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Summary record of the 12th meeting : 3rd Committee held on Wednesday, 20 October 1993, New York, General Assembly, 48th session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/48/SR.12
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 48th
Type Document

14 p.

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Family, Youth, Ageing Persons

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
12th meeting
held on
Wednesday, 20 October 1993
at 10 a.m.
New York
Chairman: Mr. KUKAN (Slovakia)
later: Mrs. Al-HAMANI (Yemen)
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.
23 November 1993
93-81720 (E) /...
Page 2
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.
1. Mr. BUNCH (Chief, Programme and Documentation Planning Section, Department
for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development), referring to the
submission of reports and draft resolutions, invited members to refer to General
Assembly decision 47/432, in particular, annex I, section E, and annex II.
2. Under the current programme of work, which had been in effect since the
forty-sixth session of the General Assembly, the Committee followed two parallel
procedures. He drew a distinction between (i) the documentation to be submitted
to the Third Committee in 1993 and 1994 as specified in annex II of decision
47/432; those documents were to be issued pursuant to mandates emanating from
various draft resolutions; and (ii) matters on the Third Committee’s agenda,
listed in annex I, section E of decision 47/432, regarding which the Committee
was to consider a draft resolution at its current session, on either an annual
or biennial basis.
3. The two procedures normally should perfectly coincide, i.e., any document
before the Third Committee should be accompanied by a draft resolution.
However, that was not always the case since, for example, certain reports were
submitted annually but dealt with matters which, in accordance with the biennial
programme of work, were to be the subject of a draft resolution only every two
years, as was the case for the report of the Committee against Torture and the
report on the status of the Convention on the Elimination of All Form of Racial
Discrimination, neither of which would be the subject of a draft resolution
during the current session.
4. Towards the end of its work at the current session, the Third Committee
would consider a draft programme of work for 1994-1995 prepared by the
Secretariat containing the list of documents which it would have before it
during those two years, as well as a dual list of issues that would be the
subject of either annual or biennial draft resolutions. If the Committee wished
a draft resolution to be submitted each year on an issue belonging to the
biennial category in the programme of work for 1993-1994, it could take the
appropriate decision when it considered its draft programme of work at the
current session. He would be pleased to assist members of the Committee who had
any doubts or hesitations on the question.
(continued) (A/48/24, 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.4)
5. Mrs. CLAESSON WATSBERG (Sweden), addressing the question of disabled
persons, who were prevented by many barriers from exercising their human rights,
said that it was at the European regional meeting on the implementation of the
World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons held at Ljubljana in
March 1987, that the question of a convention on the rights of persons with
Page 3
(Mrs. Claesson Watsberg, Sweden)
disabilities had been raised for the first time, by two women, one of whom was
Swedish, a demonstration of her country’s long-standing interest in the subject.
6. A primary objective of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
Persons adopted by the General Assembly in 1982 and of the United Nations Decade
of Disabled Persons had been to establish the equality and full participation of
disabled persons in society. Progress towards that end had been reviewed at the
mid-point of the Decade at a meeting of international experts which had taken
place at Stockholm in 1987 under the aegis of the United Nations and her
Government. However, when the issue had been debated in 1987 in the General
Assembly, delegations had failed to agree on the appropriateness of such a
convention, for some feared that it would duplicate existing human rights
instruments and that it would marginalize disabled persons. It was against that
background that the draft Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities should be viewed. On the initiative of her
country in the Economic and Social Council in 1990, an ad hoc open-ended working
group of Government experts had been established for that purpose in 1991 by the
Commission for Social Development. Her delegation called for the prompt
adoption of those Rules by the General Assembly, for they would constitute a
major step forward in the promotion of human rights and for progress in general.
7. However, while the Rules were fundamentally useful, there was a risk that
the norms for men also might become the norm for women with disabilities. That
was why gender-based statistical data were important. The living conditions of
women with disabilities had received little attention at the Nairobi World
Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the United Nations Decade
for Women held in 1985. They must not be forgotten in 1995. To that end, it
was important to ensure that women with disabilities were included in the
committees preparing for the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 and in the
national delegations participating in that Conference. The international
development body of the Swedish disabled movement had established a working
committee for women with functional impairments. A questionnaire had been
circulated during 1993 to women in disabled persons’ organizations in countries
cooperating with that body in order to obtain a clearer picture of the situation
of that group of women.
