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Summary record of the 4th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 7 October 1999, General Assembly, 54th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/54/SR.4
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 54th
Type Document

11 p.

Subjects Youth, Persons with Disabilities, Ageing Persons, AIDS Prevention

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly Distr.: General
Fifty-fourth session 13 October 1999
Official Records Original: English
Third Committee
Summary record of the 4th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 7 October 1999, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Galuška . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Czech Republic)
Agenda item 106: 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.
99-81460 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m. particularly indigenous families in rural communities, and
Agenda item 106: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (A/54/3, A/54/56, A/54/57, A/54/59, A/54/61
and Corr.1, A/54/62, A/54/66-E/1999/6, A/54/98,
A/54/128-E/1999/70, A/54/256, A/54/268 and A/54/388;
1. Ms.Monroy (Mexico), speaking on behalf of the Rio
Group, said that, in line with the Copenhagen Declaration and
the Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social
Development, the countries of the Rio Group had launched
economic and social programmes designed to create
favourable conditions for incorporating vulnerable population
groups into the development process and to eliminate
structural imbalances, particularly poverty and
marginalization. In so doing, they emphasized the importance
of education as a basic means of overcoming poverty and
promoting integrated human development. As a result of their
educational policies, those countries had achieved nearly
universal coverage in the area of basic education. It was
encouraging to note that the number of girls enrolled at the
various levels of education was equal to, and in some cases
greater than, the number of boys enrolled.
2. Efforts in the field of education currently focused on
problems such as drop-out and repetition rates. Priority was
given to working with families, such as by offering incentives
to persuade parents not to remove their children from school
in order to send them to work. School feeding programmes
in several countries of the region had proved to be an effective
means of keeping children in school and improving their
performance. Efforts were also being made to improve school
curricula, provide teachers with better training and higher pay
and ensure that a higher proportion of students entered
technical and higher education.
3. Owing to the high proportion of young people in the
populations of the countries of the Rio Group, the
implementation of theWorld Programme of Action for Youth
was particularly important. However, those countries were
also fully aware of their responsibility for addressing the issue
of population ageing, and were committed to the creation of
a society for all ages.
4. Speaking as the representative of Mexico, she said that
her Government was investing more than ever before in
programmes on health and nutrition, education and training,
social security and basic services. The Food, Health and
Education Programme (PROGRESA) targeted poor families,
support was provided for projects to generate employment
and income. A citizens’ advisory council on social
development had been established to promote collaboration
and dialogue between the authorities and civil society, with
a view to the formulation of policies through an integrated
approach. She recalled that the Fifth World Assembly of
Disabled People’s International had been held in Mexico City
in December 1998 and that the declaration adopted at that
meeting had set goals for future work.
5. Because young people made up a large proportion of
Mexico’s population, the country’s national development plan
for 1995 to 2000 had emphasized efforts to help young people
become self-sufficient. The Government had re-established
the Mexican Youth Institute to coordinate programmes and
actions. The Institute, in collaboration with the United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO), would organize a world summit on youth for a
culture of peace at the threshold of the new millennium.
6. Mrs.Gittens-Joseph (Trinidad and Tobago), speaking
on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member
States that wereMembers of the United Nations, said that the
participants in a recent regional meeting held in preparation
for the Millennium Assembly had asserted that the twentyfirst
century must be the people’s century. The world
economy and globalization must be humanized, and
microeconomic policies must be formulated with a view to
improving the lives of ordinary people. The success of
globalization must be judged bywhether it benefited rich and
poor alike while ensuring social justice and equity. National
and international development policies must pay more
attention to social issues. External debt, structural adjustment
programmes, trade imbalances, financial crises, natural
disasters and wars had all impeded social development.
