Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
What is ECOSOC?
The UN Charter established ECOSOC as the principal UN organ for promoting “conditions of economic and social progress and development”, and for recommending “solutions to international economic, social, health and related problems” and “human rights”.
Formally, ECOSOC has broad responsibility for some 70% of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system, including 14 specialized agencies, 9 “functional” commissions, and five regional commissions and is the docking point for the WTO, private sector and civil society.
There are 54 members of ECOSOC, and it sits above a large number of specialist subsidiary bodies. Through an electoral agreement the UK is always a member.
ECOSOC is presided over by a Bureau, which is elected by the Council each year. You can learn more about ECOSOC at the UN's website
What is the ‘substantive session?’
There are many ECOSOC meetings throughout the year, but much of its work is focused in the annual ‘substantive session’. This four week meeting takes place in July and alternates between New York and Geneva. The session is divided into ‘segments,’ and each segment contains a mixture of formal plenary meetings (where member states deliver statements and resolutions are adopted/voted) and informal negotiations. However, negotiations can begin several weeks in advance, particularly on more contentious issues.
Learn more about the substantive session