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Summary record of the 7th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 28 September 2000, General Assembly, 55th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/55/SR.7
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 55th
Type Document

11 p.

Subjects Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Youth

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly
Fifty-fifth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
15 February 2001
Original: Spanish
Third Committee
Summary record of the 7th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 28 September 2000, at 3 p.m.
Chairperson: 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
00-66252 (E) 150201 150201
The meeting was called to order at 3.05 p.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. Effah-Apenteng (Ghana) associated his
delegation with the statement made by the
representative of Nigeria on behalf of the Group of 77.
He said that the twenty-fourth special session of the
General Assembly had revealed that the goals of social
development, as envisaged in the Declaration and
Programme of Action adopted at the Copenhagen
World Summit for Social Development, remained
largely unfulfilled. Indeed, the world social situation
had deteriorated, since the number of people living
below the poverty line had increased, as had the
number of unemployed and underemployed,
malnourished children and children out of school, and
the number of people who went hungry.
2. The situation in developing countries, especially
in Africa, was alarming. High debt-servicing costs, low
commodity prices, declining official development
assistance, the negative impact of globalization –
especially biases in international trading and financial
systems – and the digital divide prevented those
countries from generating sufficient resources for
investment in the social sector. His delegation therefore
welcomed the resolution adopted at the twenty-fourth
special session of the General Assembly calling for the
mobilization of resources for social development
through debt relief, equitable commodity prices,
restoration of official development assistance and
reduction by half by the year 2015 of the numbers of
people living in poverty and of the incidence of
3. The Government of Ghana had taken a number of
initiatives to achieve the objectives of the Copenhagen
Summit. Since transparency in governance was
essential for creating an enabling environment for
economic and social development, the Government had
established a Serious Fraud Office to eradicate
corruption and ensure transparency in the functioning
of government. The main focus of the policy on good
governance was participation in all in the country’s
decision-making and development through district
assemblies, which were the bedrock of the country’s
system of decentralization. Projects of the district
assemblies were financed by the Common Fund, 20 per
cent of which was set aside for lines of credit to
promote employment opportunities by helping the poor
to establish their own enterprises.
4. Since real empowerment came through education,
the Government had established free compulsory and
universal basic education, an adult-literacy programme
and a girls’ education unit. It had thereby increased
school enrolment from 76 per cent in 1994/95 to
78.4 per cent in 1998/99. However, a gender gap in
school enrolment and retention persisted. To remedy
that situation, the Government had put in place
programmes to increase the enrolment and retention of
girls at school, and a scholarship scheme for needy
5. His delegation commended the Secretary-General
for his report on follow-up to the International Year of
Older Persons (A/55/167) and, in particular, the
inclusion of a mention of the first meeting of the
Technical Committee for the Second World Assembly
on Ageing, to be held in 2002. Ghana was encouraged
by the proposal that ageing in developing countries
should be integrated into the revised Plan of Action on
Ageing to be adopted by that Assembly. His delegation
expressed its gratitude to the Government of Spain for
offering to host the Assembly, and also thanked the
Governments of Austria, Germany and the Dominican
Republic for offering to host future meetings of the
Technical Committee.
6. It was estimated that, in the developing countries,
the population aged over 60 would grow from
354 million in 1998 to almost 1.6 billion in 2050. It
was therefore imperative to adopt measures to
strengthen the capacity of those countries to extend the
scope of their social-security system to cover the huge
percentage of the population employed in the informal
7. In the developing world, the lack of employment
opportunities in rural areas and unrewarding
agricultural ventures had forced ever-growing numbers
of young people to migrate to the cities. Consequently,
family support for the aged constantly diminished,
adversely affecting the patterns of social integration
and relationships within the family system. His
delegation recommended that the Technical Committee
should examine that serious situation and adopt
strategies to redress it. As for ageing refugees, the
needs and concerns of that vulnerable group should be
taken into account in the revised Plan of Action on
Ageing. Furthermore, the Technical Committee and the
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR) should adopt concrete guidelines
to respond to their needs.
8. He drew attention to the importance of the Lisbon
Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes and the
Braga Youth Action Plan and encouraged Governments
to implement their provisions. He also urged Member
States to contribute to the United Nations Youth Fund
for the implementation of agreed programmes and
mandates. Young people were one of the most
productive and important segments of the population,
and the Government’s youth programme emphasized
the provision of quality education and professional
training to prepare youth to play an active role in
9. Six years after the observance of the International
Year of the Family in 1994, the international
community should examine new developments
affecting the family. Problems arising from broken
homes, neglect, economic hardship and intergenerational
conflict were on the rise everywhere and
needed to be addressed by means of strategies based on
a fresh assessment of the role of the family as an
institution for social stability, care-giving and support.
