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Summary record of the 6th meeting : 3rd Committee. held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 17 October 1997, General Assembly, 52nd session.

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/52/SR.6
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 52nd
Type Document

13 p.

Subjects Youth, Persons with Disabilities, Ageing Persons, Family

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly Distr.: General
Fifty-second session 5 February 1998
Official Records Original: French
Third Committee
Summary record of the 6th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 17 October 1997, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Busacca . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Italy)
Agenda item 102: Social development, including questions relating to the world social
situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (continued)
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 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.
97-82126 (E)

The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m. awareness-raising programme and an early diagnosis
Agenda item 102: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (A/52/3
and A/52/56, A/52/57-E/1997/4, A/52/60-E/1997/76,
A/52/80-E/1997/14, A/52/183, A/52/328 and A/52/351;
A/C.3/42/L.2 and L.3; E/1997/103 and 104) (continued)
1. Mr. Saleh (Bahrain) said that when one talked about
social development one was talking about individual
development, and that social development encompassed all
partners in society without distinction. Bahrain had made
great efforts to enable all citizens and all residents to receive
free education and free health services; it had also focused
particularly on young people, who were society’s mainstay
and on whom the future depended. In that respect, his
delegation welcomed the offer of the Portuguese Government
to host the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for
Youth in August 1998.
2. Older persons and persons with disabilities had a
special place in society; the State recognized that they had
every right to lead normal, decent lives and endeavoured to
ensure that they did. Bahrain did not have the problems in
respect of older persons that other countries had because
under the precepts of Islam, they were afforded great
consideration by all members of society as old people were
regarded as wise and dignified. Nevertheless, Bahrain was
making great efforts to provide older persons with every
legislative and legal safeguard, in accordance with the
provisions of article 5, paragraph (b) of the Constitution.
Before the adoption of the social security law for older
persons the national commission responsible for older
persons had cooperated with the Ministry of Employment and
Social Affairs and other national bodies to celebrate the 7. In that connection, the Russian Federation believed that
International Day of Older Persons, and many Arab forums, full advantage had not been taken of the opportunities for
the League of Arab States and 15 other countries had system-wide coordination in respect of the decisions taken at
cooperated in that connection with the Executive Office of the the World Summit for Social Development. The Economic
Council of Ministers of Employment and Social Affairs. In and Social Council and its functional commissions, and the
parallel with the Day, Bahrain had organized a seminar to Commission for Social Development in particular, could
mark the fifteenth anniversary of the World Assembly on develop and apply practical measures to implement the
Ageing held in Vienna in 1982 in application of General recommendations of the Copenhagen Summit. The Russian
Assembly resolutions 33/52 and 35/129. Federation supported the efforts to strengthen the role of the
3. Major progress had been made for persons with
disabilities since the needed services had been put in place.
The Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs had acted to
promote the social rehabilitation of persons with disabilities
by providing the prostheses, services and facilities they 8. The specialized agencies should, for their part, develop
needed, while the Ministry of Health had set up disability and carry out specific programmes of assistance for countries
prevention services and prepared both a publicity and on the basis of their national action plans in the social area.
programme to detect the problems that often led to
4. Mr. Nikifolov (Russian Federation) said that countries’
internal social problems could spill over national borders and
impede humankind’s march towards progress, and that the
decisions taken at the World Summit for Social Development
should therefore be implemented.
5. The goal of the Federal Programme of Social Reforms
for 1996-2000 and the various programmes which the
Russian Federation had adopted on youth, children, older
persons and the family was to improve the material situation
and living conditions of the population; safeguard
employment and enhance the skills of the labour force in order
to make it more competitive; safeguard citizens’
constitutional rights in the areas of employment, social
protection, education, health, culture and housing; base social
policy on the family; normalize and then improve the
demographic situation; reduce the mortality rate — in
particular amongst children and the active population — and
improve the social infrastructure. The Russian Federation also
wanted to eliminate mass unemployment and help the
disadvantaged layers of society, particularly the various
categories of migrants. To that end, better use must be made
of the resources the Government spent on the social sector,
and extrabudgetary resources must be obtained to finance
those activities.
6. While the primary responsibility for making the
necessary socio-economic transformations lay with the
transitional economies themselves, that did not make it any
less necessary for the international community and, first and
foremost the United Nations — whose mission it was to
promote social development — to support their efforts.
Commission for Social Development; reinforcing its authority
would necessarily increase the effectiveness of its work, while
ensuring closer monitoring of the implementation of earlier
The regional organizations could also help to solve the 1992; exchanges of information on the involvement of young
problems of social development by coordinating their people in protecting the environment; and in-service training
activities with those of the relevant United Nations bodies. programmes. Preparation was currently under way for the
Given the scale of the problems that needed to be solved it second ASEAN ministerial meeting on youth, to be held in
was essential for the Secretariat to further improve the Kuala Lumpur on 17 and 18 November 1997.
effectiveness of its work.
9. The Russian Federation was fully prepared to cooperate programmes in strengthening national capacities, ASEAN
to an even greater degree with countries so that the United fully endorsed the World Programme of Action for Youth to
Nations give social affairs priority attention. the Year 2000 and Beyond.
