8 October 2002


Press Release

Fifty-seventh General Assembly

Third Committee

10th and 11th Meetings (AM & PM)



Committee Concludes Discussion of Social

Development Questions, Will Take Up Women’s Issues

As the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) concluded its consideration of social development issues this afternoon, many speakers from developing countries stressed the hope that the outcomes of the United Nations summits on sustainable development, financing for development and ageing would serve as blueprints for cooperative implementation of the international social agenda and energize global efforts to eradicate poverty, provide employment and enhance social integration.

Yet, for many decades, meaningful development had eluded many African countries, the representative of Ghana said.  As poverty deepened, the desired aspirations for economic growth to support a just social system in which essential social services would be available for all seemed to have remained merely an objective.  Implementation of all recent international agreements would go a long way to relieve economic strains and constraints on developing countries, she said.

Peace and security were also prerequisites for social development, said the representative of Pakistan.  Conflicts slowed advancement, and wars rolled back development.  Countries at war, despite their economic might, remained trapped at the lowest rung of the development ladder.  South Asia was a region where      one-fifth of humanity was suffering from backwardness and underdevelopment.  This vicious circle of misery could only be brought to an end by conflict resolution through a process of sustained dialogue and engagement.

The representative of Tunisia said peace had another name -- development.  Peace and development complemented each other, and the responsibility of development was shared between the States individually and the international community as a whole.  No matter how excellent a national development strategy was, it could not be implemented successfully without international cooperation.  Tunisia believed firmly in international cooperation, based on tolerance and respect.

For many developing countries, the breakdown in solidarity, tolerance and respect for tradition was most evident in the alarming erosion of the family, according to the representative of Uganda.  The extended family’s role as the backbone of society, supporting older persons, was deteriorating.  In many

developing countries, HIV/AIDS, conflict and migration exacerbated the breakdown of society, leaving already vulnerable older persons -- particularly in sub-Saharan Africa -- to care for dying and orphaned grandchildren.  Attitudes, policies and practices must change to harness the enormous potential of ageing persons.

The representative of Kazakhstan supported all United Nations efforts as well as those of the wider international community to assist and strengthen cooperation with developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries, and countries with economies in transition, in social and economic development efforts.  Achievement of social development for all required more than the fulfilment of development goals.  Every one should work together to promote increased participation, greater social justice and improved equity in societies.

Also speaking this morning and afternoon were the representatives of Myanmar, Nigeria, Turkey, Ethiopia, Haiti, Syria, Madagascar, Benin, Thailand, Dominican Republic, San Marino, Malawi, Chile, Libya, Belarus, Suriname, Morocco, Israel, Sri Lanka, Cameroon, Congo, Indonesia, Jordan and Kuwait.

The observer representative of the Organization of the Islamic Conference also addressed the Committee.

The Committee will reconvene on 9 October at 10 a.m. to begin its consideration of matters related to the advancement of women.


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) met this morning to continue its consideration of social development issues, including questions related to the world social situation, youth, ageing, the family and disabled persons.

For additional background, see Press Releases GA/SHC/3692 of 3 October and GA/SHC/3693 of 4 October.


DENZIL ABEL (Myanmar) said the Second World Assembly on Ageing had been able to focus particular attention on ageing in developing countries and had identified challenges and opportunities for ageing society in the twenty-first century.  The Madrid International Plan of Action, unlike its predecessor, was therefore a landmark document.  Issues of population ageing and older persons had now been placed firmly on the development agenda. 

The Asia and Pacific region had 60 per cent of the total world population and a large portion of its ageing population.  Therefore, even though families were the primary care providers for older persons, additional assistance was usually a State requirement.  In Myanmar, people had high regard for older people.  This was a natural outcome of religious teachings, cultural traditions and the social code of conduct.  Almost every older person received care from the extended family in Myanmar, he said.  Therefore, the care of older persons did not constitute a serious problem in Myanmar. 

Upon retirement from service, older persons were entitled to gratuity and pension in Myanmar.  However, because of their skills and expertise, older persons were involved in civil society, voluntary organizations and trade and commerce.  They were therefore able to lead an active life in society.  Myanmar’s national development plans recognized the need for mainstreaming the issue of ageing into the development agenda, he concluded.

Georges O.O ALABI (Nigeria) said his country recognized the significance of education in promoting social development and in strengthening capacity to eradicate poverty and create a healthy society.  In that regard, the Universal Basic Education Programme (UBE) was being implemented nationwide by the current democratic Government.  That programme provided free and compulsory education for all children from the age of five.  It also had a strong effect on children at the national, state and local levels as the basis for social development.

On the family, he said that in line with the Secretary-General's call to establish social security systems with access to basic services, the Government had, established the National Insurance Health Scheme, which would be shortly followed by a comprehensive social security plan for families. Nigeria was also preparing activities at national, regional and international levels to participate in the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004.

