Residual Effects of Global Crises – Financial, Food, Fuel – Impeding Progress towards Achieving Millennium Development Goals, Third Committee Told
Residual Effects of Global Crises – Financial, Food, Fuel – Impeding Progress towards Achieving Millennium Development Goals, Third Committee Told
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fifth General Assembly
3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)
Residual Effects of Global Crises – Financial, Food, Fuel – Impeding Progress
towards Achieving Millennium Development Goals, Third Committee Told
Hears from Some 30 Speakers on Second Day of Social Development Debate;
Youth as Policymakers, Implications of Ageing Populations among Other Issues
The residual impact of the global economic and financial crisis, fuel crisis and food crisis was high on the minds of speakers in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today, with several of them noting how the aftershocks have impeded progress towards achieving social development and the Millennium Development Goals.
As the Committee completed its general discussion on social development, representatives of some two dozen countries took the floor joined by half a dozen youth delegates who underscored the need for the voices of young people to be heard in the decision-making process at national and international levels.
Expressing regret that the ranks of those living in poverty has kept on growing in sub-Saharan Africa, the representative of Ethiopia told delegates that the “multiple global crises” — in tandem with climate change — threatened to hold back much of the progress that has been made in poverty reduction and achieving social development goals. The representative of Syria noted how there have been fewer work opportunities and more unemployment. His counterpart from Kenya remarked that the global crises had had a profound impact, with resources diverted to humanitarian initiatives rather than employment and social protection.
The representative of the Maldives recounted how his government had had to undertake tough austerity measures in response to a contraction in the tourism and fisheries sectors. The representative of Malaysia observed that progress has been hostage to contemporary instability; any policy prescriptions should include a fair global financial structure that would strike a balance between governments and the private sector. His counterpart from Kazakhstan maintained that it was “inappropriate to decrease a State’s social commitments” even in the midst of a global slowdown.
Ageing, persons with disabilities, education and gender equality were among the other issues addressed, with the representative of Argentina calling for an international convention that would standardise the rights of the elderly and establish bodies to oversee its enforcement. His counterpart from Israel noted how his country was one of the few that had enshrined in law the obligation of family members to look after their elderly relatives.
The representative of the Philippines announced that her delegation would be presenting a draft resolution on persons with disabilities and the Millennium Development Goals, and the representative of Mongolia said that her country would be sponsoring a draft resolution on promoting literacy.
Also speaking today were the Minister for Labour, Youth, and Women and Children’s Development of the United Republic of Tanzania, and the representatives of Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Malta, India, Philippines, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Eritrea, Senegal and Bangladesh.
Youth delegates from Tunisia, Slovakia, Ukraine, Turkey, Bulgaria and Botswana addressed the Committee, as did the representative of the International Labour Organization.
The Committee will reconvene on Wednesday, 6 October, to begin its discussion on crime prevention and criminal justice and international drug control.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its debate on social development. For more information, please see press release GA/SHC/3973.
KOHILAN PILLAY ( Malaysia) said that the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen stood as one of the achievements of contemporary international governance, in that it achieved consensus on the need to put people at the centre of development. The follow-up to the Summit, the 24th special session of the General Assembly, further expanded the views on social development and provided specific targets and strategies to achieve it. However, subsequent discussions on the agenda item had taken place in the challenging environment of global economic crises, increased fuel and food costs and uncertainty with regard to continued economic growth. Thus, progress continued to remain hostage to contemporary instability. When examining policy prescriptions, focus was needed on the following: a steadfast commitment to the larger political goals of the World Summit and relevant social development forums, a fair global financial structure that balanced government and the private sector, a paradigm shift in analysis of growth and poverty, and finally, better balance between policies of social protection versus economic growth.
As such, she said greater coordination was needed at all levels to ensure greater coherence between work currently undertaken in social development and the work related to overall economic and sustainable development. Touching on questions related to older persons and the disabled, he noted his country’s aging population. By 2030, Malaysia would be a nation with older persons constituting more than 15 per cent of the population; thus, harnessing the pool of resources from the elderly was necessary. With regard to the disabled, greater efforts would be made to provide easy physical access to transportation and buildings and for a more disabled-friendly environment. In conclusion, he said that the well-being of societies and people that made up that society, regardless of the differences or vulnerabilities they had, remained the prime motivator for the working of his Government.
