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Summary record of the 5th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 7 October 1998, General Assembly, 53rd session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/53/SR.5
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 53rd
Type Document

11 p.

Subjects Youth, Persons with Disabilities, Ageing Persons, Family

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly Distr.: General
Fifty-third session 1 December 1998
Official Records Original: French
Third Committee
Summary record of the 5th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 7 October 1998, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Hachani . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Tunisia)
Agenda item 100: 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.
98-81474 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 10.35 a.m. exclusion and disintegration of structures, particularly in
Agenda Item 100: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (A/53/3, A/53/63-S/1998/100, A/53/72-
S/1998/156, A/53/95-S/1998/311, A/53/97, A/53/294,
A/53/350, A/53/356, A/53/378, A/53/416 and A/53/425)
1. Mr. Nuanthasing (Lao People’s Democratic Republic)
said that the objectives set at the World Summit for Social
Development were far from having been attained despite
various efforts undertaken at national, regional and
international levels. According to the UNDP Human
Development Report for 1998, social problems were most
acute in the developing countries. Their solution required
concerted and coordinated actions at the national and
international levels. In order to attain the objectives embodied
in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action,
social development must be based on sustained economic
growth and sustainable development. The Lao People’s
Democratic Republic had accordingly identified eight national
priority programmes, two of which, on human resources
development and rural development, were designed to fight
the root causes of poverty. The aim was to provide vulnerable,
disadvantaged and marginalized people in rural and remote
areas with access to transport, local markets, appropriate
technology, microcredits, etc., in order to enhance their social
integration and their participation in the development process.
2. The situation of young people in the world continued
to be a source of concern, despite the success of the policies
and programmes undertaken by many countries. The Lisbon
Declaration contained ideas that could be a source of
inspiration for national authorities responsible for youth. The
Lao People’s Revolutionary Youth Union was involved
actively in the formulation of national youth education, health
and employment programmes.
3. The approaching International Year of Older Persons
provided an opportunity to discuss the building of a society
for all ages. The Lao Government attached great importance
to the problems of older persons, and had issued a decree
under which it would provide housing or building materials
to older persons, especially pensioners.
4. However, the Government lacked resources for
implementing its social policy and needed financial and
technical assistance from the international community.
5. Ms.Ghimire (Nepal) said that the social and economic
situation in the world was now grimmer than it had been in
the past three decades because of unemployment, social
developing countries. In a world of plenty, the spectre of war,
famine and mass exodus still haunted millions of people.
Those scourges all had economic, social, political and cultural
dimensions. Only concerted actions at the international level
would make it possible to overcome them. At the dawn of the
twenty-first century, the struggle against poverty should be
a priority for the international community, including the
United Nations system, the multilateral financial institutions
and regional organizations. In that context Nepal welcomed
the commitment to reduce world poverty by half by the year
2015, as well as the decision of the General Assembly, at its
previous session, to convene the Third United Nations
Conference on the Least Developed Countries in the year
2001, and hoped that the Conference would make it possible
to reverse the tendency to marginalize the least developed
countries and to promote their development.
6. Nepal had spared no effort in mobilizing youth for
national development. The World Conference of Ministers
Responsible for Youth had contributed to identifying and
broadening the areas of communication and cooperation
between the young of different countries.
7. The international community should continue to adopt
viable strategies to improve the circumstances of older
persons. Nepal had initiated a modest programme of financial
support to older persons and the disabled so as to promote
social integration and cohesion. Governments, nongovernmental
organizations and the private sector must
extend unfailing support to the United Nations programmes
on ageing in the context of the preparations for the
International Year of Older Persons.
8. Mr. Bocalandro (Argentina) said that the current
critical social situation which was due to unsuitable industrial
structures, excessive bureaucracy and structural adjustments
had been aggravated by the international financial crisis. It
required a new relationship between the State and the
individual, who had to play an active part in the taking of
decisions which affected his well-being. In the past decade
Argentina had undertaken a thorough-going transformation
of its economy and a State reform which had enabled it to
record strong economic growth as a result of increased
participation in economic activity by the private sector,
women and other social groups. However, internal and
external factors had caused an increase in unemployment.
Vulnerability and social exclusion had become the gravest
social problems, added to which were the negative effects of
globalization. The current financial crisis was one example
of that new global reality. It was therefore necessary to adopt
policies of institutional reform and training to prepare people
to face up to the new realities of globalization.
