Fifty-ninth General Assembly
3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)
DELEGATES EXPRESS CONCERN OVER NEGATIVE IMPACT OF GLOBALIZATION,
AS THIRD COMMITTEE CONTINUES DEBATE ON SOCIAL ISSUES
Concern about the negative social impact of globalization was a recurrent message in statements made by delegates today as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) continued its consideration of social development issues.
Globalization had only exacerbated the marginalization of developing countries, the representative of Indonesia said. His country strongly believed that developing countries could only reap the benefits of globalization if they were allowed broader participation and integration into the world economy. The current globalized and interdependent world economy, he added, had undermined the capacity of national governments to undertake social policies. Public authorities in developing countries appeared to be losing some of their policy-making autonomy.
Globalization and open markets had provided wealth to some parts of the world but had increased the gap between developed and developing countries, said the representative of Libya. Globalization had disregarded the socio-economic development of poor countries, and there was a need to build a more inclusive globalization.
Noting the ongoing challenges of eradicating poverty, eliminating hunger and disease, and protecting the most vulnerable segments of society, the representative of the Russian Federation said the international community must continue its quest for solutions towards minimizing the negative social effects of globalization.
The observer of the Holy See said the forces of globalization had aggravated insecurities associated with poverty and vulnerability, and had made young people, the ageing, disabled persons, indigenous peoples, migrants, women and the family more prone to poverty. Economic progress must therefore be accompanied by socio-economic progress in order to ensure that some of the benefits of globalization had a social purpose.
The representative of Algeria recalled that among the priorities agreed upon at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development was the need to better understand and manage the social impact of globalization and to enhance the ability of governments to implement their own social policies.
Several delegations expressed concern about the gap between intention and action related to the implementation of development goals that had emerged from the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen. The representative of India noted that the Secretary-General’s report had identified inadequate national capacity to implement recommended strategies as a reason for this gap. Thus, international cooperation remained essential to the successful achievement of social development objectives in developing countries.
There was wide agreement that while social development was primarily the responsibility of national governments, the support and cooperation of the international community was critical. Social development required systematic efforts at all levels of policy-making, said a representative of Bangladesh. There was a need for a new partnership between developed and developing countries.
Cuba noted that the current distribution of wealth had resulted in 20 per cent of the world population consuming 80 per cent of global production, leaving the remaining 80 per cent of the world population under ever-increasing poverty. His Government therefore called on industrialized nations to fulfil the target of 0.7 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product for official development assistance, cancel oppressive external debt and open their markets to products of developing countries.
The representative of Ukraine said managing globalization required an integrated approach encompassing social, economic, employment and environmental policies with full involvement of all stakeholders.
Delegations also stressed the need to integrate youth in all aspects of social development. A youth representative of Australia said that while many organizations desired the participation and contribution of young people, the process and language of engagement was often disempowering. One of the best ways for young people to participate was through community cultural development, in which Australia was a leader among countries. She urged other Committee members to listen to the voices of the youth of their countries and to include them in their delegations.
A youth representative of Finland said young people wanted to be accepted as partners for development. They wanted to be partners in national employment issues, and they wanted to be partners in the work of the United Nations. Above all, he added, it should be recognized that a country’s youth might be tomorrow’s leaders, but they were also today’s partners.
Also speaking today were the representatives of Iran, Japan, Mexico, United States, Republic of Korea, the Sudan, Mongolia, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt, Venezuela, Jordan, Azerbaijan, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Eritrea. A representative of the World Bank also addressed the Committee.
The Third Committee will reconvene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, 6 October, to conclude its consideration of issues related to social development.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general discussion on issues related to social development. For additional background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3777 of 4 October.
Statements on Social Development
HOSSEIN MOEINI MEYBODI (Iran) said the international community, at the next session of the Commission on Social Development, should renew its commitment to implementation of the outcome of the World Summit on Social Development, the tenth anniversary of which was to be marked at that time. The Commission itself should address the constraints faced by countries at the implementation level, rather than engaging in abstract and purely theoretical debate on social development issues.
The tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, to be observed during the present General Assembly session, provided a good opportunity for the international community to support family as the basic unit of society, he added. In today’s world, the definition of family as the union of man and woman faced numerous challenges, yet family policies should result in increasing the stability of this foundation of all societies. Thus, while the Secretariat’s work in preparing the report on the family was appreciated, the implied need to review the definition of family was a source of concern. While there was certainly no consensus among Member States on a single definition of family, this did not constitute a common global problem requiring a departure from the traditional practice of the Organization. Moreover, the study referred to in the report under the title “major trends affecting families” contained terms and statements that were neither historically nor factually correct -– they could not be considered a reliable source.
On the proposed Standard Rules on persons with disabilities, he warned that such proposals should not pose a further burden to countries already serving huge populations of refugees over long periods of time. The situation of disabled persons in emergency situations, and widespread disability as a result of natural disaster, should be highlighted in those Standard Rules, as well as the particular situation of persons disabled as a result of the consequence of contamination by chemical materials.