10. Ms. Foo (Singapore), speaking on behalf of the member 15. As for the issue of older persons, she said that the
States of the Association of South-East Asian Nations ageing of the population was becoming a worldwide
(ASEAN), said that, while the responsibility for social phenomenon of paramount importance owing to the fact that
development lay primarily with Governments, international the birth rate was decreasing whereas life expectancy was
and regional cooperation was also needed in order to increasing, which gave rise to numerous problems regarding
accelerate economic growth, foster social progress and housing, leisure and health. ASEAN attached great
cultural development in the region, and promote active importance to older persons, and had elaborated a work
collaboration and mutual assistance in respect of economic, programme on care for older persons living in communities,
social, cultural, technical, scientific and administrative issues which was the main project of the ASEAN Committee on
of interest to all. Thanks to that integrated approach, the vast Social Development and of the latter’s subcommittee on
national programmes and the regional and international health and nutrition. ASEAN and the United Nations
cooperation existing among the members of ASEAN, the Development Programme had organized a seminar on the
peoples of the region had seen a considerable improvement evaluation of the needs of older persons and persons with
in their quality of life. disabilities and available resources (Bangkok,
11. Social development would continue to be an essential
ingredient for political stability and economic growth, and 16. The countries of ASEAN welcomed the decision to
vice versa. Despite significant progress, certain sectors observe, in 1999, the International Year of Older Persons, the
remained disadvantaged and poverty continued to prevail in theme which had been adopted, and the work of the ad hoc
certain member States, slowing their progress on the road to informal open-ended support group established for the
social development. In an attempt to overcome those occasion. They also appreciated the contribution of the
problems, ASEAN had drawn up a plan of action on social representatives of the Dominican Republic and Spain, who
development (1994-1998), which was in line with United had greatly advanced the work of the support group by putting
Nations programmes and the Copenhagen Declaration on forward a detailed programme for the preparation, launching
Social Development, in order to strengthen regional and follow-up of the Year.
cooperation and improve quality of life in member countries.
12. Various programmes, strategies and national action persons with disabilities, and it had become clear that ageing
plans had served as the basis for the declaration of principles and disability could not be considered separately. ASEAN
aimed at strengthening cooperation among States members therefore associated itself with the Long-term Strategy to
of ASEAN in respect of young people, a group which was Implement the World Programme of Action concerning
growing more rapidly than the rest of the population. The four Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond, approved in
major goals of the declaration were to: (a) improve the quality General Assembly resolution 49/153. She emphasized the
of education provided to young people in the ASEAN importance of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
countries; (b) create increased employment opportunities and Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, and of the
fight against the “desocialization” of young people; (c) decision of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and
promote positive and constructive attitudes among young the Pacific (ESCAP) to declare an Asian and Pacific Decade
people towards progress and the global challenges of of Disabled Persons (1993-2002).
modernization; and (d) prepare the young people of the region
for the leading role that ASEAN would play in the future.
13. Other activities devoted to young people included an aspirations of society, but also its economic health. However,
annual day for youth, celebrated on 8 August every year since economic development had often disrupted the family unit.
14. Aware of the importance of regional and worldwide
5-7 August 1997).
17. Old age often added to the difficulties experienced by
18. The family was a very important issue for the countries
of ASEAN, since it determined not only the moral and social
ASEAN, which supported the goals of the International Year that subject, the Labour Code required that at least 2 per cent
of the Family, had created joint projects for strengthening the of the employees of enterprises with 50 or more employees
family. should be persons with disabilities, unless the nature of the
19. In conclusion, she said that national and regional
initiatives should be complemented by increased international 23. Saudi Arabia was on the way to attaining the goals set
cooperation in order to bridge the gap between developed and out in the Declaration and Programme of Action of the World
developing countries. ASEAN supported the action of the Summit for Social Development, while preserving the
United Nations to integrate various social development religious and moral values of Shariah; its goal was to
policies into the global development policy of the encourage individuals to be responsible and to serve society.
international community.
20. Mr. Al-Sudairy (Saudi Arabia) said that his Islamic Constitution of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which
Government was making energetic efforts to promote social advocated solidarity, justice and security for all peoples. In
development. The fundamental law on Government, based on that spirit, Saudi Arabia had spent approximately 240
the Shariah, called for consultation and the adoption of laws thousandmillion riyals on various projects benefiting about
and regulations which were equitable for all, particularly in 70 developing countries throughout the world.
respect of the right to work and the right to freedom of
movement. As for social security, the State assisted anyone
who encountered social or economic problems which they
could not overcome, in order to prevent any deviation and to
enable the persons concerned to take care of their own needs.
In particular, it encouraged families to take care of orphans,
supported programmes created to provide financial and
material help for persons with disabilities living with their
families, gave assistance to charitable associations, and had
created, inter alia, child care centres, centres for the
professional rehabilitation of persons with disabilities, centres
for paralysed children, and centres for children needing
special care.
21. The objective of the social security system in Saudi facilities and to ensure financial sustainability into the future.
Arabia, created in 1962, was to improve the living conditions
of several groups of people by providing pensions for older
persons, orphans, widows and divorced persons and various
types of assistance for families of prisoners and for victims
of accidents. In 1996, the total amount of those benefits had
been 2,690 million riyals.
22. In addition to the State authorities, Saudi Arabia
possessed a network of charitable associations which based
their activities on the teachings of Islam. The Ministry of
Labour and Social Affairs encouraged such associations,
which acted at the local level, and paid them approximately
47 million riyals per year. One of the most dynamic of those
associations took care of children with disabilities. Over a
period of more than 10 years, it had enabled a considerable
number of children to attend school normally or to follow
rehabilitation courses at centres created for the purpose. In
1993, it had even organized a world conference attended by
400 experts from all over the world, who had exchanged
information on their experiences and drafted
recommendations on care for persons with disabilities. On
company’s work prevented it.
