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Summary record of the 4th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 9 October 2001, General Assembly, 56th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/56/SR.4
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 56th
Type Document

14 p.

Subjects Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Youth

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly
Fifty-sixth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
9 November 2001
Original: French
Third Committee
Summary record of the 4th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 9 October 2001, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Al-Hinai . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Oman)
Agenda item 27: Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social
Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly
Agenda item 108: Social development, including questions relating to the world
social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (continued)
Agenda item 109: Follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons: Second
World Assembly on Ageing (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
01-57138 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 27: Implementation of the outcome of
the World Summit for Social Development and of the
twenty-fourth special session of the General
Assembly (continued) (A/56/140)
Agenda item 108: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and to
youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (A/56/3, A/56/57-E/2001/5, A/56/73-
E/2001/68 and Add.1, A/56/114-E/2001/93 and Add.1,
A/56/169, A/56/180, A/56/288-E/2001/104;
A/C.3/56/L.2 and L.3)
Agenda item 109: Follow-up to the International
Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on
Ageing (continued) (A/56/152)
1. Ms. Ahmed (Sudan) endorsed the statement
made on 8 October by the representative of Iran on
behalf of the Group of 77. In the final document of the
twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly,
devoted to the follow-up of the World Summit for
Social Development, Member States had made
recommendations for improving the conditions for
social development worldwide, while endeavouring in
particular to put an end to poverty and to remedy the
harmful impact of globalization on the developing
2. In spite of the efforts made by Governments and
the international community since the Copenhagen
summit meeting to promote development at all levels,
there was still a long way to go to secure lasting social
development for all the peoples of the planet. Social
development was the responsibility of all States, and
that required firm political will nationally as well as
internationally. In his report on the First United
Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-
2006) (A/56/229), the Secretary-General stated that in
spite of the progress made in combating poverty, it was
unlikely that many countries, especially in sub-Saharan
Africa, would be able to achieve national social
development goals. As the Secretary-General pointed
out in his report, official development assistance was
still vitally important in funding development efforts in
developing countries, including the Sudan, if the stated
goal of eradicating poverty by the year 2015 was to be
attained. Social development would not come about
without concerted action by the international
community and compliance with obligations relating to
official development assistance to the poorest
3. There must also be an effective and fair solution
of the external debt problem, in order to alleviate the
debt burden on the developing countries, because of its
damaging impact on social development. Funding must
be guaranteed for the Highly Indebted Poor Countries
Debt Initiative. Likewise, it was important to pursue
the reform of the international economic system and to
ensure the transparency and stability of the
international financial system. In particular,
international institutions must become more democratic
in order to be able to respond more quickly and
effectively to development problems, in the context of
an integrated world financial system.
4. It was also important to help the developing
countries, and especially the least developed among
them, in becoming more competitive on international
markets, consolidating their infrastructures and
benefiting from the transfer of technology, as well as in
improving their human resources and building up their
industrial capacity, in order to equip them to overcome
the difficulties caused by the establishment of a
globalized system.
5. It was admitted that the problem of poverty and
inequality could not be resolved without transforming
certain social structures. It was the role of the
international community to mobilize financial
resources to promote the strengthening of those
structures. The Sudan wanted to see an international
climate which favoured social development, and it took
the view that the right to development was a
fundamental right. There must be a stop to unilateral
economic sanctions. Everybody, everywhere, must be
able to obtain medicines and food. That was a
fundamental right of every human being, as the
General Assembly had said.
6. Endemic diseases were another issue that States
had to deal with. Malaria was a major public health
problem in many countries, particularly in Africa, and
the growing number of victims of HIV/AIDS was
another grave threat.
7. The Sudan had made significant progress in the
area of social development, having adopted an efficient
anti-poverty strategy. Programmes had been adopted to
generate employment and create an attractive labour
market in rural areas by supporting small commercial
enterprises and agricultural producers and their
families. The Sudanese authorities were endeavouring
to promote a system of values based on social
interdependence and to give greater help to young
people and retired people. The Sudan contributed to the
World Youth Programme of Action to the Year 2000
and Beyond, supported youth and volunteer
programmes, and had set up programmes for young
people under the Ministry for Youth. The authorities
continued to attach great importance to education, from
both qualitative and quantitative viewpoints.
8. Her Government also gave considerable attention
to the needs of older persons, a vital facet of social
development. Her delegation looked forward with
interest to the Second World Assembly on Ageing to be
held in Madrid in 2002, and wished to take part in
preparatory work for that Assembly.
9. In order to promote the social integration of
persons with disabilities, her Government had created a
National Council for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled,
pursuant to the relevant General Assembly resolution.
10. Her Government placed particular emphasis on
programmes to promote and support the family so that
it could fully play its part in social development, of
which it was a vital cornerstone. The authorities were
therefore preparing special programmes in anticipation
of the tenth anniversary in 2004 of the International
Year of the Family.
11. Collective measures to promote social
development were at the very heart of the actions
undertaken by the international community. The latter
should cooperate closely in its consideration of such
measures, taking account of the current political
context, in order to improve the situation of all human
beings throughout the world.
12. Mr. Valdés (Chile), speaking on agenda item 109
on behalf of the Rio Group, said that its member States
were firmly committed to the preparatory process for
the Second World Assembly on Ageing, to be held in
Madrid in April 2002. The Assembly would provide an
opportunity to reflect on the reality of the ageing of
societies and its linkage with development and to
evaluate progress achieved in the 20 years since the
first Assembly and set goals for the future. The Rio
Group was committed to the success of the Assembly,
which would be enriched by contributions from nongovernmental
organizations and from a forum devoted
to research, and believed that collaboration and
dialogue between international organizations,
Governments, civil society and the academic
community would expedite the elaboration and
adoption of a concrete and effective plan of action.