The people of Ghana cherished the family.
Accordingly, Ghana had revised legislation on the
family in the area of formation and dissolution of
families as well as rights of spouses and inheritance.
10. Without international cooperation and assistance,
it would be impossible for the developing world to
achieve the goals of the Copenhagen Declaration and
Programme of Action. Ghana urged the international
community to lend the necessary political will to
provide the resources needed to implement the
outcome of the twenty-fourth special session of the
General Assembly and the Millennium Declaration, in
order to rid the twenty-first century of poverty and
extreme exclusion.
11. Ms. Zoghbia (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) endorsed
the statements made by the representative of Nigeria on
behalf of the Group of 77 and by the representative of
12. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya attached enormous
importance to investment in the development of human
resources, and allocated substantial resources to the
development of infrastructure and health-care services,
education and occupational training, enabling it, for
example, to reduce illiteracy from 48 per cent in 1984
to 18 per cent in 1997. In addition, the Government had
adopted a set of measures emphasizing gender equality,
occupational training, participation of women in
development and protection of the family as the
fundamental nucleus of society. It had adopted a policy
aimed at securing the participation of all in profits and
production. The economic system was based on the
cooperative spirit with a view to eliminating the system
of labour in exchange for wages. Consequently,
cooperatives played an important role in the country’s
social development, and in 1999 over 3,000
cooperatives for production and services had been set
up. Efforts were also being made to enable workers to
become owners of enterprises, in accordance with the
objectives of General Assembly resolution 54/123
relating to the role of cooperatives in social
13. The Jamahiriya had actively participated in the
twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly
and in preparations for the Copenhagen Summit. In
pursuance of the resulting recommendations, it had
allocated a large volume of resources to the
implementation of important development projects,
such as the Great Artificial River project, which
formed part of a plan to raise agricultural production,
achieve food security and develop water resources. It
had also established a broad rural-development
programme to promote the creation of family
enterprises and the participation of women, as well as
the well-being of rural families through productive
projects. In addition, it assisted low-income families
through public institutions catering to their basic needs.
With regard to housing, the Government had
established an effective system for enabling all citizens
to own their homes, applying the slogan “The home for
those who live in it”. It had set up an effective socialsecurity
system covering all citizens. It provided
assistance and benefits to all those needing help, such
as children, the disabled, older persons, widows and
divorcees, and was seeking to bring about equality of
access to such services. The Jamahiriya stressed the
importance of maintaining the momentum generated by
the International Year of Older Persons, a very
welcome initiative for promoting the role of older
people, who were assigned a preponderant place in
society in keeping with its religious, moral and cultural
values. The Government’s concern went further than a
mere provision of care to older persons, by seeking to
achieve their participation in the country’s social and
economic development. The Government provided
similar assistance for the development of the capacities
of youth, seeking to offer them better opportunities for
education and employment with a view to their full
participation in economic and social development.
14. Since health care was the fundamental right of all
people, the Jamahiriya provided free health-care
services. To prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, it had
allocated abundant resources and had adopted a set of
measures and laws. It had also established a national
committee to combat AIDS, working with other
relevant agencies to inform the population about AIDS
and its prevention.
15. Unilateral economic sanctions, and in particular
the unjust embargo imposed by the Security Council
against the Libyan people, had adversely affected all
segments of the population. The freezing of the
country’s assets had reduced resources for social and
economic development. As a result of the sanctions,
the country’s economic and social situation had
deteriorated and unemployment was on the rise.
Furthermore, thousands of children and women had
died through lack of medicines caused by the sanctions.
The Libyan people therefore appealed for a lifting of
the sanctions with a view to improving the country’s
economic and social conditions.
16. The decisions of the South Summit of the Group
of 77 included a reference to the problems of Africa
and to the proposed solutions, which called for a firm
undertaking on the part of the international community.
It was necessary to support the efforts of the African
countries to establish peace and overcome their
economic problems, by reviewing the conditions in
which international financial institutions allocated
loans, granting their basic products greater access to
international markets, and adopting global measures to
solve the debt problem. The constructive initiatives of
the specialized agencies in the field of social
development were commendable, and the United
Nations should pursue its efforts to uphold the right of
future generations to a better world.
