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Summary record of the 4th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 14 October 1997, General Assembly, 52nd session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/52/SR.4
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 52nd
Type Document

5 p.

Subjects Family, Persons with Disabilities, Youth, Child Labour

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly Distr.: General
Fifty-second session 30 January 1998
Official Records Original: French
Third Committee
Summary record of the 4th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 14 October 1997, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Busacca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Italy)
Agenda item 102: Social development, including questions relating to the world social
situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (continued)
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 publication to the Chief of the Official Records
Editing Section, room DC2-750, 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.
97-82053 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m. Development (poverty, employment and social integration)
Agenda item 102: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (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,
A/52/351; A/C.3/52/L.2, A/C.3/52/L.3; E/1997/103,
1. Mgr. Martino (Observer for the Holy See) said that,
at the dawn of the new millennium, life had become a struggle
for the many victims of violence and warfare, the most
extreme forms of which were ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Others were the victims of disease which not only took a
devastating toll in terms of human life but placed a terrible
burden on victims’ families. Still others struggled with
disabilities and, often marginalized, were unable to reach
their full potential. The Holy See added its voice to the call
for continued efforts to help those individuals to realize their
sacred dignity and their right to life.
2. The elderly, who in the past had been looked upon as
wise, were often cast off and forced to live in fear in societies
where euthanasia had become an alternative to care. The Holy
See committed itself to promoting a deeper understanding of
the elderly and their contribution to society.
3. Many young people were separated from their families
and became homeless, victims of drugs and marginalized.
Girls in particular did not have equal opportunities for
education and employment. The world community must renew
its efforts to combat illiteracy and to empower young people
to fulfil their role, for the solutions to current challenges and
problems would be found in the ideas and energies of the next
generation. The youth forum to be held in 1998 in Lisbon
would be an important step in that direction.
4. People living in poverty, young people, older and
disabled persons were erroneously considered to be useless
members of society. Many of the hindrances to social
development, such as poverty, homelessness, warfare, forced
migration and exile, separation, disease and the breakdown
of the moral order, had had a devastating effect on the basic
unit of society, the family. The Holy See, faithful to its
mission, would continue its efforts to strengthen and
safeguard the family, emphasizing the role of parents as the
primary educators of their children. It called on Governments
and societies to recognize the special and essential role of the 11. In his final report of 1992, the Special Rapporteur on
family. Human Rights and Youth had suggested the establishment of
5. Mr. Kallehauge (Denmark) said that follow-up on the
three core issues agreed on at the World Summit for Social
was a priority for the Danish Government at the national as
well as the international level. Denmark called on the
Committee and the General Assembly to fulfil the mandate
entrusted to them. That also meant monitoring the
implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The Plan of
Action for Long-term Strategy to Implement the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons to the
Year 2000 and Beyond was the most important instrument for
mainstreaming disabled persons. Denmark also supported the
extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur.
6. Four years after the General Assembly had adopted the
Standard Rules, the decisions taken by the Economic and
Social Council and other relevant United Nations bodies had
yet to be implemented in a coherent way. His delegation
called on UNDP and United Nations organizations and
agencies, as well as regional and global organizations of
persons with disabilities, to continue monitoring the
implementation of the Standard Rules in cooperation with the
Special Rapporteur.
7. The problems of disabled persons should be seen from
a human rights perspective. His delegation therefore
welcomed the reaffirmation by the Commission on Human
Rights of its resolution 1996/27 on the human rights of
persons with disabilities and its decision to resume
consideration of that item at its fifty-fourth session. A
resolution should be adopted in 1998 on the basic human
rights of persons with disabilities, including independent
living, active participation in all aspects of society, access to
shelter, infrastructure and public transport, education and
equal opportunity in the labour market.
8. A brief report on the major new initiatives taken in
Denmark in the area of disability was attached to the
statement circulated to members of the Committee.
9. Ms. Mikkelsen (Denmark) welcomed the increasing
willingness to listen to young people, who constituted over
half the world’s population, as demonstrated by the measures
taken by some countries to develop a youth policy and to
enhance youth involvement in the decision-making process.
10. At the international level, her delegation welcomed the
adoption of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the
Year 2000 and Beyond and the outcome of the World Summit
for Social Development.
a “Youth Rights Charter”, a proposal which had been
endorsed by the World Youth Forum in 1996. The aim would
be to establish a compendium of the existing rights of youth imposed on countries involved, goods boycotted, preferential
rather than to agree on any new rights. Such a charter would trade agreements used as incentives, codes of conduct adopted
enable youth organizations and Governments to share which could lead to the abolition of child labour and
knowledge, increase awareness among youth of their rights, consumer awareness promoted through adequate labelling of
and mainstream the concerns and particular needs of youth goods.
into overall policy at both the national and international
levels. The right to development and the right to participate
in decision-making bodies were an integral part of social
development, along with the right to a basic education and to
further training, which was vital in order to prepare youth to
become responsible citizens. Youth would continue to work
towards the adoption of a youth rights charter at the Forum
to be held in Portugal in 1998.
