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Summary record of the 5th meeting : 3rd Committee, held on Tuesday, 14 October 1997, New York, General Assembly, 52nd session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/52/SR.5
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 52nd
Type Document

7 p.

Subjects Ageing Persons, Youth, Persons with Disabilities

Extracted Text

General Assembly
Official Records
5th meeting
held on
Tuesday, 14 October 1997
at 3 p.m.
New York
Chairman: Mr. BUSACCA (Italy)
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 DC2-750, 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.
20 October 1997
97-82066 (E) /...
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The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.
(continued) (A/52/3,* A/52/56, A/52/57-E/1997/4, A/52/60-E/1997/6, A/52/80-
E/1997/14, A/52/183, A/52/328 and A/52/351; A/C.3/52/L.2 and L.3; E/1997/103 and
1. Mr. REYES RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said that his country placed particular
importance on the development of youth, and was working to implement the
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond at the national and
international levels. Cuba had also been participating in the work of the openended
group that was helping to prepare for the International Year of Older
Persons, and his delegation recommended that additional resources should be
provided to ensure that the group received multilingual conference services.
2 Policies had been implemented in Cuba to provide older persons with
opportunities to participate actively in society and to ensure the availability
of whatever assistance they might need. Assistance was also being provided to
organizations of the disabled; the majority of the disabled had access to
special education, and many had also found employment.
3. Mrs. EDWARDS (Marshall Islands) said that her Government had participated
actively in the World Summit for Social Development and attached great
importance to the protection of human rights, which it considered imperative for
social development. As a matrilineal society, the Marshall Island strongly
supported gender equality. Her Government was continuing its efforts to
implement the recommendations of the World Summit, the International Conference
on Population and Development, and the Fourth World Conference on Women, but
appealed to the international community and non-governmental organizations for
financial assistance in that regard, as it lacked the resources to provide fully
for the country’s development needs. Urban migration, a growing population and
rising levels of education presented challenges to the Government’s efforts to
meet the needs of the country’s youth. Her country would therefore continue to
seek external assistance for its social development programmes.
4. Ms. APONTE DE ZACKLIN (Venezuela) said that her delegation supported the
views expressed by the representative of Paraguay on behalf of the Rio Group.
5. Venezuela’s commitment to attaining the goals of the World Summit for
Social Development was reflected in the high priority it assigned to economic
and social development. Programmes designed to assist youth in such areas as
job creation and training, drug-abuse prevention, and social participation had
achieved successful results. Moreover, deliberations on a Youth Act to codify
and protect the rights of that sector of society were expected to take place at
the upcoming session of the National Congress. Policies in favour of the family
and children had also been instituted as an important component of Venezuela’s
social development strategy.
* To be issued.
Page 3
6. Ms. ARYSTANBEKOVA (Kazakhstan) underscored the need to carry out integrated
policies and programmes at the national level to deal with the problems
affecting youth, older people, disabled persons and the family. Kazakhstan’s
political and economic reforms had had an impact on the entire population,
particularly socially vulnerable groups. With the transition to a free-market
economy, it had been necessary to reorient the country’s social protection
policy in order to provide support to those living below the subsistence level.
7. The Government had adopted a number of laws and regulations setting forth
specific ways to deal with the most pressing social problems. A decision had
been taken on allowances for families with children; and the State-financed
system for providing housing to socially vulnerable groups had been maintained.
Those steps were in accordance with the goals of the International Year of the
8. Kazakhstan’s youth policy was designed to integrate young people fully into
society and provide them with social support and assistance. It was necessary
to ensure access to specialized training and education during the transition
period, set up special programmes to assist young families, provide tax relief
to young entrepreneurs and take specific measures to promote the employment of
young people.
9. A law had been adopted to provide social protection to disabled persons,
guaranteeing them access to social services and free counselling and transport.
The priority objectives were to draw up a policy to establish a specific branch
of production for disabled persons, create an environment in which disabled
persons could live and work, set up integrated rehabilitation centres and
introduce a unified approach to health care.
10. In order to achieve stable social development, Kazakhstan would further
expand its national policy in that field and elaborate intersectoral action
programmes with enhanced monitoring of implementation. In view of the
difficulties arising during the transition period, active support from
international funds and financial institutions and United Nations programmes in
tackling those problems would considerably facilitate efforts to achieve the
stated goals.
11. Mr. DONOKUSUMO (Indonesia) said that, although his country had worked for
and achieved significant improvements in social welfare, its goals for social
progress were far from realized. As in all countries, social development was
inextricably linked to the economic health of the nation and the state of
international economic relations.
