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Summary record of the 10th meeting : 3rd Committee, held on Monday, 16 October 1995, New York, General Assembly, 50th session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/50/SR.10
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 50th
Type Document

17 p.

Subjects Ageing Persons, Youth, Persons with Disabilities, Family, Poverty Mitigation

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
10th meeting
held on
Monday, 16 October 1995
at 10 a.m.
New York
Chairman: Mr. TSHERING (Bhutan)
later: Mrs. TAVARES ALVAREZ (Dominican Republic)
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.
30 November 1995
95-81596 (E) /...
Page 2
The meeting was called to order at 10.25 a.m.
(continued) (A/50/84-E/1995/12, A/50/114, A/50/156, A/50/163, A/50/181-
E/1995/65, A/50/215-S/1995/475, A/50/254-S/1995/501, A/50/370, A/50/374,
A/50/425-S/1995/787, A/50/454, A/50/473; A/CONF.166/9)
1. Ms. JANKEY (Botswana) said that the needs of young people must be taken
into account in national economic and social development programmes particularly
in view of the many pressing youth problems (unemployment, drug and alcohol
abuse, teenage pregnancy and health-related problems such as HIV/AIDS), which,
if not attended to adequately, could lead them to anti-social activities.
Governments and the international community should take appropriate and
effective measures to deal with the problems of youth, such as involving them in
decision-making at the local, national and international levels and executing
development programmes. Young people must have the necessary education and
skills. To achieve precisely that objective, Botswana had committed itself to
promoting universal access to education up to junior secondary level and had
adopted in 1994 new policies on education aimed at increasing access to both the
secondary and tertiary levels of education. While it was the obligation of
Governments and individuals to help young people develop and participate in the
life of society, the international community should provide assistance in that
2. Mrs. ROHANI ABDUL KARIM (Malaysia) noted with satisfaction that the world
programme of action for youth should make it possible to give them the necessary
skills and a sense of social responsibility and said that the tenth anniversary
of International Youth Year was an opportunity for the Malaysian Government to
reaffirm its commitment to respond to the needs and aspirations of Malaysian
youth and that the elaboration of the world programme of action for youth
towards the year 2000 and beyond was of great importance.
3. Of the 1 billion young people in the world, 84 per cent were in developing
countries, and over 60 per cent of them were in Asia. No one could ignore the
socio-economic implications of that phenomenon since, in many parts of the
world, particularly developing countries, unemployment was increasing and there
was a lack of resources for social services and education. That situation, if
left unchecked, could have disastrous consequences for young people, who might
then be drawn into juvenile delinquency, crime and drug abuse. Accordingly,
youth in developing countries required better health care and access to better
education, training, technical assistance and, above all, credit.
4. Although the problems of youth were paramount, problems affecting older
persons, whose relative and absolute population size was increasing, should not
be neglected. In accordance with her country’s philosophy of a caring society,
Malaysia had focused, within the framework of its national development
programme, Vision 2020, on the needs of the ageing; and services relating to
health, housing and transportation had already been instituted.
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5. Malaysia had undertaken programmes in the area of treatment,
rehabilitation, training and education to encourage self-reliance among the
disabled. The United Nations should strengthen its cooperation with
non-governmental organizations in identifying the needs of disabled persons with
regard to training and training methods and should continue to implement its
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities. Malaysia would welcome additional information which facilitated
the implementation of the Rules.
6. Her country recognized that the International Year of the Family in 1994
had made it possible to reaffirm the importance of the family, whose increasing
disintegration was leading to a breakdown of people’s ability to cope and its
consequences: crime, child abuse, violence against women, trafficking in women
and children for the sex trade, substance abuse, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, divorce,
abandoned babies and old people, increased mental illness and so forth. The
time had come to return to family life and values and strengthen the institution
of the family by adopting policies that would enable families and each of their
members to manage economic and social change positively.
7. Mr. ADAWA (Kenya) noted the historical importance of the World Summit for
Social Development and said that for full and effective implementation of the
commitments made during the various recent United Nations conferences, the
industrialized countries and international development assistance agencies
should help finance the corresponding programmes in the developing countries,
particularly, sub-Saharan African countries. In that connection, Kenya welcomed
the inclusion of an additional General Assembly agenda item entitled
"Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development", and
would actively participate in the discussion on it.
8. Kenya firmly believed that since people and their social needs should be at
the centre of development, priority should be given to the eradication of
poverty, the elimination of obstacles to economic and social development, the
expansion of productive employment and the creation of a favourable
international economic and social environment. While the Government of Kenya
was firmly committed to its economic reform process, including the structural
adjustment programmes, its reforms included measures to protect the poor and
vulnerable persons. For that reason, his delegation continued to urge the
international community to improve the social situation in Africa by taking an
integrated and comprehensive approach to development as the most effective
strategy for the eradication of poverty, designing structural adjustment
programmes which took into account the social dimensions of development and
aimed in particular to protect vulnerable population groups, endeavouring to
find a lasting solution to the debt burden (by reducing or cancelling the
bilateral and multilateral debts of low-income countries, particularly those in
Africa), allocating new resources to accelerate social development (not merely
reallocating existing ones), and increasing productivity through wider and more
intensive use of science and technology for sustainable development.