17. Ms. Joseph (Saint Lucia), speaking on behalf of
the member States of the Caribbean Community
(CARICOM), noted that the Millennium Declaration
had committed the world to creating an environment
conducive to development and the elimination of
poverty. To that end, CARICOM endorsed General
Assembly resolution 54/175 on the right to
18. CARICOM eagerly awaited the convening of the
United Nations Conference on Financing for
Development to discuss the issues affecting social
development in the context of globalization and trade
liberalization. To achieve those social-development
goals in a globalized economy, and to ensure to the
safety and security of all people, it was essential to
provide them with food, education and health care. In
that respect, CARICOM supported the view expressed
by the religious and spiritual leaders meeting at the
Millennium Peace Summit, who had declared their
commitment to promote the equitable distribution of
wealth within and among nations, eradicating poverty
and reversing the current trend towards a widening gap
between rich and poor.
19. Social development was affected by migration.
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean had convened an important symposium in
San José from 4 to 6 September 2000 on international
migration. It had focused on the human dimension and
had confirmed that global changes had affected the
international economic order and the division of labour,
and, as a consequence, had influenced legislative
controls on and inducements to the movement of labour
across certain national borders. For the Caribbean,
migration had unique social effects. In many instances,
departures created deficits in human resources, which
affected national development. CARICOM had
addressed the impact of migration of skilled nationals
through the adoption of national legislation for the free
movement of persons within the Community as an
imperative for regional development and integration.
20. CARICOM reiterated its support for the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond (General Assembly resolution 50/81), the
Lisbon Declaration on Youth Policies and Programmes
adopted by the first World Conference of Ministers
Responsible for Youth, and General Assembly
resolution 54/120 relating to youth. The
implementation of those vital international mandates
was critical in setting the stage for the advancement of
youth and strengthening their role in development.
Accordingly, CARICOM endorsed the goals of the
United Nations Youth Network, which were to enhance
awareness of the global situation of youth and
recognition of their rights and aspirations, to promote
national youth policies, to strengthen the participation
of youth in decision-making and to encourage mutual
respect, understanding and peace. In cooperation with
the international community, CARICOM had
developed a number of regional initiatives to integrate
the concerns of youth in development. In 1998 and
2000, regional meetings had been held with the title
“Caribbean Youth Explosion”. The themes included
healthy lifestyles, effective participation in democracy
and civil society, parliamentary participation, and
adolescent sexuality and reproductive-health rights,
HIV/AIDS, integration and civil society, and
governance and democracy. The recommendations
included the fostering of an active role of youth in their
own development and the development of their
societies, the need to make youth more aware of their
rights and responsibilities, and their access to decisionmaking
bodies at the local, regional and international
levels. High youth unemployment was a critical issue
in the Caribbean. To address that concern,
Governments were working on development
programmes that linked education and training with the
job markets and the new challenges of globalization
and technological advances. Education played a central
role in increasing the competitiveness of individuals
and nations in a rapidly globalizing world. Studies in
the Caribbean had shown that education was the
variable that most strongly affected income inequality,
that there were significant educational gaps between
the poorest and richest, and that in some countries of
the region, tertiary education reduced the chances of
being in poverty by 50 times. Accordingly, quality
education designed to meet productive and social needs
was crucial to enhancing productivity, well-being and
political participation for young people.
21. In keeping with paragraph 4 of the Secretary-
General’s report on follow-up to the International Year
of Older Persons (A/55/167), the Caribbean Charter on
Health and Ageing had been launched in Guyana in
October 1999. Its guiding principle was a coordinated,
systematic approach to ensuring the health and full
integration and participation of older persons in
Caribbean societies and economies. The major
components of the Charter encompassed supportive
environments for older persons at home, in the
community and in long-term-care facilities; primary
health care and health promotion; economic security;
and employment and other productive activities for
healthy ageing. Ageing of the population in the
Caribbean presented a major challenge for socialsecurity
systems. As in many other parts of the
developing world, the Caribbean had traditionally
cared for its elderly population through the family and
community network. However, growing economic and
social pressures and changes in attitude had weakened
the informal social-protection system. The problem had
worsened with declining fertility rates and increasing
life expectancy, especially among women, who
depended more on the support of their children.
Consequently, the formal social-protection systems
must be expanded and strengthened. CARICOM looked
forward to addressing those and related issues during
the Second World Assembly on Ageing.
