15 February 2013
Economic and Social Council
SOC/4806

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

Commission for Social Development

Fifty-first Session

13th & 14th Meetings (AM & PM)


Commission for Social Development Approves Five Draft Resolutions

 

By Consensus as Fifty-first Session Concludes

 


Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth Delivers First Address to Members


Concluding its fifty-first session today, the Commission for Social Development approved five draft resolutions for adoption by the Economic and Social Council, covering a range of issues pivotal to the promotion of societies rooted in respect for the dignity of every individual, from youth and disability, to ageing and African development.


The Commission’s approval of the texts capped two weeks of negotiations, panel discussions and general debate under the priority theme “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”.  Representatives of Governments and civil society advocates from around the world described efforts to stimulate job creation, combat poverty and create inclusive societies, with a view to informing the Commission’s policy session next year, and more broadly, the global development agenda beyond 2015.


“We have just concluded eight intense and fruitful days of work,” Commission Chair Sewa Lamsal Adhikari (Nepal) declared in concluding remarks, noting that delegates had affirmed the essential role of Governments in creating an enabling environment to empower people, by providing the necessary tools and capacity-building opportunities.  Decent work was also vital to promoting empowerment, reducing poverty and enhancing social inclusion, she added.


The Commission had laid the foundation for the fifty-second session, she continued, saying the 47-member body would produce a policy outcome on the priority theme.  After recapping the work accomplished, she thanked delegates for their “flexibility and resolve”, exercised in a spirit of cooperation, which had facilitated the consensus approval of all the textsunder consideration.  She also thanked the facilitators for their “extreme patience” in guiding consultations.


Several of the texts approved today highlighted the critical importance of empowering people and of their participation in advancing social development.


A draft resolution on “Policies and programmes involving youth”, approved as orally revised, would have Economic and Social Council urge Governments, in consultation with young people, to develop holistic and integrated policies based on the Programme of Action for Youth.  The text also underlined the importance of consulting with young people in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda, encouraging States to consider including youth representatives in all relevant discussions of the Council and the General Assembly.


Following that action, Ahmad Alhendawi, sworn in today as the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, addressed the Commission for the first time, saying that, with three years to the deadline for attaining the Millennium Development Goals, it was a “golden period” for Governments, civil society, youth and others to set the development agenda for the post-2015 period, and that his mission would be to help young people participate in that framework.


Along similar lines, a draft resolution on “Mainstreaming disability in the development agenda:  towards 2015 and beyond”, submitted by the Chair and approved without a vote, would have the Council welcome the upcoming High-level Meeting on Disability and Development, to be held on 23 September, which aimed to ensure the inclusion of all persons with disabilities in all aspects of development.  It would encourage States to “seize every opportunity” to include disability as a cross-cutting issue on the global development agenda.


A draft resolution on “Second review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002”, approved as orally revised, would have the Council call on States to promote and protect the rights of older persons.  It would have them adopt measures to provide economic and social security and health care to older persons, and ensure their full participation in decision-making processes affecting their lives.


The other two drafts approved focused on, respectively, the observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family (1994), and the social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.


In its final action, the Commission took note of several documents:  the Secretary-General’s report on “Promoting the empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all”; a note by the Secretary-General’s titled “Emerging issues:  the social dimension in the global development agenda beyond 2015”; and the report of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.  It also approved the draft provisional agenda and documentation for its fifty-second session, as well as a draft report on the organization of the just-concluded session.


Immediately following the conclusion of the fifty-first session, Ms. Adhikari declared the fifty-second session open, whereupon the Commission re-elected her by acclamation.  Also re-elected were Vice-Chairs Julia Thallinger ( Austria), Larysa Belskaya ( Belarus), Amira Fahmy ( Egypt) and Carlos Enrique García González( El Salvador).


The Commission will reconvene at a time and date to be announced.


Background


The Commission for Social Development met today to take action on several draft resolutions and conclude its fifty-first session.


Action on Draft Resolutions


ELIESA S.B. TUILOMA ( Fiji), speaking for the Group of 77 and China, introduced a draft resolution titled “Preparations for and observance of the Twentieth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family” (document E/CNH.5/2013/L.3), stressing the fundamental importance of the family.


