UVA Law Logo Mobile

UN Human Rights Treaties

Travaux Préparatoires


Summary record of the 9th meeting : 3rd Committee, held on Wednesday, 19 October 1994, New York, General Assembly, 49th session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/49/SR.9
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 49th
Type Document

16 p.

Subjects Youth, Cooperatives, Persons with Disabilities, Ageing Persons

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
9th meeting
held on
Wednesday, 19 October 1994
at 10 a.m.
New York
Chairman: Mr. CISSE (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.
1 December 1994
94-81722 (E) /...
Page 2
The meeting was called to order at 10.20 a.m.
and Add.1, A/49/213, A/49/434, A/49/435, A/49/204-E/1994/90, A/49/205-E/1994/91,
A/49/287, A/49/294, A/49/307-S/1994/958, A/49/381, A/49/422 and A/49/462 and
1. The CHAIRMAN invited the Committee to begin its consideration of agenda
item 95 and drew Members’ attention to the documentation under the item, in
particular document A/49/435, containing in its annex the draft plan of action
to further the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons, which had been submitted to the General Assembly for action.
2. Mr. BAUDOT (Director, Division for Social Policy and Development of the
Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, and Coordinator,
World Summit for Social Development) introduced agenda item 95.
3. He stressed that social issues were higher on the international agenda than
ever before. In a rapidly changing world, the challenge of organizing society
for the promotion of the common good and the development of the individual was
being given increasing prominence. The Committee could only welcome that
positive development, to which it had contributed significantly. At the same
time, it could not fail to note that the heightened interest stemmed precisely
from the emergence of many adverse trends. While many countries were
progressing on various fronts, for far too many people life remained insecure
and without hope. In many areas there had even been retrogression, bringing
with it such negative phenomena as violence and crime, and a social malaise was
widely perceived.
4. In response to that situation, the General Assembly had decided to convene
a World Summit for Social Development at the level of heads of State or
Government, to be held in early 1995 in Copenhagen, at the invitation of the
Government of Denmark. The Preparatory Committee for the Summit had already
held one organizational and two substantive sessions, whose reports had been
submitted to the Committee. The elaboration of a draft declaration and draft
programme of action to be adopted at the Summit would shortly be taken up in
informal consultations.
5. He recalled the Declaration on Social Progress and Development, elaborated
by the Third Committee and adopted by the General Assembly in 1969. While in
certain respects its text seemed out of date, at a deeper level, it remained
totally relevant. He hoped that the Copenhagen final documents would stand the
test of time equally well. It was important for the Summit to engage the
interest of the greatest possible number of citizens in all countries and of the
organizations and associations representing them. It was encouraging that
roughly 500 non-governmental organizations had expressed interest in
participating in the Summit.
Page 3
6. To illustrate the role of the cooperative movement, he drew attention to
document A/49/213 on the status and role of cooperatives in the light of new
economic and social trends, in particular paragraph 55 dealing with the
expansion of productive employment, the reduction of poverty and the enhancement
of social integration.
7. With reference to the question of youth, he noted that the tenth
anniversary of International Youth Year would be celebrated in 1995 and observed
through a variety of events, including a special plenary meeting of the General
Assembly. Governments were urged to consider sending delegations to that
meeting from their ministries or departments responsible for youth.
Representatives of non-governmental youth organizations should also take part.
The plenary meeting had been scheduled for November, giving the Committee the
opportunity for a final review of the draft world youth programme of action to
the year 2000 and beyond, before its adoption by the General Assembly.
8. Reviewing the history of that draft, he said that the text elaborated by
the Commission for Social Development (CSD) at its most recent session, in 1993,
had been circulated for comment to Governments, concerned intergovernmental and
non-governmental organizations and appropriate bodies within the United Nations
system. It would be revised in the light of the comments received and then
submitted to the Committee through CSD, whose next session was to be held in
New York in April 1995. It would also be adjusted to reflect decisions taken by
recent major United Nations conferences, including the Cairo Conference on
Population and Development and the World Summit for Social Development. The
report of the Secretary-General contained in document A/49/434 also provided
extensive information on the issue.
9. Turning to the issue of disabled persons, there had been several
significant events over the past 12 months. The United Nations Standard Rules
on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by
the General Assembly at its forty-eighth session, had been translated into all
the official languages of the Organization and several additional languages and
had been widely disseminated.
10. An international conference in June 1994, attended by some 700 persons, on
the topic "Beyond normalization - towards one society for all", had adopted the
Reykjavik Declaration in support of those Rules. Section IV of the Rules,
entitled "Monitoring mechanism", provided that the Rules would be monitored
within the framework of the sessions of CSD and that, in addition, a Special
Rapporteur would be appointed for three years to monitor their implementation.
