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Summary record of the 14th meeting : 3rd Committee, held on Tuesday, 1 November 1994, New York, General Assembly, 49th session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/49/SR.14
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 49th
Type Document

14 p.

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Equal Opportunity, Family, Youth, Cooperatives

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
14th meeting
held on
Tuesday, 1 November 1994
at 10 a.m.
New York
Chairman: Mr. CISSÉ (Senegal)
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.
10 November 1994
94-81911 (E) /...
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The meeting was called to order at 10.25 a.m.
(continued) (A/49/24 and Add.1, A/49/204-E/1994/90, A/49/205-E/1994/91,
A/49/213, A/49/287-S/1994/894 and Corr.1, A/49/294, A/49/307-S/1994/958,
A/49/381, A/49/422-S/1994/1086, A/49/434, 435, 462 and Corr.1 and 506;
1. Mr. LINDQVIST (Special Rapporteur for the Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities) said that the
Standard Rules annexed to General Assembly resolution 48/96 had been drawn up in
response to a request from the international community of disabled persons for
stronger leadership on disability issues from the United Nations. The Rules
were essentially a matter of human rights. In every country there were still
obstacles preventing persons with disabilities from exercising their rights and
freedoms and making it difficult for them to participate fully in the activities
of their societies. The Rules, he stressed, gave Member States the
responsibility for taking appropriate action to remove such obstacles. Member
States were now strongly committed, both politically and morally, to produce
concrete, sustainable results.
2. His monitoring activities would be directed, he emphasized, towards
support, advice and assistance, not criticism and control. A panel of experts
made up of highly qualified persons from all parts of the world had been
established to assist him. The Rules had already been translated into all
United Nations languages and distributed to the Member States. The next step
would be to direct a first letter to Governments asking them what they had done
and were planning to do to implement the Rules. As soon as possible, he would
also initiate a dialogue with the United Nations regional commissions in order
to ascertain their contribution to the effort. The monitoring mechanism would
be funded mainly by extrabudgetary resources, and he and the Secretariat would
soon be approaching Governments in order to attempt to negotiate decent
conditions for the monitoring activities. The Standard Rules set a three-year
period for the monitoring exercise. Thus the international community had three
years to prove its intention to recognize and enforce the human rights of its
disabled citizens. That was a noble goal, and he looked forward to the
cooperation of the Member States in achieving it.
3. Ms. ZACHARIAH (Malaysia) said that much remained to be done at the third
session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit for Social Development
in order to justify the presence of heads of State and Government at the World
Summit. The Summit should give rise to an international social compact
encompassing all the core issues and supported by the necessary resources.
4. She thanked the Secretary-General for his report on policies and programmes
involving youth (A/49/434). Her Government coordinated and supported youth
activities through several ministries and had allocated funds for youth training
programmes in various labour-intensive sectors as well as for youth-centred
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programmes involving sports and club activities. In most developing countries,
young people formed the backbone of society, and optimizing their potential was
essential for national development. National experiences with youth-related
programmes represented an important source of information for the drafting of
the world programme of action for youth towards the year 2000. The Department
for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development should take the leading role
in organizing United Nations activities in that respect, and the Commission for
Social Development, in preparing the final draft, should clearly define the role
of the Secretariat.
5. Her delegation welcomed the appointment of the Special Rapporteur for the
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities. It was concerned at the possibility that he might not receive
adequate funding and it would bring the matter up with its Government. She
urged other delegations, especially those whose countries were at the forefront
of the disability issue, to do the same. Her delegation welcomed the Secretary-
General’s report on the implementation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons (A/49/435). Her country was anxious to improve the
integration of disabled persons and believed that the Standard Rules and the
World Programme of Action would be of assistance in that regard.
6. Turning to the Secretary-General’s report on the status and role of
cooperatives (A/49/213), she said that her Government supported his
recommendations concerning cooperatives, which played an important role in her
country in mobilizing capital, generating employment and increasing
productivity. Cooperative movements had minimized, if not eliminated, the role
of middlemen in many transactions. Cooperatives were encouraged in the
agricultural, manufacturing, transport, housing, banking and credit sectors.
Schools had established library, canteen and bookshop cooperatives, and some
cooperatives provided scholarships or had banded together to form training
institutions and colleges.