9. In order to protect the poor from the adverse effects of its economic
reforms, the Kenyan Government had allocated 5.58 billion Kenya shillings in its
1994-1995 budget to address the social dimensions of development. While that
amount was far from the magnitude of funds required, Kenya warmly thanked the
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international community, non-governmental organizations and the private sector
for the financial support that they had provided for that purpose. Furthermore,
Kenya would continue to ensure that the resources allocated for the social
dimensions of development would be increased at the national level and called on
the international community and international agencies to continue their
assistance in that endeavour.
10. With regard to youth, Kenya welcomed the decision by the General Assembly
under resolution 49/152 to devote plenary meetings to mark the tenth anniversary
of International Youth Year and to consider, with a view to adopting, the world
programme of action for youth towards the year 2000 and beyond. Concerned at
the numerous problems confronting Kenyan youth, his Government would seek,
during the current development plan for the period 1994-1996, to establish a
comprehensive national youth development policy, set up financial support for
education and training opportunities for young people and accelerate the selfhelp
income-generating projects for youth. In addition, the National Youth
Service, which had been established in 1963, would receive greater assistance in
order to expand its training programmes, since technical training institutes had
been given the necessary support to train youth to take jobs in the informal
sectors and actively participate in the development and promotion of small-scale
11. The international community had passed various measures to benefit older
persons, such as the International Plan of Action on Ageing. Kenya was
therefore assisting the United Nations programme on ageing and the African
Society of Gerontology to develop and implement a regional programme of
activities on ageing. As in most developing countries with a large rural
population older persons in Kenya had thus far been cared for by their families,
with whom they had traditionally strong ties. Those ties were being eroded as a
result of increasing rural migration, and the Government had had to enlist the
assistance of non-governmental organizations as well as religious institutions
to provide assistance to older persons in need.
12. With reference to disabled persons, Kenya had supported the adoption by the
General Assembly of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities and it welcomed the efforts made by United Nations
bodies to benefit that group. On the national level, the President of Kenya had
personally led a campaign to improve the situation of disabled persons and to
change attitudes towards them. The Government had put in place special
educational programmes for the disabled and had taken measures to facilitate
their participation in business and other income-generating activities.
13. With reference to the family, Kenya was strongly of the view that any
people-centred development must of necessity focus on the family. At its fortyseventh
session, the General Assembly had appealed to donors to pledge further
contributions to the Voluntary Fund for the International Year of the Family in
order to finance projects, particularly in developing countries. Kenya hoped
that appeal would be heeded and given the appropriate attention. Lastly, the
Government of Kenya was committed to improving the welfare of the Kenyan
population, and for that reason had worked over the years to reduce the high
rate of population increase through the Family Planning Association of Kenya.
Page 5
14. Mr. FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said that the World Summit for Social
Development deserved credit for putting man at the centre of the development
process. It was also important to establish how much economic policies and
models contributed to meeting the material and spiritual needs of the individual
at each stage of development. Economic success and democratic institutions were
irrelevant if millions of individuals were the victims of discrimination,
xenophobia, unemployment, or lacked proper shelter, and if tens of thousands of
children were dying of avoidable and curable diseases. The neoliberal doctrine,
by sacrificing health, education, culture and social security, had jeopardized
social and human development.
15. The priorities and objectives laid out in the Report on the World Social
Situation, 1993 (ST/ESA/235-E/1993/50/Rev.1) should be upheld, allowing for the
new realities and the problems encountered by mankind. Particular attention
should be given to the social situation of developing countries in order to
adopt concrete measures to make improvements. The report of the Secretary-
General on a conceptual framework of a programme for the preparation and
observance of the International Year of Older Persons in 1999 (A/50/114) which
was structured on several important themes, as well as the report on observance
of the International Year of the Family (A/50/370), merited close study.