THAO NGUYEN (Australia), recounting her personal experience, said that, twenty years ago, a young couple had left Viet Nam by way of the killing fields of Cambodia into Thailand, where, in the presence of UNHCR staff, they were delivered of a baby girl –- a girl who today addressed the United Nations. Without the social capital and support of the Australian Government and people, that girl would never have had the opportunity to be present today. Thus, one could see that with genuine investment and support to empower young people today, the future of the world would blossom out of seemingly impossible situations.
Travelling through Australia, she had seen firsthand that, in areas where young people were not supported as social and cultural contributors, higher rates of juvenile crime and detention persisted. How could there be continuity in the United Nations if young peoples’ voices could not echo into the future to build upon today’s developments? Young Australians confronted an overwhelming level of information and complexity compared to earlier generations, but they had not been sufficiently prepared to develop the parallel emotional resources to accommodate and utilize the rapid era of choice and information. Moreover, school retention rates among indigenous Australians remained very low, and incarceration and unemployment rates for young males were much higher than the national average.
Youth of marginalized backgrounds confronted issues of identity, belonging, perception and opportunity, she continued. Never before had the need for community engagement and development been so paramount. Yet, while many organizations desired the participation and contribution of young people, the process and language of engagement was often disempowering. One of the best ways for young people to participate in accessible and empowering environments was through community cultural development, in which Australia was a leader among countries. In conclusion, she urged those present to listen to the voices of the youth of their countries and to include them in their delegations.
SICHAN SIV (United States) said social development issues related to youth, family and older persons were linked, adding that strong families supported both children and ageing members to encourage their independence. The United States ensured that every child received a solid education, and the majority of the country’s youth continued education after high school. The educational system guaranteed all persons equal access to higher education irrespective of gender, race and ethnicity.
He said his country was a strong supporter of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Last year it had given $270 million to UNICEF, which had contributed to the agency’s work on polio eradication, HIV/AIDS prevention, and education. Its partnership with the UNDP had supported the agency’s core goals of poverty reduction, fostering democratic governance, managing sustainable development, and responding to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Its contribution of $190 million in 2003 was a sign of his country’s firm support of UNDP’s work.
The United States had also implemented the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing, with a focus on providing the elderly with tools and programmes to enable them to lead their lives as they chose. Poverty rates among the elderly had declined significantly. He added that his country had recently celebrated the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
JORGE CUMBERBACH MIGUEN (Cuba) said the forthcoming session of the Commission for Social Development was the appropriate time to conduct a substantive review of the commitments undertaken at the World Summit for Social Development and its five-year review. Due to the current worldwide distribution of wealth, 20 per cent of the world consumed 80 per cent of the world’s production, whereas the remaining 80 per cent faced ever-increasing poverty and fewer opportunities. Around 800 million people starved; more than 115 million children did not have access to education; and 876 million people remained illiterate. Moreover, while the majority of such problems occurred in developing countries, shameful pockets of poverty remained common in the wealthiest countries.
The promotion of social development at the international level implied the total fulfilment of the commitments assumed in Denmark and other international conferences, he said. Pressure on developing countries to cut expenses in health care, education, culture and social security should cease. International cooperation was essential to improvement of the world’s social conditions and should be based on broad and comprehensive criteria aimed at working directly with social groups in need, in conjunction with programmes and priorities of beneficiary nations and local traditions and cultures. Industrialized nations must fulfil the 0.7 per cent target for official development assistance, cancel oppressive external debt and open their markets to products of developing countries.
Cuba had successfully implemented social development strategies based on social equality and justice, despite the United States blockade, he continued. However, the United States had now adopted new measures, which attacked the Cuban health care and educational systems. Moreover, the Bush administration -– obsessed with ousting the Cuban Revolution –- had assumed the unacceptable role of redefining the Cuban family, restricting it to “grandparents, grandsons, granddaughters, parents, siblings, spouses and children”. Under the new limitations, family remittances could only be sent by those relatives so defined. And others sending money, medicines or other articles to relatives in Cuba would be subject to criminal prosecution.
ABDELOUAHAB OSMANE (Algeria) said the issues that the international community had come together to deal with 10 years ago at the World Summit on Social Development remained at the heart of the international agenda for social development today. Among the priorities was the need better to understand and manage the social impact of globalization and to enhance the ability of governments to implement their own social policies. In that regard, some of the recommendations contained within the document adopted at Copenhagen -– specifically those related to promotion of employment and fighting poverty -– were already being implemented at the national level in Algeria. The Government had endeavoured to put in place a system of social development based on good governance, which heeded the needs of all and embodied the principles of social justice and national solidarity.