7. Issues relating to youth were particularly important in
view of the profound economic, political, social, cultural and
environmental changes of the current era. CARICOM
supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the
United Nations Youth Fund should be strengthened and
focused on capacity-building for the implementation of the
World Programme of Action for Youth. It also agreed that the
Youth Unit of the United Nations Secretariat should be
strengthened. The Caribbean countries’ efforts to empower
young people through meaningful participation were
exemplified by the Caribbean Youth Summit held in October
1998 to prepare for the twenty-first special session of the
General Assembly. Youth forums and workshops were also
held to involve young people in addressing the issues that
affected them, and projects were under way in marginalized
communities to facilitate young people’s social integration 11. She welcomed the report of the Secretary-General on
and reduce deviant behaviour. the status and role of cooperatives in the light of new
8. The preparation of the entire population for the later
stages of life should be an integral part of social policies. The
statements made recently in the plenary Assembly on the
follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons should
stimulate further action. In the 2002 review of the outcome
of theWorld Assembly on Ageing, more attention should be
paid to the impact of technology on the aged, women and
ageing and the relevance of services such as banking and
health insurance to the needs of the aged. Development
policies should reflect the view that the aged were a valuable
social and economic resource. At the forthcoming meeting of 12. Mr. Yusoff (Malaysia) said that his Government had
the CARICOMCouncil for Human and Social Development, formulated an integrated national youth policy, which it had
a Caribbean Charter for Health and Ageing would be adopted. reviewed in 1997 to emphasize the acquisition of knowledge,
9. CARICOM member States were making every effort
to implement the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons. Assistance from relevant United Nations
agencies would help to expedite the implementation of those
countries’ national policies on the disabled.ManyCARICOM
members provided a disability assistance grant, and some
exempted the disabled from the payment of customs duty and
value-added tax on health-care equipment. Many Caribbean
non-governmental organizations provided training for 13. In view of the need to enhance opportunities in all fields
disabled persons to equip them with marketable skills, and for people with disabilities and to remove all social, physical
some of those organizations received financial support from and economic barriers to their full participation in society, his
Governments and international agencies. Some of the Government provided education, training and rehabilitation
CARICOM countries had taken steps to ratify International programmes to disabled persons. Twenty-six special schools
Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 159 on the met the needs of children with disabilities and learning
employment of disabled persons. difficulties. Malaysia welcomed the work of non-
10. The importance of families as engines of economic and
social development must be reflected in national development
strategies and plans. CARICOM welcomed the
Organization’s intention to hold an Expert Group Meeting on
the Development of a Framework on Family Policies. In the
Caribbean, the pressures of unemployment, poverty,
substance abuse, overcrowding and the rise in teenage
pregnancy had led to a higher incidence of divorce, domestic 14. Programmes for older persons should take into account
violence and child neglect and abandonment. Some the need to provide the latter with greater financial and
CARICOMcountries had passed legislation and established personal independence and to develop a relationship of
government entities to address the social tragedy of domestic mutual reliance rather than dependency. Malaysia promoted
violence. Support services for victims and extensive public the concept of a caring society; accordingly, families would
awareness programmes had been launched. Health and continue to be primarily responsible for caring for older
family-life education had been promoted at all levels of the persons. The Government would assist them by providing tax
educational system. Efforts were being made to promote equal relief for the medical expenses of older persons and by
partnership between men and women in family life; some modifying housing designs to accommodate extended
countries had introduced legislation for that purpose. Many families.
CARICOMcountries had established national machinery to
identify issues affecting the family and to provide appropriate
economic and social trends (A/54/57). Cooperatives were an
important means of enabling citizens to play a significant role
in overcoming poverty, securing productive employment and
encouraging social integration. They reflected the values of
cooperation and mutual assistance that were rooted in
Caribbean culture, and had made a major contribution to
national development in the Caribbean. Some countries had
a national policy for cooperative development aimed at
enabling that sector to contribute to job creation and business
development, especially among young people.
the development of skills and entrepreneurship, healthy
lifestyles, character-building, social interaction, the
development of smart partnership and international
networking. The aim was to create a generation of young
people who were well educated, united, democratic, tolerant,
competitive, ethical and scientifically and technologically
progressive. Malaysia’s youth programmes were fully
integrated into other social development programmes.
governmental organizations in providing social services to
the disabled. In the future, more community-based
rehabilitation schemes would be set up to help families care
for the disabled and to facilitate their integration into society.
Accessibility would continue to be improved and training
programmes would continue to be implemented to ensure
better employment opportunities for the disabled.
15. The family played a key role in instilling the moral and
ethical values that produced good and responsible citizens.
The new risks and pressures created by technological European Union. In August 1999 it had declared a
advances and demographic and socio-economic changes must comprehensive ceasefire and announced its readiness for a
be addressed in an effective and timely manner. In general, permanent ceasefire and separation of forces in order to
the successful implementation of social development facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid. The rebel movement,
programmes depended on effective cooperation and however, continued to reject the calls made, thus prolonging
coordination among all the actors involved, including the the war and the suffering of civilians.
international community.