16. The path to development based upon a just and equitable division of wealth
being pursued by Cuba had allowed it to make significant progress in regard to
health, education, employment, cultural development and social liberty. Cuba’s
experience demonstrated that not only could social development precede economic
development but that it could help to bring it about. It was for that reason
that Cuba hoped to see the gains of the World Summit for Social Development
17. Mrs. Tavares Alvarez (Dominican Republic), Vice-Chairman, took the Chair.
18. Ms. ZHANG Feng/Kun (China) said that the work done by the United Nations in
the area of social development had been remarkable in many respects,
particularly in regard to the issues of ageing and disability. The
international community and Governments had made significant progress in
implementing the International Plan of Action on Ageing since its adoption in
1982. The problem of an ageing population was a general phenomenon from which
China was not exempt; indeed, it had the largest population of older persons in
the world. The Chinese Government had therefore set a number of objectives in
order to guarantee older persons the medical care which would allow them to
contribute to the development of society and to live happily. Several measures
had been adopted to look after their interests and meet specific goals. Each
year on 9 September of the lunar calendar, China observed the day of respect for
older persons, which was the occasion of many activities in their honour. China
was therefore pleased to welcome the conceptual framework of a programme for the
preparation and observance of the International Year of Older Persons in 1999.
19. China, attached great importance to the question of disabled persons, and
was convinced that implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities would make it possible to improve the situation of
that disadvantaged group. In her view, additional resources should be mobilized
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by the United Nations system to further implement the Rules. For its part,
China had endeavoured to realize the objectives of equality, participation and
common sharing. The needs of persons with disabilities were taken into account
in planning for social and economic development, and practical measures had been
adopted to improve their situation, particularly in the areas of rehabilitation,
medical care, education and employment. The Government had also provided
underdeveloped regions with specially earmarked funds to help persons with
disabilities to receive training and employment. In addition, China had passed
a series of laws to protect their rights and interests.
20. As part of the International Year of the Family, China had organized
numerous activities, holding symposiums and raising public awareness of the
question. The Chinese delegation hoped that the United Nations would continue
to give the matter the attention it deserved.
21. Mr. CRAPATUREANU (Romania) said that he was pleased that, at the initiative
of the Danish delegation, the question of follow-up to the Copenhagen Summit
would be considered in plenary meetings, thereby providing an opportunity for a
fruitful exchange of views. The World Summit for Social Development had had as
its main focus a new social contract at the global level and the notion of
collective social responsibility. States should work together to ensure social
and economic development and adopt measures to favour democracy, social justice
and human rights. Such cooperation between developed and developing countries
should include the United Nations bodies, non-governmental organizations and the
international financial institutions. Economic and social progress and
development should be considered through an integrated approach which could lead
to concrete results. Romania, which was in search of a new model for
socio-economic development based on the values of democracy, law and respect for
human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as a free market economy, was
particularly interested in the follow-up to the Copenhagen Summit.
22. Against the background of the reforms which it had undertaken, Romania
proposed to create institutional structures that would allow it to decentralize
social protection by involving economic agents, the local public administration,
non-governmental organizations and charities, thereby focusing on the most
vulnerable zones and categories and encouraging the population to participate
directly in such action. Furthermore, in an effort to offer equal opportunities
to persons with disabilities in order to mobilize human resources and improve
the integration of marginalized groups, the Romanian Government had put in place
various arrangements giving them access to education, including at home, and
providing for medical care, medicines, free transportation and exemption from
many categories of taxes. The State secretariat for the handicapped was
responsible for the implementation of the Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Romania congratulated the Special
Rapporteur of the Commission for Social Development for the manner in which he
was implementing his mandate and encouraged him to continue in the same manner.
23. He recalled that all societies had a duty not only to look after their
elderly members by providing the geriatric care they needed but also to make the
most of their experience by encouraging them to participate actively in society.
The adoption of a conceptual framework of a programme for the preparation for
and observance of the International Year of Older Persons in 1999 showed how
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high the phenomenon of ageing ranked among the international community’s
24. Where the family was concerned, the Romanian Government had adopted a
series of policies to protect the family as the basic unit of society, in
particular from the social impact of the economic transition, with the
cooperation of the non-governmental organizations and the Romanian National
Committee for the International Year of the Family.
25. Since youth was the hope of every nation, it devolved on the family, the
Government and the international community to initiate efforts to allow young
people to develop and flourish. Romania hoped that the world programme of
action for youth to the year 2000 and beyond would provide an important
framework for guidance in youth matters.
26. Mr. GUBAREVICH (Belarus) considered that the large number and the
dimensions of social problems called in question the very bases of the progress
of civilization. His Government welcomed the fact that the international
community had admitted in the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that it
must provide assistance to the countries in transition in order to enable them
to deal with their social problems. The time had come for the bodies and
agencies of the United Nations system to take practical steps to make those
obligations a reality. His Government appreciated the work done by the
Commission on Social Development; it was convinced that its re-election to
membership of the Commission showed that the role it had played in the latter’s
work had been recognized.
27. There was no question that economic development should improve the social
situation of the population. While at the country level that task devolved on
the State, internationally it was incumbent on the United Nations. Regrettably,
he had to point out that it was precisely in socio-economic matters that the
United Nations revealed its greatest weakness, for its rhetoric exceeded its
actions. It would be desirable for the terms of reference of the Economic and
Social Council to be reinforced and for the Council to elaborate standards of
social development for the international community.