Mr. Bengt Lindqvist, a former Minister and current member of Parliament of
Sweden with vast experience as an advocate of the rights of disabled persons,
had accepted the Secretary-General’s invitation to take up the position of
Special Rapporteur. Mr. Lindqvist could count on the encouragement and support
of the Secretariat, which was making arrangements for him to visit New York for
the latter part of the Committee’s debate on item 95.
11. He pointed out that, while the work of the Special Rapporteur would be
partially supported from the Organization’s regular budget, it would be financed
Page 4
essentially from extrabudgetary resources. He thanked the countries which had
made voluntary contributions to that end and those which had indicated their
intention of so doing. He hoped that many others would be in a position to
contribute in cash or kind to the work of the Special Rapporteur. Thanks were
due to the Swedish Government for its material, technical, logistical and other
12. He informed the Committee that the panel of experts, primarily composed of
non-governmental organizations of persons with disabilities, was in the process
of being constituted. As envisaged in the Rules, the panel would be responsible
for advising the Special Rapporteur.
13. In conclusion, he drew attention to the draft plan of action entitled
"Towards a society for all: Long-term Strategy to Implement the World Programme
of Action concerning Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond", which was
contained in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report (A/49/435). The
Strategy provided a framework for collaborative action in implementing the World
Programme as well as the Standard Rules. It incorporated those national,
regional and global measures which had proved successful and sustainable in the
course of the Decade. It envisaged national medium-term plans as the leading
edge of the Strategy and suggested the component elements of a national plan, in
the expectation, however, that those would be adapted to national needs,
resources and aspirations. The Strategy’s guiding vision was the concept of a
"Society for all". The foundation of that Strategy remained the three themes of
the World Programme - prevention of disability, rehabilitation and equalization
of opportunities for disabled persons. It was the result of extensive
consultations with Governments, through CSD and the Economic and Social Council,
with specialized agencies, through the inter-agency mechanism, and with
non-governmental organizations, through the expert group meeting held in
Vancouver in April 1992. He hoped that the Committee would recommend adoption
of the Strategy.
14. Mr. LAMAMRA (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China,
said that promoting the dignity and worth of the human person and improving the
living standards of all human beings - the social objective enshrined in the
United Nations Charter and the relevant human rights instruments - was a matter
of the utmost priority. If the human person was seen as the focus of all
development efforts, it was clear that such efforts could not be limited by
national borders. It was illusory to expect islands of well-being to endure in
the midst of oceans of poverty. An affront to the dignity of the human person,
whenever it occurred, affected all human beings without distinction. That was
particularly true in a world characterized by globalization, where the
widespread demand for economic performance and productivity jeopardized the
attainment of social justice, especially during a recession and under structural
adjustment programmes, in short, in a world where unequal income distribution
among the different social classes meant that there were elements of the South
to be found in the North and vice versa.
15. However, it was unquestionably in the southern hemisphere that poverty,
unemployment and social disintegration were structural in nature and organically
Page 5
linked to economic underdevelopment. Solving those problems exceeded the
capacities and resources that each third world country could devote to them.
The developing countries must therefore receive massive, effective international
cooperation to enable them to carry their share of responsibility towards their
own people and thus towards humankind as a whole.
16. The declaration and programme of action that would result from the first
World Summit for Social Development must focus on that fundamental objective,
while adopting a step-by-step approach for the international community to make
sustained progress towards that goal. It was therefore necessary, as an
indication of a new state of mind and a renewal of international cooperation for
development, to reach a consensus on the following measures: incorporation of
peremptory norms into structural adjustment programmes to prevent cutbacks in
the budgetary resources allocated to meeting unavoidable and irreducible social
needs; cancellation of the official debt of the African countries and the least
developed countries and reduction of the debt of the other developing countries,
with a clear commitment by all beneficiary countries to invest the resources
thereby released in social development; reduction of multilateral debt for the
benefit of the developing countries, along lines such as those recently
considered at Madrid; allocation of IMF special drawing rights to the developing
countries to finance social development projects; confirmation of the OECD
countries’ target of allocating 0.7 per cent of GNP to official development
assistance, with an obligation for each Government concerned to draw up a
schedule determined by its capabilities and constraints; strengthened and
increased funding for the operational activities of the United Nations and the
specialized agencies in the area of social development; and a commitment to
releasing new and additional resources for social development the world over.