7. Mr. OULD ELY (Mauritania) said that, paradoxically, the end of the cold war
had brought armed conflict, associated with the re-emergence of racial and
religious intolerance, and a deterioration in the living standards of most of
the world’s population. The principles of reaffirmation of the dignity of the
human person and promotion of the economic and social advancement of all
peoples, set forth in the Charter, had never been in greater jeopardy. The
situation was worst in the developing countries, especially in Africa and among
the most vulnerable groups. As heads of households, refugees or migrants, more
and more women were living in poverty. Young people, society’s hope for the
future, faced overwhelming economic and social difficulties, and his country
hoped that the tenth anniversary of International Youth Year, to be marked in
1995, would be preceded by the adoption of an effective programme of action for
youth. It supported the suggestion made by the Secretary-General in his report
(A/49/434) with respect to the number of plenary meetings to be devoted to
commemorations of the Year and adoption of the world programme of action, as
well as his suggestion that an international youth day should be declared in
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8. It was inconceivable for small islands of wealth to continue to exist
amidst a sea of poverty. Of course, primary responsibility for a country’s
development lay with its Government. However, in an interdependent world
operating under an economic system that penalized developing countries, the
outcome of any national development effort was uncertain. Despite often painful
economic reforms, the gap between the rich and the poor countries had widened
terribly during the past 30 years. It was necessary for the international
community to launch a new partnership between North and South with a view to
lightening the debt burden, abolishing arbitrary trade practices and increasing
donor countries’ official development assistance in conformity with the goal of
0.7 per cent of gross national product set by the United Nations. The World
Summit for Social Development constituted a unique opportunity to determine the
obstacles to development and to formulate an effective new strategy for
attacking the root causes of poverty. What was needed was a veritable social
contract among all the countries of the globe.
9. Miss GHIRGAB (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that the flagrant discrepancy
between standards of living in and between countries over the past 50 years was
a challenge for humanity as a whole to establish the new international economic
order based on equity and the redistribution of income and wealth. The
starting-point for tackling social problems and achieving social integration and
harmony was the basic unit of society, the family.
10. Such vulnerable social groups as the disabled should remain an
international priority. She therefore welcomed the adoption by the General
Assembly at its forty-eighth session of the Standard Rules on the Equalization
of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. She also welcomed the
Secretary-General’s report (A/49/435), and hoped that the annexed draft plan of
action to implement the Long-term Strategy to Further Implementation of the
World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons would be supported by the
entire international community.
11. The integration of disabled persons into society was a priority of social
development policies in her own country. Legislation adopted in the 1980s
provided a number of benefits for the disabled. Her country called for higher
priority to be given to the disabled by the international community and in
particular for more resources to be made available to the Disabled Persons Unit
of the United Nations Secretariat.
12. Libyan legislation aimed at the all-round development of society rather
than favouring one group above another. On that basis, education had been
proclaimed as a human right, elementary education had been made compulsory and
emphasis was placed not merely on quantitative development in terms of the
number of students, teachers and schools but on improving the quality of
education, particularly technical education.
13. Development plans in her country concentrated on the provision of basic
services such as housing, health and clean drinking water. Health care was
available without charge to all Libyan citizens.
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14. The first phase of the project for the creation of the great man-made river
had been completed and was aimed at curbing migration to towns, establishing
residential areas, reclaiming new lands and drawing water for agriculture and
drinking purposes from beneath the desert.
15. Those achievements over the past two decades in the field of social
development were now threatened by the unjust sanctions imposed by the United
States of America since the 1980s and by the Security Council since 1992, at the
instigation of the United States. The sanctions had been gravely detrimental to
all sectors of society and to social and economic life. Thus, an entire people
had been deprived of the right to development, a right that was protected by
many international instruments, such as the Declaration on the Right to
Development adopted by the General Assembly in 1986. It was illogical that such
sanctions should be imposed by an organ of the United Nations whose Charter was
based on respect for human rights.