28. In the six months which had elapsed since the World Summit for Social
Development, social problems in Belarus had worsened. The gradual economic
reform which the transition to a market economy required was having adverse
repercussions on the population’s standard of living and particularly on the
most vulnerable sectors such as the disabled, elderly persons and young people.
Some persons even believed that more than half of the Belarusian population
lived below the poverty line. The growth of unemployment, currently standing at
2 per cent, was kept in check artificially by reducing the length of the working
day and the working week and by granting unpaid or part-paid holidays so that
concealed unemployment was six to eight times higher than the official figure.
It should also be pointed out that the birth rate had fallen by half.
29. A characteristic of Belarus was its ageing population, which was forcing
the Government to increase expenditure on retirement and medical assistance and
since 1994 had led it to train gerontologists and psychologists. In accordance
with the Programme of Action adopted at the World Summit for Social Development,
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Belarus had prepared a comprehensive programme for older persons. It fully
supported the holding of an International Year of Older Persons in 1999.
30. In endeavouring to resolve the problems of the disabled, whose numbers were
increasing substantially, Belarus was preparing, despite its economic
difficulties, to implement an overall programme for the prevention of disability
and the rehabilitation of the disabled and to promulgate laws in that regard.
Other countries in transition were encountering similar problems, and his
Government would like the United Nations to help train specialists in that area.
The Belarusian delegation welcomed the action taken by the Special Rapporteur to
follow up the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and hoped that the Member States of
the United Nations would adopt those Rules as the central principle of their
national strategies.
31. The serious economic difficulties facing Belarus were also having
repercussions on the family. A family allowances act did exist and families had
the right to various forms of tax relief. Many legal, educational,
psychological, medical and social problems remained to be solved, however.
Realizing that it would have to draft special programmes which would take the
needs of families into account, the Government of Belarus would be grateful if
countries which were more advanced in matters of social protection could help
it. His delegation was satisfied with the results of the International Year of
the Family and hoped that the United Nations would continue to implement the
programmes it had initiated in that connection.
32. Belarus was endeavouring to reform its inefficient economy while minimizing
the repercussions of that reform on the social sector. The social security
system inherited from the Soviet regime no longer met requirements and social
support needed to be re-targeted. The additional laws which had been
promulgated did not suffice to ensure that the population received better social
protection. While the social reforms the Government had attempted and the
stoicism of the population were helping to maintain a relative measure of
political stability, Belarus’ social problems, if left unresolved, could become
a matter of concern for the entire international community. Belarus thus
considered that the United Nations specialized agencies should support its
efforts in that area. Other than the social problems common to many countries,
Belarus had problems of its own deriving from the consequences of the Chernobyl
disaster. Nearly 2 million of its inhabitants had been subjected to radiation,
but because of the severe financial constraints it was experiencing, Belarus
could devote no more than 18 per cent of its budget to remedying the
consequences of the disaster. It was therefore in extreme need of assistance
from the international organizations, voluntary contribution funds and other
33. Belarus would do everything in its power to implement rapidly the Vienna
Declaration and Programme of Action, but it was having to face its many
difficulties alone. It was convinced that a global programme of assistance to
countries in transition needed to be adopted within the United Nations system;
such a programme would provide measures to create or improve social protection
systems under market economy conditions, set up an infrastructure for
environmental protection, job security and the health of the population, train
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and provide refresher courses for managerial staff in the context of a market
economy and eradicate poverty. Belarus would be grateful to the United Nations
for any measures which it might be able to take to alleviate, however little,
the social difficulties afflicting the people of Belarus.
34. Mr. ZIAUDDIN (Bangladesh) said that few concrete plans had emerged from the
elaborate Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit for
Social Development and that the follow-up to the Summit had thus far not been
encouraging. The general situation in the poorest countries continued to
deteriorate and social disintegration, poverty, hunger, unemployment, rising
crime and economic problems continued to retard social development and challenge
the achievement of social justice.
35. Social development was inevitably linked with economic development and
called for an integrated approach. For developing countries, particularly the
least developed among them, the necessary national efforts must be supplemented
and reinforced by adequate international support and resources; that depended
totally on the necessary political will.
36. In Bangladesh, social problems stemmed from poverty and poor economic
conditions. The promotion of social development through poverty alleviation,
employment generation and human resource development formed the cornerstone of
the national development effort. With a view to implementing an integrated
strategy for social and economic development, the current Government had
launched a new development perspective, and a major share of the development
budget was allocated to the social sector, with priority given to education,
health and population control. In order to promote social integration,
Bangladesh had set up special programmes for women, children, youth, disabled
and elderly persons and minorities focusing on reducing illiteracy (through
compulsory primary education, non-formal education and adult literacy programmes
and innovative schemes such as the food-for-education programme aimed at
reducing the drop-out rate), with special emphasis placed on the education of
the girl child. The Government had also undertaken innovative programmes to
alleviate poverty and, in particular, to address the feminization of poverty, in
cooperation with non-governmental organizations and through the regional
mechanisms of the South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.
