16 February 2007
Economic and Social Council
SOC/4730

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission for Social Development

Forty-fifth Session

14th Meeting (PM)


COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT CONCLUDES FORTY-FIFTH SESSION


WITH CONSENSUS ADOPTION OF RESOLUTIONS ON YOUTH, OLDER PERSONS


The Commission for Social Development wrapped up its forty-fifth session today, adopting, by consensus, key resolutions urging greater attention to the needs of youth and elderly persons as countries pursued national social policy and wider development goals.


Recognizing that young people formed an active part of society and were an important actor for social development, the Commission -– by the terms of its resolution on youth -- encouraged Member States to involve young people and their organizations in all aspects of youth development, particularly through consultations with youth-led organizations and inclusion of youth representatives in national delegations to relevant United Nations forums.  The Commission also asked for the development of a broad set of indicators related to youth.


By the terms of a related text -– presented during the meeting following the conclusion of informal consultations -- the Commission supplemented the World Programme of Action for Youth, addressing the effects of globalization on youth; youth employment and skills development; empowerment of young people as key contributors to an inclusive information society; HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment for youth; protection of youth from involvement in armed conflict; reintegration of youth ex-combatants; promotion of active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security; and intergenerational issues, including measures to strengthen families and empower young women.


By adopting the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond on the tenth anniversary of International Youth Year in 1995, the United Nations had strengthened its commitment to young people by directing the international community’s response to the challenges facing youth into the next millennium.  The Programme sought to address more effectively the problems of young people and to increase opportunities for their participation in society.  It also provided a policy framework and practical guidelines for national action and international support to improve the situation of youth and contained proposals for action into the twenty-first century to promote improved well-being and livelihood among young people.


By the terms of another resolution adopted today, following the first round of the Commission’s appraisal of the International Plan of Action on Ageing -- five years after its adoption by the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid -- the Commission addressed the modalities of national and regional review and appraisal and welcomed Governments’ offers to host regional review meetings this year.  All major stakeholders, including civil society, autonomous institutions and academia, were invited to contribute to that process.  It also invited stakeholders to organize panel discussions, seminars and round tables during its 2008 session, to explore the findings of the review and promote future priorities, while also asking the Secretary-General to prepare an analysis of preliminary conclusions, identifying prevalent and emerging issues and policy options.


The Commission also adopted a wide-ranging text on African development, emphasizing that rising poverty levels and social exclusion faced by many African countries required the refashioning of social polices to enhance social inclusion, promote economic activity and growth and, among other things, ensure job creation and decent work for all.


In other action today, the Commission adopted the report of its two-week session and the provisional agenda for the forty-sixth session, which, in line with the Commission’s new two-year cycle, would further develop the main themes taken up this year.


The forty-fifth session, which opened at Headquarters on 7 February, focused on employment, ageing, disability and youth.  With the United Nations estimating that some 195 million men and women had been unable to find work in 2006, and that 1.4 billion -– half the global workforce –- held jobs that did not pay enough to lift them above the $2-a-day poverty line, the Commission devoted the first in a series of two-year action-oriented implementation cycles, which would include a review and a policy segment, to “promoting full employment and decent work for all”.


Along with its consideration of the growing conditions of job insecurity and instability that workers were experiencing worldwide, the growing ranks of self-employed and the rapid growth of the service sector, the 46-member Commission discussed trends in youth employment and continued its follow-up to the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the 1995 World Summit for Social Development.


Also during the session, the Commission heard the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability, Sheikha Hissa al-Thani, and examined the findings of the forthcoming World Youth Report 2007.  Lively panel discussions addressed macroeconomic policy for full employment and decent work for all; labour mobility; youth and families; good practices for promoting full employment and decent work for all; and ageing.  Under the item “emerging issues”, members of the Commission focused on “Youth employment: impact, challenges and opportunities for social development”.