Two years after the Millennium Summit, it was regrettable that not much progress had been made in the area of poverty alleviation, he said.  Globalization had also added to difficulties facing developing countries struggling to achieve the Millennium Development goals.  Indeed, despite the identification of priorities and the determination to reach them, the resources needed for financing poverty reduction schemes remained grossly inadequate, thereby stalling development.  That ran contrary to the goals of the Millennium Declaration, as well as the Monterrey Consensus.  There was hope, however, that the creation of an Office of the High Representative of the Least Developed Countries and Land-locked Developing Countries would lead to the creation of more efficient strategies to help implement poverty eradication commitments.

BIRCE ARSLANDOGAN, Youth Representative of Turkey, said that coming from a country where almost half of the population was under 18 years old, she believed society must give more responsibilities to young people.  What was understood by the term “youth”?  The definition of Article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, defined it as “every human being below the age of eighteen years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”.  She stressed that the late years of a child were also his or her first steps to youth.  A young person was a human being who was involved in the society, who read, listened to others, spoke, thought and more importantly, someone who reacted. 

While devising social development strategies at the global level, one must bear in mind that every nation had its own cultural, social and ethical values.  Respect and tolerance had to be ensured for cultural and economic diversities among nations.  Today, tolerance was needed more than ever, she said.  Every nation must work with international bodies in order to reach every human being in the world.  As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other relevant documents, all people were entitled to a social and international order in which their rights and freedoms could be fully realized.  The youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow were ready to shoulder their responsibility for a more peaceful, democratic, tolerant and prosperous world.  All they needed was to be trusted and to be given the chance.

ETSEGENET MESKEL (Ethiopia) said her country was convinced that social development initiatives should be implemented, bearing in mind guidelines of the major international conferences and meetings of the past decade -- the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development, the Millennium Summit and the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, among others.  Ethiopia believed that poverty was one of the main challenges of the day, and identifying and addressing the root causes of poverty was fundamental to the attainment of social development goals.

With that in mind, she said her Government accorded high priority to issues such as food security, primary education, health care services and rural as well as urban development and employment.  Development strategies focused on rural areas, small farmers and private sector businesses.  Health strategies focused on preventive measures, including ensuring access to clean water.  Yet, despite concerted efforts, many initiatives were undermined by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, tuberculosis and malaria.  To combat those scourges and adequately provide social services, Ethiopia advocated good governance, promotion of human rights and the elimination of all forms of discrimination.  To make that a reality, Ethiopia also encouraged partnership with civil society.

NADÈGE M. GORDON (Haiti) said the main themes of the World Summit for Social Development -- the elimination of poverty and the improvement of social integration -- were high priorities for the Haitian Government.  However, given the socio-economic situation in Haiti, the Government was finding it increasingly difficult to implement development strategies and protect the most vulnerable.  Haiti was, however, continuing its public investment programmes that gave priority to education, health, justice and the environment.  The objective remained to protect and assist the most vulnerable elements of society.

In this context, the Haitian Government had undertaken several initiatives in the field of education.  Literacy centres had been established as well as public institutions to make known the importance of literacy.  Such programmes had also been developed to improve the lives of vulnerable groups in their own environment.  The Government was also invested in the battle against HIV/AIDS through education and awareness raising, particularly in schools.  Her Government was also attempting to implement budgetary reform to improve public administration, ensure the reduction in fiscal fraud and increase transparency.

The Haitian Government believed that the goals of Copenhagen needed to be achieved, but that this was only possible through international cooperation.  She therefore stressed the need for international official development assistance.  The fight against poverty was universal, and the developed countries had a duty to come to the help of poorer countries since poverty was an insult to humankind.

RANIA AL HAJ ALI {Syria} said poverty eradication was one of the main factors involved in achieving social development.  Unfortunately, some reports of the United Nations on social development and the implementation of the Millennium Development goals revealed that only marginal progress had been achieved towards those ends.  This was mainly due to the widening economic and development gap between developed and developing countries.  That gap was widening mainly due to the phenomenon of globalization, which had constantly marginalized the poor.  The international community should remain aware of the need to ensure that developing countries were able to reach and maintain the important sustainable development commitments made during the past decade.

Indeed, Syria hoped the results of the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, the Second World Assembly on Ageing and the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development would help achieve the goals that had thus far gone unfulfilled.  It also hoped that international cooperation would lead to furtherance of those important goals and commitments.  For its part, Syria's Government had enhanced its policies and social and economic programmes to protect the most vulnerable sectors of society, providing, among other things, free primary education and health care.  The Government had also reviewed wage scales in order to enhance standards of living for all. 