17. Those specific measures of international cooperation must be harmoniously
integrated with quantifiable national efforts.
18. The World Summit for Social Development was an eminently political event
whose impact must be historic. It must provide an opportunity to break away
from the unproductive paradigms of the past and to project a generous vision of
humankind’s common future. Intrinsically positive concepts such as "sustainable
human development" and "human security" must not be allowed to nourish sterile
controversy. On the contrary, humankind must be made to take a qualitative leap
so that it could approach the next millennium with the certainty of a better
19. Mr. FITSCHEN (Germany), speaking on behalf of the European Union and
Austria, said that the World Summit for Social Development, to be held at
Copenhagen in 1995, and the Agenda for Development, currently in preparation,
were directly inspired by the Declaration on Social Progress and Development
adopted by the United Nations 25 years previously. The fact that the
Declaration treated human rights as an intrinsic and fundamental feature of
social development was one of the reasons why, a quarter of a century later, it
retained much of its validity and importance. The Declaration recognized the
primary responsibility of each country to ensure the social progress and wellbeing
of its people, and that of the international community for those same
Page 6
concerns. For that reason, the European Union believed that the Declaration was
a valuable reference for the work of the Summit.
20. Regarding people with disabilities, the European Union and Austria recalled
that the most important achievement in that sphere had been the elaboration, by
the Commission for Social Development, of the Standard Rules on the Equalization
of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly
at its forty-eighth session. Those Rules did not so much emphasize the
disabilities of the persons affected as their ability to participate fully in
society and sought to adapt the societal environment to the needs of persons
with disabilities, rather than the other way round. He hoped that the Special
Rapporteur on that issue within the Commission for Social Development would
promote the implementation and monitoring of the Rules.
21. Participants in the International Conference on Population and Development
had drawn attention to the fact that much remained to be done, particularly in
the areas of prevention of disability, rehabilitation and participation, to
achieve equality of opportunity for persons with disabilities. The European
Union hoped therefore that the issue would be given particular attention at the
World Summit for Social Development.
22. Regarding policies and programmes involving youth, he noted that, as the
international community prepared to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the
International Youth Year in 1995, the goals of the Year remained as valid as
ever. The European Union and Austria had noted with interest the report of the
Secretary-General on the draft world programme of action for youth towards the
year 2000 and beyond (A/49/434). That document rightly emphasized the
importance for young people of education and training, employment, health
education and efforts to prevent drug abuse. He looked forward to the
refinement of the draft by the Commission for Social Development at its thirtyfourth
session, to be held in 1995.
23. He noted that many of the social questions discussed in the Committee had a
particular bearing on young people and that young people felt that they had a
contribution to make to solving problems in such areas as environmental
protection and international development cooperation. The tenth anniversary of
the International Youth Year would be particularly suited to encouraging the
involvement of young people and to renewing the commitment of States Members of
the United Nations to improve the situation of youth, through the adoption of
the programme of action. He also recommended that consultations with young
people should be organized and that arrangements should be made for youth
representatives to have an input into the work of both the Commission for Social
Development and the General Assembly.
24. Mr. LAMPTEY (Ghana) said that his Government had strongly supported the
proposal to convene a World Summit for Social Development to advance the cause
of social progress, which had hitherto been regarded only as a by-product of
economic growth. Ghana had therefore been participating fully and actively in
the preparatory activities dealing with the priority areas of the Summit. It
welcomed the growing and emerging consensus which favoured an integrated
Page 7
approach to development, giving priority to social and human development
concerns. The Summit should be an occasion for mutual understanding that should
pave the way for a Charter of Social Progress.
25. Despite programmes of sensitization, prevention and mobilization, some
young people in Ghana, as elsewhere in the world, fell prey to problems of
unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancy. His delegation
hoped that the tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year would offer an
opportunity to develop action-oriented programmes towards the year 2000 and
beyond in order to attain better living conditions for the world’s young people.
26. By proclaiming 1999 the International Year of Older Persons, the General
Assembly had underscored the important place occupied in society by the aged,
who were all too often overlooked by government authorities. Public and private
services were being adapted to maximize senior citizens’ contribution to
society. His delegation fully supported the positive outlook on ageing
reflected in the United Nations Principles for Older Persons and the global
targets on ageing for the year 2001. That outlook coincided with the values of
the extended family system in Ghana, where the aged were guaranteed pride of
place for their knowledge, their wisdom and their contribution to social
27. His delegation was saddened by the statistical evidence that over
500 million people in the world were disabled and that 80 per cent of them lived
in developing countries. About two thirds of the afflicted were women and
children. Many were victims of man-made disasters such as wars and drug abuse
and most were excluded from society. His Government welcomed United Nations
efforts to remedy that situation by encouraging Member States to implement the
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities, adopted by the General Assembly at its forty-eighth session, and
to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability. His
delegation also hoped that the problems of persons with disabilities would
receive due attention at the forthcoming World Summit for Social Development.