16. The detrimental effect of the sanctions had been extensively described in
United Nations documents. For example, the air blockade had prevented the
medical evacuation of about 9,000 patients suffering from medical conditions
which could not be treated locally. An attempt to use overland means of
transport had resulted in the death of some 350 patients. Consignments of
medical supplies, particularly serums and vaccines, had been delayed, resulting
in the death of some 350 infants and 150 women solely because of the shortage of
drugs. The issuance of approvals by the Security Council Committee established
pursuant to resolution 748 (1992) concerning Libya for the medical evacuation of
emergency cases by air had been delayed or unjustifiably prevented by the
intransigence of certain States.
17. Mr. CHUA (Singapore) said that his country attached great importance to the
family, which was the very foundation of Singapore’s success. The state of the
family determined both the moral tone of society and its economic health.
Societies in economic decline were plagued by a breakdown of the family, which
eroded the work ethic and led to vandalism, juvenile delinquency and drug abuse.
Economically vibrant societies had strong family units, where individuals
pursued happiness without disregard for the interests of their family or society
as a whole.
18. His country was convinced that its continued success depended on preserving
the family unit. Accordingly, his Government had designed policies to pursue
that objective, providing low-cost public housing and financial assistance to
newly married couples and tax rebates to children who supported their parents.
Singapore’s low divorce and juvenile-delinquency rates showed that those
policies were working.
19. In accordance with its policy of helping families help themselves, his
Government had enacted legislation under which children were responsible for
looking after elderly parents. By making families more self-sufficient, the
State could be freed for other tasks which are more urgent and which it was
better equipped to handle. In pursuing pro-family policies, Singapore had been
careful not to infringe on the rights of individuals. Strong and supportive
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family units not only stabilized and strengthened society, but also promoted the
rights of the individual more effectively than courts or human rights
20. Ms. MATENGU (Namibia) said that the United Nations should convene a special
plenary meeting, with participation at the highest political level, devoted to
questions relating to youth and coinciding as closely as possible with the
fiftieth anniversary of the Organization. The draft world programme of action
for youth and the youth statement of intent should be adopted at that meeting.
Namibia also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the United
Nations should designate an international youth day in 1995, and encouraged
Governments to include young people among their representatives to mark the
fiftieth anniversary. The upcoming World Summit for Social Development should
define concrete measures to deal with questions relating to youth in particular.
21. In Namibia, young people constituted nearly three quarters of the
population. The legacy of apartheid had an impact on youth in all sectors. The
advent of independence and the subsequent demobilization of the armed forces had
left many young people with no skills or formal education to help their
integration into society. Low levels of literacy and education had aggravated
unemployment, estimated at 30 per cent. In order to address the problems of
young people, her Government had established the Ministry of Youth and Sports
and identified priority areas for activities: employment, skills training,
health and the environment. Youth skills-training centres had been established
for school drop-outs. A national youth enterprise fund had been set up to
promote self-employment by giving young people access to credit. The National
Youth Council, with which all Namibian youth organizations were affiliated,
acted as an advisory body to the Government.
22. The widespread illiteracy, particularly among women, was a serious
impediment to development. The Fourth World Conference on Women should address
the special needs of girls. The programme of action to be adopted at that
Conference should include provisions concerning scholarships for girls,
particularly in technical and vocational subjects; the reintegration of girls
into schools when their education had been interrupted by pregnancy or other
factors; and facilities that were accessible for girls and young women.
23. Mr. GERVAIS (Côte d’Ivoire) said that the World Summit for Social
Development should provide an opportunity for considering the structural causes
of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration in order to bring about a
system of collective security in the social field, creating a favourable
economic and social environment. The World Summit must resolutely address the
economic challenges facing developing countries, particularly external debt,
structural adjustment programmes, fluctuating commodity prices and declining
financial flows towards the poorest countries. Specific commitments on the part
of bilateral donors, financial institutions, development agencies, Governments
and societies as a whole were necessary to ensure the Summit’s success.
24. Africa should be given special consideration, in both the draft declaration
and the draft programme of action to be adopted at the World Summit. Many
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countries, including his own, had inadequate resources to implement social
development strategies. The critical economic situation in Africa should be
taken into account as one of the foremost concerns of the Organization. African
countries required support for their efforts to help themselves become part of
the world economy. The next session of the Preparatory Committee for the World
Summit should adopt specific provisions concerning Africa with a view to
mobilizing resources. The commitment of African countries to strengthen their
national capacities through active participation by beneficiaries was real.
