UVA Law Logo Mobile

UN Human Rights Treaties

Travaux Préparatoires


Summary record of the 7th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 11 October 2001, General Assembly, 56th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/56/SR.7
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 56th
Type Document

10 p.

Subjects Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Youth

Extracted Text

United Nations
General Assembly
Fifty-sixth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
12 November 2001
Original: French
Third Committee
Summary record of the 7th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Thursday, 11 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
01-57549 (E)
The meeting was called to order at 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 and A/56/288; A/C.3/56/L.2 and
A/C.3/56/L.3; E/2001/104)
Agenda item 109: Follow-up to the International
Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on
Ageing (continued) (A/56/152)
1. Mr. Dahane (Morocco) said that the international
community was showing a growing interest in social
development. At the World Summit for Social
Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995, States had
committed themselves to promoting social progress,
taking into account the cultural, economic, political
and spiritual realities. In the Millennium Declaration,
adopted five years later, they had committed
themselves to eradicating poverty, halving, by the year
2015, the proportion of people who suffered from
hunger and who were unable to reach or afford safe
drinking water, and ensuring that children everywhere
would be able to complete a full course of primary
schooling. The situation had, however, scarcely
improved, especially in the developing countries.
2. Since the early 1990s, Morocco, as part of its
social development strategy and later in the context of
its preliminary draft economic and social development
plan for the period 1996 to 2000, had endeavoured to
promote sustainable human development and to combat
poverty by focusing its activities on persons living
below the poverty threshold, particularly in rural and
semi-urban areas, those who were marginalized or
excluded or those who needed institutionalized social
welfare. The strategy should expand the access of the
population to employment and to basic social services
(the provision of drinking water, schooling, public
housing). Morocco had also set itself the goals of
ensuring basic education for all children between 6 and
15 years of age by the year 2006, paying special
attention to girls and children of rural families,
improving the living conditions of disabled persons by,
inter alia, establishing specialized administrative
structures in cooperation with various public agencies
and non-governmental organizations, and improving
the social situation of older people through a national
plan of action which included social welfare measures
specifically targeting them.
3. Mr. Motomura (Japan) said that the adoption of
a Political Declaration in 2000, at the twenty-fourth
special session of the General Assembly, had given a
new impetus to the process of social development. One
of the issues which caused the greatest concern was the
ageing of the population. Japan, where the proportion
of persons aged 65 years and older was expected to be
almost 25 per cent in 2015, was aware of the economic
and social repercussions of that demographic change;
for that reason it was promoting the principle of “active
ageing” and inviting older people to participate as fully
as they wished in the economic and social life of the
country. His delegation awaited with interest the
Second World Assembly on Ageing, which, it was to
be hoped, would provide an opportunity for the
adoption of a revised plan of action on ageing which
would reflect the current socio-cultural, economic and
demographic realities in the world. It thanked the host
country and invited Governments to find ways of
mainstreaming the issue of the ageing of the world
population in the assistance they provided to
developing countries.
4. Turning to the issue of persons with disabilities,
he noted that, in order to overcome the four types of
barriers — physical, institutional, psychological and
cultural — which prevented persons with disabilities
from participating in social activities, his Government
had formulated a new long-term programme whose
main objectives were fully consistent with the
measures proposed by the Secretary-General in his
report (A/56/169), namely, to guarantee equal
opportunities for persons with disabilities and enable
them to participate fully in community life. Japan
shared with developing countries new technologies it
had developed and experience it had accumulated over
the years. It also contributed through the Japanese
Internal Cooperation Agency and other international
organizations, such as the United Nations Voluntary
Fund on Disability, its Cooperation Fund with the
Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the
Pacific (ESCAP) and UNESCO. It welcomed the
initiative of non-governmental organizations to
organize three international conferences on the issue, to
be held in Japan in 2002.
