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Summary record of the 5th meeting : 3rd Committee, held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 7 October 2003, General Assembly, 58th session

UN Document Symbol A/C.3/58/SR.5
Convention Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Document Type Summary Record
Session 58th
Type Document

8 p.

Subjects Youth, Ageing Persons, Persons with Disabilities, Family, Trafficking in Persons, Rights of The Child, Poverty Mitigation

Extracted Text

United Nations A/C.3/58/SR.5
General Assembly
Fifty-eighth session
Official Records
Distr.: General
30 October 2003
Original: English
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
03-54444 (E)
Third Committee
Summary record of the 5th meeting
Held at Headquarters, New York, on Tuesday, 7 October 2003, at 3 p.m.
Chairman: Mr. Maertens (Vice-Chairman) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (Belgium)
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)

In the absence of Mr. Belinga-Eboutou (Cameroon),
Mr. Maertens (Belgium), Vice-Chairman, took the
The meeting was called to order at 3.10 p.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 and 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/58/153, A/58/159, A/58/229 and
Agenda item 107: Follow-up to the International
Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on
Ageing (continued) (A/58/160)
1. Mr. Rahman (Malaysia) said that, despite the
goals set at the World Summit for Social Development
and their subsequent review, there remained a plethora
of social problems, especially poverty and hunger,
which had not only not abated, but had sometimes
escalated. In the light of the Secretary-General’s
assertion that, even if developing countries were to
adopt sound policies and maximize their use of
domestic resources, an additional annual $50 billion in
aid would be needed to attain the Millennium
Development Goals, he called on the developed
countries to fulfil their commitment to meet their ODA
obligations so that the developing countries could
endeavour to meet their targets and their own
obligations connected with the objectives set by the
World Summit, in a spirit of social justice and equity.
2. His Government subscribed to the argument,
highlighted in the report on the implementation of the
outcome of the World Summit (A/58/172), that social
progress could not be achieved under unstable
economic conditions, economic development being a
key ingredient of social development. Efforts to
promote social development must be an integral part of
national development agendas. Convinced that each
country had the primary responsibility for and
ownership of its economic and social development,
Malaysia had always emphasized the concept of
development as a major feature of its national
development programme, and its social integration
policies sought to bring the disenfranchised into the

mainstream of economic and social planning. To that
end, there was need of greater cooperation among
national agencies, international and regional
organizations and civil society as a whole.
3. With a large youth population, Malaysia assigned
priority to youth programmes, including the 1997
overhaul of the National Youth Policy with a view to
shaping a resilient youth community that could
contribute to nation-building, face the challenges of a
fast-developing country and participate in humanitarian
projects. His country also continued to accord priority
to family development programmes that would
strengthen the institution of the family in accordance
with each society’s cultural values, fostering crossgeneration
family solidarity. In the modern lifestyle in
which most family members worked outside the home,
Malaysia had established community-based day-care
centres for the aged and provided opportunities for
older people to retrain, work or study in order to
cultivate their independence, self-worth and dignity.
4. Policies and programmes for improving the
quality of life and integrating the disabled included the
Disabled Persons Act, which protected their rights, and
a nationwide web site and media assistance in raising
awareness of related issues. Education for disabled
persons was also guaranteed through compulsory
education accompanied by the necessary facilities,
which ensured that disabled children completed full
primary education by age 14.
5. Ms. Al-Qahtani (United Arab Emirates) said
that, owing to the inadequate implementation of the
recommendations and outcomes of United Nations
summits and conferences, half the world’s population
in the developing countries now lived in dire economic
and social conditions. Convinced that social
development could not be achieved without economic
development, political stability and consolidated
security in those countries, her country reaffirmed the
need for prompt implementation of the Millennium
Development Goals, without selectivity or separation
of social-development requirements from other
requirements, including more chances for those
countries to participate in the international market
through technology transfer and strengthened human
6. Her country, among the first 50 to attain a high
level of human development, had done so by dint of
national development policies designed to achieve
social justice and security, societal development,
family welfare, protection of children’s rights, respect