She said the Government had also created an action plan for the elderly through 2012, which was in line with the outcome eof the Second World Assembly on Ageing.  The Government had collaborated with non-governmental organizations to implement many development programmes.  With all that in mind one could not talk about social development and ignore the deplorable situation in the Palestinian occupied territories.  The continued Israeli occupation of those territories practically ensured that social development could not be achieved.  The deterioration of the humanitarian situation in those territories had reached unimaginable proportions.  The international community must work rapidly to put an end to the human disaster that was occurring there.

HÉLÉNA RAJAONARIVELO (Madagascar) said that during the Millennium Summit, Governments had recognized the need for a new approach to eradicate poverty and promote human dignity.  There was an international awareness today that the greatest challenge was to ensure the positive effects of globalization.  Measures to speed up social development needed to be strengthened and more integrated in order to provide employment opportunities and social cohesion.  Her delegation therefore supported the draft resolution to be introduced by Senegal on the youth and employment opportunities.

In Madagascar, the rights of people with disabilities were also a high priority.  Equality and justice were values cherished in Madagascar, and gender issues were now mainstreamed in all development strategies and programmes.  Madagascar welcomed the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) report on the United Nations Decade for Literacy -- Education for All.  The Government stressed the importance of education and had applied the principle of free education at the primary level and had also provided pedagogical tools to schools.  Concerning older persons, she said the Government was undertaking programmes based on the fact that every generation had something to offer society.  Ageing issues played a significant part of Madagascar’s’ anti-poverty strategy. 

She stressed that Madagascar was made up of rural communities, and it was particularly important to the Government to protect vulnerable rural communities.  It had therefore started electrification programmes to provide electricity to several more rural areas.  It was a daunting task and required bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the private sector, international organizations and the international community. 

NICOLE ELISHA (Benin), speaking on behalf of Western African States, said the eradication of poverty was the focal point of the concerns of Governments in the region, where 13 of the 16 representative States were considered "least developed" nations.  Broad efforts were therefore underway to ensure the elimination of poverty and hunger, promote gender equality, combat HIV/AIDS and other diseases and promote the protection of natural resources -- in line with the outcomes of the major international conferences of the past decade.  The African leaders had also established the need for the continent to take charge of its own destiny, as witnessed through the evolution of the African Union and the creation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Still, for Africa, if there had been any development progress, it had been infuriatingly slow in some portions of the continent and nearly invisible in others, she said.  One of the main hindrances to development had been protracted conflicts in many regions.  It was therefore necessary for the wider international community to work sincerely to ensure peace in Africa so that international development goals could be achieved.  He went on to say that aid to development must not be linked to conditions, it must be a genuine reflection of serious commitment to help those in need and should include debt cancellation and, particularly, access to markets.  Achieving those ends together would be one way to quiet the weapons and allow development to begin.  Another hindrance to development was the fluctuating condition of the farming sectors. 

Turning to social groups, she noted that Benin continued to be aware of the situation of youth and elderly persons.  But as the social situation continued to deteriorate in the region, protecting and promoting the rights of those vulnerable populations was becoming increasingly difficult.  It was therefore perhaps necessary to focus on policies to enhance social services for family structures and ensure that families were made to withstand all vicissitudes.  Also Benin was determined to enhance the situation of the elderly and youth and was actively involved in preparations to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004.

NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said social development was one of the questions central to the United Nations.  Peace had another name --development.  Peace and development complemented each other, as both required social well-being and prosperity.  It was in this spirit that the Millennium Declaration had promised important social objectives that must be translated into action.  The responsibility of development was shared between the State individually and the international community as a whole.  No matter how excellent a national development strategy was, it would never be implemented successfully without international cooperation.  Tunisia firmly believed in international cooperation, based on tolerance and respect. 

Concerning the economic and social sector, he informed the Committee that up to 50 per cent of the budget in Tunisia had been invested in the social sector.  The situation of older persons was a high priority for Tunisia's Government.  The Madrid framework of the Second World Assembly on Ageing had provided an excellent document to guide national policies for the protection of older persons in society. 

In Tunisia, the Government had implemented a strategy following the Madrid framework, which included social coverage; ongoing financial assistance; financial assistance for families caring for older persons; and the creation of mobile medical teams providing health care for older people.  In general, the improvement of medical care for older persons was necessary, and the Government was working towards the provision of free medical care for older persons in need.  The strategy for older persons had also provided for the strengthening of non-governmental organizations in this field. 

APIRATH VIENRAVI (Thailand) said the multi-dimensionality of social development required a coherent and integrated approach among all members of the international community to achieve sustainable development for all.  That would also require the implementation and follow-up of the outcomes of the major international conferences and summits of the last decade -- from Copenhagen to Johannesburg.  It would also require the continuous strengthening and enhancement of the major relevant bodies of the United Nations, namely the Commission on Social Development.  Such undertakings should be geared towards the optimal use of limited resources

He said the economic crisis and its aftermath had taught Thailand that quantity must be balanced by quality.  To achieve a "quality society" for all, people must be free not only from fear but also from want.  To that end, the Thai Government had placed human development and poverty eradication at the forefront of the national agenda.  Focus was on high-level political leadership and significant inter-agency coordination.  The Government had initiated policies to strengthen society at the grass-roots level.  A number of parallel policy reforms, in tandem with anti-corruption efforts, had also been initiated to improve efficiency.  Thailand also promoted opportunities for gainful employment and had enhanced social welfare policies.

