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Summary record of the 5th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 8 October 1999, General Assembly, 54th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/54/SR.5
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 54th
Type Document

12 p.

Subjects Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Youth

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly
Distr.: General
Fifty-fourth session 2 November 1999
Official Records Original: English
Third Committee
Summary record of the 5th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Friday, 8 October 1999, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Galluska . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (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.
99-81502 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 a.m.
Agenda item 106: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (A/54/56, 57, 59, 61 and Corr.1, 62,
A/54/66-E/1999/6, A/54/98, A/54/128-E/1999/70,
A/54/256, 268 and 388; A/C.3/54/L.2)
1. Mr. Howell (International Labour Organization) said
that central to the mandate of the International Labour
Organization (ILO) was a commitment to social
development that went hand in hand with economic
advance. ILO was working to combat poverty everywhere
by promoting job creation. In November 1999, it would be
hosting international consultations on the theme of
promoting full, productive and freely chosen employment.
In addition, it would be holding the Second ILO Enterprise
Forum, with the participation of many business leaders.
2. With the adoption by the International Labour
Conference in 1998 of the Declaration on Fundamental
Principles and Rights at Work, ILO member States had
demonstrated their desire to promote, realize and respect
freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining,
the abolition of forced labour and child labour, and the
elimination of discrimination in employment. The
Organization’s commitment to social development had also
been reflected in the launching of priority programmes to
address its four strategic objectives, namely, the promotion
and realization of fundamental rights at work, the
improvement of opportunities for women and men to secure
decent jobs and incomes, the enhancement of social
protection, and the strengthening of tripartism and social
3. In 1998, the International Labour Conference had
called on member States to adopt balanced economic
growth strategies, increase spending on education and
develop innovative programmes aimed at, inter alia,
promoting enterprise among young people to combat high
youth unemployment and unemployment among disabled
persons and members of ethnic minorities. In particular,
ILO had been closely involved in promoting the youth
employment aims of the World Programme of Action for
Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond. It had also played an
active role in the World Conference of Ministers
Responsible for Youth (Lisbon 1998) and the United
Nations World Youth Forum.
4. ILO Recommendation No. 162 (1980) concerning
Older Workers set out measures aimed at protecting the
right of older persons to equal treatment in the workplace.
The current International Year of Older Persons was an
opportunity to consider how older workers adapted to new
skills, whether early retirement should be used as a tool for
alleviating youth unemployment and the social-security
budgeting implications of such a policy; and what longterm
social-security arrangements should be in place for
older persons at the end of their working lives. ILO
encouraged employment policies based on economic
growth, enhanced opportunities for lifelong learning and
training, flexible job planning to extend working lives, and
innovative and sustainable social security and pension
5. In furtherance of the aims of the World Programme
of Action concerning disabled persons, ILO was seeking
to equalize employment opportunities for persons with
disabilities, by advising member States on developing
appropriate legislative and institutional frameworks based
on its Conventions, building a supportive environment for
the social and economic integration of disabled persons,
as well as a code of practice on managing disability and
related matters in the workplace.
6. ILO was working in ever closer collaboration with
other bodies of the United Nations system in preparing for
the special session of the General Assembly in 2000 for an
overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the
outcome of the World Summit for Social Development. It
had also played the leading role in the preparations for the
high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council in
1999 on the role of employment and work in poverty
eradication: the empowerment and advancement of women.
Those themes, and the global challenges they represented,
were among the ILO operational priorities.
7. Mr. Hudson (Australia) said that, as the first youth
representative to be included in Australia’s delegation to
the General Assembly, he would focus on youth
participation and representation in the United Nations and
the international community, which remained less than
universally accepted.
8. Persons aged 25 and under constituted 60 per cent of
the global population. Their full and effective participation
in society and decision-making was the most fundamental
aspect of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the
Year 2000 and Beyond. In many parts of the world,
however, young people were excluded from participation
in the decisions that influenced their lives, thus
contributing to their alienation from society. Youth
participation in policy- and decision-making was also
important because it could lead to fresh approaches and
new workable solutions to youth problems. In such areas
as health care and drug prevention, the participation of
young people in designing, implementing and evaluating
programmes was not only a matter of equity but added
relevance for the target group.
9. The Australian Government was committed to
communicating directly with young people on issues that
concerned them. For that purpose, it was developing a
programme entitled “Voices of Youth” and it recently
created a national youth round table consisting of 50 young
Australians from diverse backgrounds who met twice a year
with members of Parliament to express their views.
National youth media awards had been established to
promote positive portrayals of young people in the media,
and, in the year 2000, for the first time, a national youth
week would be held to celebrate young Australians and
promote their contribution to the society.