for human rights, human-resource development and a
higher standard of living for all citizens, providing free
universal education and medical care. The Government
had also implemented measures for ensuring a
dignified life for all social sectors. It had also
established a national training centre that would
prepare young people for the global employment
7. The Government had paid great attention to
promoting the family, which was the main foundation
of society, and had enacted family-protection
regulations, crowned by a presidential decree. It was
also considering legislation that would cover all
maternity and family aspects and had participated in
numerous international and regional family-related
forums. Her Government believed in the right of
disabled persons and the elderly to personal dignity and
had created centres for the care and rehabilitation of
persons with special needs to enable them to continue
their education and find suitable jobs. In accordance
with Islamic values and traditions, it had never
neglected the elderly and provided them with special
8. The authorities attached great importance to
promoting social development both in and outside the
country and had acceded to bilateral and regional
treaties in that field. Her country had made loans and
grants to many disaster-stricken countries, in particular,
on the initiative of the First Lady, a donation of $0.5
million. She hoped the Committee’s deliberations
would succeed in defining the most effective means of
creating a “society for all”.
9. Ms. Kang Kyung-wha (Republic of Korea) said
her delegation particularly welcomed the thematic
presentation in the Report on the World Social
Situation, 2003 (A/58/153), focusing as it did on social
vulnerability and providing a fresh perspective for her
country’s efforts to achieve the well-being of all
members of society. Welcoming the recommendations
contained in the report on the implementation of the
outcome of the World Summit for Social Development
(A/58/172), she fully supported the emphasis placed on
coherence and integration of social and economic
policies in achieving development goals. Her country’s
development experience attested to the need for
integrated social and economic policy if development
was to be sustainable. The Commission for Social
Development, of which her country was an active
member, had generated useful ideas on the issues and
should continue to address that difficult topic.

10. On the threshold of the tenth anniversary of the
International Year of the Family, it must be recognized
that the family was the basic unit of society and must
continue to play a central role in social development.
However, it continued to undergo profound changes in
line with societal changes and the dictates of the times,
currently accelerated by globalization. In her country
the archetype of the extended three-generation family
under one roof was no more, and the concept of the
young providing for the old had lost ground at both
ends, a phenomenon all the more significant since
South Korea was an ageing country. The authorities
were actively promoting policies for integrating the
elderly into the social mainstream.
11. Her delegation welcomed the Secretariat’s road
map for implementing the Madrid International Plan of
Action on Ageing and its emphasis on gender
mainstreaming and hoped that its recommendations
would be built upon during the current session in a
manner that inspired everyone to take prompt action.
Her Government was already focusing on expanding
the economic participation of the elderly, starting with
plans to create 300,000 suitable jobs in 2004, in
parallel with the strengthening of traditional welfare
provisions, including the expansion of geriatric
hospital care and almost trebling total spending in that
12. Ms. Stažnik (Croatia) said that, in today’s
globalized world, complex issues of social
development needed to be tackled through coherent,
integrated policies involving all social sectors and
should be a shared responsibility among all States, with
solid United Nations support, in a framework of
enhanced cooperation and coordination among its
agencies. Her delegation welcomed the report
contained in document A/58/172 and reaffirmed its
commitment to the principles set forth in the
Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and to
the Millennium Development Goals. In pursuit of those
principles, her Government had launched an array of
social and economic reforms for fostering employment
growth and social well-being, such as effective
implementation of its National Strategy for the
Eradication of Poverty and Social Exclusion and the
creation of social partnerships that could put human
resources in the limelight and ensure that education and
science played a central role in the quest for social
13. Given her Government’s conviction that only on
the basis of a rights-based, participatory approach in
which the family unit had an important role to play, it