8. If they were to be effective, the Rules must include an implementation
mechanism and an international monitoring system. The Commission for Social
Development should regularly review progress made by Member States, identify
obstacles and suggest measures to overcome them.
9. Now that the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons was over, the
problems of that group must not be viewed as a separate concern. It was
important that they be integrated in all United Nations activities. The United
Nations must elaborate concrete plans to integrate them in all relevant
situations. Funds must be set aside to that end in the regular budget. The
proposed Special Rapporteur was an important element of the follow-up process.
It would be advantageous if the Rapporteur had personal experience with
functional impairments. It was equally essential that the panel with which the
Rapporteur was to cooperate included representatives of persons with
disabilities and a sufficient number of women with disabilities.
Page 4
(Mrs. Claesson Watsberg, Sweden)
10. A long-term strategy was needed to implement the Rules in a systematic
manner. Work on the issue should proceed in a way that would enable the General
Assembly to decide on such a strategy in 1994.
11. She drew attention to new legislation adopted by her country’s Parliament
in May 1993 concerning the right of persons with disabilities to personal
assistance, i.e., the right to have an assistant accompany the functionally
impaired person wherever he or she went and to provide that person with all
necessary services. That measure was an important breakthrough, since it
assured persons with disabilities independence, freedom of choice and privacy.
That explained why her country would continue to insist on the need for the
speedy adoption and implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
12. Mr. KONKOBO (Burkina Faso) said that social, economic and political changes
and the process of democratization had brought social development, among other
urgent global issues, to the forefront. None the less, the social landscape of
the planet was eroding from year to year. The gap between developed and
developing countries continued to widen, owing to the intransigence of the
prosperous and the powerlessness of the underprivileged. Increasing
inequalities were a source of social tension and conflict between and within
individual nations. There would be no social harmony unless the economic
imbalance was corrected in favour of the large majority of the world’s
population. Unfortunately, for the time being, there was no other solution for
the developing countries but the painful therapy of structural adjustment
13. His delegation reiterated its message to the Second Committee at the fortyfifth
session of the General Assembly, namely that the success of those
programmes was, unfortunately, conditioned by an international economic
situation that was unfavourable to the developing countries, the absence of
actual foreign aid to those countries and the choice of a remedy by multilateral
financial institutions without proper consultation of the countries concerned.
14. While his delegation recognized the recent concerted efforts of those
institutions it entertained little hope that structural adjustment programmes
would prove successful. The demands of well-being and development were
indivisible. His delegation therefore supported the convening of a World Summit
for Social Development in 1995 and appreciated the preparatory studies already
under way on some of the major economic and social issues facing the
international community: poverty, equity, social security and migration.
15. Turning to the issue of the family, an important element of social change,
his country welcomed the celebration of the International Year of the Family and
attached special interest to promoting the family, as witnessed by the
introduction in 1990 of a new code on individuals and the family. In 1992, his
Government had created an interministerial commission to organize the
celebration of the International Year of the Family in 1994. A report on the
relevant measures adopted had been sent to the appropriate authorities.
Page 5
(Mr. Konkobo, Burkina Faso)
16. With regard to the issue of the elderly, considered to embody wisdom in
Africa, since 1992 the Government office in charge of social welfare and the
family had sought ways to preserve what had been achieved and to set national
objectives with regard to the elderly. His delegation welcomed the General
Assembly’s adoption of resolution 47/86 on the implementation of the
International Plan of Action on Ageing aimed at integrating older persons in
17. The problems of youth were of particular concern in his country, where more
than one half of the population was young. Young people there were considered
an asset and a potential source of labour, but social and economic imbalances
had upset former customs and eroded family relations. The breakdown of values,
causing traditional solidarity to be replaced by individualism and the extended
family by the family unit, had led to a moral decline and social disintegration
marked by delinquency, prostitution, drug addiction, abandoned children and
infanticide. Unemployment and illiteracy aggravated the distressing fate of the
18. His country had adopted several measures to confront that situation, such
as the establishment of a national employment fund and a fund to support
production, which had made it possible in the past year to assist small and
medium-sized businesses and to promote the socio-professional integration of
young cadres. As a result, small farms had been established in the irrigated
plains of the Sourou.
