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Summary record of the 4th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 26 September 2000, General Assembly, 55th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/55/SR.4
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 55th
Type Document

9 p.

Subjects Persons with Disabilities, Youth, Ageing Persons

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly
Fifty-fifth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
11 October 2000
Original: English
Third Committee
Summary record of the 4th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 26 September 2000, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Ms. Gittens-Joseph. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Trinidad and Tobago)
Agenda item 103: Social development, including questions relating to the world
social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (continued)
Agenda item 104: Follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons (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
00-65850 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 10.15 a.m.
Agenda item 103: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (A/55/3, A/55/74, A/55/139-E/2000/93,
A/55/167 and A/55/257-S/2000/766; A/C.3/55/L.2;
Agenda item 104: Follow-up to the international
year of older persons (continued) (A/55/167 and
1. Mr. Adekanye (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of
the Group of 77 and China, said that at the twentyfourth
special session of the General Assembly held in
Geneva in June 2000, to review and assess the progress
made in the five years since the World Summit for
Social Development, the Member States had concluded
that, despite scientific and technical progress, little had
been achieved in alleviating the living conditions of the
great majority of humankind who still remained
desperately poor. The Member States had therefore
reaffirmed their commitment to halving poverty by
2015 and to overcoming the obstacles that prevented
developing countries from integrating in the global
economy and sharing the benefits of technological
progress. Governments of developed countries had also
agreed to strive to increase official development
assistance to 0.7 per cent of gross national product and
to find effective solutions to the debt-service burden of
developing countries. It had been agreed that
attainment of those objectives would require a
collective commitment, a holistic approach and the
mobilization of additional resources at the national and
international levels.
2. Poverty alleviation was at the centre of the
national policy agenda in most countries, but efforts
had not yielded the desired results, owing in part to
fiscal constraints imposed by the international financial
institutions and to the advent of globalization, which
had often erased the gains achieved. Poverty
eradication and the provision of full employment and
social integration would require a permanent solution
to the problem of the debt burden. Creditor countries
must commit themselves to debt remission for
developing countries. In addition, more open and
accessible markets in developed countries to products
from developing countries were essential to the
generation of resources and employment.
3. The 1999 International Year of Older Persons had
helped to raise awareness of the rapid demographic
changes taking place in the world and their grave
economic, social, cultural, psychological and spiritual
implications, not only for developed countries but also
for developing countries, where the majority of older
persons resided and where the rate of demographic
ageing was increasing rapidly. In the developing
countries, too, resources would be needed to meet the
health needs of older persons and to retrain them in
productive employment. Poverty alleviation strategies
must incorporate the needs of older persons in order to
make them both agents and beneficiaries of
development. The gender dimensions of population
ageing would also need to be addressed, as older
women were more likely to experience poverty than
older men. Since ageing priorities would compete with
other policy priorities, there would be a need to raise
public awareness to prepare the ground for policy
changes. The Group of 77 and China therefore
welcomed the decision to convene the Second World
Assembly on Ageing in 2002 and to review the
International Plan of Action on Ageing.
4. Mr. Tirado Mejía (Colombia), speaking on
behalf of the Rio Group, said that at the twenty-fourth
special session of the General Assembly, the Member
States had renewed their commitment to the
agreements reached at the World Summit for Social
Development and had decided on new initiatives for
their effective implementation. The members of the Rio
Group had participated actively in the special session
because they believed that the only way to achieve
development with equity was to place people at the
centre of economic and social policies and to humanize
the process of globalization.
5. At the fourteenth Conference of Heads of State
and Government of the Rio Group, held in June 2000
in Cartagena, participants had reaffirmed their belief
that economic growth should help to reduce the
inequalities and high levels of poverty still existing in
their societies. To that end, they had pledged to allocate
adequate resources to the social sector and to the
development of human capital and were looking for
ways to increase growth rates and productivity.
6. Nevertheless, in a globalized, interdependent
world, eliminating poverty and achieving development
also required high levels of international cooperation,
transparent access to markets and clear and fair trade
rules. It required the abandonment of protectionist
measures and domestic subsidies in the developed
world, particularly in the agricultural sector, so that the
products of developing countries could compete fairly.