10. The participation of youth representatives in national
delegations to relevant United Nations meetings provided
an opportunity for youth perspectives to be considered and
enabled the youth representatives to gain a better
understanding of the complex political realities that shaped
the United Nations agenda and its decisions. Accordingly,
Australia wished to encourage other Member States to
include young people in their delegations to the General
11. Ms. Enkhtsetseg (Mongolia) said that while poverty
remained a serious problem in Mongolia, some positive
social trends were emerging: maternal mortality had begun
to decline, primary school enrolment was improving and
drop-out rates were down. Child survival conditions were
better because of enhanced immunization rates. Reforms
were being implemented with a view to developing
education, health care and other social and cultural sectors
but progress was slow due to lack of resources. Her
Government was aware that social and economic policy,
environmental concerns and good governance were
interconnected, and that those four components of national
development must work in harmony.
12. Cooperatives made an important contribution to the
realization of social development goals by promoting
employment and alleviating poverty, and through their role
as production enterprises and providers of services to their
members, who numbered almost 800 million worldwide.
Her delegation welcomed the report of the Secretary-
General on the status and role of cooperatives in the light
of new economic and social trends (A/54/57), which had
been enriched by the information provided by Governments
and national cooperative organizations. The draft
guidelines aimed at creating a supportive environment for
the development of cooperatives contained in the annex to
the report would give timely guidance to Governments on
developing or revising their policies on cooperatives. Her
delegation therefore urged the adoption of the draft
guidelines by the General Assembly.
13. There were seven cooperative alliances comprising
2,000 individual cooperatives in Mongolia. Her
Government had adopted a national programme for the
development of cooperatives and established a national
council charged with monitoring the implementation of the
programme under the chairmanship of the Minister of
Agriculture and Industry. The programme’s main objective
was to involve cooperatives in the promotion of national
development goals, particularly job creation, poverty
reduction and the provision of reliable social services to the
population. Mongolia’s national legislation on cooperatives
had been revised in 1998 to incorporate the main principles
of the Statement on Cooperative Identity adopted in 1995
at the Centennial Congress of the International
Cooperative Alliance.
14. Mongolia attached particular importance to the
attainment of the goals of the World Declaration on
Education for All. Her delegation was therefore
disappointed that the interim report of the Secretary-
General and of the Director-General of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) on progress towards the goal of education for
all: the year 2000 Assessment (A/54/128-E/1999/70)
contained no substantive proposals regarding the launching
of a United Nations decade to eradicate illiteracy, despite
a request to that effect in General Assembly resolution
52/84. Mongolia believed that such an initiative would spur
the international community to make a renewed political
commitment to rendering quality education accessible to
all. Her delegation would be submitting a draft resolution
on education for all requesting the Secretary-General and
the Director-General of UNESCO to submit a proposal,
accompanied by a plan of action, to the General Assembly
at its fifty-fifth session with a view to proclaiming the
period 2001-2010 as the United Nations decade to eradicate
15. Mr. Jassim (Bahrain) said that Bahrain had always
provided equal access, free of charge, to education, health
care and social welfare as essential components of human
rights. It had made strenuous efforts to improve the
qualifications of its young people, develop their intellectual
capacities and promote their social advancement.
16. With more than 70 per cent of government spending
allocated to the infrastructure, social, economic and
educational sectors, the benefits of development had been
made available to the community in general, and had
resulted in Bahrain’s high ranking in the UNDP Human
Development Index over the past five years.
17. The family was the fundamental nucleus of society
and was recognized as such by the Constitution of Bahrain.
Many of the country’s governmental and non-governmental
agencies had accordingly implemented family-oriented
programmes, and the Bahrain Family Planning and Family
Welfare Association had been established in 1975 in order
to promote awareness of the concepts of family planning
and reproductive health as legitimate human rights.
18. Bahrain had participated actively in the observance
of the International Year of Older Persons in 1999. Respect
for older persons was a cultural trait that was reflected in
the country’s policy and doubtless stemmed from the
heritage of the people of Bahrain and the customs,
traditions and values that embodied the principles of the
Islamic religion and enjoined respect for parents and
concern for the well-being of the elderly. The State had
established legal guarantees of full rights for older persons
and had enacted legislation providing for retirement
19. In implementation of the relevant United Nations
resolutions, Bahrain had made much progress in providing
for the welfare of disabled persons. State and nongovernmental
agencies had accorded special attention to
disabled persons in the belief that expenditure on their care
and rehabilitation was a productive investment with a
direct economic return in terms of human resources
development. A National Institution for Services to
Disabled Persons had been established, and its tasks
included the formulation of appropriate public policy, the
drafting of relevant legislation, the preparation of studies
to identify needs, and cooperation with regional and
international organizations operating in the same field.
20. Mr. Shen Guofang (China) said that the basis for
global social development was the steady growth of the
world economy in a stable and peaceful environment. To
counter the adverse effects on that economy of the financial
crises in some countries over the past two years all
members of the international community must work
together to promote steady economic growth in a spirit of
responsibility and risk-sharing in order to achieve
prosperity for all.