13. The ageing of society, which resulted from
significant increases in life expectancy, was being
experienced in both developed and developing
countries. As for the quality of life, however, the
situation was very different in the developing
countries. The goals of development for all and the
eradication of poverty were far from being attained,
and the expansion of employment, particularly in the
formal sector, and of the social protection that came
with it was hard to achieve. There was often a lack of
financing for pension systems and a fall in the quality
of social services provided to older persons. Older
persons lived longer, but often did not have sufficient
resources to enable them to live independently, so that
they became burdens for their families which
frequently had difficulties meeting their own needs.
Declines in family incomes, particularly in rural areas,
made it necessary for older family members to work
and their active working lives were extended,
endangering their health and even their lives. The
exodus of rural populations to cities resulted in the
separation of older persons from the younger members
of their families, forcing them to perform tasks which
at times exceeded their physical abilities. The recent
phenomenon of international migration flows
accelerated by globalization represented an additional
burden for older persons: not only were they deprived
of the assistance of younger relatives but they also had
to take care of children left behind by their parents. In
countries affected by HIV/AIDS, caring for the sick
and raising the children of parents affected by the
illness also became the responsibility of older persons.
The latter were often marginalized and, with failing
strength and reduced family incomes, had to cope with
the grave material and psychological situation of the
14. It was undeniable that older persons had the
capacity to lead meaningful and significant lives. To
enable them to take full advantage of the opportunities
offered by increased life expectancy, Governments, the
international community, particularly international
organizations and international financial institutions,
the private sector and civil society must create an
appropriate environment, focusing efforts on the
eradication of poverty in order to achieve people
centred development, enabling the elderly to grow old
in health and dignity.
15. The countries of the Rio Group were committed
to that objective and would make every effort to ensure
that it was adequately reflected in the plan of action
which would emanate from the forthcoming World
Assembly. They hoped that the Assembly would also
be an opportunity to listen to the voices of older
persons and benefit from their contributions, to meet
their needs, but also to integrate them fully in the life
of societies. The Rio Group States thanked Spain for its
offer to host the Assembly, and expressed their
appreciation to the Preparatory Committee for the
quality of the draft plan of action; they were ready to
begin without delay deliberations and negotiations on
the draft.
16. Ms. Samah (Algeria) said that despite concerted
and well-targeted action by the international
community to eradicate poverty, humanize
globalization and redress inequalities, much remained
to be done to turn commitments into reality.
17. Improved living conditions, by extending life
expectancy, meant that developed countries faced the
challenge of an ageing population as now did
developing countries, who did not have the same
human and material resources at their disposal.
Although the issue should be addressed by the Second
World Assembly on Ageing, it was important, in order
to preserve the consensus thus far achieved, to avoid
introducing into the preparatory work certain concepts,
such as the rights-based approach to development, or
euthanasia, which lent themselves to controversy or
were contrary to many countries’ laws or moral and
religious values.
18. Convinced that social justice depended on the
integration of all social groups, Algeria in its
Constitution had provided for the protection of those of
its citizens who were unable or no longer able to work,
such as disabled persons, children and older persons;
the State also involved many public agencies in its
activities in that connection.
19. Social services gave priority to training, the
strengthening of financial services and sustainable
means of development, health, communications and the
legal and regulatory field.
20. The Government also focused on the family
which was a tool for social cohesion and economic
21. The system of cooperatives — providing a
framework for mutual assistance and solidarity and a
care mechanism that contributed indisputably to the
country’s economic and social development — was
governed by the same arrangement, supplemented by
implementing decrees for each activity sector.
22. Her delegation wished to elaborate on the
guidelines contained in the annex to the report of the
Secretary-General on cooperatives in social
development (A/56/73-E/2001/68) by recommending
the establishment, within the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO), of a
technical and administrative support structure for the
cooperative movement in developing countries; the
setting up of an international fund for the development
of the cooperative movement; the creation, under
United Nations auspices, of an international
cooperative institute; and the organization every five
years, under the aegis of the United Nations, of a world
congress of heads of the most representative
cooperatives from continents, regions and subregions,
to assess the state of the cooperative movement in the
23. In order to create an enabling environment for
development and for the elimination of poverty, in
accordance with commitments made at various
summits and conferences, the international community
should provide active support for the cooperative
movement, which represented an instrument for
development in general, and for social development in
24. Ms. Vioti (Brazil) said that she wished to align
herself with the statements made by the representatives
of the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Group
of 77, of Chile on behalf of the Rio Group and of
Uruguay on behalf of the Southern Common Market
(MERCOSUR). In Brazil, the consolidation of
democratic institutions and the strengthening of
participatory mechanisms had acquired new impetus in
the latter half of the 1990s, permitting increasing
partnership between the Government, civil society and
the private sector. The difficulties Brazil faced in order
to eradicate poverty and to reduce the uneven
distribution of wealth made development an economic
and social priority for the country. Aware that
economic growth was an insufficient objective, the
Government also directed its efforts towards realizing
all fundamental rights, promoting equity and
combating social exclusion.