That effort, however, must take place within the framework of dynamic
international cooperation. Measures involving debt remission for social
development and the allocation of 0.7 per cent of gross national product to
official development assistance should be adopted at the World Summit. The
"20/20" concept described in the draft programme of action could also enable
some countries to increase resources allocated to the social sector.
25. Developing countries, of course, must decide to reduce military expenditure
and reorient national budgets to meet social needs. Lastly, he hoped that the
World Summit would mark a new stage in international relations based on
solidarity and aimed at improving the human condition.
26. Ms. LEEDS (United States of America) said that the World Summit for Social
Development offered an opportunity for developed and developing countries to
engage in a non-polarized dialogue on improving the lives of people in all
countries. The Summit’s core issues coincided with many of her country’s
domestic policy priorities: creating jobs, fighting poverty and integrating all
individuals into society. It was a question of empowering all persons,
particularly women, so that they might lead healthier and better lives. Steps
that encouraged widespread participation by individuals in governance, the
economy and society at large promoted social development and should be
emphasized in the Summit documents.
27. Much work remains to be done in preparing for the Summit. All
participants - delegates and non-governmental organizations alike - should
continue working for its success. Her country was fully committed to ensuring
equal opportunity for everyone, including people with disabilities and young and
elderly people, to participate fully in and contribute to society. The full
inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of society and the
leadership role of the United Nations therein, the subject of General Assembly
resolution 48/95, was directly relevant to preparations for the World Summit.
The United States fully supported the implementation of the Standard Rules for
Equalization of Opportunities for People with Disabilities and welcomed the
appointment of the Special Rapporteur to that end. Creating an environment
where people’s abilities could be maximized would improve the quality of
individual lives and ultimately enrich society.
28. In preparing for the tenth anniversary of International Youth Year in 1995,
there was a need to expand opportunities for young people and nurture their
aspirations. Guaranteeing equal access to education, regardless of gender, age
or background, was a step in that direction. Countries must strive to protect
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children and youth from disease, drugs, pollution, discrimination, violence, war
and homelessness in order to ensure that they led happy and healthy lives.
29. There was a need to expand opportunities for elderly persons to continue to
contribute to society. Discrimination and negative stereotyping based on age
must cease. An effort must also be made to build on the inherent strength of
the family structure. Initiatives at all levels were needed to enable families
to have access to more and better choices, since the family was the basic unit
for forming society’s values and bringing up young people.
30. Mr. SLABÝ (Czech Republic) said that his country, by signing or acceding to
various international agreements, had proved its commitment to full integration
into international political and economic structures. At the World Summit for
Social Development it intended to share its own experience of development, while
learning from other countries. He said that, judging from that experience, the
trend for future developments were, politically, towards pluralist democracy,
and, economically, towards a free-market economy. Unlike countries where reform
had been accompanied by conflict, in his country there had been political and
social consensus, which had created a firm basis for economic reform. The
indications were that it was also important to have a precisely targeted social
policy. His Government had recently implemented measures to protect the groups
most vulnerable to economic change and had thus avoided social tension.
31. His delegation considered that the programme of action for discussion at
the World Summit for Social Development should be concise, balanced and
concrete - action-oriented and people-oriented. Social policy should guarantee
women’s rights, integrate the disabled and protect vulnerable social groups. It
would be important to address education, particularly specialized training.
Flourishing independent civic associations such as trade unions and
entrepreneurial organizations were a prerequisite to problem-solving by social
consensus at the national level. That in turn would influence friendly
relations at the international level. Nevertheless, each country must assume
responsibility for its own solutions, taking into account its specific
conditions. Lastly, his delegation supported the objectives of the
International Year of the Family and had welcomed the recent International
Conference on Families. It would like to see the family given a central place
at the World Summit and at the Fourth World Conference on Women.
32. Mr. TIN (Myanmar) said that cooperatives were a vital component in the
economic development of both developing and developed nations. His Government
regarded them as a pillar of the economy and an effective means of boosting
socio-economic development, and had therefore taken them into account in its new
economic strategy. With a view to achieving sustainable economic development,
as of 1988 wide-ranging economic reforms had been introduced in Myanmar based on
market-oriented policies. Such measures had resulted, inter alia, in the
liberalization of trade and an outward-looking exports-promotion policy as well
as the enhanced role of cooperatives in the private sector.
