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Summary record of the 4th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday [i.e. Tuesday], 7 October 2003, General Assembly, 58th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/58/SR.4
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 58th
Type Document

11 p.

Subjects Youth, Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Family, Poverty Mitigation, Human Rights in Armed Conflicts, Rights of The Child

Extracted Text

United Nations A/C.3/58/SR.4
General Assembly
Fifty-eighth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
4 May 2004
Original: French
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
03-54437 (E)
Third Committee
Summary record of the 4th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Monday, 7 October 2003, at 10 a.m.
Chairman: Mr. Belinga-Eboutou . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Cameroon)
Agenda item 105: Implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social
Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly
Agenda item 106: Social development, including questions relating to the world
social situation and to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family (continued)
Agenda item 107: Follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons: Second
World Assembly on Ageing (continued)

The meeting was called to order at 10.10 a.m.
Agenda item 105: Implementation of the outcome of
the World Summit for Social Development and of
the twenty-fourth special session of the General
Assembly (continued) (A/58/172, A/58/204)
Agenda item 106: Social development, including
questions relating to the world social situation and
to youth, ageing, disabled persons and the family
(continued) (A/58/3, A/58/61–E/2003/5, A/58/67–
E/2003/49, A/58/79, A/58/229, A/58/159, A/58/153
and AC.3/58/L.2)
Agenda item 107: Follow-up to the International
Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on
Ageing (continued) (A/58/160)
1. Mr. Manalo (Philippines), stressing that there
could be no genuine development without social
integration, said that, despite an abundance of
economic and social policies concerning almost all
aspects of development, the need to ensure that those
policies were integrated and comprehensive,
targeting both economic and social objectives, had
not been adequately responded to. He also
emphasized that economic growth and social
progress were interdependent and that the
Philippines remained committed to alleviating poverty,
promoting full employment and securing social
integration – endeavours that required the participation
of all actors concerned.
2. The Philippine delegation welcomed resolution
57/270 B on the integrated and coordinated
implementation of and follow-up to the outcomes of
the major United Nations conferences and summits in
the economic and social fields and in related areas,
adopted by the General Assembly in June 2003. That
resolution had put into focus the need to integrate
social development objectives, particularly the
Millennium Development Goals, in conferences and
summits, and had helped to define the role of the
Member States, the organizations of the United Nations
system and civil society in ensuring the coordinated
implementation of global commitments. The General
Assembly had resolved to promote consistency and
complementarity in the work of the General Assembly
Plenary, Second and Third Committees. In that regard,
account should be taken of their respective mandates

and contexts of work. It would be useful if the two
Committees continued to exchange information on
selected issues and jointly identified how best to
proceed in integrating policies that targeted both social
and economic goals. The Plenary, where the agenda
items were discussed from various perspectives,
remained the main General Assembly body.
3. Regarding social development concerns, the
speaker said that, to prepare for the celebration of the
tenth anniversary of the International Year of the
Family, his Government had established a national
steering committee on the Philippine family to
undertake activities and programmes upholding the
importance of the family, traditionally viewed in
Philippine society as the main caregiver for older
persons, youth and persons with disabilities. Over and
above Philippine legislation and the programmes
supporting the Philippine action plan for the family,
which aimed at strengthening the stability of the family
and addressed concerns such as familial responsibilities
and domestic violence, the Philippine government was
currently studying the establishment of a national
Council on the Philippine family.
4. Regarding the implementation of the Madrid
International Plan of Action on Ageing, the Philippine
delegation noted that the regional commissions had
taken a more active role in guiding the various
countries on policies and the implementation of their
respective programmes. The Philippines had actively
contributed on a regional scale to the follow-up to the
Second World Assembly on Ageing through
the Asia-Pacific Seminar organized in
Shanghai by the United Nations Economic and Social
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) on
the regional follow-up to the Madrid
International Plan of Action on Ageing and to the
Macao Plan of Action on Ageing for Asia and the
Pacific. The assistance provided would tangibly
address existing needs, particularly of developing
5. By fostering partnerships with civil society,
particularly self-reliance and advocacy groups, the
Philippine Constitution and the Philippine Plan of
Action for Older Persons encouraged the elderly to
take on a larger role in nation building.