9. The demographic situation, market changes, retirement social development. The severe social crisis that was being
regimes, poverty and the increase in life expectancy required experienced in many countries as a result of financial
that special attention be given to the question of ageing both turbulence, the external environment and their inability to
at the national and at the international levels. Argentina had eradicate poverty should force the international community
initiated a programme for vulnerable groups of the population to implement the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme
and a national plan for older persons. Its social policy was of Action more resolutely. The forthcoming special session
aimed at integrating into public structures social activities of the General Assembly on follow-up to the World Summit
complementary to those of the private sector. Investing in the for Social Development was the right opportunity for that
human factor was a vital element of that policy. purpose.
10. Mr.Wilmot (Ghana) said that in spite of the collective 16. The transformation of the political and economic system
commitment made at the World Summit for Social had created various social problems, but the former Yugoslav
Development, the social situation in the world remained Republic of Macedonia had managed to continue its social
deplorable because of the inequitable international economic development, without major crises, and in particular to reduce
system. Debt servicing absorbed resources which the unemployment and concentrate efforts on social protection,
countries of the third world could otherwise have used to with the cooperation of the international community,
finance their social development. His delegation commended particularly UNICEF.
the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session on the
Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action for having
included in its work programme consideration of the effects
of external debt, globalization and structural adjustment
programmes. His delegation also subscribed to the
recommendations drawn up by the Commission for Social
Development regarding the promotion of social integration.
11. At the national level, the Government of Ghana was Forum, which aimed to encourage the participation of young
promoting social integration and participation of all in the people in the development of society.
development process through district assemblies which were
the bedrock of the country’s decentralization system.
12. The efforts being made to promote relationships themparticipate in productive and useful activities in society.
between the generations and to create opportunities for older
persons to participate in socio-economic life contributed to
the achievement of the objectives of the World Summit for
Social Development. His delegation welcomed the celebration
of the International Year of Older Persons in 1999, but
regretted that the problems of older persons in rural areas
which had been deprived of their young people through rural
exodus, particularly in the third world, had not been reflected
in the preparations for the Year.
13. The social integration of young people and the disabled
also deserved special attention. A draft national youth policy
giving effect to the recommendations of the Lisbon
Declaration had been submitted to the Government.
14. In conclusion, he recalled the need to underline the dramatic Asian crisis had demonstrated. Once considered an
importance of the family as the fundamental unit of society. engine of prosperity, globalization was proving to be a factor
15. Mr. Calovski (The former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia) said that the United Nations played a role of
paramount importance in the efforts that were being made at
the international level to support national social policy. 21. Economic development must be accompanied by social
Globalization required the adoption of common standards of development and respond first of all to the needs of the family,
17. The recommendations in the report of the Secretary-
General on preparations for the International Year of Older
Persons (A/53/294) would help promote the concept of
“a society for all ages” in which older persons played an
important role in the education and advancement of the
family. He stressed the importance of the Lisbon Declaration,
and of the Action Plan adopted at the Third World Youth
18. Measures also needed to be taken at the national and
international levels for the benefit of the disabled so as to help
19. Since it was impossible to consider social development
separately from economic, political and cultural development,
the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia had set itself the
goal of successful integration into the common European
social system.
20. Mr. Baali (Algeria) said that the issues considered at
theWorld Summit for Social Development were more topical
than ever because the disparities between countries and
between population groups had been exacerbated by the
effects of the deterioration of the terms of trade, indebtedness,
the decline in official development assistance and the
malfunctioning of the international economic system, which
had been aggravated by unbridled globalization, as the
of impoverishment and exclusion which called for a
coordinated response by the international financial
institutions, supported by the United Nations.
but also to those of young people and older persons. That was particularly at young people, older persons, the disabled and
why, since gaining independence, Algeria had placed the the family.
social dimension at the heart of its development policy, based
on the promotion of the principles of social justice, national
solidarity and the preservation of entitlements. Algeria
attached great importance to the family as was demonstrated
by the establishment of a ministry for national solidarity and
the family and a national committee for the preservation and
promotion of the family which was responsible for promoting
information programmes, community activities, special
programmes for disadvantaged social categories and
solidarity measures.
22. The public authorities were particularly sensitive to the
problems of youth, which represented 70 per cent of the
population: education and training programmes absorbed one
third of the State budget. Schooling was free and compulsory,
and medicine was free. Measures had been taken to promote
the employment of young people.
23. The protection of the disabled and of older persons was
guaranteed under the Constitution. In order to implement that
provision, his Government had adopted a programme
designed to expand employment opportunities and ensure
equality of opportunity as well as access to rehabilitation and
other services.
