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Summary record of the 6th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 10 October 2001, General Assembly, 56th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/56/SR.6
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 56th
Type Document

13 p.

Subjects Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Youth

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly
Fifty-sixth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
13 November 2001
Original: French
Third Committee
Summary record of the 6th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Wednesday, 10 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)*
* Items which the Committee has decided to consider together.
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
01-57366 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 10.05 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 and 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. Mr. Martins (Angola) associated himself with
the statement made by the Permanent Representative of
Botswana on behalf of the Southern Africa
Development Community. He took note of the
Secretary-General’s report on the implementation of
the outcome of the World Summit for Social
Development and of the twenty-fourth special session
of the General Assembly (A/56/140), and welcomed
the programme of work of the Commission for Social
Development for the period 2002-2006, which he
hoped would prove to be effective.
2. Since the World Summit for Social Development
in 1995, social development priorities had shifted
because it had become clear that, in order to make
society more just and improve living conditions, it was
vital to build on the potential of individuals, which
meant promoting education, health and social cohesion.
For that reason, social development was now linked to
new elements such as greater community involvement
and the creation of partnerships. There nonetheless
remained a wide gap between experience gained in
social development and the limited ability of some
countries to engage in innovative development in that
area. Angola thanked the countries that had fulfilled
their commitment to help fund social development. It
also congratulated all United Nations agencies
concerned with social development on the quality of
their reports and recommendations.
3. Because of the internal conflict that had ravaged
Angola for more than three decades, the country’s
human development indicators remained very low, as
the Human Development Report showed. It was
unacceptable and tragic that the Angolan population
still lacked access to basic social services. To remedy
that deplorable situation, the Angolan Government had
in 1999 launched a new humanitarian emergency
programme and had begun to implement a poverty
reduction strategy, with the support of the World Bank,
the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations
Development Programme and the European Union.
4. Moreover, in order to promote its social
development, it had established partnerships with civil
society organizations and the private sector. In
particular, it had made arrangements with oil
companies for those companies to set aside a share of
their profits for community projects. As a result, the
private sector was more involved in social
development. In addition, as the Government moved
the management of its social development activities
closer to community level, those communities were
ever more frequently involved.
5. The Angolan Government was convinced that
education and health were vital to economic and social
development. Health services in particular helped to
reduce the incidence of disease and thereby helped
individuals to work productively. Despite the conflict,
Angola remained determined to further its social
development, in accordance with the commitment it
had entered into at the World Summit for Social
Development and the special session of the General
Assembly on social development.
6. While it was vital for the United Nations to
redouble its efforts to promote social development and
eradicate poverty, it must also focus on promoting
peace, which was a prerequisite for social
7. Ms. Joseph (Saint Lucia), speaking on behalf of
the member States of the Caribbean Community
(CARICOM), said that despite the tragic events of 11
September 2001, the international community should
not forget the need to address numerous economic and
social inequities. The International Conference on
Financing for Development, to be held in Monterrey in
March 2002, would be a positive event in that regard,
giving the international community an important
opportunity to address the numerous issues effecting
social development in the context of globalization.
CARICOM saw the Conference as a useful means to
seek new solutions to correct social and economic
imbalances caused by varying levels of development
and of vulnerability.
8. One of the major issues affecting social
development was that of migration, which presented
considerable challenges at the national and regional
levels. According to the findings of various expert
groups, migration was a sensitive indicator of the
economic situations in individual countries, while
current research on the world socio-economic situation
did not attribute sufficient weight to migration.
CARICOM had progressed significantly in addressing
migration issues. A regional mechanism for the free
movement of university graduates and skilled workers
was being set up, with 10 member States currently
completing the legal process to permit the free
movement of graduates, while three States had taken
all the necessary steps to facilitate free movement by
other categories of workers.
9. The World Programme of Action for Youth to the
Year 2000 and Beyond, adopted by the General
Assembly in 1995, was designed to address more
effectively the problems of young people and to
increase their opportunities for participation in society.
CARICOM reiterated its support for the Programme,
which contained recommendations in 10 priority areas:
education, employment, hunger, poverty, the
environment, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, leisure
activities, girls and young women, and full and
effective participation by youth in the life of society
and in decision-making.
10. One of the most dynamic initiatives taken by the
international community in favour of youth had been
the convening of sessions of the World Youth Forum,
the most recent of which had been held in Dakar in
August 2001. CARICOM supported the Dakar Youth
Empowerment Strategy, which had been adopted at that
session, particularly in respect of the serious health
issues affecting young people, especially HIV/AIDS,
and also associated itself with the call for the
implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on
HIV/AIDS, adopted by the General Assembly at its
special session in June 2001. The CARICOM States
had recently entered into a new pan-Caribbean
partnership against HIV/AIDS designed to reduce the
number of infections, provide care and support for
those affected by the virus or the disease, and protect
them from discrimination.
11. Through their Ministerial Council on Human and
Social Development, which coordinated activities in
the vital areas of health, youth, sports, gender and
culture, the CARICOM States had developed a number
of regional initiatives relating to youth. In 1998, they
had brought together young people from 22 Caribbean
countries for a conference in Barbados and the
Bahamas, at which a range of health, governance and
social development issues had been addressed. That
had been followed in 2000 by a successor event held in
Grenada. In May 2001, CARICOM had convened the
second meeting of officials responsible for youth
issues, in which regional and international agencies,
education institutions and youth organizations had also
taken part. The participants in the meeting had
identified the need for a regional youth database to
assist in policy formation and the development of
career structures, and to elaborate a method for youth
participation in decision-making. Various modalities
had also been recommended for addressing youth
poverty and adolescent health.