25. The agenda agreed at the World Summit on
Social Development, held at Copenhagen in 1995,
remained fully valid. Some of the commitments agreed
in 2000 at the twenty-fourth special session of the
General Assembly, devoted to a five-year follow-up of
the World Summit, had acquired special significance in
the light of recent events. These commitments included
increasing and improving access to international
markets of products and services of developing
countries by reducing trade barriers and eliminating
non-tariff barriers; facilitating the transfer of
technologies to those countries; and reducing the
negative impacts of economic instability. After a year
of moderate growth, the world economy was
undergoing a downturn whose effects would visibly
restrict the ability of many developing countries to
address their development needs. In that context,
international cooperation to further the implementation
of the objectives agreed in 1995 and 2000 was all the
more relevant.
26. The Government was engaged in the preparatory
process of the Second World Conference on Ageing, to
be held at Madrid in 2002, and she was confident that
the plan of action to be adopted on that occasion would
set new standards for international cooperation and
would provide the necessary guidance to deal with the
many challenges that developing countries, in
particular, were beginning to face as a result of
population ageing in such areas as the financing of
pensions, social welfare, access to services, public
health, infrastructure and employment.
27. Since 1994, Brazil had pursued a National Policy
on Ageing implemented by five regional forums which
ensured coordination in close cooperation with nongovernmental
organizations. A pension system had
been nonetheless established at the federal level to
provide the equivalent of a minimum wage to
individuals over 67 years of age who did not have
family support or the means to provide for their own
28. A similar stipend was being provided to disabled
persons who were unable to work or live
independently. In 1999, Brazil had signed the Inter-
American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities,
which was currently being considered by the Congress.
The State Secretariat for Social Assistance ensured the
implementation of policies for the qualification and
rehabilitation of disabled persons, aimed at
guaranteeing their social integration and full
participation in society.
29. Together with other federal agencies and the
private sector, the State Secretariat for Social
Assistance was implementing two larger projects for
youth. The project on the role of youth in social and
human development had already prepared more than
10,000 young people in the 15-to-17-year-old bracket
to serve their own communities in the areas of health,
sports, culture, tourism, the environment and social
services. The project on youth centres had led to the
establishment of 40 facilities throughout Brazilian
territory which offered young people a place to meet,
obtain information on the various health and social
services available to them and have access to online
services through the free use of computers.
30. Mr. Kallehauge (Denmark), speaking on agenda
item 108, said that the United Nations Standard Rules
on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with
Disabilities should continue to guide the work of the
international community, and that the Special
Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social
Development had done a tremendous job in promoting
the use of the Standard Rules. Much remained to be
done, however, particularly at the national level.
31. Denmark, for its part, was striving to improve the
situation of persons with disabilities through
international cooperation. In November 2000, it had
hosted the Nordic Conference on Development
Cooperation and the Disability Dimension, which had
culminated in a communiqué in which the Nordic
countries undertook to promote the inclusion of the
disability aspect in all development activities of the
United Nations, the World Bank, the European Union
and international development organizations. Denmark
was working to convince UNICEF and UNESCO, in
particular, to include in their programmes initiatives
aimed at improving the lives of people with
disabilities. In the context of its bilateral assistance to
Nepal and Uganda, for example, Denmark ensured that
education was open to disabled children.
32. The Seminar on Human Rights and Disability,
convened by the Special Rapporteur on Disability at
the Almåsa Conference Centre in November 2000, had
led to the conclusion that disability was not only a
social but also a human rights issue. Furthermore, the
trend over the past decade had apparently been to
establish rights for persons with disabilities as a
supplement to traditional welfare policy, which
suggested that the two aspects should be stressed at
both the national and international levels.
33. Mr. Jørgensen (Denmark), speaking in his
capacity as the representative of the Danish Youth
Council, said that the prudent decision to postpone the
special session on children in view of recent events
should not lead to an indefinite postponement, since
children’s rights were of great importance.
34. Since millions of children lived in extreme
poverty, Member States must fulfil their
responsibilities with a view to ensuring that official
development assistance, at the very least, reached
established United Nations targets. In order to mobilize
youth properly as a necessary development resource,
more knowledge on their involvement and impact was
needed. His Government and the Danish Youth Council
therefore encouraged the United Nations Development
Programme to give special attention to youth in its
annual Human Development Report, for example, by
fleshing out general statistics and documentation with
specific information on young people from 15 to 24
years of age. The Danish Youth Council also proposed
that consideration should be given to devoting a future
Human Development Report to youth.
35. Since young people risked being infected with
AIDS or HIV for lack of the necessary information or
proper reproductive health services, governments
should include information on sexual and reproductive
health in the curricula of all educational institutions in
order to help young people understand their own
sexuality and take responsible decisions.
36. Many young people the world over would never
have an opportunity to influence decisions that directly
affected them. Referring to the World Programme of
Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, he said
that the Danish Youth Council urged Member States to
ensure that their delegations to the General Assembly
included more youth representatives of both sexes.
37. Mr. Shen Guofang (China) said that the
international community as a whole had made great
efforts to implement the recommendations made in the
final documents of the World Summit for Social
Development and the special session of the General
Assembly on social development, but that those efforts
were meeting serious obstacles. According to the
Report on the World Social Situation, 2001, since the
1990s income inequality worldwide had gone from bad
to worse and the income gap between developed and
developing countries, urban and rural areas, men and
women, had on the whole become increasingly wide. In
a global workforce of 3 billion, between 750 million
and 1 billion were under-employed; in the field of
health, the traditional illnesses and new types of
infectious disease, especially HIV/AIDS, were a drain
on the resources for social development.
38. In order to translate into reality the proposals and
initiatives put forward in those final documents,
countries must join in a common effort in three areas:
the creation of a peaceful and stable international
environment, a stepped-up international cooperation
for social development and the defence of the interests
of vulnerable groups.