In other business, Johan Schölvink, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development, said the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs was continuing its work to promote the implementation on the Madrid Plan of Action.  To that end, alongside the relevant draft currently before the Commission focusing on international action, the Division was working on a set of national policy recommendations, tentatively titled “Guidelines for National Implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing”.  That text was still “a work in progress” and delegations were encouraged to pick up copies to take back to their capitals to discuss various elements with Government experts and civil society groups, so the language could be ready for a thorough read-through next year.


By an oral decision taken today, the Commission took note of the documents it had before it during the session: the Secretary-General’s report on promoting full employment and decent work for all; the Secretariat’s note on youth employment; the Secretary-General’s note on monitoring implementation of the standard rules on the equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities; and the note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.


Immediately following the closing of the forty-fifth session, the Commission held an organizational meeting for the next one, electing Alexei Tulbure (Republic of Moldova) as Chairman; and Jelena Pia-Comella (Andorra), Dan Zhang (China) and Ignacio Llanos (Chile) as Vice-Chairpersons.  The rest of the Bureau will be elected following consultations by the Group of African States.


Action on Drafts


By the draft resolution on youth (document E/CN.5/2007/L.5), co-sponsored by Portugal and Senegal, the Commission would encourage Member States to involve young people and youth organizations in all aspects of youth development, by consulting youth-led organizations and including youth representatives in national delegations in relevant United Nations forums.  It would also recognize the importance of the World Youth Report and urge the Secretary-General to regularize its production; reiterate the Assembly’s call on United Nations system bodies to enhance inter-agency arrangements on youth policies and programmes; and urge the Secretary-General to take a more systematic role in inter-agency consultations on youth development, in cooperation with Governments and youth-led non-governmental organizations.


Further by the draft, the Commission would invite the Regional Commissions, relevant agencies, funds and programmes and other relevant intergovernmental forums to ensure effective implementation of all the priorities areas of the World Programme of Action for Youth.  All Governments and non-governmental organizations would be invited to contribute to the United Nations Youth Trust Fund to accelerate the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth in countries with limited resources.  The Secretary-General would be requested to encourage contributions and identify goals and targets regarding the cluster “youth and the global economy”, in consultation with United Nations organizations, programmes and specialized agencies.  The Commission would also ask for the development of a broad set of indicators related to youth.


Malick Thierno Sow ( Senegal) introduced the draft resolution, which was adopted without a vote, as orally amended.


By a draft resolution on the modalities of the first review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (document E/CN.5/2007/L.4), the Commission would invite Governments and other major stakeholders to organize, during its forty-sixth session next year, panel discussions, seminars and round tables to explore the findings of the review and promote future priorities for policy action, while also asking the Secretary-General to prepare an analysis of preliminary conclusions of the first review and to identify prevalent and emerging issues, as well as related policy options.


The text also addresses the modalities of national and regional review and appraisal exercises, calling upon the Governments to promote a bottom-up participatory approach and encouraging them to include both ageing-specific policies and mainstreaming efforts in the appraisal and in their national strategies, bearing in mind the importance of mainstreaming ageing and gender into global agendas.  Interested Governments would be invited to offer support, including voluntary financial contributions, to national and regional review and appraisal activities.


Also by the text, the Commission would welcome the initiatives of those Governments that had offered to host regional review meetings this year, and invite all major stakeholders, including civil society, autonomous institutions and academia, to contribute to the process.  As a focal point on ageing, the Department of Economic and Social Affairs would be requested to strengthen its collaboration with Regional Commissions, which should include identification of regional and global priorities for further implementation.


Francis Lorenzo ( Dominican Republic), Commission Vice-Chairman, introduced the text, which was adopted without a vote, as orally revised.


The Commission then took up a text on the social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (document E/CN.5/2007/L.3/Rev.1), sponsored by Pakistan on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, which would have the Economic and Social Council welcome the progress made by African countries in fulfilling their commitments in implementing the Partnership to deepen democracy, human rights, good governance and sound economic management.  It would encourage African countries, with the participation of stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector, to intensify their efforts in that regard by developing and strengthening institutions for governance and creating an environment conducive to foreign direct investment for the development of the region.


