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Summary record of the 4th meeting : 3rd Committee, held on Tuesday, 15 October 1996, New York, General Assembly, 51st session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/51/SR.4
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 51st
Type Document

21 p.

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Youth, Ageing Persons, Family

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
4th meeting
held on
Tuesday, 15 October 1996
at 3 p.m.
New York
Chairman: Mrs. ESPINOSA (Mexico)
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.
13 December 1996
96-81421 (E) /...
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The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.
(continued) (A/51/3 (Parts I and II), A/51/87, A/51/208-S/1996/543, A/51/210,
A/51/267; A/C.3/51/4)
1. Mr. CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that social disintegration, poverty,
hunger, unemployment, crime and the unfavourable international economic
environment continued to retard social development. There was need for a
renewed commitment at both the national and international levels to tackle
social problems. His country sought to promote social development through
poverty eradication, job creation and human resources development. Its
development programmes were designed to meet the basic needs of the population
and promote self-reliance. A major share of Bangladesh’s development budget was
allocated to the social sector, with the highest priority given to education,
health and population control.
2. His country’s social development strategies included special programmes for
enhancing the status of women, children, youth, the disabled, the elderly and
minorities. Full participation by minorities and other marginalized groups
remained a priority. In that regard, mention should be made of the active
involvement of the civil society and non-governmental organizations. Bangladesh
supported the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the
Year 2000 and Beyond, which would require a firm commitment by Governments and
the international community at the national, regional and international levels.
His delegation would appreciate information on programmes being undertaken by
United Nations agencies to support the efforts of Governments to implement the
World Programme.
3. His country’s national youth policy set forth programmes to promote the
participation of youth in education, skills development, employment and
community-development activities. Special emphasis had been placed on ensuring
the active participation of girls and young women. The equalization of
opportunities for disabled persons was essential. In spite of its lack of
resources, Bangladesh had special assistance programmes for people with
disabilities. His Government fully supported the statement made by Costa Rica
at the previous meeting on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on the question
of ageing, and remained committed to the International Plan of Action on Ageing.
It had adopted national plans to ensure observance of the rights of the elderly
and welcomed the programme for observing the International Year of Older Persons
in 1999.
4. Turning to the role of cooperatives, outlined in the Secretary-General’s
report (A/51/267), he said that Bangladesh had a well-developed cooperative
movement in the spheres of rural development, poverty eradication, and
empowerment of poor and disadvantaged women and persons without assets. The
potential of cooperatives should be utilized in attaining social development
goals and there should be increased participation at the regional and
international levels. There was a need for greater coordination in the field of
social development between the United Nations, its specialized agencies and the
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international financial institutions. United Nations programmes should be
strengthened in order to play a catalytic role in social development at the
national level. The Economic and Social Council should play a more pro-active
role in harnessing the resources available to the functional commissions.
Lastly, the Commission for Social Development should be further strengthened to
enable it to monitor the achievement of social development goals.
5. Mr. ADAWA (Kenya) said that his country attached great importance to
eradicating poverty, expanding productive employment, and promoting social
integration, the advancement of women and respect for human rights. National
and international action should give priority to eliminating the obstacles to
development, promoting employment and creating a favourable international
economic and social environment. His Government’s first priority was to
maintain a stable macroeconomic framework, while continuing structural reforms
to accelerate economic growth. Far-reaching adjustment policies had been put
into place to support growth and integrate social sectors, benefiting the poor
and other vulnerable groups, such as youth and women. Current programmes
encompassed welfare and basic services, skills development, employment and job
creation, rural development and environmental conservation.
6. Kenya’s welfare and basic services programmes included immunization and the
provision of essential drugs to health centres, and nutrition-support programmes
for children under five years and for expectant and lactating mothers. His
Government had launched national programmes to provide income support, promote
self-employment and develop small enterprises through skills upgrading, access
to electricity and water, and marketing. Kenya had given priority to education
and health and actively pursued a population control policy.
7. The cooperative movement had played an important role in raising living
standards. His Government had strengthened the capacity of cooperatives for
setting up sustainable enterprises to create employment and generate income.
Kenya supported the World Programme of Action for Youth and had set up
programmes to implement the priorities identified in the Programme. The
international donor community and non-governmental organizations should provide
financial support for the Programme. Kenya had also taken measures for the
implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities (General Assembly resolution 50/144, annex), and was
grateful for the generous assistance provided for its vocational and
rehabilitation programmes.
8. Mrs. MARTINEZ (Ecuador) said that her Government, in its efforts to promote
social development, had signed important multilateral and bilateral agreements
for exchanging information on problems relating to youth, older persons, the
disabled and the family. The right to development, including social
development, was a universal human right. Both developed and developing
countries must assume the responsibility to foster social development. Her
Government had established programmes to assist the most vulnerable sectors of
society and had enacted legislation specifically designed to protect their
9. Her country’s plan of action on gerontology included guidelines from the
International Plan of Action on Ageing and provided for the participation of
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State, municipal and private bodies. With regard to disabled persons, the
National Council for the Disabled sought to coordinate all efforts by public and
private institutions to provide training and counselling. The National Bureau
for Youth coordinated activities by private and public organizations relating to
the problems encountered by young people. Lastly, she stressed that that
important effort must be supported by the competent international agencies.
10. Mr. HUIJSMANS (Netherlands), speaking as his country’s youth
representative, said that the United Nations tended to portray young people in a
one-sided manner as homemakers and builders of families. But young people were
politically committed; they were capable of assuming responsibilities and
shaping their own lives. With their energy and vision, they could make a longterm
contribution to world peace. The United Nations should offer opportunities
to the young and enable them to play a full role in the life of society. A
charter on the rights of youth was necessary in order to give young people a
voice and empower them through personal responsibility.