5. Mr. Yang Xiaokun (China), taking the floor on
agenda item 109, said that the first World Assembly on
Ageing, held in 1982, which had designated 1999 as
the International Year of Older Persons, had
demonstrated that the international community attached
particular importance to the ageing of the world’s
population. That question remained topical, as
demonstrated by the forthcoming Second World
Assembly on Ageing, whose rules of procedure and
agenda had already been decided by the Economic and
Social Council. The Council had also determined the
conditions for participation by non-governmental
6. China — where persons over 60 years of age
would represent one fourth of the total population by
2050 — had promulgated laws, regulations and policies
on the protection on the rights and interests of older
persons. It had gradually built up a pension and social
security system through the joint efforts of the State,
communities, families and individuals in keeping with
the Chinese tradition of respect and compassion for
older persons.
7. Since the issue of ageing had a political,
economic, cultural and traditional impact, research was
carried out jointly by the Government at the central and
local levels, the gerontology society and research
8. Mr. Navaratnarajah (Sri Lanka) expressed his
delegation’s full support for the statement made by the
representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf
of the Group of 77 and China. The Copenhagen
Declaration on Social Development and the Programme
of Action had highlighted the need to create an
enabling environment for social development, eradicate
poverty, promote productive employment and enhance
social integration and capacity-building, while
stressing that collective efforts to that end were
essential. The twenty-fourth special session of the
General Session had called for the allocation of
additional resources for that purpose. The Commission
for Social Development had identified a number of
themes in its multi-year programme for 2002-2006.
9. Sri Lanka believed that social development must
be based on a holistic and coordinated approach, be
adequately financed and sustainable and take into
account both the physical and mental aspects of the
human condition. Since attaining independence, Sri
Lanka had consistently invested in crucial social
sectors such as health and education, with assistance
from the private sectors and non-governmental
organizations, achieving tangible progress as reflected
in the social indicators for maternal and neonatal
mortality, life expectancy, the overall health of the
population, school enrolment and the literacy rate, and
by its low population growth. Nonetheless,
unemployment and poverty persisted; nearly one-fifth
of the population was living below the poverty line. Sri
Lanka had thus adopted a three-pronged strategy aimed
at ensuring that the greatest number of people,
including the poor, benefited from economic growth;
protecting excluded and vulnerable groups and
integrating them into economic activities; and
empowering every individual to participate in decisionmaking
and to enjoy a life of dignity, freedom and selffulfilment.
10. The progress achieved in social development had
also generated new problems, such as an ageing
population. The Second World Assembly on Ageing
would therefore be particularly important to Sri Lanka,
which hoped that it would culminate in the adoption of
a international plan of action. In its poverty reduction
efforts, Sri Lanka had to grapple with external factors
beyond its control, for example, restricted market
access for its products. Without the necessary capital, it
could not acquire modern technologies that were both
efficient and affordable. Moreover, Sri Lanka received
only limited development assistance; it therefore urged
countries to allocate the agreed 0.7 per cent of their
gross national product to official development
assistance. An equitable economic order and the
mobilization of adequate development resources, both
human and financial, were two key factors which must
be respected in order to ensure that the objectives of
the World Summit and the twenty-fourth special
session of the General Assembly were achieved.
