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Summary record of the 3rd meeting : 3rd Committee, held on Monday, 14 October 1996, New York, General Assembly, 51st session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/51/SR.3
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 51st
Type Document

17 p.

Subjects Transnational Crime, Sustainable Development, Youth, Ageing Persons, Family, Equal Opportunity, Persons with Disabilities

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
3rd meeting
held on
Monday, 14 October 1996
at 3 p.m.
New York
Chairman: Mrs. ESPINOSA (Mexico)
This record is subject to correction. Corrections should be sent under the signature of a member of the
delegation concerned within one week of the date of the publication to the Chief of the Official Records
Editing Section, room DC2-794, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the record.
Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.
18 November 1996
96-81397 (E) /...
Page 2
The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.
1. The CHAIRMAN drew attention to document A/C.3/51/1, containing a letter
dated 20 September 1996 from the President of the General Assembly on the
allocation of items to the Third Committee. The subsequent agreements reached
by the Committee on its work programme at the meeting on 20 September were
reflected in document A/C.3/51/L.1/Rev.1. The updated information on the status
of preparation of documentation was contained in document
2. Document A/C.3/51/5 contained a letter dated 26 September 1996 from the
Chairman of the Fifth Committee submitting relevant programmes of the proposed
medium-term plan to the Third Committee for review. In order to carry out the
review, she had asked the Secretariat to schedule an additional meeting at
10 a.m. on 23 October. She took it that the members of the Committee agreed to
hold that additional meeting.
3. It was so decided.
4. The CHAIRMAN said that, with regard to the programmes enumerated in the
letter from the Chairman of the Fifth Committee, she had pointed out to him that
programme 20 (Humanitarian assistance) and programme 22 (Palestinian refugees)
were not within the purview of the Third Committee at the current session.
5. Mr. WYZNER (Poland), introducing item 158, said that his country had
proposed the elaboration of a convention against transnational organized crime,
which was a worldwide phenomenon that corrupted States and brought tragedy and
suffering to many innocent people. The world was witnessing the spread of
international crime in its most dangerous manifestations: terrorist acts,
illicit drug trafficking, money laundering, trafficking in persons, including
women and children, and illicit trafficking in weapons. Owing to the rapid
development of international trade and economic relations, freedom of movement
and the flow of capital, there was an alarming growth in the number of criminals
whose activities had a transboundary, and often global, character.
6. No State, not even the most powerful, could combat organized crime alone.
Close international cooperation, particularly coordination among law-enforcement
institutions and criminal-justice systems, was therefore urgently needed.
Neither the measures taken to combat transnational organized crime nor existing
international instruments dealing with specific aspects of organized-crime
prevention were sufficient to come to grips with the problem. Accordingly, the
international community should agree on a framework convention that would
establish effective forms of cooperation among States in providing legal
assistance and setting up reliable reporting and monitoring systems with a view
to reducing and eradicating organized crime. In Poland’s view, the proposed new
framework convention should be based on existing international instruments
Page 3
regulating illicit narcotic drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, the
protection of nuclear material and the import and export of cultural property as
well as bilateral and regional agreements on crime prevention.
7. His delegation had noted with great interest the proposals recently made in
the Sixth Committee by the United States of America and the Russian Federation
aimed at combating and eliminating international terrorism, including terrorist
bombings and acts of nuclear terrorism. Those proposals and the Polish proposal
under consideration would complement each other. His country sought to promote
greater awareness of organized crime in order to encourage Governments and the
international community to provide the necessary means to combat that
phenomenon. The Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice should be
requested to elaborate, on a priority basis, a convention against transnational
organized crime, taking into account the views of Member States as well as the
draft text submitted by Poland in document A/C.3/51/7. Lastly, his delegation
hoped that a draft resolution on that agenda item could be adopted by consensus.
8. Mr. DESAI (Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable
Development) said that a great deal had been achieved in terms of policy
development over the past five or six years. The rethinking of development
involved integrating economic, social and environmental concerns, which were
very much the responsibility of the Third Committee. It was important to go
beyond North-South rhetoric, and to identify a basis for work on development
cooperation within the United Nations system based on shared objectives, values
and interests. The Committee’s work on social development, the advancement of
women and human rights clearly involved efforts to identify such shared values
and objectives.
9. Another element in the rethinking of development was the need to identify a
role for public policy in an environment where Governments were moving more and
more towards a belief in market-based development. That had been among the
major objectives of recent global conferences such as the World Summit for
Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women. Such issues as the
condition of the world’s women and children, the eradication of poverty, and
human rights could not be left to market forces, and the Committee had played an
important part in ensuring that such issues were on the agenda at those
10. Although much work remained to be done in the area of policy development,
the key issue was currently the need to put greater emphasis on implementation.
