rather than viewing growth and sustainability as competing goals on a collision course, we must see them as complementary and mutually supportive imperatives". The report concluded that "Business as usual is not an option".[12]

Reform of the Economic and Social Council

Governance of the multilateral system has historically been complex and fragmented. This has limited the capacity of ECOSOC to influence international policies in trade, finance and investment. Reform proposals aim to enhance the relevance and contribution of the council. A major reform was approved by the 2005 World Summit on the basis of proposals submitted by secretary-general Kofi Annan.[13] The Summit aimed to establish ECOSOC as a quality platform for high-level engagement among member states and with international financial institutions, the private sector and civil society on global trends, policies and action. It was decided to hold biennial high-level Development Cooperation Forums at the national-leadership level by transforming the high-level segment of the Council to review trends in international development cooperation and promote greater coherence in development activities. At the Summit it was also decided to hold annual ministerial-level substantive reviews to assess progress in achieving internationally agreed development goals (particularly the Millennium Development Goals). These "Annual Ministerial Reviews" will be replaced by the High Level Political Forum from 2016 onwards after the new post-MDG/post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals are agreed.

Subsequent proposals by the High-Level Panel Report on System-Wide Coherence in November 2006 aimed to establish a forum within the ECOSOC as a counter-model to the exclusive clubs of the G8 and G20. The Forum was to comprise 27 heads of state (L27, corresponding to half of ECOSOC's membership) to meet annually and provide international leadership in the development area. This proposal, however, was not approved by the General Assembly.

Chamber design

The Economic and Social Council Chamber in the United Nations Conference Building was a gift from Sweden. It was conceived by Swedish architect Sven Markelius, one of the 11 architects in the international team that designed the UN headquarters. Wood from Swedish pine trees was used in the delegates' area for the railings and doors.

The pipes and ducts in the ceiling above the public gallery were deliberately left exposed; the architect believed that anything useful could be left uncovered. The "unfinished" ceiling is a symbolic reminder that the economic and social work of the United Nations is never finished; there will always be something more which can be done to improve living conditions for the world's people.[14]

See also


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