CAROLINA PODOROGHIN (Republic of Moldova) then introduced a draft on “Policies and programmes involving youth” (document E/CNH.5/2013/L.4), calling for long-term vision in formulating cross-sectoral, comprehensive national and international action to address the challenges faced by young people.


ADRIANA TELLES RIBEIRO ( Brazil), facilitator of a draft submitted by the Chair and titled “Mainstreaming disability in the development agenda: towards 2015 and beyond” (document E/CNH.5/2013/L.5), thanked those who had taken part in preparing the text.


During its afternoon session, the Commission heard the introduction of another draft before taking action on all the drafts tabled today.


Mr. TUILOMA (Fiji), speaking for the Group of 77 and China, introduced a draft titled “Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development” (document E/CNH.5/2013/L.7), saying it reflected recent developments related to the continent’s economic and social performance and highlighting several challenges that it faced.


By its terms, the Economic and Social Council would underline the importance of fulfilling official development assistance (ODA) targets, stressing the central importance of aid to developing countries.  It would underline the importance for African Governments of building productive agricultural capacity as a top priority, and urged expansion of Government financing for the sector to at least 10 per cent of the annual budget.  By further terms, the Council would urge African countries to pay close attention to inclusive, equitable and sustainable growth capable of being employment-intensive, including through employment-intensive investment programmes.


SEWA LAMSAL ADHIKARI ( Nepal), Commission Chair, said it would be necessary to waive rule 52 of the rules of procedure governing the Council’s functional commissions — the “24-hour rule” — since the text had only been circulated this morning.  “Unless the Commission decides otherwise, proposals and substantive amendments shall be discussed or put to the vote no earlier than 24 hours after copies have been circulated to all members,” she explained.


The Commission then approved the text without a vote.


The representative of the United States said her country’s position on use of the phrase “right to development” had been shared widely and repeatedly.  Discussion of the right to development must be confined to human rights and universal rights that individuals could demand from their Governments, he stressed, noting that the text inappropriately singled out the “right to development” for special attention.


The Commission then took up the text on “Preparations for and observance of the Twentieth Anniversary of the International Year of the Family” (document E/CNH.5/2013/L.3), which urged Member State to view 2014 as a target year by which concrete efforts would be taken to improve family well-being through the implementation of effective regional policies, strategies and programmes.


Ms. ADHIKARI ( Nepal), Commission Chair, said it would again be necessary to waive the “24-hour rule”, since the text had only been circulated this morning.


The representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said policies to help families must be inclusive and reflect changes in the nature of the family unit.  Emphasizing the importance of recognizing diversity in family forms, he said the European Union recognized all the draft’s references to “the family” as reflecting that diversity.  He also noted the greater risk of poverty, exclusion and discrimination faced by families headed by single parents and children.


The Commission then approved the text without a vote.


The representative of the United States welcomed several of the text’s elements, but said he would have preferred it to have made mention of the different types of family structures, and to have been specific about the challenges faced by single-parent families.


By a draft submitted by the Chair on “Mainstreaming disability in the development agenda:  towards 2015 and beyond”, the Commission welcomed the General Assembly upcoming High-level Meeting on Disability and Development, to be held on 23 September, which aimed to ensure the inclusion of all persons with disabilities in all aspects of development.  The text encouraged States to “seize every opportunity” to include disability as a cross-cutting issue on the global development agenda.


Ms. ADHIKARI ( Nepal), Commission Chair, said it would again be necessary to waive the “24-hour rule”, since the text had only been circulated this morning.


The Commission then approved the draft without a vote.


A text submitted by the Commission Vice-Chair’s text and titled “Second review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002” (document E/CNH.5/2013/L.6), would have the Economic and Social Council call upon Member States to promote and protect the rights of older persons, and to adopt measures to provide economic and social security and health care to them, while ensuring “the full participation of older persons in decision-making processes affecting their lives”.


LARYSA BELSKAYA ( Belarus), the text’s facilitator, proposed an oral correction.


Ms. ADHIKARI ( Nepal), Commission Chair, said it would again be necessary to waive the “24-hour rule”, since the text had only been circulated this morning.