21. Poverty eradication should be the central task of
global social development. Progress towards that goal had
been slow thus far, and more than 1 billion people around
the world were still living in extreme poverty. Given the
economic interdependence deriving from globalization,
developed countries had a duty to offer technological and
financial assistance to developing countries in their efforts
to eradicate poverty.
22. His delegation hoped that the special session of the
General Assembly in June 2000 devoted to the follow-up
to the World Summit for Social Development would give
new impetus to global social development. The topics for
discussion should include the impact of globalization, trade
liberalization and the information revolution on global
social development; problems related to rural development;
and the enhancement of the role of the United Nations in
coordinating international cooperation for social
development. Developed countries should be urged to meet
the official development assistance target of 0.7 per cent
of gross national product, and a clear timetable should be
worked out for the realization of that goal.
23. His Government would continue to implement the
commitments made at the Copenhagen Summit. It was
actively involved in the preparations for the special
session. On 11 October 1999, it would host an international
symposium on social development. Experts from different
regions would be invited to discuss the role of Governments
and the market in promoting social progress. The outcome
of the symposium would be a direct contribution to the
special session.
24. Mr. Balanandan (India) said that his delegation had
paid close attention to events held to review the
implementation of the World Programme of Action for
Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond and welcomed the
adoption of the Braga Youth Action Plan at the third
session of the World Youth Forum held in Portugal. His
delegation expressed appreciation to the Governments of
Turkey and Senegal for offering to host the forthcoming
World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth and
the next session of the World Youth Forum.
25. In an age of information revolution and globalization,
issues related to youth should be seen in the context of
social and economic development and the potential of
youth to be a major force for social change through
increased participation in political systems should be
specifically acknowledged.
26. Five years after the declaration of the International
Year of the Family in 1994, there was a need to take stock
of new developments affecting the family. Problems arising
from broken homes, neglect, economic stress and intergenerational
conflict were on the rise everywhere. A fresh
assessment of the role of the family as an institution for
social stability was needed.
27. The role of education as the primary instrument of
progress could not be overstated. His delegation fully
supported the report of the Secretary-General and of the
Director-General of UNESCO (A/54/128-E/1999/70),
which redefined education as going beyond literacy, to
include the acquisition of skills and competence in
different social settings.
28. Persons with disabilities should be targeted more
effectively by the social services in order to unleash their
productive potential. Education and affirmative action to
provide sustainable livelihoods for the disabled were a
necessity. The World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons, the United Nations Standard Rules for
Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities,
and the Long-term Strategy to Implement the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons to the
Year 2000 and Beyond were important initiatives in
achieving that objective.
29. While the significance of cooperatives had dwindled
in the context of rapid globalization and corporate
transnationalism, cooperatives now had a new role to play
as organizations for self-help and self-reliance. By pooling
resources, contributing voluntary labour and bargaining
collectively, societies could provide themselves with health
care, education and other basic services at the grass-roots
level without awaiting action by Governments. His
delegation therefore welcomed the guidelines aimed at
creating a supportive environment for the development of
cooperatives, as outlined in the report of the Secretary-
General on the subject (A/54/57), and was glad to have cosponsored
the draft resolution on cooperatives.
30. Ms. Oliverio-Relang (Marshall Islands) said that,
over the last three years, her country had faced the
challenge of economic reforms, natural phenomena such
as El Niño and the effects of the Asian financial crisis.
Together with the country’s high population growth rate
of 3.8 per cent, those factors had affected social
development. The Marshall Islands endorsed unreservedly
the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development,
particularly the 20/20 principle, and spent more than 20
per cent of its budget on social issues. Its national policies
on population, women and youth were the primary
instruments for fulfilling the commitments made at the
31. To overcome the difficulties of living in a small
island developing State where the main services and
activities were concentrated in only two urban centres, the
country had established a mobile team for community
development to provide outlying communities with
information on nutrition and population issues. The
Ministry of Education carried out a similar campaign on
community-based local governance for outer island local
governments and communities. Those efforts were intended
to empower communities for social development at the
grass-roots level. In addition, the Government would
convene a second National Economic and Social Summit
to build partnerships for the benefit of the outer island
32. With 50 per cent of its population under the age of
15, the Government faced major challenges in ensuring
social development, equality and progress and in meeting
the steadily increasing demand for educational and health
services. Government initiatives such as the National
Youth Policy would help young people to meet some of the
challenges of the new millennium. In addition, the nongovernmental
organization Youth to Youth in Health
implemented a programme on health awareness, leadership
skills, peer teaching and cultural appreciation that targeted
young people at high risk for unwanted pregnancy, suicide
or alcohol abuse. The success of that programme was
largely responsible for the continuing decline in births
among teenagers. Currently, the organization was seeking
donor contributions to build a youth health centre; the
Government stood ready to provide information on that
project to interested donor countries and agencies.