19. The completion of the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons had brought
with it greater awareness in his country of the problems of the disabled. The
Government had begun to adopt social, economic and political measures, such as
the issuing of invalidity cards entitling the bearer to various services. In
that regard, he commended the efforts deployed by several NGOs in his country
for the socio-professional integration of the disabled. His delegation welcomed
the recommendation that all Member States should celebrate the International Day
of Disabled Persons annually on 3 December.
20. In conclusion, his delegation emphasized that although the chances for
social development in the developing countries had considerably declined, it
refused to yield to pessimism.
21. Mr. SOTIROV (Bulgaria) said that United Nations programmes and strategies
for development and national programmes of individual countries had given
greater importance to social issues. However, illiteracy, hunger, homelessness
and unemployment continued to prevail in many parts of the world. His
delegation believed that social development issues had become truly global in
scope and required international cooperation.
22. Emphasis should be placed on the interrelationship between economic and
social development and other major global issues confronting mankind. There was
no doubt, for instance, that the respect and promotion of human rights and
fundamental freedoms contributed to social progress. In the area of reinforcing
international security and resolving regional conflicts, it had been
demonstrated that confrontation could give way to cooperation, and it would be
Page 6
(Mr. Sotirov, Bulgaria)
preferable to see the same occur for social problems, which were no less
important. In that regard, his delegation welcomed the decision to convene the
World Summit for Social Development, which would indubitably contribute to
international security and stability.
23. The reforms required for the transition to a market economy in the
countries of Central and Eastern Europe carried with them social problems that
those countries could not hope to resolve without international support.
Despite the introduction of social security policies in Bulgaria, reforms had
very badly affected the most vulnerable groups of the population. His country
believed, as emphasized in section C of chapter VI of the 1993 Report on the
World Social Situation (E/1993/50), growing unemployment had become a major
issue for policy makers in those countries. That problem had heavy
psychological consequences, seen in the negative reaction of the population to a
decline in their income and standard of living. In mid-1993, more than
14 per cent of the active population were jobless. Inflation, which in 1992 was
at 80 per cent, would be at 65 per cent in 1993 and had had a negative impact on
the system of social security, causing a decrease in expenditure for education
and an increase in the price of medicines which had caused a drop in public
spending for health care and a cut in social security benefits.
24. His country, aware of the need to impose sanctions to find a peaceful
solution to situations that threatened international peace and security, was
strictly applying the sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
(Serbia and Montenegro). Despite the recommendation of the Security Council
Committee established pursuant to resolution 724 (1991) concerning Yugoslavia
(S/26040) which recognized the need to assist Bulgaria in coping with the heavy
losses that it had incurred as a result of the sanctions and which had caused
social programmes to suffer, the country had still not received any financial or
economic assistance from the international community. His delegation was
therefore of the view that the fourteenth report on the world social situation
should contain precise data regarding the impact of those sanctions on the
social situation of Member States that were most affected by their application.
25. Bulgaria attached particular importance to international cooperation aimed
at enhancing the role of women in social, economic and political life. The
Fourth World Conference on Women, to be held in 1995, would make it possible to
review currently adopted strategies.
26. His delegation welcomed the decisions contained in resolution 45/91 on the
Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.
Bulgaria, which had more than 230,000 disabled persons, had instituted a
national programme in 1985, and long-term programmes had been adopted at the
municipal level. NGOs, in particular the Blind Union, the Federation of the
Deaf, and the Union of the Disabled, had been especially active in that area.
He pointed out that the 1993 World Games for Deaf People had been held in Sofia.