6. The Philippines stood committed to ensure full
protection and promotion of human rights for all,
including disabled persons, whose rights and wellbeing
could be recognized and protected only through
actual equality and justice; and to contribute, by
exchanging information and support in capacity
building, to implementing the commitments made at
the Second World Assembly on Ageing.
7. Referring to the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons and the United Nations
Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities
for Persons with Disabilities, the speaker said that his
country would update the resolution entitled
"Implementation of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons: towards a society for all
in the twenty-first century" and encouraged all
delegations to participate in the negotiations. The
Philippine delegation hoped that the final resolution
would be adopted early and by consensus.
8. The Philippine Government had set up a
multi-sectoral committee on the international humandevelopment
commitment, composed of government
and non-government representatives and responsible
for monitoring the country's progress in meeting social
9. Ms. Bakalem (Algeria) stated that her delegation
supported the declaration made on behalf of the Group
of 77 and China.
10. Recalling the social objectives that the
international community had set and the efforts that
each country should make to improve the living
conditions of its population, the speaker stressed that
the developed countries should help those most in need
to face the problems encountered. Since globalization
did not only offer possibilities but also caused
difficulties, the attainment of internationally agreed
social-development objectives and commitments
required forming specific strong partnerships between
developed and developing countries.
11. The Algerian economy had suffered, and was
beginning to recover from the consequences of a
decade of terrorism and of various natural disasters.
Programmes of support for such employmentgenerating
sectors as construction, agriculture and
fishing, and a special programme for building local

infrastructure, such as schools, and re-housing disaster
victims, had begun to produce results. The Algerian
delegation thanked the countries, bodies and civil
society organizations for the assistance and aid that
they had promptly provided.
12. To promote employment and curb unemployment,
loans were extended on favourable terms for
setting up small- and medium-size enterprises, while
micro-credits and tax exemptions were available to
young persons entering the labour market. The
Algerian State strongly encouraged the establishment
of cooperatives as a means of promoting socialdevelopment
objectives. Accordingly, it funded pilot
cooperatives and encouraged women to set up artisan
cooperatives in order to improve their economic status.
Aid provided to vulnerable categories for housing
acquisition was sought after extensively.
13. In view of a declining fertility rate, an ageing
population, poverty and unemployment, the family,
which was society's basic unit, needed reinforcement
through the broadest possible protection and assistance.
14. Population ageing was already having a social
impact, particularly for intra-family relations, and was
expected to lead to economic consequences, affecting
growth, savings, the labour market, retirement pensions
and the health sector, and to the need for extensive
readjustments. It should be noted that older people
contributed to society by imparting knowledge and
experience to the young generations or, as in Africa, by
playing an important role for children who were
HIV/AIDS victims.
15. Algeria had set up a national committee for the
protection and welfare of older people. In April 2003,
the committee had adopted a work programme for
keeping older people in their family environment as a
measure intended to safeguard human dignity.
16. Algeria reiterated its support for negotiating a
Comprehensive and Integral International Convention
on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights and
Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
17. Mr. Chowdhury (Bangladesh), in his capacity as
Chair of the Second Committee, was looking forward
to the Second and Third Committees' coordinated