11. Mr. Regmi (Nepal) said that socio-economic
disparities had widened over the last 10 years, despite
the importance accorded to economic and social
development by the international community, as
demonstrated by numerous international conferences,
particularly the World Summit for Social Development,
and the twenty-fourth special session of the General
Assembly, and notwithstanding the efforts of the
United Nations and the United Nations Commission for
Social Development in that area. Thus, islands of
prosperity had continued to prosper in an ocean of
unspeakable poverty. One-fifth of the world’s
population enjoyed 80 per cent of its resources, while
the majority lived on less than one dollar a day. People
in developing countries were still living without access
to clean drinking water, education or health care. Only
a holistic and integrated approach to the social,
economic and demographic dimensions of development
would improve that situation, which constituted an
affront to human dignity. The goal of reducing the
number of people living in extreme poverty by half by
the year 2015, established at the Millennium Summit,
should be supported by targeted programmes,
particularly in the areas of employment, education and
12. Nepal had adopted, as the sole objective of its
ninth plan, the eradication of absolute poverty within
the next 20 years, by promoting employment through a
number of programmes, such as micro-credit for the
poor, a “build your village yourself” scheme and a
small-farm development project. Since decentralization
of development activities to the local level was critical
to ensure social development, Nepal had established
autonomous local governments, and was encouraging
the participation of the people in resource mobilization
and the balanced distribution of the outputs of
development at the local level. The family was
considered to be the bedrock of Nepalese society; the
Government was therefore determined to provide for
the promotion and protection of children, support the
development and integration of youth, who made up
about 27 per cent of the population, ensure the social
well-being of older people by providing a small
allowance to those over 75 years of age and to widows
of over 60, and assist the disabled and other vulnerable
groups. Socio-economic development depended
principally on the policies of national Governments,
but developing countries, in particular the least
developed countries, could not attain that goal without
external resources, especially as most of their own
extremely limited resources were allocated to debt
servicing. Foreign direct investment in poor countries
was almost non-existent; their own private sector was
too small to create substantial opportunities, and their
supply sector constraints did not allow them to reap
substantial benefits from trade. Therefore, his
delegation called on the industrialized countries to
increase official development assistance and agree to
greater debt relief and, lastly, associated itself with the
statement made by the representative of Iran on behalf
of the Group of 77 and China.
13. Mr. Bhattacharjee (India) said that it was
difficult for developing countries to promote the
principles of social justice and human rights when they
were not even able to satisfy the most elementary needs
of their population, confronted with an unfavourable
global climate, marked by major trends outlined in the
1997 Report on the World Social Situation (E/1997/15-
ST/ESA/252). Thus, there were a few havens of
prosperity and larger enclaves of poverty, because
developing countries were relegated to the lowest level
of the production and distribution systems, while
industrialized countries had moved to high profitearning
knowledge and technology-based economies;
the share of low- and middle-income countries, as a
proportion of the world gross domestic product, had
declined from 28.6 per cent in 1980 to 21.6 per cent in
1998, while that of high-income countries had
increased from 72.4 per cent to 78.4 per cent; owing to
globalization, the value of world imports and exports
had increased at a compounded average annual rate of
6.25 per cent between 1980 and 1998, but the share of
developing countries had remained stagnant at a
quarter of world trade; inequalities within countries
had grown during the 1980s; under the effect of
liberalization, workers had shifted from the tradable to
the non-tradable informal sector, bringing down wages
and deepening the dichotomy between the formal and
informal sectors. The financial crisis, the rapid spread
of HIV/AIDS, the increase in poverty and
unemployment, and the significant decline in
international cooperation contributed to worsening the
14. Referring to the report of the Secretary-General
on cooperatives in social development (A/56/73-
E/2001/68), he said that it was regrettable that only 21
Governments had given their views on the draft
guidelines aimed at creating a supportive environment
for the development of cooperatives. India had been a
pioneer in the cooperative movement, starting in 1905,
and it continued to play an important role not only as a
mode of production but also as a distribution system.
15. It was heartening that almost all Member States
had implemented national youth policies, as the
Secretary-General pointed out in his report on
implementation of the World Programme of Action for
Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (A/56/180), since
it was time to look at sectoral issues that affected youth
throughout the world, particularly the issue of
16. Since 2001 was the International Year of
Volunteers, India, which contributed to the Special
Voluntary Fund of the United Nations Volunteers and
had several volunteers working for the United Nations,
hoped that the proposed draft resolution would be
adopted by consensus.
17. Lastly, on the eve of the Second World Assembly
on Ageing, it was necessary to take full advantage of
the productive capacities of older persons, particularly
in developing countries, where the proportion of
persons over 60 years of age in the population would
be increasing, taking care that their integration into
society was not perceived to be in conflict with
opportunities for youth and other age groups.