33. Mr. Ryan (Ireland) said that, in October 1998,
Ireland had hosted the United Nations Workshop on
Technology and Families. In exploring the impact of the
technological revolution on families, the Workshop had
emphasized the areas of education, communication and
information; work and employment; and health and basic
social services. It had focused, inter alia, on the societal
and lifestyle consequences of the introduction of
technology into society.
34. The participants in the Workshop had called for
research on the impact of technology on families, for
parallel development of opportunities through adult
education and for early recognition that families should not
become simply passive recipients of services. In addition,
they had agreed that the privacy and integrity of personal
information stored on computer must be protected. The
findings of the Workshop would help to guide
Governments in investigating the changes experienced by
families as a result of technological innovation. Of
particular relevance were the employment opportunities
generated through a more directed application of new
technologies, inter alia for disabled family members.
35. The discussions at the Workshop had also dealt with
the special needs of developing countries in coping with
modern technology and the ways in which new
communications technologies could increase access to
health and basic services in those countries. The
participants had recommended the use of family impact
assessments in framing policies involving technology.
Moreover, they had acknowledged the potential of nongovernmental
organizations to help families minimize the
negative impact of the Internet on children and young
people and to act as partners in the delivery of social
services and preventive health care.
36. Mr. Rabuka (Fiji) said that improved longevity had
created the “greying” of society in Fiji so that between
1995 and 2025, the number of people over the age of 60
was expected to increase by 233 per cent. However, the
economic and social implications of that demographic shift
were not yet fully recognized or understood. Senior citizens
in Fiji were not required to pay value-added tax on basic
food items or on medical expenses and supplies. Plans were
under way to make available loans of up to $2,000 from the
country’s Poverty Alleviation Fund, improve social security
for the elderly and destitute and enable self-employed
persons to contribute to the Fiji National Provident Fund
so that they could benefit from the Fund’s retirement
37. Discrimination on the ground of disability was
prohibited in Fiji, and aggrieved persons could seek legal
redress for denial of their fundamental human rights. The
National Council for Disabled Persons provided the
framework for government action with respect to the
disabled and for the implementation of the relevant
international instruments. The Government was committed
to ensuring the rehabilitation of the disabled so that they
could be gainfully employed. It acknowledged that more
could be done to guarantee the full and equal participation
of the disabled in community affairs and to ensure the
exercise of their human rights, but it needed time and
resources to meet its obligations.
38. The dissolution of the extended family owing to the
migration of some family members to urban areas in search
of employment presented a major social challenge. The
Government of Fiji was committed to strengthening the
family; to that end, it was reviewing the current rates of
taxation and allowances. The family component of
development projects and the family activities of the
specialized agencies should be strengthened to build
institutional capacity for research, data collection and
collaboration among States and to support the formulation
and implementation of family-related policies and
programmes in developing countries, especially small
island developing States.
39. Fiji agreed with the view, expressed in the report of
the Secretary-General on the implementation of the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond (A/54/59), that the situation and prospects of
young people were closely related to the general economic
and social conditions in each country and to the State’s
economic ability to generate employment. Fiji was carrying
out a number of activities to implement the World
Programme of Action, including agricultural and nonagricultural
skill training, youth training and the
formulation and implementation of an integrated
intersectoral policy for youth development in the new
millennium. Society as a whole paid the price for the high
rates of youth unemployment and underemployment.
40. Fiji appreciated the World Bank’s enhanced poverty
strategy, which would involve the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and other actors. However, national efforts to
achieve economic growth required an enabling
international trading environment imbued with a strong
sense of economic and social justice. In particular, small
island developing States such as Fiji could not receive an
equitable share of the benefits of the global trading system
without improved market access, special and differential
treatment of their products and enhanced institutional
capacity to make the most of global trading opportunities.
In the forthcoming World Trade Organization (WTO)
negotiations on trade liberalization, it must be borne in
mind that the global trading system could not become a
level playing field without the free movement of human
capital. The failure to incorporate human resources into
globalization and trade liberalization was responsible for
the slow economic development of many developing
41. Fiji was disappointed by the apparent reluctance of
its partners to meet their obligations under the Programme
of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island
Developing States. The international community could not
turn a blind eye to the situation of the poor in developing
countries or to the efforts made at the national level to
address the needs and concerns of the poor. The
commitments made at the international level must be
translated into action to help the poor regain their dignity
and find a meaningful existence.
42. Mr. Al-Sudairy (Saudi Arabia) said that his
Government was doing its utmost to achieve the highest
standards of social development. The country’s Basic Law
of Government, which was based on the teachings of Islam
and the principle of consultation, ensured a secure social
climate through the enactment of laws and regulations that
protected members of society from injustice and
discrimination or anything that might restrict their
freedom of movement or action. Social welfare services
helped to protect the community from deviance and adverse
social manifestations while endeavouring to make inactive
human resources productive and self-supporting.
