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Summary record of the 3rd meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday 13 October 1997, General Assembly, 52nd session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/52/SR.3
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 52nd
Type Document

7 p.

Subjects Family, Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Child Labour, Youth

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly Distr.: General
Fifty-second session 27 October 1997
Official Records Original: English
Third Committee
Summary record of the 3rd meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 13 October 1997, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. Busacca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Italy)
Statement by the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs
Agenda item 102: Social development, including questions relating to the world social
situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
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 DC2-750, 2 United Nations Plaza, and incorporated in a copy of the
Corrections will be issued after the end of the session, in a separate corrigendum for each Committee.
97-82029 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.m. as the head of the merged economic and social department.
Statement by the Under-Secretary-General for
Economic and Social Affairs
1. Mr. Desai (Under-Secretary-General for Economic and
Social Affairs) said that development cooperation was not
simply a matter of nations working together for the short- and
medium-term management of the global economy but also
involved shared values. Some of the issues that must be
addressed by the development strategy were global
environmental problems, growing inequalities between and
within nations, the continuing pressure of poverty and social
strife, and the fact that parts of the world had been left out of
global development: the international community had a
responsibility to promote development in such regions. All
those issues made it clear that current development strategies
were inadequate. It was important to examine whether
sustainability, distribution and inclusion dimensions of
growth were best dealt with by national corrective action, or
whether there was a greater role for international cooperation
and public policy. There was a need for the United Nations
to define the role of public policy, and seek a new approach
to development that would avoid the harmful consequences
of dirigiste interventionism and an unrestrained laissez-faire
approach to management. The work of the Third Committee
made it particularly well qualified to address those issues.
2. The alternative sought had many dimensions, which
included finding a balance between the roles of the State and
the market. It was not merely a matter of social protection, but
rather a search for structural changes to incorporate into
policy the concerns of social inequality, inclusion, poverty
eradication and gender mainstreaming. The role of the public
budget, which was central, would have to be addressed. The
recent UNCTAD trade and development report had drawn
attention to the growing gap between developed and
developing countries, the slow growth of employment,
growing wage inequality between skilled and unskilled
labour, the “hollowing out” of the middle class and the
growing importance of finance over industry. That analysis
showed that the processes of globalization had to be managed
intelligently and in the interests of all countries and all
segments of the population. Since what had to be managed
was a global process, a measure of coherence between
countries and different areas of policy was required. The 6. The report of the Secretary-General on the third review
Third Committee had a central role to play in addressing all and appraisal of theWorld Programme of Action concerning
the above issues and in influencing the shape of development Disabled Persons (A/52/351) assessed issues and trends for
endeavours at local and national levels. the period 1993-1997. It indicated that the Programme had
3. With regard to United Nations reform, he said that he
was addressing the Committee for the first time in his capacity
The consolidation of the three previously separate
departments which made up that new department was part of
the process established in order to improve coordination
among the various entities of the United Nations Secretariat
and institute cooperative arrangements with regard to policy
analysis, technical assistance and management. It was also
intended to strengthen links between intergovernmental
processes and policy guidelines for operational activities.
United Nations development activities would thereby be
promoted and strengthened, and the United Nations capacity
for responding to new issues enhanced.
Agenda item 102: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(A/52/3, * A/52/56, A/52/57-E/1997/4, A/52/60-E/1997/6,
A/52/80-E/1997/14, A/52/183, A/52/328 and A/52/351;
A/C.3/52/L.2 and L.3; E/1997/103 and E/1997/104)
4. Mr. Langmore (Director, Division for Social Policy
and Development, Department of Economic and Social
Affairs), introducing agenda item 102, said that the
Committee had before it a number of reports. An operational
framework for the International Year of Older Persons, 1999
(A/52/328) reached out to non-traditional actors, including
the development sector, the media, the private sector and
youth. It suggested that the Year should serve as an occasion
for developing a long-term plan for the next decades, when
the proportion of older persons was expected to greatly
increase. The framework included examples of national
preparations for 1999 and a menu of ideas to assist national
committees in observing the Year. It also provided
recommendations for the consideration of Member States.
5. The report of the Secretary-General on the International
Year of the Family (A/52/57) provided an analysis of
family-related provisions from the outcome of recent
conferences, described follow-up activities to the
International Year of the Family and set forth specific
proposals for actions in accordance with General Assembly
resolution 50/142. The proposals contained in the report
suggested that the current family programme should
concentrate on strengthening international cooperation on
family issues.
