Infographic on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

March 30, 2021

This infographic presents essential information on the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), providing readers with basic information, especially if they are interested in sustainable development and the 2030 Agenda regional implementation and follow-up process.

UNECE was the first regional economic commission established by the ECOSOC. It was conceived as a tool to support the efforts to rebuild the European economy after World War II

Its first Executive Secretary, Gunnar Myrdal, was an outstanding development thinker and doer, who worked closely with Raúl Prebisch to promote economic development in theory and practice. The UN regional economic commissions as creative institutions committed to supporting the development of countries, owe their success – at least partially – to these two leaders.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe played a critical political role during the Cold War. Once the “Iron Curtain” collapsed, it became the only space for economic dialogue. It served as a basis to adopt a standard critical normative, allowing both sides to maintain a minimum of necessary harmony levels in its contact zone.

After the USSR implosion, UNECE was called again to play a decisive but silent role in helping former soviet countries to adopt capitalist structures of production, become international trade partners, and promote their national development. At the beginning of the 90’s, UNECE was integrated by 34 countries. Following the Soviet disintegration, the Commission number of Member States changed to the current 56 countries.

UNECE’s history is closely linked to the Cold War and the Marshall Plan, the birth of the Council of Europe, and the European Communities (which evolved into what we know today as the European Union). To provide UNECE with the necessary tools to fulfill its challenging economic and political tasks, the “Terms of Reference and Rules of Procedure of the Economic Commission for Europe” were revised and updated, with significant changes introduced in 1997 and 2005. The last review took place in 2009.

The role of UNECE played in the most relevant geopolitical challenges of the last decades explains why it is not a truly European institution but a cross-regional one, connecting dots worldwide.

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