12. Older persons made up a steadily growing
segment of the population in the Caribbean as in many
countries of the world. According to a report by the
Economic Commission for Latin America and the
Caribbean, persons over 60 years of age would make
up 10.6 per cent of the population in 2005, compared
with 6.9 per cent in 1950; those over 75 were predicted
to make up 28 per cent of the elderly population by
2005, compared with 19.2 per cent in 1950. The same
report also emphasized problems relating to physical
safety and income security for older persons, planning
for ageing, inter-generational relationships, and the
financial constraints faced by Governments in their
efforts to ensure that older persons were not
marginalized. In view of those changes, the Caribbean
countries had embarked on a number of activities,
particularly in relation to helping older persons to
remain productive by means of work in
microenterprises, the transmission of certain cultural
values in educational institutions, and the provision of
mediation and advisory services.
13. With the full effects of ageing not expected in the
Caribbean until at least 2030 according to some
studies, the region had adequate time to deal with the
related issues through innovative strategies, such as the
programme in Trinidad and Tobago, which provided
for public awareness and training activities, increased
economic assistance to the elderly, and a national
survey of the living conditions of older persons. The
Caribbean States had in fact already begun to
implement such strategies. As of 1999, St. Lucia had
begun a programme of construction and renovation of
homes for the elderly and persons with disabilities.
14. According to some estimates, there were over 500
million disabled persons in the world, or 10 per cent of
the global population, and two thirds of them lived in
developing countries. In the light of their current
situation, there was a need to continue strengthening
the initiatives already undertaken to facilitate their full
integration in the mainstream of society.
15. CARICOM noted with satisfaction the special
focus of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
and the Office of the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the needs of
children who were disabled as a result of armed
conflicts, and it wished to acknowledge with
appreciation once again the workshop on the rights of
children with disabilities conducted by UNICEF during
the World Summit for Social Development.
16. The emergence of a globalized economy was
likely to create further challenges for disabled persons,
particularly with regard to access to new technologies
through computer literacy. CARICOM, which stood
ready to contribute to the implementation of the
commitment to create a society for all, including
disabled persons, had established national councils
charged with analysing those challenges. In the
meantime, progress had already been achieved on the
ground. In Saint Lucia, a disabled-friendly school had
recently been opened with the generous support of the
Governments of France and Germany and resources
from the national poverty reduction fund. Similarly, in
Grenada and Jamaica, financial institutions were
granting revolving credit to disabled persons. In
Guyana and Dominica, projects in agriculture and the
craft industry had also been implemented. Much
remained to be done, however, in order fully to
integrate disabled persons into society.
17. CARICOM acknowledged the importance of the
many international initiatives taken to strengthen the
family, notably the observance of the International Year
of the Family in 1994. It supported the commemoration
of the tenth anniversary of the Year at plenary meetings
of the General Assembly in 2003 and 2004, which
would allow the trends affecting families, both positive
and negative, to be studied and the commitments made
in respect of families to be reaffirmed.
18. CARICOM agreed with the Secretary-General
that major demographic, economic, cultural and social
changes had affected both the family as an institution
and family members as individuals, and it wished to
reiterate its appreciation for the efforts of the Family
Unit of the Division for Social Policy and Development
to assist Governments in developing, implementing and
evaluating family-related policies and programmes
within the framework of the follow-up to the
International Year of the Family.
19. CARICOM looked forward to working with the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs on the
formulation of programmes to assist the Caribbean in
addressing some of the most difficult problems
affecting families, particularly unemployment, poverty
and drug abuse.
20. It also looked forward to the forthcoming
international workshop on social and development
policies to be held in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
21. Mr. Ahsan (Bangladesh), speaking on agenda
item 108, said that his delegation fully associated itself
with the statement made by the Chairman of the Group
of 77 on 8 October.
22. Given the uncertainty looming over the global
economy as a result of the terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center on 11 September, the Committee
should focus firmly, in its deliberations, on how to
continue advancing social development in the new
23. His delegation noted with satisfaction that the
Commission for Social Development had finalized its
multi-year programme of work. The core theme for
2002, namely integration of social and economic
policy, was particularly timely given the need for
States to minimize the human cost of macroeconomic
policies and globalization. That assumed that it was
necessary to continue helping States to provide social
protection, particularly for vulnerable groups; forging
international partnerships to assist developing
countries, particularly the least developed countries;
investing in the social sector; and taking steps to
reduce the negative social and economic impact of
turbulence in the international financial markets. Since
the sharing of best practices in social development was
a good means of achieving progress in that area, his
delegation hoped that the Commission would
endeavour to raise awareness of such practices.