While democracy, governance, an end to corruption
and the provision of education and healthcare for all
were recipes for development in the domestic sphere,
access to markets, fair trade rules and reduction of the
external debt were essential in the international sphere.
7. In his report on the follow-up to the International
Year of Older Persons, the Secretary-General had
rightly called attention to the challenges of
demographic ageing. Although the Americas had long
been noted for having a young population, the 65 and
over age group was growing at a much faster rate than
the under-15 age group. While many of the reasons for
population ageing were positive, demographic
projections underlined the need to rethink social
policies and to evaluate the impact of population
ageing on a sustainable economy
8. Since international cooperation and the
commitment of international organizations were
essential in order to address the issue of ageing, the Rio
Group supported the decision to hold the Second World
Assembly on Ageing in Madrid in April 2002 to review
and adapt the International Plan of Action on Ageing.
Its members would participate actively in the
preparations for the assembly.
9. Ms. Pijnappel (Netherlands), speaking as a youth
representative, said that she and other youth
representatives would like to see the United Nations
Youth Unit propose a programme that would enable
youth representatives from developing countries to
attend the General Assembly, including its special
sessions. All developed countries should donate
generously to such a programme.
10. She wished to focus on the problems of young
asylum-seekers. Since they arrived in host countries
without any family to support them, young asylumseekers
ought to benefit from a special asylum policy
which differed from the one applied to adult refugees.
Once asylum had been granted, they should be
assigned a legal foster parent, enjoy a smooth transition
to suitable education and obtain professional help to
overcome traumatic experiences. They should
themselves strive for full integration and should
receive support from national youth non-governmental
organizations. In designing asylum policies, countries
should bear in mind that young people were more
vulnerable and had different needs. Young people
themselves, native as well as migrant, were first-hand
experts and should be consulted.
11. One aggravating factor for migrants was racist
attitudes on the part of the inhabitants of the host
country. Racial hatred was never justifiable, but
particularly not among young people, who held the key
to a more tolerant society. Young people had the
flexibility to increase social cohesion through
intercultural learning.
12. Youth representatives were involved in many
projects, including the fourth session of the World
Youth Forum of the United Nations System, to be held
in 2001 in Dakar, Senegal, where young people from
developing and developed countries would be able to
build partnerships to further implement the Braga
Youth Action Plan. Another potential project was the
negotiation and adoption of a Youth Rights Charter.
Young people faced the paradox that they sought to
become integrated into an existing order and yet they
were the force that could transform that order and
become the wind of change. In conclusion, she drew
attention to a draft resolution on “honour crimes”
which had been sent to all missions by her delegation,
and to a documentary that was to be shown on the
13. Ms. Yanagawa (Japan) noted that both the
twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly
and the recent Millennium Summit had stressed the
importance of people-centred development. In that
connection, her delegation welcomed, in particular, the
adoption at the twenty-fourth special session of
proposals for further initiatives for social development,
including a Political Declaration. At the Millennium
Summit, the Prime Minister of Japan had announced
that his Government would promote the concept of
human security by enhancing the dignity and
recognizing the potential of each individual, with
particular emphasis on vulnerable social groups.
14. Her delegation welcomed the report of the
Secretary-General on the follow-up to the International
Year of Older Persons (A/55/167) and the increased
awareness of issues relating to older persons, as well as
the implementation of the corresponding measures.
Nonetheless, further efforts must be made to address
those issues. The value of integrating older persons in
society had been highlighted in the communiqué of the
summit meeting of the Group of Eight, held in Kyushu-
Okinawa in July 2000 (A/55/257-S/2000/766, annex).
In that context her Government had introduced a new
elderly nursing-care system in which families and
society shared responsibility for the growing elderly
population in Japan. Her delegation noted with
appreciation the offer by the Government of Spain to
host the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002
and would cooperate in ensuring its success.
15. As stated in the overview of the 2000 Report on
the World Social Situation (E/2000/9, para. 26),
disability was something to be overcome and society at
large had a role to play in that endeavour. Her
delegation encouraged the use of information and
telecommunication technology to give persons with
disabilities greater access to economic, social, cultural
and political life and enable them to participate more
actively in society. Japan based its policies for people
with disabilities on normalization and rehabilitation
and made every effort to share experiences with other
Member States in that regard. It contributed to the
United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability, which it
hoped would be used efficiently, and looked forward to
continued international cooperation to benefit disabled
16. In conclusion, she thanked the Government of
Senegal for offering to host the fourth session of the
World Youth Forum in 2001 and indicated her
delegation’s resolve to work closely with nongovernmental
organizations, which played a significant
role in social development.