24. With regard to older persons, the Constitution placed adopted on 15 June 1993 by the President of Kazakhstan to
an obligation on children to help their parents. In addition to proclaimthe second Sunday of October each year the national
health care and retirement facilities, older persons received day for the disabled demonstrated the importance which
social assistance (allowances or services in specialized Kazakhstan attached to that question. One of the priority
institutions). objectives was to integrate the disabled into productive
25. Algeria planned to celebrate the International Year of
Older Persons by establishing a broad intersectoral
programme including seminars, study sessions and
symposiums, meetings between young people and older
persons, debates with the press, the formulation of a strategy
for communication on the pathologies of the third age and
intergenerational links, the study of a specific law on the
protection of older persons, the establishment of a data bank 30. One of the significant events of 1998 was the World
and the production of a poster. Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth, organized
26. Mr. Seksenbayev (Kazakhstan) said that Kazakhstan’s
social policy needed to be seen within the context of the
profound changes which had taken place in the context of the
democratization of Kazakh society. Social problems must be
seen within the context of economic development and
sustainable human development, and of the economic and
social situation in the world. His Government, on the basis
of the decisions adopted at the World Summit for Social 31. His delegation drew attention to the need to offer young
Development and other international conferences, was people more employment and training opportunities, since
implementing a series of economic and social measures aimed lack of education was one of the main factors hindering social
27. His delegation welcomed the decision to proclaim 1999
the International Year of Older Persons. It welcomed the new
approaches to the problem of ageing and the desire to
improve the situation of older persons, and thereby contribute
to achieving the objective of the Year: “Towards a society for
all ages”. During the Year, the international community must
strive to find specific means of attaining that objective.
28. A preparatory committee had been established in the
context of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
with a view to celebrating the Year. Kazakhstan had drawn
up a programme envisaging, inter alia, a set of measures to
assist older persons living alone who were not able to work.
National commissions had been established for that purpose,
the financing modalities for the programme had been
established, and a benevolent fund was to be set up for the
most disadvantaged older persons.
29. His Government felt that, despite practical difficulties,
it was essential to protect the rights of the most disadvantaged
groups, particularly the disabled, who, moreover, were mostly
older persons. To that end, priority action must be defined,
on the basis of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The decision
activities. It was also important to ensure their access to
education, culture, leisure, sports activities, employment and
transportation, and to establish rehabilitation centres. It had
to be recognized that a number of economic difficulties were
preventing Kazakhstan from adopting the legislative
provisions necessary to enable the disabled to have
unrestricted access to the social infrastructure.
by the Government of Portugal in cooperation with the United
Nations. The Conference had made it possible to take up a
number of questions relating to youth, draw up new guidelines
and strengthen cooperation between Governments and all the
other actors working to help youth in the world. The adoption
of the Lisbon Declaration and the Braga Youth Action Plan
was also a step in the right direction.
development. The establishment of conditions to enable
young people to receive high quality education, the promotion of human rights, non-discrimination, equality of
development of small businesses and the emergence of the opportunity, social justice and respect for diversity. Her
middle class, which would be formed from today’s youth, Government was thus endeavouring, in collaboration with
were among the priorities of the development strategy to the civil society and taking advantage of economic growth, to
year 2030 drawn up by his Government. Lastly, his delegation ensure the social integration of disabled and elderly persons,
reaffirmed its desire to cooperate with all the parties the protection of children and the promotion of fundamental
concerned to achieve the objectives of the World Conference rights. It had drawn up a five-year social adjustment plan
of Ministers Responsible for Youth and the International Year targeting those who had failed to benefit from growth, namely,
of Older Persons. the rural and disadvantaged populations, and had
32. Mr. Danesh-Yazdi (Islamic Republic of Iran),
stressing that the Third Committee should attach greater
importance to the social crisis arising from the deteriorating
economic situation in many countries, said that the family was 38. On the threshold of the new millennium, young people
the basic unit of society and, as such, should be supported at must be able to meet the challenges of globalization,
both the national and the international level. To that end, economic liberalization and the revolution in
therefore, the Secretary-General should strengthen the communications; her Government had taken a number of
capacity of the Questions on the Family unit of the Secretariat. initiatives on behalf of youth, namely, development of the
33. His Government welcomed the decision to designate
1999 as the International Year of Older Persons. In his
country, theWelfare Organization provided special assistance
to older persons in need. As Iran was an Islamic country,
older persons held a place of honour in society and were
treated with compassion and humanity, values for which
scientific and technical progress could not substitute.