supported family-oriented policies and recommended
that related issues should be mainstreamed into the
work of the United Nations family. In that connection,
the National Committee for the Observance of the
Tenth Anniversary of the International Year of the
Family had been established to coordinate activities for
promoting the rights of each member of the family,
with special attention to the rights of children, women
and the elderly. The Committee’s 2002 National Family
Policy defined changes in family structure resulting
from war and demographic recession and comprised
strategies for creating a family-friendly environment
and strengthening democratic family relations, gender
equality and spousal partnership.
14. Where persons with disabilities were concerned,
Croatia stressed the importance of ensuring their full
enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental
freedoms and had recently adopted a national strategy
on their behalf, which envisaged creating the post of
ombudsperson and an office for persons with
disabilities so as to promote their full participation in
society. In that connection, it welcomed the
establishment of an Ad Hoc Committee on a
Comprehensive and Integral International Convention
on Protection and Promotion of the Rights and Dignity
of Persons with Disabilities.
15. By the same token, in order to motivate young
people to become active members of society and
participate in decision-making, her Government
encouraged youth employment by means of special
projects, within the Croatian Employment Service, for
acting as a link between the labour market and skilled
professionals, providing financial support to the
unemployed and career guidance and facilitating job
creation by participating in local development
initiatives. In that connection, Croatia supported the
effective implementation of and follow-up to the World
Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and
Beyond and looked forward to working closely with
other delegations on those issues.
16. Mr. Siv (United States of America) said that,
although increased longevity was a great success story,
it also posed serious challenges for every Member
State’s response to the reality of an ageing population.
The United States, in its commitment to facilitate
longer and better lives for its inhabitants, recognized
that it involved overhauling its pension and retirement
systems, including its social security system, which
was unsustainable in its current form. His country, was
not only working to harness market forces and
Government stewardship in order to strengthen those

systems and health-care schemes for the elderly, but it
also assisted other countries in developing strategies
that balanced general welfare with the needs of the
elderly and was committed to the realization of the
goals of the Madrid International Plan of Action on
17. Persons with disabilities had too long been targets
of discrimination. Equality and dignity having been
reaffirmed as the inherent right of all human beings,
the current attention to such persons demonstrated a
desire to see them fully integrated into society. The
United States had long worked to promote the rights of
the disabled and had a comprehensive set of
regulations and enforcement mechanisms ensuring real,
observable improvement in their lives, which had been
implemented by local governments and private
business, with enforcement from the Federal
Government. The authorities must provide leadership
by taking action at home and must discuss the issue in
international forums. His country was willing to share
its experiences with other States in the elaboration of
an international convention in that field.
18. The humanitarian crisis caused by trafficking in
persons, of which children were often the victims,
underscored the need to halt the breakdown of the
family — the cornerstone of society — which not only
drove children towards violent crime and selfdestructive
behaviour, but had adverse consequences
for society when they dropped out of school or became
pregnant. Hence, the forthcoming tenth anniversary of
the International Year of the Family presented the ideal
opportunity for States to review their practices in that
regard and renew their commitment to strengthening
the family.
19. Mr. Fall (Senegal) said that his delegation
associated itself with the statement of Morocco on
behalf of the Group of 77 and China. The persistence
of poverty, disease and illiteracy was a burden
preventing the social development of many levels of
global society from reaching its fullest expression.
More than ever before, it was important to focus on the
need for social harmony, particularly in the countries of
the Third World, in order to eliminate poverty and
social exclusion. Youth, disabled persons and the
elderly were an integral part of society and must enjoy
their full rights as citizens. Therefore, Senegal
supported the noble objectives of the United Nations
Literacy Decade 2003-2012, and had hosted the World
Education Forum in Dakar in 2000. Vigorous efforts
were needed to prevent illiteracy from slowing the pace
of development, and his Government had designed