18. Ms. Mahouve (Cameroon) associated herself
with the statement made by the representative of Iran
on behalf of the Group of 77 and China on
implementation of the World Summit for Social
Development and of the twenty-fourth special session
of the General Assembly. She stressed that there was a
glaring contradiction between the stated desire of the
international community to work for social
development and the current situation in the world: 3
billion people lived on less than two dollars a day, 1
billion people, including 600 million women were
illiterate, 1.4 billion people did not have access to basic
social services, 14 million children still died every year
from lack of health care and more than 158 million
workers were unemployed. Her delegation, convinced
that the eradication of poverty was currently the main
challenge, welcomed the role played by the United
Nations and international institutions in general, in
particular the Bretton Woods institutions. She
supported the commitments made in the social sector
during the Third United Nations Conference on the
Least Developed Countries, in particular with regard to
respect for basic principles and rights such as the right
to work and the need to invest in social infrastructure
and reinforce the health and education sectors. She
welcomed the decision of the Economic and Social
Council to devote its 2002 high-level segment to the
theme of development of human capital, in particular in
the education and health sectors. A comprehensive
approach must be adopted with regard to strategies to
eliminate poverty, by paying particular attention to the
needs of women and children and by highlighting
access to basic primary education, literacy, life
expectancy, reduction of infant and maternal mortality
rates, and the fight against unemployment. Her
Government had succeeded in promoting growth and
controlling inflation and, with the help of external
partners, had worked to maintain peace, security and
stability, consolidate democracy and the rule of law and
promote and protect human rights. A series of
initiatives had been launched, for example the
declaration on a strategy to combat poverty, a policy
declaration on the health sector which stressed the fight
against pandemics, a law on educational priorities
which focused on basic education, an action plan for
nutrition and food security, a national policy paper on
employment, a new urban strategy and a national
programme for good governance and combating
corruption. Those efforts had led to real progress, in
particular a perceptible increase in school attendance,
encouraged by providing public primary education free
of charge, strengthening of medical coverage through
the creation of numerous health centres and a national
distribution centre for supplying essential medicines, as
well as gradual reduction in the unemployment rate.
19. Mr. Klamberg (Sweden), speaking as youth
representative in his delegation, on agenda item 108,
expressed regret that too few countries, in particular
the developing countries, had included youth
representatives in their delegations. In the era of
globalization, young people, who are well aware of the
difficulties, challenges and opportunities connected
with that phenomenon, could play an active role in the
development of a democratic system and should be
included in decision-making at the local, national,
regional and global levels so that their concerns, in
particular with regard to access to education, health
and security, could be taken into account.
20. In Sweden, many local authorities had established
youth councils so that young people could be involved
in politics and make known their views, although to a
large extent, for such bodies to be truly effective, local
officials had to be willing to listen. At the international
level, young people had prepared a common statement
during the World Health Organization (WHO)
European Ministerial Conference on Young People and
Alcohol and had been active participants in the
working group and plenary discussions. He called on
Member States to implement the Dakar Youth
Empowerment Strategy adopted by the fourth World
Youth Forum, which contained valuable
recommendations on areas of specific concern to youth,
such as how to bridge the digital divide, the fight
against unemployment and poverty, the environment,
social integration, conflict prevention through the
building of a culture of peace, participation, combating
discrimination, and the fight against HIV/AIDS, which
currently affected millions of young people. In order to
combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic, strategies must be
implemented which took into account young people’s
lifestyle, stressing information and the use of condoms,
the most effective method to date to stop the spread of
21. Finally, with regard to health and young people,
he called attention to the fate of women who were
victims of genital mutilation, a practice which violated
their basic right to control their own bodies and called
on Member States to take steps to put an end to that
practice, for example by increasing awareness and
organizing open discussion in the communities
concerned and including revision of their penal codes.
