United Nations
Economic and Social Council
Founded26 June 1945; 78 years ago (1945-06-26)
  African states (14)
  Asia-Pacific states (11)
  Eastern European states (6)
  Latin American and Caribbean states (10)
  Western European and other states (13)
Meeting place
United Nations Economic and Social Council chamber at United Nations headquarters
United Nations Economic and Social Council chamber at United Nations headquarters

The United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six principal organs of the United Nations, responsible for coordinating the economic and social fields of the organization, specifically in regards to the fifteen specialized agencies, the eight functional commissions, and the five regional commissions under its jurisdiction.

ECOSOC serves as the central forum for discussing international economic and social issues, and formulating policy recommendations addressed to member states and the United Nations System.[1] It has 54 members.[2] In addition to a rotating membership of 54 UN member states, over 1,600 nongovernmental organizations have consultative status with the Council to participate in the work of the United Nations.[3]

ECOSOC holds one four-week session each year in July, and since 1998 has also held an annual meeting in April with finance ministers of heading key committees of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Additionally, the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF), which reviews the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is convened under the auspices of the Council every July.[4]


Main article: President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

The president of the Council is elected for a one-year term and chosen from the small or medium sized states represented on the Council at the beginning of each new session.[5] The presidency rotates among the United Nations Regional Groups to ensure equal representation.[6]

Paula Narváez, Representative of Chile, was elected as the seventy-ninth president of the Council on 27 July 2023. She succeeded Lachezara Stoeva, who was elected as the seventy-eighth president of the Council on 25 July 2022,[7] succeeding Collen Vixen Kelapile of Botswana.[8]


See also: List of members of the United Nations Economic and Social Council

The Council consists of 54 Member States, which are elected yearly by the General Assembly for overlapping three-year terms. Seats on the Council are allocated ensuring equitable geographic rotation among the United Nations regional groups.[9][10] Outgoing members are eligible for immediate re-election, and some seats are held by de facto permanent members.


In 1945 when the United Nations Charter was originally signed, the Economic and Social Council consisted of 18 seats. The formal concept of the United Nations Regional Groups did not yet exist, and unlike the Security Council, there was no "gentlemen's agreement" between the superpowers to assign ECOSOC seats. Regardless, with 4 exceptions out of 102 elections (see list), a relatively stable pattern emerged and held until 1960:[11]

As the number of United Nations members grew with decolonization, the pattern began to break down starting in 1961, with nations in Africa winning elections to seats formerly held by Western Europe and the Republic of China (Taiwan).[11]

In 1965, the Charter was amended to increase the size of ECOSOC to 27 seats, and the Regional Groups were formally introduced. The seat distribution became:[14]

In 1973, the Charter was amended again to increase the size of ECOSOC to 54 seats. The seat distribution became:[14]

Current members

Term African States Asia-Pacific States Eastern European
Latin American &
Caribbean States
Western European &
Other States
2025 – 2027[15]  Algeria
 Ivory Coast
 South Africa
 Saudi Arabia
 Sri Lanka
 Antigua and Barbuda
 Dominican Republic
2024 – 2026[16][17]  Kenya
Main Page Vacant[note 1]
 United Kingdom
2023 – 2025  Botswana
 Cape Verde
 Equatorial Guinea
Republic of Korea
 Costa Rica
 New Zealand
2022 – 2024[18]  Côte d'Ivoire
 Afghanistan [note 2][19]
 United States
  1. ^ Election pending between North Macedonia and Russia.
  2. ^ The United Nations currently recognizes the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as the government of Afghanistan instead of the de facto ruling government, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Observer Inter-Governmental Autonomous Organisations

Participation on a continuing basis:[20]

Participation on an ad hoc basis:[20]


Functional commissions


The following are the active functional commission of the Council:[21][22]


The following commissions were disbanded by the Council and replaced by other bodies:

Regional commissions

The following are the active regional commissions of the Council:[22]

Committees and other bodies

The following are some of the other bodies that the Council oversees in some capacity:[22]