43. The Social Security Administration had been
established in 1962, and its functions included the
oversight and regulation of assistance to entitled families
and individuals. It provided two types of assistance, namely
allowances and welfare benefits. Allowances were for those
disabled by advanced age, for orphans and the fatherless
and for widows and divorced women who had no one to
support them; and welfare benefits were for the totally
disabled, the families of prison inmates and the victims of
random catastrophes and disasters.
44. The Government’s efforts were supplemented by
those of charitable institutions and non-governmental
organizations motivated by Islamic principles and
teachings. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs
encouraged citizens to establish voluntary organizations
to meet the needs of individuals and groups at the local
level, and there were 142 such charitable societies that
received annual subsidies from the Government.
45. Pursuant to the Government’s policy of promoting
the welfare and productive employment of disabled
persons, opportunities were available to them in
governmental and non-governmental agencies. In
workplaces where 50 or more persons were employed, and
where the nature of the work permitted, at least 2 per cent
of the workforce were required to be suitably trained
disabled persons.
46. The health care provided by the Saudi Arabian
Government in pursuance of the principle of “Health for
all” as a national strategy had produced effective results.
The statistics on numbers of doctors, hospitals, hospital
beds and health centres and on the ratios of doctors and
nurses to the general population showed that there had
been a great and rapid expansion in health care with a high
percentage of the population immunized against major
diseases resulting in a sharp decline in the numbers of
victims of such diseases. Saudi Arabia ranked with the
industrially advanced countries in terms of its infant
mortality rate and under-5 mortality rate.
47. Saudi Arabia had achieved the goals established in
the 1995 Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development
and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social
Development. It had done so through a combination of
conservatism and contemporaneity. Its conservatism had
focused on the preservation of religious and moral values
through the application of Islamic principles, and its
contemporaneity had consisted in the pursuit of overall
development with a view to ensuring the well-being of the
members of the community with due regard for the
formation of a worthy and productive citizenry that was
aware of its responsibilities and its role in serving society.
48. Mr. García González (El Salvador) said that he
supported the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77
and China under agenda item 106. In line with the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and the
elements suggested in the Long-term Strategy to
Implement the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons to the Year 2000 and Beyond, his
Government had set up a national commission to propose
revisions and reforms of current legislation concerning
disabled persons which had led to the establishment of a
National Council for the General Welfare of Persons with
Disabilities (CONAIPD) to meet the enormous demand
from Salvadorans who suffered from some type of disability
as a direct result of the armed conflict.
49. The Council was made up of a number of government
Ministries and institutions that dealt inter alia with the
family, health, education, labour and social security and
of various non-governmental organizations. It had
prepared a draft law on the equalization of opportunities
for persons with disabilities, which would introduce a legal
regime for persons with any type of physical or mental
disability and would establish the care institutions and
agencies they required. The Council had also prepared a
policy document on the equalization of opportunities for
persons with disabilities. Those efforts had been widely
publicized through an information programme on disability
designed to raise awareness of the issue and to suggest
ways in which the population could support the Council’s
50. National efforts to assist the disabled must be linked
to those of the international community, particularly
through the implementation of the relevant suggestions
made at the World Conference on Human Rights, the
International Conference on Population and Development,
the World Summit for Social Development, the Fourth
World Conference on Women and the second United
Nations Conference on Human Settlements. He hoped that
national and international efforts would be redoubled to
ensure that the deliberations at the 2002 quinquennial
review and appraisal of the World Programme of Action
adequately reflected the issues that must be addressed in
the areas of social integration, technology, information and
comprehensive protection to guarantee equitable
development for the disabled in the new millennium.
51. Mr. Sergiwa (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that at
the threshold of the new millennium the world social
situation was deteriorating: the rich were getting richer,
and the poor were getting poorer; unemployment was on
the rise; and in many countries social inequality was
growing. The situation would continue to worsen in the
absence of the political will to create an international
climate that was supportive of national efforts to eliminate
poverty, create full and productive employment and achieve
social integration.
52. The disabled constituted a vulnerable group that
merited the concern of the international community to
integrate them into their societies and to implement the
World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.
The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya had taken the initiative with
respect to the proclamation of 1981 as the International
Year of Disabled Persons and had chaired the Advisory
Committee for the Year. Its concern for disabled persons
and the fact that it had sought to alert the international
community to their plight should not be surprising because
the country continued to have a great number of citizens
who had been disabled by the mines and other remnants
of war left there after the Second World War. His
delegation reiterated its demand that the countries
responsible should comply with the General Assembly
resolutions requiring them to remove the mines and to
provide compensation for the damage caused. The mines
were still maiming, disabling and killing innocent people.