12. Member States should also endeavour to improve the
situation of youth by taking into account the role and
importance of non-governmental organizations working with
youth, which made a major contribution to the informal
education and development of many young people. They
should, in future, be permitted to participate more fully in
developing youth policies in close cooperation with national
and local governments.
13. Mr. Mernyi (Austria) said that the second session of youth participation and youth rights, issues. Those issues
the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System, which were a good basis for promoting discussion on the
had been held in Vienna in 1996, bringing together more than implementation of the World Programme, and should be on
400 young people from 150 countries had been very the agenda of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible
successful. The report of the Forum had been issued as for Youth, which would be held a few days after the Braga
document A/52/80. With regard to youth-related issues, Forum. In order to make that Forum as effective as possible,
Austria attached particular importance to that of child labour, young people from all over the world should be enabled to
since it was currently estimated that some 300 million participate. Adequate financing was therefore necessary.
children were being forced to work. That problem, which was
largely due to market forces, cutthroat competition and the
widening gap between rich countries and poor countries, was
growing. The child victims involved were ruthlessly exploited
in the name of profit and often had no other choice. Real
economic progress would be achieved with a well-trained and
educated workforce. It was therefore important to focus on
the education of children, and to guarantee their parents’
14. In order to address the issue, the scale of the problem
must be recognized, and research carried out. The primary
responsibility for action against child labour lay with
Governments; they should provide sufficient funds for
education programmes, most importantly at primary level.
15. While nearly every country had laws against child
labour, those laws were rarely enforced. Those who profited
from the exploitation of children should be held responsible
and brought to justice.
16. In order to halt the international trade of goods
produced with child labour, economic sanctions could be
17. The International Labour Organization was playing an
essential role in the fight against child labour by helping
Governments to take action in that respect, and should be
supported by all relevant entities of the United Nations system
and by the whole international community.
18. Ms. Huitfeldt (Norway), speaking in her capacity as
youth representative, noted that the World Youth Forum of
the United Nations System, a biennial event, gave
non-governmental youth organizations the opportunity to
discuss with organizations of the United Nations system the
implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth
to the Year 2000 and Beyond. The next Youth Forum, which
would be held in Braga, Portugal, in August 1998, would
focus on the participation of youth in human development and
their cooperation with special working groups on
employment, health and education, as well as on youth policy,
19. In 1990, the number of young people in the world aged
between 15 and 24 had reached 1 billion. They should
therefore be represented in the decision-making bodies of
their respective countries, whether industrialized or
developing, and should take part in politics at large in order
to take control over their own lives.
20. Too many youth institutions were dominated by adults.
It was important that young people’s voices should be heard
21. Young people all over the world were keenly interested
in the protection of the environment. Environmental issues
were an important part of the World Programme of Action for
Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, which viewed youth as
a vital resource. Through education on environmental issues,
young people wished to contribute actively to the
implementation of Agenda 21.
22. The international community had safeguarded the rights
of the child in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; it
should also focus on the rights of youth, particularly those of
young women, and enable them to benefit from access to themselves participated. The central Government and local
proper health care and education, have the opportunity to plan administrations were implementing a variety of measures for
their families and be assured of respect for their personal the disabled, including priority rehabilitation projects, the
integrity. incorporation of education for disabled children into overall
23. Like Denmark, the Netherlands and Finland, Norway
allowed youth representatives to take part in the work of the
General Assembly in order to increase their involvement in
the international community and their contribution to the
resolution of global issues.
24. Ms. Lin Sha (China) said that 80 per cent of youth,
older and disabled persons lived in developing countries,
where they were plagued by poverty and marginalized. The
United Nations and the international community should focus
on their particularly difficult situation and actively assist them
in becoming integrated into society.
25. The Chinese Government had always attached great
importance to youth, older and disabled persons. It had
therefore greatly increased the number of activities in the field
of youth education and had achieved impressive results
(development of vocational training, improvement of the
overall level of science and culture, reduction of illiteracy
among young peasants, etc.).
26. Young people in China took an active part in decisionmaking
at various levels in the work of the Government and
of the People’s Congress. They were a dynamic force in the
economic field, as well as in industry, agriculture, trade,
management and services, and were enthusiastic participants
in environmental protection and literacy campaigns. As a
result of their financial assistance to the “Hope Project”,
aimed at helping young school dropouts in rural areas, some
15.5 million children had resumed their studies. Young
people had therefore become a force to be reckoned with in
efforts to build the nation’s future.
27. The ageing of populations was a universal problem, and
China was no exception; the number of Chinese aged over 60
would reach 130 million by the year 2000. Aware of the social
implications of that issue, the Chinese Government had in
1996 adopted measures to strengthen institutions for older
people, and had promulgated a law on the protection of their
rights and interests. It was currently creating a social security
system (or improving existing systems) and consolidating its
policy on ageing. It had made progress in implementing the
“Aiding the Aged Project” which was designed to help
bereaved and disabled older persons who could not support
28. Since there were 60 million people with disabilities in
China, the Government was implementing a policy on the
disabled in which the society at large and the disabled
planning for universal compulsory education, the setting up
of specially designed vocational training institutions and the
provision of assistance to disabled persons who wished to
start their own businesses. Furthermore, the Chinese
Government ensured that the needs of the disabled were taken
into account in its overall plan for poverty eradication and had
provided funds to facilitate the rehabilitation of the disabled
poor. In big cities, disabled-friendly facilities were gradually
being provided which would enable the disabled to participate
more in society.