11. There were situations where the rights of young people were continuously
violated. In many developing countries, particularly in Asia, those in
authority placed greater emphasis on economic development than on the
development of democracy. Over the years, young people and students had played
a significant role in the pro-democracy movements in Thailand, South Korea, the
Philippines, China, Myanmar and, most recently, Indonesia. In some of those
countries, students had been prohibited from dealing with political or social
questions. If they demonstrated in public, they ran the risk of arrest and
interrogation with the use of intimidation and violence. Those were flagrant
violations of the basic right of young people to concern themselves with
important social issues, such as improving the situation of landless peasants
and workers. The authorities concerned should enter into dialogue with the
various groups in their societies, particularly students.
12. The conscription of children for armed conflicts was shocking. The United
Nations should take immediate measures to ban the recruitment of children and to
demobilize child soldiers, helping them to resume their education and lead
normal lives. A working group was elaborating a draft optional protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to raise the minimum age at which
children might become involved in armed conflicts and for voluntary recruitment
in the armed services. He hoped that the draft protocol would be adopted and
implemented as speedily as possible and that stricter rules would prohibit the
use of child soldiers.
13. The United Nations should view young people as active participants in
solving problems, not just as victims. Member States could be instrumental in
that regard by guaranteeing the rights of young people and providing them with
greater opportunities. The Organization could increase the number of young
trainees in United Nations agencies and could target development aid for
projects run for and by young people.
14. Mrs. GITTENS-JOSEPH (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the 13
Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) that were members of the
United Nations, said that in spite of progress made in recent years, profound
social problems continued to exist. That challenge must be met in a
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comprehensive manner in order to mitigate the problems that threatened to
disintegrate the social fabric. In the Caribbean region, much was being done to
promote family life and support the family as the basic social unit. Preventive
and remedial programmes had been introduced to meet the needs of the family,
emphasizing the responsibilities of individual family members, the important
role of parents, the need to balance work and family commitments, the protection
and development of children, and counselling and support services. Family
courts had become a reality in some countries and a family code for the region
was expected to be finalized soon.
15. Since there were many female-headed families in the Caribbean region, the
empowerment of women in the economic, social and political spheres was
particularly important. Efforts were being made to lay down a regional policy
on gender equality and social justice. Improving the economic position of women
was especially important in that regard. The neglect and exploitation of
children and the growing phenomenon of street children caused grave concern.
Initiatives are under way to address the problem of street children by providing
counselling and reuniting children with their families. The Caribbean Community
had initiated a series of youth consultations, with the emphasis on
participation by young people, in order to develop a regional youth policy and
plan of action. The World Programme of Action for Youth would be useful for
Caribbean countries as they tackled the problems affecting youth in the region.
Measures were being taken to deal with anti-social behaviour by young people and
reduce the high level of youth unemployment.
16. Many CARICOM member States intended to participate fully in the
International Year of Older Persons by undertaking projects that would benefit
the elderly. Many Caribbean countries were formulating national policies to
involve senior citizens in national development and integrate them into society.
There were various programmes throughout the region to expand opportunities for
the elderly and improve their situation through social welfare and public health
reforms. Governments and non-governmental organizations cooperated to provide
social services, counselling, recreational activities and medical care. Family
and community support was encouraged. The CARICOM member States were also
taking steps to implement the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
Persons, in order to improve the situation of people with disabilities. Some
countries had introduced financial assistance for the disabled, such as monthly
disability assistance grants to needy persons unable to earn an adequate income.
17. The cooperative movement in the Caribbean region was a vibrant economic
institution. Cooperatives served as a catalyst in addressing critical needs and
had assisted in developing an entrepreneurial culture, especially among
disadvantaged groups. Some countries were carrying out national policies for
cooperatives to make the sector more sustainable and integrate it with other
economic and social sectors. Initiatives were under way to amend legislation to
promote cooperative programmes oriented towards job creation, productivity,
foreign exchange earnings and savings, and education relating to cooperatives.
18. Mrs. BENNANI-AKHAMLICH (Morocco) noted that the series of world conferences
organized by the United Nations in the 1990s had drawn attention to problems
affecting children, women, the environment, population, employment, education,
health, nutrition and habitat. The success of the programmes of action adopted
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at those conferences rested on the political will of national leaders to fulfil
their commitments to the developing countries. Improved utilization of
development resources continued to be a key issue. Development goals must be
fully implemented by Governments in collaboration with the United Nations
system, international financial institutions, non-governmental organizations and
the international community. Development cooperation must be set up between
developed and developing countries for those goals to be attained.
International assistance was vital to support the efforts of the developing
countries, particularly African and least developed countries. Assistance
provided by developed countries would be beneficial to the donor countries
themselves and would contribute to the socio-economic development of the entire
19. A country’s ability to satisfy the needs of its population rested upon
political stability, positive social indicators, economic competition and
scientific and technological progress. Her delegation welcomed the recent
adoption by the Economic and Social Council of a resolution increasing the
membership of the Commission for Social Development and annualizing its
sessions, and hoped that sufficient resources would be provided for the work of
the Commission. Taking account of the major contribution made to social
development by the cooperative movement, the United Nations should help
cooperatives in developing countries by providing all-round assistance.
20. In 1992 the Moroccan people had voted to amend the Constitution, in order
to give priority to the well-being of its citizens. An economic and social
council had been created to implement the constitutional provision that all
Moroccan citizens had the right to education and employment. Owing to economic
difficulties, Morocco had been obliged to adopt a restructuring policy in 1983.
Although economic growth over the past 10 years had produced positive effects,
it had not benefited the whole population. The Government had therefore adopted
a national social plan which would be especially beneficial to people in rural
areas, and comprised measures for health care, education, electrification,
drinking water, sanitation and housing. Particular emphasis was being placed on
the protection of the family, which was the natural environment for the wellbeing
of all members of society. Programmes had been created for the
integration of women, the education of girl children, and the protection of
young people, the elderly and persons with disabilities. Encouraging results
had also been achieved in the area of family planning.