The Government’s policy aimed to tackle unemployment and poverty simultaneously, he continued, and had led to the establishment of a national think tank on employment strategy. In other developments, the 2005 Finance Act would provide for a series of measures conducive to social development, and which would help to create a fund to support investment for employment and the extension of existing advantages for those establishing small enterprises. The Government’s efforts had centred upon human development and social policy, with 25 per cent of the operating budget earmarked for education and teacher training. A further 20 per cent had been allocated to national solidarity, the financing of pensions and increasing youth participation in sport.
At the continental level, he noted that the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) aimed to lead African countries onto the path to sustainable development. Thus, Africa’s leaders had adopted three documents important to the fight against poverty. This African engagement in development reflected the interdependent nature of sustainable development. That interdependence should be the subject of frank and in-depth discussions during the tenth anniversary of the World Summit on Social Development.
AKIKO TEJIMA (Japan) said her country fully shared the importance of a people-centred approach and believed the protection and empowerment of individuals and communities was the foundation of international peace and security. There was still a long way to go towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and Japan hoped the 10-year review of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, due for release next February, would lead to further progress towards the Millennium Goals.
Japan had undertaken concrete measures to improve conditions for the elderly in the areas of employment and income, and health and welfare. Grants had been provided to nursing homes for training care providers in securing appropriate services. She noted that Japan’s life expectancy continued to be the highest in the world and was growing every year. Japan must therefore continue to make efforts to improve the health and quality of life for older people and must carry out reforms of its pension and medical care systems to meet the needs of its rapidly ageing society.
Japan was also actively participating in negotiations for the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, she said. It was working with Japanese non-governmental organizations to enhance the dialogue with them on national and international efforts to protect and promote the rights of persons with disabilities.
KANG KYUNG-WHA (Republic of Korea) said the World Summit for Social development had identified poverty eradication, achievement of full and productive employment and enhancement of social integration as the three priorities to advance social development, in which there had been significant progress. Approaching the 10 year review of that Summit, it should be acknowledged that promotion of dynamic, free markets must be combined with the public intervention necessary to prevent or counteract market failure. Moreover, expenditures on social programmes should be recognized as productive to both the economy and society. There was no “one size fits all” path to social development; every country had useful experience, knowledge and information to share with others. Thus, there was a need better to understand the social aspects of globalization and gear national and international macroeconomic policies for realization of social development, equity and justice.
On the United Nations Literacy Decade, she said her Government firmly believed that literacy and education to promote literacy remained among the most important tools for social development. The Republic of Korea had sponsored the King Sejong Literacy Prize through the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) since 1989, and commended UNESCO on its many initiatives as the coordinator of the Literacy Decade. Overall, a more integrated approach to link the literacy and education objectives of the Decade, the Dakar Framework for Action, the Millennium Declaration, UNICEF’s Girl’s Education Initiative and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development.
Turning to the issue of ageing, she voiced support for calls for additional capacity-building to promote and facilitate implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing. Her country had restructured the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s division responsible for the elderly population in order better to implement that plan. Furthermore, in February 2004, a Presidential Committee on Ageing and Future Society had been established, and the Government was currently drafting a Basic Act on Ageing Society.
REZLAN ISHAR JENIE (Indonesia) said it was a painful fact that current progress in achieving the main goals of the World Summit for Social Development continued to be characterized by a gap between intentions and actions, and between proclaimed objectives and the actual orientation of national and international policies. Globalization had only exacerbated the marginalization of developing countries. His country strongly believed that developing countries could only reap the benefits of globalization if they were allowed broader participation and integration into the world economy. This would be possible only in the context of a development-friendly international economic environment.
In keeping with the message of the twenty-fourth General Assembly special session, Indonesia urged the formulation of macroeconomic policies, including those recommended by international financial institutions, to incorporate social goals. He noted that in the current globalized and interdependent world economy, public authorities in developing countries appeared to be losing some of their policy-making autonomy. This undermined the capacity of national governments to undertake social policies. In his delegation’s view, national governments had the primary responsibility of monitoring the effectiveness of public sectors in ensuring the formulation of social development policies that met the needs of people in a timely, cost-effective and equitable manner. Forging partnerships was central to promoting national and international cooperation for social development.
He added that Indonesia had paid particular attention to youth as an essential element of human resources for national development. It was also fully committed to implementing the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging. His country also attached great importance to the family as the basic unit of society and was promoting family empowerment programmes.
ANDREY A. NIKIFOROV (Russian Federation) said 2005 would constitute a new point of reference in the United Nations’ multilateral dialogue on issues of social development. Global international forums aimed to ensure that the social component figured highly on the international agenda, as persistent disproportions in worldwide socio-economic development constituted some of the root causes of armed conflict and provided fertile grounds for escalation of international terrorism. Thus, overcoming poverty, eliminating hunger and disease and protecting the most vulnerable segments of society remained relevant objectives today, and the international community must continue its quest for consolidated solutions to the challenges of globalization, in order to minimize its negative social effects.