22. The situation of disabled people in society
required continued and enhanced initiatives to integrate
them into society. Since the adoption of the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons in
1982, the United Nations had been calling on
Governments to redouble their efforts to implement
their various mandates in behalf of the disabled. The
plans and programmes of action of the various United
Nations conferences included measures to deal with the
problems of disabled people. The designation of a
Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission
for Social Development in 1994 was further evidence
of the commitment of the international community to
implement the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. At the
thirty-eighth session of the Commission, the Special
Rapporteur had emphasized the importance of added
focus on the needs of persons with developmental and
psychiatric disabilities, who were among the most
marginalized persons in society. CARICOM noted with
satisfaction the focus of UNICEF on the special needs
of children with disabilities, the UNHCR initiative to
study the impact of armed conflict on children, and the
workshop conducted by UNICEF during the World
Summit for Social Development on the rights of
children with disabilities. The work of the United
Nations system on the question of disabilities, such as
the Disability Statistics Database and the Disability
Statistics Compendium, was highly useful in assisting
Member States in developing programmes and
activities for the disabled. Recently, the National
Council for the Disabled of Saint Lucia had formally
launched its public-awareness campaign on disabilities
as part of a programme funded by the Organization of
American States to promote equalization of
opportunities for persons with disabilities. A similar
programme aimed at ending exclusion of disabled
people had achieved tremendous success in Trinidad
and Tobago.
23. The CARICOM States acknowledged the
importance of the many international initiatives
designed to strengthen the family, including the
observance of the International Year of the Family in
1994. It joined with other Member States in expressing
concern over the steady decline in contributions to the
United Nations Trust Fund on Family Activities. The
Family Unit of the Division for Social Policy and
Development assisted Governments in the
development, implementation and evaluation of familyrelated
policies and programmes to carry out the
actions called for in the International Year of the
Family. It was necessary to improve the information
available on the family through research, data
collection and collaboration among Governments and
research institutions, and to give priority to the
building of local capacity and the training of personnel
to formulate, monitor and evaluate policies and
programmes relating to the family. In the Caribbean, as
elsewhere, families had experienced significant
pressure resulting from unemployment, poverty, the
growing number of female-headed households and
other factors. Caribbean Governments had enacted
measures to address a myriad of social issues to
strengthen the family. CARICOM looked forward to
working with the Department of Economic and Social
Affairs in the expansion of programmes on the family
that would assist the region in addressing priority
issues impacting the family. CARICOM would also
participate actively in the preparations for and
observance of the tenth anniversary of the International
Year of the Family to take place in 2004.
24. If the international community was to realize the
commitments of the World Summit for Social
Development and the five-year review of progress
made to implement the Copenhagen Declaration, it
must make a concerted effort to ensure that the promise
of globalization was translated into the reality of
sustained social development for all.
25. Mr. Monsalve (Ecuador) said that youth must
contribute to the society of today and exercise their
rights with conviction and optimism. He urged that
means should be found to alleviate the external debt of
the developing countries, including the heavilyindebted
medium-income countries and those affected
by natural disasters; otherwise the excessive burden of
the external debt would continue to absorb resources
that should be allocated to social development. As
implied in the report entitled “2000 Report on the
World Social Situation: overview” (E/2000/9), there
was a long way to go in achieving a just and supportive
society that could overcome the new inequalities
resulting from globalization. The international
community must reverse current trends towards
exclusion and marginalization.
26. Following observance of the International Year of
Older Persons in 1999, it was hoped that the holding of
the Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002 would
enable progress to be made in building a society for all
ages, since ageing also implied sharing experience,
helping in the building of a better future and remaining
active and productive for the benefit of the family and
the community.
27. He welcomed the report on disabled persons
(A/54/388/Add.1) and congratulated the United
Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability on the success of
its work and the resulting multiplier effect. He also
commended the valuable initiative of the Division for
Social Policy and Development of the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs in designing a Web page
that provided access to a useful database on
international standards for the disabled and an
extensive information network on that subject.
28. Ms. Tunku Nazihah (Malaysia) associated her
delegation with the statement made by Nigeria on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and said that
globalization had increased awareness of the degree of
interconnection among countries and the similarity of
the challenges they faced in social development. New
challenges beyond the capacity of any single country
had emerged. It was therefore imperative to enhance
international cooperation with a view to achieving
social progress, social justice, betterment of the human
condition and social integration within a globalizing
29. With regard to cooperation at the national level,
Malaysia had consistently involved national, regional,
international and non-governmental organizations as
well as the private sector in its social-development
efforts, and encouraged the further involvement of civil
society in order to supplement the Government’s
30. Malaysia was fully aware that it needed to attain
both social development and social integration. Thus,
its policies sought to incorporate individuals and
groups adversely affected by economic growth and
modernization and left out of the mainstream of
economic and social life, namely, children, youth,
people with disabilities, women, the elderly, families
and indigenous people. Malaysia viewed social
development as a means of creating a society that was
democratic, tolerant, caring and progressive and
endowed with an economy that was equitable,
competitive, dynamic and resilient. Some 42 per cent
of the population were under the age of 25 and, with a
view to facing the myriad of social problems affecting
them, were increasingly being given top priority in
policies and programmes.