21. Her delegation hoped that the Secretary-General’s special initiative for
Africa would mobilize the entire international community to contribute as
generously as possible to economic and social recovery in Africa.
22. Mr. DONOKUSUMO (Indonesia) said that the Secretary-General’s report on
cooperatives (A/51/267) underlined their importance in providing economic
opportunities to the less advantaged and in alleviating poverty. However, more
information concerning the impact on cooperatives of the overall world economic
situation would have made the report more comprehensive.
23. Indonesia had long supported the use of cooperatives as a means of
empowering the poor and providing them with a vehicle to contribute to national
development as well as to enhance their individual situations. As part of the
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follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in
March 1995, due consideration should be given to supporting the role of
cooperatives. Governments, international financial institutions and other
international organizations should further promote policies enabling small
enterprises, cooperatives and other forms of micro-enterprises to develop their
capacities for income generation and employment creation.
24. Indonesia had made considerable efforts to improve the management of its
cooperatives and to promote them as viable institutions. Education and training
were being provided to their members in order to enhance their professionalism
and give them the essential managerial and marketing skills. By 1994, there had
been a total cooperative membership in Indonesia of nearly 25 million people.
The Government would continue to extend the necessary support to cooperatives,
which were considered to be a central mechanism for national development. The
President of Indonesia had recently said that small businesses and cooperatives
could participate in national development through strategic partnerships with
large companies, and had called for better cooperation between farmers and
private companies to develop industries that could add value to agricultural
products. The objective was to improve the management of agro-industries,
diversify food products and increase their competitiveness.
25. He reiterated his Government’s support for the Copenhagen Declaration on
Social Development and the Programme of Action, and its determination to work at
all levels towards its full implementation.
26. Mr. REZVANI (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that, despite substantial
global economic and social progress, much suffering still prevailed in different
parts of the world. More than 1.3 billion people lived in poverty and
unacceptable conditions. Although the gap between rich and poor countries
persistently widened, they faced common problems such as high rates of
unemployment and social disintegration. Compounding such problems were threats
to global integration, peace and security, crime, violence, conflict and war.
Much remained to be done to improve the quality of life for a large number of
people in the world.
27. The past few years had seen international efforts to redefine social
development concepts as well as social and economic strategies; at the World
Summit for Social Development, issues such as poverty eradication, productive
employment and social integration had been addressed, and participants had
committed themselves to accord the highest priority to the promotion of social
progress worldwide. That entailed achieving justice and betterment of the human
condition in an environment conducive to participation by all. The World Summit
had explored innovative sources of financing, but there had been no concrete
action so far. The fulfilment of that task and of the other Summit goals
required political will, a favourable international atmosphere and access to
adequate resources and opportunities, particularly at the international level.
28. National efforts and resources alone would not suffice. Such challenges
called for an enabling international environment and financial support.
Prescriptions for national social integration should be equally applied at the
international level. Each State should have an equitable share in shaping the
international economic, social and political order. There was a need to forge
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international relations in which might and wealth did not generate rights and in
which international law was fully observed. The coercive economic measures
adopted by certain States against developing countries were inconsistent with
the Charter of the United Nations and the Copenhagen Declaration on Social
Development. Such measures impeded social development in developing countries.
Promotion of respect for the rule of law by all States, big and small, would
serve the interest of the international community as a whole.
29. His Government’s national development strategies and programmes were being
given a people-centred approach. Quality of life was a new focus of concern,
and a large portion of total public expenditure had been allocated to social
development and poverty alleviation, producing beneficial effects on social
30. Empowering the young with knowledge and resources, as well as meeting their
basic human needs, should be primary goals of national development. As their
individual development and social contribution would shape the future of the
world, investment in youth-related issues was the foundation for national
development. The Islamic Republic of Iran was embarking upon a wide range of
initiatives, such as the establishment of local youth commissions and the
allocation of appropriate funds.
31. Disabled persons had the inherent right to respect for their human dignity.
They should receive the support they needed within the ordinary structures of
education, health, employment, vocational training, and rehabilitation and
welfare services. They had the right to enjoy economic and social security, and
the same civil and political rights as other human beings. A government
department had been established to coordinate medical and social services and to
ensure the availability of jobs for persons with disabilities.
32. The strength and continuation of growth in societies depended on the
existence of healthy family patterns. The family should receive adequate
protection and support; its malfunction could be considered as the malfunction
of society as a whole.
33. The problem of ageing faced all societies. By the year 2025, older persons
would constitute 14 per cent of the global population, and new policies and
considerable resources would be necessary in order to deal with their special
needs. The proclamation of the year 1999 as the International Year of Older
Persons was a good opportunity for Member States to focus on issues concerning
the elderly, in order to better identify the means to promote the quality of
their life throughout the world.
34. Mr. WILMOT (Ghana) welcomed the statement made at the Committee’s previous
meeting by the Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable
Development. His delegation was convinced that the Committee’s efforts as part
of the intergovernmental process would reinforce national implementation goals.
The current discussion of social development helped to focus the international
community’s attention on specific social groups which, because of their
circumstances, deserved particular care. The importance of the family as the
basic unit of society had also received due attention. He hoped that Member
States would work to fully implement action programmes on youth, older persons
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and persons with disabilities. Success in those areas would contribute
immensely to achieving the goal of social progress, justice and the betterment
of the human condition.
35. The adoption of a number of decisions on the mandate, terms of reference
and working methods of the Commission for Social Development, and of a new work
programme to the year 2000 was an affirmation that the international community
was ready to address the underlying causes of the profound problems affecting
the world social situation, in order to eliminate distress and insecurity in the
lives of all peoples.
36. More than a year after the World Summit for Social Development, the world
social situation had changed little. To the problems caused by poverty could be
added crime, drugs and ethnic strife, which had acquired global characteristics.