In recent years there had been a type of policy development which had been
credible in the eyes not only of those involved in negotiations but also of
those responsible for implementation at the national level, including
non-government actors, such as businesses, trade unions, cooperatives, and above
all non-governmental organizations. It was important to retain that credibility
by showing that policy development was capable of placing appropriate emphasis
on implementation. It required an integrated approach to monitoring and review
at the national, regional and global levels, as well as an improved architecture
in the functioning of the intergovernmental process within the United Nations,
Page 4
so that the different elements of the monitoring and review process could
reinforce one another. It also required that the analytical, normative and
operational work of the United Nations system should be increasingly guided by
the outcome of the major policy-development processes and by the underlying
objectives of integration and mainstreaming.
11. One of the key objectives of that exercise was to create links between the
normative and operational aspects. A number of task forces had been set up, the
objective of which was to move from policy towards the creation of operational
guidelines for implementation at the country level. It was also necessary to
see how the intergovernmental process could contribute to ensuring improved
links between policy development and implementation. A good example of that was
the programme on disability, which sought to combine the analytical, normative
and operational sides. Rather than stopping at the policy stage and declaring
that implementation was someone else’s responsibility, a system had been set up
whereby a Special Rapporteur would report back to the Commission for Social
Development, and through that to the Economic and Social Council, on the
implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities.
12. The credibility of the policy-development processes would be eroded if it
could not be shown that effective implementation could be ensured. The two
major themes of interest to the Committee in that context were integration and
mainstreaming. Integration was a key issue in the area of social development;
social progress must be treated, not as a secondary issue, but as something to
be written into development policy from the start. Mainstreaming was of greater
importance in the case of gender equality. The issue of the advancement of
women must be looked at not simply in terms of specific actions relating only to
women, but with a view to ensuring gender sensitivity in the very formulation of
development policy.
13. The role of the Third Committee in such areas was vital, and he looked
forward to working with, and receiving guidance from, the Committee as part of
the Secretariat’s continuing efforts to move forward from the policy development
phase to the implementation phase.
(Parts I and II), A/51/87, A/51/208-S/1996/543, A/51/210, A/51/267; A/C.3/51/4)
14. Mr. KRASSOWSKI (Division for Social Policy and Development, Department for
Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development), introducing the report on the
status and role of cooperatives in the light of new economic and social trends
(A/51/267), said that the report summarized information on how people’s needs
for basic social services were being met through a variety of cooperative
arrangements. The report reviewed national experience in promoting the
contribution of cooperatives to social development in forms compatible with the
principles and objectives of the major international conferences held since
1990, and focused on the need for Governments to keep under review the
legislative and administrative framework governing the functioning of
cooperative-type arrangements in various sectors. Attention was also given to
ways of encouraging cooperative-to-cooperative assistance.
Page 5
15. Mrs. de BARISH (Costa Rica), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and
China, said that the developing countries, which had young populations, were
concerned with the question of ageing because the world was in the midst of a
major demographic revolution: the ageing of its population. At present, more
than half of the elderly in the world lived in developing countries and by 2025
nearly three quarters of them would be in those countries. Unlike the developed
countries, the developing countries had neither the infrastructure to deal with
ageing nor the resources to create one.
16. The infrastructure for ageing in developed countries was too expensive to
be duplicated in most developing nations. Accordingly, there was a need to
generate and encourage responses to ageing that could be synchronized with the
development policies and strategies of developing countries. Ageing and
development were complementary, not contradictory, since the elderly could
participate in and contribute to the development process. The Group of 77 and
China were looking forward to participating in the Committee’s work on that
question and hoped to make progress in the preparations for the 1999
International Year of Older Persons.
17. Mr. OTUYELU (Nigeria) stressed the need for future-oriented social
development to meet the challenge posed by population growth and diminishing
resources. Privatization in many countries was putting health care beyond the
reach of poor people. Owing to indebtedness and poor terms of trade, many
developing countries were not able to allocate resources to social development.
Greater international cooperation was necessary in order to make resources
available to improve social development and invest in infrastructures. It was
necessary to strike a balance between privatization and public responsibility
for social development. Accordingly, his delegation appealed for more
international cooperation among United Nations organizations in the field of
social development in order to carry out the commitments undertaken at the World
Summit for Social Development.
18. Mr. HADJIYSKY (Bulgaria) welcomed the selection of the Commission for
Social Development as the principal body for coordinating and monitoring the
follow-up to the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. A comprehensive
analysis of ways to rationalize the Commission’s work should be carried out.
19. In May 1996 the Bulgarian Government had adopted a national programme for
social development as a follow-up to the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of
Action. The national programme set forth strategies aimed at promoting
sustainable development, social peace and the gradual eradication of poverty.
It sought to establish a socio-economic environment conducive to raising living
standards; to reduce poverty, create jobs and curb unemployment; to promote
social integration by meeting the needs of vulnerable groups; and to participate
in international cooperation in social development. Bulgaria cooperated
actively with UNDP in the social field and intended to launch in the near future
a second joint project aimed at eliminating poverty and social marginalization.