24. The duty to help developing countries was set out in the
25. Ms. Patterson (Australia) said that preparations to
celebrate the International Year of Older Persons in Australia
were already under way and would provide an opportunity for
the whole community, including professional organizations,
private and public enterprise and non-governmental
organizations (NGOs), to be involved in efforts on behalf of
that section of the population. Against the backdrop of a
society that was ageing relatively rapidly, Australia had
developed a comprehensive framework for service delivery
to older people, managed by all levels of government, the
public, private and charitable sectors and various NGOs. In
addition, various social and fiscal measures had been taken
to fund quality care for older people living in residential
26. The International Year of Older Persons would help to
promote more positive images of older persons and to foster
the development of appropriate support for more active older
people. A nationally coordinated approach was planned, to
ensure that long-term objectives were achieved.
27. She had been appointed as contact person with the
United Nations, in her capacity as Chairman of the
Conference for Older Australians, an advisory group
established by the Government to advise it on its involvement
in the International Year of Older Persons, to devise strategies
for promoting positive images of older people and to provide
the Government with advice on ageing. The members of the
Conference represented a broad spectrum of interests,
including health, financial planning, education, business,
recreation and the arts, tourism and the environment, public
life and community services. Further information about the
Conference could be obtained through its Internet home page
28. The combined work of the Conference for Older and Beyond, so that young people were able to benefit from
Australians, the Healthy Ageing Task Force (established to national development strategies. Pakistan had established a
coordinate the activities of the state and Commonwealth Ministry of Youth Affairs to coordinate all development
authorities) and the Australian Coalition ‘99 (a national schemes for young people. A Youth Investment Promotion
network of NGOs) offered a unique opportunity to achieve Scheme had also been launched recently to enable young
long-term objectives. people to set up their own businesses by providing them with
29. Some of the key outcomes to be sought from the year
were: a nationally coordinated approach to the celebration of 34. Women were another important section of the
the International Year for Older Persons; improved population. They played a pivotal role in the development and
community attitudes of older people and ageing; inter- consolidation of families, but were among the most vulnerable
generational linkages; and long-term benefits for older people groups in society. National programmes must give priority
through policies and programmes, adopted by the to providing them with income security and proper health
Government, business, public enterprises, professional coverage. To that end, the Government had established a
organizations and non-governmental organizations, which Ministry of Women’s Development, which coordinated all
were more responsive to the needs of older people. programmes implemented in that area.
30. Mr. Hassan (Pakistan) said that social development 35. Pakistan recognized the importance of the family in the
must be based on economic growth and sustainable consolidation of communities and social development. It
development. Without economic development, there could therefore fully endorsed the objectives of the follow-up to the
be no infrastructure development, employment generation or International Year of the Family. It had already acceded to the
social integration. The increasing disparity between the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
world’s richest and poorest people did not augur well for Against Women and ratified the Convention on the Rights of
improving the world social situation. The findings of the the Child.
UNDP Human Development Report 1997 and the World
Economic and Social Survey 1997 offered little cause for
31. The developed countries must, without further delay, Programmes must be formulated to ensure effective measures
fulfil their commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of their GDP for the prevention of disability and the rehabilitation of
to Official Development Assistance for developing countries, disabled persons with the goal of involving them fully in
thereby helping those countries to achieve economic national life. Pakistan had established a Ministry of Special
expansion and employment generation and to become Education and Health, which formulated, coordinated and
integrated in the global economy. Meanwhile, the United implemented various programmes of action, in cooperation
Nations must explore ways of addressing debt issues, making with NGOs, for the rehabilitation and social integration of
structural adjustment programmes more socially sensitive and disabled persons, with special emphasis on disabled children.
promoting development aid as a vehicle for investment and
development support. That would help create an enabling
environment for improving the social situation in developing
32. The United Nations system, Governments, NGOs and
other actors of civil society must join forces in order to
formulate policies, strategies and programmes of action to
face the challenge posed by rapid population ageing in the
developing countries and a high proportion of older persons
in the developed countries.
33. In poor countries, the enormous potential of young
people, the most important and productive segment of the
population, was given to waste as a result of unemployment,
drugs, social seclusion and illiteracy. Governments, with the
help of the United Nations, must ensure implementation of
the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000
credit at preferential rates.
36. Disabled persons were one of the most neglected
segments of the population and deserved special attention
from national Governments and the international community.
37. Since resource constraints remained the major obstacle
to developing countries’ social development, the United
Nations must provide financial and technical assistance to
those countries to support their national efforts.
38. Mr. Said (Malaysia) said that the outcome of theWorld
Summit for Social Development, which had addressed three
interrelated issues, namely, poverty eradication, employment
and social cohesion, remained far from being implemented,
despite the thorough review undertaken in 1996.
39. Urbanization and development had put considerable
pressure on and brought about changes in the traditional
family unit, thereby heightening social problems. In the
context of social development, the institution of the family
must be strengthened to enable it to withstand the pressures
of rapid modernization and to produce responsible citizens.
To that end, Malaysia had continued to implement its family family and the community and on strengthening local
development programme in cooperation with civil society, authorities, which were being called upon to play a new role
including NGOs and the business and academic sectors. as a result of constitutional reforms guaranteeing equality of
40. The development of young people’s potential was vital
to the success of the country’s socio-economic development.
Despite the fact that children and young people constituted 45. In that context, the country had launched a National
the majority of the world’s population, their views were not Plan for Older People, 1996-2000, which provided food aid
always taken into account. Acknowledging the critical and assistance with clothing, housing, health, transport,
importance of children and young people, Malaysia had recreation, education and social integration. Since all aspects
focused, at the national level, on providing young people with of ageing were interlinked, the focus should be not only on
training in various fields, increasing their participation in coordinating activities but also on striking a balance between
sports and cultural activities, developing their leadership the role of the family, the State and all those who helped meet
qualities and giving them the necessary skills to contribute the needs of that growing segment of the population.
to nation-building. Changes in value systems and lifestyles,
particularly in major urban areas, and the development of
information technology would also require a reorientation of
youth development policies and programmes. Young people
needed to be not only scientifically and technologically
equipped, but also imbued with sound ethical values in order
to meet those challenges.