Their ramifications required not only national action, but also action by the
United Nations system with its capacity for cross-sectoral initiatives combining
the mandates and specializations of its various agencies, funds and programmes.
His delegation welcomed the decision of the Commission for Social Development,
as approved by the Economic and Social Council in its resolution 1996/7, to
tackle the special situation of Africa and the least developed countries, the
enhancement of social development goals in structural adjustment programmes, and
the mobilization of domestic and international resources for social development.
The Secretary-General’s report on cooperatives (A/51/267) was an important
contribution to the principles and objectives of the World Summit.
37. The cooperative sector in Ghana enjoyed strong governmental support. It
afforded an effective means for economic empowerment to those who otherwise
would have no avenue for productive living. It was increasingly being used at
the local level as a means whereby communities could make available appropriate
and affordable basic services, thereby contributing to the fight against
poverty, unemployment and social disintegration.
38. The international community must ensure that measures to foster social
development yielded the expected results. In addition to the special needs of
the young, the aged and disabled, and the family unit, attention must be paid to
emerging issues and trends affecting social development as a whole. An
integrated approach to social development would be the most effective means of
dealing with the myriad problems that characterized the world social situation.
39. Ms. JIANG Qin (China) said that the question of youth, ageing and persons
with disabilities occupied a very important place in the field of social
development. It was gratifying that in recent years the United Nations had
undertaken much beneficial work in those areas. The World Programme of Action
for Youth had identified priority areas for development of particular relevance
to young people, and the issue of ageing had also attracted increased attention
worldwide. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons
with Disabilities had played an important role in improving the status of the
disabled across the world.
40. The international community should, as a matter of urgency, move from
policy-making to action so that the relevant programmes could be implemented.
The gap between the developing and the developed countries was widening, and
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many of the former were plagued by poverty, backwardness and shortage of funds.
The majority of young people, older persons and persons with disabilities lived
in developing countries, and the international community should focus its
efforts on helping those countries to eradicate poverty. International
cooperation should be enhanced to create conditions in developing countries for
the education and employment of the young, the protection of older persons and
the integration of the disabled. The Chinese Government had intensified its
efforts in those areas, formulating and implementing a series of policies and
regulations protecting the rights and interests of the young and promoting their
participation in the nation’s political, economic and social development.
41. Earlier in the meeting, a member of another delegation had mentioned a
so-called Chinese youth and student movement. She hoped that he had done so out
of ignorance; if so, it was regrettable. If, however, there had been an
ulterior motive, her delegation strongly objected to such a groundless
42. A network of institutions for older persons had been established in China.
A host of measures to protect their rights and interests and provide them with
support, medical care, opportunities to offer their services to society, access
to education and recreational facilities had been adopted. The Chinese
Government had incorporated work for persons with disabilities in its overall
development planning, and had taken practical measures to improve the situation
of the disabled and to realize the goals of equality, participation and sharing.
43. Her Government would continue its work on the issues of young people, the
elderly and disabled persons, take an active part in the United Nations
activities in those fields and enhance its exchanges and cooperation with
various countries to protect and promote the rights of those groups and
facilitate their full participation in economic and social development. She
hoped that the United Nations would attach greater importance to the work in
those areas through strengthened international cooperation.
44. Mr. Hahm Myung CHUL (Republic of Korea) said that social development issues
were complex, multidimensional and closely interlinked with economic
development. Governments should not rely solely on the expectation that
economic growth would improve the conditions of their people. Growth was,
however, necessary for social development, particularly for the least developed
countries. He urged developed and developing countries to forge a spirit of
partnership so that aspirations to advance the world situation might be
realized. Poverty eradication must be approached with decisive national action
and international cooperation. His Government looked forward to implementing
the Secretary-General’s proposals for activities championing the first United
Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. Implementation of the World
Programme of Action for Youth was necessary in order to tap the potential of
young people and encourage youth participation at all levels of development.
His Government placed particular emphasis on international youth exchanges.
45. Although the Republic of Korea was still a relatively young society, the
extension of life expectancy and low birth rates would lead to an increasingly
ageing population. Recognizing the importance of enabling all people to
participate actively in society throughout their lives, his Government had
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developed measures such as employer incentives to encourage the hiring of older
persons. Relevant regulations were under review with a view to enhancing their
health and medical benefits. The upcoming International Year of Older Persons
would provide a valuable opportunity to review the situation and to encourage
the formulation of global policies and programmes.
46. Following the adoption of the Standard Rules, his Government aimed to
establish more progressive policies for persons with disabilities, including an
investment plan to promote employment.
47. In a rapidly changing world, the strengthened unity of the family was more
important than ever. The concept of family was changing, reflecting dramatic
shifts in economic structure and an evolving system of values. The family,
nonetheless, remained the core unit of society, indispensable in providing
support and educating children. In order to strengthen the family, societies
must focus on the needs of women and children. Genuine social development could
only be achieved through gender equality and the promotion of children’s rights.
48. The continued political will at the national and international levels to
invest in people and their well-being was of prime importance. All actors, in
the private and public sectors as well as national and international bodies,
should strive to transform words into reality.
49. Mr. KHRYSKOV (Russian Federation) commended the efforts of Member States in
recent years to define the place and role of the United Nations in finding
concrete solutions to existing social problems and in meeting the challenges of
social development both in the near future and in the long term. His delegation
supported the strengthening of the role and effectiveness of the functional
commissions of the Economic and Social Council to enable them to carry out the
tasks entrusted to them in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.
Many countries faced acute social problems and it was therefore vital that the
documents which emerged during the follow-up to the Copenhagen Summit should
reflect the widest possible understanding of those problems and propose
practical solutions upon which all countries could draw when reforming their own
social policy. The needs and interests of every State should be taken into
account, including those of countries with economies in transition.
