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Summary record of the 11th meeting : 3rd Committee, held on Tuesday, 19 October 1993, New York, General Assembly, 48th session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/48/SR.11
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 48th
Type Document

10 p.

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Youth, Ageing Persons, Family

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
11th meeting
held on
Tuesday, 19 October 1993
at 10 a.m.
New York
Chairman: Mr. KUKAN (Slovakia)
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.
20 January 1994
94-80141 (E) /...
Page 2
The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.
A/48/56-E/1993/6, A/48/207, A/48/289, A/48/291, A/48/293, A/48/462, A/48/476,
A/48/484; E/1993/50/Rev.1; A/C.3/48/L.2, L.3, L.4)
1. The CHAIRMAN invited the Committee to begin its consideration of agenda
item 109 and drew its attention to the documentation under that item. He noted
that the three draft resolutions which the Economic and Social Council had
recommended to the General Assembly for adoption were available in documents
A/C.3/48/L.2, L.3 and L.4. He also recalled that the General Assembly, at its
112th plenary meeting of the forty-seventh session on 20 September 1993, had
adopted a draft resolution entitled "International Year of the Family", which
had been recommended to it by the Economic and Social Council. That resolution
(A/RES/47/237) contained several provisions which called for immediate action,
in particular, preparations for the plenary meeting to be held in early December
to launch the Year. For details, he referred delegations to document A/47/1011.
2. Mr. BAUDOT (Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of
the Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development and
Coordinator of the World Summit for Social Development), introducing agenda
item 109, pointed out that social development was a difficult concept on account
of the diversity of social systems, which were rooted in different historical
and cultural traditions. Yet, much had been achieved, particularly through the
Committee, in helping to clarify concepts, define issues, raise awareness of the
problems, develop standards and point the way to action by countries singly or
3. Progress had been made in changing attitudes and promoting greater
understanding, particularly with regard to older persons and to persons with
disabilities. That progress, however, had been of limited scope, since the
challenges in that field could never be completely overcome.
4. With regard to disability, the Committee was expected at its current
session to consider a draft resolution entitled "Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities", recommended by the
Economic and Social Council on the basis of a draft submitted to the Council by
the Commission for Social Development, at the latter’s most recent Vienna
session in February. He wished to record the Secretariat’s appreciation to
those Governments which, through their generous contributions, had made it
possible for an ad hoc open-ended working group to hold a series of meetings at
which the Rules in question had been elaborated. He hoped that those Rules
could be adopted at the Committee’s current session.
5. The Third Committee should also consider the question of the long-term
strategy for the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons to the year 2000 and beyond. There had been some delay in the
elaboration of that strategy, owing to some differences of emphasis among Member
States regarding the sequence of steps in the strategy. The progress achieved
so far had been summarized in the informal background information note which had
been circulated to members of the Committee. That note contained the framework
Page 3
(Mr. Baudot)
for a long-term strategy. It took into account the results of the meeting of
experts held at Vancouver, the views that had been expressed since then by
governments, and other developments, as stipulated in paragraph 2 of Economic
and Social Council resolution 1993/20. The Secretariat invited Member States to
continue to communicate their views on the strategy and to do so if possible
before the end of the year.
6. Although the Secretariat had not submitted a report relating to ageing in
1993, he nevertheless wished to draw the Committee’s attention to the third
review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Plan of Action
on Ageing which had been completed earlier that year. The Secretariat intended
to make the findings available later in greater detail and in a suitable form.
7. Likewise, no specific report had been submitted during the year to the
Third Committee on the question of youth. However, in keeping with earlier
decisions of the Assembly and the guidelines of the Commission for Social
Development and of ECOSOC, the Secretariat was proceeding with the elaboration
of its draft of the world programme of action for youth to the year 2000 and
beyond, which the Committee would take up at subsequent sessions, especially
in 1995.
8. He wished to inform members of the Committee of the new arrangements made
in the context of the reorganization of the Secretariat. Activities previously
carried out by the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs at
Vienna had been relocated to New York and entrusted to a division, tentatively
called Division for Social Policy and Development, which was part of the new
Department of Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development. However,
activities under the crime prevention and criminal justice programme would
remain in Vienna. The secretariat for the International Year of the Family,
while also part of the new Department, would remain in Vienna until the end
of 1994.
9. No decisions had yet been taken regarding the internal structure of the new
Division for Social Policy and Development. The Secretariat should take into
account, inter alia, the need to make the best use of the resources made
available by the General Assembly, to ensure flexibility in the use of those
resources, and to avoid fragmentation of activities.