27. Bulgaria supported the Proclamation on Ageing (resolution 47/5) and the
Implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing (resolution 47/86).
It endeavoured to create fair conditions for retirees, who made up 30 per cent
of the population.
Page 7
(Mr. Sotirov, Bulgaria)
28. His delegation applauded the policies and programmes involving youth
(resolution 47/85). Owing to the fact that unemployment hit that sector of the
population especially hard, since 1989 400,000 persons, for the most part young
and skilled, had left the country to seek better economic conditions elsewhere.
In addition to official bodies, such as the newly created Committee for Youth
and Sports, there were also a number of NGOs that were addressing the problems
of youth in Bulgaria.
29. Bulgaria was preparing to observe the 1994 International Year of the
Family. A National Coordinating Committee, made up of representatives from all
the governmental bodies and NGOs, had been set up to prepare, observe and ensure
the follow-up of the Year.
30. Ms. FENG CUI (China) said that the status of social development throughout
the world remained grim, especially in the developing countries. In the light
of the regional and national wars and conflicts, the social chaos and
instability, the economic and political crises, the poverty, unemployment,
famine and disease, which were in turn causing displacements and migrations, in
the light, also, of the unfair economic competition, the excessive debt burden,
the foreign intervention and catastrophes, both natural and man-made, the
international community must make social development issues its immediate
priority. Social problems, which were inseparable from economic and social
progress, could endanger stability, peace and development in the world. The
international community had of course scored successes, and the United Nations
had done useful and encouraging work. A considerable number of activities
undertaken by the United Nations had, however, registered slow progress, owing,
among other things, to a lack of adequate funds.
31. Under resolution 47/92 the General Assembly had resolved to convene, in
1995, a World Summit for Social Development. At its thirty-third session
(1993), the Commission for Social Development had made an in-depth study of the
three core issues - poverty, unemployment and social integration - which were to
be the focus of the Summit. Furthermore, during the high-level debate of the
Economic and Social Council in 1993, many delegations had put forward concrete
proposals for ensuring the success of the Summit. China, which was actively
engaged in the preparations, wished to make the following suggestions. Firstly,
the Summit should focus upon the serious economic and social issues facing the
developing countries. Secondly, in order to tackle social development issues, a
peaceful and stable international environment must be created and maintained,
and an equitable new international economic order must be established. Thirdly,
all Governments should strengthen their leadership capacity in the field of
social development, and should supervise the coordination of social and economic
aspects. Fourthly, a policy of equitable distribution of resources should be
followed in the field of social development, and Governments should be
considered duty-bound to provide basic guarantees to all members of society.
Fifthly, effective, fair and comprehensive international cooperation, based upon
equality and mutual benefit and respect, must be launched. Linking cooperation
to preset conditions, interfering in the internal affairs of other countries,
and politicizing social development questions should be avoided. Sixthly, the
United Nations should accord priority to developing countries, so as to narrow
Page 8
(Ms. Feng Cui, China)
the North-South gap. The developed countries should, for their part, undertake
a greater number of obligations. Seventhly, the Summit should, on the basis of
intensive discussions, formulate solutions as well as measures for their
implementation. The Chinese Government, convinced that social development was
both the starting-point and the final objective of economic development, was
focusing its efforts on that sector, and had succeeded to date in feeding and
clothing the great majority of its 1.1 billion citizens. In the process, it
paid great attention to the legitimate rights and interests of youth, women,
children, older persons and disabled persons and endeavoured to improve their
well-being by adopting relevant legislation. In the previous five years,
1.26 million disabled persons had been reintegrated into society and 1.4 million
had found employment. A National Coordination Committee on the disabled had
recently been established, the responsibility of which was the coordination of
policy guidelines and rules governing their implementation. On 6 October, the
Chinese Federation for Disabled Persons had held its second National Conference,
with the active support of the Government, and had formulated, for the coming
five years, general development objectives on behalf of the disabled.
32. China, which enjoyed political stability and economic development, was
prepared to lend its support to the work of the United Nations in the area of
social development, through enhanced cooperation and exchanges, in the belief
that it would thereby contribute to the development and progress of mankind.
