Over the 2006/07 period, CEB addressed a number of emerging and important programme issues with system-wide implications. Those included issues that required the development of a coordinated response from the United Nations, such as international migration and development, the midterm review of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries, and the cross-cutting issue of employment and decent work. Other topics were addressed from the perspective of developing common understanding and coherent responses to emerging issues on the international agenda, ranging from aid-for-trade to system-wide coherence and “One United Nations” at the country level.

The Board considered the new mandates entrusted to the Economic and Social Council by the 2005 World Summit and further elaborated by the General Assembly in its resolution 61/16 in the context of the need to improve policy and programme coordination in the United Nations system. The Annual Ministerial Review of progress on the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, held the potential for establishing the Council as a central forum for intergovernmental oversight and assessment of the implementation of the United Nations development agenda. The biannual Development Cooperation Forum would be launched at the Council’s forthcoming July meeting and would provide a global platform where all stakeholders would be able to engage in high-level dialogue on new trends and key policy issues affecting development cooperation.

In its deliberations, CEB reiterated the potential that the new functions entrusted to the Economic and Social Council carried to enhance the relevance and impact of its work. The new mandates entrusted to the Council provided new opportunities for a meaningful policy dialogue between the Council and the United Nations system on system-wide coordination and policy coherence.

Employment and decent work

CEB addressed the issue of employment and decent work both in an initial preparatory discussion at its fall 2006 session and on the basis of further preparation by the High-level Committee on Programmes at its spring 2007 session in the light of increasingly strong political support for addressing full employment and decent work for all. That support had been manifested at high-level international gatherings in various regions, such as the African Union Extraordinary Summit on Employment and Poverty Alleviation and the Fourth Summit of the Americas.

Aid-for-trade

The Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration created a new WTO aid-for-trade work programme to complement the conclusion of the Doha Development Round. WTO had, in that regard, been mandated to monitor and evaluate aid-for-trade so as to create more incentives through greater transparency in honouring commitments, meeting needs, improving effectiveness and reinforcing mutual accountability. With the onset of the implementation phase of that initiative, the full involvement of the United Nations system was required.

Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries

CEB also addressed the outcome of the midterm review by the General Assembly of the Brussels Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the Decade 2001-2010. CEB highlighted the need to make every effort to accelerate the implementation of the Brussels Programme of Action as a major integral part of the drive towards meeting the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

“One United Nations” at the country level

CEB considered that a principal determinant of the United Nations system’s image in donor as well as recipient countries was its work at the country level. The system could not, therefore, afford to be perceived as a disparate group of competing organizations. CEB members should instead strive to work as a coherent  system devoted to bringing its diverse capacities to bear, in a concerted way, on the priorities defined by developing countries. How best to harness the limited resources available to United Nations organizations to maximize their impact remained a major challenge.