Standing committees

Expert bodies

Other subsidiary bodies

Specialized agencies

See also: List of specialized agencies of the United Nations

The specialized agencies of the United Nations are autonomous organizations working within the United Nations System, meaning that while they report their activities to the Economic and Social Council, they are mostly free to their own devices. Each agency must negotiate with the Council as to what their relationship will look and work like. This leads to a system where different organizations maintain different types of relationships with the Council.[27][28] Some were created before the United Nations existed and were integrated into the system, others were created by the League of Nations and were integrated by its successor, while others were created by the United Nations itself to meet emerging needs.[29]

The following is a list of the specialized agencies reporting to the Council:[30]

"World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation"

In a report issued in early July 2011, the UN called for spending nearly US$2  trillion on green technologies to prevent what it termed "a major planetary catastrophe", warning that "It is rapidly expanding energy use, mainly driven by fossil fuels, that explains why humanity is on the verge of breaching planetary sustainability boundaries through global warming, biodiversity loss, and disturbance of the nitrogen-cycle balance and other measures of the sustainability of the earth's ecosystem".[31]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon added: "Rather than viewing growth and sustainability as competing goals on a collision course, we must see them as complementary and mutually supportive imperatives". The report concluded that "Business as usual is not an option".[32]

Reform of the Economic and Social Council

The governance of the multilateral system has historically been complex and fragmented. This has limited the capacity of ECOSOC to influence international policies in trade, finance, and investment. Reform proposals aim to enhance the relevance and contribution of the council. A major reform was approved by the 2005 World Summit based on proposals submitted by secretary-general Kofi Annan.[33] The Summit aimed to establish ECOSOC as a quality platform for high-level engagement among member states and with international financial institutions, the private sector, and civil society on global trends, policies, and action. It resolved to hold biennial high-level Development Cooperation Forums at the national-leadership level, transforming the high-level segment of the Council to review trends in international development cooperation and promote greater coherence in development activities. At the Summit it was also decided to hold annual ministerial-level substantive reviews to assess progress in achieving internationally agreed on development goals (particularly the Millennium Development Goals). These "Annual Ministerial Reviews" will be replaced by the High-Level Political Forum from 2016 onwards after the new post-MDG/post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals are agreed upon.[34]

Subsequent proposals by the High-Level Panel Report on System-Wide Coherence in November 2006 aimed to establish a forum within the ECOSOC as a counter-model to the exclusive clubs of the G8 and G20. The Forum was to comprise 27 heads of state (L27, corresponding to half of ECOSOC's membership) to meet annually and provide international leadership in the development area. This proposal however, was not approved by the General Assembly.[35]

Chamber design

The Economic and Social Council Chamber in the United Nations Conference Building was a gift from Sweden. It was conceived by Swedish architect Sven Markelius, one of the 11 architects in the international team that designed the UN headquarters. Wood from Swedish pine trees was used in the delegates' area for the railings and doors.[36]

The pipes and ducts in the ceiling above the public gallery were deliberately left exposed; the architect believed that anything useful could be left uncovered. The "unfinished" ceiling is a symbolic reminder that the economic and social work of the United Nations is never finished; there will always be something more that can be done to improve living conditions for the world's people.[37]

See also


  1. ^ Various nonstandard, inconsistent names, including also "Near and Middle East", were used before Africa and Asia became Regional Groups. Sources published after the introduction of the Regional Groups retroactively name this group "Asia-Africa" or similar, but this name was not used at the creation of ECOSOC.[12][11][13]