31. Malaysia’s commitment to improving the quality
of life of the disabled had been ensured through the
signing of the Proclamation on Full Participation and
Equality of People with Disabilities in the Asian and
Pacific Region on 16 May 1994. Malaysia had a
National Advisory Council, which was drawing up
plans of action for the disabled. Legislation was being
formulated to protect disabled persons’ rights and to
prohibit abuse and any form of discrimination. The
1961 Education Act provided for the establishment of
special schools for children with disabilities, and in
1995 a Department of Special Education had been set
up to focus on children with special needs. The
Government was financing community-based
rehabilitation programmes and there were also
programmes for the training and employment of
persons with disabilities, in addition to comprehensive
programmes to prevent causes of disability such as
blindness and iodine deficiency.
32. The policy on family, enshrined in the national
population policy, was aimed at increasing knowledge
and practice of a healthy, stable and harmonious family
life as part of the main objective of enhancing the
situation of the population by strengthening the
institution of the family. A national family action plan
had been drawn up, based on the proposed guiding
principles for a global blueprint for action on families.
33. Planning for the elderly should take cognizance
of the need for greater financial and personal
independence and a relationship of mutual reliance,
rather than dependency. Preparation for the later stages
of life was part of Malaysia’s economic development
policies. Elaborated In conjunction with the
International Year of Older Persons, the action plan to
implement the national policy for the elderly was
primarily aimed at their integration and participation in
development. In view of the increasing number of
nuclear families and longer life expectancy, steps were
being taken to ensure that family ties were maintained
and that the family continued to care for the elderly.
Since 1992, tax relief had been granted to offspring for
the medical expenses of their elderly parents, and
medical benefits for public-sector employees had been
extended to their parents. With regard to the destitute
elderly with no relatives willing to care for them, the
Government also provided financial aid and lodging.
With the Government’s assistance, non-governmental
organizations had established 132 homes for the
34. Her delegation shared the view of the
representative of ILO that there was a strong link
between the economic and social dimensions of
development, and that social development must go
hand in hand with economic advances. Achieving that
link was a difficult challenge, given the complicating
impact of globalization. That goal should guide the
work of the Third Committee.
35. Mr. Lim Jae-hong (Republic of Korea) said that
the most noteworthy of the successes of the 1999
International Year of Older Persons was the way in
which the world perceived older persons. They were no
longer regarded as a social burden but rather as an
indispensable component of social development.
Furthermore, the theme of the Year, “A society for all
ages”, had introduced a sound policy framework to
achieve an age-integrated society, and had heightened
public awareness of the needs of an ageing society. In
addition, at the twenty-fourth special session of the
General Assembly it had been agreed that the full
integration and continued participation of older persons
in society were essential to development. None of that
could have taken place without the efforts of the
Government of the Dominican Republic, the expert
groups, the United Nations Secretariat and many nongovernmental
organizations. As indicated in
paragraph 4 of the Secretary-General’s report on
follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons
(A/55/167), the theme of a society for all ages implied
a holistic approach with greater emphasis on larger
scale social adjustments and opportunities for older
persons. Such a society needed policies and
programmes not only to improve the human rights,
education and health of older persons but also to create
an enabling environment of family and community for
a successful old age. At the same time, attention should
be given to the more vulnerable groups of older
persons, such as those in rural areas, the disabled and
women. In 1999 the Republic of Korea had formulated
an action plan relating to medium- and long-term
development for the health and welfare of the elderly
in preparation for an ageing society in the twenty-first
century. The plan emphasized the need to enhance the
capacities of older persons and to nurture their social
interaction at the individual, family and community
levels. In that same year the national pension scheme
had been extended to virtually all citizens. Although
the International Plan of Action on Ageing had made a
commendable contribution to policies and perceptions
concerning older persons, it needed to be revised so
that it better corresponded with the current
environment. It should consider national and regional
differences and contain policy options for specific
situations. The revised Plan should be adopted at the
Second World Assembly on Ageing in 2002. Spain was
to be commended for offering to host that important
event, and the Republic of Korea pledged its active
participation both in the Assembly and in the
preparations for it. In addition, the database on policies
and programmes on ageing would serve as a forum for
exchanging information, knowledge and experiences
on that subject, and would assist in monitoring the Plan
of Action. The momentum built during the
International Year should be maintained and further
strengthened in an effort to construct a society for all
ages characterized by life-long personal development.