22. Ms. Korneliouk (Belarus), speaking on agenda
item 27, welcomed the fact that the Commission for
Social Development had adopted a multi-year
programme of work for the period 2002-2006.
Recalling that the documents that had emerged from
the World Summit for Social Development and the
special session of the General Assembly stipulated that
it was in the first place for Governments to ensure their
people’s social development and welfare, she said that
Belarus had set itself the task of establishing a market
economy with a social dimension, taking into account
the mentality, history and traditions of the Belarusian
people and the experience of other States. With that in
view, it had prepared a national strategy for sustainable
development, an integrated system of social welfare
measures and a development programme to be
implemented by 2005, centred on improved State
structures and on socio-economic development. The
programme was, inter alia, aimed at enhancing the
country’s demographic situation by reducing infant
mortality and mortality among the active population,
especially men, and by raising life expectancy and
increasing the population’s income by some 60 per cent
and real wages by approximately 80 per cent.
23. Mindful that social development was linked to the
country’s economic growth, Belarus had set out to
improve its economic situation and increase
investments and housing construction; moreover, its
gross domestic product had risen by 27.7 per cent in
the previous four years. The country had embarked on
a strategy of social reforms designed to guarantee
access to basic social services and to enable all persons
who were capable of working to provide for their needs
and for those of their families and to enable those who
could not do so to receive social assistance. There was,
of course, still the problem of finding the resources to
finance that social assistance without jeopardizing the
development of other sectors, in particular the
education sector, in which the adult literacy rate
currently stood at 98.4 per cent.
24. In conclusion, she said that, if the goals were to
be met, coordinated, effective and integrated action
was called for at both the national and the international
25. Ms. Kidanu (Ethiopia) said that her delegation
associated itself with the statement made by the
representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran, speaking
on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. She stressed
the difficulty of achieving social development in a
situation in which poverty, unemployment, conflict and
natural and man-made disasters prevailed, as they did
in Ethiopia, where the majority of the population lived
in absolute poverty and drought was recurrent, and
where environmental degradation and population
pressure had weakened the resource base on which
sustainable development depended. The decline in
official development assistance and the crippling debt
burden had only exacerbated the situation, especially in
the least developed countries. Therefore, if social
development efforts were to bear fruit and economic
reforms were to succeed, creditor nations and
multilateral financial institutions should simply cancel
the debt, instead of rescheduling it or proposing the
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.
26. It was her delegation’s conviction that each
country must take charge of its own social development
and that the appeal to the international community was
merely a call for it to help the least developed countries
to remove the obstacles to their social development.
That was why, in order to fulfil the commitments
entered into at the World Summit for Social
Development, her Government had adopted policies
and strategies on population, health, education, women,
employment and HIV/AIDS centred on the family (all
discriminatory provisions concerning marriage and the
family had been struck from its domestic legislation),
children, youth, women (whose fundamental rights the
authorities had been at pains to protect) and older
persons, including those with disabilities, on the
understanding that responsibility for meeting the needs
of those social groups rested with the communities,
civil society, non-governmental organizations and the
27. The Government had introduced a microcredit
scheme for young people, so that they could engage in
income-generating activities, and had endeavoured to
increase their participation in various social and
development activities. The national programme of
action for persons with disabilities was based on the
development social welfare policy and the United
Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of
Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. The
Rehabilitation Affairs Department, for its part, was
conducting campaigns to raise public awareness of the
contribution that older persons could make to society
with their knowledge, experience and wisdom.
28. Mr. Gabay (Israel), speaking on agenda item
108, said he was convinced that the entire international
community and each individual State should make the
participation of young people in decision-making and
their integration into society one of their priority tasks.