The continued relevance of social issues had been highlighted by the holding of a Summit on Hunger and Poverty in September, he noted. Not all initiatives had reached consensus –- many innovative mechanisms required further refinement and balanced consideration, but the discussion of social issues to be undertaken during the present General Assembly session could be helpful and productive. For its part, the Russian Federation had circulated a document on fair globalization for social development and hoped that the conclusions reflected therein would constitute a contribution to the bank of lessons learned.
The Russian Federation had witnessed positive growth in both the economic and social spheres, he said, experiencing real growth in income, which had exceeded inflation and had led to a reduction in poverty. The political and economic stability of the country had enabled the Government to undertake major reforms in social policy, including through the adoption of a law that changed fundamentally the provision of social security. Real monetary compensation was now provided for, with the law showing clearly where the money to pay for that compensation would come from. The most vulnerable population groups would receive substantial increases in income under the new plan, and the living standards of the rural population would be raised to the level of city-dwellers. There were also plans to further modernize the education, health care and housing services in the future.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that despite the progress achieved in meeting internationally agreed development goals, many challenges remained, especially for developing countries, in overcoming financial crises, poverty, unemployment, inequality in income growth, and deadly diseases.
There was a need for a new partnership between developed and developing countries. Social development required systematic efforts at all levels of policy-making.
Issues of social development were critically important to Bangladesh, he continued. Social development was basically a national responsibility but could not be fully achieved without international support. International cooperation was a categorical imperative for the fulfilment of social development goals. Furthermore, social development could only take place against a matrix of pluralism, democracy, good governance, rule of law, human rights, gender justice and women’s empowerment. Today, Bangladesh was undergoing a societal transformation by adhering to those very values.
BHARTRUHARI MAHTAB (India) raised the assertion, contained in the report of the Secretary-General, that the work of the Commission for Social Development had not been substantively pursued by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Commission’s work could contribute more directly to policy development in the ECOSOC, but the work of such intergovernmental bodies could only be meaningful if it was recognized and its outcomes were utilized by national Governments. Further, the Secretary-General’s report, which also commented on the uneven progress toward achievement of the seven main goals of the World Summit on Social Development, had identified inadequate national capacity to adopt and implement recommended strategies as a reason for the gap between intention and action that had been witnessed. Thus, international cooperation remained essential to the successful achievement of social development objectives in developing countries.
Recalling that the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization had made a series of recommendations on making the process of globalization fair and inclusive, he expressed concern that the report of the Secretary-General made no reference to that social dimension. The General Assembly, Economic and Social Council and Commission on Social Development should give careful consideration to the recommendations in the World Commission’s report, in order to develop the broadest possible agreement among Member States.
India’s development strategy, he noted, had led to significant improvements in poverty alleviation, demographics, education and health over the last two decades. Yet, it remained necessary to accelerate efforts to affect improvement in the quality of life by increasing public services’ availability, and by developing and expanding economic and social opportunities -– in particular, productive and gainful employment. Among the successes, literacy rates in the country had increased from 18 per cent in 1951 to 65 per cent in 2001, as education had been identified as a key area of vulnerability. Elementary education was now a fundamental right in India, and the Government had proposed to raise public spending on education to 6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and had set up a National Commission on Education to allocate resources and monitor programmes. The Government also proposed to increase public spending on health in the coming years.
Ms. AHMED (Sudan) said social development was the primary responsibility of national governments and the elimination of poverty constituted humankind’s main problem. Noting that the elimination of poverty by 2015 was a shared objective of United Nations conferences and the Millennium Declaration, she said there continued to be a gap between declared intentions and national policy. This gap was largely a result of globalization and macroeconomic polices, she added.
Her delegation awaited the next session of the Committee on Social Development, she continued. Poverty and inequality among States and within States could not be eliminated under current infrastructure conditions, especially in Africa. There was a need to strengthen structures to make them more conductive to development for all. It was vital that economic sanctions no longer be unilaterally enforced. There was also a need to prevent foreign occupations in all forms and to allow occupied countries to exercise sovereignty over all their territories. Moreover, greater international cooperation was needed to confront endemic diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. The Sudan hoped the last round of negotiations to begin on 7 October would lay the foundation for a just and lasting peace that would have a positive impact on social development and poverty reduction.
Turning to other social development issues, she said ageing persons were one of the pillars of society. Her country was also working to integrate disabled persons to ensure they were active members of society. In the framework of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family, the Sudan had established a national coordinating committee for the anniversary. The Sudan recognized the family as the very heart of society and hoped the conference in Qatar next November would consolidate United Nations efforts to implement its family-related programmes.
HENRI HEIKURA (Finland) said that, within the next 10 years, more than 1 billion of today’s youth would join the working age population. They were the best educated generation ever, yet to a large extent –- and especially in developing countries –- they would find only underpaid and insecure jobs with few possibilities of advancement available. There was a substantial risk that the economic investment in education and training would be wasted if young people could not move into productive jobs that enabled them to pay taxes and support public services. Moreover, young men and women who found themselves alienated from society and frustrated by lack of opportunity were at increased risk of involvement with illegal and criminal activities and recruitment by armed groups.