Thailand was aiming to build a "wisdom society" that was dynamic and knowledge-based, he said.  Indeed, national literacy initiatives and education reform were moving full-speed ahead.  Thailand's efforts were also focused on building strong families -- promoting change of attitudes at grass-roots levels and ensuring respect for the rights of individuals.  Special care must therefore be given to all vulnerable segments of society, whether they be children, elderly persons or persons with disabilities.

MANUEL E. FÉLIX (Dominican Republic) said his country attached great importance to social development in all its dimensions.  The aim was sustainable development, with the elimination of injustices.  Following the Johannesburg Summit, the Government had implemented some policy recommendation to rid the country of the ills facing many developing countries.  The Government had defined itself as a Government with a “human face” and had undertaken several important initiatives in the social sphere. 

Along with many other developing countries, the Dominican Republic had a young population.  It was important for the Government to involve youth in national strategies for poverty eradication and employment opportunities.  Concerning demographic population questions, he stressed the importance of the plan of action for older persons that had been developed in Madrid during the Second World Assembly on Ageing.  It was important to protect and ensure the overall well-being of the world’s older population. 

In the Dominican Republic, an innovative system of social security had been implemented.  The system was based on flexibility, participation, transparency, financial balance and justice.  He added that without the implementation of a clear policy on the promotion of women, no country could be said to be a civilized country.  The Government had initiated several policies and programmes of action on the empowerment of women.  The promotion of women and gender-equality played a significant part of poverty eradication strategies.  He assured the Committee that action had also been taken by the Government to protect and care for people with disabilities.  The Government would implement further recommended policies to ensure the protection of all citizens.

ELENA MOLARONI (San Marino) said if she had been born in another time, she would now have reached a ripe old age and would have been held in high regard by her family and community.  Unfortunately, she had been born in the twentieth century in Europe, where older people enjoyed less and less consideration, even though they made up an ever-increasing segment of society.  The number of older persons was expected to increase significantly over the next 10 years.  San Marino was dedicated to promoting and supporting the outcome of the Second World Assembly on Ageing.  The Madrid Action Plan had signalled a major change in international policies on ageing in that it recognized older persons not as a problem but as a source of inspiration, information and cultural significance for the societies in which they lived.

San Marino was particularly concerned about the discriminatory aspects of ageing, she said.  It also welcomed increased attention to gender aspects of ageing.  It was necessary to ensure that women were allowed to achieve a dignified and productive old age.  On the family, she said that families played a crucial role in the upbringing of children and the education process.  A global approach with the family at the centre of international concerns was more necessary than ever.  That was particularly true for developing countries to help them eradicate poverty, the primary hindrance to implementing the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

ISAAC LAMBA (Malawi) said his Government continued to implement deliberate policies aimed at creating a good balance between macroeconomic measures and social questions so as to reduce the growing inequalities and the erosion of gains made in the social sector.  The Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, whose overall goal was to achieve sustainable poverty reduction through the empowerment of the poor, had identified priority sectors including agriculture, health, education, internal security, roads, gender and labour. 

His Government was particularly committed to the improvement of the plight of persons with disabilities.  The Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities remained the guide for the country’s implementation of programmes and projects.  He welcomed the elaboration of a Convention to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities.  Such a Convention would lead to the elimination of discrimination and stigmas associated with different kinds of disabilities. 

Malawi had put up institutional structures to respond to the needs and concerns of persons with disabilities.  A ministry responsible for the state of persons with disabilities had been established to coordinate initiatives in this area.  In addition, there was a cabinet-level Committee on Gender, Youth and Persons with Disabilities that actively brought to the public attention issues of concern to people with disabilities.  Currently, a policy was being elaborated on disability.  Consultations were also underway to review laws that discriminated against persons with disabilities in order to enhance their various rights, including the right to employment and appropriate remuneration and protection under the national laws. 

MAVIS KUSORGBOR (Ghana) said that for many decades, meaningful development had continued to elude Ghana and many other African countries.  The much-desired aspiration for economic growth to support a fulfilling and just social system in which essential social services would be available for all seemed to perpetually remain an objective rather than an end.  Still, all was not lost, as African countries had continually expressed their determination to achieve sustainable development.  The most recent manifestation of that determination had been the creation of the NEPAD Initiative, which had received genuine support from the international community.