37. Given the role of youth in bringing about social, economic and political
change, concerted action was needed to mobilize their creative potential for the
benefit of society. Accordingly, Bangladesh welcomed the formulation of the
World Programme of Action for Youth towards the Year 2000 and Beyond. In
Bangladesh, where young people comprised one third of the population, a national
youth policy had been adopted and programmes were being undertaken to promote
youth participation in various areas.
38. Bangladesh believed in the equalization of opportunities for disabled
persons and, despite its lack of means and resources, had launched special
assistance programmes and set quotas for housing and employment for disabled
persons. Although the problems relating to ageing were less acute in Bangladesh
than in other countries, largely because of its traditions and customs, the
country remained committed to implementing the International Plan of Action on
Ageing and had launched national action plans to ensure the full participation
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of the elderly in society. Bangladesh also welcomed the conceptual framework of
a programme for the observance of the International Year of Older Persons in
1999. Ensuring equality for minorities and other marginalized groups and
enabling them to participate fully in society remained priority objectives of
the country’s social integration and development efforts. Bangladesh also
considered that the role of the family as a means of social integration must be
recognized and revitalized.
39. Having intensified its efforts at the national and regional levels,
Bangladesh believed that it was now necessary to enhance cooperation between the
United Nations, its specialized agencies and the international financial
institutions and to strengthen existing United Nations social development
40. Ms. HORIUCHI (Japan) said that social development must be promoted in order
to ensure stability and prosperity in a world plagued by regional conflicts
which often arose because of poverty and social instability. Her country
therefore believed that the United Nations must tackle the social problems that
were of concern to the whole world. Her delegation would take up that matter in
greater detail when the General Assembly considered the follow-up to the World
Summit for Social Development, but believed that the agenda of the Third
Committee should reflect the progress made and the obstacles encountered in
implementing the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. Japan
supported the efforts of the United Nations to prepare a report on the world
social situation and urged that the report should take into account the review
and appraisal of the implementation of those instruments.
41. Her delegation supported in principle the draft framework for the 1997
Report on the World Social Situation contained in document A/50/84-E/1995/12.
Greater attention should, however, be given to human resource development and to
the issues of equality and equity. Poverty should be addressed in the context
of those major questions, which would form two separate clusters.
42. Her delegation would present its views on youth at the special meetings of
the General Assembly devoted to that question on 26 and 27 October.
43. Given that Japan was a rapidly ageing society (while persons aged 65 and
over had represented 14.1 per cent of the population in 1994, that figure was
expected to reach 25.5 per cent by the year 2020), the Japanese Government was
working vigorously to provide older persons with decent living conditions and
the opportunity to participate in society according to their abilities. A
target should be set for the year 2001 for the creation of community-based
programmes that would provide older persons with the care they needed and
encourage them to participate in society which they would enrich with their
skills and wisdom. The International Year of Older Persons, to be observed in
1999, would provide an opportunity for raising global awareness of that issue,
and Japan would strive to support the activities conducted by the United Nations
in connection with the Year.
44. The International Year of the Family, observed in 1994, and the recent
international conferences currently being followed up, had raised global
awareness of issues relating to the family. Consequently it was neither
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necessary nor wise to develop a new plan of action. It was Japan’s view that
within the family there should be respect for fundamental rights and the equal
status of all individuals, and that in formulating and implementing policies,
consideration should be given to the diverse forms the family might take and to
the changing pattern of family life. Japan was striving to promote equal
sharing of responsibilities between men and women and, as part of those efforts,
in 1995 it had ratified Convention 156 of the International Labour Organization
(ILO), which dealt with Workers with Family Responsibilities.
45. Japan welcomed the report prepared by the Special Rapporteur of the
Commission for Social Development on monitoring the implementation of the
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities (A/50/374). The Standard Rules must be implemented by Member
States within their national systems, particularly since, as the Special
Rapporteur had emphasized, they promoted more vigorously than did the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, the equalization of
opportunities for disabled persons, a goal to which the Japanese Government
attached special importance. Japan’s long-term programme for disabled persons,
formulated some years previously, had been revised in 1993 to focus on eight
major areas: public awareness, education and training, employment, health and
medicine, welfare, human environment, sports and recreation, culture and
international cooperation. There could be no doubt of Japan’s commitment to
implementing the World Programme of Action since in 1995 it had donated $100,000
to the United Nations Voluntary Fund for Disability.
46. Social development could not be achieved by Governments alone.
Non-governmental organizations and all international organizations should also
play an active part.