efforts, already set in process, to advance their
common aspirations.
18. The Secretary-General's report (A/58/172) on the
follow-up of the recommendations of the 41st session
of the Commission for Social Development, which the
representative of Bangladesh had also chaired, was
focused in particular on the consistency of policies to
promote social development. Bangladesh believed that
social development was basically a national
responsibility, but could not be fully achieved without
significant international support, which should include
the propagation of a culture of peace and conflict
prevention and a favourable external economic
environment. Participation and partnership were two
further vital elements. Civil society's active
involvement and its cooperation with governments
were also essential.
19. The Bangladeshi Government held the view that
pluralism, democracy, good governance, human rights,
gender equity and women's empowerment were
indispensable to social development and was
promoting a positive societal transformation in the
20. With regard to youth, Bangladesh had launched in
1978 an action plan for the employment of young
persons and established in 1981 a Ministry for Youth
and Sports, and a Youth Directorate. In 2003, it had
adopted a national youth policy. It consequently
welcomed the current initiatives taken by the United
Nations system to promote youth employment.
21. The family, being the basic social unit, played a
vital role in Bangladesh. The country was therefore
looking forward to the celebration, in December 2003,
of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the
22. Concerning older persons, Bangladesh shared the
views of the Secretary-General that an "ageing
perspective" needed to be considered in the work
programmes of the United Nations system. A
coordinated effort should be undertaken by the
Commission for Social Development and the
Commission on the Status of Women as part of the
implementation of the Madrid International Plan of
Action on Ageing. Furthermore, governments had a

responsibility to integrate the issue of older women
into their policies.
23. Programmes for the aged population launched by
Bangladesh included social security and welfare
measures (such as old-age pension, allowance for
widows, and homes for the abandoned, dispossessed
and disabled). Geriatric issues had been addressed in
the country's five-year plan.
24. The Ministry of Social Welfare of Bangladesh
had been entrusted with the responsibility of
implementing and executing the Madrid International
Plan of Action on Ageing. In particular, it endeavoured
to reduce poverty among rural elderly people. The
Government had introduced an old age allowances
programme with a total of one million beneficiaries
every year.
25. Bangladesh welcomed the decision of the Ad hoc
Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral
International Convention on the Protection and
Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with
Disabilities to establish a working group that would
prepare a draft text as a basis for negotiation and was
expected to present the outcome of its work to the
Ad hoc Committee in 2004. Bangladesh had adopted a
national policy for persons with disabilities and a
national work plan for implementing that policy. The
Government was cooperating closely with civil society
organizations to provide education, training, economic
opportunity and rehabilitation programmes for the
disabled. A Disability Welfare Act had been enacted in
26. The major United Nations conferences of the
1990s had laid down the path to tread. The
commitments that were made, if they were to be
fulfilled, required persistent and consistent action and a
coordinated and integrated follow-up to those
conferences. To that purpose, it was necessary to
continue to strengthen the work of the United Nations,
and increase the effectiveness of the Economic and
Social Council (ECOSOC) and its commissions,
particularly the Commission for Social Development.
All countries together, at the United Nations, should
bring development centre stage, place people at the
centre of development and recommit to strengthened
and effective international and regional cooperation,
partnership and assistance.

27. Mr. Gzllal (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) said that his
country associated itself with the statement made the
previous day by Morocco on behalf of the Group of 77
and China and reflected the positions of the Group on
social development.
28. Responsibility for social development rested
mainly with the countries themselves. They should
ensure the existence of favourable conditions, a
prerequisite for international cooperation, whose role
was to support national activities aimed at meeting
commitments made under the Copenhagen Declaration
on Social Development and the twenty-fourth special
session of the General Assembly.
29. The debt, export hindrances, the reduction of
official development aid (ODA) and unilateral
sanctions were some of the external factors causing the
problems experienced by the countries concerned. The
social situation of those countries, especially in Africa,
was steadily deteriorating, as pandemics compounded
the other difficulties. The international community
should honour its commitments and provide the
assistance necessary for the on-going efforts in the
social and economic areas, which were two sides of the
same coin, as the Secretary-General had stressed in his
report on the issue (A/58/172). Social progress was
possible only if the economic conditions improved, and
economic stability depended on social stability.
30. Although progress had been achieved in the area
of social development, many countries had not yet met
the expectations of their population. It was therefore
necessary to boost international efforts to curb the
negative impact of globalization and reduce poverty. At
the same time, developing countries should promote a
culture of peace to prevent the proliferation of armed
and ethnic conflicts; endeavour to bring about peace
and development; and prevent the formation of
industrial monopolies under the pretext of
globalization. The above impact on developing
economies was powerful and the situation would only
worsen if the necessary remedial measures were not
31. The international character of social development
required that all stakeholders, including the private
sector and civil society, should participate in the
process. Moreover, partnerships between industrialized