  1. ^ "About ECOSOC". ECOSOC. Archived from the original on Nov 2, 2019.
  2. ^ "High-Level Political Forum 2020 (HLPF 2020)". Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  3. ^ Basu, Rumki (2019). The United Nations. Sterling. p. 83. ISBN 978-81-207-2775-5.
  4. ^ "Welcome to csonet.org | Website of the UN DESA NGO Branch. At your service". csonet.org. Archived from the original on 2023-01-11. Retrieved 2023-01-11.
  5. ^ Mu Xuequan (27 July 2018). "UN ECOSOC Elects New President". Xinhuanet. Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on February 26, 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  6. ^ "United Nations Official Document, Rule 20.2". un.org. Archived from the original on 2020-09-10. Retrieved 2020-09-15.
  7. ^ "2022: H.E. Lachezara Stoeva (Bulgaria)". Economic and Social Council United Nations. Archived from the original on Sep 6, 2023.
  8. ^ "President of ECOSOC". ECOSOC. Archived from the original on 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Members". UNITED NATIONS ECONOMIC and SOCIAL COUNCIL. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  10. ^ "General Assembly Elects 19 Economic and Social Council Members to Terms Beginning 1 January 2020, Adopts Resolution Commemorating Signing of United Nations Charter". United Nations Meetings Coverage & Press Releases. United Nations. 14 June 2019. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  11. ^ a b c Gregg, Robert W. “The Economic and Social Council: Politics of Membership.” The Western Political Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 1, 1963, pp. 109–32. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/445962. Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.
  12. ^ Agam, Hasmy; Sam Daws; Terence O'Brien; Ramesh Takur (26 March 1999). What is Equitable Geographic Representation in the Twenty-First Century (PDF) (Report). United Nations University. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  13. ^ Padelford, Norman J. “Politics and the Future of ECOSOC.” International Organization, vol. 15, no. 4, 1961, pp. 564–80. JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2705552. Accessed 24 Mar. 2024.
  14. ^ a b "Economic and Social Council Membership". Economic and Social Council.
  15. ^ https://x.com/UN_PGA/status/1799425203682041932
  16. ^ "ECOSOC Membership by Year". Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Retrieved 1 January 2024.
  17. ^ "Türkiye elected to UN Economic and Social Council". Anadolu Agency. 8 June 2023. Retrieved 1 January 2024.
  18. ^ "Announcement of 22 new members for 2022 term". UN ECOSOC President - Official Twitter Account of UN ECOSOC.
  19. ^ Gladstone, Rick (2021-12-01). "U.N. Seats Denied, for Now, to Afghanistan's Taliban and Myanmar's Junta". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2021-12-28. Retrieved 2022-04-07.
  20. ^ a b ECOSOC observers, Part V Archived 22 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ "Subsidiary Bodies of ECOSOC". United Nations Economic and Social Council. United Nations. n.d. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  22. ^ a b c Manhire, Vanessa, ed. (2019). "United Nations Handbook 2019–20". United Nations Handbook: An Annual Guide for Those Working with and within the United Nations (57th ed.). Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand: 144–198. ISSN 0110-1951.
  23. ^ "UN Creates New Human Rights Body". BBC. London. 15 March 2006. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  24. ^ "United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC)". UIA Open Yearbook. Union of International Associations. n.d. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  25. ^ "United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)". UIA Open Yearbook. Union of International Associations. n.d. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  26. ^ United Nations General Assembly Session 67 Resolution 290. Format and Organizational Aspects of the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development A/RES/67/290 9 July 2013. Retrieved 25 August 2020.
  27. ^ Cohn, Theodore H. (2016-05-05). Global Political Economy: Theory and Practice. Routledge. ISBN 9781317334828.
  28. ^ "UN Specialized Agencies". Globalization 101. The Levin Institute. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  29. ^ Kurtas, Susan. "Research Guides: UN System Documentation: Specialized Agencies". Research Guides at United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld Library. Retrieved 2020-12-13.
  30. ^ "Funds, Programmes, Specialized Agencies and Others". United Nations. United Nations. n.d. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  31. ^ "World Economic and Social Survey 2011 | Department of Economic and Social Affairs". United Nations. Retrieved 2022-02-27.
  32. ^ "The World Economic and Social Survey 2011: The Great Green Technological Transformation'". Thaindian News. Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2011.
  33. ^ Ian Williams, "Annan has paid his dues". The Guardian, 19 September 2005
  34. ^ UNDESA (8 July 2015). "Session 18: Reviewing and monitoring progress: What have we learned and how can it advance implementation?". Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  35. ^ "Turkmenistan Elected to ECOSOC for 2019-2021". The Gazette of Central Asia. 15 June 2018. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  36. ^ Anand, Ankit. "Project Work of Political Science". scribd. Chanakya National Law University. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  37. ^ UN website.

Further reading