33. Four statutes enacted in recent years, including one governing cooperative
societies, had facilitated private enterprise and the creation of some 20,000
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cooperatives, thereby helping to boost exports. A cooperative industrial fair
held in Yangon in 1993 with the aim of generating employment prospects and
enhancing markets for domestic industrial goods had also earned substantial
revenue. A "cooperative showcase" had been set up at the Ministry of
Cooperatives to promote exports. Cooperatives from Myanmar had also made a
valuable contribution to the 1993 World Trade Fair held in Taejon, Republic of
Korea, and to the 1993 Myanmar Trade Fair.
34. During the current transition towards a market economy, private-sector
cooperatives played a crucial role in the socio-economic development of Myanmar.
His delegation therefore welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on cooperatives
(A/49/213). It hoped that the role of cooperatives would be taken up by the
General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council, in the context of
sustainable development and international economic cooperation. Since 1995
marked the centenary of the establishment of the International Cooperative
Alliance, it was fitting that the General Assembly, in resolution 47/90, had
proclaimed the first Saturday of July 1995 to be International Day of
Cooperatives. He hoped that it would be observed annually thereafter. With a
view to creating greater awareness of the benefits of cooperatives and the aims
of the international cooperative movement, that day would be celebrated each
year in Myanmar in a fitting manner.
35. Mrs. JUNEJO (Pakistan) said that, despite considerable progress in raising
the world’s standard of living, much of the world’s population still lived in
poverty, mainly in Asia and Africa. Any plan for creating a new social order
must focus on developing countries’ problems. The imbalance between poor and
rich countries must be corrected, for social development could not be assured if
the majority of the world’s population continued to service the wasteful
lifestyles of the minority. The eradication of poverty was an international as
well as a national responsibility, and a global approach must be adopted, as had
already been done in the preservation of peace and security and the promotion of
human rights. A delicate balance between market forces and government
intervention was needed to stimulate economic growth while ensuring an equitable
distribution of wealth.
36. A related aim was to integrate socially vulnerable groups into the
mainstream of society. At the forthcoming World Summit for Social Development a
new model could emerge, shifting the emphasis from charity and welfare to
participation in decision-making.
37. Conflict in many parts of the world had led to social disintegration and
massive human suffering. In the interests of social and economic development at
the global level, the international community must not forget the victims, once
it had addressed the urgent political dimensions of such conflict. Rather, it
should ensure that social considerations were an integral part of all programmes
for reconciliation and economic recovery. Similarly, the United Nations should
play its legitimate role in averting threats to peace and security, in order to
accelerate the diversion of resources from defence-oriented security to social
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38. Her Government had launched a comprehensive social action programme to
implement an integrated strategy focusing on education, health, nutrition,
welfare and rural water supply and sanitation. It aimed to eradicate poverty,
redress gender inequities, develop rural areas and protect the environment.
Economic reform in conjunction with privatization had helped in financing social
development, and donors at all levels had endorsed and supported the social
action programme.
39. The World Summit for Social Development would be an opportunity to reach a
consensus on the problems of finance, debt, trade and transfer of technology.
Debt relief and cancellation, in particular, could enable developing countries
to invest massively in social development programmes and build structures for
sustainable development. Her delegation considered that new and additional
resources were the most effective tool for breaking the vicious circle of aid,
debt and dependency. The concept of "international taxation" deserved serious
consideration. Such an independent source of income could provide the United
Nations with the means to influence and regulate international economic and
social decision-making. She urged the United Nations to end the paralysis
brought about by overextended commitments and ever-shrinking resources. There
was vast potential in the huge and sprawling machinery of the specialized
agencies which could enable the United Nations to take the lead in a new global
compact on social development. Such a compact would, however, require resources
and commitment from Member States.
40. Mr. PIBULSONGGRAM (Thailand) said that social development and economic
progress were interdependent. Similarly, social development was relevant to
global security. Threats of a social nature such as AIDS and international drug
trafficking were no less destabilizing than previous military threats. A
coordinated approach was required, and the United Nations had a special role to
41. Thailand was deeply committed to the objectives of the World Summit for
Social Development and had been active both in regional preparatory conferences
and in formulating new domestic social policies. The goal of development
efforts was humanity itself. Thailand was committed to a "society for all" and
placed special importance on protecting and promoting the rights of groups which
had been marginalized in the past.