41. Malaysia believed that the observance of the
International Year of Older Persons with the theme “Towards
a Society for All Ages” was timely, since the Copenhagen
Programme of Action had called for specific efforts to be
made to protect older persons, including those with
disabilities. Since ageing was a lifelong process, preparing
the entire population for it was an integral part of Malaysia’s
social and economic development policies. In that regard,
steps had been taken to ensure that family ties were
maintained and that caring for the elderly continued to be a
family responsibility.
42. Malaysia was fully engaged at the national, regional and
international levels in promoting the full participation and
equality of people with disabilities in society. It was
continuing its efforts to provide education, training and
rehabilitation for the disabled, including special education
programmes and programmes to enable the disabled to gain
economic independence.
43. Malaysia welcomed the contribution of nongovernmental
organizations in providing social services to
complement those provided by the State.
44. Mr. Simon-Padros (Argentina) said that the crime and even politically motivated violence were linked.
Secretariat for Social Development was the body responsible Actions in support of productive employment and sustainable
for dealing with social issues, including poverty eradication, livelihoods had a favourable impact on social integration and,
in Argentina. In order to provide guidance on the management to the extent that they stimulated trade in border areas, even
of those issues, a Federal Social Development Council had on regional cooperation.
been set up within the Secretariat, comprising representatives
from the ministries of social affairs of the country’s 24
provinces. Programmes were focused mainly on assisting the
opportunity and treatment, particularly for older people,
children, women and the disabled.
46. Argentina’s economic and social policies accorded
particular importance to employment, with full employment
as their goal. Special projects were being implemented in
favour of the most vulnerable workers, particularly young
people, women and the disabled.
47. Several laws, including that ratifying International
Labour Convention No. 159, dealt with vocational
rehabilitation of the disabled. Several institutions had also
signed a charter aimed at ensuring the vocational
rehabilitation of disabled persons and at enabling them to
engage in income-generating activities.
48. Argentina had several programmes for children and
young people, including the national food programme, which
aimed to turn school cafeterias into development centres for
children, the programme of assistance for minors living in
exceptionally difficult circumstances, the youth development
programme, which focused mainly on socially vulnerable
young people, and the programme for the strengthening of
civil society, which sought to apply a balanced social policy
to ensure the well-being of vulnerable sectors of society.
Greater resources and efforts were needed to ensure that
social programmes effectively benefited their target
populations. In that regard, an integrated social plan whereby
the State would continue to invest in people was to be drawn
up in 1998.
49. Mr. Sharma (India) said that full employment and
social integration were central to the questions of ageing, the
disabled, young people and the family. Youth unemployment,
50. As the number of older people grew, the problems
associated with ageing populations had come to command
greater attention in India. An expert group was currently countries which insisted on maintaining the sanctions were
working on a National Policy for Older Persons, which would putting pressure on other countries and prohibiting them from
focus on productive ageing, health care, housing, income cooperating with Iraq. In those circumstances, a State’s
security and institutional care for the elderly. Some problems political will, no matter how great, could not advance the
characteristic of developing countries like India development process on its own.
(concentration of older persons in rural areas, dependence on
agriculture, illiteracy) would also be taken into account.
51. At the international level, the operational framework area, as reflected in the number of persons over 50 years of
for the International Year of Older Persons, 1999 could serve age who had died in July 1997 owing to high blood pressure
as an occasion for developing a long-term plan on ageing. In (409) or diabetes (224). The corresponding figures had been
developing countries faced with immediate economic 122 in July 1989 and 62 in July 1987. In addition, persons
problems, the needs of the elderly, the disabled and other with disabilities suffered from the shortage of medicines and
marginalized people had often been neglected in planning, the deterioration in the quality of services, which slowed their
while scarce resources were invested elsewhere, where the rehabilitation and reintegration into society. The embargo had
need or the cost benefits were perceived to be greater. also had repercussions on the labour market due to the fall in
52. In recent years, India had taken a number of steps which
reflected heightened priority for disability issues. The
Government had prescribed a standard set of definitions,
along with standard tests, for the purposes of certifying
disability. A technology development project had been
established to provide suitable, cost-effective prostheses to
improve the mobility, employment opportunities and
integration of disabled persons. Such technology had brought 57. The difficult situation being experienced by the Iraqi
relief to handicapped people in many parts of the world, and people because of the economic sanctions had given rise to
especially to the victims of landmines in South Asia. many reactions within the United Nations system. As an
53. Mr. Al-Humaimidi (Iraq) said that, like all developing
countries, Iraq accorded great importance to social
development. However, it also had to contend with other 58. The right to economic, social and cultural development
burdens resulting from the economic embargo imposed upon could be exercised only in the context of a world order based
it for over seven years. on democracy, human rights, justice and dialogue among
54. The principal objectives of Iraq’s social development
strategy were to meet the basic needs of the population, to 59. Mr. Vidaurre (Bolivia) said that international
increase per capita income and to share national revenues conferences on social progress established the global nature
equitably between social and economic development. The and the importance of people-oriented sustainable
State had therefore focused on housing, health and education. development. Bolivia implemented fully the conclusions of
It had built 131 hospitals, 851 health centres offering free those conferences, with particular attention to the rights of
health care and medicines to mothers and children, 8,917 women, the young, older persons, persons with disabilities
primary schools and 2,719 secondary schools. Moreover, it and indigenous populations. Various obstacles, sometimes
had provided for older persons and the disabled and accorded of a structural nature, nonetheless sometimes prevented the
special attention to the family, children and women’s realization of the ultimate objective which was the eradication
participation in working life. of poverty.