50. He welcomed, in that regard, the proposal contained in the agreed
conclusions on coordination of the United Nations system activities for poverty
eradication, adopted by the Economic and Social Council (A/51/3 (Part I),
chap. III), that the United Nations system should provide technical assistance
for developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The
Commission for Social Development must put forward practical measures for
implementing the recommendations of the Copenhagen Summit and enhancing systemwide
coordination. The specialized agencies also had an important part to play.
Cooperation at the regional level was crucial, and his delegation wished to
propose the holding of regional conferences on social development with a strong
emphasis on the realization of the commitments of the Copenhagen Declaration and
Programme of Action.
51. In the Russian Federation, economic reform had brought with it complex
social problems, although the country now appeared to have turned a corner with
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economic growth of approximately 2 per cent being forecast for the following
year. His Government was currently seeking to create legal safeguards which
would render the economic and social reforms irreversible. With regard to the
Copenhagen Summit, a national committee had been formed to implement the
Declaration and Programme of Action.
52. The stability of the world economy would depend to some extent on the
success of the unprecedented transition in the countries of Central and Eastern
Europe from centralized, planned economies to the market system. While the
Governments of those countries recognized that they bore the primary
responsibility, the international community must lend its support and, within
the United Nations system, due regard should be given to the social problems
that they faced.
53. Mr. AL-NASR (Qatar) said that since the adoption of General Assembly
resolution 47/85 and the celebration of International Youth Year in 1985, issues
involving youth had figured prominently in the international years designated by
the General Assembly, and in international conferences. The General Assembly,
in its guidelines for further planning and suitable follow-up in the field of
youth, recommended that States should elaborate national youth-related policies
and programmes and establish the governmental and non-governmental
infrastructure necessary to implement them.
54. Qatar had been one of the first countries to undertake its responsibilities
with regard to youth, particularly in the field of sport. It had established a
National Olympic Council, a National Sports Union and a General Committee for
Youth and Sport. Youth-related services and activities enjoyed special
attention. The General Committee for Youth and Sport had taken a number of
important initiatives. Among its successes were the establishment of a Centre
for Sports Medicine, the Qatari Youth Week held in Madrid, and a great increase
in the number of sports centres and teams. Concern for youth extended to the
educational and technological fields, and in order to keep abreast of new
developments, the Qatari Educational Club and the Youth Centre for Technology
had been established and enjoyed full support from the State. Wide-ranging
future plans included the establishment of additional youth and sports
facilities, the building of Olympic swimming pools, participation in regional
and international sporting events and the preparation of a framework for youthrelated
55. Youth was a valuable resource which must be developed and harnessed by the
State. Young people played a leading role in Qatar, and their energy and
ability were an important factor in implementing ambitious development
programmes. It was recognized that young people had responsibilities and
duties, and could make an effective contribution to society.
56. Mrs. LIMJUCO (Philippines) said that the recent major United Nations
conferences on social issues had made it clear that human development had two
dimensions: economic growth and social reform. The existence of one without
the other was neither possible nor acceptable. Her Government had adopted a
social reform agenda aimed at promoting economic recovery while addressing the
issue of social equity by targeting the most needy groups.
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57. In a poor country, the aim of development programmes should be to extend
people’s capabilities to enable them to meet their minimum basic needs. The
report of the Secretary-General on cooperatives (A/51/267) recognized
cooperative enterprise as a means by which the poorest people could gain a stake
in the economy. Cooperatives allowed individuals to combine their resources,
thus giving them greater economic weight. In the Philippines, the Punla
Development Trust, a joint government and private-sector initiative, had been
set up to build the capacities of institutions which provided credit for and
promoted enterprise among the nation’s poorest citizens. Her Government was
committed to a "bottom-up", rather than a "trickle-down" strategy of eradicating
58. Young people represented a large proportion of the population of the
Philippines. Youth issues, accordingly, were of great concern to her
Government, which in March 1996 had welcomed the global launching in Manila of
the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. The Manila
Declaration emanating from the Global Indigenous and Youth Cultural
Olympics/Summit for Peace and Sustainable Development (A/51/293) contained
proposals for implementing the Programme of Action. In the Philippines, a
National Youth Commission had been created to formulate policy on youth and to
coordinate related activities.
59. She welcomed the forming of a support group to coordinate the preparations
for the International Year of Older Persons. She was encouraged by the progress
made in developing a disability index based on the Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, which were the
subject of General Assembly resolution 50/144, introduced by the Philippines.
Her delegation was ready to undertake further initiatives on disability and
other social issues in coordination with other States and relevant
non-governmental organizations.
60. Mr. RI Song Il (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said that the world
social situation continued to deteriorate despite the efforts of the United
Nations. Even as the world stood at the threshold of the twenty-first century,
social evils such as poverty, organized crime and drug abuse were still rife,
while the gap between the developed and developing nations continued to widen.
Full implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action was a
vital step towards resolving those problems. Every Member State must draw up a
people-centred social development policy. The organs of the United Nations
system, particularly the international financial institutions, should enhance
their role in that field, according special attention to the needs of developing
countries. The cessation of armed conflicts and the lifting of sanctions,
whether imposed by the United Nations or by individual countries, were important
for achieving social development.
61. Disability issues were of special concern to his Government. He urged all
Member States to adopt effective policies to enable disabled persons to
participate fully in all areas of life. In the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea, disabled persons enjoyed equal rights and opportunities, often receiving
preferential treatment.
Page 14
62. It was his hope that the commitments made on social development at the
recent major United Nations conferences would be speedily implemented and that
the developed countries would offer the financial support necessary to achieve
that goal.
63. Mr. TESSEMA (Ethiopia) said that the United Nations had been committed to
promoting higher standards of living and finding solutions to social and
economic problems since its inception. At the Copenhagen Summit, the family of
nations had met to agree on joint action to eradicate poverty, expand productive
employment and enhance social integration. In its resolution 50/161, the
General Assembly, endorsing the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action,
had recognized the critical importance of international cooperation to
complement national action to achieve those goals. The commitments made at
Copenhagen had been a source of great hope and optimism, in particular for
developing countries.