* To be issued subsequently.
stood up well to the test of time and was providing a valid and poor nations, especially when globalization, privatization,
reliable framework for policy design and evaluation. It structural adjustment programmes and external debt servicing
examined three issues which should be given policy priority: were impairing the capacities of developing countries to
anti-personnel landmines and unexploded ordnance, children provide basic social infrastructures. International
with disabilities, and the ageing of population structures and development cooperation must be based on renewed human
associated increases in impairment and disability. solidarity in order to assist the weaker members of society and
7. Since 1965, the General Assembly had adopted three
major, comprehensive international standards on youth. The
third, theWorld Programme of Action for Youth to the Year
2000 and Beyond, had proposed ten basic priority areas for 10. The 20/20 concept for resource allocation to social
action to achieve the objectives of International Youth Year services could be helpful only if the ability of recipient
and foster conditions and mechanisms to promote improved countries to raise funds was not undermined by external debt
well-being and livelihood among young people. He drew the servicing and currency speculation. In that regard, his
Committee’s attention to the analytical review of problems delegation was pleased to note the recent position taken by
and recommendations for action contained in chapter III of the BrettonWoods institutions in support of relief to the most
the report of the Secretary-General on implementation of that indebted least developed countries. It was time to work for
Programme of Action (A/52/60) and to the annexed a more humane international social order in which the welfare
country-by-country status of implementation of the of all would be promoted through international cooperation.
Programme. The involvement of governmental and The widening gap between rich and poor nations and within
non-governmental youth constituencies was instrumental in States had great potential for social and political instability.
the implementation of the Programme of Action. The The international financial institutions must reconsider their
Secretary-General was therefore most grateful to the approach to development since many more people in the
Governments of Austria and Portugal for their support. The world today lacked access to basic social services. Greater
Secretariat was preparing a special study on the global international cooperation was necessary to address the
situation of youth, which would be completed and submitted problem of unemployment and issues relating to youth, the
to both the global youth meetings in Portugal in 1998. disabled and older persons.
8. The report of the Secretary-General on Implementation 11. Mr. Spitzer (United States of America) reiterated his
of the outcome of theWorld Summit for Social Development delegation’s appreciation that the International Labour
(A/52/305), shortly to be considered by the plenary Organization (ILO) had acknowledged the critical need to
Assembly, contained illustrative information on initiatives and achieve the goal of sustainable full employment, taking into
activities undertaken since the last session of the Assembly account social development and environmental protection.
on the follow-up to the World Summit for Social The United States strongly supported the efforts by ILO to
Development. It also set out the preparatory process already support national programmes to combat child labour through
agreed upon by the General Assembly and the Economic and the International Programme on the Elimination of Child
Social Council for the special session in the year 2000. The Labour and its plans to complete the elaboration of a new
Secretary-General had spoken in his first annual report of “an international convention on the elimination of the most
era of realignment” (A/52/1, para. 1). All the reports to which exploitative forms of child labour. Job promotion helped to
he (Mr. Langmore) had alluded concerned social programmes enable all workers to share fully in the benefits of trade and
attempting to tackle effectively some of the issues caused by economic growth. There was a need to ensure equal access
that realignment: increase of population age, pressure on to productive employment for all workers, both men and
families, growth of the extent of disability, the intensified women, and disabled persons. Basic labour standards also
needs of youth and the follow-up to the World Summit for lessened social antagonisms and promoted stability. The
Social Development. Those programmes were aimed at Third Committee should closely coordinate its work in the
achieving the “global public goods” to which the area of employment with the Second Committee.
Secretary-General referred in paragraph 2 of his annual
report. He hoped that Member States, in their statements to
the Committee, would suggest ways of increasing the national
and global effectiveness of those programmes.
9. Mr. Otuyelu (Nigeria) said that his delegation was and the challenges accompanying it. His country had long
seriously concerned about the widening gap between rich and advocated the inclusion and empowerment of persons with
enhance their ability to contribute to social development.
Additional resources were, of course, essential for local
capacity building in that area.
12. He commended the efforts under way to prepare for the
International Year of Older Persons, which would be an
opportunity for Governments and non-governmental
organizations to raise awareness of the miracle of longevity
disabilities and would explore every opportunity for sharing regard. Such a dialogue could be conducted at a number of
information on steps taken in the areas of rehabilitation and levels, with the United Nations and its specialized agencies
legal measures. The growth of civil society in the developing playing a role.
world and in new democracies was particularly important in
order to enable citizens to manage their own affairs, help set
public-policy agendas and fill in critical gaps between public
administration and the needs of the people. His delegation
supported action to expand the access of non-governmental
organizations to the General Assembly and to enhance the
contributions of civil society to the work of United Nations
13. In view of the vital importance of such issues as youth,
ageing, disabled persons and the family, the work of the
Economic and Social Council and the Commission for Social
Development must be efficient and focused. The Commission
and the Third Committee were the appropriate forums for
exchanging views in order to implement social development
programmes and provide basic social services to all.