34. On the threshold of the twenty-first century, young
people had a vital role to play, and all issues relating to them
must be addressed in an international context. The Lisbon
Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes and the
World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond were very useful in that regard. His Government,
mindful of the need for educated, informed, creative and
healthy young people capable of participating in the
formulation of development plans, decision-making processes 40. The report of the Secretary-General on preparations for
and the preservation of peace, had established a Supreme the International Year to be held in 1999 (A/53/294), which
Council of Youth, implemented a National Youth Policy and recommended, inter alia, the elimination of stereotyping and
promoted education. the utilization of the experience of elderly persons, fully
35. Stress should be laid on the threat which drug abuse
posed to the entire international community. No single 41. Mr. Suh Dae-Won (Republic of Korea) said that the
Government could combat the drug menace alone; only recommendations contained in the Vienna International Plan
concerted efforts could achieve results. The United Nations of Action on Ageing, adopted by the World Assembly on
should coordinate those efforts. Ageing in 1982, could be the basis for national strategies to
36. His Government stood ready to cooperate with the
international community in all fields related to social
development; it was actively involved in the preparatory
process for the review and appraisal of the implementation 42. With regard to the International Year of Older Persons
of the outcome of theWorld Summit for Social Development. (A/53/294), his Government wished to state that it did not
37. Ms. Bennani (Morocco) said her delegation was
convinced that social development must be based on the
implemented policies to encourage the establishment of small
enterprises that could partially resolve the employment crisis
and alleviate poverty.
youth movement, creation of the National Council for Youth
and the Future, establishment of an employment promotion
programme for young graduates, improvement of living
conditions for young people and measures to combat their
exclusion, adoption of policies to promote the creation of
youth enterprises, participation in the drafting of the Lisbon
Declaration, and so on.
39. Population ageing constituted another challenge. The
economic and social protection and the specific rights and
needs of elderly persons, particularly women, were pressing
questions. The International Year of Older Persons should
make it possible to adopt concrete measures to promote their
integration and participation. For its part, her Government
had drawn up an action programme based on the
strengthening of family ties.
reflected her Government’s views.
protect elderly persons. The 18 United Nations Principles for
Older Persons, adopted by the General Assembly at its fortysixth
session, also provided useful guidance.
regard older persons as a social burden. While it was true that
population ageing had a negative socio-economic impact, it
was also true that older persons had experience and
knowledge to their credit that could benefit other population creation of a Department of Social Development within the
groups. In order to facilitate the continued employment of Ministry of Development in 1990, the institution of a social
older persons, Governments must subsidize companies which welfare system and the setting up of a social development and
agreed to employ them for their loss of earnings. A law to that employment fund and a small-enterprise promotion service
effect had already been promulgated in his country. Secondly, in 1997. The authorities were thus assisting the population,
efforts to promote the well-being of older people had fallen particularly the elderly, disabled persons and children, to
short of their goals. Accordingly, there was a need to adopt improve their living conditions.
a more comprehensive and integrated approach aimed at
cultivating individual potential throughout an entire lifespan.
Thirdly, older women must be empowered; to that end,
women must take their rightful place in society from the
earliest possible age.
43. The Commission for Social Development had decided and the small-enterprise promotion service.
at its thirty-sixth session to request the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs to explore with the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) the feasibility of
including an ageing-related development index in the Human
Development Report. Given the success of the Human
Development Index and the Gender Development Index, his
delegation supported that initiative, which it believed would
attract attention from Governments and the media to issues
of ageing. His delegation requested the Secretariat to keep the
Committee informed of new developments in that area.
44. Despite the current economic difficulties, his
Government continued to focus on the problems of the
elderly. It had established a Preparatory Committee for the
International Year of Older Persons and a focal point within
the Ministry of Health and Welfare. It also welcomed the
adoption on 1 October 1998 of the Macau Declaration and
Plan ofAction on Ageing for Asia and the Pacific, as well as
the active involvement of non-governmental organizations in
the preparations for the International Year.
45. Older persons represented the collective memory of the
twentieth century; they were a repository of knowledge and
competence to be transmitted to future generations. It was
incumbent upon the States Members of the United Nations
to ensure that such valuable human resources were not
46. Ms. Al-Hamami (Yemen) said that the item under
consideration concerned problems faced by all societies, in
both developed and developing countries. Accordingly, there
was a need to establish comparable standards and to promote
cooperation between the international community, United
Nations programmes and global populations with a view to
implementing mechanisms suited to the characteristics of
various societies.
47. Like other developing countries, Yemen had only
limited means. In the social sphere, her Government had
adopted measures on behalf of children and the family: the
48. Her country, which suffered from poverty and
unemployment, had developed a national strategy centred on
three major themes: job creation, particularly for the most
disadvantaged; strengthening of the social welfare system; and
strengthening of the social development and employment fund
49. The Republic of Yemen was currently carrying out
financial and administrative reforms in order to further social
development, particularly among the poor, the disabled, older
persons and orphans. It sought to help large, low-income
families by expanding productive activities and investment
50. Despite the economic difficulties and the scarce
resources, the local population came to the aid of
disadvantaged groups and was undertaking many sizeable
projects funded in part by non-governmental organizations,
international organizations and friendly countries such as the
Netherlands, Germany and Japan.
