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        Economic and Social Council
21 July 1999

Original: ENGLISH


Substantive session of 1999


Held at the Palais des Nations, Geneva,
on Wednesday, 21 July 1999 at 10 a.m.




In the absence of Mr. Fulci (Italy), Mr. Wibisono (Indonesia),
Vice­President, took the Chair

The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.

REGIONAL COOPERATION (agenda item 10) (E/1999/14 and Add.1­3 and 15­20; A/54/97­E/1999/52)

Dialogue with the executive secretaries of the regional commissions


Mr. EL-BEBLAWI (Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA)) said that the Commission had celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary, marking the occasion with a survey of 25 years of political, economic and social developments in the region. Its member States had also adopted the Beirut declaration which formulated a vision for the region for the twenty-first century. Moreover, ESCWA had been the first regional commission to hold regional hearings in preparation for the United Nations Millennium Assembly. Much of the discussion had centred on the concepts of sovereignty and globalization, and the participating NGOs had emphasized the need for governments to respect their autonomy and had urged the United Nations to provide them with legal and financial support. Discussion of the role of the United Nations had focused on: the “duplicity” of United Nations standards in the international system; the need for a more democratic Organization; and the ramifications of the existing “unipolar” international system. Other items raised had been the systematic removal of the United Nations from efforts to settle the Arab-Israeli conflict and the need to bolster its role; and the disparity between the permanent members of the Security Council and the other Member States.


Mr. AL-HUSSAMY (Syrian Arab Republic) expressed his delegation's support for the efforts of the regional commissions to enhance regional, economic and social cooperation, especially in the fields of trade and humanitarian assistance. Such efforts had had a positive impact on national sustainable development programmes and had strengthened cooperation with United Nations bodies, especially the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

With regard to ESCWA’s efforts to prepare its member countries for the new millennium, his delegation wished to express its support for the Beirut Declaration and to emphasize the importance of devoting more resources to its implementation. The region’s development depended, above all, on the achievement of a lasting peace through the implementation of the relevant United Nations resolutions and respect for international law on the basis of the principle of “land for peace”. In that context, it was highly regrettable that the report to be transmitted by the Secretary-General on the economic and social repercussions of the Israeli occupation on the living conditions of the Palestinian people in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Jerusalem, and the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan, which was due to be considered under agenda item 11, had not yet been issued.


Mr. EL-BEBLAWI (Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA))informed the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic that the report of the Secretary­General on the occupied Palestinian territory and the occupied Syrian Golan would soon be submitted. He acknowledged the need for a climate of durable peace and security in the region for sustained economic and social development.


The meeting rose at 1.20 p.m.

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