39. Currently, terrorism had become a major threat to
world peace and stability, and in some regions and
countries, protracted armed conflict and warfare had
caused such enormous loss of life and property that
they had undermined the future social development of
the local people. The situation would not improve
unless the countries of the world fulfilled their
responsibility to maintain peace and stability and
strengthened international cooperation against
terrorism, in accordance with the purposes and
principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and
unless they sought peaceful solutions to enduring
conflicts and wars.
40. Regarding international cooperation for social
development, while the major responsibility to ensure
the social development of their people rested on
Governments, yet the international community as a
whole, as globalization proceeded, also had important
responsibilities. It should take appropriate action to
halt the deterioration of the environment, the
diminishing of resources and the unchecked spread of
terrible diseases in the developing countries.
Furthermore, in the common interest of mankind, the
developed countries should fulfil their pledges to
provide official development assistance, offer financial
and technical assistance to the developing countries,
find a fair and honest solution to the debt problems of
the poor countries, and help the developing countries
out of poverty as quickly as possible.
41. Countries should fully accommodate in their
policies the interests of vulnerable groups — the
elderly, women, children, the disabled — for only by
so doing could a healthy, comprehensive, coordinated
and well-balanced social development be achieved.
42. His Government had always attached importance
to social development. Since adopting its opening-up
policy and maintaining a rapid economic growth over
the past 20 years and more, China had succeeded in
adequately feeding and clothing its over 200 million
rural poor. With its population of 1.3 billion, however,
China still needed to accelerate its economic growth,
further improve the living conditions of its people,
eradicate poverty, and invest more in education, health
care and public hygiene services. His Government
would do everything possible to meet those daunting
challenges and would take effective measures to
achieve coordinated, sustained economic and social
43. Ms. Neskorozhana (Ukraine), speaking on
agenda item 27, said that the review of the
implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and
Programme of Action adopted at the World Summit for
Social Development had made it clear that despite the
efforts of the international community, there had been
little change in the social situation. Globalization and
the opportunities for economic growth had not done
away with the disparities among and within countries
and, in spite of scientific advances and the
technological revolution, hunger, disease and poverty
had still not been eradicated. In order to bridge the gap
between the poor and the rich, it was necessary to
rethink the structure of international economic and
financial cooperation. At the same time, every State
should play its own crucial role in advancing
people-centred sustainable development, which meant
pursuing policies aimed at eradicating poverty,
enhancing productive employment and guaranteeing
universal and equal access to basic social services,
social protection and support for vulnerable groups.
44. In Ukraine, the eradication of poverty was at the
centre of national policies and specifically of the
economic and social development strategies for the
years 2000-2004 and the Ukraine-2010 programme.
Poverty-prevention measures — increasing the
minimum wage and improving the social security
system — had been adopted and since the best way of
fighting poverty and promoting social cohesion was to
ensure full employment, a general employment plan
had been developed for the creation of new businesses
and the offering of tax incentives to businesses willing
to establish themselves in demographically
disadvantaged areas.
45. However, the country was experiencing hardship
and the Government had had to take a series of urgent
measures to stabilize the country’s economy, attract
investment, restructure businesses, improve the
taxation and banking systems and shore-up national
production. Ukraine hoped that once it had overcome
the financial and economic crisis, it would be in a
position, in particular, to pay pensions and other social
benefits regularly to beneficiaries and to increase the
amounts. It should be pointed out, however, that the
international community had not given Ukraine the
support it had undertaken to provide to it and the other
countries in transition under the Programme of Action
of the World Summit for Social Development. Ukraine
therefore took the opportunity to ask for help in
achieving greater integration into the global economy
through the opening-up of international markets to its
products, the removal of tariff barriers, the expansion
of multilateral trade and a greater transparency and
accountability on the part of the financial institutions.
46. The United Nations should redouble its efforts to
promote social development and, to that end,
strengthen the effectiveness of the Economic and
Social Council and its functional commissions,
especially the Commission for Social Development.
47. Ms. Otiti (Uganda) said that all the issues
covered by the agenda items under consideration had
their roots in inequality of opportunity; the challenge
of trying to establish a society of equals was becoming
increasingly great. In particular, it was very difficult to
meet the needs of the poorest people without
endangering the stability of other population groups,
particularly in the developing countries. Therefore, she
was pleased with Member States’ continued
commitment to launch the global campaign for poverty
48. She reaffirmed her Government’s political will to
achieve its literacy goals for all with special emphasis
on universal primary education, a goal which it hoped
to attain in the not-too-distant future. The Heavily
Indebted Poor Countries Initiative had enabled it to
make further progress towards achieving its education
49. She applauded the efforts of the United Nations
Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
(UNESCO) to make the international community aware
of the need to expand education and mobilize
additional resources to that end. She hoped that the
global strategy developed by UNESCO for that purpose
would yield successes that could be translated to the
regional and national levels, thus ensuring the success
of the United Nations Decade for the Eradication of
50. She also commended the report of the Secretary-
General on Implementation of the World Programme of
Action concerning Disabled Persons (A/56/169 and
Corr.1). The potential of disabled persons had long
been ignored because of misconceptions about them.
The fact that, according to the Secretary-General’s
report, persons with disabilities did not obtain
prominent mention in the priority areas identified in
the documents adopted at the special sessions and the
Millennium Assembly attested amply to that problem.