51. The Government of Yemen endorsed the Secretary-
General’s statements in paragraph 77 of his report
(A/53/294), to the effect that a society for all ages must be
promoted by emphasizing the interdependence of the life
stages, the inter-connectedness of generations and the
interdependence of individuals and society. That strategy was
compatible with the Shariah, which advocated solidarity
within society, mutual respect within families, obedience to
adults and especially older adults, and care for children and
the disabled. Yemeni society, like other Muslim societies,
applied those principles and gave particular attention to older
persons, who stayed with their families until they died.
52. On the occasion of the preparations for the International
Year of Older Persons, which would be observed beginning
in October 1999, Yemen hoped that the international
community would do everything possible to enable the elderly
to participate in economic, social and cultural rights. Older
persons, children and the disabled had to be helped,
particularly those under occupation or sanctions and prey to
disease, hunger or natural disasters.
53. Ms.Kimliková (Slovakia) commended the Secretary-
General for his report on the preparations for the International
Year ofOlder Persons (A/53/294). She found the section on
networking, research and information exchange (sect. IV.D, 13.5 per cent in 1990, and the target was to bring it down to
pp. 16–18) particularly interesting. 5.5 per cent in the year 2000. Malaysia attached great
54. Her Government had in 1998 discussed a report on
social security and health protection for older persons. The
ageing of the population as a result of a low birth rate or
longer life expectancy or both had a considerable economic
and social impact, especially on the labour force, pension 60. New approaches were required in developing youth
systems, intergenerational solidarity, health services and programmes to allow young people to acquire the skills
public services in general. Slovakia was seeking to move required by the fast pace of economic and technological
away from State paternalism to a fair society for all and to development and to contribute to nation-building. That was
promote the social and economic rights of its citizens, one of the objectives of the seventh five-year plan, which also
especially the elderly. Its main aim was to have them keep put emphasis on the inculcation of moral and spiritual values
their self-sufficiency and dignity and allow them to remain as among young people. Believing that the active participation
long as possible in their own families and communities. of young people in sports and cultural activities could help
55. Pursuant to General Assembly resolution 52/80, her
Government had established a coordinating centre for the
preparation of the International Year of Older Persons and, 61. Malaysia saw the family as the basic unit of society and
at the local level, working groups for the same purpose. The recognized the increased demands that modernization made
activities being carried out were based on United Nations on families. It had therefore established a national high-level
principles and focused on education, media policy, publicity, inter-agency committee to address social problems, starting
science, research and social and economic conditions. The at the level of the family. It would continue to implement
Slovak institutions dealing with older persons were various family development programmes. It believed that
intensifying their cooperation with comparable institutions womenmust acquire the necessary skills in that connection,
in other European countries. and had begun to educate the public on the need for men and
56. In a “society for all ages”, young people clearly also had
a role to play. The world’s youth made up approximately one 62. Ageing was an issue for all countries. The observance
fifth of the population and it was essential to invest in youth in 1999 of the International Year of Older Persons, with the
in order to sustain economic development. Slovakia’s policy theme “Towards a society for all ages” would give the
was to promote the independence of young people, their sense international community an opportunity to reaffirm its
of responsibility and their readiness to participate in the life commitment to the International Plan of Action on Ageing.
of society, and there were currently about 300 associations InMalaysia, preparation for ageing was an integral part of the
in the country working with young people and children. social and economic development policies. Tax relief was
57. Slovakia welcomed the first World Conference of
Ministers Responsible for Youth and its Lisbon Declaration
on Youth Policies and Programmes, which offered a good
basis for action on behalf of young people. It also welcomed
the plan to hold a special session of the General Assembly in 63. Malaysia was also engaged in integrating the disabled
Geneva in the year 2000, devoted to implementation of the into society by providing education, training and
outcome of the World Summit for Social Development. rehabilitation programmes and offering them the technical
58. Mr. Ahmad (Malaysia), referring to the Copenhagen
Declaration and Programme of Action for Social
Development, said that his Government’s five-year plan
allocated 29.3 per cent of public expenditure to the social 64. Only through genuine partnership and cooperation
sector, to fund measures and programmes in keeping with the between national Governments, the international community
focus of the World Summit. A social action master plan had and non-governmental organizations could the issues relating
been put in place. to youth, the family, older persons and the disabled be
59. The percentage of the Malaysian population living in
absolute poverty had dropped from 60 per cent in 1970 to
importance to the Lisbon Declaration and was committed to
ensuring that the World Programme of Action for Youth to
the Year 2000 and Beyond adopted by the General Assembly
in 1995 was fully implemented.
reduce the social problems, Malaysia had hosted the
Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.
women to share family responsibilities.
provided to help keep older people in their families, and there
were homes for indigent older persons without families.