16. Mr. Gautam (Nepal) said it was disheartening that, process, and the Government had therefore established a
four years after the World Summit for Social Development, comprehensive national strategy for youth and had presented
its goals— poverty eradication, full employment and social its youth policies at the 1998 Lisbon World Conference of
integration — were still far from being achieved. Poverty Ministers Responsible for Youth. Given the importance of
eradication was the main gateway to social development, education in raising the level of awareness and maturity
especially in developing countries. Achieving that goal would among young people, the Government had expanded
require political will, national action and international opportunities for higher education and had, over the past five
cooperation at all levels. The special session of the General years, established a university in each of the country’s 26
Assembly in 2000 should focus on poverty eradication as its constituent states. It had also endeavoured to promote and
top priority. implement the principle of “education for all” and had
17. His Government had developed specific policies and
programmes on social protection. They involved mobilizing
local resources, strengthening and developing social-welfare 23. The Sudan was endeavouring to achieve the complete
centres, especially for victims of drug addiction and natural integration of disabled persons in society and, prompted by
disasters, and fostering public awareness of the need for the General Assembly’s proclamation of 1981 as the
social protection of women. His Government acknowledged International Year of Disabled Persons, it had enacted a law
the important role of non-governmental organizations and on the welfare and rehabilitation of disabled persons in 1984
civil society in social development. and had established a national council for the handicapped.
18. His delegation welcomed the report of the Secretary- 24. International conferences had recommended concern
General on the implementation of the World Programme of for family rights and the integration of the family in all
Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (A/54/59). In activities for sustainable development. The Sudan felt it was
view of the important role of youth in nation-building, his necessary to protect the family as an important social
Government placed a high priority on mobilizing young institution from the many social ills arising from the
people to participate in the social and economic development endeavour of some contemporary societies to restrict the role
of the country. of the family and alter its significance.
19. His delegation further welcomed the report of the 25. In the Sudan, the family occupied pride of place in the
Secretary-General on the International Year of Older Persons social structure. The State had therefore adopted a policy of
(A/54/268). Modern democratic societies should provide facilitating marriage as providing the natural milieu for the
economic and social protection to senior citizens. establishment of families, had enacted laws to regulate family
20. The activities of the United Nations system aimed at
meeting the basic needs of disabled persons should be
supported. His Government had adopted substantial measures
to protect the rights of the elderly and disabled and provide
them with essential services.
21. Ms. Shanter (Sudan) said that social development
could not be separated from economic development and could
only take place in a climate of peace and stability. The
Government of the Sudan was still endeavouring to bring
peace to the south of the country, as evidenced by its positive
response to calls for a ceasefire from the Security Council,
the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the
22. Youth was the driving force of the development
continued its efforts to eliminate adult illiteracy in remote
rights and the rights of family members and had accorded
special attention to rural and migrant families. It had recently
established a project for families engaged in production in
order to enable them to achieve economic stability by
equipping them with the means to produce. Vulnerable
families had also benefited from State action in establishing
a council for the welfare of orphans and widows. The Sudan
had also established national projects to provide clothing and
shelter to families that had been subjected to the attacks of the
rebel army in the south of the country.
26. On the threshold of the new millennium, it was a source
for pessimism that the developing countries were still
required to struggle ceaselessly for the elimination of poverty.
In a world in which the developing countries were facing the restoration of the family was the surest remedy for many
challenges of globalization, chronic problems still presented social ills.
a stumbling block to their efforts to establish genuine
concepts of social development. Those problems included
indebtedness, the impact of restructuring programmes, the
paucity of financial resources, the interruption in the flow of
official development assistance from donor countries and the
marginalization of the developing countries in the market
27. The time was approaching for the year 2000 review of consideration and that older persons were worthy of
the 1995 Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development veneration and esteem.
and the Programme of Action of theWorld Summit for Social
Development. Five years after the commitments given at the
Social Summit, the poorer countries were still experiencing
an increased incidence of diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS,
poor educational and basic health services, higher rates of
unemployment, the emigration of educated personnel to the
richer countries and continuing wars and conflicts.
28. The international community, and the wealthy donor and women, helping to shape a peaceful and prosperous
countries in particular, must discharge their obligations to the world.
developing countries. The time had come to create an
appropriate climate in which all human beings could enjoy
a life of dignity. It was shameful that, in Africa, children
should continue to die of hunger, disease and homelessness
caused by poverty and war while their counterparts in the rich
countries of the North enjoyed all the social services required
to produce a future generation of nation-builders. Should that
situation continue, the gap between North and South would
only widen further. The Copenhagen commitments must be
implemented, the principle of partnership between States
must be given effect and the efforts of non-governmental
organizations and the international community must be
coordinated in order to achieve the goals approved by all at
the 1995 Summit.
29. There was international awareness that social conditions
in the world had deteriorated, it was acknowledged that social
development could not be separated from economic
development and from a climate of stability and peace, and
globalization had become a reality. All of those challenges
must be met.While global approaches were to be welcomed,
it was also important to respect the particular character of
specific societies so that tolerance could be the basis for
interaction between societies. One world order and uniform
standards that were applied to all societies without regard for
the culture, customs, traditions and heritage of each could
never promote social development.