36. Ms. Htay (Myanmar) observed that not much had
been achieved in alleviating poverty, especially in
developing countries, since the 1995 World Summit for
Social Development. At the twenty-fourth special
session of the General Assembly it had been agreed
that, in order to share in the benefits of globalization,
the developing countries must enter the global
economy. Furthermore, in order to attain the goals of
social-development programmes, there must be
political stability and economic development.
37. Myanmar had set up a National Committee for
Elderly Persons, and the International Day of Older
Persons had been observed at the national, state and
administrative-division levels. The family traditionally
assumed responsibility for the well-being of its older
members. Caring for them was also a social and
religious obligation on the part of local communities.
Charity organizations for the well-being of the aged
were operating in various areas of the country with
joint funding from public donations and government
38. Myanmar had co-sponsored General Assembly
resolution 52/82 entitled “Implementation of the World
Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons:
towards a society for all in the twenty-first century”. In
order for disabled persons to participate fully in the life
and development of their society in living conditions
equal to those of other members, the Department of
Social Welfare was implementing measures to that end.
It had accorded high priority to many rehabilitation and
training programmes for physically handicapped
39. Ms. Romulus (Haiti) noted that high hopes for
social development and the eradication of poverty had
been pinned on the World Summit for Social
Development. Many skeptical observers considered,
however, that neither the Summit nor the twenty-fourth
special session of the General Assembly nor the
Millennium Summit would change in any way the life
of the average person, who would continue to face
unemployment, poverty, environmental degradation
and violation of rights. Various factors continued to
impede the pursuit of growth by certain developing
countries, which were unable to gain from participation
in international trade or to derive much benefit from
the increased purchasing power of exporters, since that
income would be used primarily to import products
manufactured in developed countries. Thus, it was
illusory to think that liberalization of trade and of
external financing would automatically benefit the poor
countries. The capital available in financial markets
continued to be concentrated in a handful of countries,
owing to their progress in advanced technology. The
question of financial resources, whether in the form of
official development assistance or direct foreign
investment, was of vital importance, since in many
countries there were structural limitations on the
mobilization of internal resources for social
development. That occurred in Haiti, where despite
obstacles the authorities were making considerable
efforts to apply a policy of social justice for all, and
especially the most disadvantaged, and had taken
various measures that were being harmonized with the
objectives of the Copenhagen Declaration.
40. Over 2,000 young people had participated in the
National Youth Congress organized by the Ministry of
Health and Population in July 2000 to consider
education in the context of family life, sexuality and
reproductive health, and contagious diseases, including
AIDS. The Ministry also supported older persons by
increasing the staff of residences and the availability of
medicines and supplies. In 1999, World Health Day
had been dedicated to older persons with the slogan
“Let us stay active for a healthy old age”.
41. One sphere calling for international solidarity was
that of indebtedness, which held back the progress of
society. Although the new initiatives were well
conceived, the issue should be dealt with at its roots
since debt hampered the expansion of markets.
42. Mr. Valdez Carillo (Peru) endorsed the statement
made by the representative of Colombia on behalf of
the Rio Group. In Peru, efforts had been made for
20 months to ensure that, at its twenty-fourth special
session, the General Assembly would endorse the
commitments undertaken at Copenhagen in 1995,
which should pave the way for continued stability and
economic growth, and thus bring about improved living
standards for all. Negotiations leading up to the special
session had focused on globalization and, although the
debate would continue, the existing economic models,
institutions and mechanisms must face that new
situation. There was a need to define its effects and to
allocate the available funds to eradicating poverty. That
could be achieved by investing in education, nutrition
and health, creating conditions conducive to equality of
opportunity, establishing incentives to raise production
and productivity; and incorporating a gender
perspective in public policies as a means of
strengthening the social fabric.
43. It was common knowledge that official
development assistance had been markedly declining,
while a significant number of developed countries had
recorded unprecedented levels of sustained growth in
their gross domestic product. That paradox of
globalization required that the increasingly scarce
resources should be invested efficiently. Poverty
affected the majority of countries, but was concentrated
in large pockets in various regions of the world. To
avoid disparities and lack of equity, it was necessary to
determine to which group of people each investment
and each project were directed. Thus, priority should
be given to verifiable results: if attention was paid only
to national indicators which concealed actual poverty
levels, the really poor people of the world would suffer.