Malaysia had helped to set up or rebuild four retirement
homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
training that would help them to gain economic independence.
It encouraged non-governmental organizations to provide
social services to the disabled.
successfully addressed.
65. Mr. Tabone (Malta) said that not only must the rights While the Lisbon Declaration was to be commended for
of the older generation be safeguarded but it must be allowed identifying the full participation of youth in decision-making
to play its role within society. Older persons deserve respect and in the life of society as a priority, the problem of youth
and love. unemployment required urgent attention, particularly since
66. In Malta, the Department for the Elderly, under the
Ministry of Social Policy, paid special attention to them. It
sought to improve their health, allow them to continue living
at home as long as possible or, failing that, in appropriate
institutions, and to help them to remain active. Malta had also
set up a very popular university for senior citizens. His
Government was currently discussing with trade unions and
the private sector a reform of the pension system. The plan
was to introduce a parallel system of private pension schemes
alongside the State system.
67. Malta’s International Institute on Ageing, to which the
Government had contributed over $250,000 a year and which
was governed by an agreement between the United Nations
andMalta (Economic and Social Council resolution 1987/41),
was doing remarkable work. It served as a bridge for the
collection, exchange and dissemination of information on
ageing and encouraged network-building and the
establishment of focal points for training needs in connection
with ageing. Since more and more countries, particularly
developing countries, were witnessing an ageing of the
population, training was of paramount importance. Working
together with the United Nations Development Programme 72. Although attitudes towards older persons varied,
(UNDP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), comprehensivemultilateral action was required. The current
the Institute had over the past 10 years offered courses in PrimeMinister of India,Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had noted
demography, health care, income security and social that demographic ageing was unlikely to be confined to his
gerontology and soon hoped to use distance-learning country. The increase in life expectancy in most countries
technologies. The United Nations should consider granting necessitated programmes and activities for which the United
a more formal status to the Institute. Nations could offer inspiration. However, it was important
68. Malta was also providing for its disabled population and
had just submitted a bill to improve the living conditions of
the disabled. The proposed legislation sought to eliminate
discrimination against them and to create public awareness
that the disabled are entitled to dignity and had to be treated
on an equal footing with other citizens and be allowed to
participate in the life of the community.
69. Governments should treat all citizens impartially and
fairly and provide benefits and assistance to those who really
needed them. They should also do more to improve
occupational health and the quality of social services.
70. Ms. Banerjee (India) said that India attached particular
importance to the theme of the International Year of Older
Persons: towards a society for all ages. While age
categorizations were necessary for statistical and planning
purposes, the concerns of older persons and of young people
should be addressed in the context of a society for all ages.
the deliberations of the World Bank painted such a gloomy
picture of the world economy. Youth unemployment, which
often led to alienation, violence and terrorism, posed a major
challenge to social integration. The problem had become all
the more intractable as a result of demographic ageing, which
had led the Indian Government to raise the retirement age for
civil servants from 58 to 60. Such decisions to extend the
working lives of older persons should not, however, result in
“generational war”. Both young people and older persons
could find employment opportunities in the informal sector,
which was not constrained by the laws governing the
retirement age. Her delegation proposed that the follow-up
to the Social Summit should focus on youth unemployment,
an issue made all the more urgent by the prevailing social and
economic climate, particularly in developing countries.
71. Referring to the important points which emerged from
the report of the Secretary-General on preparations for the
International Year of Older Persons, she said that her
delegation was particularly pleased to note that the Secretary-
General had given priority to promoting investments in human
development and to the concept of “a society for all ages”.
to remember, as had been highlighted in the 1997 Report on
the World Social Situation, that there were many countries
where life expectancy had actually fallen, principally as a
result of AIDS and war. It was important to strike a balance
between meeting the needs of those blessed with a longer life
and the needs of those who had no guarantee of reaching
adulthood. Age was neither a reward nor a liability, but part
of the larger freedom which the Charter of the United Nations
pledged to the peoples of the world.
73. Mr.Gubarevich (Belarus) said that, at a time of world
upheaval, marked by political and economic crises, social
development was an issue of growing importance. Concerted
action was required at the national and international levels to
guarantee social equity, the elimination of all forms of
discrimination and productive and equitably remunerated
employment for all. One of the main objectives of his
Government’s current social policy was to safeguard the
welfare of each employable citizen and his family, while
improving the level of social assistance provided to the most Social Development and help to promote new initiatives.
vulnerable groups in the population. The objective was to Belarus would participate actively in preparations for the
move from a system of social dependency to a system of social special session.