28. Ghana considered the family, whether of the patriarchal or the matriarchal
type, to be the foundation on which society was built and a major factor for
social stability. It had therefore enthusiastically celebrated the
International Year of the Family in 1994. His delegation hoped that the plenary
deliberations to be held on the issue would bring about a future-oriented
approach to viable local programmes to benefit the basic unit of society, as an
agent and beneficiary of sustainable development.
29. Mr. VOS (Netherlands), speaking as youth representative of the Netherlands,
said that in his country, as elsewhere, the family had changed, becoming what
the United Nations had acknowledged to be a "pluriform entity". Societies
should act with understanding and tolerance, rather than rejection and
discrimination, towards non-traditional families and allow young people to
choose the family lifestyle best suited to them, even if it was not the same as
that chosen by the majority.
Page 8
30. Young people were deeply concerned about the problem of inequality between
rich and poor, North and South, and even within countries. Increasing numbers
of children, especially in the 6 to 11 age group, were unable to attend school
because they had to work to provide for their families. Measures to promote
access to education and reduce the school drop-out rate should therefore be
included in the proposed World Programme of Action for Youth towards the Year
2000 and Beyond. Those measures should not focus only on young people between
the ages of 15 and 25; they should also take account of the situation of younger
children. They could take inspiration from the plan initiated by President
Nelson Mandela in South Africa, encouraging attendance at school, particularly
by girls, by providing both lessons and school meals free of charge.
31. Every year, poverty and war drove thousands of migrants to settle in
countries which were not their own and where, unfortunately, they were often
victims of exclusion and discrimination. Their children often experienced
problems of social integration and identity. The proposed Programme of Action
did not adequately address the problems of young migrants. Countries should
make greater efforts and devote more resources to training for first- and
second-generation migrants, create jobs for them and increase the local
population’s awareness of cultural diversity in order to foster understanding
and tolerance.
32. In a world in which hunger, overpopulation and environmental problems were
a source of universal concern, the Programme of Action for Youth should provide
young people with fresh opportunities to participate in the search for solutions
to such problems, which they themselves would eventually have to face. In that
regard, it was disappointing to note that, despite the good intentions expressed
at the United Nations, only three youth representatives were present in the
Third Committee. If the Organization really wanted to tackle the problems of
young people, youth representatives would have to be included in national
delegations. On the tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year, it was
time for the United Nations to realize that young people were not the problem,
but the solution.
33. Mr. PACE (Malta) said that the Committee should seize the opportunity
afforded by its deliberations on agenda item 95 to focus on the issues to be
discussed at the World Summit for Social Development. In so doing, it would
contribute to the vital task of preparing for the Summit; to do so was, in his
delegation’s view, part of its mandate.
34. His Government’s plan of action was based on the following principles: to
guarantee social justice, with particular attention to the more vulnerable
members of society; to provide social security and social welfare in all areas
to every citizen; to channel welfare services through the family, as a function
of the individual personality and according to the choice of each member of the
family; to encourage each individual, rather than becoming a passive recipient
of assistance, to participate actively in helping himself and possibly others;
to ensure that solidarity was practised actively among all members of society;
and to ensure the complementarity of services provided by governmental and
non-governmental agencies. Under that plan of action, his Government had
Page 9
enacted legislative measures to ensure social security, employment without
discrimination, equality of the sexes, and equal access to education and health
services. In the case of employment, special provisions had been made for
marginal and disadvantaged groups, including the disabled, single parents,
rehabilitated drug abusers and ex-prisoners. Resources had been made available
so that welfare services could operate efficiently, and an Institute of Social
Work had been established within the University of Malta for the training of
social workers. The Government had also set up national commissions for youth,
the elderly, the disabled and the advancement of women, and for combating
illicit drug trafficking. The groups concerned were strongly represented in the
relevant commissions.
35. As a result of various social and economic problems and other social
phenomena, the role of the family in Malta as the source of support for its
disabled, weak and elderly members was decreasing in importance. Fortunately,
volunteer agencies and non-governmental organizations were active in that field;
they had played a pioneering role and continued to provide psycho-social support
to vulnerable groups, in cooperation with public bodies and in keeping with the
plans and programmes of action adopted by the United Nations. Assistance was
provided to the disabled and the elderly in the form of home help, meals
delivered to the home and special telephone services to deal with emergencies.