53. The breakup of families and the disappearance of the
extended family from any societies had exacerbated the
problems faced by older persons and had led to a search for
alternative ways to provide them with social services. The
observance of the International Year of Older Persons in
1999 had been a step in the right direction and had
promoted awareness of the needs of the elderly and of their
contributions to society.
54. His delegation affirmed the right of young people to
education, employment and health care. The
implementation at the national level of the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond level would promote the formulation of integrated
national youth policies designed to satisfy the needs and
aspirations of young people and to involve them in all
matters that concerned them.
55. Among the social and economic measures and
policies aimed at developing its human resources, the
Libyan Arab Jamahiriya provided education to all free of
charge until completion of the elementary level, free health
services, and free social security services for widows,
disabled persons and the elderly. It strived for equality
between the sexes, enhancement of the role of women in
development and the protection of the family as the
foundation of society. It had enacted legislation providing
numerous benefits to disabled people, enhancing their role
in society and insuring equal opportunities for them.
Special attention was paid to developing the skills and
abilities of young people by ensuring their right to
education, quality health care and employment and by
meeting their special needs and promoting their
participation in development and decision-making.
56. Those developments had taken place despite the
coercive economic sanctions imposed on the Libyan people
in the early 1990s, which had caused it enormous losses
and had impeded plans and programmes designed to meet
the needs of vulnerable groups in society.
57. Ms. Ramiro Lopez (Philippines) said that the
situation of persons with disabilities in her country was of
increasing concern to her Government since about 10 per
cent of the population was disabled. Government policy
stressed prevention of disability, rehabilitation and
equalization of opportunities for disabled persons,
protecting their rights and providing services to hasten
their integration into society. The human rights of disabled
persons had been protected by the adoption of the Magna
Carta for Disabled Persons in 1992, the inclusion of a
separate section on disabled persons in the national human
rights plan for the period 1996-2000, and the strengthening
of the accessibility law.
58. Her delegation noted with satisfaction the
encouraging developments outlined in the report of the
Secretary-General on the implementation of the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons
(A/54/388), including the increased interest of nongovernmental
organizations, civil society and the private
sector in equalizing opportunities for persons with
disabilities through the innovative use of information
technology. Her delegation expressed its appreciation to
the United Nations Department of Economic and Social
Affairs for its assistance in organizing the seminar on
Internet accessibility and persons with disabilities that had
been sponsored by the Association of South-East Asian
Nations (ASEAN).
59. Further efforts to promote the rights of persons with
disabilities and equalize opportunities for them were
needed. Her delegation would welcome an exchange of best
practices in those areas and a greater focus on the needs
of disabled children. In that regard, it was crucial to
generate information and comparable data in order to
monitor and promote the implementation of the World
Programme of Action. Her delegation called upon Member
States to make use of the technical expertise of the United
Nations Statistics Division for that purpose.
60. The global youth population, now numbered one
billion, and the magnitude of youth concerns could not be
ignored. Her Government had formulated a medium-term
youth development plan for the period 1999-2004 and had
strengthened the participation of youth in governance by
appointing a Commissioner on Youth and establishing a
capacity-building programme for youth leaders. Her
delegation noted with satisfaction the increasing number
of Member States that had implemented national youth
programmes and welcomed the holding in Portugal in 1998
of the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for
Youth and the World Youth Forum of the United Nations
61. Her delegation also welcomed the Secretary-
General’s proposal that United Nations research and policy
initiatives should be focused on the further implementation
of the World Programme of Action, as stated in paragraph
92 of document A/54/59. Her Government also supported
efforts to strengthen the Youth Unit of the Secretariat
through the provision of United Nations interns and
62. Turning to the report of the Secretary-General on the
follow-up to the International Year of the Family
(A/54/256), she said that her Government was continuing
to implement its plan of action for the family for the period
1994-2000. That plan addressed family concerns in such
areas as livelihoods, family values and culture, criminality
and domestic violence. Her delegation supported actions
that included a family-sensitive approach to development
strategies; for that reason, it welcomed the family-related
activities of the Secretariat, including the efforts to monitor
the impact of global social and economic trends on
63. Beyond national efforts, addressing pressing social
development issues required international cooperation.
There was a need to prepare human resources, particularly
in developing countries, for globalization and
modernization, while at the same time promoting greater
social cohesion.
64. Mr. Donokusumo (Indonesia) said that the impact
of the global economy on youth had been particularly harsh
in some countries. Declining levels of official development
assistance and financial flows, as well as debt obligations,
had adversely affected the daily lives of young people. His
delegation therefore agreed with the Secretary-General that
youth problems should be seen in the context of the current
state of international cooperation and it reaffirmed the
importance of the World Programme of Action for Youth
to the Year 2000 and Beyond.
65. His Government had incorporated issues concerning
youth into its five-year development plans. Despite recent
setbacks, Indonesian young people had continued to play
an active and vibrant role in the exercise of democracy.