Many of the barriers faced by disabled persons were
the result of a failure to attain most of the equity
objectives, but it was clear that with better health
services, many disabilities could be avoided in poor
countries. Her delegation therefore looked forward to
the outcome of the study of reasons for the exclusion of
children with disabilities, which the United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had had carried out by its
Innocenti Research Centre. It also welcomed the
support that specialized bodies and agencies such as
the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP),
the World Health Organization (WHO), the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International
Labour Organization (ILO), the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and
UNESCO provided for projects designed to enable
communities to improve the lives of disabled persons.
51. Uganda had received financial assistance from
the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Disability in
order to implement a wheelchair project and a
sign-language-training project, to assist the National
Association of the Deaf and to develop a
parent-training project.
52. Since ageing was inevitable, it was encouraging
that the international community was moving towards
the adoption of a plan of action on ageing. Her
delegation commended the Government of Spain for its
commitment to host the Second World Assembly on
53. Most countries recognized the family as the basic
unit of society. The family was currently experiencing
a breakdown which, though not catastrophic, was
nonetheless real. As a result, it was becoming
increasingly difficult to meet the needs of older,
disabled and young persons and to guarantee social
development. Therefore, efforts to refocus attention on
the family were especially welcome.
54. Ms. Kristiansen (Norway), speaking on agenda
item 108, said that the United Nations system and
Member States should help young people to combat
injustice and poverty and to participate in the
development of national and international policies. To
that end, Member States should implement the Dakar
Youth Empowerment Strategy, adopted at the fourth
session of the World Youth Forum, held in Dakar in
August 2001, and consider strengthening the United
Nations Youth Unit to promote the influence on the
United Nations of young people throughout the world.
United Nations agencies should also improve their
dialogue with non-governmental organizations.
55. For over 30 years, the Norwegian Government
had included youth representatives in its delegation to
the General Assembly; she encouraged other Member
States to follow that practice, particularly as the
involvement of young people in the preparation for
world conferences and other important United Nations
activities would inspire in them an interest in those
events. It would also be very useful to prepare a special
report on young people’s opportunities to influence
political decision-making.
56. No issue was more important to future
generations than peace. Therefore, in order to avoid an
escalation of violence and terror, as the events of 11
September 2001 had tragically illustrated, it was
essential to invest in health, participation and, above
all, education, which was perhaps the single most
important factor in development. Thus, it was all the
more significant that there were still 130 million
children who had no access to primary education,
which meant that the communities in which they were
growing up were being denied the foundations for
future development. She also drew attention to the fact
that two thirds of the many children who were not in
school were girls; no development strategy was better
than one that involved women as central players.
57. Mr. Fall (Senegal) said, with reference to agenda
item 108, that participants at the fourth session of the
World Youth Forum, held in Dakar from 6 to 10 August
2001, had expressed their grave concern at the ever
worsening situation of young people throughout the
world, particularly in the developing countries, where
they encountered numerous serious problems,
including poverty, unemployment, epidemics, illiteracy
and armed conflict. The participants had reiterated their
concern about child labour, the trafficking in and
sexual exploitation of children, young people in
situations of armed conflict, and the exclusion suffered
by young people affected by HIV/AIDS.
58. With regard to education and training, they had
noted that, despite advances in basic education, the
inequalities arising out of their social and economic
conditions, sex or disability continued to prevent
thousands of children and young people from receiving
an education. To guarantee universal access to
education in accordance with the framework for action
adopted by the World Forum on Education, held in
Dakar in April 2000, they had suggested the
establishment of an education and information and
communication technologies fund, an increase in
education budgets and the implementation of education
policies and programmes with a special focus on
vulnerable and marginalized groups.
59. The Forum participants had also given careful
consideration to the link between education and
employment. In that context, they had supported the
Secretary-General’s initiative to establish a youth
employment network and urged Governments to submit
annual reports on the topic, together with plans of
action for youth employment. They had also invited the
United Nations to improve its methods of working with
youth organizations, to increase youth representation
on those of its bodies which dealt with young people,
and to increase the scope and the resources of the
Youth Unit in the Secretariat so that it could carry out
its work more effectively.
60. Like the Forum participants, his delegation hoped
that the Dakar Youth Empowerment Strategy adopted
by the Forum would be considered and endorsed by the
United Nations. It was, like the World Programme of
Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond, a
consensus document and thus an important tool for
decision makers, who would be enabled, as stated in
the Secretary-General’s report on the implementation
of the Programme (A/56/180), to address the concerns
of young people from a multidisciplinary perspective
that allowed for integrated and cross-sectoral policy
interventions and a comprehensive approach to youth
61. Since assuming office in April 2000, the
President of Senegal had put young people into
positions of power, giving them important
responsibilities. The practical outcome of the
Government’s commitment to tackling the problems of
young people as a matter of urgency was the ever
increasing participation of young people in the national
work of reconstruction and development. One example
was the “citizens’ vacations” programme, which
involved thousands of young people voluntarily
helping with environmental protection and regeneration
in villages throughout the country. In other words,
despite limited resources and a host of structural
constraints, Senegal was taking practical steps to
ensure full participation at every level by young people
and their organizations in the fields that most closely
affected them.
62. Ms. Hagon (Australia) said, with reference to
agenda item 108, that young people were key agents
for social change, economic development and
technological innovation, as emphasized by the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond. They should therefore be given greater
opportunities to participate in the economic, social,
political and cultural aspects of their societies and
63. Her Government had launched a national youth
policy, which gave priority to communication between
the Government and young people, and introduced a
national youth week, which highlighted the positive
contribution of young people to society. Various other
initiatives included youth media awards and a youth
information web site, as well as various forums through
which young people could communicate directly with
the Government on issues affecting them. Youth-run
non-governmental organizations also performed
invaluable work.