and developing countries were an important factor and
the Libyan delegation recalled in that connection that
the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD) had been set up to help to treat the social
aspects of development in Africa within the context of
international development. The success of that
initiative depended on the actual intentions and the
political will of the NEPAD partners.
32. The Libyan Arab Jamahiriya spared no effort to
ensure an appropriate use of its natural and human
resources and the adoption of economic and social
policies that, through the full participation of all,
maintained a balance between the needs of the
individual within society and the needs of society.
National development objectives were ambitious and
part of a plan that underscored education, health and
the formulation of strategic projects focusing on
industry, agriculture and the water sector (a pertinent
example was a recently completed artificial-river
33. The Libyan Government attached great
importance to youth, for which many training and
professional-qualification projects had been launched.
Libya viewed training young persons in the latest
technologies as a way of ensuring that the trainees
would become active members of society, responsible
for its future shape. Intergenerational relations should
be strengthened, keeping in mind that older persons
would constitute a sizeable group in the middle of the
21st century and that it was still possible to forestall
the impact of ageing if the necessary measures were
taken as of now in accordance with the Madrid
International Plan of Action on Ageing.
34. Today's materialist society undermined the values
on which the family was based. Marital relations
became commercial partnerships, and young people,
disconcerted, questioned the existing values and habits.
It was therefore necessary to renew the significance of
the family, society's cornerstone. In that connection,
like other delegations, the Libyan delegation failed to
understand why the Family Unit had been eliminated.
It considered the Secretariat's explanations insufficient
and unconvincing, especially in view of the
forthcoming observance of the tenth anniversary of the
International Year of the Family, and hoped that no
such hasty decisions would be taken in the future.

35. Persons with disabilities were another group
whose potential should be used in promoting
development and whose rights needed protection.
Accordingly, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya welcomed
the outcome of the second meeting of the Ad hoc
Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral
International Convention on the Protection and
Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with
36. Ms. Tomar (India) said that the Under Secretary-
General for Economic and Social Affairs had rightly
focused on the core challenge before the international
community as one of ensuring growth that was
equitable, inclusive, pro-development and supportive
of equality between men and women. She added that
her delegation associated itself with the statement
made by Morocco on behalf of the Group of 77 and
37. The Secretary-General's report on the World
Social Situation, 2003 (A/58/153) starkly reminded the
international community that 1.2 billion people lived in
absolute poverty and that "a lack of policies and
measures to bring people living on the margins of
society into the mainstream" could only be seen as "a
major policy failure of the Governments of all
countries", whether developed, developing or in
transition. It also pointed out that the aims of the World
Summit for Social Development were a long way from
becoming a reality. For example, 51 percent of the Sub-
Saharan African population still lived on less than
US$1 per day; 113 million children of primary schoolage
(94 per cent of them in developing countries) were
not enrolled in school; and 3 million children were
infected with HIV/AIDS. Those figures were only
some reminders that the international community had
not adequately seized the gravity of the situation.
38. A basic premise of the Secretary-General's report
was that "all groups face vulnerabilities that are largely
the outcome of economic, social and cultural barriers
that restrict opportunities for and impede the social
integration and participation of the members of the
group". That assumption was somewhat simplistic.
Actually, eliminating "barriers" was not sufficient for
solving problems stemming from "economic, social
and cultural situations".