64. In 1991, Ethiopia had emerged from 17 years of brutal dictatorship. His
Government was endeavouring to rebuild the country’s economy and infrastructure.
Despite years of famine and drought, Ethiopia had now reached the level of food
self-sufficiency. The economic growth rate had risen to 7.7 per cent after a
prolonged period of stagnation, while inflation stood at under 1 per cent. The
eradication of poverty was a priority. The proportion of the national budget
allocated to the social sector had increased dramatically since 1991. Measures
on education, health care, population control and women’s and youth issues were
being implemented from the grass roots up. He urged the Governments of all
developing countries to place greater emphasis on social services and to ensure
that funding was directed towards the very poorest groups.
65. The eradication of poverty should be pursued with equal vigour by both
developing and developed countries, for the consequences of poverty - drugs,
diseases, pollution, migration, terrorism and political instability - respected
no borders. However, the burden of external debt continued to hamper the
development of many poor countries, with some of them spending over 30 per cent
of precious foreign exchange earnings on debt servicing. Poverty could not be
eradicated through anti-poverty programmes and declarations alone. New and
additional resources, efforts and actions were urgently needed both at the
national and international levels in order to ensure sustainable development for
66. Ms. THAMIM (Pakistan) said that the state of the global economy had a
direct bearing on social development. She was therefore heartened to note that,
according to the World Economic and Social Survey of 1996, the rate of growth of
the world economy was accelerating, though it must become more sustainable. In
developing countries, however, the growth of per capita gross domestic product
had been small, and in most regions remained in real terms below that in 1980.
At the same time, the flow of official development assistance from the donor
countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
had declined to well below the agreed target. Against that background, the
United Nations must find ways to alleviate the burden on poor countries of
servicing their foreign debt.
Page 15
67. Hunger, illiteracy, unemployment, social exclusion and drug abuse afflicted
many of the world’s young people. It was therefore imperative that Governments,
together with the United Nations system and all the actors of civil society,
should strive to implement the World Programme of Action for Youth. The
capacity of the Youth Unit must be strengthened to enable it to carry out the
Programme of Action.
68. The proportion of older persons in the world’s population was increasing.
The preparations for the International Year of Older Persons in 1999 must be
supplemented by result-oriented programmes structured around the conceptual
framework prepared by the Secretary-General (A/50/114). Developing countries in
particular must pay special attention to the needs of their older citizens in
terms of nutrition, health care, social security and family support. Disabled
persons were one of the most neglected groups in United Nations programmes.
Governments should therefore support the efforts of the Special Rapporteur on
Disability and contribute generously to the United Nations Voluntary Fund on
69. She welcomed the Secretary-General’s report on cooperatives (A/51/267).
The contents should be widely disseminated in the developing countries with a
view to raising awareness of the enormous potential of cooperatives to
facilitate realization of the goals of the World Summit for Social Development.
70. Her Government had launched a comprehensive social action programme aimed
at eradicating poverty, redressing gender inequalities, promoting rural
development and protecting the environment. Economic reform and the
Government’s privatization policy had enhanced funding for social development.
Special programmes had been established to aid the most vulnerable groups in
society, including women, children, widows, orphans and the elderly. In
addition, greater attention was being accorded to the rights of women, children,
ethnic and religious minorities and those living in poverty.
71. Mr. AG OUMAR (Mali) said that he would highlight the measures taken by his
Government to implement the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
Persons. With the Government’s support, many associations of disabled persons
had been formed and were now working in close cooperation with the Fédération
malienne des associations de personnes handicappées. A national seminar would
shortly be held on community-based rehabilitation. Already, one programme
geared to community-based rehabilitation in the urban environment was under way
in Bamako. A national survey had been carried out to evaluate the needs of
young people with disabilities in terms of mobility aids and production had
already begun. Among other initiatives, a programme on employment for the
disabled was being broadcast on national radio and television and a manual on
the equalization of opportunities for disabled persons would shortly be
72. There was a need to rationalize the efforts of the various groups working
on behalf of disabled persons and, to that end, his Government was organizing a
management training workshop for the leaders of associations for disabled
persons. The first national sports championships for the disabled would take
place shortly. His Government was ready to initiate projects to generate income
for disabled persons, thereby ending the problem of begging.
Page 16
73. Mrs. HEPTULLAH (India) said that the main priority of social development in
India was to tackle the problems of poverty and inequality. Efforts were being
made to combine the imperatives of economic growth with those of social justice
through State-sponsored social development, poverty-eradication strategies,
affirmative action to redress inequalities and promote social justice, and a
close relationship between the Government and non-governmental organizations.
The scale of that undertaking in the context of underdevelopment, population
pressure, competition for scarce resources and major social and economic
transformations could not be underestimated. A key feature was the interplay
between democracy, growth, empowerment and social justice, with a strategy
centred on affirmative action to benefit the largest categories of the socially
disadvantaged, by breaking down invisible barriers to political participation at
all levels.
74. The family unit in India was very strong and provided the social security
net for vulnerable family members; however, the traditional extended or joint
family was increasingly being eroded because of the strains of modern life.
Three aspects were especially relevant: to adapt the institution of the family
to modern times while preserving the stabilizing functions of the traditional
family; to emancipate women from traditionally defined roles to enable them to
participate as equal partners in public life; and to control population growth,
which was related both to gender justice and to the imperatives of economic
development. India had been implementing active holistic family-welfare
strategies over several decades based on the linkages between education,
economic and social development, and population control.