47. Mr. MINOVES-TRIQUEL (Andorra) said that at the World Summit for Social
Development, the heads of State and Government had made a commitment to reduce
disparities, eradicate poverty and foster social integration. Lately the idea
of security had a more personal meaning, with the individual now more concerned
with feeling safe, providing for the members of his family and community and
obtaining education for them. On the principle that all social development was
people-centred, the Principality of Andorra had proposed adding to the
Copenhagen Declaration a commitment, later adopted at the Summit, encouraging
dialogue, concerted action and participation by all in the work of building a
harmonious society.
48. Andorra was very concerned by unemployment among young people, who were the
world’s hope, for unemployment swept them towards poverty, drugs and crime. The
situation was still more troubling in the developing countries, where the labour
pool would increase by 2.3 per cent annually over the next 10 years,
necessitating the creation of about 260 million new jobs. That fact must be
taken into account in the follow-up to the World Summit and a way must be found
to integrate the new generations into the labour force without thereby
destroying opportunities for the less young who had long been part of it. In
that connection, Andorra welcomed with satisfaction the decision of the General
Assembly to declare 1999 as the International Year of Older Persons. The needs
of the disabled must also be borne in mind, guaranteeing their integration into
the labour force by creating an environment in which they could thrive. Men and
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women must come to be valued for their unique qualities and their specific
49. Lastly, Andorra attached great importance to the Convention on the Rights
of the Child, which its Minister for Foreign Affairs had recently signed in New
York and its Parliament was preparing to ratify. The implementation of the
Convention and the Copenhagen commitments would ensure the health and welfare of
children, but that would require the United Nations to become a stronger body,
more aware of the challenges before it on the issue of security, especially in
the social sector.
50. Ms. ENKHTSETSEG (Mongolia) said that the possibility of a peaceful
existence was no longer a certainty for the human family, which was in the grips
of poverty, uprootedness, hunger and malnutrition, violence and discrimination,
rising crime, drug addiction and infectious disease. In Copenhagen, the leaders
of the nations participating in the World Summit for Social Development had
recognized that those social ills were indeed a source of tension both within
and among States, and they had pledged to make the conquest of poverty, the
generation of productive employment and the fostering of safe and just societies
their overriding goals. Mongolia hoped that the consideration by the General
Assembly of agenda item 161 on the implementation of the outcome of the World
Summit would provide fresh impetus to the follow-up at both national and
international levels.
51. Her delegation, an original sponsor of the International Literacy Year,
attached particular importance to the issue of education and literacy. During
the observances of the International Year, national committees established in
118 countries had helped to mobilize public opinion and promote action by
Governments and non-governmental organizations to promote education and combat
illiteracy. It was more than symbolic that 1990 was also the year in which the
number of the world’s illiterate adults had stabilized. The objective of
worldwide literacy was still now a top priority for the international community,
since education was viewed less as a sectoral concern or a social service than
as an engine for progress.
52. It was clear from the report of the Secretary-General and the Director
General of the United Nations Economic, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) on the progress made and problems encountered in the struggle against
illiteracy (A/50/181) that significant advances had been registered in the rise
of literacy rates, the number of literate adults and school enrolment in many
parts of the world. That progress was even more gratifying because it had come
to embrace many developing countries, especially in East Asia, Latin America and
the Caribbean, which had achieved approximately 90-per-cent literacy.
53. The same report, however, did not disguise the problems that still
persisted: more than one adult in five was illiterate; more than three
illiterates in five were women; and 129 million children of primary-school age
were not in school - all of which required more effective mobilization at both
the national and international levels.
54. Mongolia commended UNESCO for having pursued a unified approach to the
follow-up to the International Literacy Year and the World Conference on
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Education for All, whose common purpose had been to eradicate illiteracy and
make education accessible to everyone.
55. Her delegation intended to submit a draft resolution on further cooperation
in achieving education for all.
56. Mr. SALEH (Bahrain) said that the item under consideration was important
because the human being was at the centre of social development. Social
development aimed to improve the human situation, and in that sense it was
behind all progress and all development, including economic development.
57. Development must guarantee the individual a clean and safe environment, and
also the right to employment, education and health. It must also guarantee
people the means of participating in the life of their community.
58. When adopting social development policies, not only must those closely
interrelated issues be borne in mind, but also all sectors of the population
must be made to participate in social development.
59. Given the central position of the family in society, its well-being was
indispensable to that of society. That said, Bahrain’s interest in the family
was not dictated by social considerations but by cultural, religious and moral
imperatives. His country offered all the conditions needed to allow the family
to live honourably while following social customs and social and religious
60. With regard to the report of the Secretary-General on the observance of the
International Year of the Family (A/50/370), Bahrain welcomed the efforts made
by United Nations institutions and bodies to enhance the role of the family and
guarantee the conditions for its social well-being. Private and governmental
bodies in Bahrain participated in the 1994 observances of the International Year
through activities intended to support the role of the family in society. By
also participating in all conferences organized by the United Nations in recent
years, Bahrain had enhanced its achievements in the area of family protection
and social welfare.