literacy programmes specifically targeted at youth and
20. Persons with disabilities were vulnerable in many
countries, but they had the right to social protection
and equal opportunities. Senegal had undertaken
initiatives to improve their quality of life and social
and legal protection, raise their level of education and
vocational training and facilitate their access to basic
social services and employment. The family was at the
heart of his Government’s social policy, and the
revision of the Family Code currently under way was
aimed at raising the status of women within the family
by bringing it into line with the Convention on the
Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women. Youth employment was another priority for
his delegation, as well. Finally, he called for the
mobilization of adequate human and financial
resources to implement the Madrid International Plan
of Action on Ageing.
21. Mr. Sallam (Saudi Arabia) said that, through its
development plans, his country had sought to ensure
that its citizens enjoyed the social and other benefits of
development, as well as the opportunity to make an
effective contribution to all areas in that regard. It was
also enhancing its national human resources by
furthering their practical and vocational skills.
Moreover, it had introduced a variety of welfare,
training, rehabilitation and other programmes and
projects with a view to tackling the social and
economic problems which lay behind unemployment.
Numerous social development centres and committees
in both rural and urban areas were jointly engaged in
implementing programmes for the benefit of mothers,
children, including the disabled, and young people.
Utmost attention had also been devoted to providing
appropriate care, rehabilitation and vocational training
for the disabled, as well as financial assistance for their
families. Centres for the care of the disabled had been
opened country-wide and two funds had been
established for the purpose of developing human
resources, tackling poverty and providing work
22. Despite the enormous technological and scientific
progress achieved in recent decades, the majority of the
world’s inhabitants continued to suffer from a wide
range of problems which prevented them from
achieving the social development to which they aspired
and increased the social and economic disparities
between the wealthy developed countries and the
developing countries plagued by poverty, hunger and
war. He therefore called for greater efforts to improve

the mechanisms for development and remove the
obstacles to progress. In such times of woe and
misfortune, religious values and teachings offered the
only basis for ending domination by fellow human
beings and preserving human dignity in the interests of
security, peace and stability.
23. Ms. Chojnacka (the Netherlands), speaking as a
youth delegate, said that including young people in
decision-making and in implementing those decisions
was of increasing importance. In addition to the
problems of poverty, unemployment and lack of
education, the AIDS pandemic deprived many young
people of their families at a young age. Moreover,
young people between the ages of 15 and 25 were
themselves the major group directly affected by the
disease. A vast majority of youth suffered from
exclusion, which meant lack of participation and access
to wealth, education and jobs — in short, no hope.
Since so many young people were excluded, they were
experts on many of the issues that the United Nations
dealt with, yet many felt that their voices were not
heard in the discussion of world problems. Frustration
led many young people to apathy, or even worse, to
aggression and violence.
24. It was encouraging that Member States had
succeeded in adopting the Millennium Development
Goals, but the spirit to act on them appeared to be
lacking. One reason could be that not enough people
were aware of their existence, and the Millennium
Development Goals campaign was thus welcome. It
was also possible that the concept of “We, the
peoples”, which formed the very basis of the United
Nations system, had not yet been fully incorporated
into global ways of thinking. Many still divided the
world into “us” and “them”. It seemed that those
divisions were becoming stronger, and youth should be
actively involved in turning the tide. Not only could
they contribute to a change in attitude, but they should
also be involved in the implementation of the
Millennium Development Goals. Their views should be
heard and they should be employed as advisers, policy
makers and field workers.
25. Meaningful youth participation must take place
on terms set by youth themselves. Therefore, States
should facilitate creation of national youth councils by
providing financial support and giving such councils a
voice. She also called upon States to use young people
as policy advisers, especially concerning youth issues,
and to include youth representatives in official
delegations to important United Nations meetings.