36. Considerable realism was called for in viewing the world social situation.
Current recessionary trends in the developed countries and fluctuations on money
markets were affecting the economies of virtually the entire world. That
situation caused social programmes to be delayed or abandoned. With greater
cooperation within the international community, however, the struggle to better
the quality of life for all, particularly for groups which endured increased
hardship in times of national and global economic crisis, could be won.
37. In order to curb unemployment and help to promote productive employment,
Member States should not only make every effort to attract investment but should
also create coordination mechanisms which would enable trade unions, employees
and the public services concerned to formulate responsible policies on cost-ofliving
wage adjustments, in other words, policies which would not end up
eliminating jobs or inhibiting the expansion of productive employment.
Moreover, employment agencies should be provided with increased resources for
training young persons in employable skills and for retraining redundant
38. In another vein, the plight of millions of children living in particularly
difficult conditions, especially the victims of armed conflicts, must not be
forgotten. Attention should also be focused on the plight of other children,
and, in particular, on child pornography, child labour and street children.
39. Since the end of the cold war, international relations had been transformed
and most States were concerned, above all, with mutual confidence-building.
While the importance of the progress achieved to that end could not be
underestimated, no one should be deluded: peace did not automatically signal an
end to social problems. In particular, funds allocated to military budgets
Page 10
should be used for social purposes with a view to improving the lot of the
disadvantaged and thus reaping the so-called "peace dividend".
40. Mrs. PILOTO (Zimbabwe) said that it had been difficult to achieve a
consensus on such concepts as human security and sustainable human development
during the first and second sessions of the Preparatory Committee for the World
Summit for Social Development. That was because delegations had not fully
understood the concepts, as there had been no dialogue between the authors of
the Human Development Report, where the concepts had originated, and the
Preparatory Committee. Steps had since been taken in that direction but they
had been too limited to ensure a comprehensive and transparent dialogue. She
therefore hoped that the relevant departments of the Secretariat would remedy
that situation during the current session of the General Assembly. She wished
to remind the Committee that the issues of human security and sustainable human
development concerned not only the Third Committee but also the Second
41. Regarding the status and role of cooperatives, her delegation was
encouraged by the Secretary-General’s report on the matter (A/49/213), which
indicated that the cooperative movement was demonstrating a viable capacity to
create employment, reduce poverty and enhance social integration. In addition,
it amply demonstrated that cooperatives employed persons from all social groups -
the elderly, women, youth, the disabled and indigenous peoples - who would
otherwise be marginalized. Thus, the cooperative movement deserved to receive
all possible support from policy makers.
42. In that specific connection, some countries still misunderstood the role of
cooperatives as associations of persons for profit. That was most regrettable
for, as long as that misconception persisted, policy makers would not provide
cooperatives with absolutely essential legal and other support. Given that the
problem persisted, the recommendation of the Secretary-General to observe an
international day of cooperatives was worthy of consideration for it would make
social agents and the population as a whole aware that cooperatives were not
merely social clubs but rather business ventures.
43. In Zimbabwe, efforts to support and promote cooperatives had borne fruit.
Cooperatives employed persons who would otherwise have been unemployed as a
result of the structural adjustment programme implemented since 1990. The
Government had encouraged not only service cooperatives in, inter alia, the
field of housing, but also certain business ventures, in particular worker-owned
companies. The Government had realized that cooperatives provided economic and
social guarantees to workers, including those with a low level of education,
particularly women. The Head of State himself had encouraged companies to sell
their assets to their employees, greatly contributing to the success of such
ventures. Similarly, employees of financially ailing companies had been
encouraged to start their own economic ventures without waiting for their
companies to shut down.
44. The interest shown in the cooperative movement at both the national and
international levels was encouraging. None the less, the organizations of the
Page 11
United Nations should support cooperatives in developing countries by providing
technical and advisory assistance to them. In that connection, her delegation
appreciated the efforts deployed by the International Labour Organization and
called on all organizations of the United Nations to strengthen their mechanisms
for providing assistance to the cooperative movement, in particular by enhancing
the coordination of their work in that area.
45. Mr. GUILLEN (Peru) said that the forthcoming World Summit for Social
Development would provide an opportunity to identify common denominators among
countries, despite the diversity of local realities and, on that basis, to adopt
measures for poverty reduction, the expansion of productive employment and the
enhancement of social integration.