10. Turning to the preparations for the World Summit for Social Development, he
recalled that the Preparatory Committee had held its organizational session in
April 1993 and that its report (A/48/24) was before the Committee. At that
session, the Preparatory Committee had adopted a procedure for the accreditation
of non-governmental organizations to the World Summit and its preparatory
meetings. The Preparatory Committee had also stressed during the meeting the
importance of national contributions to the preparatory arrangements for the
Summit and had made suggestions about the various types of contributions which
Governments could make. Finally, the Preparatory Committee had accepted with
appreciation the offers of the Governments of the Netherlands and Sweden to host
and finance two meetings of experts focused on the core issues of the Summit.
Those two meetings had been held. The first, on social integration, had been
held at The Hague from 27 September to 1 October 1993, and the second, on
productive employment, had been held at Stockholm from 4 to 8 October. The
Page 4
(Mr. Baudot)
reports of those meetings would be transmitted to the Preparatory Committee at
its first substantive session in early 1994. The discussions at those meetings
had been extremely useful.
11. Speaking on behalf of Mr. Sokalski, the Coordinator for the International
Year of the Family introduced the salient points of the Secretary-General’s
report on the Year, and noted that the General Assembly had decided at its
resumed forty-seventh session to meet in plenary on 7 December in order to
formally launch the International Year of the Family. That event would be
followed by other celebrations, including one in Paris, during the General
Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) and one in Malta at the NGO Forum. The Secretariat had
already been informed that 120 countries planned to organize a variety of events
as part of the Year and that 100 countries had established national coordinating
mechanisms. Four regional preparatory meetings had been held at Tunis, Valleta,
Beijing and Cartagena. He expressed the Secretariat’s appreciation to the
Governments that had hosted the meetings. The reports of those meetings were
available to the Committee. The preparations for the International Year of the
Family had been a truly cooperative effort as demonstrated by the support from
United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations which, while
approaching the question of the family from different perspectives, all pursued
the same purpose of promoting better understanding and enlightened policy.
12. Mr. USWATTE-ARATCHI (Chief, Development Analysis Branch, Macroeconomic and
Social Policy Analysis Division, Department of Economic and Social Information
and Policy Analysis) said that contrary to oft-repeated assertions, progress had
been made in social development in both developed and developing countries since
the first Report on the World Social Situation was published in 1952.
13. In 64 developing countries for which data was available in 1960, the child
mortality rate had been about 200 per 1000 live births. In 1985, 25 years
later, the comparable figure had been only 80 per 1000. Child mortality had
fallen on the average by 3 per cent per year; that decline had been somewhat
faster in Latin America and Asia than in Africa. However, improvements in
social conditions had occurred even in countries where per capita income had
fallen. Infant mortality had not risen in any of those countries and in 22 of
them it had even declined. Among them was Jamaica. In 14 countries where
per capita GNP had risen by less than 1 per cent per annum between 1985
and 1989, infant mortality had decreased over the same period. Trinidad and
Tobago was one of those countries. Of course, in countries with economies in
transition there had been a drastic reduction in incomes and a deterioration in
social conditions although it was still difficult to accurately assess the
situation because the reliability of the statistical data under previous regimes
was questionable.
14. On the other hand, there were two regions of the world where, while the
social situation was not hopeless, it still posed substantial problems whether
it be in infant mortality, malnutrition or illiteracy. Those regions were
sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In sub-Saharan Africa, the infant mortality
rate exceeded 200 per 1000 live births and in South Asia 125 per 1,000 births.
However, the most serious malnutrition problems were in South Asia. In
Page 5
(Mr. Uswatte-Aratchi)
sub-Saharan Africa, only in Mauritania, Niger and the United Republic of
Tanzania was the situation as serious as in Pakistan. According to UNESCO
estimates, illiteracy in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia was virtually the
same at 53 to 54 per cent of the population. However, if India sustained its
current rate of economic growth, the number of people in poverty in South Asia
should go down considerably. Sustained growth in China would reduce that
figure even further.
15. Referring to the important role played by the State, he noted that a
stronger orientation towards the market is the surest path to faster growth in
productivity, rising incomes and sustained economic development was not a
universally applicable principle. As the authors of the World Development
Report 1991 had noted, many sorts of government intervention are essential if
economies are to achieve their full potential. Areas where the State must
intervene included the maintenance of law and order, the provision of public
services, the development of human resources, construction and repair of
physical infrastructure and protection of the environment. The deterioration in
social conditions was particularly striking in countries such as Afghanistan,
Angola, Mozambique and now Somalia where Governments had failed to intervene.