12. In the pursuit of social development, it was important to be aware of and
responsive to the social groups most at risk. His delegation would therefore
work to achieve the objectives of the International Year of Older Persons. He
welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on the operational framework for
the International Year (A/52/328), paragraph 43 of which stressed that the
promotion of active ageing in developing countries needed technical and
financial international support. Both active ageing and care-giving strategies
should be accorded particular consideration in research, policies and programmes
in order to achieve the broad objectives of the Year. The link between overall
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national development and the ageing of the population must also be considered.
As part of the International Year, Indonesia had celebrated a National Day for
Elderly People with the aim of increasing awareness, improving the quality of
elderly people’s welfare, and mobilizing society to solve related problems.
13. With regard to persons with disabilities, his delegation fully supported
the Standard Rules and agreed that more must be done to make them more widely
known. Awareness must be translated into effective policies and programmes
which, in developing countries, could be undertaken only with the support of the
international community. Programmes and measures relating to persons with
disabilities should be fully integrated into overall national development
activities and the technical cooperation of development and financial
institutions, respectively.
14. Indonesia remained strongly committed to the ten priority areas identified
for action by the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond. The objectives of the national youth development strategy covered a
range of issues intended to promote improved well-being amongst young people.
The current five-year development plan addressed the concerns of young people by
promoting wider access to education, increasing their participation in
development and expanding the number of youth organizations.
15. Several years of rapid globalization had only exacerbated the imbalances in
international economic relations, and deprivation in developing countries
remained a formidable challenge, having considerable impact on the social groups
currently under consideration. Developing countries would therefore continue to
look to the United Nations for support in achieving their goals and aspirations,
mobilizing international assistance and promoting economic growth and
16. Ms. WAHBI (Sudan) said that in view of the importance of young people in
the development process a comprehensive national strategy had been developed to
guarantee their rights. Young people were encouraged to participate in social
and military activities that would give them valuable experience. Job
opportunities for young people had been increased, and efforts were made to
provide funding for projects initiated by youth.
17. In recent years her Government had greatly increased educational
opportunities for every member of society. Special attention had been paid to
the eradication of adult illiteracy in rural areas and the expansion of primary
and higher education.
18. Traditional social systems in many countries were undergoing changes that
particularly affected older persons. In the Sudan, however, older persons
enjoyed a privileged position. Her Government sought to utilize their
experience in the development process, and the importance of their participation
in production and development was stressed.
19. The Sudan was making every effort to fully integrate persons with
disabilities into society and was establishing training facilities to enable
them to become independent. Campaigns were also undertaken to raise awareness
of the problems they faced and the Standard Rules had been widely circulated.
Page 5
The Government referred to those Rules when framing policies, and a national
plan of action was currently being developed. Sudanese non-governmental
organizations played an important role in the education of persons with
disabilities, a fact that had been recognized in the nomination of the Sakina
Institute for the Maurice Pate Award.
20. Every international conference had made family-related recommendations,
agreeing that the family was the basic unit of society, that its welfare was
important to sustainable development, and that development strategies should
take the rights of the family into consideration. It must be protected and
fully integrated into all sustainable development activities. The fact that
greater importance was attached to the role of the individual than that of the
family in many modern societies was directly responsible for a number of current
social ills. The family remained the nucleus of society in the Sudan, and the
Government attached particular importance to laws governing its rights. It had
introduced a project to enable families to gain control over the means of
production, thereby ensuring their economic stability. The needs of vulnerable
families were addressed, and special provisions had been made for those affected
by the unrest in the south of the country.
21. It was internationally acknowledged that social development could not be
separated from economic development or from peace and stability. Globalization
was the reality, and a comprehensive approach was needed to address challenges.
Nevertheless, particularities must be respected, since social development could
not be achieved through the imposition of one system on all societies. Local
institutions should be strengthened to make them more effective.
22. With a view to promoting sustainable development, her Government had signed
a peace agreement with all but one of the warring factions in southern Sudan,
and was making every effort to bring that last faction into the peace process.
23. Mrs. GITTENS-JOSEPH (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking on behalf of the member
States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that at a conference held in
July 1997 the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community had placed high
priority on skills development and the promotion of entrepreneurship among the
region’s young people. Many member States intended to participate in a
meaningful and productive way in observing the International Year of Older
Persons. There were ongoing projects in the Caribbean region to take due
account of the needs of older persons. Reform programmes in the health sector
and social security were designed to improve the situation of the aged.
Governments and civil society provided them with social services, counselling
and recreational activities.
24. Many CARICOM member States had national policies for persons with
disabilities. Some countries had established agencies to coordinate the
activities of organizations for the disabled, constructed fully equipped
training and vocational centres, disseminated relevant information and
introduced financial assistance measures, such as disability assistance grants.
Although work had begun to address the needs of disabled children, much more
still needed to be done in that area.