61. It sought to protect all members of the family at all stages of their
lives. For instance, article 5 (b) of its 1973 Constitution stipulated that the
State guaranteed the social well-being of all its nationals and especially the
elderly, the sick, the orphaned or widowed, and the unemployed. Its social
security laws guaranteed social coverage for the elderly or the sick who for
various reasons were not entitled to the social protection offered by the State.
Moreover, as a result of its Arab tradition, the problem of the elderly did not
arise at all in Bahrain as it did elsewhere. In Bahrain, older persons were
well treated and respected by their families, who set great store by their
62. With regard to youth, Bahrain was attempting to educate a new generation
capable of promoting social development. Cultural, scientific and sports
centres had been built in order to give young people all the necessary means to
play a useful role in society.
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63. Bahrain also attached great importance to the welfare of persons with
disabilities. It had built a national rehabilitation centre for the disabled
and sought to provide them with every facility for full participation in
64. The World Summit for Social Development had set forth principles which
countries should apply according to their individual cultural characteristics in
order to develop international cooperation in the field of social development.
Bahrain was following with interest the activities carried out to implement the
Declaration adopted in Copenhagen, promote social development and mobilize the
international community to achieve sustainable economic and social progress.
65. Mrs. MESDOUA (Algeria) said that not only were the benefits of mankind’s
vast scientific and technical progress not always equitably distributed, but the
gap between the haves and the have-nots was widening, both between and within
countries. In a world were nations were becoming ever more tightly
interconnected, only a joint effort by developed and developing countries could
remedy that deterioration of the social situation and lead to tangible results
in the field of development in general and social development in particular.
66. Having restored the social dimension to its rightful place in the
development process and emphasized the urgent need for better linkage between
economic and social factors in national and international policies, the
Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit for Social
Development constituted a real charter for social development which should
inspire action on the part of States and United Nations agencies to establish,
in close partnership with the Bretton Woods institutions, genuine ties of
cooperation for sustainable economic and social development, of which the
government agencies were another mainstay.
67. The problems of poverty, unemployment and social disintegration could not
be solved without economic growth and democracy. Algeria was convinced that it
was through such solutions that it would achieve development and national
harmony and resolve the complex crisis facing it.
68. The 1989 Constitution legally guarantees all members of society the
fundamental rights of the individual, social justice, and political equity in a
climate of respect for pluralism and diversity. In so doing, it allowed for
active cooperation involving the State, local communities, the private sector
and civil society.
69. From an economic standpoint, Algeria, determined to undergo a painful but
fruitful apprenticeship in the fight against underdevelopment, had undertaken an
in-depth restructuring of its economic system in order to prepare for the
passage from a centralized economy to one responsive to market forces. It was
within that framework that the Algerian Government had taken measures regarding
employment, the education of youth, the creation of small individual
enterprises, and the setting up of a social protection network that would make
it possible to offset the negative effects of the necessary structural
adjustment programme. Yet all those measures, together with those taken by
other developing countries, could bear fruit only with a return to national
growth and the creation of a favourable international economic environment. The
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international community must recognize the need for action based on respect for
the right of all the Earth’s inhabitants to development and dignity.
70. Mr. KIRKLAND (United States of America) said that implementation of the
Programme of Action adopted at the World Summit for Social Development was
primarily the responsibility of individual Governments, to be carried out
through programmes designed specifically to meet their countries’ needs. Since
many countries, particularly African countries or those classified as less
developed, were dependent for such activities on bilateral and multilateral
assistance, Governments had agreed in the Copenhagen Declaration to complement
structural adjustment programmes by enhancing targeted social development
investment lending and orienting their sustainable development policies towards
the creation of new productive employment in both the rural and urban sectors.
In order to create employment, they had agreed to promote free markets and
international cooperation in the areas of macroeconomic policy and
liberalization of trade and investment. The success of those policies depended
heavily on the existence of a strong and democratic civil society based on the
universal principle of freedom of assembly and association, free of control by
the State or political parties.
71. In that regard, the international financial institutions, specifically the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and United Nations
agencies, particularly the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had
already begun to examine ways of integrating social development programmes into
structural adjustment plans. His delegation felt that it would be logical to
call upon UNDP to coordinate multilateral assistance within country-specific
72. Since global budgetary constraints gave no hope that new and additional
resources would be allocated for social development, Governments would have to
make hard choices and shift some existing resources to programmes whose success
had already been proved. The United Nations would also have to make the most
efficient use of the resources available for social development and for all of
its other programmes. Reform of the Organization was one of the major goals of
his delegation as the United Nations marked its fiftieth anniversary.
73. Convinced that social development must mobilize the most valuable
resource - people - in order to improve the life of every individual, the United
States was committed to ensuring equal opportunity for all, including persons
with disabilities, youth and older persons. It fully supported the Standard
Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the
efforts of the Special Rapporteur to monitor implementation of those Rules.