17. Mr. Kallehauge (Denmark) stressed the
importance of implementing the United Nations
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities and the World Programme
of Action concerning Disabled Persons, which
promoted the principles of equality through equal
opportunities, participation and inclusion. As stated in
Commission on Human Rights resolution 1998/31, a
violation of the United Nations Standard Rules was an
infringement of the human rights of persons with
disabilities. However, the time had perhaps come to
remedy some of the gaps and shortcomings of the
United Nations Standard Rules, which, as
recommended by the Special Rapporteur in his 1999
report, should focus greater attention on women and
girls, children and older persons with disabilities,
particularly persons with developmental and
psychiatric disabilities, and emphasize the right to
adequate shelter and the right to development. One of
the greatest strides made in recent years had been the
recognition that disability and disability-related
problems must be addressed by the United Nations
human rights monitoring system and given greater
attention by the Commission on Human Rights.
18. In conclusion, legislation was urgently needed to
guarantee the human rights of disabled persons, the
majority of whom currently had no legal protection. In
that connection, he welcomed the close linkage
established between human rights and human
development in the Human Development Report 2000.
19. Mr. Christensen (Denmark), speaking as a youth
delegate for Denmark and a representative of the
Danish Youth Council, said that, with more than 1
billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 years in
the world, not only the future but also the present
belonged to youth. For the sake of continuity and
future development, it was vital to recognize the
potential of young people and to integrate them in
decision-making and in the implementation of
development programmes.
20. He urged the United Nations to increase the youth
presence in the Secretariat and in development
organizations and recommended that all Member States
should consider sending youth representatives to the
General Assembly, as his own country had been doing
for 25 years, in order to send a strong signal that they
took youth-related issues seriously. Increased financial
resources for and greater coordination of the youth
policies of the United Nations system were also
21. Young people and youth organizations could play
a vital role in the expansion of global networks and
thereby contribute to democratization on an
international level. Under its new strategy for
development cooperation, his Government viewed
children and youth as a resource in development and it
would attempt to address youth-related issues in
developing countries. Accordingly, it urged the United
Nations Development Programme (UNDP) either to
devote an entire Human Development Report to youth
or to expand the statistics and documentation on young
people aged 15 to 24 years in future reports. That
would be a landmark initiative in anticipation of the
special session of the General Assembly for follow-up
to the World Summit for Children to be held in 2001.
Such reporting should focus on lessons learned and
obstacles encountered with regard to youth
participation in different programmes and activities
with a view to formulating proposals for future youth
involvement in development activities.
22. Ms. McDougall (Australia), speaking as the
youth representative for the Australian delegation,
noted that, as the period “beyond” 2000 approached,
much remained to be done to implement the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond. Differing socio-economic and cultural
contexts notwithstanding, the Programme of Action
could serve as a valuable guide to Governments
seeking to mainstream a youth perspective into their
policies, activities and funding arrangements.
23. Meaningful youth participation at the national,
regional and international levels was vital. In addition
to their ability to mobilize support, young people
brought unique perspectives to problem-solving. In
particular, since intergenerational equity was an
important element of sustainable development, young
people deserved to participate in decision-making
about the world they would inherit. Her Government
had launched a number of initiatives to enhance the
participation of young people in decision-making,
including a National Youth Week devoted to raising
awareness of youth-related issues and young people’s
contributions to their communities, and a national
youth development strategy designed to improve
community and government relations with young
people. She urged more Member States to join
Australia and other countries in including youth
representatives in their official delegations to the
General Assembly.
