09/10/2001
Press Release
GA/SHC/3629



Fifty-sixth General Assembly

Third Committee

5th Meeting (PM)


AS THIRD COMMITTEE PURSUES DEBATE ON SOCIAL DEVELOPMENTS,

SPEAKERS CALL FOR ‘REAL INTERACTION’ WITH DISABLED


Continuing their discussion on social development, members of the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) this afternoon spoke about issues surrounding disabled persons, focusing on their integration into society through targeted policies that would help, as the representative of Chile said, "develop the richness of these people".


He said that there needed to be real interaction with the people who had to live with disabilities.  All people, he said, had needs, and that had to be understood when drafting social policy.  In the last decade, Chile had changed its approach in dealing with disabled persons.  Previously, the country provided social security and health facilities for disabled people, but left everything else to the private sector.  Now there were programmes of education and reintegration.  Social inclusion was a benefit for all.


Persons with disabilities, he continued, had the same dreams, the same rights and the same needs as the other members of society, but did not always have the same possibilities and opportunities.  In order to overcome this inequity, there needed to be a commitment from everyone, both at the national and international level.  There must be a vigorous drive to promote access to education and to opportunities for training and instruction for all children and young people with disabilities, so that they would find welcome, understanding and possibilities for integration and personal growth.


Pope John Paul II, recalled the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, spoke about protecting disabled people during last year's Jubilee of the Disabled, which was held at the Vatican as part of the celebration of the Millennium Jubilee.  The Pope called upon governments and civil society to work towards ensuring living conditions and opportunities so that the dignity of disabled persons was effectively recognized and protected.  In a society rich in scientific and technical knowledge, it was possible and necessary to do more in the various ways of civil coexistence.


Other delegations taking the floor touched on an array of topics, including welcoming youth participation in the debate on social development; the widening gap between developed and developing countries created by globalization; and issues surround ageing, particularly the preparations under way for the Second World Assembly on Ageing, scheduled for next year in Madrid.


Also participating in the debate were representatives from the Netherlands, Libya, United Arab Emirates and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.


The Committee will continue with its debate on social development when it reconvenes on Wednesday, 10 October, at 10 a.m.


Background


The Third Committee met this afternoon to continue its general discussion of issues related to social development, including preparations for the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid in 2002, as well as implementing the outcomes adopted at the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995, and its follow-up mechanisms approved in Geneva in 2000.


LYDIA EL AFI, youth representative from the Netherlands, said both the United Nations and the world’s young people could benefit from a close working relationship and meaningful cooperation.  She said that last August in Dakar, youth from all over the world had the chance to debate a variety of issues at the Fourth World Youth Forum.  The outcome of that conference, the Dakar Youth Empowerment Strategy, had identified new opportunities for creating strategies aimed not only at youth empowerment but containing valuable recommendations for addressing the challenges young people faced, such as unemployment, illiteracy and discrimination.  She urged governments to commit themselves to sending youth delegations to participate in the General Assembly as well as to providing real and sufficient funding for the United Nations Youth Fund.


She said that the future of the Forum was also discussed at Dakar.  Participants hoped that the United Nations would continue to play an important role in youth initiatives and that any further conclusions drawn from the discussions could be reviewed at the 2003 session of the Commission on Social Development.  The Forum, she added, provided the framework for establishing a legitimate and collective international voice of youth with the hope of narrowing the gap between regions.  In order for the recommendations from Dakar to be implemented, young people would need assistance from the United Nations and its agencies and funds.


CRISTIAN MAQUIEIRA (Chile) said developing countries like Chile had between 7.5 per cent and 10 per cent of their population facing some serious disability.  In Chile, that was about 1.4 million people.  They had various kinds of disabilities, including hearing, seeing, mental illness and psychiatric problems.  There needed to be real interaction with the people who had to live with disabilities.  It was important to develop the richness of these people -- all people had needs -- and that needed to be understood when drafting social policy.  In the last decade, Chile had changed its approach in dealing with disabled persons.  Previously, it had provided social security and health facilities, but had left everything else to the private sector.  But now there were programmes of education and reintegration.  Social inclusion was a benefit for all.


Persons with disabilities had the same dreams, the same rights and the same needs as the other members of society, but did not always have the same possibilities and opportunities.  In order to overcome that inequity, there needed to be a commitment from everyone, both at the national and international level.  There must be a vigorous drive to promote access to education and to opportunities for training and instruction for all children and young people with disabilities, so that they would find welcome and understanding and possibilities for integration and personal growth.  It was essential for society to provide opportunities for development to each one of its members, thereby building a society that was more just and human.  Working for the disabled was working for a world that was progressive in its diversity, pluralism and integration.  It was working for a world in which human rights were fully respected.