20. Mr. KALLEHAUGE ((Denmark) said that he wished to highlight the question of
disabled persons. The United Nations Conference on Human
Settlements (Habitat II), held in Istanbul in June 1996, had been an important
step for disabled persons in their ongoing struggle to achieve equal
Page 6
opportunities. In the Istanbul Declaration on Human Settlements, it was clearly
stated that the disabled persons had a right to shelter which was physically
accessible. The Danish Government had already set up committees to formulate a
national accessibility policy. Much, however, remained to be done. The
implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities and of the Long-term Strategy to Implement the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond
remained the main objective. The current focus - as recommended by the Special
Rapporteur on the implementation of the Standard Rules - should be on
legislation, coordination of work, organizations of persons with disabilities,
accessibility, education and employment.
21. Legislation, in particular, should be given high priority, at both the
national and international levels. When the rights of disabled persons were no
longer recommendations but statutory instruments, the equalization of
opportunities would gain much more momentum. The international community had an
important role to play in that regard by recognizing some of the rights
enumerated in the Standard Rules as fundamental human rights. Recognition of
those rights would be enhanced by their inclusion in the agenda of the
Commission on Human Rights.
22. In resolution 50/144, the General Assembly had noted the initiative taken
by non-governmental organizations to develop a disability index based on the
Standard Rules. Further to that initiative, questionnaires had been distributed
to 650 organizations of disabled persons and replies had been received from more
than 80 countries.
23. Fifteen years earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) had introduced a
new community-based rehabilitation strategy. He believed it would be opportune
to carry out an international evaluation of the experience gained in
implementing it. The evaluation would best be conducted by the World Bank, in
cooperation with other relevant specialized agencies and the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), as well as representatives from organizations of
disabled persons. He urged the Committee to lend its support to that proposal.
24. Mr. POULSEN (Denmark) said that he would focus on the question of youth
participation in decision-making. Young people were less burdened than their
elders by history and tradition and as such were able to contribute valuable new
ideas. They were therefore key agents in social development and change and must
be seen as natural and equal partners in society.
25. With the adoption of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year
2000 and Beyond, the United Nations had taken an important step. The United
Nations system must now move towards realizing the goals of the Programme.
Projects drawing upon the special expertise of youth organizations should be
developed. Peer learning, where young people educated one another, was one
method of enabling young people to improve their own situation. Often, young
people were best placed to address their peers and establish relationships based
on trust. His delegation was particularly concerned that young women and girls,
sometimes as young as 13, were having children, many before they were ready to
cope with that responsibility, and often as a result of inadequate sex
Page 7
education. The key to overcoming that problem was to provide them with
unprejudiced information.
26. The World Youth Forum provided an important opportunity for
non-governmental youth organizations to meet with representatives of
intergovernmental organizations. Funds must be made available to ensure youth
participation from the world’s least developed countries. He was pleased to
announce, in that connection, that the Danish Government was to provide a grant
to enable 10 youth delegates from the least developed countries to participate
in the forthcoming session of the World Youth Forum to be held in Vienna in
November 1996. It was in the interest of the international community to give
young people the possibility of participating in society and making decisions so
that they could develop the skills they would require to lead the world into the
27. Mr. EDWARDS (Marshall Islands) recalled that the Republic of the Marshall
Islands was currently the Chair of the South Pacific Forum. The delegations of
the Forum had been actively involved in the recent World Summit for Social
Development, and had reaffirmed their willingness to work towards an improved
international structure for the betterment of their peoples. They had placed on
record their commitment to human rights and to the fundamental premise that all
their development efforts would be centred upon the Pacific Islands peoples.
28. The Governments of the region had closely examined the Programme of Action
of the World Summit, and had attempted to distil out a priority agenda for
national implementation. At recent meetings of the Forum, the whole gamut of
issues including economic and environmental aspects of development had been
addressed with a clear understanding of their social dimensions.
29. In the Marshall Islands, the public sector was being asked to do more with
less, and was currently undergoing a far-reaching structural adjustment, which
had led to increased unemployment. His Government had therefore sought loans
for a transition programme involving retraining and private-sector incentive
schemes. Fortunately the economy of the Marshall Islands was not one of those
being drained by such wasteful expenditure as military budgets; the country had
spent the greatest part of its resources on the social well-being of its people.
30. A number of community-based organizations were working hard to provide
assistance to the less privileged. They were, however, badly under-funded.
International support was sorely needed, but very little had so far been
forthcoming. Governments and community-based organizations in the countries of
the South Pacific Forum had made commendable progress in social development, and
deserved support. He called upon those who pledged support for people-centred
human and social development to look favourably on the countries of the region.