She said poverty eradication was imperative to any development efforts, and the Government of Ghana was elaborating strategies to combat poverty and support growth.  Mechanisms had been put in place to monitor the societal impacts of those policies.  Ghana was also aware that education for all was important to avert the worsening of its plight in the future.  Its free and compulsory education programme, introduced in 1996, was currently under review and would be incorporated into longer-term projections for the education sector.  Ghana's Poverty Reduction Strategy focused on fundamental issues, including wide inequalities in access, employment gaps and raising the quality of the education system.  It also aimed to coordinate donor support for educational programmes and projects.

She said Ghana had placed renewed emphasis on providing basic education -- including enhancing child development programmes and after-school programmes.  Specific emphasis would be placed on girls and children in hard-to-reach rural areas.  Youth education would also be linked to the labour market and skills enhancement programmes.  On the issue of ageing, she urged the international community to live up to the commitments made in Madrid last April.  Implementation of all recent international agreements would go a long way to relieve economic strains and constraints on developing countries.

J. GABRIEL VALDÉS (Chile) said that equality of rights and opportunities for persons with disabilities had become one of the priorities of the Government of Chile.  The Government’s approach to persons with disabilities had not been limited to the implementation of public policies but included efforts to bring about genuine integration, where the special needs of each person were taken into account, and each person was guaranteed the same opportunities for participation.  During the past decade, Chile had changed its approach from one of a welfare State providing care for disabled persons to that of a State allocating resources directly to civil society organizations, thereby promoting social integration and participation in employment and education.

Initiatives had also been taken in Chile to promote and bring about cultural change by creating opportunities for effective social participation and by encouraging inclusive attitudes within the population, he said.  In all of Chile’s efforts, civil society had played a very important role, in most cases as promoters and executing agencies for these projects.  Organizations of and for persons with disabilities reached 500 and were present in nearly all communities in Chile.

Persons with disabilities had the same dreams, rights and needs as others, but did not always have the same possibilities and opportunities, he said.  Overcoming this inequality, to the extent possible, must be a commitment on the part of everyone, both at the national and the international level.  Chile therefore attached great importance to the elaboration of a convention on the protection of the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.  In his view, the convention must cover the political, economic, social and cultural dimensions, with emphasis placed on access, inclusion and financing. 

MADINA JARBUSSYNOVA (Kazakhstan) said the Copenhagen Summit and subsequent twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly were milestones in the international mission to map out plans to achieve social development for all.  The core targets in the modern social agenda were the eradication of poverty, the promotion of full and productive employment and the enhancement of social integration.  With that in mind, Kazakhstan supported and welcomed all efforts of the United Nations system and wider international and donor communities working to assist and strengthen cooperation with developing countries, especially Least Developed Countries, and countries with economies in transition.

She was confident that programmes strengthening the capacities of those States to address the obstacles hindering their participation in an increasingly globalized economy, providing technical and financial assistance and enhancing aid effectiveness, were extremely effective.  Her delegation agreed that achievement of social development for all required more than the fulfilment of development goals.  All should work together to promote increased participation, greater social justice and improved equity in societies.

She said the Government of Kazakhstan had successfully determined its social development priorities, which were focused on social protection of the population, among other things.  The leadership had decided to reform social protection systems to reduce the vulnerability of socially unprotected people and strengthen the wealth of the family, which played a key role in social development.  The Government had also carried out pension reform, and the Poverty Eradication Plan through 2005 was underway.

CATHERINE OTITI (Uganda) said the status of older persons the world over was continuously changing in a negative direction.  The continuum was alarming and the breakdown in identity and solidarity with older persons and between generations was the greatest catalyst to this disturbing trend.  Uganda recognized the breakdown in respect for older persons and cultural values and the increased diversity of society.  Although the extended family had for ages been the backbone of society and was charged with the role of supporting older persons, there was a growing need for State intervention through social welfare and public health systems to supplement family and community support.

Uganda was fully committed to ageing issues and fully supported the need to develop national policies and strategies to cater for older persons’ needs, she said.  Best practices included good governance, good financial management, legal protection and consultation with stakeholders. 

The Constitution of Uganda charged the State with taking affirmative action in favour of groups marginalized on the basis of age, disability or any other reasons created by history, tradition or custom, she said.  The Parliament was charged with enacting laws necessary to enable the implementation of policies and programmes aimed at redressing social, economic, educational and other imbalances in society. 

She stressed that HIV/AIDS and poverty had negatively affected the livelihood of older persons and had exacerbated the breakdown in society.  Older persons in sub-Saharan African in particular had to care for dying and orphaned grandchildren.  The number of older persons had also increased rapidly in rural areas in particular, due to the migration of younger generations to urban areas.  The wisdom of ages was a resource that must be guarded jealously by the youth who stood only to gain from it.  Attitudes, policies and practices must change for the better if the enormous potential of ageing was to be realized and harnessed. 