RAMADAN A. BARG (Libya) said Libya believed that ensuring social development was the responsibility of every citizen.  One of his country’s founding principles had been governance pursued through broad cooperation and integration.  The Government promoted the principle of human investment in its social development initiatives.  Development planning was a matter entrusted to the people. Advancement in all levels of society depended on self-reliance, realization of social and economic rights and the rejection of exclusion and marginalization.


He said that Libya believed that investment in the human component was the best foundation for sustainable social development.  That way, all citizens could benefit from development initiatives.  To that end, his Government had increased funding for education, health and housing.  This had resulted in better living conditions and longer life expectancy in his country.  Access to adequate health care and clean drinking water was also seen as a priority.  He added that constant improvement in those areas had also led to a decrease in infant mortality.


Huge strides were also made in the field of education, he continued.  Overall, school enrolment had grown and education opportunities for women had also increased.  Libya had revitalized its housing and urban development schemes to combat the spread of slums and promote home ownership.  One of the main achievements of its human investment strategies had been bridging the income gap between persons living in rural areas and those living in urban settings.  In spite of unfair sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council and supported by other countries, Libya had made great progress in its efforts to ensure fair income distribution and economic stability.


RENATO MARTINO (Holy See) said the Holy See looked forward to participating in the discussions surrounding the upcoming Second World Assembly on Ageing.  Pope John Paul II, who himself celebrated his 81st birthday this past May, reminded older persons gathered at the Vatican for the Jubilee of the Elderly of the important role that their increasing numbers were playing in the world.  At the same time, it was horrible to think that just as the world began to make great advances in prolonging the lives of individuals, reverence and respect for life had been lost.  It seemed impossible to believe that the taking of life had become, in some places, an acceptable alternative.  For many older persons, changes in legislation or medical practice, or the threat of those changes, had become a new source of fear and anxiety and could indeed weaken the fundamental relationship of unconditional trust, which they had a right to place in those whose mission was to care for them.


During last year's Jubilee of the Disabled, held at the Vatican as part of the celebration of the Millennium Jubilee, Pope John Paul II spoke on three important ideas.  He reminded those with disabilities and those suffering from various illnesses that they were unique individuals who shared in equal and inviolable dignity.  His Holiness then recalled that everyone needed not only care, but first of all needed love, which became recognition, respect and integration from birth to adolescence to adulthood.  Finally, the Pope had called upon governments and civil society to work towards ensuring living conditions and opportunities so that their dignity was effectively recognized and protected.  In a society rich in scientific and technical knowledge, it was possible and necessary to do more in the various ways of civil coexistence.


SALIM IBRAHIM BIN AHMED AL-NAQBI (United Arab Emirates) said despite the commitments made by governments at a series of conferences over the last decade, the developmental situation for many people around the world was dire.  There were illiteracy, undrinkable water, and diseases, among many other challenges.  Armed conflicts and ethnic problems were ills that faced societies every single day.  The atrocities caused by terrorists had people living in worry all over the world.  Regional and national mechanisms had to be used to root out those evils and bring those responsible to justice.


States should shoulder their responsibilities and commitments to provide assistance to developing countries.  Those countries needed access to technology so they could take advantage of the opportunity to develop their societies, to educate their children and to provide vaccinations for their infants.  His Government had set up centres that provided services to families, to children and to the elderly.  Policies had been established to ensure equality between men and women.  The Government did not just focus on domestic issues -- it had entered into bilateral agreements.  It had participated in the building of schools, institutions, and places of worship in developing countries.  His Government hoped to help with still more development programmes to further assist developing countries.


KIM CHANG GUK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) said social development remained one of the major unresolved issues on the international community’s agenda.  The inequitable economic order fuelling the rampant spread of globalization had been a disaster for the vulnerable economies and societies of developing countries, increasing by one billion the number of people living in poverty.  Continued conflicts and the imposition of unilateral sanctions further impeded the sustained development of developing countries, and often resulted in encroachment upon national sovereignty.


All this made it quite clear that sustainable economic development was a prerequisite for social development, he said.  In order to achieve the objectives highlighted by the 1995 Copenhagen Summit in this new century, economic development should be considered a priority.  Moreover, to meet the Millennium Summit goal of halving poverty by 2015, it would be necessary to establish an equitable international order in which globalization was not imposed on developing countries.  Equitable trade systems should be established, international financial institutions should be reformed, and the issue of foreign debt should be resolved.


He went on to say that unilateral economic sanctions which challenged socio-economic development should be terminated, and conflicts and disputes should be resolved through dialogue and negotiations.  Foreign interference should be thoroughly excluded.  The role of the United Nations system should also be enhanced.  He added that in his country, great efforts were being undertaken to improve material and cultural life and to promote people-centred policies, including free education and free medical care.


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