24. The Report on the World Social Situation, 2001,
did not present an encouraging picture. The income
disparity between developed and developing countries
was continuing to widen; trade liberalization had not
brought the dividends that would have enabled
developing countries to invest more in the social
sector; and there could be no real progress in reducing
poverty without the galvanization of the political will
of Governments. The least developed countries
required special care, since they would be particularly
vulnerable if the global situation deteriorated further. A
programme of action for those countries had been
adopted in May 2001 in Brussels. The programme, the
targets and goals of which reflected those of the United
Nations in that area, called on the least developed
countries to increase budgetary allocations for social
infrastructure and basic social services, create a
favourable environment for enhancing social sector
investment, train social service providers, encourage
the establishment of public-private partnerships and
improve housing and public health-care facilities. It
also called on them to take steps to empower people
living in poverty, particularly women, and enhance
their access to basic social services.
25. The least developed countries were committed to
taking those measures under the Brussels Programme
of Action, but their efforts would be futile if their
development partners, including the international
financial institutions and the developed countries,
failed to fulfil their part of the undertakings, namely
increasing official development assistance in support of
the efforts by the least developed countries. Those
countries needed financial and other assistance to
develop effective safety nets and swift response
mechanisms to cope with natural disasters and socioeconomic
shocks, including those resulting from
economic reforms and fiscal adjustments. They also
required support to improve their education and health
facilities and national statistical systems, and, more
generally, to mitigate social exclusion, insecurity and
26. Ms. Kok Li Peng (Singapore), speaking on
agenda item 109, said that in the report on the World
Ageing Situation, 2002, the Under-Secretary-General
for Economic and Social Affairs pointed out that life
expectancy at birth had increased globally by about 20
years since 1950, to its current level of 66 years and
that longevity was a reality shared by both developed
and developing countries. At the same time, there was
an increase in the number of elderly persons. The
efforts of the United Nations to focus attention on that
issue were timely. Attitudes towards the elderly were
changing and she applauded that change because
elderly persons played an important role. Most cultures
traditionally recognized the wisdom of the elderly and
their stabilizing effect for communities. In relatively
recent times, however, their role had been diminished
in favour of a youth culture.
27. The world population was undergoing a
revolution in terms of longevity. Her delegation
welcomed the continued efforts by the Organization in
that area and supported the preparations for the Second
World Assembly on Ageing, to be held in Madrid in
28. Singapore had taken a number of initiatives with
regard to health care for the elderly. By the year 2030,
the proportion of Singaporeans aged 65 and above
would triple. The Ministry of Health had estimated that
the latter would comprise 20 per cent of the patients in
hospitals, and an inter-ministerial committee on health
care for the elderly had been formed in 1997 to review
the health-care needs of the elderly and identify
measures to ensure that those needs would continue to
be met. Its recommendations had been supplemented
by those of the inter-ministerial committee on the
ageing population, established in 1998. The work of
those two committees had made it possible to define a
number of principles: care for the elderly should
emphasize health promotion and disease prevention;
institutionalization should be a measure of last resort;
the individual and his family should take primary
responsibility for the care of the elderly; since health
care for older persons tended to be long term, it should
be affordable; the Government was responsible for
support and preventive activities, as well as providing
care in cases of acute illness, setting policy guidelines
and plans, and developing and regulating services;
long-term care should be the preserve of nongovernmental
organizations and the private sector.
Health care for the elderly was provided through a
spectrum comprising short-term care and long-term
care. In order to keep health care for the elderly
affordable, financing was based on the principles of
individual responsibility, community assistance and
government funding.
29. In anticipation of the growing need for long-term
care, Singapore was considering the development of a
comprehensive financing scheme to help individuals
pay for such care. In addition, the ministries
responsible regularly monitored demographic trends
and changes in the care needs of the elderly and
reviewed measures already in place to provide a
continuum of cost-effective and quality care for the
30. For the longevity revolution to be fully exploited,
there had to be a parallel emphasis on providing
adequate and affordable health care to the ageing, who
constituted an essential social resource.
31. Mr. Widodo (Indonesia) said that his delegation
associated itself with the statement made by the
representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Despite a decade
of unprecedented global economic growth, world
income inequality had increased. Globalization and
economic crises had compounded the problems of
poverty and unemployment and had hobbled the efforts
of many developing countries to carry out the
commitments made during the World Summit for
Social Development and the twenty-fourth special
session of the General Assembly. The fourth meeting
of ASEAN ministers responsible for social welfare,
held in Singapore in August 2001, nevertheless, gave
rise to optimism. That meeting had underscored the
Association’s determination to realize the vision of a
community of caring societies by 2020.
32. Indonesia believed that it was the primary
responsibility of nations to do everything possible to
ensure social development, a responsibility that his
country had carried out in spite of months of unrest and
political conflict, but it was also true that many of the
obstacles to social development must be addressed at
the international level. Social development objectives
included not only improving health care or promoting
equality in the field of development. Strengthening the
role of each individual within society and the stability
of society itself, as well as measures to combat racism,
intolerance and terrorism were also important.