55. The economic embargo against Iraq had seriously 60. His Government was endeavouring to improve the
undermined the implementation of that strategy, insofar as any standards of living of the population in the near future by
development process depended on three key elements: applying measures to offer improved employment
financial resources, international cooperation and the political opportunities and to increase incomes, particularly among the
will of the State concerned. Iraq financed its development vulnerable groups of society. Development plans ensured
with oil revenues. However, the economic sanctions imposed equity and equality of opportunities for all in the areas of
on it since August 1990 prevented it from exporting its oil and education, housing, health and basic services.
from using the funds which it held abroad. Moreover, the
56. One of the main goals of social development was health
for all. The embargo had had disastrous consequences in that
the number of projects in all areas of activity. Its effects had
also been felt in the education sector, as reflected in the high
school drop-out rate, owing in part to parents who encouraged
their children to abandon their studies for economic reasons.
Women had to do non-productive jobs in order to satisfy the
needs of their families, and that was to the detriment of their
social activities, which led to a decline in their role in society.
example, he quoted paragraph 14 of annex II to document
61. His delegation welcomed the report on the Standard defined with a view to solving the problems of the young.
Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with While the Programme of Action was intended to be
Disabilities (A/52/56) and supported the Programme of implemented at the national level, there should be a
Action of the World Summit for Social Development, mechanism to monitor its realization, and broad international
particularly the part concerning persons with disabilities. His support would certainly facilitate the achievement of its
delegation also supported programmes of demining and of objectives.
rehabilitation of the victims of landmines, and added its voice
to the declarations aimed at the urgent prohibition of those
insidious weapons, which created economic and human
problems throughout the world.
62. His delegation welcomed the Secretary-General’s report consultative and financial support, and assistance in the area
on the operational framework for the International Year of of information for the development and implementation of
Older Persons, 1999 (A/52/328), particularly since Bolivia concrete social programmes and projects at the national level.
was implementing structural reforms in the pensions system
and other measures in favour of older persons. In that respect,
international cooperation and technical assistance as well as
the support of international financial institutions for the
efforts made by States took on considerable importance.
63. Ms. Boyko (Ukraine) said that the internal problems
of certain States went beyond national borders, endangering
the development of the whole world community. Like many
other countries with economies in transition, Ukraine was
passing through a difficult period of transformations and
nation-building. It was giving priority to improving the
situation of the most vulnerable sectors of its population and,
in spite of the lack of financial resources, was trying not to cut
social programmes. Since the social situation in Ukraine was
complicated by the rapid ageing of its population, she
supported the measures proposed in the Secretary-General’s
report (A/52/328) and hoped that the will to improve the
situation of older persons would not be limited to the
International Year of Older Persons, but would lead to shared
efforts in finding a worldwide solution.
64. The lack of financial resources prevented Ukraine from
providing the desired level of care for its disabled population,
whose numbers had increased as a result of the Chernobyl
disaster. She welcomed the report of the Secretary-General
(A/52/351) and the final report of the Special Rapporteur of
the Commission for Social Development (A/52/56, annex).
Ukraine had established a strategy based on the principles set
out in the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities, including a comprehensive
programme to solve disability problems, a State programme
to develop the orthopaedic industry, and measures to improve
the mobility of persons with disabilities.
65. Her delegation attached great importance to the use by the disabled; and ensure that at least 2 per cent of
adoption of the World Programme of Action for Youth to public servants were recruited from among persons with
Year 2000 and Beyond; it believed that the Programme of disabilities.
Action would enable a universal development strategy to be
66. Constructive and mutually beneficial cooperation by the
various bodies and specialized agencies of the United Nations
system in the field of social development was indispensable.
The United Nations should provide countries with technical,
67. Ukraine strongly believed that reforming various
elements of the United Nations system would contribute to
improving the effectiveness of the whole Organization, and
particularly the objectives outlined by the World Summit for
Social Development.
68. Ms. Al-Awadi (Kuwait) said that Kuwait’s concern for
persons with disabilities arose out of its Constitution,
according to which social and medical assistance must be
provided to older persons, to the sick and to all those who
could not earn their living. Those social benefits, supported
by the State, entailed the provision not only of material
assistance, but also of services connected with health,
education and sport.
69. In late 1996, Kuwait had adopted a law on persons with
disabilities, showing its increasing concern for that category
of persons. The second chapter of that law, which provided
for the creation of a High Council for Persons with
Disabilities presided over by the Minister of Social Affairs
and Labour, was devoted to the rights of persons with
disabilities. That law provided that the State must: care for
the disabled either locally or, if necessary, abroad, and take
the necessary measures to reduce the causes of disabilities
during pregnancy and after childbirth; provide to disabled
persons who fulfilled the appropriate conditions housing
adapted to their needs; create rehabilitation centres and homes
for the disabled; provide to pregnant women with disabilities
an additional month of leave without loss of pay; pay a
pension to the disabled who had worked for at least 15 years
(10 years for women); apply international standards in respect
of persons with disabilities in all public places; provide the
disabled with means of transport appropriate to their
condition; exempt from import duty all articles imported for
70. The Kuwaiti authorities were striving to mitigate the nation’s identity, traditions and cultural values, including the
impact that Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait had had on disabled role of the family as the backbone of society. Her delegation
persons, who had been subjected to various forms of cruel, supported the comprehensive measures to strengthen the
inhuman and degrading treatment in their defenceless family, including the role and status of women, that were
condition. Some had died after having been tortured or contained in the Secretary-General’s report (A/52/57). In that
deprived of food and medicine, in flagrant violation of human connection, her Government had placed family development
rights and international humanitarian law. within the common strategy for the socio-economic
71. After the country’s liberation, the Government had had
to assume a further responsibility in that connection because 77. Older persons made up 10 per cent of the country’s
of the numerous persons who had been disabled as a result population, and had always played an important role in the
of the war, torture, and the landmines laid by the Iraqi forces family and social life of the Vietnamese people. On the
occupying Kuwait. Exploding landmines had caused some occasion of the International Day of Older Persons, held on
2,300 Kuwaiti civilian casualties (7 per cent of them 1 October, the Vietnamese Aged People Association had
children), including 1,700 killed. joined with the Central Committee of the Youth Union to
72. The policies and measures adopted by Kuwait in that
situation were aimed at eliminating the psychological and
social consequences of the above-mentioned inhuman
practices and at enabling disabled persons fully to enjoy their
rights to life, education, work and medical care, and
consequently to become integrated into society.