JOSEPHINE OJIAMBO (Kenya), associating with the statement by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, stated that as clearly noted in the high-level Summit, despite pockets of good news, several areas of the world were still confronted with alarming statistics. The global crisis had had a profound impact on social and economic development. Resources had been diverted to humanitarian and other life-saving initiatives, rather than to employment and social protection programmes. Indeed, that was a key challenge faced by Kenya and other developing nations in the development of equitable, stable and just societies. In this context, Kenya reaffirmed its commitment to fulfilling all the goals agreed upon at Copenhagen, in particular those regarding poverty eradication, full employment and social integration.
Concerning social integration, she said several initiatives were being implemented. The Government was facilitating the right to education for every Kenyan and increased investment in the Vision 2030 flagship projects. The National Disability Policy was being put in place, as well as the Disability Fund and the African Rehabilitation Institute, all with the overarching goal to promote equal opportunities and access to social protection programmes. The National Policy on the Older and Ageing, adopted in May 2009, promoted healthy and active ageing, and the Social Protection Programme provided cash transfers to vulnerable and older-headed households. That modest amount of money was going a long way to sustaining and providing independence to older persons. Lastly, the Youth Enterprise and Women Enterprise Development Funds dispensed enormous sums of money to encourage entrepreneurship and independence, as well as improve the livelihoods of families. But, social and economic programmes had to be scaled-up, he stated, through strengthened partnerships and a people-centred approach. It required the concerted efforts of both national Governments and the international community.
BASHAR JA’AFARI ( Syria ) said that hunger and poverty were still raging in the world; there had also been growing unemployment and fewer job opportunities. Tension and occupation had, meanwhile, continued to stand in the way of peace and security. Syria had been taking a number of steps to achieve a balanced economy - one in which there would be less poverty and a better distribution of wealth. The participation of all sectors of society was required to achieve such a goal.
As an example of the progress that Syria has made in improving the situation of persons with disabilities, it recently hosted the Paralympics of the Middle East and North Africa, he said. It had helped to change ideas and prejudices that young people had held about persons with disabilities. Syria took note of the Secretary-General’s report on social development, but regretted that it had ignored the tragic consequences of the Israeli occupation. It also should have referred to disabilities caused by such weapons as cluster bombs and landmines.
AKRAM SABRI, a youth representative of Tunisia, said that Tunisia had worked to face the interrelated challenges related to the global financial crisis and social challenges, and that youth was one of the most vulnerable groups to global imbalances. Having adopted the General Assembly resolution designating 2010 as the Year of Youth, Tunisia called upon the international community to activate the role of young people by providing them with the necessary care, attention, and support to develop skills and excel in all fields and to provide future generations with security and prosperity. The youth of Tunisia were proud of the role they were playing in the development of their country, he said, noting that the electoral age in the country had been decreased to 18, giving young people an active role, and allowing them to express their views, aspirations, and proposals.
Tunisia also established a national strategy to develop the lives of youth in the country and to promote their participation in the daily affairs of the country, he said. Supporting the Year of Youth, the President of Tunisia had agreed to the organization of a youth conference, and Tunisia had promoted such initiatives as a world fund for solidarity, the right of youth to practice sports and physical education, and the designation of an international day of solidarity. Tunisia also created a committee made up of different sectors, such as media and civil society, which contributed to a rich national programme throughout the year, including meetings, workshops and seminars. Additionally, the first youth parliament in Tunisia was established this year, and a law was adopted concerning the organization and the involvement of youth in volunteer work.
GUSTAVO RUTILO ( Argentina) said ageing had become an unprecedented phenomenon in the world today, with the segment of the population over the age of 60 growing exponentially. The majority of elderly people were in developing countries, where they lived with their families. Intergenerational solidarity could not be the sole response to rapid demographic change; States had a role to play, as well.
Many elderly persons faced discrimination and abuse, he said. The report of the Secretary-General told of an alarming rate of poverty among the elderly, many of whom had no pension when they retired. There was no legally binding instrument to safeguard the rights of the elderly. The heads of state of the Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) have sought to promote an international convention on the rights of the elderly that would standardize their rights and establish bodies for enforcement. Member States must pursue discussions towards such a convention.
