Open main menu

United Nations Economic and Social Council

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC; French: Conseil économique et social des Nations unies, CESNU) is one of the five 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).

United Nations Economic and Social Council
Emblem of the United Nations.svg
United Nations Economic and Social Council chamber New York City 2.JPG
The room of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. UN headquarters, New York City, New York, U.S.
Formation1945; 73 years ago (1945)[1]
TypePrimary organ
Legal statusActive
ECOSOC President Inga Rhonda King [2]

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
2019 Ms. Inga Rhonda King   Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
2018 Ms. Marie Chatardová   Czech Republic
2017 Mr. Marc Smith    Switzerland
2016 Mr. Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava   Zimbabwe
2015 Mr. Oh Joon   Republic of Korea
2014 Mr. Martin Sajdik   Austria
2013 Mr. Néstor Osorio Londoño   Colombia
2012 Mr. Miloš Koterec   Slovakia
2011 Mr. Lazarous Kapambwe   Zambia
2010 Mr. Hamidon Ali   Malaysia
2009 Ms. Sylvie Lucas   Luxembourg
2008 Mr. Léo Mérorès   Haiti
2007 Mr. Dalius Čekuolis   Lithuania
2006 Mr. Ali Hachani   Tunisia
2005 Mr. 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
ECOSOC Resolution 2007/25: Support to Non-Self-Governing Territories by the specialised agencies and international institutions associated with the United Nations (26 July 2007)

Observer Inter-Governmental Autonomous organisationsEdit

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 commissionsEdit

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 commissionsEdit

Specialised agenciesEdit

Other related entities, mechanisms and processesEdit

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

In a report issued in early July 2011, the UN called for spending nearly US$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 CouncilEdit

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 designEdit

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 alsoEdit


  2. ^ a b "ECOSOC President 2018 Her Excellency Inga Rhonda King | UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC and SOCIAL COUNCIL". United Nations. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  3. ^ "Background Information". UN Economic and Social Council.
  4. ^ "Opening 2019 Session, Economic and Social Council Elects New President, Adopts Provisional Agenda, Other Organizational Matters" (Press release). New York. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Members | UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC and SOCIAL COUNCIL". Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  6. ^ "General Assembly Unanimously Adopts Text Creating United Nations Counter-Terrorism Office; Elects 18 Members to Economic and Social Council | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases".
  7. ^ "General Assembly Elects 18 Members of Economic and Social Council, Also Adopts Texts, Including One Designating 29 June International Day of Tropics | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases".
  8. ^ a b ECOSOC observers, Part V Archived 22 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ a b "Commission on the Status of Women".
  10. ^ a b c d "Research paper" (PDF).
  11. ^ Cohn, Theodore H. (2016-05-05). Global Political Economy: Theory and Practice. Routledge. ISBN 9781317334828.
  12. ^ "The World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation'". Thaindian News. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  13. ^ Ian Williams, "Annan has paid his dues". The Guardian, 19 September 2005
  14. ^ UN website.

External linksEdit