South Africa has been overwhelmingly elected by the Members of the UN General Assembly to the 47-Member Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC).
ECOSOC is one of the Principal Organs of the United Nations alongside the Security Council and General Assembly.
South Africa finishes its two-year non-renewable, non-permanent membership of the Security Council on 31st December 2012 and immediately assumes the membership of ECOSOC on 1 January 2013. South Africa last served in ECOSOC in 2004 to 2006.
ECOSOC is a premier Organ of the United Nations responsible for economic and social development matters of the world. The Organ has a Charter mandate to drive the Development Agenda of the United Nations.
"It is significant that South Africa will be a member of this critical Organ of the United Nations at the time that the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is fast approaching - 2015. In this respect, the debate has already started on the Post-2015 Development Agenda," the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in a statement.
According to the department, the Membership of ECOSOC will provide South Africa with an opportunity to contribute to the strengthening and reform of the Organ.
"It will provide an opportunity to be located at the centre of the debate on the Global Development Agenda, including the acceleration of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
"South Africa will work with other Member States to ensure that ECOSOC is strengthened and reiterate its Charter responsibility to be the premier policy body on the economic and development agenda of the world," the department said.
ECOSOC operates through its Functional Commissions which annually reports to its main six-weeks sessions in July.
The sessions of ECOSOC rotates between New York and Geneva. The Functional Commissions of ECOSOC are: Commission on Social Development; Commission on Population Development; Commission on Sustainable Development; Commission on the Status of Women; Commission on Statistics; Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice; Commission on Science and Technology for Development; and the United Nations Forum on Forests.
The department will be the coordinating and focal point on South Africa's engagement and participation in ECOSOC. "It is historic that as South Africa ends its non-permanent membership of the UNSC, it moves directly to serve in another principal Organ of the United Nations.
"It is confirmation of South Africa's belief that that there is a nexus between security and development.
"South Africa will utilize its experience on peace and security matters gained in the past two years to pursue a global development agenda with a view to contribute to the reduction of insecurity in Africa and in the World," the department said.
South Africa will utilize its membership to promote the African Agenda and the general developmental interest of Africa