Concerted action must be taken in order to make the
planet a safer place, reduce unemployment and enhance
social welfare. In that regard, there was a need to take
into account the demographic changes occurring
throughout the world. The increase in the number of
older persons, which would be discussed at the Second
World Assembly on Ageing posed a challenge, as
stated in the Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the
Pacific. His country’s policies were designed to
respond in a proportional manner in order to ease the
demographic transition between the generations and
maintain family unity. Of no less concern to Indonesia
was the situation of the nation’s youth and the
juvenilization of poverty, as a result of globalization
and the economic crisis. In that regard, the World
Programme of Action for Youth for the Year 2000 and
Beyond was as relevant as ever. Since the young people
in Indonesia had played an important role in
overcoming the recent constitutional and political
challenges, Indonesia sought to redouble its efforts in
the field of education, renewing its commitment to
literacy for all, as recommended by the draft proposal
and plan of action for the United Nations Decade for
Literacy. Other vulnerable groups in society, including
the disabled, 80 per cent of whom lived in developing
countries, should not be neglected. Although the Asian
Pacific Decade of Disabled Persons, 1993-2002, was
coming to an end, Indonesia remained committed, in
spite of its economic limitations, to building a society,
in which all people could contribute their talents to
national development.
31. Ms. Kang Kyung-wha (Republic of Korea),
speaking under agenda item 109, said that recent
advances in science and technology had brought about
a rapid expansion of the global economy, but also an
ageing of the global population as a result of the
increase in life expectancy. The challenge could not be
met in isolation from such concerns as social
integration, poverty eradication, economic stability,
sustainable development and gender equality. Indeed,
the declining productivity of society and increasing
burden on the productive population led to greater
government spending on social security and welfare
programmes for the elderly. As far back as 1982, the
International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted at the
First World Assembly on Ageing, which had been held
in Vienna, had provided recommendations for the
elaboration of national strategies. The International
Year of Older Persons, 1999 had drawn participants
from numerous governments and non-governmental
organizations for the movement “Towards a society for
all ages”.
34. She hoped that the Second World Assembly on
Ageing, to be held in Spain in 2002, would lead to the
adoption of a revised International Plan of Action on
Ageing that was attuned to the demographic, socio
economic and technological changes of the previous
two decades. In many traditional societies, the
extended family provided protection for the elderly and
the most vulnerable members of society. However, the
pace and demands of modern life were such that the
concept of the extended family and the moral codes
that dictated respect and care for the elderly were
becoming increasingly untenable. The elderly were
being stripped of their traditional roles, without being
assigned a new place in society. The consequences of
the phenomenon had been even more pronounced in
countries struggling with limited resources against
economic difficulties. As it recovered from its
economic crisis, the Republic of Korea was expanding
opportunities for employment of the elderly,
particularly within their own communities.
35. Ms. Maw Maw (Myanmar) said that her
delegation aligned itself with the statement made by
the representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China. By adopting at
the 1995 World Summit for Social Development the
Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action on
Social Development, participants had committed
themselves to eradicating poverty, expanding
productive employment, reducing unemployment,
enhancing social integration and creating an enabling
environment for social development. The outcomes
since then had varied from country to country.
36. The focal point for social development in
Myanmar was the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief
and Resettlement, supported by the National
Committee on Social Development, which had been
established prior to the World Summit. Cooperatives,
which had existed in Myanmar for over 50 years, but
had adapted to the demands of the market economy,
contributed to the achievement of the goals set out in
the Programme of Action. The key to economic and
social development was education and that was why
Myanmar, with assistance from the United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF), was currently
implementing a plan to ensure that 80 per cent of all
children finished primary school. Efforts must also be
made, however, to respond to the needs of the elderly,
especially those living alone. The Ministry of Social
Welfare, Relief and Resettlement coordinated activities
in that field, in collaboration with various nongovernmental
37. While Myanmar acknowledged that social
development was first and foremost a national
responsibility, the international community as a whole
had a responsibility to assist.
38. Mr. Manalo (Philippines), speaking under
agenda item 108, said that his delegation associated
itself with the statement made by the representative of
the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Group of
77 and China. The Philippines welcomed the report of
the Secretary-General on the implementation of the
World Programme of Action concerning Disabled
Persons (A/56/169), as well as the adoption by Member
States of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, which
placed emphasis on accessibility, health care and social
services, employment and sustainable means of
39. In 2000, the Philippines had strengthened its law
governing accessibility by directing Government
agencies to provide structural features for persons with
disabilities in State universities so as to facilitate their
access to higher education and thereby hasten their
integration into the mainstream of Philippine society.
The President had also appointed a sectoral
representative on the National Anti-Poverty
Commission. In partnership with the Government and
non-governmental organizations, the National Council
for the Welfare of Disabled Persons had established
programmes to improve the skills and living conditions
of disabled persons, but also to encourage them to seek
gainful employment. The integration of persons with
disabilities into the economic mainstream, a task
facilitated by information technology and in particular
the Internet, was one way to reduce poverty. That could
be seen in the Asia and Pacific region, where disabled
women and girls were the marginalized group that was
most at risk to living in poverty. While it was true that
since the end of the United Nations Decade of Disabled
Persons (1983-1992) progress had been made in
combating discrimination against disabled persons,
much more remained to be done. The forthcoming
review of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons should provide insights on the areas
in which progress still needed to be made, such as
increased accessibility and promotion of the
independence, self-fulfilment and dignity of disabled
persons. In today’s world, one out of every 10 persons
suffered from some disability. The international
community should therefore increase the effectiveness
of their advocacy on behalf of persons with disabilities
and better sensitize the public to their specific
problems. For its part, the Philippines would be
submitting a draft resolution, entitled “Implementation
of the World Programme of Action concerning
Disabled Persons: towards a society for all in the
twenty-first century”.