In conjunction with the World Bank and the International Labour Organization, the Secretary-General had created the Youth Employment Network, the aim of which was to combine political, technical and economic expertise to create a unique and powerful partnership to address the challenge of youth employment. Governments had been encouraged to develop national action plans on youth employment, and 10 countries had stepped forward to be lead countries, showcasing national plans from which others could learn. The Youth Employment Network was also working to ensure youth’s active involvement in that process.
As a youth representative, he strongly supported this type of activity and hoped that all nations could learn from the results achieved, especially from the good examples of the 10 lead countries. Youth wanted to be accepted as partners for development; just as they wanted to be partners in national employment issues, they wanted to be partners in the work of the United Nations. Above all, it should be recognized that the youth might be tomorrow’s leaders, but they were also today’s partners. Additional efforts must be made to include youth on national delegations; nearly 180 Members States had no youth representatives on their delegations. Those States should make all possible efforts to include youth representatives in their delegations to the 2005 session of the General Assembly, and to all future General Assemblies.
ALEJANDRO ALDAY, (Mexico) said his delegation supported the position of the Rio Group. Ever since the World Summit for Social Development, there had indeed been a greater emphasis on achieving the national and international objectives of social development. Mexico supported reform to strengthen the United Nations, particularly in the political and economic spheres.
Mexico recognized the importance of the role of the family, he said. It was indispensable that the United Nations assist States in compiling data on families in order to better integrate family issues in social development. Mexico also welcomed the progress towards a convention to promote and protect the rights of disabled persons on the international level. There was a need for continued focus on developing this instrument, which disabled persons had demanded for so many years.
His country agreed that it was vital to include the ageing perspective in the national development framework, he said. Mexico had taken measures to meet the needs of its population aged 60 years and over and had coordinated different institutional entities that provided care for older persons.
PUREVJAV GANSUKH (Mongolia) said many of the social development goals set at the World Summit for Social Development had not been pursued to the desired extent. Efforts must be further strengthened to implement the commitments undertaken at Copenhagen. Welcoming the recommendations contained within the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, Mongolia agreed that particular attention must be paid to the principle of a people-centred approach and its realization in public policies and development strategies. This approach was a condition for progress towards the attainment of the goals adopted by the international community during global conferences and summits, particularly the Millennium Development Goals.
The first National Report on the Status of Implementation of the Millennium Development Goals indicated that poverty remained widespread in his country, he acknowledged, with official figures suggesting that one third of the population lived in poverty. Considerable progress had been made, yet the poverty reduction challenge remained significant. The Grand Coalition Government, formed following June’s parliamentary elections, attached top priority to the reduction of poverty and unemployment. Thus, while recognizing that social development was primarily the responsibility of national Governments, Mongolia affirmed that it could not be achieved without the participation and partnership of all stakeholders –- including the international community.
Education –- with literacy at its heart –- was not only a human right, he continued, but an important precondition to social development and achievement of the Millennium Goals. In Mongolia, the national aspect of the Literacy Decade had included activities aimed at mobilizing public awareness through mass media, publications, national seminars on literacy and non-formal and distance education. All MemberStates and international organizations should place literacy issues high on their agendas and generate the required political and economic support to address illiteracy challenges through collective efforts.
CLARE FLEMING (World Bank) said the Bank had come to recognize that social development was about putting people at the centre of development, and that as a consequence, social development was a critical factor in making poverty reduction effective and sustainable. Development, which was not sustainable in social terms, would not be sustainable in economic and environmental terms. Today the key elements of social development articulated in the Copenhagen Declaration formed an integral part of the World Bank’s support to countries in their work to achieve effective development.
The World Bank, she continued, had come to understand that inclusion, as a pillar of effective development, must entail bringing people into society who have been excluded. The Bank recognized the important role of women and youth in development, as well as the special needs of disabled persons, indigenous people, the Roma, and other excluded minorities.
Noting that the average level of real income in the richest countries was 50 times that of the poorest, she said that in a globalized, technologically advanced world, there was much potential and capacity to solve those imbalances. The World Bank stood ready to help the Third Committee consider ways to take action to advance effective development towards the review next year and ultimately towards the goal of poverty eradication by 2015.
AMINU BASHIR WALI (Nigeria) said the forthcoming tenth anniversary of the World Summit on Social Development gave the international community the opportunity to review problems such as social inequality and exclusion, unemployment and unequal accessibility to opportunities, poverty and other constraints to social mobilization and development. His own country had made efforts to address issues related to social development and had recognized the significance of education in promoting and creating a healthy society. Nigeria had recorded modest achievements in the area of education, especially in the number of girls enrolled in primary schools.