Consequently, it was necessary to draw on the positive
experiences of the developing countries themselves in
the field of social investment. The availability of
resources and the success of poverty-eradication
programmes depended not solely on countries’
individual efforts but also on the stability of the
international financial system, the opening of the
industrialized countries’ markets and better conditions
for servicing the external debt.
44. At the Millennium Summit, Member States had
resolved to halve, by the year 2015, the proportion of
the world’s people whose income was less than one
dollar a day and the proportion of people who were
unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water. Peru
had given priority to those issues during the past
10 years. Between 1991 and 1997, extreme poverty had
been cut by more than 12 percentage points, while total
poverty had been reduced by almost 7 points. To
achieve that result it had invested in education, health
and hygiene, sectors which served as a basis for
generating employment and incomes, and hence social
development. During the same period the scope of
primary-health coverage had been doubled from
6 million to 12.4 million effective recipients. School
enrolment had been raised from 87.3 per cent to
95.6 per cent between 1993 and 1998, while the
coverage achieved by the national electric-power grid
had been expanded from 52 per cent to 72 per cent
during that period. Those indicators were just an
example of the results of a determined social policy
achieved within a limited time; it was now necessary to
consolidate those actions and ensure that the decisions
and ongoing projects were sustainable. It was essential,
therefore, to ascertain local views and priorities, and
gradually to hand over the administration and
management of projects to their beneficiaries so that
the latter felt responsible for their future viability. In
the coming years, emphasis would have to be placed on
the building of consensus within countries regarding
policies and measures to be adopted. The ultimate goal
would be to improve the quality of life of their
inhabitants in the context of a culture of citizen
participation, inclusion of vulnerable groups, and
respect for people’s fundamental rights.
45. Mr. Al-Rubaie (Iraq) said that his country’s
participation in preparations for the Copenhagen
Summit and in the Summit itself, as well as in the
twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly,
indicated its desire to ensure that human-rights issues
were dealt with comprehensively in order to combat
poverty, hunger, underdevelopment and unemployment.
The principle that social development could be
achieved only through international cooperation was
not only ethical and social but also economic and
46. All peoples had the right to development, but an
enormous gap persisted between the developing and
the developed countries. That could be ascribed to
many factors, such as globalization, the external debt,
imbalances in trade relations, and the economic
sanctions imposed against the developing countries in
the name of the United Nations, regardless of their
disastrous effects on the population and national
economic life. The Iraqi Government had adopted a
series of measures to alleviate poverty and to improve
certain social services, as well as to create new job
opportunities. However, it had encountered obstacles,
especially the unjust economic sanctions that had been
in effect since 1991. It should not be forgotten that the
military aggression committed by the United States and
the United Kingdom had also targeted civilian
enterprises and infrastructure destined to meet the daily
needs of the citizens. In recent years the living
standards of the population had declined from the
social, economic, cultural and health standpoints. As a
result of the sanctions, the economy had deteriorated,
the social well-being of the majority of the population
had been affected and the mortality rate had risen. Such
consequences had been the subject of various reports
prepared by international and humanitarian
organizations, a number of non-governmental
organizations and various foreign individuals.
Furthermore, the depleted uranium used by the
aggressor forces during their military operations in
1991 had caused much suffering, impacted the
environment and public health, and contaminated the
soil, the water and the atmosphere, affecting even
future generations.
47. Resolutions establishing economic embargoes
largely affected countries of the third world, and
especially their civilian populations. However, the
Security Council had no intention of respecting the
legal principles laid down in the Charter of the United
Nations. For 10 years the Council had maintained
sanctions against Iraq even though the country had
complied with its obligations, a fact which the Council
had not even mentioned. The Council had the
obligation to act on the basis of humanitarian and
human-rights principles. It had neither acknowledged
its responsibility nor defended the rights of Iraqi
civilians suffering under the sanctions, and that had
created a negative image of the Council.
48. In the light of its concern for older persons, the
disabled and youth, in 1980 the Government had
promulgated a law on social security setting up many
centres to satisfy the needs of the disabled and
establishing workshops to enhance their integration
into society. As to older persons, social work was
concentrated on the provision of medical and
recreational services. A ministerial committee had been
established for their protection, and the International
Day of Older Persons was regularly observed. The
general embargo had affected the quality of services for
such people, making it impossible to cater to their
needs, especially with respect to medicines, food,
transport and rehabilitation. In 1992 the Government
had established a federation provided with all the
resources needed to develop the possibilities of youth,
including their physical and cultural development.
