Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is at the heart of the United Nations system to advance the three dimensions of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental.  

It is the central platform for fostering debate and innovative thinking, forging consensus on ways forward, and coordinating efforts to achieve internationally agreed goals. It is also responsible for the follow-up to major UN conferences and summits.

The Council addresses issues ranging from transport and industrialisation to social welfare, climate change and food security.

54 of the UN member states make up ECOSOC. Geography plays a big role in dictating who can be a member of ECOSOC. 14 seats are reserved for African states, 11 for Asian states, six for Eastern European states, 10 for Latin American and Caribbean states and 13 for Western European and other states.

You can find the current member states here. The members are elected by the General Assembly for three years at a time.

ECOSOC at work

In ECOSOC, sub-commissions are working on the three aspects as mentioned above: economic, social and environmental issues.  

Some of these sub-commissions include the Commission on Human Rights, the Commission on Social Development, and the Commission on Women’s Status.

ECOSOC bases its work on recommendations from these commissions and UN special organisations, sub-organisations and programs tasked with addressing these specific issues.

In addition, ECOSOC works with NGOs that have obtained consultative status to the Council – a status allowing specific NGOs to attend meetings and contribute to the work of ECOSOC.

The Council holds a four-week substantive session each July, alternating between New York and Geneva.

Read more about ECOSOC here.

Main Organs


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