46. In his delegation’s view, the political declaration to be adopted by the
World Summit should be a clear, concise document which reflected pluralism and
had ethical value. In that connection, the text submitted by the Chairman of
the Preparatory Committee formed an excellent basis for negotiations. It should
not reiterate ideas which had already been stressed at many international
conferences held successively in recent years. Above all, the question of
social development should be placed in its current context, by taking into
account the fact that socio-economic gaps were a major cause of instability and
47. While the draft programme of action was satisfactorily structured, its
proportions should be reduced so that priorities were clearly established
without losing sight of the overall objectives and follow-up mechanisms were
48. While in the past the United Nations had always given preference to
political questions over social questions, it must be recognized today that the
solution of political conflicts depended on the settlement of social problems.
Unfortunately, official development assistance, which was irreplaceable even if
it only complemented national efforts, continued to dwindle and that gave cause
for concern. Only the Government of Japan planned to increase its assistance
significantly. Ireland, Denmark and New Zealand were the only countries which
had taken initiatives to check the decline. None the less, the contribution of
those countries represented but 23 per cent of total official development
assistance. That situation was attributable to a slowdown in the growth of the
industrialized countries.
49. Clearly, against that backdrop, a set of absolute priorities must be
established. Donor countries must recognize those priorities: poverty
reduction, the expansion of productive employment and the introduction of basic
health and education services.
50. As a result of a programme to stabilize Government expenditure, Peru had
been able to put its economic house in order, curb inflation and regain its
rightful place on the international scene. Having resumed a path of growth,
Peru now accorded priority to social questions. For the first time in its
history, it had adopted an investment programme financed with the help of
Page 12
domestic resources, which had received the backing of international financial
institutions, the World Bank, UNDP and a growing number of non-governmental
organizations. The programme was primarily designed to benefit the poor
sectors. In particular, his Government was making every effort to channel
Government expenditure into such areas as the education, basic health and food
security of the most vulnerable groups and was seeking the support of civil
society in the implementation of that programme. In 1995, the activities
undertaken with a view to improving the quality of social services would be
pursued in the light of the experience acquired during the current year. In the
following years, such activities would be extended to new sectors. Already,
between 1991 and August 1994, 11,800 social assistance projects, representing
over $418 million, had been approved. Those projects were financed by the Fondo
nacional de compensación social (FONCODES) (National Social Compensation Fund).
The Fund, which served as a liaison between domestic sources of financing and
international financial institutions, in some sense played the role of a social
51. In view of the growing importance of the question of social development at
the current juncture, his delegation planned to cooperate fully with any
initiatives which might be taken in order to ensure the success of the World
52. Mr. KALLEHAUGE (Denmark) said that, from his perspective as President of
the Nordic Council of Organizations of Disabled People, the highlight of the
forty-eighth session of the General Assembly had been the adoption of the
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities. It was also encouraging that Mr. Bengt Lindqvist, former Minister
for Social Affairs of Sweden, had been appointed Special Rapporteur. It was
disappointing, however, that the post of Special Rapporteur had to be funded
from extrabudgetary resources, a situation that had given rise to much criticism
from organizations of persons with disabilities. He hoped that Member States
would make the contributions that were needed to further the important work of
monitoring the implementation of the Standard Rules. Good intentions were not
enough. Creating equal opportunities for persons with disabilities would demand
hard work, new political initiatives, investments and programmes. There would
be a need for dialogue on those issues between the Special Rapporteur and
53. He wished to draw attention to rule 18, according to which States should
recognize the right of organizations of persons with disabilities to represent
the disabled, and should encourage and financially support the establishment of
such organizations, establish ongoing communication with them and ensure their
participation in the development of government policies. Based on their own
experience, the Nordic countries were convinced of the validity of those
recommendations and urged all Member States to give them high priority.
54. Since one person in 10 was disabled, meaning that between 500 and
600 million people world wide were disabled and that persons with disabilities
were therefore the most numerous underprivileged minority in the world, it could
reasonably be asked why there was not a United Nations High Commissioner for
Page 13
Persons with Disabilities as there was a High Commissioner for Refugees. In
section IV, paragraph 10, of the Standard Rules, it was suggested that one or
more positions of interregional adviser on the implementation of the Standard
Rules should be created to provide direct services to States. He felt that
Governments in all regions of the world should appoint regional advisers to
ensure implementation of the Standard Rules. Within the United Nations system,
the Secretary-General could give higher priority to the issue by, for instance,
asking UNDP to focus on disabled persons in all human development programmes and
UNESCO to give more attention to special education programmes. Lastly, UNDP
should complete its ongoing work on the preparation of the disability index,
which could serve as an important monitoring instrument for the implementation
of the Standard Rules.