30. ArchbishopMartino (Observer for the Holy See) said
that, in an age when technologymade the world seem smaller
and individuals tended to be isolated from one another, the
31. Words alone would not suffice to preserve the
sacredness of the institution of the family; action was needed.
First and foremost was the principle that the family was based
on the marriage of a man and a woman. There must also be
an awareness that every human life was a precious gift, that
pregnancy was not a disease, that children were a blessing,
that persons with disabilities deserved special care and
32. Parents had a special responsibility to care for and
educate their children. At the World Conference of Ministers
Responsible for Youth, held at Lisbon in 1998, his delegation
had stressed that there must be an inseparable link between
policies to benefit youth and policies to benefit the family. In
a strong family, parents transmitted to their children the
fundamental values that led to their becoming virtuous men
33. Not all families were in the same situation. Families that
had to care for persons with disabilities appeared to face
exceptional and trying circumstances. In reality, however,
such situations could bring a family closer together. Under
no circumstances should persons with disabilities be
considered any less human or less worthy of life. Proper
assistance must be given to families who cared for disabled
loved ones.
34. As the end of the International Year of Older Persons
approached, his delegation wished to stress the theme of
intergenerational solidarity. While democratic and
commercial societies obviously placed a high premium on
youth, humanity itself was humiliated when the wisdom of
elders was ignored. Through appropriate policies, States
should ensure that respected and venerable elders were able
to participate in the life of a society.
35. Mr. Krokhmal (Ukraine) said that his country, like
many other countries with economies in transition, was
undergoing a profound transformation. In seeking to
overcome the difficulties inherent in economic reforms, his
Government viewed the establishment of an effective socialprotection
system as a major task. It had established a
comprehensive social programme to overcome the negative
impact of the economic crisis. Despite the lack of funds, all
possible measures were being taken to avoid cutting social
expenditure. A reform of the social-insurance system was
under way. Plans had been made to reform the pension system
by setting up a scale of payments based on the contribution
made by each member of society.
36. The proportion of youth in the population had grown Learning Needs adopted at the Conference had focused on
steadily in recent years and now accounted for over 20 per early childhood care and development; access to and
cent, or 10 million people. His Government attached great completion of primary education; the significant reduction of
importance to the implementation of the World Programme levels of illiteracy; improved learning achievement; the
of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. National provision of basic non-formal education and skills training
legislation had been enacted to respond to the needs of young for youth and adults; and acquisition by families and
people. In the past two years, the State Committee for Family individuals of the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed to
and Youth Affairs, in conjunction with youth non- enhance quality of life. Thailand strongly supported the
governmental organizations, had implemented over 200 proposed launching of a United Nations decade to eradicate
programmes to improve the status of youth. illiteracy, beginning in the year 2000, and looked forward to
37. In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, his Government
had made every effort to improve the situation of the disabled.
Special legislation had been enacted to ensure equality and 40. While education for all was a long-term goal, the
non-discrimination and to enable disabled persons to immediate priority must be human resources development.
participate fully in the life of the country. His Government’s Accordingly, at the Julyministerial meeting of the Association
strategywas based on the United Nations Standard Rules for of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) held in Singapore,
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Thailand had proposed the establishment of an ASEAN
They had been incorporated into the relevant government human resources development centre and a human resources
programmes, including programmes to promote the development fund with a view to strengthening the capacity
development of the orthopaedic industry and to provide ofmen and women in the ASEAN region to meet effectively
disabled persons with mechanical and motorized devices. the challenges of globalization. Thailand would work actively
Non-governmental organizations also made an important with its ASEAN partners towards the realization of the centre
contribution to the rehabilitation and active participation of and the fund, but it was also counting on the support and
disabled persons. cooperation of the international community and international
38. Mr. Jayanama (Thailand) said that his Government
gave high priority to promoting social development at home
and fostering effective international cooperation in that area.
Thailand had adopted a people-centred approach to
development. The Eighth National Plan for Social and
Economic Development reflected the emphasis in the
Copenhagen Declaration on the human being as the centre of
all development activities and as their prime beneficiary. His 41. The special session of the General Assembly devoted
Government was working in partnership with the private to the follow-up to theWorld Summit for Social Development
sector and civil society to ensure that economic growth to be held in Geneva in June 2000 would provide an
proceeded hand in hand with the development of society as opportunity to reflect on what had been achieved, and what
a whole, so that no one was excluded from the development remained to be done. Since ideology and determination alone
process. Special attention was given to vulnerable groups, could not secure social development in developing countries,
including women, children, the elderly and the disabled. there must be an effort during the special session to
While its close-knit families and strong agricultural base had strengthen international partnerships with a view to
enabled Thailand to weather the 1997 financial crisis, the mobilizing the necessary financial assistance, technical knowexisting
social safety nets had been severely tested and the how and human resources.
crisis had served as a reminder that social development could
not be treated as secondary to economic development.
