Update: 19.08.2011

The Economic and Social Council

The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) is one of the six main organs of the United Nation (Art. 7, Charter of the UN).


The main task of the ECOSOC is to promote economic and social development. The promotion of human rights is of significant importance in this. According to Article 62 of the UN Charter, the mandate encompasses: 

  • investigations into international affairs in the field of economics, social affairs, culture, health and related topics as well as the drafting or initiation of reports; the ECOSOC can deliver recommendations on any of these issues to the General Assembly, member states of the UN or specialized agencies of the UN;
  • recommendations that aim at promoting human rights and basic freedoms for all;
  • the possibility to convene international conferences.


The ECOSOC is composed of 54 members that are elected according to the General Assembly's regional key (14 representatives from African countries, 11 from Asian countries, 6 from Eastern European countries, 10 from Latin American and Carribean countries and 13 from Western European and other states). Every year 18 members are appointed for a three year period. Re-elections are possible.

Modus operandi

The ECOSOC meets once a year in July, alternating between New York and Geneva. It has committees, panels and commissions to assist its work. For a list of the ECOSOC subsidiary bodies click on the link below:

Human rights issues are mostly covered by the UN Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Furthermore, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights monitors the compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 

More than 2,300 NGOs have a consulatitve status at ECOSOC:


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