14. Ms. Van Houte (Netherlands), speaking as her economic and social development. The Group, which had
delegation’s youth representative, said that it was very actively participated in the first regional conference for the
disappointing to see that General Assembly resolutions on implementation of theWorld Summit for Social Development,
youth adopted in recent years had had virtually no effect. It held in São Paulo in April 1997, wished to reiterate its
was also unfortunate that few delegations had youth support for the consensus of São Paulo on the need to hold
representatives, since they could bring the problems evaluation meetings in other regions.
confronting young people to the attention of the General
Assembly in a more effective and balanced way. Young
people had a keen interest in political decision-making and
could make a valuable contribution to policy formulation in
both the public and private sectors.
15. The report on the second session of the World Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (A/52/60). Subsequent reports
Forum (A/52/80) contained many useful recommendations on that question should contain a more detailed description
on issues relating to young people. Of particular importance of national policies and action programmes to address issues
was the recommendation to appoint a special rapporteur on relating to young people. The Rio Group viewed with interest
youth rights in order to promote the implementation of the the preparations for the World Conference of Ministers
World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Responsible for Youth and believed that the results of that
Beyond. Too little was being done in response to important Conference would be very useful for Governments in their
initiatives like the World Youth Forum. Yet, the activities to promote the development of young people.
recommendations made by young people were fully relevant
to the work of United Nations bodies.
16. More and more private companies were taking account reiterated their commitment to protect and promote the
of the social and political situations of the countries in which family. They also noted with interest the report on the
they were working. That was of great importance to youth and monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on
other non-governmental organizations since it could involve the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
young people in companies’ internal discussions. Both sides Disabilities (A/52/56) and underscored their support for the
could benefit from such exchanges of ideas. There were many application of the Rules and the work of the Special
opportunities for youth organizations in the area of Rapporteur. The member countries of the Rio Group would
unemployment. The youth sections of trade unions were well continue to carry out their responsibilities in the field of social
aware of the needs and desires of unemployed young people development and pursue their efforts to eradicate poverty and
and were perhaps best placed to put forward proposals in that promote overall human development.
17. Participation by young people in the United Nations
system was a very important issue. The World Conference of
Ministers Responsible for Youth should address the issue of
including youth representatives in national delegations to the
General Assembly; and special arrangements should be made
to ensure coordination between the Conference and the World
Youth Forum so that all participating youth organizations
could effectively participate in the follow-up.
18. Ms. Moreno (Paraguay), speaking on behalf of the Rio
Group, said that the Group was totally committed to the
Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the
Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social
Development. The members of the Rio Group, which all had
democratic Governments, were seeking to combat poverty and
enable youth, older people and the disabled to benefit from
19. The Rio Group was committed to the holding of the
International Year of Older People and noted with satisfaction
the work carried out in that regard. She took special note of
the recommendations set out in the report on the
implementation of theWorld Programme of Action for Youth
20. The members of the Rio Group attached particular
importance to the family as the basic structure of society and
21. Ms. Sugimori (Japan) welcomed actions taken to date 25. The United Nations system, other international and
by the United Nations system and other international regional organizations, Governments, and members of civil
organizations to follow up the World Summit for Social society must work together in a spirit of cooperation and
Development at the international and regional levels, as well partnership to achieve the targets set out in the Copenhagen
as initiatives taken by national Governments individually or Declaration and Programme of Action. Japan would play an
collectively and by members of civil society and active role in that process, based on its experience in that
non-governmental organizations. In that context, her vitally important area.
Government would shortly adopt a national plan of action,
after completing extensive consultations with ministries,
agencies and non-governmental organizations dealing with
such matters. The Government’s strategy highlighted seven
critical policy issues: employment, equal opportunities for
men and women, social integration, support for the socially
vulnerable, human development, protecting the environment
by promoting sustainable development, and improving social
infrastructure. It also called for the further strengthening of
bilateral and multilateral development cooperation.
22. Following the conclusion of the United Nations Decade
of Disabled Persons in 1992, the Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) had designated
the period from 1993 to 2002 as a decade of disabled persons.