42. His Government placed youth, as humanity’s most precious resource, high
among its development priorities. His delegation supported the convening of
special plenary meetings of the General Assembly and the designation of an
international youth day in 1995. He hoped that the draft world programme of
action for youth and the youth statement of intent would be adopted.
43. The elderly, as a stabilizing force in society, were highly respected in
Thailand. His Government had proclaimed a National Elderly Persons Day and had
formulated various long-term projects relating to the equality of life and
physical and mental welfare of the ageing, and his delegation thanked the United
Nations Population Fund for its assistance in that regard.
Page 11
44. He said that the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons and the World
Programme of Action were valuable ways of raising awareness, and his delegation
welcomed the adoption of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities. His country had signed a regional proclamation
on the participation of people with disabilities and domestically had been
improving education and training facilities for the disabled.
45. The strengthening of the family was an indispensable component of social
order. A unified family was a prerequisite for the balanced development of
society as a whole. Without it, society went into decline. His Government had
proclaimed a National Family Day and had begun work on various issues such as
the role of fathers as partners in the home, the elimination of domestic
violence against women and children, and educational projects. His delegation
supported the International Year of the Family, which had led to numerous
activities in his country.
46. Mr. KARAMBEZI (Rwanda) said that problems of poverty and social
disintegration in his country had been exacerbated by a war lasting nearly four
years. The final genocidal acts of that conflict had traumatized Rwandan
society and shocked the world. In the name of the victims he thanked the
international community for its assistance and sympathy. He counted on
continuing solidarity to aid Rwanda in its recovery. As the President of Rwanda
had pointed out in his speech to the General Assembly, the Rwandan people would
have to rebuild the nation with minimal resources.
47. Thus Rwanda placed its hopes in the World Summit for Social Development.
Thousands of lives had been shattered, as had the social infrastructure, and
those who had previously been involved with social development had been killed
or had fled. International aid - moral, political, technical and economic - was
vital. His Government would need the international community’s support to put
in place the various social programmes which would be necessary if Rwandan
society was to learn new values based on respect for human rights, social
integration and national development.
48. Mrs. KOVALSKA (Ukraine) said that, in view of the world’s growing
socio-economic problems, the decision to convene the World Summit for Social
Development was important and timely. It was particularly appropriate that the
Summit should be held in 1995, the year that marked a half century of United
Nations activities. She hoped that the situation of countries undergoing social
difficulties due to their transition to a market economy would be taken into
account in the final documents of the Summit. Ukraine attached great importance
to the regional conferences being held in preparation for the Summit and
expected that the recent International Conference on Population and Development
as well as the forthcoming World Conference on Women would foster international
cooperation in the social area and would help in shaping appropriate social
policies at national level.
49. The worsening economic recession and the deterioration in social indicators
seen in many countries undergoing economic transition was attributable,
inter alia, to inappropriate market policies and errors committed during
Page 12
privatization as well as to the cost of restructuring industry. Clearly, such
trends adversely affected the more vulnerable sections of the population.
Moreover, given the shortage of resources available for social development, the
considerable costs of disarmament and of the programme to mitigate the
consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, as well as other factors, the existing
services in Ukraine were inadequate.
50. The Government was therefore taking steps to set up a new social services
system with the view to protecting above all the most underprivileged sections
of the population, including those from broken or large families and orphans.
Indeed, Ukraine’s demographic situation was one of the worst in Europe, with a
rapid fall in the birth rate and a rise in the ageing population. Such a trend
would have long-term effects on the country’s economic development, labour force
and social structure.
