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World Tourism Organization becomes fully-fledged specialized agency of the United Nations

Travel News Asia 26 December 2003

The United Nations General Assembly at the fifty-eighth session unanimously adopted Resolution A/RES/58/232 on the 23th of December, with which the World Tourism Organization (WTO) became a fully-fledged specialized agency of the United Nations.

"Tourism will from now on be considered by the international society on an equal footing with other major activities of humanity: industry, agriculture, education and culture, health, labour, giving it a status within the system equal to that of institutions such as UNIDO, FAO, UNESCO, WHO or the ILO. This is a big step forward for our Organization, but it is an even bigger one for entire international tourism industry," declared Mr. Francesco Frangialli, Secretary-General of the WTO.

The WTO's conversion into a Specialized Agency of the United Nations was decided on 20 October at the WTO General Assembly in Beijing and then on 7 November by the Second Committee of United Nations General Assembly in New York. The new status is now officially effected. The last time such an event occurred was in 1985, since the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) conversion.

"Global challenges - peace, poverty, sustainability and fair trade - will not disappear. New ones will emerge. They can only be dealt with by enlightened action of the world community," continued the Secretary-General. "Our new status as a Specialized Agency will not change the nature of that action but it will help decision makers, inside and outside the UN family better understand that tourism can play a constructive part in addressing these issues."

WTO believes that tourism, which grows sustainably and which delivers real benefits to the peoples of the developing world, can help the United Nations in its approach to the Millennium Development Goals and in its service to our common future. "That is why this transformation of our Organization is of real immediate and lasting importance," underlined Mr. Frangialli.

Specialized agency status entitles the WTO to participate as a full member in the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), which elaborates system-wide strategies in response to overall inter-governmental directives on economic co-operation and development. The WTO will as well be invited in the workings of the UN General Assembly, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Security Council, to which it will be able to submit proposals. The WTO's participation will enable it to highlight the role of tourism in support of socio-economic development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. 

The Specialized Agencies function on an autonomous basis, with their own charter, budget, governing boards, staff, and publishing operations. These organizations make annual or biennial reports to the Economic and Social Council. The General Assembly can examine their budgets and make recommendations, however, each Specialized Agency exercises final control over its operations.

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