75. The welfare of youth was closely linked to political stability, economic
growth, and educational and employment opportunities; the future of society
depended on harnessing their energies. The chief priorities were employment
generation and universalization of elementary education along with reducing
disparities in education between rural and urban areas and ensuring education
for disadvantaged groups, notably the girl child. With regard to the question
of ageing, her delegation associated itself with the comments made by Costa Rica
on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
76. Four national institutes in four different areas of disability, namely
visual, orthopaedic, speech and hearing, and mental handicaps, had been set up
to provide education, training, counselling and rehabilitation. Major
programmes to reduce disabilities had been adopted and technologies for disabled
persons were being developed.
77. The Secretary-General’s report on the cooperatives (A/51/267) contained
valuable observations with regard to the efficacy of cooperatives in promoting
social development.
78. The solution of the various problems of social development required both
political commitment and substantial funds, national and international. It also
required time. Adequate programmes for special categories could best be
addressed only in the context of a general development effort for which an
enabling international environment was essential. It was ironic that, despite
the explicit recognition at the World Summit for Social Development that
problems of underdevelopment required international cooperation, the utility of
Page 17
international development cooperation was being questioned, development
assistance had stagnated or declined, and more and more stringent
conditionalities were being imposed under social clauses. There was a
disturbing tendency to impose uniform standards of social development worldwide
regardless of the stage of development of different parts of the world.
International cooperation remained essential to facilitate and accelerate social
and economic development.
79. Mr. SERIWA (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that his delegation supported the
statement on the question of ageing made by the representative of Costa Rica on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Despite the encouraging growth in the
global economy, economic and social conditions in many developing countries,
particularly in Africa, were still disturbing, owing to a large number of
external factors such as an increased debt-burden. Such factors adversely
affected social development. The goals set out in the Copenhagen Declaration
could not be achieved in the absence of a supportive international economic
climate. Donor countries and international financial institutions should give
priority in all their development programmes to the development of human
resources, through support for technical, educational and training programmes,
and by improving health and social services. The human person was both the tool
and the goal of development.
80. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had always tried to make the best use of its
human resources and to improve economic and social conditions, while balancing
the needs of the individual and society and promoting human rights. Ambitious
development plans had given priority to education and training programmes,
health, housing and social services. However, those plans had suffered a
reverse in recent years due to the unjust sanctions regime imposed on the
country, that had caused the Libyan Arab people grievous losses. The negative
effects extended to all economic, social and humanitarian spheres. They had
particularly affected the most vulnerable sectors of society, especially in
regard to health and nutrition. His delegation hoped that the United Nations
would take the necessary steps to end the sanctions.
81. Special attention was paid to disabled people in his country. The Libyan
Arab Jamahiriya had presided over the Advisory Committee of the International
Year for Disabled Persons in 1981, and had passed legislation guaranteeing the
rights of disabled persons. A national council for disabled persons had been
established in order to raise awareness of disability and integrate disabled
persons into society. There were also numerous special facilities in many towns
and villages.
82. The international community must continue its efforts to integrate disabled
persons fully into society by means of the Long-term Strategy to Implement the
World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, and that special
attention should be paid to the needs of the most vulnerable members of that
sector, such as older persons, women and children.
83. The tenth anniversary of International Youth Year had provided an
opportunity to concentrate on youth-related issues and to guarantee the right of
young people to education, work, health care and full participation in
development, in view of their fundamental role in that regard.
Page 18
84. It was encouraging that resolutions were being adopted to facilitate
equitable economic development, but the international community had to take
urgent and effective steps to end the discriminatory policies and harsh economic
measures imposed by some developed States unilaterally against certain
developing countries as a means of imposing their wishes by force. A certain
powerful State had recently passed legislation penalizing foreign companies
involved in the oil and gas business in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in an attempt
to impose its laws on other States, in violation of their sovereignty and of
international law.
85. Mr. MINOVES-TRIQUELL (Andorra) said that youth issues were of major concern
to his Government. He recalled that at the World Summit for Social Development,
heads of State and Government had made a commitment to encourage the
contribution of people of all age groups and foster dialogue between
generations. His delegation believed that the problems facing the world’s youth
could best be addressed through an intergenerational approach. The World
Programme of Action for Youth set out the priorities for action on youth issues.
The international community must work together with the United Nations to ensure
that the good intentions underlying that document were translated into positive
outcomes. The forthcoming World Youth Forum to be held in Vienna would be
particularly important in that regard.
86. He wished to highlight two areas of critical concern, namely access to work
and human rights education. Unemployment was one of the most acute problems
facing young people today. The huge growth of the labour force, in developing
countries, would require massive job-creation initiatives. He was firmly
convinced that human rights education should begin as early as possible, for
young minds were especially susceptible to ideologies and fanaticism. It was
imperative that young people should learn respect for human rights and
tolerance, since the values inculcated in today’s youth would define the shape
of the world tomorrow. He called on UNESCO and on voluntary groups to expand
their work in that area.
87. Mr. MEKDAD (Syrian Arab Republic) said that the World Summit for Social
Development had demonstrated the concern of the international community in a
changing world in which an unprecedented number of people suffered deprivation.
The Syrian people were well aware of their responsibilities and of the role
their country had to play. They were equally aware of the contribution which
should be made by the industrialized countries to halting economic and social
88. Despite being forced to devote a large part of its human and material
resources to defending its land and people against the expansionist policies of
Israel, the Syrian Arab Republic had undertaken a comprehensive and successful
social development programme. The leadership provided by the President had
ensured the political stability and democratic climate necessary for broad
participation in youth-related activities. A number of non-governmental
organizations enabled young people and students to protect their interests and
rights and to carry out social, political, cultural, sporting and technical
activities. Syria’s strategy with regard to youth was based on their needs in
modern society. Youth programmes guaranteed to young people a number of rights,
including the right to education, work, participation in national decision-
Page 19
making, relocation for purposes of study or work, and self-expression. His
country had welcomed the World Programme of Action for Youth.