The Commission then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected.


The Chair then suspended the meeting in order to facilitate the conclusion of negotiations on a titled “Policies and programmes involving youth”.


When the meeting resumed, it heard a statement by the Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth.


AHMAD ALHENDAWI, addressing the Commission for the first time, and having just met with the Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General, said would bring the voices of young people to the United Nations.  Humbled and honoured to take on that responsibility, he looked forward to working with all States to add momentum to youth development at the national, regional and international levels.  With three years to reach the Millennium Development Goals, Governments, civil society, youth and others were working to set the development agenda for the post-2015 period.  It was a golden opportunity for everyone to contribute, he said, adding that it would be his mission to help young people participate in that framework.


The Commission then returned to the draft resolution on “Policies and programmes involving youth”, by which the Economic and Social Council would urge Governments, in consultation with young people, to develop holistic and integrated policies based on the Programme of Action for Youth.  It would also underline the importance of consulting with young people in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda, and encourage States to consider including youth representatives in all relevant discussions of the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council.


SUSANA VAZ PATTO ( Portugal) thanked delegations for their contributions to improving the text while retaining its focus.  Making special mention of the youth delegates who had participated in the negotiations, she said the pursuit of consensus had entailed consideration of “numerous proposals” that had been merged into a text which she hoped would win consensus approval.  She also proposed two oral corrections to the text.


The representative of El Salvador said he understood the oral correction made to operative paragraph 5 of the text, but did not understand why paragraph 12 had been deleted.  He requested clarification.


Ms. VAZ PATTO ( Portugal) said several delegations had requested the paragraph’s deletion for the sake of consensus.  The main sponsors had wanted the paragraph to remain but a large number of delegations had requested its removal.


The representative of El Salvador said his delegation had not been taken into account during the negotiations on operative paragraph 12 and had only just learned of the change.  While saying he would join consensus, he stressed that he would have preferred the paragraph’s retention.


Ms. ADHIKARI ( Nepal), Commission Chair, said it would again be necessary to waive the “24-hour rule”, since the text had only been circulated this morning.


The observer for the Holy See expressed reservations about the text because it called for full implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth.  Though it contained several positive elements, it only called for an “invitation” to implementation.  Given the Holy See’s reservations over language pertaining to “sexual and reproductive health and family planning”, he felt the need to reiterate his reservations.  Concerning the education of youth, he reasserted that parents’ rights should be fully respected, as enshrined in international instruments.


The Commission then approved the text without a vote, as orally corrected.


The Commission then took note of the report of the Secretary-General on “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all” (document E/CN.5/2013/3), a note by the Secretariat on “Emerging Issues:  the social dimension in the global development agenda beyond 2015” (document E/CN.5/2013/11) and another note by the Secretary-General, transmitting the “Report of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development” (document E/CN.5/2013/13).


Acting by consensus, the Commission then approved the draft provisional agenda and documentation for its fifty-second session (document E/CN.5/2013/L.2), as well as the draft report on the organization of the present session (document E/CN.5/2013/L.1).


The representative of the United States called the Chair’s attention to several board meetings of United Nations agencies and bodies that had undertaken a “paper smart” approach.  That would reduce costs and the administrative burden on the Secretariat, he said.


The representative of Ireland, speaking on behalf of the European Union, echoed that statement citing the need to ensure efficiency and minimize environmental impact.


The representative of Japan also echoed the United States’ statement, saying there was a report of the Secretary-General on the issue.


The Chair said the Bureau had taken note of those comments and would bear them in mind ahead of the next session.  She then delivered remarks concluding the fifty-first session.


Election of Officials


With the fifty-first session concluded, the Chair opened the first meeting of its fifty-second session to elect its officers.


It first re-elected Ms. Adhikari ( Nepal), by acclamation, as Commission Chair.


The Commission went on to re-elect, also by acclamation, the following as Vice-Chairs:  Julia Thallinger ( Austria), Larysa Belskaya ( Belarus), Amira Fahmy ( Egypt) and Carlos Enrique García González( El Salvador).


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For information media • not an official record