39. Accordingly, since gaining its independence,
India had spared no efforts to improve the social
situation of its population. It had focused on health,
education and employment. As a result, the proportion
of the population below the poverty line had declined
from 55 percent in 1973-74 to 26 percent in 1999-2000
and the literacy rate had risen from 18 percent in
1951 to 65 percent in 2001. The Planning
Commission of India, entrusted with planning for
India's socio-economic development, recognized that
"the focus of policy for reducing poverty in the
country" would "have to be on reducing the
vulnerability of the poor". Health and education were
identified as key areas that need to be addressed by the
40. Poverty eradication remained a national
responsibility. However, as the Prime Minister of India
had pointed out in his recent address to the United
Nations General Assembly, poverty eradication
required resources on a far greater scale than that on
which they were currently available and therefore a
strengthened international cooperation. The Indian
delegation would welcome an analytical assessment by
the Division for Social Policy and Development on the
critical nature of greater international assistance for the
successful achievement of social development
objectives in developing countries.
41. Progressive poverty-reduction and social
development also required policies focused on young
people, who would shape the future of the country.
Over the last 30 years, several initiatives for rural
youth had been adopted and were being successfully
implemented. Professional training and employment
were the main areas of focus in the tenth five-year
plan, which was being implemented. The evolution of
the political system had led to greater and better
participation of the people of India in the political
process, and that fact contributed to social
development. The "Panchayati Raj" system had
revolutionized grass-road administration: the affairs of
each village were now managed by an elected
council of five, responsible inter alia for implementing
development programmes.
42. Under agenda item 107, the Indian representative
referred to the road map suggested in the Secretary-
General's report on the follow-up to the Second World
Assembly on Ageing (A/58/160) for the

implementation of the Madrid International Plan of
Action on Ageing. The concept was innovative and
would need to be adapted to suit different national
situations. In 1999, India had adopted a national policy
for older persons, which took a comprehensive view of
the needs of the aged. A five-year plan of action for
2000–2005 was currently being implemented. While
the population of India was comparatively young, India
was expected to have 100 million elderly persons by
the year 2013. That was a challenge that would require
special attention, because approximately 80 per cent of
that population, consisting mainly of women, would be
in rural areas and 30 per cent below the poverty line.
43. Ms. Radi (Bahrain), referring to agenda item
106, welcomed the outcome of the second meeting of
the Ad hoc Committee on a Comprehensive and
Integral International Convention on the Protection and
Promotion of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with
Disabilities. She pointed out that, since gaining its
independence in 1971, Bahrain had taken many
measures in favour of the social integration and
adaptation of persons with disabilities, for instance the
establishment of a handicapped children's home by the
National Bank of Bahrain. Generally speaking, the
services provided to persons with disabilities focused
on education, health care, culture, and social and
economic protection. Many legal entities with a
national scope had been set up for the disabled,
including a national foundation, a sports committee and
an international mobility centre. More than two thirds
of the national centres catering to persons with
disabilities were establishments connected to civil
44. The Government had drawn up plans and set
objectives aimed at upholding the rights of persons
with disabilities. In particular, it took measures to
improve their access to public buildings and facilities
and to facilitate their circulation. Several laws had been
enacted to penalize the most frequent forms of
discrimination against them. Sign-language
interpretation in daily news telecasts was becoming
more frequent and services available to disabled
persons were being computerized in line with the
Secretary-General's recommendations in the Review
and Appraisal of the World Programme of Action
concerning Disabled Persons (A/58/61-E/2003/5).