55. He hoped that upcoming world conferences, in particular the Fourth World
Conference on Women to be held in Beijing in September 1995 and the forthcoming
World Summit for Social Development to be held in March 1995, would provide an
opportunity for organizations of persons with disabilities to be present and to
express their aspirations. Lastly, all strategies aimed at eradicating poverty
and enhancing employment should include special provisions for disabled persons.
56. Mr. BELTRAN (Uruguay) said that his country had a tradition of social
welfare that went back to the turn of the century. As early as 1877, the
national education act had established the principle of universal, compulsory,
free and secular education. Subsequently, thanks to the action of eminent
statesmen and intellectuals, the founders of modern Uruguay, primary education
had been made universal, schools had been established for disabled children and
nursery schools had become widespread, so that since 1985 Uruguay’s illiteracy
rate had been only 4.5 per cent. Old age and disability pensions, unemployment
insurance and the right to strike were among the social gains that made Uruguay
one of the world’s most advanced countries in terms of social development. The
educational opportunities open to Uruguayans were not unrelated to the stability
and progress that had characterized the country since the middle of the century.
57. The explosive expansion of knowledge, however, required an updating of
educational programmes that only major investment could achieve. Current
tensions, particularly in schools, were closely linked to the inadequacy of the
investments made in that and other areas. Unemployment and the resulting
poverty could often be attributed to a lack of vocational training. That was
why the main task at present was to guarantee quality education and training for
all so that everyone could have access to the job market. Without an effective
education programme with the necessary flexibility to adapt to new technologies,
no society could progress. Lastly, his delegation felt that the formulation of
national plans in that area demanded the participation of society as a whole.
58. Uruguay’s educational system was confronting the further difficulty of
insufficient school premises, which had meant shortening school hours,
particularly in primary and middle schools. That situation placed Uruguayan
students at a disadvantage, giving rise to inequality and therefore tension. In
that situation, the National Commission on the Family created under the auspices
of the International Year of the Family had made lengthening school hours one of
Page 14
its goals. Uruguay remained optimistic that it could achieve the goal of
education for all by the year 2000.
59. Mr. CHEPSIROR (Kenya) said that his country was actively involved in the
preparations for the forthcoming World Summit for Social Development and hoped
that the Summit would produce commitments and programmes aimed at the
eradication of poverty, the elimination of obstacles to development, the
expansion of productive employment and the creation of a favourable
international economic and social environment.
60. The issue of economic growth was crucial. There continued to be a sharp
contrast between the industrialized countries and the developing world,
particularly Africa. The situation in Africa remained of great concern because
there were still no tangible signs of recovery. The continent remained highly
vulnerable to inequitable international economic policies, it was a frequent
victim of natural disasters and it had an overwhelming debt burden at a time
when financial flows were drying up and commodity prices remained low.
61. The measures taken by the international community to improve the economic
and social situation in Africa, more particularly sub-Saharan Africa, had
yielded very limited results. For that reason, Kenya continued to urge that
further steps be taken. Specifically, it recommended adoption of an integrated
and comprehensive approach to development, the implementation of structural
adjustment programmes that took into account the social dimension and provided a
"safety net" for vulnerable groups, the launching of new initiatives to find a
lasting solution to the debt burden, the allocation of additional resources to
accelerate social development and the enhancement of personal productivity
through the wider application of science and technology. Lastly, it must be
recognized that social development, economic growth and political stability were
62. While it was true that national Governments bore primary responsibility for
eradicating poverty, some Governments were in a better position than others to
deal with the problem. That was where international cooperation came in. In
Africa, such cooperation should involve advancing educational training,
scientific and technological development; developing physical and social
infrastructure; strengthening institutional capacity in both the public and
private sectors; and accelerating the rate of economic growth.
63. On the question of youth, which had been on the agenda of the General
Assembly since its fortieth session and would once again claim the attention of
the international community in 1995, the tenth anniversary of the International
Youth Year, he said that in his country young people already constituted over
half of the population. Sadly, the living conditions and prospects for many
young people continued to deteriorate because of poverty and disruptive social
change associated with rapid urbanization and the weakening of family ties and
traditional support systems. For that reason, Kenya’s Development Plan for the
period 1994-1996 gave priority to financial support for youth education and the
preparation of a national youth development policy. Other programmes had been
drawn up in areas such as health and social welfare, the establishment of
Page 15
income-generating projects and credit schemes to assist youths who were out of
school. In addition, the National Youth Service was to receive increased
assistance to enable it to expand its training activities. Polytechnics and
technical training institutes had also been given the necessary funding to train
young people to set up small-scale enterprises.