In December 1995, her Government had launched a national
plan of action on disabilities, laying out specific measures to
be taken by relevant ministries, agencies and institutions. The
issue of disabilities was highlighted in Japan’s policy on
official development assistance. In the area of technical
cooperation, the Japan International Cooperation Agency
(JICA) worked to develop human resources and create
vocational training schemes at rehabilitation centres in
recipient countries. JICA also sought to involve persons with
disabilities in formulating and implementing development
projects. The role of non-governmental organizations was
particularly crucial for the development of human resources
in recipient countries and for disseminating information.
23. She drew attention to the impact that anti-personnel
landmines had had on civilian life in post-conflict processes
of reconstruction and rehabilitation. Most victims of mines
were farmers, women and children in areas that had once been
battlefields. There was an urgent need to accelerate the
clearing of landmines, and her Government therefore had
strongly supported United Nations landmine clearance
activities and programmes for the treatment and rehabilitation
of victims. Japan’s financial support in that area amounted
to nearly $30 million. A number of Japanese
non-governmental organizations provided humanitarian
assistance for the victims of landmines.
24. Japan welcomed activities in international forums to
prepare for the International Year of Older Persons in 1999.
Preparations had begun in Japan for the observance of the
Year at the national level.
26. Ms. Martínez (Ecuador) associated her delegation with
the statement made by Paraguay on behalf of the Rio Group,
and recalled that the President of Ecuador, addressing the
General Assembly, had described that country’s national
social development plan, which was designed to overcome
poverty, promote industrial activity, and promote the social
integration of vulnerable sectors of society.
27. In August 1996, her Government had presented a
national action plan for Ecuadorian youth, integrating the
individual and collective needs of young people in the present
and the future. The plan was intended to tackle problems
facing young people, including unemployment, delinquency
and abuse of drugs and alcohol, so that the young could
benefit from sufficient time and resources for a successful
transition to adulthood.
28. Her delegation welcomed the report of the
Secretary-General on the implementation of the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond
(A/52/60) and expressed gratitude to the Government of
Portugal for offering to host the World Conference of
Ministers Responsible for Youth.
29. As for the preparations for the International Year of
Older Persons, her delegation supported the adoption of the
theme “Towards a society for all ages”. She was pleased to
inform the Committee that a national council for older persons
had recently been created in Ecuador. Her delegation also
welcomed the operational framework for the International
Year of Older Persons contained in document A/52/328 and
reiterated its support for the open-ended working group
established within the framework of the Commission for
Social Development; it would continue to inform that group
on activities at the national level.
30. Persons with disabilities represented 13 per cent of the
population of Ecuador and, despite laws protecting them
against discrimination and other forms of unfair treatment,
their disadvantaged position was closely linked to the overall
socio-economic conditions in the country. It was therefore
vitally important to move forward in the area of international
development cooperation.
31. Ecuador was a strong defender of the family as the
indisputable nucleus of a society oriented towards the
well-being of its citizens. The family had a positive role to 36. The family, as the fundamental unit of society, played
play in the promotion and protection of all human rights, an important role in the weaving of the social fabric. It was
including the right to development. in the family that children acquired the principles of morality
32. Ms. Camerano (Colombia) said that her Government
had been exploring ways of implementing the Standard Rules
on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with 37. On the initiative of the First Lady of Colombia, a
Disabilities. The Colombian Constitution established the regional summit on childhood for Latin America and the
principle of non-discrimination, and a national consultative Caribbean would be held in Colombia in March 1998. Her
committee had been created to follow up the establishment Government looked forward to the interest and support of
of policies, strategies and programmes for the integration of United Nations bodies, non-governmental organizations, and
persons with disabilities. However, despite legislative regional organizations.
developments, the financial resources allocated to integration
were scarce, particularly in the field of education. Her
delegation therefore proposed that priority should be given
to the allocation of the technical and financial resources of the
United Nations system to support educational programmes
in that area and that the year 2000 should be designated
“international year for the integrated education of persons
with disabilities”.
33. In the area of follow-up to theWorld Summit for Social
Development, her delegation supported the opening up of
debates to the participation of experts. The postulates of the
Summit were reflected in her Government’s social policy.
Among the most important issues were: development as a
framework for social progress, access to new technology by
developing countries, diverting funds from military spending
towards social development, promoting international
cooperation, and increasing the commitment of international
financial institutions to social development programmes in
developing countries.
