Counselor for Economic and Social Affairs
New York, New York
February 15, 2022
Thank you, Madam Chair. We appreciate the efforts you, the Commission bureau, and secretariat have undertaken to convene the session during extraordinary circumstances.
As we begin this year’s Commission session, we should recommit to its founding purpose of implementing the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and its ten commitments.
The Commission’s focus has become so broad that it not only overlaps with various UN bodies, but also dilutes its capacity to examine subjects in an effective and in-depth manner. We have highlighted these concerns elsewhere in the UN system and believe we must phase out duplicative resolutions and agenda items. The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to underscore that need for improved efficiency in our work, including reforming the Commission’s overloaded agenda and overlapping work with various UN bodies.
Primary examples include the Commission’s work on youth, older persons, persons with disabilities, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development, among other topics. These subjects are more effectively addressed through expert bodies and mechanisms, such as the annual ECOSOC Youth Forum, the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, the Conference of States Parties to the UN Disabilities Convention, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development initiative and annual resolution in the General Assembly, and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Commission’s treatment of these topics creates parallel work without the benefit of advancing the expert discussion and informed outcomes these subjects deserve. We therefore recommend phasing out these multiple, recurring resolutions and directing our collective action through these other more appropriate expert bodies and mechanisms.
To enhance the Commission’s efficiency, we recommend that the Commission consider negotiating a single thematic outcome document each year on a main theme that is not already the purview of other UN bodies. This approach would avoid redundancy; enable the Commission to make a unique impact on dimensions of social development that have gone unaddressed; and focus discussion on solutions to a single set of pressing social development challenges. The CSocD’s focus on homelessness at its 2020 session is an example where the Commission examined a theme which had not been taken up in depth by other UN bodies. The annual session could then be condensed to three or four days. Various UN commissions have already implemented this model successfully.
As we seek to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and address some of the chronic global challenges that predate this crisis, it is incumbent upon us to manage the Commission’s focus and work so it can respond effectively. The United States looks forward to contributing towards this important goal.