He paid special tribute to the Programme on Youth of
the Division for Social Policy and Development in the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the
United Nations, and noted with satisfaction that
activities undertaken on behalf of young people as part
of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the
Year 2000 and Beyond had been stepped up. Young
people had shown themselves worthy of confidence by
their creative and innovative talents in the hightechnology
area and their ability to set up and run small
companies in those fields and to use computers to find
markets which generated jobs and income; it would
therefore be beneficial to invite them to take seats in
parliaments and jobs in administrations and to become
members of delegations to international organizations.
That might also be a way of showing their elders that
they did not have a monopoly on wisdom, the spirit of
initiative or the power to put ideas into practice.
29. In order for globalization to improve the situation
of young people, and particularly young people in the
developing countries and the least developed countries
who would be forging their countries’ futures, they had
to have the daily tools of scientific and technological
30. It might perhaps be a good idea to organize
economic summits, on the model of the Davos Forum,
which would enable young people in developing
countries to meet young business leaders, young
experts in advanced technologies and young specialists
in communications and information.
31. He welcomed the fact that the fourth session of
the World Youth Forum of the United Nations System,
meeting in Dakar, Senegal, had adopted the Dakar
Youth Empowerment Strategy which provided a
comprehensive review of the question and at the same
time made a real plea on behalf of youth. Even if they
implemented only half of the recommendations it
contained, countries would, in his opinion, contribute
to the well-being of all social strata in their societies
because, after all, the youth of today would soon be
adults and eventually older persons. For its part, Israel
was committed to a dynamic policy on behalf of youth,
based on the commitments set out in the Copenhagen
32. Replying to the somewhat disagreeable remarks
which the representative of the Syrian Arab Republic
had made with regard to Israel when speaking of the
occupied territories and human rights violations, he
said, with regard to the first point, that the Syrian Arab
Republic should begin by putting its own house in
order and, with regard to the second point, that it ill
became that country to be giving lessons to others. It
would be much better employed putting the emphasis
on negotiations, the peace process and regional
33. Ms. Elliott (Guyana), associating her delegation
with the statements made by the representatives of the
Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Group of 77
and China, Saint Lucia on behalf of the CARICOM
Group, and Chile on behalf of the Rio Group, said that
leading financial experts were pointing to a dangerous
slow-down of the global economy in both the
developed and the developing countries. It was a slowdown
that the attack on the World Trade Center had
worsened by undermining consumer confidence in the
United States, which was the driving force of the
global economy. The situation was particularly
worrying because it was likely to increase the number
of people living in poverty, as well as the number of
unemployed and underemployed, worsen health
problems and put health systems under severe pressure.
In that regard, her delegation particularly welcomed the
fact that the Millennium Declaration had placed
emphasis on social development issues, and it awaited
with interest the United Nations Conference on
Financing for Development, which, it was convinced,
had the potential to mobilize resources and thereby
promote the creation of an environment that was
favourable to social development.
34. As far as social development was concerned, the
international community had wisely focused on access
to basic social services, poverty eradication, social
integration, full employment and gender equality. Her
delegation welcomed the UNESCO proposal for a
United Nations literacy decade in light of the fact that
there were still 880 million illiterate young people and
adults worldwide and that information and education
were more indispensable for development than ever.
With regard to young people, particularly, her
delegation was fully persuaded that they had to be
given every opportunity to realize their potential as
agents for change and development. It was necessary to
be vigilant in addressing the challenges which
prevented youth empowerment such as poverty, hunger,
homelessness, disease, crime, violence and alienation.
35. The International Year of Older Persons had
demonstrated the need to develop long-term policies
for that group of the population. The Second World
Assembly on Ageing, to be held in Madrid, Spain, in
2002, would enable the attention of the international
community to be focused on the concerns of older
persons, the development implications of ageing
societies and the need for a lifetime approach to
education, health, employment and the upgrading of
skills. Guyana intended to play an active part in the
preparatory process for the Assembly.