In contrast, because of the publicity they had enjoyed, mention should be made
of the current series of proposals for health care reform recently introduced by
the United States administration.
16. The need for government intervention was admittedly paradoxical.
Governments in developing and developed countries were often inefficient, often
staffed with poorly trained and sometimes corrupt personnel, always short of
resources and often wasteful. While those factors must be borne in mind, it
must also be acknowledged that the same level of efficiency that prevailed in a
developed society where competition was the rule, there was a free press and the
government was held accountable could not be achieved by societies where none of
those features were present. In that area, one must make allowances.
17. The international community would have to consider those questions when it
examined the three key issues of the World Summit for Social Development,
namely, poverty, social integration and productive employment. The
international community must take into account not only the tremendous
achievements of the past 30 years but also the magnitude of the problems ahead.
It must also identify the areas where the problems were more severe and where
government intervention was required simply because there were either no markets
or the markets were unstable. It was precisely because of his insights into
those issues that Professor Douglas North had been a joint recipient of
the 1993 Nobel Prize in Economics.
18. Miss FOSTIER (Belgium) speaking on behalf of the European Community and its
member States said that the main objective of the United Nations at its
inception was the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all
peoples. With the end of the cold war and the expansion of democracy, the
international community had rediscovered the importance of social development
tailored to the new socio-political climate. Genuine international cooperation
must reflect the close ties between peace, stability, democracy, respect for
human rights, economic development and social progress.
Page 6
(Miss Fostier, Belgium)
19. States must apply social and economic policies to work out lasting
solutions to such problems as poverty, social exclusion and unemployment.
Social development must focus on the individual, particularly the most
disadvantaged groups, and required the implementation in a spirit of justice and
social integration of efficient measures, particularly in the spheres of health
care, education and training. The World Summit for Social Development to be
held at Copenhagen in 1995 would be devoted, among other things, to such issues.
The interrelationship between the social function of the State, the reaction of
the market to social needs and the imperatives of sustainable development
compelled States to think their socio-economic policies, as illustrated by the
Secretary-General’s Report on the World Social Situation 1993 which had been
analysing that trend since the 1980s.
20. At the World Conference on Human Rights, the European Community had
supported the reaffirmation of the rights to development as set forth in the
Vienna Declaration. It fully endorsed the notion that lack of development could
not justify the abridgement of internationally recognized human rights. States
should give priority, at the national and international levels, to promoting
democracy, development and respect for human rights. In the elaboration of
their policies, the European Community and its member States took into
consideration the interdependence of those three components.
21. The European Community attached great importance to the social, economic,
cultural and human dimensions of development. Social factors were crucial.
Eleven member States of the Community had therefore adopted the Community
Charter of Fundamental Social Rights for Workers, as well as the Protocol for
Social Policy, which was annexed to the Treaty on European Union. The next
phase of economic and political development in Europe would focus on the
protection of jobs, the improvement of living and working conditions, and social
welfare. At the Copenhagen meeting of the European Council, the Community had
announced its determination to restore confidence, so as to re-establish
sustainable growth, strengthen the competitive edge of European industry, and
cut unemployment.
22. Faced with a slow-down in world economic growth, the European Community
would attempt to promote not only economic recovery in Europe, but also a
coordinated international approach to the problem.
23. European policy stressed partnership and cooperation, not only among
Governments, but also among Governments, industry, trade unions and
non-governmental organizations, as well as close collaboration with the agencies
and bodies of the United Nations and the international financial institutions.
The Community’s programmes of cooperation with the ACP (African, Caribbean and
Pacific) Group, under the Lomé Convention, had received increasing attention,
especially in the areas of health and education. Such cooperation also extended
to the countries of the Mediterranean, as well as to those of Asia and Latin
24. The member States of the European Community sought to establish balanced
cooperative relationships with developing countries in a spirit of solidarity.
The development policy of the European Community, as set out in the Treaty on
European Union, envisaged the promotion of sustainable economic and social
Page 7
(Miss Fostier, Belgium)
development, including the struggle against poverty in developing countries. As
the World Conference on Human Rights had emphasized, extreme poverty and social
exclusion constituted a violation of human dignity. It was thus crucial, as the
Human Development Report 1993 indicated, for States to promote the participation
of the poorest members of society in their decision-making. Generally speaking,
action must be taken to counter the marginalization of groups, with special
emphasis on women, who played a catalytic role in social development.