39. Education was a great equalizer and it should therefore World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995)
be a cause for concern that some 875 million people were far from being attained. Indeed, the disparity between
worldwide remained illiterate. The international community rich and poor nations continued to widen, and much of the
must work towards ensuring equal access to education for all. world’s population was afflicted by poverty, malnutrition,
Thailand, for its part, had hosted the World Conference on unemployment and social exclusion. While social
Education for All (Jomtien, 1990). The World Declaration development was the responsibility of Governments, her
on Education for All and Framework for Action toMeet Basic delegation believed that, without the creation of an
the holding of theWorld Education Forum in Senegal in April
organizations, including the United Nations bodies
concerned. Education and human resources development must
provide not only the ability to earn a livelihood, but also the
ability to think and care about others, and they should
therefore promote respect for human rights and good
governance, which were inalienable elements of social
42. Mrs. Brobbey (Ghana) said that, despite initiatives at
the national, regional and international levels, the goals of the
international enabling environment, developing countries It was concerned, however, at the decline in contributions to
could hardly achieve the goals of the Copenhagen Summit. the United Nations Trust Fund on Family Activities. Member
In many of those countries, structural adjustment policies States must increase their contributions to the Fund if the
were exacerbating poverty among their populations. Despite objectives of the International Year of the Family were to be
the growing recognition of the need to integrate the social and achieved.
economic dimensions of policy, attention remained focused
in practice on economic parameters. Priority must be given
to health promotion, job creation, basic education and social
protection, in particular for vulnerable groups.
43. Her delegation commended the adoption of the Lisbon much remained to be done. However, given the importance
Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes, and the attached to those goals by individual countries and the
Braga Youth Action Plan, which were aimed at addressing international community, there was cause to be optimistic
the problems of young people and making them partners in regarding the future of the world’s social situation.
development. Those instruments were important tools for the
social integration of young people, and it was therefore
imperative that Governments should make a commitment to
implementing their provisions with the participation of youth
organizations from their respective countries. In Ghana,
where young people were considered the most important and
productive segment of the population, special emphasis was
placed on providing quality education and professional
training to prepare them to play an active role in society.
44. The proclamation of 1999 as the International Year of
Older Persons was an opportunity to highlight the talents,
wealth of knowledge and experience of older persons and
increase awareness of their problems and the fast rate at
which society was ageing. In developing countries, traditional
family support for older persons was diminishing because of
economic hardship. It was to be hoped that the activities of
the Year would draw attention to the problem of the migration
of young people from rural areas and its effect on the aged in
the third world.
45. Disabled persons, like the aged, were a vulnerable andWorld Youth Festival, in Istanbul in 2002. That offer had
group. Her Government’s efforts to expand its services to been noted with appreciation at the February session of the
disabled persons, which included schools and training centres Commission for Social Development.
to equip them with the requisite skills for employment and
integration in society, were hampered by budgetary
constraints. Other developing countries were facing similar
problems, and she therefore called for international
cooperation to address the needs of disabled persons, as well
as the elderly, in the developing world.
46. In Ghana, the familywas cherished and protected as the adopted as official policy by the Government. In celebration
natural and fundamental unit of society. In keeping with that of the International Year of Older Persons, the Agency had
belief, Ghanaian legislation on inheritance, the rights of organized a number of events; the Ministry of Education and
spouses, and the formation and dissolution of families had Culture had launched an art and essay-writing competition in
been revised. Her delegation appreciated the tireless efforts the primary and secondary schools; and the University of
of the United Nations system as well as non-governmental Cyprus had done an in-depth study of older persons in Cyprus.
organizations to raise awareness of family issues and to Other commemorative events included a television
support Governments in the formulation of family policies. documentary and a photographic competition.
47. Mr. Bilman (Turkey) noted that progress had been
made towards eradicating poverty, eliminating inequalities,
improving the quality of life for all, including disabled
persons and the elderly, and promoting family values, but
48. Social development had ranked high among the
priorities of successive Turkish Governments. Legislation had
been reformed and measures introduced to combat poverty
and unemployment; participation in policy-making had been
broadened; the social-security system was being reformed,
with a view to making it less burdensome on the economy;
and an unemployment insurance scheme was in the pipeline.