31. Mr. HUSSAIN (Sudan) said that his delegation supported the statement made
by the representative of Costa Rica on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
Social development was a matter given top priority by his Government. The
family was particularly important, since society as a whole was a reflection of
the family, and if the family was strong, so was society. However, it was clear
that social development was only possible given continuing economic development,
which in turn was only possible under peaceful circumstances. The international
Page 8
community’s concern with social development had been demonstrated by the six
international conferences held in the past decade, and its wish to relieve
poverty in developing countries had been stated in the 20/20 initiative, as
described in the Programme of Action of the World Summit. However, that wish
required political will and practical input. Neutrality and transparency were
also important factors in implementation.
32. Technological and other developments had made the world a small village,
and limited each State’s freedom to decide its own economic and social policies.
States should therefore cooperate to produce appropriate social and economic
development programmes, guarantee political stability and security and avoid
conflict. Strengthening local organizations would help to keep the problems of
intolerance under control and assist in social development.
33. Since the end of the cold war, armed conflicts had become regional and
inter-communal rather than global, and savings in military expenditure had not
been as great as had been hoped. Complete and universal disarmament would be a
prime factor in creating the right atmosphere for social development.
34. Concern for all sectors of society was a first step towards building a
healthy society. The Sudan paid particular attention to young people, as the
foundation stone of development. In the past three years, the number of
institutions of further education had been greatly increased, as had the number
of technical and vocational training institutes. The Government had also
increased employment opportunities for young people, and was working to attract
investment to provide the necessary resources. Because of the importance of
education to social development, the Government was making every effort to
eradicate illiteracy throughout the country.
35. The nature of the family in modern society was undergoing great change.
Some societies saw the individual as having the primary role in society, thereby
diminishing the role of the family as the primary unit. The individual had
become divorced from his family, and that had engendered many current social
ills. The Sudan considered that the individual must be set firmly against his
natural background of the family. The family, as a child’s first teacher,
represented the most secure foundation for the future of every society. It had
an important role to play in producing a sound and healthy person and in
beginning to instil the principles and practice of human rights. Because of its
belief in the importance of the family, the Government had made arrangements to
facilitate marriage.
36. Social development could only be achieved through the eradication of
poverty, the realization of peace and security, the cultivation by societies of
decent moral values and the elimination of social injustice and discrimination
on the grounds of religion, race or culture.
37. Ms. SKEI GRANDE (Norway), speaking as a youth representative, said that the
planet which her generation would inherit was facing enormous global challenges,
such as the global warming, which would have major environmental consequences.
The sharing of the world’s resources, including water and food, was also a major
problem. Young people worldwide faced the same challenges and should be granted
increased access to decision-making. Their participation was both desirable and
Page 9
necessary; their visions, solidarity and strong motivation were badly needed.
Young people, through their own organizations, should be allowed to shape their
future at all levels. The most important mass movements for peace, human
rights, the environment and democracy had all been strongly supported by young
people. Student movements had brought about significant democratic changes in
several countries.
38. The United Nations should be in the front line in that respect. The World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (General Assembly
resolution 50/81, annex) was a step in the right direction, but must be followed
up. The young must be given increased influence at the United Nations, and
recommendations made by youth organizations such as the Youth Forum of the
United Nations System should receive more attention.
39. In the collective effort to counter the serious threats to the existence of
the human race, every little step would count. She appealed to all countries to
give young people more access to decision-making, both regionally and
nationally, and to let them participate in shaping their own future. The States
Members of the United Nations should work towards increased numbers of youth
representatives at their meetings, and enable the Youth Forum to become a
regular event with secure financing.
40. Ms. MESDOUA (Algeria) said that changes in the world economy and increasing
modernization and globalization had side effects which led to economic
disparities and potential threats to international peace and security. The
worsening poverty, unemployment and social disintegration, particularly in the
countries of the southern hemisphere, called for sustained efforts by the
international community to promote a new concept of international development
cooperation. The World Summit for Social Development provided a useful frame of
reference for the policies of individual Governments. The objectives agreed at
the Summit showed that the international community was determined to intensify
its struggle against poverty, exclusion and social disintegration, to create
productive employment and to increase international solidarity. Such solidarity
was essential if the widening gap between developed and developing countries was
to be narrowed. A concerted approach was required.
41. Algeria had succeeded, in a few decades, in providing employment, free
health care and education, and a broad social-welfare system for its population.
Despite considerable economic difficulties, her Government was determined to
preserve those achievements and to bring about economic, social and political
renewal based on a market economy, social justice, the rejection of any form of
marginalization or exclusion, and the establishment of a durable democratic
system. The support of the international community was required to that end.
Her Government hoped that national efforts to fulfil the legitimate aspirations
of individuals and peoples would be strengthened by effective international
action. International financial institutions must adapt their strategies and
review their programmes in the interest of secure global development; otherwise,
individual country’s efforts to strengthen democracy might not succeed.