25. The convening of the World Summit for Social Development had garnered the
support of the international community. At the time of the high-level meeting
of the Economic and Social Council in 1993, the member States of the European
Community had already defined their positions and approach with regard to the
Summit’s three themes: social integration, particularly of the more
disadvantaged groups; reduction of poverty; and expansion of productive
26. The World Summit should make it possible to identify innovative approaches
that would enable leaders to deal with social tensions and give new impetus to
social policy, in the industrialized countries, which must adapt to new
realities, in the Central and Eastern European countries, which were attempting
to rehabilitate their economic and social systems, and in the developing
countries, which must create conditions conducive to economic growth and social
progress. Those fundamental questions had been considered in depth by experts
from all regions of the world, at the meetings in the Netherlands and Sweden.
The experts’ reports would be submitted to the Preparatory Committee for the
Summit, which would hold its first substantive discussion in early 1994. The
European Community planned to take part in that discussion in a constructive
manner. In that context, it welcomed the frame of reference defined by the
Commission for Social Development and took note of the work of the third
Conference of European Ministers responsible for social affairs, which had taken
place in Bratislava in June 1993.
27. As a mainstay of international cooperation in the social sector, the United
Nations system should redefine its role in that regard through its existing
institutions. The United Nations should cooperate more closely with its
specialized agencies as well as with the Bretton Woods institutions. ILO,
UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA should contribute to both the preparations for and the
follow-up to the Summit. Given its mandate and its tripartite structure, ILO in
particular had a unique role to play, and its international standards should be
accorded increased attention.
28. Over the years the United Nations had adopted programmes and plans of
action for the protection, promotion and integration of vulnerable groups:
older persons, disabled persons, young people and women. Those initiatives
should work towards creating conditions enabling the groups in question to
better defend their interests.
29. At its forty-seventh session, the General Assembly had examined the
progress made during the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, and in
particular since the adoption in 1982 of the World Programme of Action.
Activities in follow-up to the Decade and the idea of a long-term strategy to
the year 2000 and beyond were of interest to the European Community.
Page 8
(Miss Fostier, Belgium)
Recognizing the progress made so far as well as the many remaining obstacles,
the member States of the Community envisaged a policy which would focus on
concrete action with emphasis on the prevention of disabilities, rehabilitation
and the social integration of disabled persons. Thus, the European Community’s
Helios II programme covered numerous areas, such as training, support for
elderly disabled persons and access to employment. In that context, the
European Community expressed its unqualified support for the draft Standard
Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
30. With regard to the elderly, an active, practical policy should be adopted.
To integrate the elderly better and to raise awareness of their plight, the
European Community had designated 1993 as the European Year of the Elderly and
of Intergenerational Solidarity. For its part, the United Nations had adopted
the United Nations Principles for Older Persons and the Proclamation on Ageing,
and had designated 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons.
Furthermore, the problems posed by the ageing of the population as a whole would
be examined at the International Conference on Population and Development in
31. Young people merited special consideration. No effort should be spared in
helping them meet the many challenges posed by society as well as by the effects
of the socio-economic situation. The European Community was especially
disturbed by the situation of children in armed conflicts and by the tragic,
appalling plight of "street children". With regard to the latter, the European
Community and its member States intended, during the current session of the
General Assembly, to urge Governments to intervene as a matter of urgency so as
to ensure their protection.
32. At the current session, the United Nations was about to proclaim 1994 as
the International Year of the Family. The member States of the European
Community had worked actively in the preparations for the Year, which would
focus above all on the idea of change and evolution in societies. She drew
attention, inter alia, to the important question of child care to help parents
reconcile their professional, family and educational responsibilities.
33. In conclusion, she expressed the hope that the smooth functioning of United
Nations services dealing with social issues would be assured, after the transfer
from Vienna to New York, and strengthened through improved United Nations
methods of work, effectiveness and coherence in the social field.
34. Mrs. CAMARA (Côte d’Ivoire) referred to the aspect of social development
having to do with the development of human resources on the African continent.
35. Bearing in mind that the priority in that connection had to be given to the
sectors of education, health and food supply, the results obtained has been very
unequal despite commendable efforts made in Africa.