34. Colombia, recognizing that young people were
multidimensional human beings, encouraged the building of
their individual and collective identities. Her Government’s
strategies were aimed at creating and strengthening
institutional capacity to care for the young, improve their
quality of life, and encourage their involvement in the
economic arena.
35. Recalling that paragraph 1 of General Assembly family and its members. His delegation would collaborate
resolution 50/81 had identified 10 priority areas for the World closely with other delegations which also gave priority to
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and promoting and protecting the family as the fundamental
Beyond, she said that, in the light of the current tendency building-block of society, caring for the young, focusing on
towards confrontation in all areas of global society, it was the needs of school-age children in rural areas, the social
vital that the World Programme should include the topic of integration of persons with disabilities, and efforts to change
peace and coexistence. Its success would require the attitudes within the family through the promotion of civic,
commitment of developed countries and of organizations and moral and spiritual values.
institutions responsible for its implementation, so that those
countries which were at a relative disadvantage could achieve
the conditions needed for improving the quality of life.
and ethics; hence the importance of policies and actions to
strengthen family unity.
38. Colombia supported the proclamation of 1999 as the
International Year of Older Persons. The topic of the elderly
had been incorporated within the framework of the laws and
decrees defining Colombia’s social investment policy, which
aimed at bettering the life of the country’s senior citizens.
39. Ms. Alvarez (Dominican Republic), speaking with
reference to the social integration of older persons, said that
the Commission for Social Development should include the
principle of interdependence and the role of individuals of all
types and ages in an integrated society. As a developing
country, the Dominican Republic was particularly interested
in the concept of “active ageing”, and in replacing
dependence with interdependence as a model for interaction
between older people and the rest of society. In order to attain
a true “society for all ages”, people of all ages must be
brought back into society, their interdependence within that
society must be emphasized, and the positive contribution of
older people to that society must be reflected in the
information media.
40. Mr. García González (El Salvador) said that the
agenda item concerning social development was of particular
importance for his delegation, as were the items concerning
international drug control and the advancement of women.
One of his Government’s major commitments was to
contribute to the achievement of social peace and national
development through the strengthening and protection of the
41. In the light of the importance of those issues and their
relevance to the shaping of national policies and to the
implementation of programmes in the field, his delegation
would endeavour to make the most constructive contribution special educational needs”, as urged in the penultimate
possible to the work of the Committee. paragraph of the Amman Affirmation (A/52/183, annex).
42. Ms. Bennani (Morocco) said that the time had come 45. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
to mobilize resources to attain the goals of the World Summit Organization welcomed the United Nations system’s efforts
for Social Development. As the past decade’s economic to coordinate policies in the area of youth, and was itself
growth had not benefited all sectors of Moroccan society, the actively involved in those efforts worldwide. It was also
Government had developed a five-year social realignment endeavouring to promote adult education and to explore the
plan, aimed primarily at rural areas and basic infrastructure, implications of the “society for all ages”, with emphasis on
and had launched a programme of social priorities in the need for gender-sensitive lifelong learning.
cooperation with the United Nations Children’s Fund
(UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP), World Food Programme (WFP), United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), United States Agency for International
Development (USAID), European Union (EU) and the World
Bank. That programme emphasized measures to promote
female literacy and the education of girls in rural areas, as
well as to reduce maternal mortality rates and integrate
women in development. The Government had also taken
measures to promote the participation of youth in society and
the economy, and to provide a favourable legal environment
for micro-enterprises.
43. Mr. Ando (United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA))
said that in view of the compelling need to focus on and
respond to the challenges faced by youth, most of whom lived
in developing countries, the United Nations system should
facilitate young people’s participation and opinions at all
stages of its activities. Following the 1994 International
Conference on Population and Development and the adoption
of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year
2000 and Beyond at the fiftieth session of the General
Assembly, the Fund had intensified its focus on meeting the
health needs of youth and promoting adolescent reproductive
health. It was also actively participating in current and
upcoming meetings of international organizations concerned
with issues of importance to youth.
44. Ms. Sibal (United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (UNESCO)), referring to the progress
report on the implementation process of the education for all
objectives contained in document A/52/183, said that the
progress made in the provision of primary schooling was not
being matched by a reduction of adult illiteracy; nor had the
literacy gap between men and women declined. Moreover,
few Governments in the developing world had defined
national policies or targeted funds to promote early childhood
development. UNESCO would therefore welcome a General
Assembly resolution calling for “new approaches and
strategies capable of bringing quality education within the
reach of all, including the poor, the remote and those with
The meeting rose at 5.25 p.m.