42. The time had come for the United Nations to give concrete expression to its
original mandate in the economic and social fields. The Organization could be a
real force for peace only if it were also a force for development. Only if
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intergovernmental agencies were strengthened and their work harmonized could the
United Nations system make a significant contribution to development. The
Commission for Social Development had a vital role to play in the system-wide
coordination of activities in the social field. Her delegation welcomed the
strengthening of the Commission’s mandate and the increase in its membership.
Those measures should be accompanied by increased resources to enable it to
accomplish its tasks.
43. The follow-up to the Summit required real cooperation and partnership
between States, the United Nations system, international financial and monetary
institutions, and non-governmental organizations. They must all work together
to provide the means required for such a great undertaking. As long as there
was poverty, no country could be said to have achieved true development.
44. Mr. WISSA (Egypt) said that his delegation supported the statement made by
the Group of 77 and China. There was a pressing need to increase efforts in
favour of social development, and to examine the reasons for the lack of
equitable development throughout the world. The State had a pivotal role to
play in development, but its efforts could only be successful in a favourable
international environment created by such factors as trade, investment,
bilateral resources and the transfer of technology.
45. The family and youth, ageing and the disabled were all interrelated issues,
of direct relevance to comprehensive development in any society. The family was
the basis of society, and his Government therefore continued to work to raise
awareness of social and development role of the family, and the part it had to
play in the implementation of programmes affecting the family, particularly in
the areas of health, education and the environment.
46. Education was not merely desirable in itself, but one of the principal
means of achieving development. His country’s education policy was therefore
built on an understanding of the need for cooperation between the local
authorities and non-governmental organizations in confronting such problems as
illiteracy and the provision of proper education for girls and young women.
47. Egypt welcomed the conceptual framework of a programme for the
International Year of Older Persons in 1999, since that would help to highlight
the difficulties experienced by older persons, and ways to alleviate them.
Older persons represented an important resource upon which Governments could
call if appropriate channels were found.
48. His country considered it very important to educate and integrate disabled
persons into society, since their marginalization was a violation of basic human
rights and of religious and humanitarian values.
49. The Egyptian Government had begun to elaborate a set of policies and
programmes to implement the recommendations of the World Summit for Social
Development. A broad national programme to eliminate poverty was being carried
50. With reference to the 20/20 initiative embodied in the Programme of Action
of the World Summit for Social Development, it had been agreed that the initial
Page 11
target was 0.7 per cent of gross national product, and that the ability of the
Government of a developing country to devote 20 per cent of its expenditure to
basic social services would depend on the level of economic development, its
debt burden and other financial commitments. The 20/20 initiative should
therefore include agreement on the concept of social programmes, donor
assistance based on financial accounts prepared by recipient countries, and the
preparation of national budgets involving specific allocation and follow-up.
51. Mr. GUBAREVICH (Belarus) said that the scale and variety of the social
problems facing the world today threatened the very foundations of the normal
development of human civilization. It was therefore vital to ensure that
Governments and the United Nations worked together to translate the commitments
of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action into reality. The recent
special session of the Commission for Social Development devoted to the urgent
goal of eradicating poverty had made an important contribution to that end.
With regard to the report of the Secretary-General on the status and role of
cooperatives in the light of new economic and social trends (A/51/267), his
delegation recognized the part which the cooperative movement had to play in
implementing the commitments made at Copenhagen, particularly in the areas of
employment, social integration and poverty eradication.
52. Conscious of the inseparable link between economic growth and social
development, his Government had striven to avoid a sharp drop in the living
standards of the population in the current period of transition and,
accordingly, it had taken measures to stabilize the economy and counter
inflation. Nevertheless, the economic reforms had been accompanied by a
dramatic fall in output, rising prices, the reduction of real income and a
decrease in the funds available to the State to deal with those problems. In
addition, spending necessitated by the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster
still accounted for one fifth of the country’s annual budget.
53. The increase in the proportion of older persons in the population of
Belarus was placing a mounting burden on those of working age, while expenditure
on pensions, medical care and social assistance for the elderly had grown
markedly. Taking as its reference the International Plan of Action on Ageing,
Belarus had drawn up its own programme of measures to assist older persons.
Central aims were the transformation of services for the elderly, the
safeguarding of their rights in law and the construction of special institutions
to provide health care and social services for pensioners.
54. The situation of families during the current period of economic transition
was of great concern to his Government. Families with low incomes - for the
most part large and single-parent families - were facing extreme hardship. In
addition, there was now a need to address the problems of families that had
become refugees or were affected by unemployment. His Government had set up a
system of allowances for families with children. The incomes of the population
were currently being indexed to inflation, and a rent-subsidy scheme had been
worked out.