40. Mr. Enkhtsetseg (Mongolia) said that his
delegation supported the statement made by the
representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf
of the Group of 77 and China. He noted that, while
globalization brought greater opportunities, it
heightened the vulnerability and insecurity of some of
the weakest and poorest nations. Social exclusion,
marginalization and inequality among countries
persisted, exacerbated by existing and evolving
transboundary threats.
41. The 1990s could be described as a decade of
international commitments to development, as
demonstrated by a number of international conferences
and summits on that issue. Yet, in his Report on the
World Social Situation, 2001 (E/2001/70), the
Secretary-General noted that the international
community had failed to deliver on commitments made
during that period. It was therefore imperative for all
stakeholders to redouble their efforts, particularly with
a view to halving poverty by 2015. While nations bore
the primary responsibility to do their utmost to ensure
social development, the cooperation and support of the
international community were equally necessary. His
delegation therefore welcomed the integrated approach
outlined by the Secretary-General in his report entitled
“Road map towards the implementation of the
Millennium Declaration” (A/56/326). His Government,
for its part, had developed a national programme aimed
at reducing poverty, enforcing the rule of law and
promoting sustainable development, in other words,
ensuring human security through a policy
encompassing the ecological, economic, social,
political and legal aspects of development.
42. Education was a fundamental component of
social development. And yet, according to the results
of the worldwide 2000 assessment in the context of
“Education for All” universal primary education was a
challenge which the international community had not
taken up. It must therefore make every effort to achieve
the goal set out in the Dakar Framework for Action for
Education for All, adopted at the World Education
Forum, namely, that all children, particularly girls,
children in difficult circumstances and those belonging
to ethnic minorities should have access to primary
education. His delegation supported the draft action
plan for a United Nations Literacy Decade, referred to
in the report of the Secretary-General entitled
“Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit
for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth
special session of the General Assembly” (A/56/140).
43. The attainment of those varied goals would be
facilitated by cooperatives which, as indicated by the
Secretary-General in his report entitled “Cooperatives
and social development” (A/56/73), could make a
significant contribution to alleviating poverty,
promoting employment for the greatest number of
people and ensuring the fullest possible participation of
women, youth, older persons and persons with
disabilities in development. His delegation had
therefore welcomed the draft guidelines aimed at
creating a supportive environment for the development
of cooperatives (A/56/73, annex).
44. As the ageing of the population had become a
global phenomenon, his delegation looked forward to
the forthcoming Second World Assembly on Ageing.
45. Mr. Andrabi (Pakistan), speaking on agenda
items 108 and 109, expressed his delegation’s support
for the statement made by the representative of the
Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77
and China. He noted that social development
essentially meant achieving a better quality of life for
all segments of society, including the most vulnerable
(older persons, disabled persons and children), while
guaranteeing participation, social integration and
equality of opportunities, and stressed the linkages
between social and economic development of
individuals, communities and societies.
46. The current world social situation was far from
satisfactory. Progress in a number of key areas, was
non-existent or marginal, or had even been reversed.
Inequalities among countries and within societies were
growing. The aggravation of abject poverty and
endemic deprivation; discrimination, social exclusion,
intolerance and marginalization; the persistence of
conflicts; the disintegration of society owing to certain
controversial social and cultural norms and attitudes;
and the demographic decline and resultant decrease in
the workforce were all factors that called for more
global efforts and probably a revisiting of the
international community’s social agenda.
47. The natural family, based on kinship, was the
fundamental unit of society. A stable and nurturing
family helped to achieve social coherence and harmony
and, thus, progress. In Pakistan, the institution of the
family remained strong. The traditional multigenerational
family and the extended family could take
care of the most vulnerable segments of society
effectively. In order to ensure meaningful social
development, there was a need to recognize the family
as an institution and as the first line of defence against
exclusion, marginalization and social disintegration.
Unfortunately, however, at the international level, the
institution of the family was a subject of controversy,
aided by initiatives that were in fact aimed at imposing
the behaviour and attitudes of one particular type of
society on all societies the world over. Such attempts,
under the guise of new concepts of social development,
must be discouraged and eschewed, since they bred
mistrust, misunderstanding and, ultimately, conflict
between societies.
48. The ageing of the population was likely to
become a major demographic phenomenon in the
twenty-first century. The Second World Assembly on
Ageing, to be held in Madrid in 2002, offered a unique
opportunity to create a new world vision for the elderly
based on a programme of action to promote their
dignity, ensure their security and well-being, preserve
their special status, protect them from exploitation and
work for their social integration.
49. Pakistan, with over 7 million elderly people,
derived guidance from the injunctions of Islam and the
country’s traditions, which ensured that younger family
members considered it a sacred duty and privilege to
care for their parents and their elders. To consolidate
that fortunate state of affairs and make the best use of
the capabilities, talent and experience of the elderly,
the authorities were planning to establish a task force
of distinguished senior citizens to conduct studies and
issue recommendations based on realities as observed
in practice.
50. Despite difficulties and a less than favourable
international environment, Pakistan had made
substantial progress in improving the quality of life of
its citizens, in particular the most vulnerable, thanks to
the appropriate steps that it had taken.