To meet the challenges of economic and social development, and the expectations of the people, the Government had elaborated a programme of economic reforms, known as the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), he said. This people-centred programme aimed to lay a concrete foundation for sustainable socio-economic transformation and poverty eradication, including through strengthening good governance, enhancing transparency, intensifying the fight against corruption and developing infrastructure –- especially electricity, water and roads. It also gave high priority to food security, agricultural development and promotion of small- and medium-sized businesses.
In line with the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing, policies addressing the welfare of elderly persons and mainstreaming them as instruments of socio-economic development had been implemented, he added. National plans and specific measures were also being implemented to ensure equal access to social services, including training, rehabilitation and employment, for disabled persons. Furthermore, in recognition of youth as a vehicle for development, workshops, seminars and youth programmes had been organized to incorporate youth participation in the process of community development. He also reiterated the importance placed by Nigeria -– as a society that believed the individual existed in the context of the family -– on policy development and implementation of family-related issues.
JOHARA MOHAMMAD AL-MOTAWA (Qatar) said his country continued to emphasize the urgent and vital necessity of preserving the family entity, while preparing it for involvement in the rapidly changing global society. The family had been one of Qatar’s highest priorities. Legislation had been introduced to protect the family structure and encourage all initiatives to empower the family to adapt to changes, without threatening its stability. This year’s observation of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family offered the opportunity to assess current social trends and to offer proposals for positive changes and for refocusing on the importance of the vital role of the family in preserving sound societies.
Older persons also held a remarkable position in Qatari society, she continued, and social institutions had been established to provide all kinds of services for them. Qatar would host the Doha International Conference on Ageing in April 2005 with the objective of creating social awareness of the needs of the elderly and of their potential for active participation in social development efforts.
OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) recalled that, at the many international conferences and summit, heads of States and governments had agreed to undertake measures to combat poverty, illiteracy and disease for the betterment of humanity. Yet, despite these efforts, suffering continued -- 1.2 billion people worldwide continued to live in abject poverty, and many suffered from diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Therefore, developing countries must be aided to enable them to benefit from globalization, especially in the social spheres.
His country had implemented a genuine policy of promoting social development, he said, including fighting poverty, improving health care services and employment, and strengthening rural areas, human rights and gender equality. Aware that development efforts could only be successful if all sectors of society were involved; the country had also attached particular importance to persons with disabilities and had implemented policies to ensure their integration in all sectors of life. For example, the Parliament had, last January, adopted a law on homes for persons with disabilities to ensure their ability to use public places. The Government had also participated in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee drafting a Convention on Disabilities.
Paying tribute to the work of UNESCO regarding the Literacy Decade, he said that organization had drawn attention to the fact that the international community would not achieve its literacy goals by 2015 at the present pace. For its part, Morocco had adopted a charter on illiteracy and poverty and had reorganized relevant services to ensure that capacities in that area would be best used. Morocco also remained supportive of the family as the crucial core of society, and would participate in activities to observe the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family.
MAI TAHA MOHAMED KHALIL (Egypt) said that while progress been made in realizing the goals of the World Summit for Social Development, not all the goals had been attained due to such debilitating factors as unemployment and diseases.
The report presented by the Secretary-General was very important for developing various points of view, she said. Her delegation would like to stress that new technologies and open policies had led to a more interdependent world. That interdependence could not be reduced only to economic, trade or financial relations, nor just to distribution of wealth. It also related to social interaction in various parts of the world. Globalization had the potential to be beneficial for all nations, by helping to create jobs and contributing to the reduction of poverty. However, globalization was creating resources that were not always distributed evenly, among countries and even within countries. Many could not benefit because those who could not be heard could not benefit from that process. Egypt would like the report on globalization to be studied very thoroughly and with particular attention to the impact of globalization on social aspects.
On a national level, her Government had created 172 advisory bureaus for families to investigate the problems of families, to find solutions to their problems, and to ensure families would get benefits due to them. This had been undertaken to strengthen the family. There was a great need to raise awareness of the importance of families. Various agencies in civil society had also embarked on projects to assist families by providing loans, literacy courses, and training centres for crafts and professional skills.
ELEYDA GARCIA MATOS (Venezuela) said her Government’s commitment to ensure social development had led it to support initiatives such as the World Summit on Social Development and the twenty-forth special session of the General Assembly. The priority placed on social development had also been reflected in Venezuela’s candidature for membership on the Commission for Social Development, which would allow it to play an active role in furthering progress to eradicate poverty and social exclusion. Moreover, the Venezuelan President had repeatedly reiterated the urgent, pressing and primary need to seek a sustainable solution to the social problems faced by humanity; a real social debt had accumulated over the centuries of colonialism.