55. His delegation believed that it was essential to strengthen the Commission
for Social Development, which played a key role in formulating and coordinating
policy on social questions. That aim would best be achieved, in his view,
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through intensive, rather than extensive measures. Specifically, the Commission
should seek more efficient methods of organizing its work, both during and
between sessions, and the resources already at its disposal should be used more
effectively. He welcomed the proposals that the members of the Commission
should hold informal, open consultations and that there should be regular
meetings of the Bureau. He supported the widening of the Bureau’s powers in the
belief that such a step would enable consensus to be reached more quickly on the
Commission’s heavy programme of work.
56. The concept of dialogues with groups of experts, for the most part
representatives of the relevant bodies of the United Nations system and of the
Governments of Member States, was of great interest. His delegation urged that
due regard should be given to the principle of equitable geographical
distribution when the applications of such experts were considered. He
supported the view that non-governmental organizations should play a greater
part in the Commission’s work. Finally, while his delegation welcomed the
overwhelming majority of the measures proposed in order to strengthen the role
of the Commission, that goal must be achieved within existing resources; he
could not, therefore, support the proposals to widen the Commission’s membership
and hold annual sessions.
57. Among the most welcome results of the recent sessions of the Commission for
Social Development and the Commission on the Status of Women was the recognition
in their resolutions that the international community must accord special
assistance to countries with economies in transition, particularly in the social
sphere and in the struggle with poverty. It was regrettable, however, that that
recognition had not found reflection in the relevant United Nations programmes.
He urged delegations to consider the proposal by Belarus concerning the adoption
of a global programme of assistance to countries with economies in transition.
The efforts of Governments to realize the commitments made in the Copenhagen
Declaration and Programme of Action must, in his view, be supported by the
international community.
58. Mr. REYES RODRÍGUEZ (Cuba) expressed his delegation’s support for the
remarks made by the representative of Costa Rica on behalf of the Group of 77
and China. Any social development programme must comprise policies for action
in favour of young people, the elderly and persons with disabilities, all of
which were groups to which his Government gave particular priority. Equity and
equality of opportunities for all had been fundamental to the progress made in
Cuba over the past 30 years.
59. There was no sector of economic, political and social life in Cuba in which
young people did not play an essential role. Unceasing improvement in the
opportunities available for young people to participate fully, in social life
were the result of the policy ensured by the presence of considerable numbers of
young people in Parliament and the executive branch. Cuba welcomed the adoption
of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, and
would support the efforts of the Commission for Social Development to evaluate
its implementation.
60. Cuba would also participate to the best of its ability in the preparations
for the International Year of Older Persons in 1999. The elderly in Cuba
Page 13
benefited from a scheme of universal medical and hospital care, as well as
social security. A major initiative was the setting up of "grandparents’
circles", which were volunteer organizations with a total of more than 150,000
members designed to involve older persons in the community through social
activities. They also increased older people’s awareness of their own social
youthfulness by giving them a role in the education of young people and in other
community activities.
61. Support for persons with disabilities included both assistance to their
organizations and actions in the areas of health, education, employment,
cultural activities and sport. Cuba had nearly 500 centres of special education
for persons with disabilities.
62. Despite Cuba’s difficult economic situation, which had worsened as a result
of the tightening of the economic blockage imposed unilaterally by the United
States, his Government would never abandon the humanist approach that had
governed its social policy over the past three decades. Cuba would continue to
be a society for all.
63. Mr. PACE (Malta) said that the role of government was fundamental to social
and development issues. Many societies were experiencing major change,
sometimes as a result of political measures, and such changes formed part of an
international evolution. Governments should implement policies which guaranteed
freedom to the citizen as a member of the community. Political initiatives
could enable citizens to seek a better future for themselves and their families,
and to realize their potential. Proper measures would ensure the generation of
wealth, its equitable distribution and more freedom in all spheres. Social
cohesion was only possible if social and cultural diversity was preserved and
encouraged. The nature of social policy had changed fundamentally. His own
Government had adopted the notion of a welfare society, a concept superseding
the welfare State. The role of government was to integrate social services by
prioritizing the needs of individuals. Governments had to work closely with
voluntary organizations to enhance the participation of all those involved.
Perhaps the most important accomplishment of the World Summit for Social
Development had been the commitment to the goal of eradicating poverty.
64. The family was a central element of his Government’s social policy, as
representing the basic unit of society and the natural environment for the
healthy development and functioning of the individual and therefore society.
Recent legislation had given legal recognition to the pivotal role played by
women in society and particularly in the family. The Family Law provided that
husband and wife were equal partners with equal rights in decisions in all
matters affecting their family, particularly the care of their offspring.
Furthermore, in line with its belief in equal opportunities for all, the
Government of Malta had taken measures to ensure disabled persons could realize
their potential.