24. Her Government welcomed the initiatives of the
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to involve
young people in the preparatory phase of the special
session of the General Assembly in 2001 for follow-up
to the World Summit for Children. Youth participation
in the session itself would also be important. Her
Government hoped that government policy-makers
would give serious attention to the outcomes of the
fourth Session of the World Youth Forum to be held in
Dakar, Senegal, in 2001. Low-cost mechanisms for
youth participation and consultation, including those
offered by information and communication technology,
could also help to foster a dialogue among the world’s
young people and between them and their
25. Effective United Nations support was essential to
achieving progress in the above-mentioned areas. In
that connection, the United Nations Youth Unit, which
was currently a very modest operation, could be
expanded to serve as an information focal point and
could maintain a database of United Nations youth
initiatives and the activities of international youth
organizations. The Unit’s internship programme could
be expanded and consideration could be given to
assigning a Junior Professional Officer to the Unit. The
Unit could also consider including youth speakers at
United Nations conferences and sharing its workload
with international youth organizations.
26. High quality education and training, as well as
youth involvement in addressing such problems as
poverty, violence, substance abuse, poor health, gender
discrimination and poor literacy and numeracy, were
also crucial for ensuring the full and effective
participation of young people in society.
27. Mr. Valdes (Chile) said that his delegation had
been actively involved in social development issues
within the framework of the follow-up to the World
Summit for Social Development and the recent twentyfourth
special session of the General Assembly. It
endorsed the statements made in that connection by the
representative of Colombia on behalf of the Rio Group
and the representative of Nigeria on behalf of the
Group of 77 and China.
28. The United Nations had been a significant force
in building awareness of the problem of population
ageing and in guiding Governments in the adoption of
policies in that area. In Chile, the percentage of persons
aged over 60 had increased steadily in the 1990s and
that percentage would continue to grow. By the year
2010, the number of older persons in Chile would equal
half that of persons under 15 years of age. To address
that situation and using the International Plan of Action
on Ageing as a guide, his Government had drawn up a
national policy for older persons in 1996 which aimed
to transform cultural perceptions of ageing and to
ensure that older persons were valued more highly and
that their living conditions improved. The policy was
based on the fundamental values of equity and
intergenerational solidarity and included the principles
of self-worth and active ageing; education and
prevention for healthy ageing; flexibility in the design
and implementation of policies for older persons;
decentralization; and the subsidiarity and regulatory
role of the State.
29. In cooperation with civil society and the private
sector, the Government was carrying out 19 different
kinds of programmes for older persons in the areas of,
inter alia, health, social benefits and social integration.
Particular attention was being focused on older persons
living in poverty and persons over 65 years of age. In
1999, on the occasion of the International Year of
Older Persons, the Government had established an
interministerial working group to evaluate the national
policy for older persons. According to the findings of
the working group, older persons currently made up
10.5 per cent of Chile’s population. The number of
older persons living in poverty had decreased, but other
variables in the complex situation of older persons
needed to be considered, such as marginalization,
abandonment and loss of social standing and selfworth.
According to the working group’s evaluation,
two categories of older persons were experiencing
difficulties: older women, particularly women heads of
household, and older persons living in rural areas. It
would therefore be necessary to draw up a national
plan for older persons in order to bring public
programmes more closely into line with the national
policy. It would also be necessary to improve the
management of some existing sectoral programmes,
emphasize prevention, particularly in the health area,
and incorporate the topic of ageing into primary and
secondary school curricula in order to change cultural
attitudes to ageing. The Government planned to
improve the training of professional teams dealing with
older people and to increase specialized training in
gerontology. In conclusion, Chile would continue to
work nationally on questions relating to ageing and to
cooperate internationally particularly at the Second
World Assembly on Ageing to be held in Madrid in
30. Mr. Calovski (the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia) said that his delegation’s views on the
items under consideration coincided with those
expressed by the representative of France on behalf of
the European Union. Implementing the outcome
documents of the special sessions of the General
Assembly on the follow-up to the Beijing Conference
and to the World Summit for Social Development, as
well as the United Nations Millennium Declaration
would be a major task at the national, regional and
global levels, but it could be done if there was the
necessary political will and if it was viewed as an
integral part of political and development efforts and
was addressed in a managed and coordinated way.
Within the United Nations, the reports of the Secretary-
General on the work of the Organization and on the
role of the United Nations in the twenty-first century,
coupled with the Millennium Declaration, clearly
defined the work that needed to be done and the
practical steps that must be taken.
31. The social situation in his country continued to be
adversely affected both by of developments in the
region and by its political and economic transition,
which had resulted in increased unemployment.
Through various measures and programmes, the
Government was endeavouring to help people find new
jobs and to ease the social problems confronting them.