64. Member States could promote youth participation
at every level by including youth representatives in
delegations to the General Assembly or other United
Nations conferences. Her Government, which had
adopted that practice, commended the approach to
other countries.
The World Youth Forum provided a unique
opportunity for young people from around the world to
meet and exchange views. Her Government had
therefore provided funding for youth representatives to
attend the past two sessions. While the United Nations
Youth Unit must retain primary responsibility for the
Forum, it was essential that young people and youth
organizations should participate in the planning and
organizing of such a major international event. Local,
regional and international initiatives that promoted the
participation and empowerment of youth should also be
66. Poverty, malnutrition, the HIV/AIDS problem and
lack of access to health services and education directly
affected not only the current but also future generations
of young people. International efforts were vital to
addressing such issues. Education constituted the most
basic building block, being essential for development
and a prerequisite for youth empowerment and
participation. Violence, intolerance, armed conflict and
hatred had a devastating effect on young people
throughout the world, yet it was young people who
held out the hope of a peaceful, secure and less violent
future, if they received proper support. Member States
should view young people not as a burden or as a
challenge but as an invaluable resource.
67. Mr. Mbanefo (Nigeria) observed that an array of
reports on social issues had been submitted to the
Committee and required immediate attention. The
extract from the Report on the World Social Situation
2001 (E/2001/104) highlighted the widening disparity
in the income of developed and developing countries.
Globalization, technological advances, especially the
revolution in computer science, structural-adjustment
programmes and liberalization policies had resulted in
a deterioration in social services in the less advanced
countries. The policies adopted by most developed
countries to restore the equilibrium of international
trade had done little to boost employment or promote
sustained economic growth. Since the relationship
between States and the market was complex, it was
essential that decision makers heeded the particular
circumstances of various countries at different stages
of their history. Until the international community
mustered the requisite political will, it would be
impossible to attain the goal set at the twenty-fourth
special session of the General Assembly, namely to
halve poverty by 2015. United Nations reports on that
subject were not exactly optimistic, nor were the
forecasts of the United Nations Development
Programme or the World Bank, which indicated that 70
countries, most of which were in Africa, would miss
that target.
68. Since coming to power in 1999, the Nigerian
Government had made poverty eradication its priority.
To that end, it was drawing up a strategic document
with the active support of the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund, and it had implemented a
five-year plan (2001-2005) designed to improve the
economic situation, which had suffered from several
military interventions over the past three decades. The
National Poverty Eradication Council, chaired by
President Obasanjo, was responsible for formulating
and implementing policies chiefly aimed at reducing
poverty by 2005. Transparency and economic good
sense would be the watchwords when channelling
resources towards that objective. Since Nigeria by
itself could not supply all the necessary resources, it
welcomed foreign investment in the agricultural and
industrial sectors. Moreover, the international
community would have to grant Nigeria a substantial
reduction of its debt if the country were to complete
successfully such fundamental social and economic
reforms as the strengthening of institutions and the
development of human resources.
69. Economic success was predicated on young
people receiving an education that enabled them to find
work and avoid the social ills caused by
unemployment. The Universal Basic Education
Programme made primary and junior-secondary
schooling compulsory and free. The National Youth
Service Corps encouraged youth participation in the
implementation of national policies concerning them.
Two banks founded by the Government lent young
people start-up capital. The National Directorate of
Employment helped them to acquire job skills, and
young Nigerians who had received vocational training
went to other developing countries under the Technical
Aid Corps Programme.
70. As the Secretary-General had noted in his report
“Support for volunteering” (A/56/288), volunteers
played a vital role in preserving the stability and
cohesion of societies and their economic contribution
was significant. The Nigerian Government had
recognized the need to involve volunteers in projects
focusing on the eradication of poverty, but they could
also play a big role in the campaign which had been
launched at the instigation of the Nigerian President
against HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmissible
71. In implementing the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons, the Government sought
to ensure that all Nigerians were treated equally and, in
keeping with the principles of the African Decade of
Disabled Persons (2000-2009), designed to incorporate
the question of disability in the social, economic and
political agenda of all African States, it had adopted
measures to secure access to training, rehabilitation
services and employment for the whole population.
72. Mr. Knyazhinskiy (Russian Federation) said that
recent events had shown the extent to which terrorism,
organized crime, aggressive separatism, ethnic discord
and the trafficking in drugs and weapons posed a threat
to the world. So far only a few developed countries
were able to enjoy the benefits of scientific and
technical progress. That was why the Commission for
Social Development had to monitor the way in which
States honoured the commitments they had accepted in
Copenhagen and Geneva, including their pledges of
initiatives to step up international cooperation with
countries in transition. The Commission’s new multiyear
programme of work 2002-2006 would make it
possible, through a balanced approach which took
account of the interests of all regional groups of States,
to press on with the international drive to overcome the
worst social evils outlined in the documents stemming
from the World Summit for Social Development and
the twenty-fourth special session of the General
Assembly, documents which still defined the thrust of
action plans and programmes which set out to give a
social dimension to the market economy.
73. In recent years, the Russian Government had been
devoting more and more money to the social field. For
the first time in Russia’s history the education budget
had topped that of defence. The Government had also
embarked on a complete reform of the social sector.
Russia had established a medium-term socio-economic
development programme which formed part of the
socio-economic development strategy for the period up
until 2010.