AHMED YAGOB (Libya) said all agreed that achieving social development for all was a priority for the international community, adding that poverty must be eradicated in order to maintain free and prosperous societies.  But rapid globalization and increasing gaps between and among countries had made reaching that noble objective difficult.  The international community must create an international environment free from the threat or the use of force.  It also required international cooperation to ensure that the exercise of international commitments and agreements was based on equity and not the on size of certain States or unilateral action.

The first requirement for social development was to eradicate poverty, he said.  It was crucial to continue providing assistance to developing countries, particularly Least Developed Countries.  More assistance was also needed for the countries of Africa -- they must be helped to participate in the international economy, education must be enhanced, and social systems must be enhanced.  For its part, Libya had enhanced its infrastructure, health care systems and education programmes.  It had also undertaken many initiatives to provide job opportunities for all.  It aimed to provide a comprehensive social structure that would protect persons with disabilities and the elderly. 

He said there must be particular international efforts to ensure the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action.  Also, the legitimate family was the primary nucleus of society and to that end, Libya was preparing actively to participate in the upcoming celebration of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004.  He added that all must work to establish a comprehensive international legal instrument to ensure protection and promotion of the rights of the aged.

ALEG IVANOU (Belarus) said the World Summit for Sustainable Development was an important tool for the promotion of social development.  Belarus welcomed the results of the Johannesburg Summit and the new approaches that had been developed there.  Belarus had entered into this century with a socially oriented economy, and he stressed that the well-being of people must be the cornerstone of a sustainable economy.  Through the national policy for social development and  five-year plans, the Government had been able to provide social protection for its citizens.

He welcomed the elaboration of a convention on the rights and dignity for people with disability.  In Belarus, prevention, rehabilitation and treatment of people with disabilities were priorities.  The Government was in the process of implementing strategies that aimed to reduce the causes of disabilities.  One major problem remaining was the problem of social adaptation for people with disabilities.  The Government was doing all it could to facilitate the lives of persons with disabilities, however it was a very costly exercise.  International and technical assistance could play an important role in this context. 

The State family policy was based on human values of gender equality and justice, he said.  The basic area of work for the Government was the creation of a favourable socio-economic environment for the family.  It had become a tradition in Belarus to celebrate the International Day for the Family.  In fact, in Belarus, an entire week was dedicated to the family, with the Government providing several cultural, social and educational activities for families.  Belarus, too, was dealing with an ageing population.  In fact, 26 per cent of the population was retired, and efforts were being made to improve the pension system. 

ISHTIAQ HUSSAIN ANDRABI (Pakistan) said social development was one of the four cardinal principles on which the Charter was built –- the other three being peace, human rights and international justice.  Social development was, therefore, intertwined with these elements and to a large extent dependent on an enabling international environment supportive of these high ideals.  Social development could not be achieved in segregation -- it could not be compartmentalized.  Like peace, human rights and justice, social development had to be non-selective, indivisible and all-inclusive.  It must be equitable, across the board and reach all strata of the society. 

Peace and security was another prerequisite for social development, he said.  Conflicts slowed down advancement, and wars rolled back development.  Countries at war, despite their economic might, remained trapped at the lowest rung of the ladder.  Regions marred with conflicts, despite their enormous potential, remained

far behind on the road to development.  South Asia was a region where one-fifth of humanity was suffering from backwardness and underdevelopment.  This vicious circle of misery could only be brought to an end by conflict resolution through a process of sustained dialogue and engagement. 

Developed and developing countries must sit together to reinforce universal values and common goals -- democracy, shared technology, employment and protection of the environment.  Sustained social development required equality, social justice, participation and good governance -- an environment necessary for the effective promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  Social development and human rights went in tandem. 

IRMA LOEMBAN TOBING-KLEIN (Suriname) said younger and older persons, children, women, persons with different abilities, persons with disabilities, and indigenous persons all had the right to live a life in dignity, to live in peace and to live in harmony with themselves and the environment.  People had received the promises from Governments, adopted in the so many conferences, from Doha to Monterrey, in Madrid and Johannesburg, and in the Millennium Summit, that they would experience fundamental changes in their daily lives.  Promises made must be followed by promises kept.  This was the responsibility of the international community, the international financial institutions and the developed world.  Developed countries with the possibility to provide developing countries with at least 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic products must do so.

Her Government’s social development policy was based mainly on the goal of improving the country’s social well-being.  Social development lay at the core of the overall sustainable development of a country and was intrinsically linked to economic development.  Improving the social well-being of each citizen was therefore not only the responsibility of the Government, but of all relevant actors in society, including labour unions, the private sector, civil society and non-governmental organizations. 

To guarantee the sustainable competitiveness of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in the world economy, upgrading human resources and the basic knowledge of youth were most essential.  Besides focusing on education and educating youth alone, the Caribbean Human Resource Strategy also took into consideration health care, the fight against drugs and the increasing unemployment rates, especially among women and young people. 