33. Ms. ARIAS (Colombia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Three (Colombia,
Mexico, Venezuela), stressed that the question of social development had been
addressed on many occasions in 1993, for example, at the first meeting of the
Preparatory Committee for the World Summit for Social Development and the highlevel
debate of the Economic and Social Council, at the international level, and
at the third Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and Government, held at
Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, in July, at the regional level. Illustrating the
priority placed by the countries of the Group of Three on improving the social
situation throughout the world and searching for solutions to the world-wide
economic and social crisis, she also cited the Conference on Social Development
and Poverty held in Mexico, the Latin America and the Caribbean Preparatory
Meeting for the International Year of the Family, held at Cartagena, Colombia,
in August, and the VIIIth World Congress on Family Law, which was scheduled to
be held in Caracas, Venezuela, in November 1994.
34. The United Nations ran the risk of seriously compromising its mandate
(which was to serve the cause of peace, development and security), if it failed
to demonstrate that it was capable of devising a strategy for the elimination of
misery, poverty and unemployment, and for the construction of a society in which
human welfare was the principal objective. At the high-level debate of the
Economic and Social Council, it had been widely acknowledged that an effort must
be made to enhance quality of life within the context of a broader conception of
freedom. That consensus should lead to concrete action at the national,
regional and multilateral levels, as well as to international support for
national plans of action.
Page 9
(Ms. Arias, Colombia)
35. The fact that a World Summit for Social Development had been convened for
the first time bespoke the urgency of the situation. The gap between developed
and developing countries was deepening, condemning millions to poverty. In the
developed countries, the economic recession had had serious social consequences:
increased unemployment, marginalization, mounting crime and drug addiction.
Each country should adopt a social strategy incorporating its own situation as
well as the international context, and combining the efforts of official bodies
and the private sector. The third Ibero-American Summit of Heads of State and
Government had emphasized the function of the State, which was not solely to
stimulate development but to promote social justice. That social responsibility
lay not only with the State but with the society as a whole; and the well-being
of the people was the guarantee of social stability. Although the social
programmes conducted in the countries of the Group of Three had yielded positive
results, problems persisted, especially in the areas of poverty, income
distribution and social services.
36. As part of the restructuring of the United Nations, the economic and social
sectors must be strengthened in order to restore the balance between development
objectives, peace and democracy. The Secretary-General had noted in his report
on the work of the Organization (A/48/1) that it was impossible to consolidate
peace and democracy without development. It was therefore essential to adopt a
development agenda, enhance coordination among the social and economic bodies
and establish genuine consultations with the other Bretton Woods institutions.
The Secretariat must be modernized, publish the documents for the deliberative
bodies on time and propose new ideas that would help to consolidate a new world
order where the basic requirements of the population would be met. It would be
better to devote the Organization’s human and financial resources to
coordinating international cooperation for development rather than to preparing
superfluous reports such as the 1993 Report on the World Social Situation
(E/1993/50), a voluminous and repetitive document that reproduced information
that was either known already or had not been verified.
37. The preparatory meeting for the International Year of the Family for Latin
America and the Caribbean had adopted by consensus a plan of action and a series
of recommendations aimed at improving the well-being of the family. The three
countries had undertaken, with a view to the International Year of the Family,
which would begin in January 1994, to review and update their legislation on the
protection of the rights of the family and the elimination of any discrimination
against the family and to strengthen national programmes to satisfy the basic
needs of the family, particularly in the areas of health care, education,
nutrition, sanitation, housing and employment. Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela
intended to participate actively in 1994 in the substantive meetings of the
preparatory committee for the World Summit for Social Development and in the
other regional meetings and meetings on specific items organized as part of the
preparations for the Summit.
