DESA News Vol. 11, No. 3 March 2007

Global dialogue on development

Green light to resolutions on youth, older persons and African development

The Commission for Social Development urges greater attention to social groups in pursuit of national development goals

Adoption, by consensus, of key resolutions calling for greater attention to the needs of youth and elderly persons marked the end of the forty-fifth session of the Commission on 16 February.

The Commission recommended the adoption of a resolution on youth to the Economic and Social Council and, through the Council, adoption by the General Assembly of a supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth, stressing that young people are important actors in social development and encouraging Member-States to involve youth in all aspects of development that affect them. Specifically, consultations with youth organizations and the inclusion of youth representatives in national delegations to relevant United Nations forums should be considered. The Commission also reiterated the General Assembly’s call on UN organizations to intensify inter-agency coordination of youth policies and programmes, urging the Secretary-General to take the lead “to move discussions from an ad hoc to a more regular basis” in cooperation with governments and youth-led-NGOs.

The Commission also asked for the development of a broad set of indicators related to youth, and recognized the importance of the World Youth Report, urging the Secretary-General to regularize its production as a biennial publication beginning in 2009.

The adoption of a supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth would mean the addition of five new priority areas to the text. The Commission proposed action to set up systems to monitor the effects of globalization on youth, and to boost youth employment and skills development programmes. It proposed empowering young people to act as key contributors to an inclusive information society; called for HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment for youth, for protection of youth from involvement in armed conflict and reintegration of youth ex-combatants, and tackled intergenerational issues, such as measures to strengthen families and empower young women.

The UN Focal Point on Youth, Patience Stephens, welcomes the adoption of the supplement to the World Programme of Action for Youth. “While the process of negotiating this technical supplement was intense, Member-States’ commitment to the long hours was itself an indication of their determination to respond to the changing and complex global context in which youth live.”

Ageing: paving the way for 2008

In the wake of the first round of the Commission’s appraisal of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, and five years after its adoption by the Second World Assembly on Ageing in Madrid, the Commission endorsed a resolution by which it would address the modalities of national and regional review and appraisal, and welcomed governments’ offers to host regional review meetings this year. Myriad stakeholders, including civil society, autonomous institutions and academia, were invited to contribute to that process. The Commission has asked the Secretary-General to prepare an analysis of preliminary conclusions, capturing prevalent and emerging issues and presenting policy options.

A wide-ranging resolution on social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development was also adopted. The Commission underscored that rising poverty levels and social exclusion faced by many African countries called for the refashioning of social policies to step up social inclusion, promote economic activity and growth and, among other things, ensure job creation and decent work for all. According to the text, the Economic and Social Council would recommend that the Commission continue to give prominence to the social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.

The Commission for Social Development is devoting the first of its new two-year policy and review cycles to the promotion of full employment and decent work for all. This year, the review cycle included a keynote address by Les Kettledas, the Deputy Director General for Labour Policy and Labour Market Programmes of the South African Department of Labour, and three panel discussions to elaborate on the priority theme. The outcome was a chairperson’s summary of these discussions. In 2008, the Commission will take up the policy implications of the employment issue. See the February issue of DESA News.

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Myriad events explore violence against girls in women’s Commission

The implications of ECOSOC reform for the Commission on the Status of Women to be discussed by the President of the Council on 7 March

Ending the global pandemic of discrimination and violence against girls requires our individual and collective commitment. With this message, the Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro kicked off the fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women on 26 February in New York. The priority theme of this year’s session, which continues through 9 March, is the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child, a form of violence that is persistent and invisible in all parts of the world.

The Commission’s opening meeting served to frame the discussion. Deputy-Secretary-General regretted the fact that violence against girls remains “pervasive, perpetrated by family members, strangers and agents of the State” in all regions of the world, in the public and the private spheres, in peacetime and during armed conflict. In order to put an end to this affliction, she called for “creating an environment where such violence is not tolerated; to work for the full implementation of existing legal norms and policies; to make focused efforts to prosecute and punish perpetrators; to dedicate sufficient resources, and to fully involve men and boys in changing stereotypical attitudes and behaviour.”