29. China took an active part in United Nations activities
concerning youth, the elderly and the disabled. It was actively
implementing the World Programme of Action for Youth to
the Year 2000 and Beyond by cooperating with international
organizations and participating in regional and world
conferences on themes of direct or indirect interest to those
segments of the population or by organizing such conferences
itself. China was taking part in the activities of the United
Nations Decade of Disabled Persons and had initiated and
participated in the financing of the Asian and Pacific Decade
of Disabled Persons. It had also participated actively in
various seminars on ageing organized by the Economic and
Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and in
world conferences on gerontology held in Sydney, Singapore
and Honolulu.
30. Ms. Foo (Singapore) said that the family unit, which
from time immemorial had been the basic building block of
human communities and societies, was the single most
important means of perpetuating values and providing
stability in any society. The break-up of the family observed
in many parts of the world in recent years had contributed to
a weakening of the social fabric, unbridled individualism, a
poorer work ethic and increased crime.
31. The contemporary debate on the integrity of the family
unit had brought out all manner of divergent views, but had
failed to come up with a universally acceptable definition of
the family. Singapore favoured a pragmatic approach, since
it believed that it was more important to increase public
awareness of the issue and encourage public discussion
32. Surveys conducted by the Singapore Housing and
Development Board, the National Trade Union Congress and
local newspapers showed that a large majority of the
population valued family ties and held the family in high
regard. Many debates had been held on the issue, especially
as part of the commemoration of the International Year of the 37. The Republic of Korea, which had more than 1 million
Family; when love, mutual respect, filial responsibility, disabled persons (2 per cent of the population), attached high
commitment and communication had been designated by a priority to that issue and had established in 1996 a Disability
large majority as core family values. Following the Welfare Policy Committee, headed by the Prime Minister,
commemoration of the Year, a Family Values Promotion Fund which had launched a five-year plan to try to resolve the
of 1 million Singapore dollars had been set up to promote problems faced by the disabled in the areas of welfare,
such values. It financed the implementation of projects of employment and education. The Government had also
individuals or organizations, including publications, organized public awareness-raising campaigns and events for
educational cassettes and videos, symposia, workshops and the annual observance of Disabled Persons Day.
dance and theatrical performances.
33. Her Government firmly believed that the State’s social Disabled Persons Employment Act encouraged such persons
budget should be used not so much to assist individuals under to be self-supporting. As far as the mass media were
all circumstances as to help accumulate assets and acquire concerned, there were now special programmes for the
knowledge and professional qualifications in order to become disabled.
self-reliant. That was why it had taken measures to preserve
the family unit and extended family structure and to strengthen
the community — the natural environment for mutual
assistance and solidarity. Such measures included tax rebates
for households with one to four children and those supporting
aged parents and/or disabled siblings; incentives for families
in which two or three generations lived together; the
establishment of child-care centres; and child-care subsidies
for working mothers. In addition, Singapore was
implementing a policy on family life education which
provided premarital counselling, counselling for families in
danger of breaking up and teaching of parenting skills.
34. While the family could foster economic and social and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons (1993-2002) in Seoul
development by giving individuals a sense of balance and in September 1997. The latter meeting, organized by ESCAP,
fulfilment, it was also within the family that individuals could had noted the progress made and reaffirmed the commitment
best enjoy economic and social development. That was why of participants to the full implementation of the agenda for
the momentum generated by the International Year of the action for the Asian and Pacific Decade, including the
Family should be maintained by ensuring effective and formulation of national plans of action, conducting disability
sustained follow-up. censuses and implementing specific disability-prevention
35. Mr. Chang Beom Cho (Republic of Korea) took note
with appreciation of the Secretary-General’s reports dealing The meeting rose at 11.05 a.m.
with various aspects of social development (A/52/57,
A/52/60, A/52/328 and A/52/351). His delegation wished to
pay a tribute to the Special Rapporteur on Disability and
welcomed the decision of the Economic and Social Council
to renew his mandate for an additional period of three years.
36. He stressed the importance of the Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities,
which had inspired many Governments to make the disabled
a priority and had heightened public awareness of disability
issues. However, as the Special Rapporteur had emphasized
in his report (A/52/56), there were still many regions where
the Standard Rules had not yet led to the complete social
integration and full participation of disabled persons.
38. By increasing job opportunities for the disabled, the
39. Since becoming the recipient in 1996 of the
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Disability Award in recognition
of its activities on behalf of the disabled, the Government of
the Republic of Korea had implemented new programmes,
including the five-year plan for the promotion of special
education, and had decided to increase the budget for
disability welfare by 40 per cent. Stressing the importance of
regional cooperation in that field, he welcomed the decision
of ESCAP member States to proclaim 1993-2002 as the
Asian and Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, and noted that
his Government had hosted the International Conference on
Disability and the Mid-Decade ESCAP Meeting for the Asian