65. Older people had a right to a dignified life, and to recognition for their
past contribution to society. They were entitled to all the help they needed to
overcome handicaps due to age, limitations or disease. While the State could
provide the elderly with financial benefits, it was the family that should
provide intangible benefits like love and companionship. Old age was not a
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disease but a phase of life that required a lot of care, respect and love. In
that respect, useful work was being done by the International Institute on
Ageing (INIA) in Malta. The INIA served as a bridge between countries for the
collection, exchange and dissemination of data, information and skills that
concerned all aspects of ageing. It promoted technical cooperation in networkbuilding
and the establishment of focal points for training needs and trainingrelated
activities at the national level.
66. Government policy with regard to young people was to provide them with
equal opportunities for education at all levels and to integrate them as a
positive force for change and renewal into the mainstream of the political,
social and economic life of the country, recognizing them as a vital element of
the future of the nation.
67. Malta had chosen to achieve social justice amongst its people, particularly
those in need. The Government had created an environment which encouraged
voluntary and private initiative as important partners in the social field.
Society had to ensure that, apart from providing personalized services to
persons most in need, their potential opportunities and financial position were
also improved.
68. Mr. CHANG SEE TEN (Malaysia) said that young people were both a major and
potential human resource and were key agents for future social development.
Their imagination, ideals, energies and vision were essential for the continuing
development of their society. Without proper guidance they could easily fall
prey to various social ills which would be costly to redress. Over 60 per cent
of the young people in the world lived in Asia, and by the year 2025, that
percentage was expected to reach 89 per cent. The socio-economic implications
of that demographic change could not be lightly dismissed, since it could easily
translate into diminished employment opportunities, lack of resources for social
services and reduced education opportunities, all of which could lead to
delinquency, crime and drug abuse. Youth in developing countries needed access
to better education, training, technical assistance, technology, health and
credit facilities. Addressing the needs of young people would ensure economic
and social stability. Under the sixth Malaysian plan (1990-1995), various
youth-development programmes had been implemented.
69. The designation of 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons was
timely and appropriate, since all countries were experiencing an increase in the
absolute and relative size of their ageing population. By 2030, more than
1.4 billion people would be 60 years old or over, and most of those would live
in Asia and the Pacific region. Given greater life expectancy and the breakdown
of the extended family, steps should be taken to ensure that family ties were
maintained and that caring for the elderly continued to be the responsibility of
the family. In order to encourage children to take care of older persons,
Malaysia had, since 1992, provided tax relief to children for the medical
expenses of their elderly parents. Medical benefits for public-sector employees
were extended to include their parents. Malaysia had formulated a National
Policy for the Elderly in order to ensure that older persons were able to enjoy
independence and quality of life. Planning for older persons in Malaysia would
continue to take their needs into account.
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70. More than 500 million people throughout the world had some type of
physical, mental or sensory impairment, and about 80 per cent of those lived in
the developing world. The International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981 had
helped to publicize the needs of that population and the need for policies aimed
at integrating disabled persons into economic, political and social life.
Malaysia was fully engaged at national and international levels in promoting the
full participation and equality of people with disabilities in society. The
Government would continue to care for them through the provision of education,
training and rehabilitation programmes.
71. Malaysia recognized the family as the basic unit of society and the primary
source of caring. It was time to go back to the basics of family life and
values, and it was important to empower the family to face the challenges of the
coming century. The concept of the traditional family must not be lost in rapid
global changes. Malaysia therefore supported the improvement of economic and
social conditions to enable family members to cope with change. It was
important to promote healthy families, family planning, nutrition, childdevelopment
programmes, parenting skills and interaction between parents and
72. People were the core and the key to development. Investing in the wellbeing
of people meant investing in the future well-being of all societies. It
was time to empower the family, youth, the elderly and the disabled to face
future challenges.
73. Archbishop MARTINO (Observer for the Holy See) said that the common theme
of the recent major United Nations conferences on social questions had been the
search for a new concept of human-centred development. The human person should
be the focus of all social, political and economic activity. The existing
models of development had proved inadequate in that they had failed to overcome
the problems of inequality and social exclusion. Poverty was a prime cause of
social exclusion and had been a focus of attention at the World Summit for
Social Development. States had committed themselves to establishing, by the end
of 1996, national strategies for the eradication of extreme poverty and his
delegation hoped that it would be possible to review the progress made thus far.
74. One of the first obligations of any nation must be to invest in its youth.
Young people must be enabled to channel their idealism into the creation of a
world where fundamental values were respected and human rights protected and
where an atmosphere of solidarity prevailed. For many young people, however,
the future held little promise. Some, especially girls, lacked educational
opportunities. Others faced unemployment, even long-term unemployment. Drugs
and crime daily destroyed the lives of thousands of young people, while the
current climate of sexual permissiveness made it difficult to inculcate in the
young a proper sense of responsibility with regard to their sexual behaviour.