Looking into the specific work of the Commission, the President of the Economic and Social Council, Dalius Cekuolis, welcomed a decision to review the implementation of policy recommendations in a two to three year period, and praised the Commission’s contribution to the work of its parent body. This much was evident from the adoption, in 1997, of the agreed conclusions on gender mainstreaming and the systematic follow-up on gender mainstreaming in the time since. The 2006 Ministerial Declaration adopted at the Council’s high-level segment, moreover, reinforced the notion that gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are pivotal to the achievement of sustainable development, and to combating hunger, poverty and disease.

According to Cekuolis, last year’s Ministerial declaration should be “the basis for the Council’s future work,” whose new mandate stresses national-level implementation. The priority theme of elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against the girl child has much to contribute to the Council’s upcoming annual ministerial review. Cekuolis is expected to address the Commission on 7 March to discuss Council reform and implications for the Commission.

An innovation in the Commission’s methods of work this year was the holding of a parallel event on 28 February to introduce the priority theme for its fifty-second session in 2008, on financing gender equality and empowerment of women. In the words of Cekuolis, this is set to be of much importance to the Council’s Development Cooperation Forum.

An emerging issue to be considered by the Commission at this session follow-up to the Secretary-General’s in-depth study at national and international levels on elimination of violence against women. A panel of experts will run an interactive dialogue in the afternoon of 1 March. The same day, a parallel event of the Commission and the Statistical Commission will discuss the development of indicators on the girl child and on violence against women in response to the General Assembly resolution on violence against women.

The Commission will also review implementation of agreed conclusions adopted on the role of men and boys in achieving gender equality, which were adopted in 2004. The review will take the form of an open exchange of views on 2 March introduced by two keynote speakers. The outcome will be a moderator’s summary.

Fifteen to twenty ministers participated in the high-level roundtable discussions on the first day, and over 2,000 NGO representatives are expected to attend the two-week session.

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose MigiroDeputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro pledges to engage the UN system in achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women at the opening of the fifty-first session of the Commission on the Status of Women, on 26 February.

Girls speak out

Hundreds of girls under the age of eighteen are finding a place at the table in this year’s session of the Commission. Whether as members of delegations or as participants in some of the dozens of parallel events, girls have arrived in New York to discuss and reflect on the elimination of discrimination and violence against the girl child. Against this backdrop, the Economic and Social Council chamber is hosting the interactive event entitled “Girls speak out” on 2 March, which aims to place girls at the centre of the campaign to promote their rights worldwide. This event will feature girls as advocates, providing them with the opportunity to voice their concerns, act as agents of change in their own lives, families, communities and societies, and raise their visibility.

The interactive meeting is intended to empower girls to engage in policy development at all levels, give to their concerns center stage at the United Nations, and provide a forum to highlight grassroots advocacy strategies for overcoming discrimination and violence. Attendees will be encouraged to bring questions and statements addressing the status of girls and grassroots strategies for combating challenges.

The Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the Division for the Advancement of Women, UNICEF, the NGO Committee on the Status of Women, and the Working Group on Girls of the NGO Committee on UNICEF will host the event. Government delegates, UN staff, NGO representatives, girls registered for the Commission, and youth from New York City have been invited.

For more information on the Commission and its various events:

Dialogue on climate change and poverty alleviation at the Committee for Development Policy

The ninth session of the Committee for Development Policy will begin on 19 March with a plenary discussion on climate change and sustainable development. The Committee will also examine guidelines for adding newly identified countries to the list of least developed countries and for countries graduating from the list, and address the global partnership for poverty alleviation. The report of the session, which concludes on 23 March, will include policy recommendations for consideration by the Economic and Social Council.

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