In keeping with the national Government’s commitment to social development, Venezuela had, last year, submitted a draft resolution at the General Assembly aimed at reinforcing social development, she noted. That text had reflected the objectives and values of social development and stressed the need to integrate economic and social policies. It had asked the Economic and Social Council to evaluate the effectiveness of implementation of social development objectives and asked developed countries to meet the goal of 0.7 per cent of GDP for official development assistance. In other forums, the President of Venezuela had submitted a project for the creation of an international humanitarian fund to combat poverty at the international level.
Nationally, the Government had aimed to ensure the protection and integrity of the human being, she said, recognizing that, only through education and work, would such goals be met. Social policies had been developed to combat poverty and inequality; access to education had been broadened to include those children not in schools and to ensure rural education. The Government had also designed a national literacy plan to eradicate illiteracy in the short-term, as well as a longer-term plan to enable all Venezuelans to finish their secondary and university education. Moreover, the State had guaranteed the rights of the elderly and had developed programmes to meet their needs. The real way to overcome poverty was to provide for education, job creation, adequate wage levels and access to public services and the elimination of discrimination.
MYKOLA MELENEVSKYI (Ukraine) said his Government recognized the necessity of social redefinition of economic policies to strengthen the middle class, to eliminate poverty, and to eradicate marginalization. Establishment of a socially oriented market economy would contribute to improvements in the quality of life. The social model of development should be based on sound economic performance, a high level of social protection, education, and social dialogue. Ukraine prioritized the promotion of sustainable development through stronger cooperation among Member States, the creation of jobs and the application of the principles of non-discrimination, integration and social cohesion.
Ukraine welcomed the achievements of the Commission for Social Development in supporting international strategies in social development. It was also convinced that the private sector played an important role in social development. Special attention should thus be given to the Global Compact initiative. Ukraine strongly supported the work of the International Labour Organization in promoting a common approach to social development.
Effective management of the globalization processes should also be considered as an important component in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, he said. Managing globalization required an integrated approach encompassing social, economic, employment and environmental policies with full involvement of all stakeholders.
RAMEZ GOUSSOUS (Jordan) said he supported enhancement of the people-centred approach to social development, and expressed concern that, despite the passing of 10 years since the World Summit on Social Development, much remained to be done to implement the commitments undertaken at Copenhagen and other international conferences and summits. It was hoped that the 10 year review would allow for an adequate analysis of the shortcomings of the implementation process and focus attention on the need for improvement.
Regarding UNESCO’s report on implementation of the objectives of the Literacy Decade, he expressed concern over the rising rate of illiteracy in the world, especially among women and girls. That phenomenon jeopardized achievement of the related Millennium Development Goal to eradicate illiteracy by 2015. More positively, he welcomed progress in implementing the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing, but felt there was a need to expand efforts to provide better services and social care for elderly persons, while also taking care to involve them in the development process in general.
Finally, his country had also devoted particular attention to the needs of persons with disabilities, he noted, and felt it was necessary to ensure disabled persons’ enjoyment of equal rights and full integration in society. Therefore, Jordan supported the work of the Ad Hoc Committee drafting the Convention on Disabilities, as well as the proposed supplement to the Standard Rules. Jordan also supported the inscription of a new item, directly related to persons with disabilities, on the agenda of the Third Committee.
FARAH ADJALOVA (Azerbaijan) said her country believed the primary goal of a national policy in pursuing social development was to establish an effective system of social security and to provide adequate social services for the well-being of the whole population. Extension of social protection to all groups of the population, including women, older people and youth, was a key element in promoting social justice and cohesion.
Azerbaijan attached particular importance to the policies and programmes targeting youth, she continued. Her Government had promoted increased participation of youth in economic and social development through creating educational and employment opportunities for young people. It also recognized the crucial role of the family in the overall development of society and gave priority to family development and support programmes. Azerbaijan also attached great importance to the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing and had undertaken measures to establish an integrated system of social services for older people. Regarding disabled persons, one of the key elements of their social protection was to secure rehabilitation through strengthening their social status, creating job opportunities and enabling them to achieve independence.
Significant efforts had also been made to improve the living standards of refugees and internally displaced persons, she said. However, the loss of jobs resulting from reductions in production and the destruction of infrastructure in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan had inflicted enormous economic and social damage.
PAUL BADJI (Senegal) said the persistent worsening of social problems –- due notably to poverty and unemployment –- constituted a heavy burden on populations, particularly those of developing countries. The road to achievement of the Millennium Development Goals remained long and difficult. Now more than ever, the international community must stress the importance of social harmony in the Third World, especially Africa, including by adopting policies aimed at eliminating the causes of poverty -– unemployment and underemployment, lack of consideration for the needs of older persons and marginalization of persons with disabilities.
It was a truism to say that young people, persons with disabilities and older persons constituted an integral element of society, and must benefit from full exercise of their rights as citizens, he noted. Those citizens must enjoy full social protection, access to health care and equal opportunities at all levels. For its part, Senegal had implemented a number of initiatives aimed at ending the marginalization and exclusion of those groups, including through improving their living standards, social and judicial protection, access to education and technical and professional training, and access to basic social services.