45. Lastly, the Government had set up mobile units
providing health care to disabled persons at home.
Nevertheless, it was necessary to further strengthen the
protection of persons with disabilities at the legal level
and an energetic policy should be implemented in
cooperation with the competent bodies. It was also
important to make further training available to service
46. The involvement of the private sector had become
necessary at the financial and other levels. Many
private actors were providing medical diagnosis and
treatment, housing, vocational training and leisure
activities for persons with disabilities with a view to
promoting equal opportunities for the disabled and
ensuring their integration into the educational system
and the labour market. Decree No. 23/1976 recognized
the disabled persons' right to work in accordance with
the International Labour Office Convention on
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled
Persons) (No. 159, 1983).
47. Mr. Israfilov (Azerbaijan), referring to agenda
item 106, said that his delegation valued the quality of
the Secretary-General's report on the World Social
Situation, 2003 (A/58/153), but would appreciate it if
in future such reports were distributed in time.
Furthermore, it failed to understand why, in
explanatory notes to that report, his country and other
East European economies in transition were referred to
as the "former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics".
The Republic of Azerbaijan had established its
sovereignty in 1991 and become a full-fledged member
of the United Nations in 1992. The Azerbaijani
delegation would therefore appreciate it, if the
Secretariat would not resort to stereotypes of the past
to describe Azerbaijan but designated it using the
official name of the country or the regional group to
which it belonged.
48. In the area of social and economic reform,
Azerbaijan implemented a results-based policy aimed
at economic growth, social progress, stability and a
high standard of living. Since 1966, more than
30 decrees had been issued with a view to improving
social protection for the entire population. A small- and
medium-size enterprise development programme and
the 2003–2005 poverty-reduction and economicdevelopment
programme had been approved in 2002
and 2003, respectively. The second of these

programmes was in line with commitments made under
the Millennium Declaration and the decisions adopted
during the twenty-fourth special session of the General
49. Unfortunately, despite the results so far achieved
and the macroeconomic reforms launched by the
Government since 1996, the population's standard of
living had not improved, the unemployment rate
remained high, and the minimum wage was
50. The situation was aggravated by the
consequences of the unresolved armed conflict with
Armenia, which were still a matter of grave concern to
Azerbaijan. Nearly 800,000 internally displaced
persons (IDPs), victims of that conflict, had been
compelled to leave more than 300,000 jobs in the
Azerbaijani territories occupied by Armenia.
Legislation had been enacted to regulate the legal
status of that vulnerable group and ensure its social
protection. Related measures were also being taken
under the State programme on refugee and IDP issues,
which had been adopted in 1998.
51. For more than a decade, Azerbaijan had
successfully cooperated with almost all United Nations
institutions and specialized agencies dealing with
social issues. Its Government hoped that the United
Nations would eventually pay particular attention to
the social problems of victims of protracted conflicts
and to persons with disabilities due to armed conflicts.
It very much counted on the support and assistance
provided by the international community to enable
Azerbaijan to cope with social problems faced by that
vulnerable group. It went without saying that the
resolution of the ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan
and Armenia would soon lead to a long-term solution
to refugee and IDP issues. The Azerbaijani
Government, having limited resources for assisting
refugees and displaced persons, was extremely
interested in learning about relevant best practices and
the kind of expertise available from the United Nations
and its Member States for addressing those issues.
52. The armed conflict had led to the emergence of
new problems for youth. The number of young people
with disabilities, of one- parent families and of orphans
had increased significantly. Bearing in mind those
factors, the Government had adopted a number of
programmes on key issues: youth employment; housing