36. In presenting his country’s budget for 2001, the
Minister of Finance of Guyana had reaffirmed the
importance of placing people at the centre of
development and had proposed a number of important
initiatives in the areas of education, health, water
supply and sanitation, housing and poverty
programmes. The Government of Guyana had budgeted
almost G$ 12 billion in 2002 for improving the quality
of the education system and for continuing to
emphasize individual responsibility, equity and quality,
primary health care and institutional strengthening.
37. With respect to poverty reduction, she said that
her Government was implementing an employment
strategy which involved providing an investmentfriendly
climate that would create earning opportunities
for all Guyanese. It would also use the resources made
available to it in the context of the Heavily Indebted
Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative to bolster expenditure
in key sectors such as health, housing, water supply,
sanitation and education, so as to improve living
conditions. Those measures would be added to existing
programmes that targeted different categories of the
poor, especially youth and rural communities.
38. It must be reiterated that a long-term approach to
social development was indispensable; it must involve
all actors in society and the international community.
The international community had a particularly
significant role to play in reducing income disparities
among countries, as well as in ensuring that the
developed countries met their commitment to allocate
0.7 per cent of GNP for official development
assistance, debt relief and greater market access for
exports of developing countries.
39. The new global human order proposed in General
Assembly resolution 55/48, which focused on human
development and poverty reduction, was of particular
40. Ms. Nicole (Benin), speaking on behalf of her
country and other West African countries (Burkina
Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana,
Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania,
Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo), said
that those delegations endorsed the statement made by
the Islamic Republic of Iran on behalf of the Group of
77 and China.
41. Social development was a matter of serious
concern to the West African countries, most of which
were developing countries that also belonged to the
group of least developed countries. The fact that the
primary responsibility for development lay with
government did not detract from concern regarding the
resources needed for action. Indeed, the economic
liberalization that many developing countries had
carried out had not only aggravated their situation but
had also led to a weakening of the State and a
breakdown of management, which, if they continued,
could end in disaster. Despite the laudable efforts that
had been made after the World Summit for Social
Development and the Fourth World Conference on
Women, held in Beijing, substantial segments of the
population of the West African countries still did not
have access to potable water, electricity and other
forms of energy or adequate primary health care, and
their illiteracy rates remained high. Far from a
reduction of the role of the State, what was needed was
a stronger State that would be able to deal with the
problems of society. The stakes were particularly high
for the West African countries, given that solving their
social problems was a prerequisite to restoring peace to
a region torn apart by wars caused mainly by poverty
and underdevelopment, and to moving on to
modernization and globalization.
42. The West African countries faced tremendous
difficulties as they strove to attain social development.
In addition to the aforementioned armed conflicts, they
were faced with the AIDS pandemic, and other
contagious diseases, unemployment, child labour, a
decline in the literacy rate and in agricultural
production, poverty, the breakdown of families and
dwindling resources. The UNDP Report on Human
Development also showed that the ten most backward
of all the African least developed countries were in
West Africa.
43. In order to get out of the rut they were in, the
West African countries were working in key areas such
as health, employment, education, refugees and
peacekeeping. In Lusaka, Zambia, the heads of State
and other African leaders had launched an initiative for
Africa which, if successful, should make pacification
possible and allow for progress towards democracy,
proper management of public affairs, cooperation and
regional integration, and help solve many problems in
the areas of education and health. The international
community should increase its economic and financial
aid to the least developed African countries, especially
the West African countries, and provide them with
greater debt relief.
44. The problems of the West African countries had
seriously compromised the fabric of their society. The
very essence of family life was threatened. Parents
were placing their children with other families in order
to keep them from suffering the torment of poverty, and
more and more older persons were being abandoned.
Accordingly, the West African countries attached great
importance to the second World Assembly on Ageing,
in which they planned to participate actively, and to the
follow-up to the International Year of the Family and
preparations for the tenth anniversary of the Year, to be
held in 2004.
45. The West African countries looked to the
Commission for Social Development for help in their
social development efforts and were committed to
supporting it as it carried out its difficult task.