66. His delegation welcomed the interim report of the
Secretary-General and of the Director-General of UNESCO
on progress towards the goal of education for all by the
year 2000 (A/54/128-E/1999/70) and the fact that more
than two thirds of the world’s population were now literate.
His Government remained committed to achieving the goal
of basic education for all by the year 2003.
67. His delegation supported initiatives to increase
awareness of international norms and standards for the
disabled that were essential if disabled persons were to
engage in mainstream activities. In 1997 his Government
had adopted Public Act No. 4 on the Disabled Person,
which stipulated the equal rights of the disabled, including
their right to have access to social services. His
Government remained committed to strengthening the
social safety net and to providing, within its limited means,
for the disabled and other vulnerable groups.
68. Mr. Fadaifard (Islamic Republic of Iran) said that
the momentum of social development in Iran had
quickened, with further initiatives being taken to
implement the Copenhagen Declaration and with global
awareness on ageing being raised as a result of the
observance of the International Year of Older Persons.
Nevertheless, nearly five years after the World Summit for
Social Development, progress towards compliance with the
Summit commitments had not been as great as had been
69. Although Governments bore the primary
responsibility for the creation of an enabling environment
for social development, the international community must
participate in that effort in view of the interdependence
between national and international economies. Trade
issues, in particular the removal of non-trade barriers and
unilateral coercive measures, needed to be addressed.
Another area of concern was the unfavourable international
financial situation, which had derailed the social
development efforts of developing countries in recent years.
70. The goal of full employment was also far from having
been achieved. The problem needed to be addressed
nationally, by supporting the private and informal sectors,
promoting self-employment, providing credit facilities to
the unemployed, encouraging the creation of volunteer
organizations and investing in training programmes;
internationally, by dismantling trade barriers, ensuring
adequate capital flows to developing nations, encouraging
technology transfer, alleviating the debt burden and
sharing experiences.
71. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran
accorded the highest priority to social justice, understood
as the creation of equal opportunities for all citizens,
particularly in their access to social services. It had made
social development one of the prime objectives of its second
five-year national development plan instituted in 1995.
Despite the adverse effects of external conflict, social
indicators showed that during the second decade of the
Islamic Revolution the country had made great strides in
the implementation of social development plans, although
their sustainability would require fundamental economic
reforms. Some measures to improve the economic
condition of lower-income families had been taken and
others were planned under both the second and third fiveyear
72. Recognizing the importance of involving youth in the
cultural, social and economic life of the society, the
Government in March 1999 had created the National
Youth Centre as the executive body for the previously
established Supreme Council for Youth. Some of the main
functions of the Centre were to coordinate policy
implementation with other organizations, both
governmental and non-governmental; devise and execute
projects to meet the needs of young people; help create new
vocational and educational opportunities; ensure greater
access of young couples to housing; and conduct studies on
issues of importance to youth. Other promising initiatives
for youth included the establishment of a parliamentary
committee on women, family and youth and the creation
of a data bank on youth. Among the successes were
observable increases in levels of education and rates of
73. Mr. Ocazionez (Colombia) said that his delegation
supported the statements made by Guyana on behalf of the
Group of 77 and by Mexico on behalf of the Rio Group.
74. His delegation noted with satisfaction the efforts
made by the Special Rapporteur of the Commission for
Social Development for the implementation of the United
Nations Standard Rules for Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities.
75. Science and technology had made an impressive
contribution to the well-being of persons with disabilities,
especially by improving their mobility and speech
capacities. While his delegation welcomed the
opportunities offered by the Internet, efforts should be
made to ensure that technological advances helped to
eliminate the disparities in living conditions between the
North and South countries.
76. In Colombia, the situation of persons with disabilities
was a growing public health problem. Accordingly, his
Government had announced a national plan of action for
disabled persons for the period 1999-2002. While there
were as yet no reliable statistics on the size of the disabled
population, it was estimated that about 4.5 million
Colombians suffered from physical, sensory and mental
limitations. For that reason, his delegation expressed
appreciation for the efforts made by the United Nations
Statistics Division to prepare a manual that could assist
countries in compiling data.
77. The national plan was his Government’s response to
the recommendations contained in General Assembly
resolution 52/82 concerning accessibility, provision of
services and employment for the disabled. It encompassed
such areas as prevention and rehabilitation, education,
family and job integration, greater access to sports, cultural
recreation and tourism, as well as communication and
78. The plan’s main goals were to reduce the frequency
of events leading to disability and invalidity, to strengthen
and expand social services, and to increase the economic
and social integration of persons with disabilities. His
Government hoped that its efforts would be strengthened
through international cooperation with the United Nations
and non-governmental organizations.
79. Mr. Mahbubani (Singapore) said that it was far from
certain that Western society had found the right answers
to the social questions facing all nations. Many developed
Western societies were plagued by high crime rates, high
personal insecurity, high divorce rates, growing numbers
of single-parent families and increasing drug use.