73. Kuwait’s efforts on behalf of disabled persons were
based on the various relevant international programmes and
plans, including the proposals contained in the Long-term
Strategy to Implement the World Plan of Action concerning
Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond.
74. Mrs. Pham Thi Thanh Van (Viet Nam) said that she
supported the statement which the representative of
Singapore had made on behalf of the ASEAN countries and
fully associated herself with it.
75. The World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year
2000 and Beyond had formed the basis for numerous projects
and programmes at the local, national, regional and
international levels in the fields of education, employment,
poverty eradication and health care. Many countries as well
as United Nations agencies and other intergovernmental
bodies and non-governmental organizations were already
making preparations for the International Year of Older
Persons in 1999. The Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, for their part, had
received widespread support and had played an important role 81. Belarus was well aware that most social problems
in improving the status and participation of the disabled in the would become manageable once the problem of employment
world. was solved. In that connection, he noted with satisfaction that
76. The Vietnamese Government, despite the many
difficulties confronting it, was striving to integrate policies
concerning vulnerable and disadvantaged groups into its
economic and social development policies and to carry out
preferential policies aimed at benefiting them. It was also 82. Belarus did not share the pessimism of those who
necessary to continue efforts to protect and preserve the regarded unemployment as inevitable and was sparing no
development of Viet Nam.
organize a seminar in Hanoi on old age and interaction
between generations. The debate had focused on increased
coordination between the Association, the relevant
government agencies and mass organizations, and the
Government had announced that it had decided to set up a
national committee for the International Year of Older
Persons in 1999. Preparatory activities for the Year had
already begun at both local and national levels throughout the
78. Her Government had undertaken numerous policies and
measures aimed at helping the disabled persons left behind
after years of war and endeavoured to protect their rights.
79. Her Government would take an active part in United
Nations activities concerning youth, ageing and disabled
persons and would step up its cooperation with other
countries and organizations with a view to strengthening the
protection of the population groups concerned and promoting
their rights.
80. Mr. Gubarevich (Belarus) said that his delegation was
prepared to participate actively in the preparations for and
work of the special session which the General Assembly
would devote to an overall review and appraisal of the
implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for
Social Development, thereby undoubtedly giving fresh
impetus to that initiative.
the Commission for Social Development, at its most recent
session, had given priority to productive employment, and he
was very pleased with the outcome of the discussion and with
the contents of the documents that had been approved.
effort to achieve full productive employment under conditions 86. Mr. Hamida (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that the
of sustainable economic growth. There could be no doubt that, considerable progress achieved by mankind in various fields
in many countries with economies in transition, employment and the economic development experienced by many regions
policy was confronted with high unemployment and rising at the end of the twentieth century had been accompanied by
part-time employment and that those problems were bound a deterioration in the social situation throughout the world.
to grow as the reform process continued. Moreover, owing At the national level, the gap was widening between the rich
to the redistribution of capital, a larger proportion of the and the poor, and the situation would continue to deteriorate
population was living below the poverty line. For that reason, unless all countries decided to act together and mobilize the
Belarus was satisfied with the conclusions adopted by the necessary financial resources to remedy it.
Commission for Social Development at its thirty-fifth session,
which had been devoted to the theme “Productive
employment and sustainable livelihoods”, and was pleased
that the Commission had asked the international community
to take action to promote investment in countries with
economies in transition, having regard to the characteristics
of their socio-economic development. Belarus was prepared
to believe that those conclusions and other conclusions
adopted by consensus would indicate the way forward for all
future decisions on the issue.
83. Aware as it was that the task of solving social
development problems rested primarily with the countries
concerned, Belarus had established a social safety net for all
permanent residents, consisting of family allowances and
compensation for persons in various categories, such as
victims of war, repression or fascism, large families, and
persons living in poverty. Assistance was also provided for
citizens who were unable to work. With a view to achieving
equality between men and women, Belarus had launched a
national plan of action aimed at improving the status of
women. Mothers with two or more children were given one
day off work every week, and Belarus was preparing to amend
the Labour Code to provide allowances for working women
who had children with disabilities.
84. The key issue in the reform of the national social
protection system was, of course, the matter of funding.
Whereas in the former Soviet Union all social programmes
had been funded exclusively from the State budget, currently,
there were special extrabudgetary social insurance and
employment insurance funds.
85. Belarus was not in a position to solve all its current
problems unaided and consequently considered that United
Nations bodies should take the special problems and concerns
of countries with economies in transition more fully into
account when developing and implementing social policies.