74. Since achieving independence, Belarus had reformed overcome alienation, poverty and unemployment and to offer
its social welfare system. Its Parliament had adopted over a protection to vulnerable groups would be a long one.
dozen laws on social affairs, particularly in the areas of Innovative national and international action was required to
employment, social welfare for disabled persons and social resolve those problems. The technical and political resources
security benefits. The State had adopted and implemented an already existed. What was required now was action.
assistance programme for families, persons unable to work,
disabled persons, war veterans, victims of the Chernobyl
disaster and various vulnerable groups. It had also established
a policy on youth that included employment and
accommodation programmes. All of those activities included
a gender perspective.
75. His delegation, which accorded particular attention to guaranteeing them the opportunity to live in dignity and
the situation of older persons, welcomed the recent freedom and to participate actively in all spheres of life, so
declaration of the year 1999 as the International Year of Older that they might realize their full potential.
Persons. The situation of older persons was a good indicator
of a country’s health. Belarus had adopted a plan to mark the
Year and had designed a major programme to address the
problems of older persons. Further, it had amended a number
of legal provisions relating to war veterans and to institutions
for older persons and the disabled. Belarus was also working
to find the financial resources to reform the pensions system.
76. The results of international activities in the follow-up
to theWorld Summit for Social Development had shown that
Governments, international organizations and civil society
still had a long way to go. His delegation welcomed the
strengthening of the role of the Economic and Social Council
and of the Commission for Social Development in the
coordination of the activities of the United Nations system in
the social domain. It welcomed the successful outcome of the
thirty-sixth session of the Commission for Social
Development and, in particular, supported the agreed
conclusions on the promotion of social integration and the
participation of all people, including disadvantaged and
vulnerable groups and persons. Those conclusions would help
to guide national efforts and international cooperation to
promote social integration and welfare and to combat
violence, crime, drugs and other phenomena which destroyed
the fabric of society. His delegation was pleased to note that
the agreed conclusions called on the international community
to support reforms under way in countries in transition.
77. His delegation supported the decision to convene a
special session of the General Assembly in the year 2000
devoted to an overall review and appraisal of the
implementation of Agenda 21. That evaluation should provide
a new impetus to the follow-up to the World Summit for
78. His delegation was convinced that the struggle to
79. Ms.Hadar (Israel) said that the right to participate as
a full member of society was fundamental to the human
condition and should not be denied to those who could not
exercise that right without assistance. The law was the sole
safeguard for people with disabilities. Israel had recently
promulgated a law on equal rights for disabled persons,
80. Commitment to such values ran deep in the history,
heritage and culture of Israel. The State of Israel had been
founded on the idea that man was created in the divine image.
It was determined to reflect that principle, which was
embedded in its most ancient texts, in its own society and
81. Unfortunately, at present, over 10 per cent of Israelis
lived with disabilities and 70 per cent of those with severe
disabilities were unemployed. Out of 7,100 Israelis suffering
from intellectual retardation who lived away from home, some
5,700 were institutionalized.
82. The law on equal rights for people with disabilities
would help to correct the discrimination of the past. It clearly
stated that affirmative action taken for that purpose did not
constitute discrimination and guaranteed people with
disabilities access to public services and facilities. The law
prohibited discrimination in employment and working
conditions and required employers to take measures to allow
people with disabilities to be adequately represented. By law,
job advertisements could contain no conditions of a
discriminatory nature, while the Labour Court had jurisdiction
over cases involving infringement of the rights of disabled
persons. In addition to legislation, theMinistry of Labour and
Social Affairs was planning to launch a series of programmes
aimed at employing or rehabilitating disabled persons.
83. As a result of all those efforts, Israel might become not
only the land ofmilk and honey, but also a nation in which as
yet untapped human potential could reach its full expression.
84. Mr. Freire (Portugal) associated himself with the
statement made by the Permanent Representative of Austria
on behalf of the European Union. He thanked the States as well as free medical care and education. As a result of that
Members of the United Nations for the support they had given policy, the people of the Democratic People’s Republic of
to the initiative of the Portuguese Government in organizing Korea, including the younger generation, were leading stable
the Lisbon World Conference of Ministers Responsible for and happy lives like a large family, in spite of the economic
Youth, which had been a successful experiment in partnership blockade imposed by external forces and the temporary
between the Portuguese Government and the United Nations. difficulties caused by the natural disasters which had struck
85. The World Conference had been a direct response to
theWorld Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 89. One of the most important means of accelerating social
and Beyond which, in its paragraph 123, underlined the development was the strengthening of international
importance of international meetings under the aegis of the cooperation, particularly with organizations of the United
United Nations. It had provided an opportunity for exchanges Nations system. In that connection, the Democratic People’s
of views and experience in searching for new solutions to Republic of Korea appreciated the assistance given to
youth problems. However, the Conference had not been an Member States by the United Nations Educational, Scientific
end in itself but a means of promoting implementation of the and Cultural Organization and theWorld Health Organization
Programme of Action for Youth and, even if it was still in the areas of health and education. However, the
premature to undertake an evaluation of its outcome, it international financial bodies should increase their financial
already seemed that in that respect it had been a success. and technical assistance to the developing countries.