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said despite efforts made by Governments, institutions and civil society, internationally agreed commitments to eradicate poverty remained beyond the grasp of many nations.  Indeed, poverty and the plight of the increasing numbers of the world's disenfranchised populations were perhaps the major hindrances to sustained social development.  Those concerns were exacerbated by, among other things, lack of access to the markets of developed countries, the negative effects of globalization and decreases in Official Development Assistance (ODA).  All those obstacles to development were magnified in Africa, and in other developing and least developed countries.

Still, Morocco would strive to ensure that the social well-being of its people received comprehensive attention, he said.  The country’s social development strategy favoured a culture of solidarity and promoted vast social action programmes that fought against social exclusion.  The Government had also laid the groundwork for civil society to actively participate in social development reforms.  The Government had been earmarking increased resources to ensure potable water, enhance social housing programmes and provide rural electrification and sanitation.  Another focus had been the enhancement of employment opportunities for young people and professionals seeking to set up small business.  Morocco was also actively preparing for the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004.

Morocco had undertaken many efforts to ensure the promotion and protection of the rights of its ageing population, he said.  The Government aimed to promote social integration and solidarity of older persons.  Likewise, the Government was trying to heighten society’s awareness of the situation of persons with disabilities.  Morocco had also focused efforts to reform its literacy and education programmes toward long-term benefits for children, through 2008.  It was the duty of the international community to ensure the safety and well-being of the Palestinian people and to ensure that Israel adhered to all international instruments and humanitarian norms.

GARY KOREN (Israel) said the phenomenon of an ageing world population was an incontrovertible fact.  This was obviously increasing the support burden on primary caregivers and raised concerns as to how one must address the needs of older persons.  There were two major challenges.  One challenge was how to deal with the exceptional levels of ageing that were becoming common in the developed world.  The other challenge was how the developing world could find a way to face those challenges that was suited to its own cultural, economic and social circumstances. 

This was an era when global wealth -- and consequently, social and economic development -- was no longer determined by what was in the ground but by what was in minds of men.  In this new era, responsibility lay with those nations who possessed specialized expertise and who must be willing to cooperate with others on social development.  Israel was undertaking the struggle for social development while concurrently carrying the burden of security and absorption of new immigrants.  In addition, it was facing the same predicaments shared by other countries -- rising rates of unemployment, increasing social gaps, a changing labour market, and the effects of globalization.  In spite of those combined difficulties, Israel had established a welfare State capable of serving an ever-expanding percentage of its population. 

One could not ignore the harsh price that some nations were paying for changes in the global economy, particularly as certain sectors like the elderly were forced out of long-held jobs.  This was especially severe in agricultural societies.  In an effort to reverse this trend, Israel had initiated some special programmes, which helped to preserve employment and bolstered services for older persons, both in the family and in the community. 

MAHISHINI COLONNE (Sri Lanka) said that since the establishment of the United Nations, the questions of poverty, hunger, diseases, ignorance and injustice had been addressed, having been with the international community since the United Nations inception.  Answers to those questions had been sought; political declarations had been made; and plans of action had been drawn up.  However, the developing world, despite its firm commitment to the eradication of poverty, hunger and disease, still seemed to be burdened with those problems, mainly due to the lack of resources that hindered implementation. 

Successive Governments in Sri Lanka had reflected a firm conviction that social development, social integration and social justice were concepts that went beyond ensuring the physical well-being of the individual, she said.  Social development required simultaneous strengthening of democratic and legal frameworks where people participated in the formulation and implementation of policy.  Respect for the rule of law, access to justice, elimination of discrimination and transparent and accountable government at the national level were necessities.

The formulation of policy had always been far easier than the implementation of policy, she stated.  The achievement of the Millennium Summit goals of poverty eradication and economic and social development required shared responsibilities on the part of all the countries of the world and worldwide cooperation.  In today’s world of rapid globalization, the development, stability and contentment of all were, more than ever, in the self-interest of everyone -- developed and developing countries alike. 

MAHOUVE SAME (Cameroon) said the Copenhagen Declaration clearly showed the determination of the international community to ensure that social development became a world Government priority.  The recent international summits and meetings on sustainable development, financing for development and ageing had also reaffirmed the notion that people needed to be at the centre of development efforts.  With that in mind, her delegation supported the creation of a Global Solidarity Fund, through which the real social and development concerns of the developing world could be adequately addressed.

For its part, Cameroon's social development strategy had been marked by broad efforts to ensure peace and security, and to promote the quest to ensure competitiveness of its society.  Still, the economic and financial situation of the country remained vulnerable, as poverty affected over half the population.  To that end it was essential for all Members of the international community to adhere to the commitments made at the major global conferences.  On matters related to persons with disabilities, she added, Cameroon was gratified by the creation of a working group on the elaboration of an international convention on the promotion and protection of the rights of disabled persons.