DANA VYŽINKÁROVÁ, youth delegate of Slovakia, said she was pleased to speak in such an important year, in which both the International Year of Youth and the Eradicate Extreme Poverty programmes were shining a spotlight on young people around the globe. Education was the world’s most powerful development tool, but in some regions completing only primary and secondary education was considered success. In that regard, she chose to speak about the importance of promoting development education, which was based on the values of solidarity, equality, inclusion and cooperation. It aimed to raise basic awareness of international development policies, sustainable human development, the Millennium Development Goals and humanitarian aid, in addition to fostering participation and informed actions. Paraphrasing British philosopher Herbert Spencer, she said, “The aim of education is not only knowledge, but also action.”
While those words could be applied to young people across the globe, too many of those young people in developing countries continued to misunderstand global issues and the concept of development and humanitarian aid. In that regard, Slovakia was preparing to include “global education” in all three levels of its educational system, including primary school. A successful programme that had taken place at the high school level was “Slovak Day” and “Afghan Day”, where students in each school simultaneously dressed up and took part in the culture and traditions of the respective school, while being connected online through Skype. The feedback was “remarkable”, and Slovak students got to know “there is much more about Afghanistan than what they hear from the news.” At the university level, some students had chosen to pursue international affairs, political science or development studies. In addition, the Government would launch a Masters programme for graduates in law and international relations in 2011. Finally, she asked the delegates to consider delivering such education in their countries.
AGUS SARDJANA (Indonesia) underscored the delegation’s alignment with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and noted that the Copenhagen Declaration on Social development and the Millennium Development Goals were mutually reinforcing instruments in the achievement of sustainable social development. Both galvanized a global effort on people-centred development that promised to address poverty eradication, promote socially inclusive development and generate full and decent employment for all. The Secretary-General’s report, he said, rightly emphasized that the creation of employment opportunities and human resources development in reducing poverty development was essential for developing a socially inclusive society. The International Action Plan of the United Nations Literacy Decade was another important means to realize human resources objectives.
The Government, he noted, had passed the Law on Social Welfare and subsequent legal instruments to coordinate development programmes. Based on the nation’s Medium Term Development Plan 2010-2014, progress was accelerating on 11 priority programs through 155 action plans. Furthermore, a state budget of about $12 billion had been allocated for the economic, social prosperity, political-legal and security sectors. Youth was a top priority, constituting more than a quarter of Indonesia’s population. Enactment of the Law on Youth would promote their participation in the economy and socio-political life. Women remained one of the highest priorities; thus, gender equality continued to be mainstreamed into the development agenda. Concerning people living with disabilities, he highlighted the need for a human rights-based approach, rather than charity, adding that the nation would ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities next year. In anticipation of a rapid increase in the elderly population, the Government was implementing policies in line with the spirit of the Madrid Plan of Action
DANA KURSH (Israel) said the goals of States, civil society and the private sector should be to fully integrate youth, older persons, persons living with disabilities and other individuals from all marginalized groups into society. Older persons should be allowed to contribute to society as long as they were able, and live at home when possible. Persons living with disabilities might require similar opportunities and incentives to further accessibility, public awareness and accommodation. Moreover, individuals belonging to more than one category faced “double exclusion”, requiring special attention, such as the elderly living with disabilities. “Insufficient attention to any one link in the chain of social integration and development can result in squandered resources and wasted human potential”, she said.
The State’s role in facilitating sustained social integration and development was crucial, she said. Israel, she noted, was one of the few nations that enshrined in law the legal obligations of family members towards the care of elderly relatives. Further, Israeli law provided financial support and protection of employment rights for family members who had taken on that responsibility. For people living with disabilities, Israel remained committed to upholding the rights of those citizens through legislation, education and partnerships between government and civil society. In that vein, she noted that several government initiatives were at work at the community level since, “ultimately, this is where people live.”
YAHYA ALOBAIDI (Iraq), expressing support for the promotion of social justice, said that the Government of Iraq was doing its utmost to create an economic and political climate that guaranteed peace and stability, since that was an essential prerequisite for human rights. Iraq also sought to guarantee a framework for good governance and to find solutions for the problems in the country through cooperation with the international community. After all of the transformations that had taken place in all spheres in Iraq, the Government had prioritized areas that were essential to true social development, with a focus on education, health care and social protection. Budgetary allocations had been raised for education, training and schools to facilitate large numbers of students - particularly girls - in rural areas.