38. Mr. JAEGER (Austria) said that the international community’s growing
awareness of social development problems was reflected by the many international
meetings and events devoted to those questions: the proclamation of
3 December 1993 as the International Day of Disabled Persons, the observance of
Page 10
(Mr. Jaeger, Austria)
an International Day of the Families (1994), the holding of an International
Conference on Population and Development (1994), the convening of a World Summit
for Social Development (1995), the Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for
Equality, Development and Peace (1995) and the Ninth United Nations Congress on
the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders (1995). Moreover, a
Conference of European Ministers responsible for Social Affairs had been held at
Bratislava (28 June-2 July 1993) and at Geneva (28-30 June 1993), the Economic
and Social Council had held high-level discussions devoted to the preparation of
the World Summit for Social Development.
39. Concerning the World Summit for Social Development, th777e European Centre
for Social Welfare Policy and Research in Vienna, which was 777affiliated to the
United Nations, had prepared the basic documents for the Conference of European
Ministers responsible for Social Affairs. That document, which could contribute
to the preparations for the World Summit, dealt primarily with the situation in
Europe, in particular countries with economies in transition, analysed social
policies in force, international migration and migration policies and the
intensification of international cooperation in the social sphere.
40. On the occasion of the high-level segment of the Economic and Social
Council, the Secretary-General had noted that social development was crucial not
only for improving the human condition but also for enhancing economic
efficiency and strengthening political democracy. Austria had from the outset
supported the initiative of convening a World Summit for Social Development, and
it welcomed the fact that special attention would be given to the enhancement of
social integration, the alleviation and reduction of poverty and the promotion
of productive employment. In view of the political, economic and social changes
occurring in many parts of the world, in particular in the countries with
economies in transition, the World Summit should elaborate guidelines for
Governments that would permit them to address social questions more effectively.
Austria was making preparations to establish a national committee for the Summit
which would include all relevant segments of society, in particular the
non-governmental organizations.
41. One of the most pressing problems currently facing youth was unemployment
which, for different reasons, affected developing and developed countries as
well as countries with economies in transition. In the developed countries,
unemployment damaged the social fabric and contributed to the appearance of
phenomena such as intolerance and xenophobia. In the countries with economies
in transition, unemployment might seriously impede ongoing reforms. Moreover,
as the 1993 Report on the World Social Situation (E/1993/50) indicated, reducing
unemployment and raising productivity were essential conditions for eradicating
poverty, reducing emigration pressures and mitigating political tensions in
developing countries.
42. With that in mind, Austria had established in 1987 the youth employment
programme HOPE 87. That programme, financed mainly by the Austrian Federal
Government, had established branch offices in several countries and cooperated
with international institutions such as the United Nations Educational,
Page 11
(Mr. Jaeger, Austria)
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Labour
Organization (ILO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the
Council of Europe. In March 1992, a memorandum of understanding on the
promotion of youth employment through HOPE 87 had been signed between Austria
and the United Nations Office at Vienna. To date, HOPE 87 had financed 71
mostly small-scale projects (41 in Africa, 12 in Asia, 10 in Latin America and 8
in European countries). Convinced that better training could ease the access of
young people to the labour market, HOPE 87 had also established training courses
for young people from countries with economies in transition. In view of the
encouraging results produced by the programme, the Austrian Federal Government
was prepared to continue financing it.
43. The importance of questions related to ageing would continue to grow. In
Austria, as in other European countries, the proportion of people over the age
of 65 would continue to increase; according to the Vienna-based Institute for
Applied Systems Analysis, that trend was likely to occur even more rapidly in
the least developed countries. He recalled General Assembly resolution 46/91 on
the Implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing and related
activities and the annex to that resolution, the United Nations Principles for
Older Persons aimed at guaranteeing the independence, participation, selffulfilment
and dignity of older persons and guaranteeing them access to adequate
care. The General Assembly had also adopted, on the occasion of the tenth
anniversary of the adoption of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, a
Proclamation on Ageing (resolution 47/5). Pursuant to the appeal of that
resolution, Austria had introduced, in April 1993, a reform of the provisions of
legal pensions, the main goal of which was to ensure the long-term financing of
the pension system by restructuring the adjustment and revaluation of pensions.
