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HLPF Consultations Address Institutional “Home”

HLPF23 April 2013: Consultations to establish the high-level political forum (HLPF) continued with an informal-informal meeting on the format and organizational modalities of the forum, on 23 April 2013 in New York, US. Delegates discussed the "institutional placement" of the forum and options for Senior Officials Meetings, among other topics. 

The co-facilitators are expected to prepare a "zero draft" resolution toward the end of April.

Addressing the institutional placement of the HLPF, the co-facilitators for the consultations - Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, Permanent Representative of Brazil, and Cesare Maria Ragaglini, Permanent Representative of Italy - recalled that, while the “hybrid” model has gained the most support, a lingering difficulty is ensuring compatibility between universality of the forum and the limited membership of the UN Economic and Social  Council (ECOSOC) for ministerial and preparatory meetings.

Several delegates mentioned using the following parameters when looking at the institutional “home” for the HLPF: universal participation; membership and decision-making at all levels of work; a distinct home for sustainable development; and a negotiated outcome. Some delegates said "universality" in the HLPF should apply not only to membership, but also participation, suggesting the forum should be opened to all States and relevant stakeholders.

One of the co-facilitators for the ongoing process to reform ECOSOC, George Wilfred Talbot, Permanent Representative of Guyana, welcomed the discussion on the hybrid model for HLPF, noting its strong link to ECOSOC, and said the four co-facilitators are in contact regularly to ensure coherence between the two processes.

On Senior Officials Meetings, the co-facilitators have proposed yearly meetings with universal membership and universal decision-making, based on the rules of procedure of ECOSOC's functional commissions. The alternative proposals would absorb the preparatory process within the proposed integration segment of ECOSOC, or within existing subsidiary bodies of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and ECOSOC, with informal, expert-level consultations to be convened by ECOSOC as required.

Delegates continued to disagree on this issue during the meeting. Some opposed Senior Officials Meetings as reminiscent of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Others strongly advocated for those meetings, suggesting they would differ from the CSD as their outcomes would be taken up at the ministerial and head of state or government levels.

One Member State suggested moving ahead on areas of general agreement on the HLPF so far, such as the Head of State and Government meetings in the UNGA, and to make decisions on the other elements of the forum once there is more clarity on other parallel processes, including ECOSOC reform, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda.

A document of the co-facilitators circulated prior to the meeting compiles their proposals to date and alternative ideas suggested by delegates. It outlines proposals for: periodic Heads of State and Government meetings within the UNGA in September; and ECOSOC to hold Ministerial Meetings during its annual high-level segment, with a limited decision-making process based on consensus of the whole UNGA, reached in the context of the preparatory process. Alternatives to the latter proposal include: a special ministerial session of ECOSOC during ECOSOC high-level segment, with universal participation; a stand-alone special ministerial session with universal membership based on Article 66.3 of the UN Charter, and a joint UNGA-ECOSOC ministerial session.

The co-facilitators have indicated that following the preparation of a zero draft resolution in late April, they will schedule further meetings beginning on 6 May. [Letter of Co-facilitators with Document] [IISD RS Story on Fourth Informal Consultation on HLPF] [IISD RS Story on Expert Group Meeting on HLPF] [HLPF Website] [IISD RS Sources]