It hoped to be able to take advantage of the advisory and
expert services provided by the United Nations in the field
of the establishment and improvement of national systems for
social welfare, job creation, self-employment development
for the unemployed and small business development,
especially in rural areas.
87. The family was the basic unit of all societies, and its
unity was a precondition for social stability. The family
brought up children, guided adolescents, and took care of the
elderly. The unity of the family must therefore be protected
and preserved in order to eliminate all the ills of society
(crime, drugs, poverty) and raise the standard of living of all
social groups.
88. Because of the increase in the number of elderly persons
and the disappearance of extended families in many societies,
it was now necessary to find ways to provide social assistance
to the elderly, take advantage of their experience and integrate
them in social life. The decision which had been taken to
proclaim 1999 the International Year of Older Persons was
a step in the right direction.
89. It was not surprising that the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
was one of the first countries to have drawn attention to the
problem of the disabled. The wars which other countries had
waged on Libyan territory had left lasting consequences,
particularly mines which had been placed over large areas and
were continuing to kill and mutilate. The Libyan Arab
Jamahiriya therefore supported all efforts made to integrate
the disabled into society.
90. The deplorable economic and social situation prevailing
at the world level affected all social groups, and particularly
adolescents (unemployment, drugs, violence), hence the need
to act quickly to put their energies in the service of society.
91. International cooperation for social development must
be based on respect for the cultures and values of each society
and on mutual respect between States and non-interference
in the internal affairs of other countries, an essential condition
for the establishment of peace at the world level.
92. Mr. Carranza (Guatemala), said that his delegation
associated itself with the statement made by Tanzania on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China. The report of the
Secretary-General on the International Year of the Family
(A/52/57) gave the impression that the Year had not had
much impact and that efforts would have to be redoubled to
achieve its objectives, particularly in the developing
countries. As to the Secretariat activities relating to the
follow-up to the Year, it was clear that they would be languages and cultures of the rural populations of the country
inadequate if they were confined to following up on the were currently being implemented.
provisions relating to the family which had been incorporated
into the international declarations and plans of action adopted
by recent major world conferences: those provisions only
repeated what had already been said and did not add to the
substance of the main objectives of the Year. Guatemala
therefore felt that United Nations bodies should give
Governments more assistance in drawing up policies and
programmes for the family, and that the Commission on
Social Development should carefully consider the question
of follow-up to the Year at its next sessions.
93. The initiatives taken by certain countries to follow up
the Year were commendable, but it should not be forgotten
that most developing countries and least developed countries
did not have the resources to draw up and implement policies
and programmes for the family. It was therefore disturbing
to note, in the chapter of the report of the Secretary-General
(A/52/57) devoted to follow-up activities to the Year at the
international level, that only the United Nations International
Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural
Organization (UNESCO) and the International Labour
Organization (ILO) had been active in that sphere.
94. Guatemala urged the international community to make
greater contributions to the United Nations Trust Fund on
Family Activities, which was too small, and called on the
Secretariat to publicize the existence of the Fund so that
public bodies and non-governmental organizations of
developing countries would know that they could benefit from
95. There were many young people in Guatemala; they rest of the population, attitudes would have to be changed.
represented nearly 60 per cent of the population. His
Government was applying a multisectoral national youth
policy based on the World Programme of Action for Youth
to the Year 2000 and Beyond; under that policy, youth
councils had been established in rural areas.
96. His delegation was gratified that the Portuguese Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for
Government had offered to host the World Conference of Persons with Disabilities (A/52/56), since the two reports
Ministers Responsible for Youth in 1998, which would provided a clear picture of the situation of the disabled in the
provide an excellent opportunity to consider the world and the problems which would need to be addressed
implementation of the World Programme of Action and in the future. The Philippines noted with satisfaction that
strengthen it. Governments were increasingly aware of the problems of that
97. With regard to education for all, it should be recognized
that the progress made was too slow and was encountering
ever greater obstacles. In Guatemala, national educational 102. In his final report on the implementation of the Standard
programmes which took into account the plurality of Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
98. Ms. Lacanlale (Philippines) said that two years after
the World Summit for Social Development, the progress made
in eradicating poverty remained uneven. While it was clear
that the primary responsibility in that area lay with
Governments, a supporting international environment was
crucial if they were to achieve success in that endeavour.
99. Her Government, fully cognizant of its responsibility
to ensure social development for its population in order to
achieve sustained economic growth, was currently
implementing a programme of social reform to benefit the
disadvantaged, not only to provide a social safety net but also
to enable them to earn a living — and young people. Her
Government was aware that it would not be able to achieve
its objectives alone and needed international cooperation. In
that connection, her delegation fully supported the statement
made by Singapore on behalf of the member countries of the
Association of South-East Asian Nations and the programmes
and initiatives of the United Nations in the area of social
development. The Philippines would host the fifth Asia-
Pacific conference on social development in November 1997.
100. In the Philippines the disabled, numbering 6.5 million,
represented about 10 per cent of the population. Her
Government had adopted a national disability policy which
strongly emphasized prevention, rehabilitation, and nondiscrimination.
It was providing for the protection of the basic
rights of disabled people on the basis of a separate section in
the Philippines human rights plan for the period 1996-2000.
In other words, all the necessary institutional mechanisms
were in place but much still remained to be done. If the
disabled were to be able to live on an equal footing with the
101. With regard to the reports before the Committee, her
delegation welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on
the review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons (A/52/351) and the report of the
Special Rapporteur on monitoring the implementation of the
group of the population, but regretted that the same was not
true of intergovernmental institutions.