Employment for young people and primary education were first-order priorities for his Government, he continued. The youth of today were the adults of tomorrow, for which reason Senegal had implemented a policy to promote the active and effective participation of youth in the nation’s political and social life. In the same vein, Senegal had been happy to host the 2000 World Forum on Education, and considered it essential for all sectors of society -– Governments, the private sector, civil society, non-governmental organizations and local collectives –- to work in synergy to combat the challenge of illiteracy.
MANEL ABEYSEKERA (Sri Lanka) said her country believed social development was one of the main keys to the advancement of humanity. The impact of market forces had increased the government’s responsibility for social development and the protection of disadvantaged persons resulting from youth unemployment, the increasing number of older persons, and those with disabilities.
Elderly people could now, under the Elders Act, seek legal redress from their children for neglect, she said. Also, the Act had resulted in the establishment of an Elders Council in 2002, which had set up elders committees at the village level for organizing programmes for their benefit and for engaging in decision-making on community matters. The Government’s efforts at caring for the disadvantaged were supported by the non-governmental organization sector and by religious groups. Sri Lanka welcomed the United Nations advocacy of people-centred social development and the focus on the family, which was the nucleus of society.
EWALD LIMON (Suriname) said his Government had outlined the development and promotion of education, health care, employment, social security and housing as the main priorities of its National Policy Statement for 2000-2005. The Government’s primary responsibility was thus to create a financial and economic environment conducive to social development and social security and to improve the quality of life for all. That national social policy was being implemented in close cooperation with civil society.
Priority and special attention had been given to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society, such as the elderly, youth, persons with disabilities, the poor and women, he said. To that end, a national social security system had been established and programmes of health sector reform and low income shelters were being implemented. The Government would, in the near future, begin implementation of the Sector Plan on Housing.
As part of its fight to eliminate poverty, he continued, Suriname had formulated a development strategy aimed at increasing prosperity, preventing deterioration in the situation of vulnerable groups and eliminating poverty. As the participation of vulnerable groups in that development process was of utmost importance, the Government had provided for assistance to disadvantaged persons. It had also prioritized promotion and protection of the rights of the child and the development of children and youth, reactivating the Bureau for the Rights of the Child and formulating a human resource development programme within the education sector -- the National Strategic Education Plan.
AMARA TEKLE (Eritrea) said no meaningful change had taken place since the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen nearly a decade ago. Change had, in some cases, taken place for the worse. The Horn of Africa, for instance, had been ravaged yet again by famine. Eritrea was convinced that meaningful change could only take place if a joint effort were made to implement the various plans of action adopted by the international community. Eritrea, for its part, had taken steps to ensure that its social and economic policies were informed by the time-bound Millennium Development Goals.
He said Eritea subscribed to the view expressed by the Secretary-General in his report, which submitted that no meaningful social progress could be achieved without sustainable development. His Government recognized that there was a causal relationship between poverty, the lack of jobs, resources, and access to education and health care. Each country was primarily responsible for its own socio-economic development. However, in the age of globalization, international cooperation was essential for achieving social development objectives. Eritrea endorsed the recommendations of the Secretary-General for greater partnership between the rich and poor countries. Adjustments must also be made to allow the poor countries to participate in decision-making in international economic affairs, including that of the World Trade Organization.
Poverty reduction had been Eritrea’s priority challenge since its independence and was the single most important item in its development agenda. Its national development strategy was people-centred, underlined popular participation, and emphasized gender equality.
ARCHBISHOP CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer of the Holy See, said social development should be stressed more often at the United Nations, as human beings figured at the centre of all the Organization’s activities. The forces of globalization had aggravated insecurities associated with poverty and vulnerability, and had made young people, the ageing, disabled persons, indigenous peoples, migrants, women and the family more prone to poverty. Therefore, it must be concluded that economic progress must be accompanied by socio-economic progress to ensure that part of the general benefits of globalization had a social purpose. Policy frameworks and development programmes at both the national and international levels should aim to create an enabling environment and lead to social integration, access to basic social services, education and primary health care, sustenance of the family and promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. All individuals must become owners of their own development.
Social development objectives had been incorporated in the outcomes of international forums from Copenhagen to Johannesburg, he noted, due to recognition of the need to focus development on the human person. This vision necessitated moving away from “assistentialism” to empowerment, from a policy in which people were the object of intervention to one in which they were the protagonists of their own development. Social policies for the protection of vulnerable persons would be effective only in so far as they strengthened natural social groups -– small communities and the family -– and through generation of a sense of responsibility for vulnerable sectors throughout civil society. Only the creation and empowerment of a diversified social network would empower those as yet unprotected.
Regarding the family, he stressed that the Holy See held that “men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family”. He also detailed the Holy See’s participation in the drafting of the Convention on persons with disabilities and stressed that the issue at stake was nothing less than the right of those individuals to become full members of society.
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