United Nations Economic and Social Council {ECOSOC}

ECOSOC was established under the United Nations Charter as the principal organ to coordinate economic, social, and related work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, functional commissions and five regional commissions. The Council also receives reports from 11 UN funds and programmes.

Functions of ECOSOC

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and for formulating policy recommendations addressed to Member States and the United Nations system. It is responsible for:

  • promoting higher 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; and
  • Encouraging universal respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It has the power to make or initiate studies and reports on these issues. It also has the power to assist the preparations and organization of major international conferences in the economic and social and related fields and to facilitate a coordinated follow-up to these conferences. With its broad mandate the Council’s purview extends to over 70 per cent of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system.

President of ECOSOC

The current president of ECOSOC is Mr. Oh Joon of South Korea. The president is elected for a one-year term and chosen among the small or middle powers represented on ECOSOC.


The Council has 54 member states which are elected by the United Nations General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. 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.

How does it work?

The Council holds several short sessions and many preparatory meetings, round tables and panel discussions with the members of civil society throughout the year, to deal with the organization of its work. It holds a four-week substantive session in July, alternating between New York and Geneva , which is organized in four segments (High-level, Coordination, Operational Activities, Humanitarian Affairs and General Segments). At the High-level Segment, national cabinet ministers and chiefs of international agencies and other high officials discuss major economic, social and environmental policy issues. A Ministerial declaration is generally adopted on the theme of the High-level Segment, which provides policy guidance and recommendations for action. The official languages of the Economic and Social Council are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The year-round work of the Council is carried out in its subsidiary and related bodies.


The Bureau of ECOSOC includes one Government from each of five world regions – Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, East Europe, and West Europe and the other developed countries. Each year, a representative from a different region is chosen to head the Council as its President.