Page 6
25. In order to tackle the problems affecting families, some CARICOM member
States had enacted legislation to deal with domestic violence, established
family courts and provided counselling and support programmes to assist families
in need. The Community regional plan of action in that field included
consideration of the impact of gender socialization practices, which was
important in promoting equal partnership between women and men in family life.
26. Mr. CHAULAGAIN (Nepal) said that the problems of poverty and unemployment
in the least developed countries required special attention and additional
support measures simply to maintain the status quo. At the World Summit for
Social Development Nepal, together with other developing countries, had agreed
to strengthen democracy, maintain the rule of law, protect human rights and
implement a liberal economic policy. Its efforts in that direction had not been
enough to improve the situation. The active engagement of the United Nations
system in carrying out the mandates of the World Summit for Social Development
was indispensable, and his delegation looked forward to the establishment at the
current session of the preparatory committee of the whole called for in
paragraph 46 (b) of General Assembly resolution 51/202.
27. Nepal attached great importance to the implementation of United Nations
programmes for youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and the family,
and intended to participate actively in the work of the Commission for Social
Development in those areas.
28. Mrs. CASTRO de BARISH (Costa Rica) said that her delegation associated
itself with the statement made the previous day by the representative of
Paraguay on behalf of the Rio Group. She noted with appreciation the report on
the operational framework for the International Year of Older Persons (A/52/328)
and supported the key dates and selected activities set forth in the highlights
of preparations for 1999. Due emphasis had been given to the very important
role to be played by the Commission for Social Development. In that connection,
the Commission’s consideration of the theme "Social services for all" should
also focus on changes affecting social security systems for vulnerable groups of
older persons, such as those over the age of 80, those living in extreme poverty
and the disabled. Special attention should also be given to the situation of
women, young people, young workers, family welfare, new relationships in civil
society, the free-market system and the role of the State.
29. Costa Rica’s social policies had always sought to protect and promote the
rights of children, young people, older persons and the disabled. The policy of
free education for all had been established in 1865. The individual human being
had always been at the centre of her country’s social policy. In its
preparations for the International Year, the Commission was being assisted by an
ad hoc informal open-ended support group. In that regard, her delegation
supported the proposal put forward by the representative of Cuba to provide the
support group with the necessary assistance to enable it to carry out its
important work.
30. Mr. AL-HARIRI (Syrian Arab Republic) said that social development, covering
as it did a number of important issues, remained a priority of the international
community. There was an enormous difference between people’s aspirations and
the reality of their lives, despite the availability of a wealth of natural
Page 7
resources. There was no alternative to international cooperation between
developing and developed countries, based on mutual respect and joint interests.
Developed countries had a responsibility to halt social and economic decline and
address current imbalances.
31. Despite the heavy cost in human and material resources that his country was
forced to bear in defending itself against Israel’s policies of occupation and
settlement expansion, a comprehensive social development programme had been
undertaken in every sphere. Education was free at all levels and compulsory at
the primary level, health care was provided free to all sectors of the
population without exception, special attention being paid to vulnerable groups,
and young people played an important part in the development and execution of
development plans. The importance of the family to society was recognized in
the Syrian Constitution.
32. The rise in the standard of living of most citizens reflected the success
of his country’s development plans. The provision of health, education and
social services had been greatly extended, there had been a significant decrease
in infant mortality, and standards of health, nutrition and education had been
raised. State policy was directed towards the creation of a favourable
environment for social development, social integration and increased employment
33. The Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan represented a serious obstacle
to the social development process, since it had forced more than half a million
Syrian citizens to leave their land and homes, making it difficult to achieve
the hoped-for level of progress. Israel perpetrated flagrant violations of
human rights in the Golan, exacerbating the negative effects of its occupation
on social and economic development plans and programmes.
34. A world free of foreign colonization and occupation, in which relations
between States were based on mutual understanding and equality, would be more
peaceful, secure and stable.
35. Mr. LEVY (Israel) said that his country had taken steps to support those
who were physically or mentally challenged and required assistance to lead lives
in which their potential could be fully realized. Over the past five decades,
Israel had been confronted with the need to integrate into society those who had
been seriously wounded and disabled in war and indiscriminate terrorist attacks
and it had developed a keen sensitivity to the needs of disabled persons. His
Government was considering a draft law on equal rights for people with
disabilities. The Public Commission, made up of government representatives,
academic experts and representatives of organizations for the disabled, had
recommended the adoption of comprehensive and detailed legislation defining the
rights of the disabled in Israel. The Commission believed that only such
legislation could narrow the gap between the reality of the lives of disabled
persons and the ideals of equality and the human dignity. In the course of its
work, the Commission had concluded that both the prohibition of discrimination
against people with disabilities and appropriate measures to meet their special
needs were essential to ensure genuine equality. On the basis of that dual
approach, it had approved the guiding principles of the draft law.
The meeting rose at 4.30 p.m.