49. Turkey had the youngest population in Europe. His
Government recognized that, while Turkey’s young people
were an asset, significant attention and resources were
required to meet their needs. Over the years, Turkey had
drawn on United Nations themes and guidelines in developing
national programmes for youth, and had wholeheartedly
supported such international initiatives as the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond. It was in that spirit that Turkey, which had been an
active participant in the World Conference of Ministers
Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 1998), had offered to host the
secondWorld Conference, as well as the World Youth Forum
50. Mr. Hadjiargyrou (Cyprus) said that since 1996 the
primary vehicle for promoting issues related to older persons
in Cyprus had been the Coordinating Agency for Older
Persons, composed of governmental and non-governmental
representatives and chaired by the Minister of Labour and
Social Insurance. The proposals of the Agency were usually
51. The main features of the Government’s policy 53. Mr. Nikiforov (Russian Federation) said that his
concerning persons with disabilities were to safeguard equal delegation agreed that the fundamental responsibility for
rights and provide equal opportunities; promote full and equal addressing social-development issues lay with States. His
participation by disabled persons in the social and economic Government was making a concerted effort to mitigate the
life of the country, deinstitutionalize disabled persons and effects of the difficult economic situation in which the Russian
promote independent living; and provide financial assistance Federation found itself. It was establishing mechanisms to
to organizations of the disabled. Services were provided in protect the incomes of public-sector workers and providing
medical rehabilitation; education; training and retraining; social assistance to vulnerable groups. It was also
vocational assessment and guidance; placement in implementing measures to reduce the disparity in the living
employment in the open market, sheltered employment, self- standards of the various categories of the population, enhance
employment and supported employment; provision of protection of employment and social rights, target social
technical aids; removal of social and physical barriers; assistancemore effectively, and achieve financial and social
provision of allowances; and financial assistance to disabled stability. It had taken into account in its social programmes
persons for purchasing their own homes. Laws had been themain points that had emerged from the World Summit for
amended to allow for the free and safe movement of persons Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995).
with disabilities on public roads and sidewalks and in public
buildings, hotels and restaurants. New laws had been drafted
against discrimination in employment and education. Removal
of social barriers was being pursued through activities aimed
at raising public awareness. Persons with disabilities
participated in committees and boards that dealt with their
concerns at the national and local levels, including the
Rehabilitation Council of the Ministry of Labour and Social
Insurance, the central body for discussion of all issues
concerning disabled persons.
52. Over the past decade and a half, there had been gradual fresh impetus to the elaboration of strategies and programmes
devolution of responsibility for youth issues from government aimed at enhancing the position of socially vulnerable groups,
bodies to non-governmental organizations, culminating in the including young people, older persons and the disabled. The
creation of the Youth Board, an umbrella organization. The Russian Federation had supported the idea of holding the
Government’s policy, implemented in close collaboration special session from the very outset and had actively
with the Youth Board, was to provide young people with participated in the work of the Preparatory Committee.
equal opportunities and treatment, while promoting their
personal and social development. The specific objectives
were to encourage young people to participate in the affairs
of the country; to guarantee young people education and
training for integration into economic life; to help young
couples acquire their own homes; to help young people to set
up their own businesses; to run youth clubs, mainly in rural
areas; to set up a youth information centre; and to promote
youth-exchange programmes. The Youth Board could submit
proposals to the Government on youth policy and initiate new
programmes not covered by other departments. The Board
was also responsible for liaison with international
organizations on international cooperation programmes, such
as the Council of Europe’s campaign against racism,
xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance and the European
Union’s programme, Youth for Europe III. The Youth Board
provided funding for youth exchange programmes and
participation of young people in international seminars and
other projects of national youth organizations.
54. International cooperation was needed to supplement
efforts at the national level in order to address social
problems. Much had been achieved under United Nations
auspices. The Russian Federation welcomed the outcome of
the thirty-seventh session of the Commission for Social
Development, in particular the Agreed Conclusions on Social
Services for All adopted by the Commission. The special
session of the General Assembly in June 2000 for the overall
review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome
of the World Summit for Social Development should give
55. His delegation welcomed the proclamation of 1999 as
the International Year of Older Persons, and the efforts to
implement the United Nations Standard Rules on the
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
The Commonwealth of Independent States had established
an organizing committee to coordinate activities to mark the
Year within the Commonwealth, while his Government had
set up a national preparatory committee for the Year.
56. The Russian Federation was convinced that more could
be done to implement the outcome of the Copenhagen
Summit. The bodies of the United Nations system should play
a stronger role in coordinating efforts to that end. The
Commission for Social Development should work more
actively alongside interested countries, and its participation
in monitoring the implementation of decisions adopted
previously in the context of the follow-up to the Summit
should be increased.
