Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Munir Akram was on Thursday unanimously elected as the president of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for the year 2020-21.
This is the sixth time that Pakistan has been elected as the ECOSOC president and the second time that Ambassador Akram has been elected to this post, having served as its president in 2005. The only other envoy to have had this distinction was Juan Somavía of Chile, according to a statement issued by the Pakistani mission to the UN in New York.
The 54-member ECOSOC is the third principal UN organ, along with the General Assembly and Security Council, established in 1945 to promote international economic cooperation and oversee the work of all international economic organisations.
In his acceptance speech, Ambassador Akram outlined the objectives of the Pakistan presidency.
He said UN member states today faced three simultaneous challenges: the Covid-19 health and economic crisis, the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals and the existential threat of climate change. The commitments made in each area must be implemented, he added.
Related: Economic costs of Covid-19
Stressing the need to end inequality among and within nations, Akram expressed the hope that a Covid-19 vaccine would be developed soon. “Everyone, everywhere — rich or poor — must have equal access to the vaccine,” he stressed.
The envoy proposed that in the coming year, ECOSOC should focus on financing for Covid-19, SDGs and climate change goals; sustainable infrastructure investment; and application of advanced science and technology for development. He said he would convene special meetings to advance action in these areas.
He recalled the call by Prime Minister Imran Khan for a “Global Initiative on Debt Relief” and mentioned the proposals for new special drawing rights (SDRs) and other financing proposals under consideration.
He said an additional investment of over $1.5 trillion annually in sustainable infrastructure was “most essential” for the achievement of the SDGs. He also proposed the creation of an Infrastructure Project Preparation and Investment Centre.
Akram called for preferential access for developing countries to advanced technologies and for making the intellectual property regime “compatible with the SDGs”.
"The digital revolution has opened vast opportunities for the developing countries, not so much to catch up with the advanced countries, but to leapfrog into a new and modern development paradigm," he was quoted as saying by the press release.
ECOSOC is the UN's central platform for economic and social development, forging consensus and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed development goals.