United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

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The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) was established under the United Nations Charter to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. It has 54 members, all of whom are elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term. Seats on the Council are based on geographical representation with fourteen allocated to African States, eleven to Asian States, six to Eastern European States, ten to Latin American and Caribbean States, and thirteen to Western European and other States. The president is elected for a one-year term and chosen amongst the small or middle powers represented on the Council. ECOSOC meets once a year in July for a four-week session. Since 1998, it has held another meeting each April with finance ministers heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


ECOSOC serves as the main hub for discussing economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to the United Nations. It is responsible for:

  • promoting improved standards of living, full employment, and economic and social progress
  • identifying solutions to international economic, social and health problems
  • facilitating international cultural and educational cooperation
  • encouraging universal respect for human rights

With its broad mandate the Council's oversight extends to over 70% of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system.

Work on gender

In 1946, an ECOSOC resolution created the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). It is a functional commission of ECOSOC, dedicated exclusively to gender equality and advancement of women. It is supported by the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW). The CSW is made up of 45 Member States of the United Nations, with one representative from each country. Members are elected by ECOSOC on the basis of equitable geographical distribution: thirteen members from Africa; eleven from Asia; nine from Latin America and Caribbean; eight from Western Europe and other States and four from Eastern Europe. Members are elected for a period of four years.

Every year, representatives of Member States gather at United Nations Headquarters in New York to evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and advancement of women worldwide. The annual meeting takes place in late February and early March. CSW also makes recommendations to ECOSOC on urgent problems requiring immediate attention in the field of women's rights.


External links

United Nations Economic and Social Council

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