89. Older persons were treated with the greatest respect in Syria, and a
National Council for the health care of older persons had elaborated a draft
national plan to guarantee all their needs. His country would contribute to the
preparations for the International Year of Older Persons (1999). Syrian society
was unanimous in its view that the family was the basis of society and that
family values and institutions should be strengthened. Special attention was
also given to disabled persons, and special provisions had been made to
facilitate their access to training and employment. Further measures were being
taken in accordance with the Standard Rules annexed to General Assembly
resolution 48/96. Special attention was also given to alleviating the problems
faced by children, refugees, orphans and other groups living in difficult
circumstances. However, increased resources were necessary in order to
implement the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.
90. His country urged the international community to abide by the commitments
undertaken at the World Summit for Social Development, particularly in regard to
the provision by highly developed countries of the support necessary to
developing countries, most importantly in the fields of finance and technology,
with a view to making the world more democratic, humanitarian, secure and
91. Mrs. AL-AWADHI (Kuwait) said that, under the Constitution, disabled persons
were treated with especial concern in her country. In common with those with
other special needs, disabled persons were provided by the State with a full
range of social services and financial support. Recent legislation on the care
of disabled persons represented an important achievement in that it guaranteed
their rights in every sphere. For example, the State guaranteed to disabled
persons appropriate housing, whatever their circumstances. The number of
special training centres was being increased, and disabled persons were
guaranteed special maternity rights. Special pension provisions had been made
for them, and they were exempt from many taxes. Higher child benefits were
provided for children born with disabilities. Government agencies followed
international specifications in providing access to public facilities and
transportation for disabled persons. Kuwaiti businesses employing more than 50
persons were obliged to employ suitably qualified disabled persons, to make up
at least 2 per cent of their workforce.
92. The Government was endeavouring to alleviate the effects of the Iraqi
occupation on disabled persons, many of whom had suffered inhuman treatment.
Moreover, that occupation had greatly increased their numbers. Provision was
being made to minimize the resulting social and psychological effects and to
fully integrate those who had suffered into society. Kuwait was guided by the
Long-term Strategy to Implement the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons.
93. Mr. HABONIMANA (Burundi) said that the crisis which had engulfed Burundi
for the past three years had gravely undermined government efforts to assist
youth, the elderly, the disabled and the family. The economic embargo unjustly
imposed against Burundi by neighbouring countries had devastated an entire
Page 20
people and had seriously jeopardized ongoing programmes of health, education and
training, rehabilitation of the disabled, assistance to the elderly, job
creation and family planning. The sanctions had been taken in flagrant
violation of international humanitarian law, the Charters of the United Nations
and of the Organization of African Unity and regional and subregional economic
and trade agreements.
94. The economic embargo was reinforcing the rebellion and thereby contributing
to the acts of vandalism, massacre of innocent people and destruction of the
social and economic infrastructure. Armed groups and militia were intensifying
their attacks, directed mainly against the most vulnerable persons in the
population. The embargo was particularly devastating for a poor country almost
entirely dependent on agriculture. Children, women and the elderly, who
constituted 80 per cent of the affected population, were the first to suffer.
Epidemic diseases had taken an enormous toll, both in Burundi and in the
neighbouring countries which were imposing the embargo; that situation was
aggravated by famine and malnutrition. A large proportion of young people had
been forced to abandon their education, leading to illiteracy, prostitution, and
95. His delegation therefore urgently appealed to the international community,
and particularly to the United Nations, to put pressure on Burundi’s neighbours
to lift the embargo immediately. The international community must mobilize to
assist the people of Burundi.
96. Mr. AL-HITTI (Iraq) said that, since the end of the cold war, increased
attention had been paid to economic and social development, particularly in the
developing world. The issue was of concern to the whole world, since
development was the fruit of security, and the cycle of security and increased
development benefited all States, replacing the cycle of poverty, hunger and
97. International economic relations were, however, at a critical stage, owing
to the unbalanced economic growth of recent decades and the growing disparity
between North and South. The situation with regard to human development was
equally grave, since illiteracy, poverty, hunger, disease and discrimination
were widespread in many countries and hampered development. Some bilateral and
multilateral practices also hampered development, and must be reviewed.
Specifically, some United Nations bodies played a negative role in certain
developing countries. The Security Council and certain Member States imposed
sanctions, with disastrous consequences on the peoples and countries concerned.
The Secretary-General himself, in his Supplement to an Agenda for Peace
(A/50/60-S/1995/1, para. 70), had noted that sanctions could conflict with the
development objectives of the Organization and do long-term damage to the
productive capacity of the target country, in addition to having a severe effect
on other countries that were neighbours or major economic partners of the target
98. The Charter gave no guidance with regard to the imposition of sanctions,
their extent, effect on development and human rights in the target country, nor
as to how and when the sanctions should be lifted. That had permitted certain
members of the Security Council to change the use of sanctions from an
Page 21
instrument for settling international disputes to one for punishing and imposing
starvation on peoples.
99. An urgent review of the sanctions imposed on Iraq was necessary, since they
had brought into question the credibility and morality of the United Nations.
Certain Council members were using the sanctions to impose their own political
agenda, unconnected with the purposes of the United Nations. Many reports
issued by the United Nations and other humanitarian bodies gave details of the
destructive effects of the sanctions on development in general, and individuals
in particular. The negative impact of sanctions greatly exceeded the expected
gains. For example, statistics showed that the number of those who had died in
Iraq as a direct result of the imposition of sanctions was five times greater
than the number killed by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In June 1996
alone nearly 4,500 children under five years old had died, as compared with some
600 in the whole of 1989. The number of children over the age of five who had
died in the same month had been nearly 6,500, as compared with some 1,700 in the
whole of 1989. Thus, the sanctions constituted a form of genocide carried out
against the Iraqi people.
The meeting rose at 6.10 p.m.