74. His delegation considered that in order to solve
social problems it was necessary to adopt a policy of
supporting the family. That was why the Russian
Federation fully supported the efforts of the
Commission for Social Development to intensify
international cooperation to strengthen the family and
its role in the education of children. The Russian
Federation supported the initiative to celebrate the
tenth anniversary of the International Year of the
Family in 2004 at national, regional and international
levels, and considered that the report of the Secretary-
General on the matter (E/CN.5/2001/4) could serve as a
basis for its preparations.
75. His delegation noted with satisfaction that the
Secretary-General, in his report on the implementation
of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the
Year 2000 and Beyond (A/56/180), emphasized the
efforts of the Government of the Russian Federation to
improve the situation of youth. The Russian Federation
was ready to increase bilateral and multilateral
cooperation with interested countries and international
organizations in that field.
76. The Russian Federation supported the decisions
taken at the first session of the Preparatory Committee
for the Second World Assembly on Ageing concerning
the agenda, programme of work and conditions for the
participation of non-governmental organizations. The
Russian Federation considered, however, that the work
to draw up the Revised International Plan of Action on
Ageing must be accelerated.
77. Mr. Al-Sulaiti (Qatar) said that economic growth
would not be sufficient to eradicate poverty. The
equitable distribution of wealth was just as important.
In line with the objectives defined at the World Summit
for Social Development, the United Nations accorded
priority to development. The Commission for Social
Development played an important role in that regard.
However, particularly in the developing countries, the
majority of peoples continued to live in conditions of
poverty which were deteriorating all the time,
unemployment was increasing while working
conditions were worsening, the debt burden was
increasingly onerous, raw material prices were too low,
and there was a reduction in official development
assistance and in the sums of money available for
social investment. The international community should
therefore endeavour to find the means of eradicating
poverty, especially with the support of the United
Nations specialized agencies and the developed
countries. The latter should provide adequate economic
resources, but should also reduce the debt of the poor
countries and open their markets to the products of
those countries.
78. Qatar was devoting sizeable resources to
infrastructure development and vocational training,
particularly for persons with special needs. It had taken
measures to ensure equality between men and women
and the integration of the latter into the development
process. Qatar, which considered family stability a
vehicle for social integration and harmony, had
established a Supreme Council for Family Affairs,
which had proposed various laws and adopted a
development programme for women, children, older
persons and those with special needs.
79. The International Year of Older Persons had
furthered increased awareness of the demographic
changes that were taking place both in the developed
world and in the developing countries. The latter
needed additional resources to meet the needs of older
persons in terms of health, and to enable them to
continue to play a productive role in society. The
Second World Assembly on Ageing, to be held in
Madrid in 2002, should enable global strategies to be
drawn up. To achieve sustainable development, it was
imperative to ensure the participation of all members of
society, especially the young. Social development
programmes had to be put in place, with the help of the
private sector. That was why Qatar welcomed the
efforts of the United Nations specialized agencies in
the field of social growth.
80. Mr. Khalid (Pakistan), speaking on agenda item
27, said that his delegation fully associated itself with
the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and
China by the representative of the Islamic Republic of
Iran. Social development was a principle enshrined in
the Charter of the United Nations, and in 1995 some
117 heads of State and Government had re-committed
themselves to that principle at the World Summit for
Social Development, which had resulted in the
adoption of the Copenhagen Declaration and
Programme of Action, whose main objectives were the
eradication of poverty, the promotion of employment,
the enhancement of social integration and capacity
building. Five years later, at its twenty-fourth special
session, the General Assembly had recognized that
increased priority had been accorded to social
development in national policies and at the
international level, and a call for the mobilization of
additional resources so that political will could
translate into specific actions. But inequalities between
countries persisted, poverty and social exclusion were
getting worse, and HIV/AIDS and malaria had brought
development virtually to a halt. A debt burden that was
unsustainable, reverse financial flows, unequal terms of
trade and unequal market access hampered the progress
of the developing countries, especially those beset by
armed conflicts. Pakistan itself had had to spend
disproportionate sums on armaments because of the
unresolved conflict affecting the state of Jammu and
Kashmir. The international community, and the United
Nations in particular, must redouble its efforts to find
peaceful settlements to those conflicts. It would then be
possible to invest in the social sector the enormous
resources thereby released.
81. Although globalization offered a wealth of
opportunities, its negative impact should be contained
and its benefits equally distributed, as world leaders
had acknowledged at the Millennium Summit. A
partnership involving the United Nations, the Bretton
Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization,
Governments, non-governmental organizations and
relevant civil society actors was essential to achieving
the vision of a just and equitable world. To that end,
there must be synergy between commitments made at
the national and international levels. Affluent countries
must agree to alleviate the debt of poor countries, to
offer them improved market access and to increase
official development assistance.
82. Social development was a priority for the
Government of Pakistan, which despite external and
domestic constraints was continuing its march towards
sustained growth, poverty alleviation and improved
living conditions. For that purpose, it had decreased its
expenditure on defence in favour of the social sector,
initiated employment-generation programmes —
particularly in low-income areas — micro-credit
schemes to help small and medium-sized enterprises,
and rural and urban development programmes, to
complement the existing Social Action Programme, as
well as a three-year literacy programme implemented
in partnership with the private sector and public sector
organizations, with emphasis on rural areas. Since
August 2000, financial and development decisionmaking
had been transferred to directly elected local
administrations. It was noteworthy that 33 per cent of
seats in those administrations were reserved for
women. That first step towards revival of a true
participatory democracy should promote poverty
reduction and contribute to the country’s sustainable
83. Furthermore, the terrorist attacks on the United
States of 11 September and the resultant tensions in
Pakistan and neighbouring countries had put a
temporary hold on the country’s progress towards
prosperity. The Government — which had adopted an
unambiguous stand against the global menace of
terrorism — fully supported the efforts of the
international community to address the issue and
needed its assistance in dealing with the expected
arrival in Pakistan of more than 1.5 million Afghan
refugees, an influx that could lead to a massive
humanitarian crisis.