51. Mr. Andjaba (Namibia), speaking on agenda
item 27, associated himself with the statement made by
the representative of Botswana on behalf of the
Southern African Development Community and the
one made by the representative of the Islamic Republic
of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
52. Since the World Summit for Social Development,
Namibia had embarked upon the task of addressing
social development core issues by establishing the
required national mechanisms and programmes. In
partnership with multilateral actors, in particular the
United Nations and the World Bank, it had adopted a
poverty reduction strategy with a long-term vision of
economic prosperity for the country, outlining specific
actions to achieve it. Its first national development plan
(1995-2000) had also established poverty reduction as
one of its development objectives. In addition, an
action programme had been drawn up with the
assistance of the Swedish International Development
Agency (SIDA). Namibia had also launched a public
works policy which, apart from strengthening
infrastructure, had produced promising results in
respect of job creation and had made it possible to
stabilize incomes during periods of drought and other
disasters. It had furthermore made it possible to
consider the question of the financing of such
programmes, and had offered the opportunity to all
parties to identify their roles and responsibilities in
carrying out and following up on the national poverty
reduction strategy.
53. Despite the significant efforts made under those
initiatives, in Namibia as in other developing countries,
poverty remained a major obstacle to the realization of
social development goals and the major cause of most
of the country’s social ills. It would be difficult indeed
to speak of social development without alluding to
poverty and economic development.
54. The fact that Namibia had been classified among
the medium-income countries was sometimes an
obstacle to securing the financial resources required for
the implementation of its national poverty reduction
strategy. According to a recent survey, 47 per cent of
Namibians were relatively poor and 13 per cent were
extremely poor. It was therefore likely that the
objective set at the twenty-fourth special session of the
General Assembly of halving poverty by 2015 would
not be attained.
55. The HIV/AIDS pandemic was taking on alarming
proportions in Namibia, and had begun to jeopardize
the social and economic gains the country had made.
Because it affected the economically active section of
society, care was no longer given to the elderly, who
themselves must now care for the ill and for orphans.
Furthermore, when both parents died of AIDS it was
not uncommon for children to head families. The
resources allocated to combating HIV/AIDS adversely
affected the budgets available for other health problems
or other sectors such as education, housing or poverty
reduction. His delegation wished to re-emphasize that
it would be difficult for Namibia to fight HIV/AIDS
without the cooperation and support of the
international community.
56. Namibia welcomed the Declaration of
Commitment on HIV/AIDS adopted by the twentysixth
special session of the General Assembly. It was
committed to achieving the objectives set in the
Declaration of Commitment, and invited the rest of the
international community to do the same. It looked
forward to the Global AIDS and Health Fund becoming
operational, in particular in sub-Saharan Africa.
57. Namibia, as many other developing countries,
was faced with a dilemma in coping with globalization.
While globalization had apparently benefited some
regions of the world, the same could not be said for its
effect on southern Africa. For some developing
countries, globalization had not only diminished
prospects for growth, it had aggravated inequalities and
marginalized them still more in the world economy.
Collective solutions must be sought by developing
countries and developed countries alike to ensure that
globalization benefited all countries in the world.
58. Lastly, his delegation welcomed the decision by
the Commission for Social Development to address the
question of the integration of social and economic
policy in 2002, and considered that the International
Conference on Financing for Development, to be held
in Mexico in 2002, would be a good opportunity to
make progress in that field.
59. Ms. Al Haj Ali (Syrian Arab Republic)
associated herself with the statement made by the
representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf
of the Group of 77 and China. The consolidation of
social development and the right of every human being
to live with dignity, free from poverty, disease,
ignorance and the ills of society, were closely linked
issues for which both Governments and the
international community bore equal responsibility.
Since the Copenhagen Summit, the social situation in
the world had in fact deteriorated, in particular in the
developing countries, and globalization, in spite of the
opportunities for progress which it offered at the
economic level and with regard to information and
culture, had accentuated inequalities in living standards
and exacerbated poverty and insecurity. The
developing countries did not have the means to
compete with the developed countries on international
markets and the gap between the North and South had
widened further. The limits to international cooperation
were revealed at moments when concrete, material
assistance to the developing countries was necessary.
That assistance was often tied to unreasonable or
unacceptable conditions, both with regard to basic
issues such as debt relief and the opening of markets to
developing countries’ products, and of steps to ensure
that economic progress had a direct impact on
development and social progress.
60. In spite of those difficulties, her Government had
made social development a priority. In the area of
poverty eradication, the programmes and policies it had
adopted were aimed at protecting low-income
categories by guaranteeing all citizens access to basic
social services. Efforts were under way to modernize
the health and education sectors and steps had been
taken in the area of food supply. Her Government had
also organized, in cooperation with the International
Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), a seminar on
poverty eradication.
61. As far as employment was concerned, her
Government had increased civil service salaries and
equality of opportunity for all citizens, male and
female, was guaranteed by the Constitution, as was the
integration of the disabled into society through the
provision of training and job opportunities. The
Constitution also guaranteed the rights of workers up to
and following retirement, with a view to protecting
older persons and guaranteeing them life with dignity.
In that context, her delegation would make every effort
to ensure the success of the Second World Assembly on
Ageing, to be held in Madrid in 2002. Her Government
had also made youth a priority: education was free and
compulsory and special attention was paid to youth
organizations and to job creation for young people.