74. On the tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year, his delegation
believed that youth, on which the future of all societies depended, must be
protected from the dangers of society - disease, drugs, pollution,
discrimination, homelessness, violence and war - and must be able to grow up in
an environment that opened the doors of society to it. To that end, youth must
have access to basic education regardless of gender, age or social or economic
background. It would then be possible to achieve - before the year 2000, if
possible - the goal of eradicating illiteracy.
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75. The future must be prepared by helping youth, but older persons must also
be helped to contribute to the present by finally tapping their knowledge and
skills. In anticipation of the International Year of Older Persons to be
observed in 1999, the United States strongly supported any programmes which used
the skills of the able, just as much as it supported programmes which sought to
protect the vulnerable.
76. The Fourth World Conference on Women had underlined the need to strengthen
the family, within which parents must be able to shelter, nourish and educate
their children, particularly the girl child. The United States delegation
supported any such initiative leading to full and complete participation of all
members of the family in society.
77. Mr. HOUANSOU (Benin) said that the unprecedented upheavals which the
international community had experienced had led it to look more closely at
social questions. The Secretary-General’s interim report on the world social
situation (A/50/84) was both a summary of current trends and a preliminary draft
for the 1997 report on the same subject.
78. The globalization of the economy brought with it many drawbacks. The
positive effects of the structural adjustment programmes were late in making
themselves felt and those programmes had instead led to a partial fragmentation
of the social sector and a rise in unemployment and crime. In fact, programmes
to combat poverty and hunger and to improve health conditions, quality of
housing, environmental sanitation and education had had to take second place to
the requirements of structural adjustment, to such a degree that development
priorities must be redefined. The conditions under which the right to
development was realized must be rethought, even if that meant starting with a
clean slate and abandoning the contemporary economic order which prevented
two thirds of humanity from meeting their fundamental needs.
79. In the future social development must be an integral part of sustainable
development as defined at the Rio Earth Summit: development with a human face.
However, one must go beyond the collective awareness reflected in the Secretary-
General’s report to examine the sad fact, acknowledged at the Fourth United
Nations Conference on Women, that inaction led to stagnation and even
backsliding. Rhetoric must be replaced by action, effectively applying the
declarations and programmes of action adopted at the closing of the various
conferences organized by the United Nations during that decade; that should
contribute to the economic and social development of the developing countries
and to achieving sustainable development in general.
80. Conflicts and natural catastrophes were creating increasing numbers of
handicapped persons. Benin was applying the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons and the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities at the national level by taking
steps to assist the least privileged members of society in the areas of
prevention, rehabilitation and reinsertion.
81. The challenge of social development would be met only if all States
succeeded in integrating children and young people - the future of the world,
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women - players in sustainable development, older persons - the wisdom of the
world, and the family in the social development process in all its aspects.
82. He mentioned the phenomenon of racism, racial and ethnic discrimination,
xenophobia and other contemporary forms of intolerance which were spreading
among young people and also deplored the use of children and young people as
combat soldiers, a practice which constituted a real threat to world peace and
could be countered only by improving education and awareness. To do so, States
must accede without reservation to the various international instruments related
to human rights.
83. Mr. COLOMA (Chile) noted with interest the Secretary-General’s report on
the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities (A/50/374). With the appointment of a Special
Rapporteur and the creation of a panel of experts to monitor the implementation
of the Rules, there was no doubt that the necessary organizational framework had
been put into place, which should encourage Governments to budget sufficient
funds to apply the Rules at the national level.
84. As the Secretary-General had indicated in his report on the conceptual
framework of a programme for the preparation and observance of the International
Year of Older Persons (A/50/114), at the beginning of the twenty-first century
one person in four would be over the age of 60. In Chile, for example, in 1959
47 per cent of the population had been under 20, whereas in the year 2025 they
would probably represent only about 31 per cent of the population. The ageing
of the population had reached such a level that it was modifying the social and
economic structure of countries and had to be taken into account in planning
development, especially in the areas of unemployment, production costs and new
patterns of global demand.
85. In addition, it must be remembered that, on the personal level, ageing was
synonymous with impoverishment in most developing countries where pensions were
minimal. And, because of unemployment among young people, it was often
difficult to have older persons play a role in society, making their situation
even more tenuous in societies where only work granted social status.
86. Chile expressed its satisfaction that the International Plan of Action on
Ageing had brought about greater awareness of the importance of that problem and
welcomed the drafting of a timetable of work up until the year 2001 which, along
with the plan, should help create the opportunities for dialogue necessary for
making the importance of older persons in the transmission of values and in
family life better understood, and for making the concept of productive ageing
one of the key elements in national and international development plans and
The meeting rose at 12.50 p.m.