and health care, especially for young people
demobilized from the army; support for young
families; and the establishment of a system of benefits
and social security and insurance for youth. The
Azerbaijani delegation was pleased to note that
Azerbaijan had been included, along with seven other
countries, in the Secretary-General's youth employment
network. Strengthening dialogue among the network
members and international institutions involved would
ensure the success of the initiative.
53 Azerbaijan had actively participated in the
Second World Assembly on Ageing, held in Madrid in
April 2002, and in the United Nations Economic
Commission for Europe (UNECE) Ministerial
Conference on Ageing, held in Berlin in
September 2002; and was currently revising its 1999
national plan of action on ageing and aligning it with
the Madrid strategy with a view to the implementation
of commitments made under the final documents of
those high-level meetings. It had also taken appropriate
measures to strengthen the social security for older
persons and was reforming the pension system through
the establishment of a private pension scheme. On
October 1 of each year, Azerbaijan celebrated the Day
of Older Persons.
54. The Government promoted the rehabilitation of
persons with disabilities, focusing on their social
integration as part of a health-care system reform. The
representative of Azerbaijan added that his country
attached particular importance to the Family Unit and
believed that, on the basis of a reasonable timetable, it
should be strengthened with the means and expertise
necessary for preparing the observance of the tenth
anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
55. Mr. Myrstad (Norway), youth representative of
his country, referring to agenda item 106, regretted that
too few youth representatives participated in the
debates, although young people constituted one fifth of
the world population and should therefore have a say in
decision-making at the local, national and international
levels. Youth understood youth and youth
communicated with youth: consequently, youth
participation could lead to better outcomes, for
example in Africa where the involvement of youth
organizations had led to more efficient ways of raising
awareness of HIV/AIDS.

56. According to the World Youth Report, 2003
(E/CN.5/2000 3/4), more than 300,000 children (a child
being, according to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child, any human being under 18), many of them
abducted, were fighting in armed conflicts in 49
countries. Some were even forced to kill friends and
family members. Girls were even more vulnerable than
boys. According to the report, more than two million
children had been killed in armed conflicts during the
last decade. Young people therefore urged all parties
using children as soldiers to try to solve the conflicts
peacefully. They also urged all countries to ratify and
comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child,
incorporate its provisions into their natural law, ratify
the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights
of the Child on the involvement of children in armed
conflict, support the International Criminal Court,
combat impunity by furthering the rule of law and
exercise strict control over the legal proliferation of
light weapons, which fuelled conflicts and turned
children into killing machines. They also urged that all
peace negotiations should include specific measures to
demobilize child soldiers and reintegrate them into
57. The fact that it was much easier to raise funds for
war and military budgets than for conflict prevention
and poverty reduction explained why young people lost
hope in the future of peace, cooperation and
sustainable development. The representative stressed
that the world had not been inherited from the parents
but had been borrowed from the children.
58. Ms. Maw (Myanmar), referring to agenda item
107, said that her delegation associated itself with the
statement made on the previous day by Morocco on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Older persons
(whose number was growing rapidly in the world),
with the wealth of traditional knowledge and survival
strategies that they had accumulated over a lifetime of
experience, made an immense contribution to their
families and communities.
59. By adopting, at the Second World Assembly on
Ageing, the Political Declaration and the Madrid
International Plan of Action (which focused on ageing
in developing countries), the international community
had reaffirmed its commitment to work towards the
establishment of a society for all ages.

60. Myanmar welcomed the fact that, in the
implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action during
the first year of the follow-up to the Second World
Assembly on Ageing, progress had been visible in such
areas as intergovernmental process, interagency
activities, regional activities, research and information
dissemination, as it was stated in the Secretary-
General's report (A/58/160).
61. The implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action
was an evolving process that required sustained action
at all levels and involved challenges that could not be
met without substantial support from developed
62. In Myanmar, older people, who in 2003
represented 8.1 percent of the total population, were
highly regarded. Elderly persons received care from
their extended family. For those who did not have one,
religious and voluntary organizations had established
homes for the aged, subsidized by the State.
63. Elderly persons continued to lead an active life in
society through their involvement in civil societies,
voluntary organizations and trade and commerce.
Myanmar was aware of the need, recognized in the
Madrid Plan of Action for Ageing, to mainstream the
issue of ageing into the development agenda.
64. Mr. Klang (Sweden), youth representative of his
country, said that close to 40 percent of the world's
population were under 25. As receivers of the
generational torch, youth could be responsible agents
for substantial social change. Young people were an
essential part of the solution – not the problem.
65. The major objectives of the United Nations could
be realized only if the international community
responded to the needs of young people and supported
their actions and initiatives. Inclusion of young people
and youth-led organizations was a fundamental
question of strengthening democracy and making use
of untapped resources in attaining the Millennium
Development Goals. Sweden therefore strongly
encouraged all nations to include youth delegates of
both genders in future national delegations to the
General Assembly and other essential formal arenas.
66. There were youth movements all over the world.
Young people should be full-fledged partners, and the

