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Your guide to UN and UN documents and reports

Economic and Social Council

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 the functional commissions, five regional commissions and special committees.

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 of ECOSOC

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
  • managing the transition from MDGs to SDGs.


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.

Find ECOSOC documentation

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.

UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases

  • United Nations Digital Library. UN official documents and open access publications, UN maps, UN voting data and speeches.
  • UN iLibrary. UN publications online covering different topics.
  • ODS. UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
  • Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
  • UNBIS Thesaurus is a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
  • Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
    • a list of all documents
    • a comprehensive subject index
    • an index to speeches
    • a voting chart of resolutions


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