It hoped that the country’s integration in the European
Union and the strengthening of the economy would
have a positive effect on the social situation. The
implementation of regional undertakings, in particular,
the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, should
also help to improve the social situation in the region.
32. Mr. Barsky (Russian Federation) said that the
World Summit for Social Development and the twentyfourth
special session of the General Assembly had laid
down a new global strategy on social development for
all and had focused the attention of Governments on
the need to draw up socially-oriented economic
policies. The task at hand was to implement that
strategy. The ability of countries to carry out their
obligations would determine their degree of economic
prosperity and social justice and the enjoyment of basic
human rights and freedoms. International strategic
stability in the twenty-first century would depend on
the ability of States to maintain peace and security and
to use the advantages of globalization and the
opportunities of the technological revolution to
equalize levels of economic development.
33. The Russian Federation attached particular
importance to the consideration of social development
questions within the United Nations and supported the
intention of the Commission for Social Development to
continue the search for ways to implement the
agreements reached at the Copenhagen Summit and at
the twenty-fourth special session of the General
Assembly. His Government would continue to
contribute to the effort to draw up and enchance
international standards in the field of social
development. At the national level, measures to combat
poverty and raise income levels in real terms were a
major priority for it. Particular attention in that regard,
was being paid to socially vulnerable groups, for whom
special measures were being carried out within the
framework of federal programmes, in accordance with
the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.
34. Caring for the disabled was a key area of social
assistance. The Government had begun the preparation
of a national report on the situation of disabled persons
which would analyse the implementation of the United
Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and other
basic United Nations documents in that field. A
special-purpose federal programme to provide social
assistance to disabled persons was being carried out,
and plans were being made to hold an international
conference in Moscow on equal opportunities for the
disabled in the Russian Federation.
35. There was an acute need for an effective policy
on young people. Accordingly, work on a bill on the
bases for a State youth policy was nearing completion
and a federal special-purpose programme for young
people covering the period 2001 to 2005 was being
drawn up.
36. The Russian Federation supported the approaches
to the problem of ageing set forth in the communiqué
adopted at the Kyushu-Okinawa summit meeting of the
Group of Eight. The ideas of enjoying freedom of
choice as to forms of social activity after reaching
retirement age, having lifelong access to education,
involving older persons in the volunteer movement and
promoting respect for the older generation could form
the basis for reviewing and updating the International
Plan of Action on Ageing. His Government had
adopted a number of additional measures to increase
the size of pensions, carry out a pension reform,
improve medical care for pensioners and develop a
network of social-service institutions for older persons,
and the work of drawing up a State social policy on
older persons for the period up to 2005 had begun.
37. It was important that the outcome documents of
the twenty-fourth special session of the General
Assembly had taken account of the problems of
countries with economies in transition, including the
question of providing further international support to
those countries in dealing with social problems and of
lessening the possible adverse effects on them of
globalization. In that regard, he drew attention to his
Government’s proposal to host, with United Nations
assistance, an international conference on social
development problems in countries with economies in
transition. The purpose of the conference would be to
evaluate fulfilment of the international commitments
made at the World Summit and the twenty-fourth
special session with regard to those countries and to
attract additional resources for achieving social goals
in the subregion. The conference could be a logical
continuation of the global international forum planned
for 2001 to mobilize resources for social development
and could gear its decisions to meeting urgent needs at
the regional and subregional level. In conclusion, he
underscored his country’s support for strengthening the
social component of international cooperation under
the leading role of the United Nations, and its intention
to participate actively in that effort.
38. Mr. Melenevsky (Ukraine) said that his
Government was working consistently to translate
international social development strategies and policies
into national programmes. Establishing a sociallyoriented
economy and enhancing social policy through
the efficient use of existing resources were among the
goals included in the presidential initiative on
economic and social development strategies for the
years 2000-2004. One issue of vital concern was the
social rehabilitation of disabled persons. The tragic
Chornobyl catastrophe had caused an unprecedented
increase in the number of disabled people in Ukraine.
Special legislative measures had been taken to ensure
equality and non-discrimination for the disabled; the
United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities were an
important guide in that regard.