Disabilities, the Special Rapporteur had pointed out that the
rules concerning children were vague. Because of the need 107. As with the family, the problems facing older people
to draw more attention to the situation of children with and the disabled were global in scale. They were not confined
disabilities, the Philippines had sponsored a draft resolution to developing countries and could not be solved simply
on the subject at the thirty-fifth session of the Commission for through schemes, projects and financing but required, rather,
Social Development. Her delegation wished to acknowledge a change of outlook. What was needed was work to combat
the invaluable work done by UNICEF, UNESCO and non- the prevailing indifference to pain and suffering in the world.
governmental organizations with regard to disabled children. The exchange of ideas and experience might prove useful in
It intended to submit a draft resolution focusing on actions to that regard, and there was no shortage of opportunities for
implement further the World Programme of Action international cooperation.
concerning Disabled Persons and hoped that the draft would
find wide support among the delegations.
103. Since young people accounted for a large proportion of for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond and decision to
its population, the Philippines had a strong interest in observe the International Year of Older Persons in 1999, and
promoting policies in their favour. The National Youth it commended the work of UNDP on the question of ageing.
Commission, which was the policy-making and coordinating
body for youth-related programmes, was aggressively
pursuing programmes on youth entrepreneurship and
leadership training, while the Government was in the process
of drawing up the Medium-term Youth Development Program
for 1999-2004. The Philippines welcomed Portugal’s offer
to host the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for
Youth in 1998, which would offer an opportunity to assess
the implementation of the World Programme of Action for
Youth. It looked forward to participating actively both in the
preparations for the Conference and in the event itself.
104. On the subject of the family, the Philippines supported
efforts to incorporate a family-oriented approach into
development strategies and endorsed the recommendations
contained in paragraph 11 of the Secretary-General’s report
on the International Year of the Family (A/52/57).
105. Finally, on the subject of ageing, her delegation with the relevant General Assembly resolutions and help the
supported the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s Democratic Republic of the Congo to recover from the tragic
report on the strategic measures needed to achieve the broad situation which it had recently experienced.
objectives of the operational framework for the International
Year of Older Persons, 1999 (A/52/328). Her delegation
wished to inform the Committee that the President of the
Philippines had recently signed a proclamation declaring a
nationwide observance of the International Year of Older
Persons, 1999, and announcing the establishment of a task
force to plan national activities to mark the Year.
106. Mr. Afshari (Iran) said that the major problem relating repeated. The incubator story, which had been put out by a
to the family was how to defend it from the devastating impact senior Kuwaiti official in order to turn world opinion against
of war, poverty, violence and the disruption caused by Iraq, had been completely fabricated, as the international
constant social change. Given the global nature of that press had confirmed.
problem, an international approach was required in which all
parties would pool their efforts to find appropriate solutions
but would recognize that the implementation of appropriate
policies was a matter for each Government and each society.
108. On the subject of youth and older persons, his
delegation welcomed the adoption of the World Programme
109. Iran’s social development policy had been outlined in
the summary of its national report contained in the annex to
the Secretary-General’s report (A/52/305). The data on social
indicators, reported by such United Nations agencies as
UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA, clearly attested to the
Government’s commitment to improving the social situation
in general and the lot of the disadvantaged in particular.
110. Mr. Rwubusisi (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
said that his delegation associated itself with the statements
made concerning anti-personnel mines. Recalling that, as a
result of the establishment of Rwandan refugee camps in the
eastern part of his country, national forestry reserves had been
partly destroyed, rural communities had been made destitute
by the decimation of the cow population (500,000 heads) and
fields had been destroyed in southern Kivu, he appealed to the
international community to fulfil its obligations in accordance
111. Mr. Al-Humaimidi (Iraq), speaking in exercise of the
right of reply, said that he respected all points of view, so long
as they had a basis in fact. Unfortunately, the statement just
made by the representative of Kuwait concerning the
behaviour of Iraqi forces in his country in 1991 was far from
factual. It was not the first time that he had heard those
allegations and he intended to reply each time they were
112. Ms. Al-Awadi (Kuwait), speaking in exercise of the
right of reply, said that no man, woman or child had been
spared the suffering inflicted on the Kuwaiti population by the
Iraqi army during Iraq’s seven-month occupation of Kuwait.
Both children and adults had been massacred and/or raped in
their family’s presence and the scale of the tragedy which
Kuwait had faced completely belied the statement which the
representative of Iraq had just made.
113. Mr. Langmore (Director of the Division for Social
Policy and Development), summarizing the debate on agenda
item 102, said that all delegations had unanimously, forcefully
and wisely affirmed the primary importance of social
development and agreed on the means to achieving that
objective, namely poverty elimination, employment
generation and the strengthening of social cohesion.
Delegations had described in detail the measures taken by
their countries to assist older persons, youth, the disabled and
families. Not only was the exchange of information useful, it
also encouraged countries to introduce innovations at home
that others believed had proved useful and effective
elsewhere. Delegations had demonstrated great sensitivity to
the issue of gender equality, and it was to be hoped that the
same would be the case at forthcoming sessions. He had
appreciated the expression of support for the work done by
the Division for Social Policy and Development and had noted
the strong commendation of the work of the Special
Rapporteur on Disability.
114. Delegations had focused more on questions relating to
the world social situation, youth, older persons, the disabled
and the family and less on the central and broader issue of
social development. At future meetings it might be of value
to examine the problem as a whole, since evaluating social
trends and emerging issues was as vital as considering matters
already known to be important. The very positive reaction to
comments made to the Committee by the Under-Secretary-
General for Economic and Social Affairs were an indication
of the level of interest in such a debate. The Secretariat would
reflect on means of developing that debate in 1998.
The meeting rose at 1 p.m.