84. Mr. Howell (International Labour Organization
(ILO)) said that, despite recent shocks and current
uncertainties, incomes were continuing to rise and
innovations were flourishing in many parts of the
world; elsewhere, however, economic inequality and
exclusion were on the increase. The global economy
must be capable of providing decent jobs and adequate
and family-friendly working conditions to the majority.
Moreover, market access should be identical for all
countries, and discrimination in the workplace should
be outlawed. Remunerated work represented the best
means of escaping poverty. Concerned to reconcile the
social and economic components of development, ILO
had adopted a Declaration on Fundamental Principles
and Rights at Work in 1998. In November, pursuant to
the request of the twenty-fourth special session of the
General Assembly, ILO would be organizing a Global
Employment Forum, to be held at Geneva, which
would seek to place decent employment at the centre of
economic and social policy, nationally and globally.
ILO was working closely with the World Bank in
national implementation of the Poverty Reduction
Strategy Papers. ILO was also working towards the
adoption of a new instrument to replace ILO
Recommendation 127 on the Role of Cooperatives in
the Economic and Social Development of Developing
85. ILO continued to initiate programmes that
addressed each stage of the life cycle. ILO Convention
159 concerning Vocational Rehabilitation and
Employment (Disabled Persons) called for equal
treatment of disabled persons. Between 1999 and 2001,
a further 10 countries had joined the 73 others which
had ratified the Convention. The ILO Disability
Programme was active in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the
West Bank and Gaza, assisting with projects for young
people with disabilities in seven African countries, in
the framework of the African Decade of Disabled
Persons. In 2000-2001, ILO had cooperated with the
World Health Organization on a series of publications
on mental health and the workplace.
86. In his report to the Millennium Assembly, the
Secretary-General had called the attention of world
leaders to youth unemployment and committed himself,
together with the heads of the World Bank and ILO, to
establish the Policy Network on Youth Unemployment
in order to find solutions to the problem. The network
had met in July 2001 and would submit
recommendations to the General Assembly later in the
year. In order to respect ILO Older Workers
Recommendation, 1980 (No. 162), and in view of the
conclusions of the World Employment Report 2001,
measures were needed, in collaboration with
employers’ and workers’ organizations, to ensure the
maximum participation of older workers in economic
life and society. The pressure on existing social
security systems was a growing concern in all the
countries where such systems existed. In many
countries, and particularly developing countries,
grandmothers had to care for their grandchildren,
whose parents had died of HIV/AIDS but had no work,
financial means or social protection. The Code of
Practice on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work, adopted
by ILO in 2001, sought to provide guidance for
developing national policy and programmes. Lastly,
ILO was active in the preparatory process for the
Second World Assembly on Ageing, to be held in 2002,
and the revision of the International Plan of Action on
87. Mr. Leete (United Nations Population Fund),
speaking on agenda item 109, said that with the
extension of life expectancy — one of mankind’s
greatest achievements — population ageing had
become a phenomenon of major significance for all
societies. While older persons had attracted a great deal
of supportive concern in the more developed countries,
the rapidly-changing population structure in developing
countries had aroused little attention, although 350
million persons aged 60 and over lived in those
countries, compared with 225 million in more
developed regions. Those totals would only increase in
the decades ahead.
88. It was therefore necessary to adopt policies
capable of responding to people’s needs and
expectations, particularly to promote lifelong
education, training and health care; to recognize the
services provided by older persons, particularly
women, in raising their grandchildren, orphaned by
HIV/AIDS — a problem that was especially acute
throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa; to eliminate
violence and other crimes against older persons and the
inter-generational violence arising from poverty; to
strengthen support systems to ensure the material wellbeing
of older persons; and to ensure that they received
the necessary social services and welfare protection.
Governments should create a favourable climate and
non-governmental organizations, communities and the
private sector should facilitate positive action; policy
dialogue could bring different stakeholders together
and provide a basis for action.
89. The development goals established at the
Millennium Summit, disaggregated by age and sex,
provided clear guidelines to follow in order to meet the
basic needs of older persons.
90. The strategy on population ageing formulated by
the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) was
guided by the Programme of Action of the International
Conference on Population and Development and the
recommendations endorsed by the General Assembly at
the time of the review conducted five years after the
Conference. That review had led to a further series of
recommendations focused on fostering intergenerational
dialogue and solidarity, the development
of strategies and the need to document positive
experiences of policies and programmes in the area of
91. The Fund continued to be actively involved in the
preparatory activities for the Second World Assembly
on Ageing and would be convening an international
expert group meeting on population ageing and
development, in collaboration with the Programme on
Ageing of the Division for Social Policy and
Development, in the Department of Economic and
Social Affairs, and two non-governmental
organizations, the American Association of Retired
Persons and HelpAge International.
92. In conclusion, UNFPA wished to commend the
efforts of the Division for Social Policy and
Development, which was the secretariat for the Second
World Assembly on Ageing, and its role in the
preparation of the draft international strategy of action
on ageing 2002.
The meeting rose at 12.35 p.m.