Portugal proposed that at the next session of the Commission
for Social Development, in February 1999, a panel of experts
be established as a follow-up measure. Portugal was
convinced that in the coming year important decisions would
be taken on the role to be assumed by the United Nations in
follow-up of the recommendations and commitments adopted
in Lisbon.
86. Mr. Rim Yong Chol (Democratic People’s Republic
of Korea) said that despite the efforts of the international
community, which, on the occasion of the World Summit for
Social Development and the International Year for the
Eradication of Poverty, had pledged to accelerate social
integration and the struggle against poverty and
unemployment, it had to be acknowledged that those
problems, as well as those of disease, illiteracy and crime in
its various forms, remained very serious. According to recent
United Nations statistics, 1.3 billion people, one fifth of the
world’s population, were living in extreme poverty and 800
million had no access to basic health care.
87. Achieving the objective of social development meant
getting rid of all forms of social inequalities and evils so as
to enable all people to lead an independent and creative life
with equal rights, and in particular to enjoy the right to stable
employment and to benefit from social services such as
health, education and training, so that everyone could be a
genuine and full member of society. One condition for
achieving that objective was the establishment and
implementation of judicious and participatory national
policies which reflected the needs of the popular masses.
88. The Government of the Democratic People’s Republic
of Korea had always accorded particular attention to social
development: it devoted itself to guaranteeing everyone a job,
the country on a number of occasions in the past few years.
90. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
unreservedly supported the proposal to hold a special session
of the General Assembly in the year 2000 which would be
devoted to an overall consideration and evaluation of the
implementation of Agenda 21.
91. Ms. Mpe (Botswana) said that 70 per cent of
Botswana’s population was under the age of 29, and more
than one third was between 12 and 29 years of age. In view
of their numbers and their special problems, it was essential
to make greater efforts on behalf of young people so that they
were able to contribute more to the future development of the
92. In 1996 Botswana had adopted a national youth policy,
and it was currently preparing a national action plan. The
youth empowerment strategy was part of a broader initiative
on citizen empowerment and community development, which
was reflected in a number of policy statements on education
and youth.
93. The youth empowerment policy was based on
recognition that young people suffered the most from
unemployment, poor health services and HIV/AIDS, due to
the fact that they lacked information and skills. Youth
empowerment was essential because the youth of today were
the leaders of tomorrow, and would be shaping the society
that would be inherited by succeeding generations.
94. In conclusion, she invited the international community
to subscribe to the Lisbon Declaration.
95. Mr. Boisson (Monaco) said that at the express request
of the Sovereign Prince a home care service for persons over
the age of 70 had been instituted on the occasion of the
International Day of Older Persons. The service provided
home care which was in addition to the financial benefits.
96. The Health and Social Action Directorate had been
given responsibility for coordinating the celebration of the
International Year of Older Persons in 1999 and drawing up
a programme on the theme of “Towards a society for all ages”
in cooperation with the Directorate of National Education,
Youth and Sport, the Directorate of Cultural Affairs and
97. Various activities were planned for older persons for
the year 1999: lectures, sporting events, visits to various
places in the Principality and competitions in educational
establishments to enhance awareness of the theme of the
International Year. Older persons themselves would be
consulted about the measures that were needed to improve
their circumstances. The Monaco authorities had always been
anxious to improve the living environment of the population,
and particularly the elderly. In addition, there was a plan to
consult the elderly with a view to securing greater benefit
from their experience and abilities. They might, for example,
be given a greater role in promoting the use of the
Monegasque language. On the occasion of the fiftieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
particular emphasis had been placed on article 27, which
guaranteed to everyone the right to participate in cultural life:
too often the elderly were excluded from that right, and the
International Year of Older Persons should be seen as an
opportunity to promote its application on their behalf.
98. It was not enough merely to improve the living
conditions of older persons; they should also be given the
wherewithal to remain active and to contribute to the progress
of society, to which they had much to bring. Only by adopting
that approach would it be possible to build a “society for all
The meeting rose at 1.15 p.m.