In May 2003 the United Nations Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) approved the Hariri Foundation for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the UN. Made up of 54 member governments, the council has a wide-ranging scope of responsibilities from co-ordinating the work of 14 UN agencies and 15 commissions, to receiving reports from 11 UN funds and programs, and to making policy recommendations to the UN system and to Member States.
According to its web site, “Under the UN Charter, ECOSOC 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. ECOSOC’s purview extends to over 70 per cent of the human and financial resources of the entire UN system. … In carrying out its mandate, ECOSOC consults with academics, business sector representatives, and more than 2,100 registered non-governmental organizations.”
Since the Hariri Foundation promotes the development of Lebanon’s human resources through education, health services, economic projects, cultural enrichment, historical preservation, international co-operation, and the safeguarding of human rights, its programs closely parallel the interests of ECOSOC. Accordingly, it meets the basic requirements for ECOSOC special consultative status.
To initiate consideration for special consultative status, the Hariri Foundation filed an application with the UN Committee on NGOs demonstrating that its mandates, governance, and financial regimes meet the criteria of the committee. Upon passing review by the committee, the Foundation was recommended for special consultative status along with 23other national and international organizations on January 8, 2003. It was subsequently approved in May for special consultative status.
Each year during its four-week session in July, the high-level members of the council select a theme of global significance as the major focus of ECOSOC for that year. For 2003 the theme is “Promoting an integrated approach to rural development in developing countries for poverty eradication and sustainable development.” In prior years the major focus has included a “Manifesto on Poverty,” ways to address the digital divide between developing countries and technologically advanced nations, and the challenge of development in Africa.
As a result of the discussions which occur during its annual session, ECOSOC recommends a number of strategies for UN member states to follow to achieve the goals set forth in ECOSOC’s theme statement for the year.