62. Since much remained to be done in order to
achieve a fully satisfactory level of social development,
her Government was cooperating with nongovernmental
organizations and international
organizations to define the necessary development
63. One of the fundamental building blocks of social
development was the ability of every human being to
enjoy the basic rights to education, health and
employment in an environment conducive to living life
with dignity and full respect for human rights.
However, such words became meaningless in the
context of foreign occupation and denial of
individuals’ most basic rights, as clearly illustrated by
the situation in the Arab territories occupied by Israel
in Palestine, Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic. In
those areas, the Israeli occupation forces made daily
use of every form of repression of freedoms and of
discrimination against Arab citizens, imposing
arbitrary measures and an economic blockade which
prevented young people and adults of both sexes from
living with dignity. In addition to the effects of the
occupation, the appropriation of natural resources was
jeopardizing the creation of conditions conducive to
development. The Israeli occupation of the Golan
Heights had likewise been very costly for the Syrian
Arab Republic. Just as States, in particular the
developing countries, were being asked to meet their
commitments arising out of the World Summit for
Social Development, pressure must be brought to bear
on Israel to put an end to its occupation of Arab
territories and to implement resolutions which carried
international legitimacy by returning lands to their
rightful owners if a climate favourable to social
development, based on peace and security, was to be
created in the region.
64. Mr. Alcalay (Venezuela) said his delegation
associated itself fully with the statements made by the
representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran and of
Chile, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the
Rio Group, respectively.
65. The objectives defined in the Copenhagen
Declaration and Programme of Action should be
reviewed with a view to ensuring their implementation;
that had been his delegation’s focus in participating in
the special session on achieving social development in
a globalizing world.
66. In order to combat inequality in society, his
Government had developed a comprehensive plan for
social development based on social integration, sharing
of responsibilities, participation of society and
promotion of family structures, and covering health,
education, income, productivity, housing, cultural and
social values and local history. It had also created
programmes aimed at developing the informal sector of
the economy and provided assistance and funding to
job-creating microenterprises and financial support to
small and medium enterprises and agroindustry. The
creation of new banking institutions had lowered the
unemployment rate during the first half of 2001 and
reduced the role of the informal sector.
67. On the subject of youth, article 79 of the
Venezuelan Constitution provided that young people
could and should participate in development and that
the State, working with families and society, must help
them to do so. The Government had to that end
developed several programmes designed to protect
against the social dangers to which young people were
exposed, enable them to find work and integrate them
into society. At the international level, Venezuela
favoured any initiative to empower young people, and
promoted cooperation and the exchange of information
on experiences. It had sponsored the draft resolution
submitted by Portugal on policies and programmes
involving youth.
68. With regard to the disabled, article 80 of
Venezuela’s Constitution provided that all persons who
were disabled or had special needs must be enabled to
exercise their rights fully and be integrated into the
family and the community, and that it was the
responsibility of the State, in cooperation with families
and society, to facilitate their integration into
professional life. Accordingly, the Government had
adopted policies and strategies promoting the active
participation of the disabled in the economic, social,
cultural and political life of the country, in order to
create one society for all and to give support to
families. The National Council for the Integration of
the Disabled was the body coordinating those policies.
69. In the field of education, Venezuela had begun
since 1999 to devise and put into effect a set of policies
directed towards improving the quality of teaching
within the framework of national integration. In
particular, it had made changes in its programmes and
systems for evaluation and for supervision of the
ongoing training of teachers, and it had undertaken to
improve existing facilities and create an appropriate
legal framework, the aim being to adopt a national
education project by consensus. In the process, it had
been guided by a number of principles set out in the
new Constitution, such as social justice, participatory
democracy, free competition, environmental protection,
solidarity, human dignity and the national good. At the
World Education Forum in Dakar in 2000, it had
reaffirmed its determination to achieve the objective of
education for all.
70. Concerning the role that cooperatives played in
social development, Venezuela had set up a single
social fund to be used to improve the social
programmes having to do with health, education,
microbusinesses and cooperatives. It had also
established a microcredit fund in order to help the most
needy, especially women, as well as a Sovereign
People’s Bank to serve small and medium-sized
enterprises. In addition, it had adopted a law to
facilitate the creation of national cooperatives and
strengthen the collective movement.
71. Venezuela attached special importance to the
family, the basic unit for the development of
individuals and peoples, and the guardian of values and
cultural traditions. The family needed support, and
article 75 of the Constitution provided for its
protection. The observance in 2004 of the tenth
anniversary of the International Year of the Family
would be the occasion for assessing the success of the
programmes carried out locally, nationally and
72. The twenty-first century would see the ageing of
the world’s population and it was therefore wise to
adopt policies that took full account of older persons
and the role they played within society. Article 80 of
the Constitution guaranteed older persons the full
exercise of their rights and the benefit of social
security. The National Geriatrics and Gerontology
Institute was responsible for developing, coordinating,
implementing and monitoring the programmes for
older persons. A number of different centres provided
services to them. The National Assembly was,
furthermore, currently studying a draft bill on the
protection of senior citizens.
73. Mr. Kyazze (United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)),
speaking on agenda item 108 and referring to the draft
proposal and plan prepared by the Director-General of
UNESCO for a United Nations literacy decade
(A/56/114-E/2001/93 and Add.1), noted that the plan
was based mainly on the results of the World Education
Forum held in April 2000 in Dakar and on the outcome
of the special session of the General Assembly held in
July 2000 for the five-year review of the
implementation of the outcome of the World Summit
for Social Development. The view was widely shared
that literacy was at the heart of basic education and
social development; and the challenge that it posed to
both industrialized and developing countries had to be
met not by one-time programmes but through intensive,
focused and sustained efforts.