The Government’s Ministry of Health was responsible for providing protection to citizens, and placing emphasis on the large number of basic health care services had increased the number of doctors in medical centres and hospitals, he said. Iraq had also focused on family health care programmes by providing services free of charge throughout the country, opening specialized medical centres and providing sophisticated medical equipment, which had led to a drop in the mortality rates of children and women. To improve the standard of living, Iraq had also put into place a system of providing pensions and monthly benefits for the poorest families, the elderly, women, widows, divorced people and the unemployed until they could find work. Additionally, steps had been taken to raise petrol production, as that was an important budget line, and the Government aimed to develop all the resources Iraq was endowed with, provide a high standard of living for the Iraqi population, bring about social development and combat poverty.
ONON SODOV ( Mongolia) said that her country, like others, was slowly recovering from the most severe downturn in years. It lagged behind in the Millennium Development Goals for poverty reduction, gender equality and environmental sustainability, with the target of halving poverty “persistently elusive”. To address those challenges, revenues from the burgeoning mining sector in Mongolia were to be distributed to the education and healthcare sectors, and a Human Development Fund had also been established this year to distribute national wealth to each citizen in the form of regular allowances. A national census was, meanwhile, planned for November to ensure the legitimate and equal allocations from the Fund.
Literacy efforts had hardly been able to keep pace with population growth worldwide, she said. Mongolia had had relatively high literacy rates, but a lack of actual literacy skills had constrained large parts of its population, including college graduates. Mongolia would be tabling a biennial resolution entitled “United Nations Literacy Decade: Education for All”, calling upon Member States, development partners, international donors, and private and civil society to ramp up quality literacy efforts and consider a strategy for addressing literacy challenges after the end of the decade in 2012.
AMJAD HUSSAIN B. SIAL (Pakistan), associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that social integration was one of the three priority areas identified at the Copenhagen Summit and the institution of the family, which provided the first level of social integration, must continually be strengthened. That was particularly the case in countries such as that of Pakistan, where extended family came to help when the immediate family failed to provide the assistance required by a socially disadvantaged person. As a country undergoing democratic transition and experiencing a “youth bulge”, the country was trying to invest in human resources and skills development for young people.
The Government, he said, had been endeavouring to adopt a holistic approach to reduce the level of poverty, through human resource and skills development, social protection for the poor, including cash subsidies and training and integration of marginalized groups. In addition, a new Employment Commission was established to create new jobs, a fund had made financial services available to the poor, a coherent gender reform agenda had been undertaken by the Ministry of Women’s Development, an insurance system has been helping the aged, the physically challenged and widows and a National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities had been finalized, among other initiatives. Such social development activities, he said, had become even more important in the wake of the financial and food crises.
YANA BOIKO, youth delegate of Ukraine, said that her government attached great importance to the results of the World Summit for Social Development, the 24th special session of the General Assembly on implementation of its outcome, the Second World Assembly on Ageing and other forums on the issues. Ukraine chose social dialogue and constructive cooperation with trade unions and workers in order to revive the economy and minimize the negative impact of the financial crisis, while averting a reduction in living standards. In particular, the government took steps to launch national economic reforms, approved by President Viktor Yanukovych, and aimed to ensure sustained economic growth, create new workplaces and improve the living standards of Ukrainian citizens. The main priorities of the government were to stabilize the state budget, revive the labour market and diminish the unemployment rate. She noted particular interest in the development of practical cooperation between Ukraine and the International Labour Organization (ILO), based on the provisions of the Decent Work Country Programme for 2008-2011.
Further, the representative recognized many other steps were needed; in that regard, Ukraine positively evaluated the outcome of the 48th Commission for Social Development, which provided a platform for concrete actions to ensure social integration at the national and international levels, including integration for all groups, promoting access to basic social services, education, health care, employment and decent work. In conclusion, Ukraine reiterated the strong commitment to international cooperation with a view of creating a more competitive and dynamic economy based on sustainable development.
HASSAN EL MKHANTAR ( Morocco) said that during the course of the Summit in Copenhagen in 1995, a global vision and holistic approach had been embraced to permit society’s worst-off to benefit from social inclusion. But, the challenges like poverty, education, employment and eradicating pandemics like AIDS all remained dependent on the financial commitments of Governments. He reiterated statements made by the Secretary-General that internationally agreed-upon targets needed to be met concerning official development assistance (ODA), debt relief, market access and technical capacities and said that, 15 years after the Summit, strategies concerning inequality and social exclusion had to be evaluated and redefined.