26. Mr. Chidyausiku (Zimbabwe) said that his
delegation associated itself with the statement of
Botswana on behalf of the Southern Africa
Development Community (SADC) and the statement of
Morocco on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
While the situation in many developing countries had
not changed significantly since the World Summit on
Social Development, and in some cases had worsened,
his Government remained committed to fulfilling the
goals and objectives in the area of social development.
27. As observed in the Report on the World Social
Situation 2003 (A/58/153), there was a causal
relationship between such social ills as lack of
education, poor health, limited access to health care
and education on the one hand, and poverty, earning
capacity and personal development on the other.
Zimbabwe had therefore placed priority on providing
basic social services, particularly education and health
care, but its achievements had been eroded during the
1990s by the prescriptive policies of the Bretton Woods
institutions. Its poverty reduction efforts had also been
adversely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic that had
decimated the economically active segment of the
population. Resources were being diverted from
productive sectors to programmes for the care of
people living with HIV/AIDS, including AIDS
orphans. While the HIV prevalence rate in Zimbabwe
had dropped from 35 per cent to 24 per cent, it
remained unacceptably high, and increased assistance
to fight the scourge would be welcome.
28. Social development in southern Africa had been
impeded by the current food crisis, a result of two
successive droughts. In a largely agricultural country
such as Zimbabwe, land use and ownership had an
important bearing on levels of prosperity, as well. His
country had embarked on a land reform programme in
order to improve the lot of the majority of its
population that hitherto had been condemned to
poverty. The programme was largely concluded, and
had already begun to yield tangible results for many of
its people. Lastly, he reiterated his Government’s
pledge to implement the Copenhagen Programme of
Action and its willingness to forge ahead despite
seemingly insurmountable hurdles.
29. Mr. Taranda (Belarus) said that, in a globalizing
world beset with new challenges, the Organization did
well to continue to prioritize social development. His
delegation agreed with the Secretary-General that
policy coordination and partnership as well as national
responsibility were critical in that regard. It also
welcomed the agreed conclusions adopted by the

Commission for Social Development at its forty-first
session. In particular, Belarus applauded the latter’s
reaffirmation of the need for renewed and effective
partnerships between developed countries and
developing countries as well as countries with
economies in transition.
30. The social and economic development gaps
between countries continued to pose a serious obstacle
to sustainable development goals. The United Nations
must continue to develop international standards and
regulations in that regard, inter alia, to ensure equal
market access for all. Sustainable development, as well
as world peace, security and stability depended on it.
31. His own Government’s economic policy was
aimed at achieving social development through a social
market economy. The policy took account of the results
of international socio-economic forums and
incorporated relevant social protection provisions. In
the context of reforms under way in Belarus, there had
been a shift towards targeted social protection and
people-centred development.
32. His delegation welcomed the work of the Ad Hoc
Committee on a Comprehensive and Integral
International Convention on Protection and Promotion
of the Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.
In Belarus, there were now some 480,000 persons
living with disabilities, which was why the issue of
equal rights for such persons was particularly relevant.
A government programme focused on the prevention of
disability and the rehabilitation and integration of
disabled persons in society, which required
considerable resources. International technical and
financial assistance would be greatly appreciated in
that area.
33. Belarus planned to celebrate the tenth anniversary
of the International Year of the Family with a number
of initiatives designed to advance the status and
prestige of the family. The necessary legislative basis
had been established at the domestic level to regulate
youth employment. His delegation particularly
welcomed the Secretary-General’s Youth Employment
Network, which was in line with the development goals
contained in the United Nations Millennium
34. Belarus, like other countries, was also faced with
the prospect of an ageing population, with 35.8 per
cent of the population estimated to reach 60 years of
age or older by 2050. The country’s social and
economic policy would certainly need to be adapted to
reflect such a significant demographic change. In that