The Austrian Government had also tried to make the pension scheme more equitable
by providing, particularly for women who had stopped working for a certain
period of time, an improved pension system that took into account the years
devoted to child rearing. Furthermore, the pensions for those who had to retire
very early for health reasons would be raised. In July 1993, a Federal Act on
Care Allowance had gone into force under which care benefits would be allocated
to all persons needing care, including older persons. In view of the fact that
the number of people needing care would rise, the Austrian authorities had set
priorities for the coming decade, which would allow them to select from various
flexible retirement schemes, live independently without being left alone, obtain
ambulatory care while fully participating in social life. Those initiatives, in
addition to the special attention to be paid to the quality of housing showed
that the social policy for older persons in Austria reflected, to a very large
extent, the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.
44. The proclamation of 3 December 1993 by the General Assembly as the
International Day of Disabled Persons on the occasion of the conclusion of the
United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons, clearly demonstrated the great
importance that the United Nations attached to the improvement of the living
conditions of the disabled. That importance had been reaffirmed by the World
Conference on Human Rights which had devoted a chapter to the rights of the
disabled persons in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. The
Conference had called upon the General Assembly to adopt the Standard Rules on
Page 12
(Mr. Jaeger, Austria)
the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities which had been
elaborated at the Centre for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs at
Vienna and recommended by the Commission for Social Development.
45. At the national level, Austria had adopted a policy based on the World
Programme of Action which sought to guarantee disabled persons an independent
life and encourage their participation in economic and social life. For
example, it had made substantial efforts to improve the quality of medical care
and rehabilitation provided to disabled persons.
46. The international community was aware, in particular, of the family’s
decisive role as the fundamental unit of society. Austria, for its part, was
participating actively in the preparation of the International Year of the
Family, had contributed to the Voluntary Fund for the International Year of the
Family and was currently financing the post of a social expert working for the
secretariat of the United Nations Office at Vienna. Moreover, as mentioned in
the report of the Secretary-General (A/48/293), further in-kind contributions
had been offered by a number of Austrian citizens and private-sector companies.
The report also highlighted the remarkable work done by the Coordinator for the
International Year of the Family and his staff despite almost insurmountable
budgetary constraints. In that connection, it was regrettable that those
constraints had prevented the Coordinator from coming to New York to present the
report on the preparations for the International Year of the Family personally.
He was to be commended, however, on his effectiveness and professionalism.
47. The preparations launched in Austria for the observance of the
International Year of the Family were at an advanced stage. A national
committee had been established in Vienna under the auspices of the Federal
Minister for Environment, Youth and Family and 15 national working groups had
begun to consider various family-related themes: the International Year of the
Family would be officially inaugurated on 10 December 1993 at a large-scale
conference to be held at the Austria Centre in Vienna, for which the Federal
Minister for Environment, Youth and Family had already presented a position
paper on the new culture of families in Austria.
48. In conclusion, he welcomed the fact that the Assembly, in resolution
47/237, had decided to proclaim 15 May as the International Day of Families and
stressed that his Government hoped the International Year of the Family would
provide an occasion for elaborating a declaration on the roles, responsibilities
and rights of the family.
49. Miss SAHLI (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that, despite the climate of
harmony and understanding which seemed to prevail in international relations, a
good many problems confronting States, particularly socio-economic problems, had
not yet been truly resolved. The current world economic situation was not very
heartening, particularly in developing countries that had been unable to achieve
their social development objectives. Moreover, in many countries, structural
adjustment had had very severe social consequences which had affected the most
vulnerable and destitute groups and had caused a proliferation of such phenomena
as unemployment, poverty, hunger and an increase in the number of economic
asylum-seekers and refugees. That, in turn, had stirred up resentment and
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(Miss Sahli, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)
violence, pushed up the crime rate and the number of drug addicts, forced some
persons into exile and sparked the rise of new forms of racism, thus
jeopardizing the security of the societies affected.
50. It was unacceptable, moreover, that one fourth of the planet’s inhabitants,
most of whom were in the third world, lived in abject poverty, were victims of
hunger and disease and were illiterate, and that three fourths of world income
went to 16 per cent of the inhabitants of developed countries. Under such
conditions, social development that was both just and durable was impossible.