51. Regrettably, the Government’s efforts had brought little improvement in the
deteriorating social conditions caused by the drastic reforms. The only way
Ukraine could overcome the current crisis was to adopt a new social, economic
and political strategy. The President of Ukraine had recently submitted a
radical economic-reform programme to the Ukrainian parliament, which had in
general supported it. The programme would redress the situation by encouraging
workers to increase their output and become more enterprising, increasing labour
and service costs payable by high-income earners so as to ease the burden of
social costs on the State budget, and fostering greater employee ownership and
52. The implementation of the programme would be long and complicated, and the
Ukraine would draw heavily on the experience gained by other countries in
decentralizing their economies, while bearing in mind that there was no standard
solution and thus the particular needs of each country must be taken into
account. Furthermore, she stressed the importance of joint research projects
undertaken by Ukrainian and international experts on matters of priority such as
worker-employer relations during reorganization of industry; employment trends,
including hidden unemployment; and ascertaining the real causes of falling
living standards with the view to shaping an effective social protection policy.
53. Her country greatly appreciated the activities of the United Nations and
its agencies and was counting on their collaboration. In that connection, she
underlined the usefulness of the international conference held recently in Kiev
on labour-market and social-policy reform in Ukraine, organized by ILO and UNDP
in cooperation with the United Nations. She stressed that the improvement of
the social conditions of the world’s population required that assistance from
the United Nations and its specialized agencies should be oriented towards more
practical goals.
54. Mr. LEPESHKO (Belarus) said that, notwithstanding the efforts made by the
United Nations and the international community over the past half century, the
world faced social and economic problems on an unprecedented scale. While the
situation was undoubtedly the most serious in the developing countries, where
more than 1 billion people lived in extreme poverty, other problems such as
Page 13
ethnic conflicts, drugs, crime and unemployment affected the developed world
too. The scarcity of resources for the United Nations social programmes,
political instability and environmental degradation thwarted any improvement in
the social area, and for precisely those reasons his delegation welcomed the
convening of the Summit for Social Development in 1995 and endorsed the core
issues to be addressed by it.
55. Moreover, it hoped that the Summit would foster international cooperation
on a social policy that would take national interests and needs into account,
and looked forward to the establishment of action-oriented plans and appropriate
follow-up mechanisms. The Summit should also enhance the political commitment
of Governments, shape national policies for social development as well as
improve the efficiency of and create awareness about the United Nations social
56. With regard to employment, it was worthwhile noting the special role of
cooperatives, which had great potential for resolving social problems, as borne
out by the Secretary-General’s report (A/49/213). The cooperative movement had
gained momentum in Belarus during the past few decades, and his delegation
supported the General Assembly’s decision to proclaim an International Day of
Cooperatives. The success of the Summit would to a great extent depend on the
work of the Preparatory Committee, and he expressed the hope that the spirit of
compromise and cooperation demonstrated during the recent inter-sessional
consultations would continue to prevail. The final documents of the Summit
should set specific and realistic goals aimed at creating the right political
and economic conditions for sustained social development, with due regard for
the specific needs of countries in different regions, including those with
economies in transition.
57. Many members of the Commonwealth of Independent States, such as Belarus,
currently undergoing economic transition also had to cope with fundamental
social changes, and the most vulnerable groups were hardest hit. Despite
depleted energy resources, declining production and scarcity of funds for social
infrastructures, the Government of Belarus was endeavouring to resolve social
problems by facilitating self-funding by companies and organizations; by
providing regular support to one third of the population, chiefly the most
vulnerable groups and unskilled workers; and by raising minimum wages and
indexing net incomes.
58. A range of social legislation had also been enacted. Programmes for the
disabled and the elderly had recently been introduced to mitigate the social,
medical and psychological consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and the
continuing recession. Each year the programme on employment and social
protection was revised.
59. Despite the economic hardship resulting from economic reforms, the
democratization of State institutions and the tolerance of the population
ensured Belarus relative political stability. Belarus relied on the assistance
of international organizations such as the United Nations for resolving its
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social problems, and therefore attached great importance to United Nations
programmes for cooperation with countries undergoing economic transition.
60. Social development in Belarus was gravely hampered by the radioactive
fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. The increasing incidence of thyroid
diseases among children was a matter of great concern. Although efforts were
being made to improve the environment and medical treatment available to the
population in contaminated areas, the deteriorating health of children in the
country required a huge financial outlay for the establishment of special
institutions. Assistance from international organizations, charity funds and
other States was therefore vital.
61. In conclusion, he pledged his country’s commitment to do its utmost to
ensure the success of the World Summit for Social Development, which would give
new impetus to economic and social development world wide.
The meeting rose at 1 p.m.