Programme priorities and mandate
ESCAP's programme priorities are determined by its member States through the Commission, as well as the directives of the United Nations General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.
The priorities of the ESCAP work programme are determined by ESCAP members and associate members through various intergovernmental bodies, most significantly during the annual sessions of the Commission. The involvement and recommendations of governments in determining the focus of the ESCAP work programme helps ensure greater relevance and ownership by member countries of our programmes.
In September 2000, governments around the world unanimously adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration. In that Declaration, governments agreed that they would spare no effort to free their fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanising conditions of extreme poverty.
The Millennium Declaration has given primacy to the work of ESCAP, particularly to its fight to reduce poverty in the region. Eight interrelated goals that are considered vital to human development are contained in the Millennium Declaration; each of them is time-bound and measurable. In line with its comparative advantages, ESCAP concentrates in addressing the following five Goals:
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership
Other Global Mandates
In addition to the Millennium Declaration, ESCAP’s programme priorities also support the regional implementation of other major global mandates, such as the 2005 World Summit Outcome, which reaffirms the United Nations Millennium Declaration, the Almaty Programme of Action for Landlocked Developing Countries, the Mauritius Strategy for further implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action for Small Island Developing States, the Doha Development Agenda, the Monterrey Consensus, the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Summit on the Information Society and the High-level United Nations Conference on South-South Cooperation. These mandates are also interlinked with, and their implementation contributes significantly to, the goals and targets of the Millennium Declaration, which are aimed to be achieved by 2015.
ESCAP’s regional support in the implementation of global mandates and international agreements is further guided by mandates provided by the Commission.
Mandates provided by the Commission reflect key economic and social challenges that confront the Asian and Pacific region. Example of these are:
- Regional infrastructure development, with emphasis on the Asian Highway and the Trans-Asian Railway
- Promotion of an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based society for persons with disability in Asia and the Pacific
- Regional cooperation in disaster risk reduction
- Development of intra-regional trade agreements, such as the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, and facilitating negotiation skills, compliance and accession to the WTO
ESCAP Intergovernmental Bodies
Member governments define ESCAP’s programme priorities, which are reflected in resolutions and decisions of intergovernmental bodies under the ESCAP conference structure.
The Commission serves as the apex legislative body for ESCAP. It meets annually in April or May, usually at the headquarters of ESCAP in Bangkok, to discuss key economic and social issues, review all aspects of ESCAPs’ work, and set priorities. Annual sessions are attended by ministers from a range of sectors, including foreign affairs, planning, and economic and social related areas.
To focus on the special concerns of the least developed and landlocked countries in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as the Pacific island developing countries and territories, the Commission established two special bodies, which meet in alternate years, during the Commission.
- Special Body on Least Developed and Landlocked Developing Countries
- Special Body on Pacific Island Developing Countries
To assist in reviewing the work of ESCAP, the Commission, through resolution 64/1, established eight committees which meet biennially.
- Committee on Macroeconomic Policy, Poverty Reduction and Inclusive Development;
- Committee on Trade and Investment;
- Committee on Transport;
- Committee on Environment and Development;
- Committee on Information and Communications Technology;
- Committee on Disaster Risk Reduction;
- Committee on Social Development;
- Committee on Statistics
ESCAP has an Advisory Committee of Permanent Representatives (ACPR), which meets monthly to advise the Executive Secretary on issues related to programme priorities, preparations for key intergovernmental meetings as well as the annual Commission session. Through ACPR, ESCAP is able to ensure close consultation with governments in all aspects of its work to ensure member country driven and owned programmes.