The developed countries must therefore reorient their economic policies and
strategies towards encouraging the development of the world economy and thereby
promoting social justice: they must cease to engage in discriminatory practices
and to impose arbitrary economic and commercial measures on developing
countries, which compromised social development and constituted a flagrant
attack on freedoms.
51. It was also essential to increase public awareness of social policies,
focus greater attention on education and training, which were of crucial
importance to social development, continue encouraging citizens to participate
in the elaboration and implementation of social policy, and make the most of the
Plan of Action for People’s Participation in Rural Development, adopted by the
1991 Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
52. Recalling that a great many young people from the third world chose to
leave their countries in order to upgrade their living conditions and that
crime, drug use and violence, which were essentially due to unemployment and
poverty, were very widespread among youth, she stressed that all necessary
measures must be taken in order to enable youth to enjoy their rights, hold jobs
and make an effective contribution to development. The observance of the tenth
anniversary of International Youth Year in 1995 should also focus attention on
the problems of youth and elicit proposals on how to solve them. She stressed
that the programme of action of the United Nations crime prevention and criminal
justice programme, adopted at the Paris Conference, should be implemented.
53. Recalling that her country had been one of the first to draw attention to
the problem of disabled persons, advocating, in particular, the proclamation of
an International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981, she said that the observance
in 1992 of the tenth anniversary of the Year had helped to increase awareness
among world opinion of the rights and needs of disabled persons. Inviting the
international community to integrate disabled persons more fully into society,
she also stressed that the Voluntary Fund for the United Nations Decade of
Disabled Persons should be maintained and that action should be taken to ensure
the full implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
54. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had promulgated a number of laws on disabled
persons, had accorded them certain privileges and material advantages (medical
care, rehabilitation, jobs, tax exemptions), established a national commission
for the disabled, sought to encourage the integration of disabled persons into
society, set up centres and institutions for disabled persons in a number of
towns and villages and included disabled persons in decision-making.
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(Miss Sahli, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya)
55. The elderly, who had given so much to society and therefore deserved
respect, comprised a rapidly growing population group, which posed tremendous
socio-economic problems for States. The implementation of the International
Plan of Action on Ageing, which would end in 2002 and whose goal was to ensure
the protection and well-being of the elderly, was therefore vital.
56. The family - the fundamental unit of all societies, which provided all
sorts of social services and which could, if it were cohesive, remedy scores of
social problems - was, in many countries, particularly the developing countries,
racked by all kinds of tensions brought on by the deterioration of
socio-economic conditions that put it severely to the test and at times caused
its break-up. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya therefore believed that, to begin
with, a long-term specifically family-oriented strategy should be elaborated
during the International Year of the Family in 1994. It also supported the idea
of issuing an international declaration on the role, responsibilities and rights
of the family and believed that the recommendations contained in the Declaration
issued at the close of the preparatory meeting for the International Year of the
Family held at Tunis should be taken into account. At the national level, it
had established a national preparatory commission for the International Year of
the Family.
57. Her delegation noted that, as it had in the past, the United Nations played
a pioneering role and put forward many proposals that were subsequently adopted
by the international community and then incorporated into national legislation.
She also stressed that the conferences and other events that would take place in
1994 and 1995 would provide an opportunity to evaluate objectively the results
achieved and analyse rationally the factors that had impeded the implementation
of social development plans and strategies. She hoped, in particular, that the
World Summit for Social Development in 1995, on which she pinned great hope,
would be able to lay the groundwork for durable social development that would
support States’ efforts to respond to their inhabitants’ social needs and remedy
the social ills afflicting the planet by according priority to the attainment of
the objectives contained in the declarations. Lastly, she stressed that the
United Nations should contribute more actively to modifying the negative trends
that were becoming apparent in the world by more precisely evaluating and
targetting its studies of such trends with a view to the concrete and objective
treatment of the problems that would arise in the years to come. She hoped that
the restructuring of the Department of International Economic and Social Affairs
would enable the United Nations to play an effective role in the field of social
The meeting rose at 11.50 a.m.