RENÉ NSEMI (Congo) said the Copenhagen Summit had been convened to address serious social problems, particularly in developing countries.  Today, seven years after the Summit, and under the pressure of 11 September, the importance of social development was clearer than ever.  It was clear that in order to tackle terrorism, poverty and exclusion must be eradicated.  However, poverty remained, along with the ills of foreign debts and the decreases in international cooperation and official development assistance.  He stressed that the necessary resources must be mobilized for social development.

The Government of the Congo had undertaken several initiatives as part of its poverty-reduction strategy in the field of education and health care, as well as within the community.  The community work included projects to do with the family, older persons, youth and persons with disabilities.  The Congo would be participating in an African Union meeting where it was expected that a Charter on the Family would be drafted.  The Congo also welcomed the current work of the ad hoc committee on the elaboration of a comprehensive convention on the protection and promotion of the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

As for the challenges faced by an ageing population, he stressed the particular difficulties confronting elderly people in developing countries.  He stressed that the Congo, like many of its neighbours, held the firm conviction that social development could be achieved only through international cooperation and support.

ANDALUSI ARISTAPUTRI (Indonesia) said that while the numbers of people living in extreme poverty were well known, there were hundreds of millions of people who, while not living in abject poverty, were still struggling for development and faced with insecurity.  That was evident from the rising poverty rates during the current global economic slowdown.  It was therefore necessary to ensure the participation of all people in development and development strategies.  The international community should spare no effort to ensure equitable distribution of the benefits of development.

She said that if developed countries continued to fall short of their ODA obligations, small countries would still have trouble meeting the goals that had been prescribed in the Millennium Declaration.  The recent United Nations conferences, namely the Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development and the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development, had both offered a ray of hope that the industrialized world would recommit itself to meeting international development obligations that had been agreed upon in years past.  The international community must continue to make such progress for the sake of those living in extreme poverty and those at risk of slipping back into poverty due to economic fluctuations, natural disasters and other forces beyond their control.  The essence of development was the empowerment of people.

MU’TAZ HYASSAT (Jordan) said the Government of Jordan attached the highest importance to social development in all sectors of society.  The Government had, in this context, decided to focus on the pivotal role of the family unit.  Several laws had been created for the specific protection of families in Jordan.  There was also a National Council on the Family that aimed at dealing with all family-related problems.  It elaborated principles and policies to improve the situation of families, particularly that of women and children.  The Government was also about to carry out studies on violence in the family and violence in society. 

Other projects undertaken by the Government in the field of education focussed particularly on eliminating illiteracy, he said.  There were also several youth projects that involved both training and practical work for eventual employment.  Projects in the sports, culture and tourism fields had also proved important in the creation of a culture of friendship and solidarity. 

Jordan’s strategies and approaches to the family and society were based on the tenets of Islam, he said.  The family was heralded as the core of society in Islam.  The tenets of Islam and the culture of the region meant that older persons were supported and assisted by their families.  It was stressed just how much wisdom and morality could be learned from older persons.  Jordan therefore welcomed the outcome of the Second World Assembly on Ageing as well as its plan of action.  Concerning persons with disabilities, Jordan was gratified by the results of the ad hoc committee aiming towards a comprehensive convention on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. 

Mr. HAGATI (Kuwait) said social development and promotion of social development were priorities that had been reaffirmed throughout the past decade at

major international conferences and summits.  It was important to realize that poverty was not the problem of developing countries alone -- it was up to the international community to work together to ensure that scourge was eradicated for the betterment of all humankind. 

On persons with disabilities, he said the Committee's consideration of this issue coincided with the conclusion of a conference on disabled persons taking place in Beirut.  A proposal to hold a decade in support of the promotion and protection of the rights of such persons emerged from that important meeting.

He added that protracted conflict in many regions and occupation, namely in the Palestinian occupied territories, were major hindrances to development.  The only way past those difficulties was to ensure that peace and development were closely linked.

SYED SHAHID HUSAIN, Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, said the natural family was the basic social unit of society on which the pillars of human society were based.  It was, therefore, natural that one must stand for strengthening the family.  The officer-in-charge found the planned research activity described in the report of the Secretary-General of considerable interest.  However, his organization reiterated its concern that the study described in that report would take into account the social, cultural, and religious values of different societies and their influences and effects upon the development of families.  This concern was borne out of the fact that important transformations were taking place in today’s society, reflecting uneven variations in fertility rates and increases in the sizes of older populations, all of which had an impact upon the status and socio-economic situation of the family.

It was imperative that the family perspective was not ignored in development plans and programmes, he said.  The interests of the family must be prioritized in all planning exercises, so that a clean and healthy societal environment emerged as the end product of all national developmental policies and plans.  Towards this end, a declaration or proclamation by all heads of States was suggested.  Such a declaration in support of the family would initiate a national commitment and send out a powerful signal to all elements in governments and in society at large.

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For information media. Not an official record.