By other terms, the Commission would have the Economic and Social Council welcome the good progress that has been achieved in implementing the African Peer Review Mechanism, in particular the completion of the Peer Review process in some countries, the progress in implementing the recommendations of those reviews in some countries and the completion of the self-assessment process, the hosting of country support missions and the launching of the national preparatory process for the Peer Review in others.  It would urge African States to join the Peer Review as a matter of priority and to strengthen it so as to ensure its efficient performance.


At the same time, the text would have the Council emphasize that the rising poverty levels and social exclusion faced by most African countries require significant changes in the development of social policy and the need for comprehensive social policies to reduce poverty and promote economic activity, growth and sustainable development; to ensure employment creation and decent work for all; to enhance social inclusion, political stability democracy and good governance; to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms; and to achieve Africa’s social and economic objectives.


The Commission would also urge continuous support of measures to address the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa, including debt relief, improved market access, support for the private sector and entrepreneurship, enhanced official development assistance, increased foreign direct investment and the transfer of technology.


The Commission adopted the text without a vote, as orally amended by the representative of Pakistan.


Following the conclusion of informal consultations, which had continued parallel to the formal meeting, Joyce Kafanabo (United Republic of Tanzania) introduced and made technical corrections to an additional draft resolution containing a supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth.


By the terms of that text, the Commission would provide a supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth, addressing such issues as managing the effects of globalization on youth; promoting youth employment and skills development in that context; making information and communication technology available to all youth; promotion of information and communication technology use by persons with disabilities; HIV/AIDS prevention; protection of youth under the age of 18 from involvement in armed conflict; reintegration of youth ex-combatants; promotion of active involvement of youth in maintaining peace and security; and intergenerational issues, which include measures to strengthen families, empower young women and develop intergenerational solidarity.


The Commission Secretary then read out a related draft decision that would have the General Assembly recall its own resolution (60/2) requesting that the Commission elaborate the five additional priority areas in the World Programme of Action, and make recommendations on a supplement to the Programme of Action at the Assembly’s sixty-second session, taking into consideration other areas of concern to youth.  It would also have the Commission adopt the supplement.


The representative of Pakistan, on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said his delegation had noted some inconsistencies in the main text and wished to place on record that the Group would vote in favour of the document agreed in negotiations.  The Group of 77 reserved the right to come back to discuss the text at a later date.


The representative of the Germany, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said her delegation also understood that the Commission would be adopting the text approved during negotiations.


Citing the lateness of the hour, the Chairman pleaded with all delegations to adopt the text and avoid a paragraph-by-paragraph read-through to make minor changes, with the understanding that the lead negotiators of each delegation had in hand copies of the text as it had been agreed.


The representative of Cuba asked for more time to review the text that had been distributed in the room.


The representatives of the Group of 77 and the European Union then agreed to go through with the adoption of the text.


The Commission then adopted both texts.


The representative of the United States said her delegation had participated in lengthy negotiations –- which had just been hastily concluded -- to find compromise.  With that in mind, the United States would dissociate itself from paragraph 2 of the text, which implied some erroneous assumptions about globalization.  The United States intended to deliver a fuller explanation of its position when the draft was taken up by the Assembly.  The hurried negotiation process called into question the legitimacy of the document and the United States reserved the right to reopen any and all elements of the text at a later date.


The representative of Venezuela welcomed the adoption of the text, but expressed concerns about the language on globalization, saying her delegation did not believe it created jobs for young people, as stated in the text.


The representative of Syria said her delegation had worked hard to reach consensus on the text, but wished to stress that her Government would deal with the subjects covered therein in accordance with Syria’s cultural, political and ethical concepts of its society, and in the context of the family, which was the nucleus of its society.


In closing remarks, Commission Chair Mehdi Danesh-Yazdi ( Iran) said that, during his time leading the Commission, he had got a true picture of the daunting challenges everyone faced in ensuring and enhancing social policy and social development in their respective countries.  All delegations should remain vigilant and steadfast in their guardianship of the vital outcomes of United Nations conferences and summits, and to work hard to ensure their full implementation.


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For information media • not an official record