57. The Russian Federation supported the efforts to funds and of institutions working for and with young people.
strengthen the leading role of the United Nations in the social Youth had both the right to participate and the duty to help
aspects of international cooperation. It believed that such build a more just society.
cooperation should be given high priority within the
Organization, and that the interests of the various groups of
States, including countries with economies in transition, must
be taken into account. It was hopeful that the special session
in June 2000 would contribute to the attainment of those
58. Ms. Otiti (Uganda) said that progress in social Responsible for Youth, where the participants had committed
development must include reduced poverty, greater choices themselves to implementing the World Programme of Action
and opportunities, better quality of life and better health, yet for Youth and to creating networks that would foster the
a large portion of the world’s population had remained establishment of permanent mechanisms for youth
untouched by those changes. The gap between rich and poor participation. The youth of Ecuador worked actively through
had widened, and as a result institutions, including the family, local, regional and national forums, convinced that by their
had been weakened. The prospects for young people were for joint efforts they could find a way to transform their society.
the most part bleak. Many feared to grow up, because abject Through their representation today at the United Nations,
poverty would become their problem to solve. The scourge their dreams were beginning to become reality. They would
of diseases like HIV/AIDS had robbed many young people like to see the sub-item of youth under social development
of hope for a life of any kind. Some lived a modest life become an item in its own right on the agenda of the Third
overshadowed by the great achievements of their forebears, Committee.
which the conditions of their lives offered them no
opportunity to emulate. Some youth were merely looking
forward to adulthood so that they could spend what they had
inherited. Only a few would be fortunate enough to grow up
to enjoy the fruits of their own efforts.
59. Although Uganda was one of the world’s poorest development had become the dominant preoccupation of the
nations, it was nonetheless addressing children’s needs. The developing countries in a world characterized by
Poverty Action Fund had doubled the number of children globalization and marked by its adverse effects.
attending primary school. Approximately 90 per cent of the
children of Uganda were now able to complete primary
education. Uganda wished to express its gratitude to the
United States of America, the United Kingdom, nongovernmental
organizations and the United Nations for
helping to make that goal a reality.
60. Uganda had recognized that the disabled were a very education.
important part of society and had reserved two seats in
Parliament specifically for the disabled. It was encouraging
that the world was beginning to acknowledge that not only the
disabled but also older persons were an asset to society.
61. Mr. Aleman (Ecuador) said that he had the honour to facilities linked by reliable communications and a large fleet
introduce two youth representatives from his national of vehicles and ambulances. The calculations of the United
delegation. Nations Secretariat showed that, after the imposition of the
62. Ms. Murgueitio (Ecuador) urged all Member States
to allow their young people to contribute to the development
of their countries and to hear their ideas and requests: the
right to participate in legislative debates, the implementation
of national youth policies, the establishment of agencies to
guarantee their rights, the creation of youth social-investment
63. Ms. Vicuña (Ecuador) said that, when invited to speak
before the United Nations, she had imagined that she would
find far more young people at the meetings raising issues and
debating the requirements of world integration; their absence
made it clear how far there was yet to go. A step along that
road had been taken at the World Conference of Ministers
64. Mr. Al-Humaimidi (Iraq) said that it was difficult to
speak of social development in isolation from economic
development, which were two sides of the same coin.
International instruments had affirmed the right to
development as a basic and inalienable human right, and
65. In Iraq, a developing country, there were other
challenges to be faced arising out of the devastating
consequences of the economic embargo that had now been
maintained against the country for more than nine years. The
scale of the damage done to the country’s social development
could be gauged from the situation in the areas of health and
66. According to the World Health Organization (WHO),
before 1991 some 97 per cent of urban residents and 78 per
cent of rural residents had had access to health care. The
health-care system had had an extensive network of health
embargo and the aggression against Iraq, infant mortality had
risen from64 per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 129 per 1,000
in 1995 and the incidence of low birth weight had risen from
4 per cent in 1990 to about 25 per cent in 1997. The capacity
of health-care facilities to provide services had also
deteriorated and the communications network had collapsed.
