St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations, I. Rhonda King, has been elected, by acclamation, the new president of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
King — appointed as Ambassador to the United Nations by Vincentian Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves on Sept. 13, 2013 — was elected ECOSOC president during its 2019 opening session last Thursday.
ECOSOC 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 UN said ECOSOC has 54 members. The General Assembly selects 18 new members for ECOSOC annually for the term of three years, with a provision that a retiring member can be re-elected.
ECOSOC holds one seven-week session each year in July. 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).
The UN said 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.
A number of non-governmental organizations have been granted consultative status to the Council to participate in the work of the United Nations.
King told Caribbean Life last Friday that she is the fourth female, the first woman from the Latin American and Caribbean region and the first woman from the Global South to serve as the president of ECOSOC.
At ECOSOC’s opening session, three vice-presidents were also elected: Omar Hilale (Morocco) from the African States; Teodoro Lopez Locsin, Jr. (Philippines) from the Asia-Pacific States; and Tore Hattrem (Norway) from the Western European and other States.
King said the seat to be occupied by the Eastern European States is yet to be filled.
In her opening address Thursday, the Vincentian envoy said she hopes to make the year ahead “a defining” one for ECOSOC, which leads the UN’s ambitious drive for sustainable economic, social and environmental development.
“It promises to be a defining year, which could help set a new course for the work of the Council and the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) held under its auspices,” said King, after being voted in as ECOSOC’s 74th president.
Calling it an honor to serve, she thanked the Council members and asked for their assistance in moving forward, “so that ECOSOC and the HLPF could live up to expectations,” according to the UN.
It said she paid special tribute to the outgoing president, Marie Chatardova, “whose leadership and vision” King said she would continue to rely and build on, “with its emphasis on inclusion and participation.”
King listed a revived ECOSOC as one of her main priorities, the UN said.
“You heard me correctly,” she said, “with your committed participation, we will revive the ECOSOC, using in full the hard-won innovations introduced by the General Assembly.
“There has been some dissatisfaction with the functioning of ECOSOC over the recent few years,” she added. “But, in the coming 12 months, let us work together to restore the ‘deliberative function’ of ECOSOC.”
She also cited the HLPF as “the centerpiece” of her priorities, saying that when it meets in the General Assembly, heads of state and government will review the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to the UN.
“We will have to think of ways to strengthen the conduct of the next cycle of reviews,” King said, while looking towards the early 2030 Sustainable Development Goal targets, that are set for 2020.