States could involve them in a number of activities,
such as combating HIV/AIDS, educational reform,
attaining the Millennium Development Goals or
empowering women. Society stood to gain by
acknowledging the role that young people could play,
supporting them and listening to them.
67. Mr. Skinnebach (International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies) said that the issues
examined by the Commission were very important to
the work of all National Red Cross and Red Crescent
Societies and their International Federation.
68. Three aspects of social development – ageing,
voluntarism and youth – would be core issues of
particular relevance to the International Conference of
the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, in which all
governments would be participating in December 2003.
The theme of the International Conference, "Protecting
Human Dignity", was strongly linked to social
69. Virtually all Red Cross and Red Crescent national
societies were engaged in community care projects.
That included programmes for the ageing, where
trained volunteers were working, and programmes for
aged volunteers, a proof that older people's
contribution to society could be of value.
70. The Federation hoped that governments, in
partnership with civil society, would actively involve
themselves in volunteer programmes that it
mainstreamed into its activities and brought forward
within appropriate settings in such areas as disaster
preparedness, disaster response and health and
community care. It also hoped to see stronger evidence
of cooperation on those issues between the various
organizations of the United Nations system. It was time
that volunteerism, such as the work of United Nations
Volunteers, should receive wider recognition from the
various agencies.
71. Social development, a core issue in the attainment
of the Millennium Development Goals, was also a
foundation for building prosperous societies, capable
of making a strong contribution to world prosperity and
72. A link among those various aspects of social
development was made at the International Conference

of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Youth Coalition for
Peace and Friendship, held at Shiraz, Islamic Republic
of Iran in September 2003. The Conference, a
significant manifestation of the capacity of youth to
deliver, had also adopted a declaration recommending
inter alia the integration of peace and friendship into
the capacity-building programmes of all countries.
73. The President of the Federation and the Under-
Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs had
recently discussed actual and potential links between
the Federation and the Department concerning support
for social development initiatives focused on
vulnerable communities.
74. The Federation encouraged both governments and
the competent bodies of the United Nations system to
support communities in their efforts towards
sustainable development of their own environment. An
example of such local initiatives was offered by
Afghanistan, where nearly 3,000 young Afghans were
working as Red Crescent volunteers, delivering first
aid services to their school peers, providing basic
health and sanitation services to their neighbours and
building respect for humanitarian values.
75. In Nepal, the Red Cross managed youth
programmes aimed at eradicating illiteracy and
increasing school enrolment. Because of their positive
and lasting impact on the empowerment of women,
those programmes provided a lead to the public
authorities and international bodies working in the
same areas.
76. The Red Cross and Red Crescent societies'
function as auxiliaries to the public authorities in the
humanitarian area was well known within the United
Nations and among most governments. But that role, if
its power were to be properly utilized, should be better
understood at all levels of government.
77. The International Red Cross and Red Crescent
Conference in December 2003 was expected to
energize a more productive debate in the meeting of the
Commission for Social Development in February 2004
and in other United Nations fora in the years to come.
78. Mr. Stanislaus (Granada) expressed appreciation
for the speeches of the youth representatives of
Norway and Sweden. Probably the only participant

over 80, he said that older persons should live on good
terms with young people, because if the ideals and
energy of youth combined with the experience and the
wisdom of old age, the world would be better for
everybody. Rather than reject aged persons, their
knowledge and experience should be viewed as sources
of enrichment. Furthermore, the young and the old had
to live together within the family, society's basic unit.
The fact that many grandparents had become parents to
children orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS
epidemic was one example of the positive role that
older persons could play.
The meeting rose at 11.40 a.m.