Infectious diseases that had previously been brought under country was placing in the way of development in Iraq, a
control had reappeared and had become endemic. country whose Secretary of State had, before the aggression
67. UNICEF had reported that the Government of Iraq had
made large-scale investments in the education sector between
themid-1970s and 1990. UNESCO had stated that it had been
part of Iraq’s educational policy to provide grants, facilities
for research and medical care for students. In 1989 enrolment
in elementary and secondary schools had been 75 per cent,
or a little more than the average for developing countries. 71. Miss Blackwood (Jamaica), speaking as a youth
School enrolment for all ages had fallen to 53 per cent, and representative, said that her delegation supported the
in the central and southern governorates 80 per cent of school statementmade by Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of member
buildings were in need of repair; progress in the elimination States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). On behalf
of illiteracy had been halted. According to UNESCO figures, of the youth of her country, she wished to comment on some
the number of absentees from elementary schools had risen of the situations that presented a particular threat to young
from some 96,000 in 1990 to over 130,000 in 1999. people. One such threat was the increase in armed conflicts
68. The report of the second panel concerning the current
humanitarian situation in Iraq (S/1999/356, annex II), had
referred to the qualitative dimension of the impact of the
sanctions and to the cumulative effects of sustained
deprivation on the psychosocial cohesion of the Iraqi
population as indicated by an increase in juvenile
delinquency, begging and prostitution, anxiety about the
future and lack ofmotivation, and a rising sense of isolation.
WHO had pointed out that the number of mental-health
patients attending health facilities had risen by 157 per cent
between 1990 and 1998. The report had also stated that the
cumulative effect of the sanctions regime and of economic
decline on the social fabric of Iraq had been particularly
evident to the first-hand observers who had communicated
with the panel. According to the Humanitarian Coordinator
in Iraq, unemployment and low salaries were forcing Iraqis
with higher levels of education to abandon jobs as teachers
or doctors and either to emigrate or to seek employment as 72. TheWorld Programme of Action for Youth to the Year
taxi drivers or security guards and the like, thus adding to the 2000 and Beyond, the adoption of the Lisbon Declaration on
problems in the areas of health and education. Youth Policies and Programmes, and the Braga Youth Action
69. Development could not take place without the presence
of two basic elements, namely financial resources and
international cooperation. Iraq had been deprived of both by
the imposition and maintenance of the embargo and the
ongoing military aggression against it. The strong desire of
Iraq’s leadership and of its people to advance development
as an option to which there was no alternative had
nevertheless prompted the country to use the scarce resources
available to it for the basic requirements of development and
to channel them in such a way as to mitigate the consequences 73. Some of the initiatives implemented under the policy
of the embargo. included the National Youth Service Programme, which
70. The international community must be faithful to the
commitments it had made at the Copenhagen World Summit
for Social Development. It must remove the sanctions that one
of January 1991, threatened to return Iraq to the pre-industrial
age. The first step in the right direction would be to lift the
embargo imposed on Iraq, which had never had any
justification and now had no rationale whatever when Iraq had
discharged its obligations under the relevant Security Council
and the use of children and young people as pawns in warfare,
whether as targets or perpetrators. All concerned parties must
work together to transform the vicious cycle of war into a
culture of peace. Another situation that threatened young
people was the widening gap between developed and
developing countries. Despite the promised benefits of
globalization developing countries were being increasingly
marginalized in the world economy and faced problems of
access to markets, capital and technology. The problems
created by that international environment made the societies
of developing countries like Jamaica more susceptible to
criminal activities, drug-trafficking and the proliferation of
small arms. Once again, it was the young people who usually
fell victim to the dangers. The youth of Jamaica urged
continued international cooperation on such matters as
finance and development, poverty eradication and
international drug control.
Plan were all important mechanisms for generating
international cooperation. But the United Nations did not bear
sole responsibility for action; the individual Member States
must also play an important role. The Government of Jamaica
had implemented a national youth policy aimed at giving
young people the opportunity to develop their full mental,
social, spiritual and physical potential through training
programmes to assist youth to be responsible, productive
enabled young persons aged 17 to 24 who were neither
employed nor enrolled in an educational institution to receive
job training and an opportunity to continue their education.
Another example was a special training and empowerment
programme launched in 1997 to provide young people with
training in hospitality management, information technology
and office-administration technology. In addition, courses had
been developed to provide formal training in youth
development and youth studies. The Government had also
undertaken public awareness campaigns on drug abuse within
the schools and the community at large. Similar programmes
had been implemented to address the issue of HIV/AIDS.
74. The Jamaican Government had embraced the idea that
young people should be given the opportunity to be heard.
During the past year the PrimeMinister had travelled around
the country and held public forums with young people to
discuss the issues affecting them. In 1998 a youth technology
consultant had been appointed to accompany the Minister of
Commerce and Technology to technology events dealing with
youth-related matters and to provide the Minister with a
young person’s perspective on the world of information and
75. She would urge the international community to
remember that the rationale behind the World Programme of
Action for Youth was not only to identify and create youth
policies and programmes, but also to give youth an
opportunity to be active participants.
The meeting rose at 12.20 p.m.