36. That disappointing assessment could be ascribed to the economic
difficulties being experienced by the African countries since 1985. There was a
relatively recent time - during the 1960s and 1970s - when African countries had
contributed to the upsurge of the world economy and been able, thanks to their
export revenues, to invest heavily in infrastructure development, health and
Page 9
(Mrs. Camara, Côte d’Ivoire)
education, thus making unprecedented social advances. Yet currently the
situation was entirely different. Now the African Governments were in a
difficult economic position, and in most cases unable to meet the social welfare
needs of their populations for lack of funds. Yet it was a truism that
education, access to contraception and primary health care, sanitation measures,
environmental preservation and the integration of vulnerable persons, all
elements indispensable to the development of human resources, required
considerable expenditure.
37. In Côte d’Ivoire, from 1960 to 1980, social investment had represented more
than 80 per cent of the budget. Because of the decline in export revenues,
however, the country had had to cut back considerably on social expenditure and
to do so within the framework of a structural adjustment policy entailing net
transfers to the North of meagre resources that could usefully have been
invested in the social area. In that connection, a monetary and financial
expert had recently written that for several years the World Bank had been
receiving more from Africa than it was lending and that it had virtually ceased
stepping in to help the franc zone countries. Her delegation wondered how,
under those conditions, one could hope to reverse the unemployment of young
people, overcome poverty, ensure the availability of health care for all, and
allow universal access to basic education.
38. It should be noted that thus far the developed countries had not taken
action in Africa except "in cases of emergency" and her delegation wondered if
one must wait until extreme indebtedness and the dwindling away of resources
allocated to Africa made the entire continent a "case of humanitarian emergency"
before it finally attracted interest.
39. Moreover, it should be noted that although the anti-poverty programmes
were, on paper, extremely generous, the resources actually made available to
United Nations agencies under such programmes rarely saw the light.
Furthermore, African countries had not yet benefited from any of the so-called
peace dividends which the end of the cold war was supposed to generate, and must
instead content themselves with studies, certainly very enlightening ones, on
guidelines and measures for emerging from underdevelopment and promoting social
development. Her delegation believed that it was time for such studies,
conducted at great expense, to be converted into action, and she hoped that the
World Summit for Social Development to be held in Copenhagen in March 1995 would
go beyond statements of principle and pious hopes to tackle specific, long-term
40. Mrs. PETERSON (United States of America) reaffirmed the importance her
country attached to social development. She recalled that in his address to the
General Assembly the previous month, President Clinton had expressed hope for a
day when the opinions and energies of every person would be given full
41. Thus her delegation had listened with interest to the representative of the
Secretariat as he described how social development issues would be dealt with
now that the units responsible for them had returned to New York. She looked
forward to receiving more information on the subject over the next several days.
Page 10
(Mrs. Peterson, United States)
42. At the threshold of the twenty-first century, there was not a moment to
lose in laying the foundation for the future. In 1992, the Commission for
Social Development and the Economic and Social Council had begun preparations
for the World Summit for Social Development to be held in 1995. In that
connection, her delegation had in Geneva urged the adoption of policies that
encouraged decentralization, grass-roots organizations and free trade unions,
respect for human rights, greater transparency in public administration, and the
rule of law. It had spoken of that as an "agenda for people".
43. The United Nations had traditionally focused on the most vulnerable groups
in society - women, children and young people, persons with disabilities, and
the aged - who were too often caught in a web of social and economic
deprivation. The Summit would provide the opportunity to take a comprehensive
approach to social development encompassing all those concerns. It would
therefore have to focus on the reduction of poverty, the universalization of
education, the provision of adequate health care, the right to family planning
and birth spacing, and the enfranchisement of those locked out of political
participation. The United States looked forward to the preparations for the
Summit that would begin in January 1994, in which it intended to participate
44. Her delegation was convinced that achieving the goals set out in the
various resolutions before the Committee dealing with disabled persons would
help millions with disabilities to achieve independence and lead active and
productive lives. One such draft resolution on Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, which was the
result of two years of work, set out guidelines for disabled persons, their
families, organizations representing them, and government leaders, on the
provision of services to the disabled in order to encourage all of them to
participate in society. The draft resolution provided for the establishment of
a monitoring mechanism to further the effective implementation of the Standard
Rules. The Secretariat was asked to submit a statement of financial
implications on the establishment of that mechanism, which her delegation hoped
would be provided without delay.
45. The United Nations must work actively to promote equal opportunities for
persons with disabilities not only among States Members but within United
Nations agencies; the draft resolution currently being drafted would no doubt
contribute much to the realization of that goal.
46. She drew attention to the International Year of the Family to be celebrated
in 1994, which would make the public more aware of the decisive role played by
the family in the development of society.
The meeting rose at 11.35 a.m.