39. Like many other countries, Ukraine was
experiencing rapid population ageing. That situation
compounded general problems of economic
development connected with labour resources and the
structure of medical, social and other services, added to
the difficulties of providing for the needs of older
persons and undermined intergenerational relations. In
order to solve those problems, the Government had
taken practical steps to promote older people’s lifelong
development and welfare by launching comprehensive
national programmes in support of the International
Year of Older Persons which pooled the efforts of
government agencies, non-governmental organizations
and academic institutions.
40. In practical terms, Ukraine had increased pension
benefits and begun pension insurance reforms. The
national programme for eradicating poverty among the
elderly had become an important instrument for
bringing the income level of older persons closer to the
national average through increased benefits. Under the
national healthcare programme for elderly people, the
Government had strengthened existing institutions and
established new ones to provide improved medical care
to the elderly, as well as maximum social benefits. It
had provided free and unrestricted access to medical
care for the elderly and continued to enact legislation
granting them healthcare privileges. His country
welcomed the various initiatives to support the
development of a forward-looking strategy on ageing,
including the convening of the Second World
Assembly on Ageing, and looked forward to working
with the other Member States on adapting the
International Plan of Action on Ageing to changing
41. The partnership approach to social development
needed to be revitalized. While national action
remained paramount, cooperation between the Member
States and United Nations agencies could make a
significant contribution in that regard. The time had
come to enhance international cooperation based on the
principles of non-discrimination, open competitiveness,
partnership and mutual benefit. The United Nations had
a key role to play in establishing effective mechanisms
for such cooperation. Lastly, he stressed that United
Nations activities in the social and economic spheres
would benefit considerably by concentrating on
meeting the specific needs of countries with economies
in transition, thereby facilitating their integration in the
global economy.
42. Mr. Howell (International Labour Organization
(ILO)) said that there was a strong link between the
economic and social dimensions of development,
which was amplified by globalization. Moreover, there
was growing evidence that high income inequality had
a negative impact on economic growth. The traditional
dichotomy between economic and social policies had
impeded good policy choices. For instance, economic
policies could be undermined by their high social costs.
The direct economic benefits of social policies also
needed to be better understood. Consideration of the
social and economic dimensions of policy must
therefore be integrated.
43. The ILO concept of decent work provided such
an approach, for it spanned a large part of the
development agenda: fundamental rights at work,
economic and social policies for employment creation,
improved socio-economic security and scope for
greater participation through free association.
44. ILO believed that once there was freedom of
association and freedom from forced labour, child
labour and discrimination at work, working people
could consolidate social and economic progress. In
addition to promoting fundamental labour rights, it
sought to address inequality, poverty and the
“empowerment deficit” by promoting jobs, social
protection and the right to organize and be heard. It
believed that youth employment must be built on a
solid foundation of intergenerational solidarity
ensuring social and economic development for all
generations and it was to participate in a high-level
policy network on youth employment, which aimed to
generate job opportunities through information and
communication technologies.
45. ILO recommendation No. 162 concerning older
workers addressed three principles: prevention of
discrimination in employment, increased social
protection and preparation for and access to retirement.
Demographic realities were prompting a fundamental
reappraisal of the role and importance of the older
worker. When workers did retire, inequalities were rife.
In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of
Latin America and Asia, pension coverage was lower
than 10 per cent of the labour force. Old age still meant
insecurity for the greater part of the global population,
and the burden of insecurity in old age fell
disproportionately on women. ILO was committed to
promoting universal, predictable and guaranteed
retirement income reflecting differing needs and
conditions in different parts of the world. It would play
a full part in the preparatory process for the Second
World Assembly on Ageing, to be held in 2002.
46. ILO undertook programmes to help disabled
persons overcome the obstacles to their full
participation in the labour market. It did so within the
framework of the World Programme of Action and ILO
Convention No. 159 concerning Vocational
Rehabilitation and Employment. It was also in the
process of integrating its traditional value-based
agenda for promoting workers’ rights and social
protection with an agenda for sustainable growth and
development. It believed that dialogue, negotiation and
consensus-building among Governments, employers,
workers and, as appropriate, civil society were crucial
to development and social stability. A strong
commitment to gender equality cut cross all its
objectives. The main social problem was poverty and
social exclusion, and the solution was simple: jobs.
Decent work was the best route out of poverty and a
dignified step towards social cohesion.
The meeting rose at 11.50 a.m.