74. Literacy for all was a hard goal to achieve. There
had been progress, but the end was not yet in sight.
While the situation had improved since 1990, East and
South Asia still had about 71 per cent of the world’s
illiterates, while illiteracy rates in Africa and Latin
America averaged 40 per cent. Illiteracy was
concentrated among the poorest of the poor and
especially among women, who were the most affected
by it; and certain issues of a cultural, ethnic or legal
order were a hindrance to progress. It was unacceptable
that some 875 million adults were illiterate and 113
million children attended no school of any sort. That
represented a tremendous loss of human potential and a
failure on the part of societies to carry out some of
their most basic responsibilities by not addressing the
causes of inequality or the lack of basic freedoms and
of respect for human rights, all of which were sources
of economic instability and civil disturbance.
75. The draft proposal and plan of action comprised a
set of guidelines for all concerned rather than a series
of actions to be taken. The conviction of UNESCO and
its partners was that the Decade had most chance of
succeeding at the country level and that it was for
Governments and civil society to shape plans that
responded to their own possibilities and needs.
76. The United Nations Literacy Decade must
embrace not only adults but also children and young
people, women and men, in and out of school.
Solutions for different educational problems were
77. Illiteracy was intertwined with poverty and social
exclusion, while literacy was intertwined with
empowerment, democracy and social development.
Literacy was not just about the mechanics of reading
and writing but also about restoring personal dignity
and giving individuals the right to participate,
demarginalizing the excluded and providing an
opportunity to learn. Literacy was vital for sustainable
human development. It facilitated environmental
protection and preventive health education, especially
where HIV/AIDS was concerned. It constituted a tool
for transformation.
78. The goal of literacy for all would be achieved
only through synergy of action among all the actors
involved — Governments, NGOs, universities, public
and private organizations and civil society at large. It
was in that spirit that UNESCO, with the
encouragement of the United Nations General
Assembly, would continue to work with its partners
towards comprehensive strategies for literacy for all as
part of the agenda of education for all, with the goal of
halving adult illiteracy by the year 2015.
79. Mr. Holzmann (World Bank), speaking on
agenda items 108 and 109, observed that social
protection was back on the international agenda. It
played a key role in reducing poverty and providing
income security for vulnerable people. There was a
need to determine how poor people lived with risk and
how Governments prepared for crises by having social
safety nets in place. A number of developments had
80. Growth must be balanced by social policy
measures. As the crisis which had rocked East Asia had
shown, high growth rates were not enough. In the event
of an economic shock, informal safety nets had a
tendency to break down and public support measures
were often inadequate. The slowdown in growth since
the start of the year and the events of 11 September had
proved that many countries were not adequately
prepared and that potential risk must therefore be
assessed and appropriate social protection measures
81. Social protection, with job creation and
demarginalization, was an element of sustainable
poverty reduction. As a primary element of security, it
embraced both individual and macroeconomic risks.
That approach mirrored poverty dynamics and
economic mobility in developing countries. It had been
observed that the poor consisted of two groups: those
who remained poor and those who moved in and out of
poverty, and it was beginning to be understood why.
There was evidence that seemingly transitory shocks
had long-term consequences. That suggested the need
for the best instruments of social protection and social
risk management.
82. Globalization had an impact which must be taken
into account. While trade, technology and the
introduction of new political systems had greatly
improved the welfare of many around the world, they
had also increased vulnerability and insecurity for
other groups. Social protection therefore needed to be a
safety net and springboard for the poor; it needed to
focus more on poverty’s causes than its symptoms, to
take account of the reality that less than a quarter of the
world’s six billion people had access to social
protection programmes and that less than five per cent
could rely on their own assets in the event of problems
and that elimination of poverty by the State was
beyond the capacity of most developing countries.
83. The new World Bank document on social
protection took all those considerations into account
and defined security as freedom from vulnerability to
poverty, both as an end of development and a means of
achieving it. It noted that the poor were the most
vulnerable group in society and should therefore have
increased access to social risk-management
instruments, particularly so as to help them to take
more risks and in that way gradually move out of
84. Protecting the vulnerable was important for all
ages. Children could have problems of nutrition or poor
health, or they could be orphans as a result of AIDS or
not have had the benefit of education; young people did
not always have access to secondary schooling and job
training; the working poor and non-poor were exposed
to natural and man-made disasters and to political and
health risks; the situation of the elderly was
deteriorating because of population ageing, erosion of
family support, urbanization and globalization and the
lack of access to pension schemes. The World Bank
had made social assessments and had studied genderand
health-related issues of ageing and income support
systems for the elderly. It was assisting nearly 60
countries to reform their pension systems, but in many
developing countries such systems were practically
non-existent. That called for the introduction of noncontributory
schemes, at least for the most vulnerable
85. Governments therefore had a major challenge to
address and in so doing must cooperate with the private
sector — while also regulating it — and with families,
NGOs, trade unions and other civil society institutions.
Cooperation was also needed between rich and poor
countries and international organizations to prevent and
mitigate risks and to help people according to their
The meeting rose at 12.40 p.m.