Nevertheless, they continued to export their values
vigorously. Many of those values were being transported
through the television programmes and movies that
reached into homes everywhere thanks to satellite TV. The
lifestyles deemed acceptable in Hollywood — single
parenthood, gay marriages, drug consumption — were
unfortunately seen as models by many young people around
the globe. Each society was obliged to find its own means
of educating its people on the dangers of adopting such
80. Western values were being exported actively through
proselytizing and coercion. As an example, the European
Union planned to introduce a resolution in the Committee
calling upon all States to abolish the death penalty and was
prepared to coerce some developing countries, especially
aid recipients, to vote in favour of the social value systems
it favoured.
81. The point at issue was not the merits of the death
penalty but the right of a small group of countries from one
continent to impose their views on the rest of the world.
Each society made its decision on the death penalty on the
basis of a complex matrix of social, cultural and religious
values. In pushing for abolition of the death penalty the
European Union was declaring that its value system was
superior to those of other societies. Many European values,
such as the rule of law, had been proven to be of great
benefit and had been adopted by other countries. But they
had made that choice voluntarily; it had not been forced
to upon them.
82. It might seem strange to speak at length about the
death penalty in a speech about the importance of the
family, but the issues were interrelated. Value systems all
over the world were being challenged by the new global
onslaught of information and new forms of cultural
imperialism. Societies outside of the developed world were
being subjected to social, economic and political pressures
to change. If the family patterns found in many developed
societies became the global norm, the traditional family
composed of two parents in a stable marriage who
protected and nurtured their children might be endangered.
83. The twenty-first century would witness a great social
debate, a new Darwinian contest for the survival of the best
social values and practices. Ideally each society should be
allowed to choose freely. The problem was that the
developed societies would like to use the political and
economic strength they had accumulated to force the rest
of the world to accept their social prescription. It was to be
hoped that the Committee would not allow such coercion
to succeed.
84. Mr. Mutaboba (Rwanda) said that the Government
of Rwanda had been working to reverse the terrible
devastation caused by the wave of killing in 1994 and to
move forward on a path of social development that
emphasized the inherent capacities and values of
individuals. With support from friendly countries and
international institutions, it had rehabilitated
infrastructure, including industries, roads, and technical
institutions, so that production had increased. Basic
commodities and services were once again available.
Inflation had been reduced to 2 per cent, to the great
satisfaction of the citizens, as well as the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The country’s
financial institutions had been granting soft loans to
finance individual projects. Nonetheless, much remained
to be done. Unemployment and health problems, notably
HIV/AIDS and malaria, presented a difficult challenge.
Rwanda appealed to the international community to
supplement the efforts of the Government.
85. Rwanda had a separate Ministry of Youth because of
the importance it attached to youth issues. The experience
of Rwanda showed how grave the youth problem could be
when young people were misdirected into criminal
activities. The majority of the genocidal forces in 1994 had
been drawn from the ranks of youth and trained by the
ruling genocidal regime to serve as militia. As a result,
much time and effort had to be spent to rehabilitate young
people who had been turned into killers and rapists.
Another youth initiative had been to organize solidarity
camps to bring together young people from all over the
country to engage in open political dialogue. The majority
of Rwandan youth were unaware of their human rights and
had to be taught.
86. Since poverty could lead youth into dubious activities,
the Government and civil society worked hand in hand to
set up micro-credit schemes to fund joint ventures, thus
creating employment and improving standards of living.
Technical institutions had been set up to teach urgently
needed skills, thanks to the assistance of the United
Nations Development Programme, the United States of
America, the Russian Federation and other friendly
87. As in other African societies, it was natural to
Rwandans to respect older persons as sources of
inspiration, guidance and knowledge of the past. Many
older persons had been left on their own when their
families had been massacred in 1994 and were receiving
government assistance. The events of 1994 had also left
many people injured, physically or mentally. They had
been organized into cooperative movements to make
assistance easier, and some were living together in socalled
“grouped villages”, an arrangement which improved
88. The Chairman drew attention to Economic and
Social Council resolution 1999/18 entitled “Policies and
programmes involving youth”, contained in document
A/C.3/54/L.2, which had been recommended by the
Council for adoption by the General Assembly.
89. Ms. Paiva (Portugal), speaking on behalf of the
sponsors of the resolution in the Commission for Social
Development, announced a revision to the text in the form
of the addition of a new paragraph to follow paragraph 15.
The proposed new paragraph was similar to paragraph 9
of General Assembly resolution 52/83 and read:
“Reiterates the call made in the World
Programme of Action to Member States to consider
including youth representatives in their delegations
to the General Assembly and other relevant United
Nations meetings, thus broadening the channels of
communication and enhancing the discussion of
youth- related issues, and requests the Secretary-
General to convey again this invitation to Member
The meeting rose at 12.30 p.m.