connection also, the Government was also looking to
improve the pension system by combining State as well
as private elements. The increased international
cooperation on ageing should be applauded, but
successful implementation of the Madrid International
Plan of Action on Ageing would depend on progress
achieved in developing national implementation
strategies. The efforts of the Department of Economic
and Social Affairs to provide assistance to Member
States for that purpose were appreciated.
35. Mr. Gallegos (Ecuador) said that his delegation
associated itself with the statement of Peru on behalf of
the Rio Group and that of Morocco on behalf of the
Group of 77 and China. It was impossible to achieve
sustainable economic development without social
development. Social protection must be seen as a
productive expenditure and an investment in human
capital, as spending on social protection was a
determining factor in the growth of countries. Thus,
coherence and integration between social policy and
economic policy was imperative. Highly indebted
developing countries like Ecuador faced serious
limitations on their ability to create economic stability
and sustainable development because of excessive
external debt servicing and trade barriers to their
exports. Debt service represented over 40 per cent of
Ecuador’s annual State budget. Without a just solution
to that problem, any economic and social development
policy was doomed to failure.
36. He reiterated his Government’s commitment to
improving the living standard of vulnerable groups like
the elderly and disabled persons, and especially to
protect their human rights. Ecuador had hosted a
regional seminar on disability under the auspices of the
Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
Participating countries had expressed support for the
elaboration of a convention concerning the rights of
disabled persons that would reflect the universality,
indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights.
37. Mrs. Ahmed (Sudan) said that much remained to
be done to achieve full social development for all,
which was a national responsibility requiring greater
political commitment at both the national and
international levels. The goal of poverty eradication
had been the major outcome of the World Summit for
Social Development in Copenhagen, and official
development assistance to the developing and least
developed countries was crucial to achieve the target of
reducing by half the proportion of poor by 2015. It was
also equally important to involve those countries in
making the decisions and rules applicable to them by

international financial institutions, for instance, in the
interest of ensuring their social development and the
adoption of integrated socio-economic policies. Other
issues vital to the social development of those
countries included relief from the crippling burden of
external debt, global economic reform, monetary
stability and the ability to compete more effectively on
the global market.
38. Poverty and inequality, however, would not be
eradicated without improvement of the deteriorating
infrastructures in African countries in particular, for
which purpose international assistance was essential.
Since development was an intrinsic human right, there
should be no imposition of unilateral economic
sanctions or penalties and the right to food and
medicine should be guaranteed. Foreign occupation
was also a major obstacle to social and economic
development and should be brought to an end, thus
enabling the inhabitants concerned to exercise
sovereignty over their territory. A further imperative
was that of effective international cooperation to
combat endemic disease, particularly malaria, and the
risks associated with AIDS.
39. She hoped that the imminent peace agreement in
the Sudan would have a positive impact on the
country’s social development, particularly in regard to
poverty reduction. Older persons in the Sudan received
special attention, and she therefore welcomed the
recommendations aimed at strengthening
implementation of the Madrid International Plan of
Action on Ageing, 2002. Efforts were also under way
to integrate the disabled as effective members of
Sudanese society, to which end a national council had
been established. A national committee had similarly
been set up to coordinate activities in connection with
the observance of the International Year of the Family.
Her Government also devoted particular attention to
programmes designed to assist families in performing
their social role and strengthen their position as one of
the indispensable institutions of society. In conclusion,
she said that the international community should make
concerted efforts to abandon all narrow and selfinterested
attitudes in order to work for the peace,
stability and well-being of the entire human race.
40. Mr. Leigh (United Nations Volunteers (UNV))
said that the notion that the profile and intensity of
voluntary action in a society was affected by social and
economic policy and required a strategic approach to
ensure a favourable environment had first arisen at the
World Summit on Social Development and Beyond in
2000. The Summit had recognized volunteering as a

basic vehicle by which youth, older persons, people
with disabilities, families and other groups could
participate in the economic and social life of societies.
Lack of access to meaningful volunteer opportunities
was an important feature of the exclusion faced by
many social groups.
41. The International Year of Volunteers in 2001 had
helped to move the volunteer agenda forward, in
particular through the adoption of General Assembly
resolutions 56/38 and 57/106. The first International
Meeting on Volunteering and the Millennium
Development Goals would take place in December in
Brazil. He joined with the representative of the
International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies in expressing the hope that
Governments would work together with civil society to
build a stronger enabling environment for volunteering.
Volunteerism was an enormous reservoir of skills,
ingenuity, creativity and solidarity that could make
major inroads in addressing social exclusion and
The meeting rose at 4.45 p.m.