Economic and Social Council - ECOSOC

© United Nations

The Economic and Social Council, ECOSOC - coordinates the economic and social work of the United Nations and the specialized agencies and institutions, as well as their functional commissions and five regional commissions known as "the United Nations family" of organizations.

Most people associate the United Nations with the maintenance of peace and security. However, most of the organization's resources are spent on

  • promotion of higher standards of living
  • full employment
  • economic and social progress as formulated in the UN Charter.


Functions and powers of ECOSOC are:

  • to serve a the central forum for discussions on international economic and social issues
  • to promote higher standards of living, full employment and economic and social progress
  • to find solutions of international economic , social, health and related problems, and international cultural and educational cooperation
  • to encourage universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms
  • to assist the organization of major international conferences in the field of economic and social and related fields 
  • to make or initiate studies and reports with respect to international economic and social matters
  • to prepare draft conventions for submission to the General Assembly
  • to coordinate the work of the specialized agencies and programmes and their functional commissions and five regional commissions.
  • to make arrangements for consultations with non-governmental organizations


ECOSOC has 54 members elected by the General Assembly for a three-year term. Every year 18 new members are elected according to a geographical distribution. ECOSOC has no permanent members, but a country can be reelected immediately. The political and economic superpowers are elected every year, and, consequently, they are "permanent" members.


ECOSOC administrates two segments called the Annual Ministerial Reviews (AMR) and the Development Cooperation Forum (DCF). The AMR takes place annually and DCF every two years. AMR was created to stimulate the work of the Millennium Development Goals and DCF aims to streamline development cooperation.


Documents from the ECOSOC carry the following symbols: 

E/ Economic and Social Council


-/consecutive number

Ex. E/2004/18 Economic and Social Council, 2004, document no 18

Before 1978 the ECOSOC did not incorporate the year into the symbols of its documents. 

Databases and Indexes

  • The ECOSOC website provides information about its structure and programmes. It includes full text documents for recent years and a search engine to relevant subject areas.
  • For more information on the structure of the Economic and Social Council, see UN web site: Structure and Organization
  • Documents from 1993 onwards are stored in the United Nations Official Document system - ODS
  • References to ECOSOC documents from 1979 onwards with links to full texts for recent years can be accessed through the United Nations online catalogue - UNBISnetSubject search can be performed using relevant terms from the UNBIS THESAURUS.
  • UNA Sweden gives you a short introduction to the structure and work of ECOSOC under the section "FN:s organisation".

Printed Indexes

References to all documents by subject area are published in subject index of the United Nations Documents Index (online version UNBISnet). A complete collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.

Copyright © 2014 | Dag Hammarskjöld Library | Latest update: 29/03/2017