64. With regard to the aged, Kenya supported both the United Nations programme
on ageing and the African Society of Gerontology. Like most developing
countries with large rural populations, Kenya depended on traditional family
ties for the care of the elderly. Those ties were now being weakened by
increasing rural-urban migration. While non-governmental organizations and
religious institutions were providing assistance to the elderly, his Government
continued to believe that the rightful place for the aged was in the family.
65. Kenya, which had supported the adoption of the Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, had launched a
nation-wide campaign, spearheaded personally by President Daniel T. Arap Moi, to
improve the situation of disabled persons. Concern for the disabled was now
part of a broad government policy. Programmes for special education and
technical and craft training were increasingly being made available to them.
Their participation in business and other income-generating activities was also
being facilitated. The situation of the disabled was far from satisfactory but,
with the help of friendly Governments and non-governmental organizations, Kenya
was confident that it would progress in that area.
66. His Government strongly believed that development must focus on the family
as the basic unit of society, and therefore hoped that the Voluntary Fund for
the International Year of the Family, established in 1993 with a view to
releasing new funds for specific family-oriented projects, particularly in
developing countries, would be given appropriate attention. The family must
have the necessary resources to enable it to discharge its primary
responsibility of raising children and supporting those who could not support
themselves due to age, unemployment, illness or physical disability.
67. His Government, which had actively participated at the International
Conference on Population and Development and had endorsed the Cairo Programme of
Action, was committed to improving the welfare of the Kenyan population and,
through the Family Planning Association of Kenya, was working to reduce the rate
of population increase and improve the health of mothers and children.
68. Mr. BOUCHER (World Bank), referring to the issue of ageing, drew attention
to a major study of the problem which the World Bank had recently completed
entitled "Averting the Old Age Crisis: Policies to Protect the Old and Promote
Growth". As indicated in that study, the old-age crisis currently faced by the
world had four basic elements. First, there was rising life expectancy and
declining fertility, leading to an increase in the number of old people in the
general population. Second, in both developed and developing countries, systems
designed to provide financial security for the old were under strain. Third,
those problems concerned not only the old, but also their children and
grandchildren. Fourth, many Government-run systems were in trouble because they
Page 16
tried to support all three functions of old-age financial security systems:
redistribution, savings and insurance.
69. In a world in which the proportion of the population over 60 would nearly
double over the next 35 years, rising from 9 to 16 per cent, more than half
those people depended exclusively on extended families and other informal
support. However, those systems were tending to break down under pressure of
urbanization, industrialization and increased mobility. It was then that
Governments typically stepped in. Governments became involved through a system
of payroll taxes paid by working people. However, when the number of workers
declined and the population of retirees increased, taxes also tended to
increase. In Eastern Europe and parts of Latin America, for example, the
payroll tax to support pensions already accounted for about one quarter of the
average wage. Such systems impeded economic growth, making it increasingly
difficult for Governments to keep their promise to protect the old. There were
many problems. In order to avoid paying taxes, many people worked "off the
books". In some countries like Hungary, where the average retirement age was
54, more than one quarter of the population was retired, and the payroll tax was
33 per cent. In Austria, Finland, Germany and Italy, one third of the public
budget went to pensions; in Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States of
America, nearly one quarter of public spending went to the aged. In countries
like Egypt and Venezuela, because of mismanagement, the public pension funds had
lost most of their value over the years.
70. In order to overcome those problems, the central recommendation of the
World Bank study was a reform of the system for financing old age pensions. The
system recommended by the World Bank, instead of being a single system managed
by the Government, would consist of three separate mechanisms or pillars. The
first pillar, which would resemble existing systems, would focus on
redistribution, providing a social safety net for the old. The second pillar,
which would focus on saving, would depend directly on individual contributions
and would consist of a system of mandatory privately managed contributions.
Funds would be invested privately and competitively, subject to public
71. The third pillar would be a voluntary savings mechanism, which would offer
supplemental retirement income for people with the means and propensity to save
more. Those reforms would have the advantage of cutting pension taxes, boosting
savings, stimulating private sector development and, thus, contributing to
growth. Such countries as Australia, Argentina and Chile had reformed their
pension systems along those lines.
72. Tackling pension reform would not be easy. Pension issues were complex and
controversial. However, the World Bank believed that change in those systems
was inevitable and that the longer reform was delayed, the more difficult it
would become. Countries could avert the old-age crisis, but to do so, they
would need to begin planning and educating the public straight away.
The meeting rose at 12.45 p.m.