46. Ms. Rajaonarivelo (Madagascar) said that the
reports before the Committee underscored once again
that globalization widened the gap in development
between South and North. The thinking behind
globalization — liberalization, privatization, State
disengagement — resulted in a deterioration of social
services in the least developed countries that generated
poverty and violence. Globalization could have
favourable repercussions on the economic and social
development of the developing countries, but only if
their needs were taken into account, as emphasized in
the Millennium Declaration.
47. Madagascar wholeheartedly supported the
statement made by the Islamic Republic of Iran on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Her Government
recognized the basic importance of social and human
progress and was endeavouring to implement the
recommendations in the Millennium Declaration and
the Copenhagen Programme of Action. By joining the
consensus achieved during the twenty-fourth special
session of the General Assembly, it had reaffirmed its
determination to achieve the goals of the session.
Madagascar was convinced that other countries as well
would do their utmost to achieve those goals, which
were essentially to eradicate poverty, to create
employment and to promote social integration.
48. During the 1990s, the international community
had set itself the target of halving the number of
persons living in extreme poverty by 2015.
Unfortunately, at the moment — as brought out in the
Economic and Social Council’s Report on the World
Social Situation, 2001 — the experience of many
countries was that the situation was clearly worsening,
with rising social exclusion, instability, insecurity and
crime. As all were well aware, that deterioration was
due to the lack of resources, which aggravated
economic problems. Madagascar thus looked forward
with anticipation to the convening in 2002 of the
International Conference on Financing for
Development, which should make it possible to
reassess the financial needs of the poor countries. By
the same token, without minimizing the importance of
organized transnational crime or of terrorism,
economic and social development should be considered
a priority.
49. While Governments were the ones primarily
responsible for social development, they must
nonetheless be able to count on international
cooperation, which therefore remained crucially
important. It would thus be particularly desirable if
official development assistance to the developing
countries and especially to the poorest countries was
increased, if their debt was altogether cancelled, if their
products were given greater access to world markets
and if the countries were equipped with the new
50. To ensure its own social development,
Madagascar was carrying out a programme centred on
the reduction of poverty, which was essential for the
well-being of the population and the maintenance of
social peace but was difficult to achieve. Low
household incomes and the need to spend most of the
family budget for food had the effect not only of
limiting access to health services but also of lowering
school attendance rates and increasing school drop-out
rates, thus robbing the younger generation of any
possibility of improving their lives. The Government
hoped that by taking steps to encourage increased
growth, create jobs, expand education, develop human
resources and broaden the safety nets and the access of
the poor to health services, it would break that vicious
51. Madagascar agreed that there was a danger that
the ageing of the population might compromise human
development, and believed it essential to improve the
situation of the elderly in order to enable them to
participate fully in social life. In that connection, her
delegation thanked the Government of Spain for
offering to host the Second World Assembly on Ageing
and hoped that once the Vienna International Plan of
Action on Ageing was revised, it would be possible to
offer greater protection to older persons and give them
a greater share in social development.
52. Mr. Langmore (Director, Division for Social
Policy and Development) said that the consideration of
agenda items 27, 108 and 109 had not only been full
and interesting but had also been given greater urgency
by the very fresh memory of the attack against the
World Trade Center, to which many delegations had
referred. During the debate, the Committee had for the
first time considered the follow-up to the outcome
document of the twenty-fourth special session of the
General Assembly held in Geneva in 2000 on social
development, and had been able to use the Report on
the World Social Situation, 2001 (ST/ESA/277-
E/2001/70) to guide and enrich the discussion.
53. After a systematic review of the major themes
touched on in the statements of the forty or so
delegations which had spoken, he noted that six
resolutions relating to the agenda items under
consideration were in the process of negotiation. The
urgency of the debate showed that social development
was in the forefront of the concerns of nations and the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs was
thereby encouraged to work even more closely with its
national and international partners to implement the
social development strategies.
The meeting rose at 12.10 p.m.