In such a context, there was a clear need, and indeed a desire on the part of
many young people, to find a new moral vision.
75. Medical advances, particularly the eradication of many diseases, had led to
a dramatic decline in mortality. As longevity had increased, however, respect
and reverence for human life had diminished. It was difficult to believe that
euthanasia was now perceived by some as an acceptable alternative to caring for
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the sick and elderly and disabled persons. The Catholic Church called upon the
international community to renew its recognition of the sacred dignity of all
human life and to work to develop a new understanding of the contribution which
the elderly could bring to society.
76. The family was the basic unit of society and played a crucial role in the
world today. He urged all Governments and societies to recognize the special
place of the family. The Catholic Church, for its part, would continue its
efforts to strengthen and safeguard the sacredness of marriage and to promote
the role of parents as the first educators of their children. The family of
nations must recognize that the history of mankind, the history of salvation
passed by way of the family and that the family stood at the centre of the
struggle between good and evil, life and death and all that was opposed to love.
77. Mrs. BARGHOUTI (Observer for Palestine) said that the development of any
society depended on the advancement of its young people, particularly in the
fields of education, health and employment. The protection of the rights of
young people should therefore be among the priorities of States and of the
international community. The integration of girls and young women in national
development policies was of special importance. Obstacles to gender equality
must be removed in order to empower them to participate on an equal footing with
their male counterparts in social, cultural, economic and political life. She
welcomed the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond and
hoped that a concerted effort would be made, and the necessary resources
provided, to enable the goals of that Programme to be achieved.
78. The young people of Palestine comprised over 70 per cent of its population.
Most had known life only under Israeli occupation or in refugee camps.
Nevertheless, they had played a major part in the struggle for Palestinian
independence. Many had suffered physical and psychological trauma as a result,
and all had paid a high price in terms of lost opportunities. Today, they
continued to face harsh economic conditions, high unemployment and recurrent
violence. Young Palestinians were still being detained in Israeli prisons.
79. Against that background, the Palestinian Authority was aware of its
responsibility to strive, with the help of the international community, to
create a better society in which young Palestinians could enjoy the fruits of
freedom and prosperity. The establishment of a Ministry of Youth and Sport
testified to its commitment to the advancement of Palestinian youth. Sadly,
however, with the breakdown of the peace process, the optimism felt by so many
had given way to despair. It was her hope that the peace process would be
salvaged and put back on track for the benefit not only of Palestinian youth but
of all the youth of the region.
80. Mr. FREEDMANN (International Labour Organization (ILO)) said that the
social situation today was characterized by unacceptably high levels of
unemployment and underemployment. There had been a parallel rise in poverty and
social exclusion, in particular in the developing world. Nevertheless, ILO
remained committed to pursuing the goals which had emerged from the Copenhagen
Summit and to promoting the integration of the world’s youth, elderly and
disabled persons into productive employment. ILO had recently developed an
international information base and network, using the Internet, to enable
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organizations engaged in research on the training and employment of persons with
disabilities to share information. ILO was also cooperating with the Special
Rapporteur on Disability to monitor implementation of the Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
81. As world leaders searched for new and enhanced means to address the
profound social problems facing the international community, the role of
cooperatives, as outlined in the Secretary-General’s report (A/51/267), was
receiving renewed attention. While the global economy offered tremendous
potential rewards, many were still left on the margins. Cooperatives were an
effective means of integrating disadvantaged or socially excluded people in
economic activity and society as a whole. Cooperatives also made a vital
contribution to job creation and the promotion of sustainable growth. ILO had
long been committed to supporting cooperatives. In particular, it valued their
dynamic grass-roots role. By requiring that members committed their own
resources as a share of enterprise capital, cooperatives ensured that local
capital, often underused, was mobilized to support entrepreneurial development.
82. Like most institutions in society, cooperatives had not remained immune
from change. Over the past decade, the liberalization of the economies of many
developing countries had put an end to the special support and treatment which
cooperatives had enjoyed, forcing them to compete on the open market with
private enterprises. But, at the same time, democratization had lightened the
political burden on cooperatives by allowing them to function as truly
democratic organizations in the interests of their members, rather than as
extended instruments of the State.
83. ILO was involved in several interregional programmes aimed at promoting the
development of democratic and viable cooperatives in developing countries.
COOPNET aimed to strengthen the managerial capacity of cooperatives by
addressing their human resource development needs. A second, complementary
programme, COOPREFORM was intended to encourage the development of cooperatives
through legislative policy reforms. Finally, INDISCO worked with indigenous and
tribal communities to help them become self-reliant, while respecting their
traditional values, practices and culture. The programmes were already
operational in a large number of countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
ILO had a long history of identifying and implementing coherent, holistic
approaches to promoting productive employment and social integration.
Cooperatives remained a core element of that mandate.
The meeting rose at 5.45 p.m.