About 100 centres had been set up to facilitate
employment for youth during school holidays. The
general embargo had also affected youth, since they
had been unable to realize their aspirations owing to
lack of resources and equipment, and cultural
exchanges with their counterparts elsewhere in the
world had been severed. The suspension of the unjust
embargo was the responsibility of all. A policy which
visited hunger and deliberate destruction on the people
of Iraq and which ran counter to the most elementary
principles of human rights, and in particular the right to
life, must be condemned.
49. Mr. Dahane (Morocco) said that the increase in
life expectancy was perceived as a success of human
development because the great strides achieved by
medical science had made it possible to eradicate
certain diseases and to prevent those which caused
premature death, especially in the developing
countries. It also imposed new, burdensome
requirements in the field of public health and social
integration, since the number of older persons was
constantly growing. The proclamation of the
International Year of Older Persons in 1999 with the
theme “A society for all ages” required a global
approach: health and well-being were determined at a
very early age, on the basis not only of personal
decisions but also of rational social policies and
support structures.
50. Morocco welcomed the holding of the Second
World Assembly on Ageing in April 2002 in Spain and
the work carried out by the United Nations system,
non-governmental organizations and all the actors in
civil society seeking to achieve an integrated and
supportive society with permanent structures that
strengthened inter-generational links. Because of its
deep-rooted traditions and Muslim culture, which
conferred on older persons specific functions and
prerogatives in society, Morocco granted a high
priority to the question of ageing. It was convinced of
the importance of the contribution of older people to
the equilibrium of society and the education of youth.
That conviction had taken shape in a bold national plan
of action designed to provide older persons with legal
protection, especially for those who lacked funds,
medical attention, social protection and recreational
services. The aim was to strengthen the traditional
systems of family solidarity and to encourage families
to care for and support their older members within their
communities and groups.
51. Ms. Pohjankukka (International Federation of
Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) warmly
welcomed the General Assembly’s decision to proclaim
the year 2001 the International Year of Volunteers. The
Federation had undertaken to participate actively in the
celebration of the International Year and encouraged all
its societies to observe it in an innovative manner and
to join with other agencies and Governments in
organizing volunteer work and promoting the culture of
volunteer service.
52. Although volunteer work could not replace the
formal service-delivery system, it had great impact on
the social, political and economic development of
society since it helped to integrate people who were
marginalized, like older people, youth or disabled
persons. Interaction between beneficiaries and
volunteers was valuable for both parties, and it was
estimated that the economic value of volunteer work
amounted in some countries to between 8 and 14 per
cent of the gross national product. Although volunteers
worked for free, it cost money to organize them. The
legal, fiscal and political bases for volunteering were
crucial, since volunteer work depended on the general
conditions prevailing in the country. At the twentyseventh
International Conference of the Red Cross and
Red Crescent, Governments had committed themselves
to supporting the millions of volunteers who daily
embodied the humanitarian commitment. Furthermore,
in adopting the Plan of Action for 2000-2003, States
had undertaken to review and where necessary
introduce or update legislation so as to facilitate the
efficient work of the relevant voluntary organizations.
53. The priority of the African Red Cross/Red
Crescent Societies health initiative 2010 was to combat
HIV/AIDS. With some 2 million volunteers throughout
the continent, the Red Cross/Red Crescent was
uniquely placed to address prevention and response at
the local level and across national borders. Many of the
volunteers were young, which added to the potential
for peer education and promotion of health activities at
home. A total of 51 national Red Cross/Red Crescent
Societies had signed the Ouagadougou Commitment,
which had marked the closing of the Fifth Pan-African
Conference, held in Burkina Faso from 21 to
25 September 2000. The document called for a massive
increase in resources to finance and implement
expanded programmes and to address urgently public
health and food security in Africa. The recruitment,
training and motivation of volunteers would also be
further improved. A key element was investing in
human resources for supporting the volunteer
54. Mr. Langmore (Director, Division for Social
Policy and Development), referring to the comments
and proposals made during the general debate, which
had been characterized by the presence of young
delegates, said that in 2001, the International Year of
Volunteers, the Commission for Social Development
would consider the item in February. In May 2001, the
United Nations Conference on the Least Developed
Countries would be held in Brussels and the fourth
session of the World Youth Forum would be held in
Senegal. With regard to cooperatives, he noted that the
General Assembly intended to consider guidelines on
the subject in 2001. He also mentioned the special
session of the General Assembly devoted to children to
be held in 2001 and the Second World Assembly on
Ageing in 2002.
The meeting rose at 5.10 p.m.