Morocco placed the development of human potential at the core of its policies for social and economic development, he said, noting that it had launched a National Initiative for Human Development (INDH) in 2005 and was aligned with the United Nations strategies for development. Morocco was also supporting development in the regional sphere by promoting social services on the African continent, such as specialized food security programmes in Burkina Faso. Regarding the disabled, Morocco had taken actions to promote the rights of people with disabilities, including the adoption of a law in 2003 on accessibility and the creation of a national fund. Additionally, Morocco had supported reforms to combat gender discrimination and empower women, particularly in political life, and had promoted the rights of older persons through a strategic national plan for 2008-2012 that integrated services for the elderly.
ORHAN EASD AKGUN, youth delegate of Turkey, stated that climate change was one of the biggest threats ever faced by mankind. Young people in Turkey were hoping to see a successful end to climate change negotiations. The country’s youth was also concerned about human rights; Turkey had a multiparty political system that had been undergoing major reforms, and young people had been playing a role in those changes. The International Year of Youth, which had been declared by the General Assembly, was a valuable initiative to raise awareness on global issues of common concern. The United Nations was the platform for addressing global challenges and Turkish youth were committed to it.
AMAN HASSEN ( Ethiopia) regretted that the number of people living in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has been increasing, despite the global progress achieved in recent years in reducing extreme poverty. Progress in poverty reduction and social development was threatened by the current multiple crises, as well as climate change, with very difficult consequences for women, youth, disabled persons, older persons, indigenous populations and migrants. Addressing the social development agenda called for a genuine commitment and a holistic approach, which included social protection for the disadvantaged of society.
Mr. Hassen reviewed the steps that Ethiopia has been making in terms of social development, at a time when its economy has been undergoing double-digit growth. A plan to end poverty had been successfully implemented, and an aggressive programme to accelerate growth had been launched. Agriculture and rural development had been at the centre of the poverty reduction agenda. Several initiatives have been put into place for older persons and those with disabilities. Great progress had, meanwhile, been made in expanding educational opportunities among Ethiopia’s different nations, nationalities and peoples.
PAUL ROBERT TIENDREBEOGO ( Burkina Faso) focused his remarks on the United Nations Literacy Decade, saying that big gains had been made in raising the level of adult literacy. However, education targets were unlikely to be attained, with an estimated 700 million adults falling short of literacy in 2015, and 56 million children out of school. Some 1.9 million teaching positions would need to be created, including 1.2 million in sub-Saharan Africa, in order to fulfil the goal of universal primary education. Enormous efforts would have to be made at the national and international levels.
Institutional and strategic measures had been taken by the Government of Burkina Faso to ensure better basic education and quality literacy programmes, he said. Those measures had helped to lift the gross rate of schooling from 45.9 per cent in 2000-2001 to 74.8 per cent in 2009-2010, with the rate of parity between boy and girl pupils standing at 0.94 per cent. There had also been a significant increase in the rate of literacy among those aged 15 and over. Burkina Faso encouraged the United Nations to call for the commitments made at various international forums, including the Gleneagles Group of 8 Summit in 2005, to be respected, and for the international community to do more to address an annual deficit of $16 billion financing education for all in low-income countries.
Associating his country with the Group of 77 statement, JAVED FAIZAL ( Maldives) said his Government had had to carry out severe austerity measures that cut public spending, as its primary economic sectors - tourism and fishing - had contracted. The Secretary-General’s report showed that the global economic crisis had left countries like the Maldives without the capacity to use macroeconomic polices that could stave off massive unemployment and disruptions to development. A major challenge was growing unemployment, especially among women and youth. Religious extremism endangered achievements in gender parity.
He said the disappointing statistics in the Secretary-General’s report on the International Plan of Action for the United Nations Literacy Decade showed that the region needed to provide its people with equal access to basic educational tools, so they could pursue real opportunities. “Obviously, this holds damaging implications for our capacity to make significant gains in areas for the empowerment of women, and we understand that the cost of marginalizing half of our country’s population are incalculable,” he said. The Maldives welcomed the report’s conclusion that “strong international partnerships” were needed to achieve improved literacy gains. Those partnerships could provide a network to support policy and capacity development and craft the best practices to strengthen educational systems.
SAVIOUR F. BORG ( Malta) observed that through their experience, knowledge and supporting role in the family, older people could help to achieve more than half of the Millennium Development Goals. One fifth of Maltese people were 60 years of age or older, and it was expected that that proportion would rise to nearly one third by 2050. Malta was doing its utmost to help older persons, with 51 per cent of total government spending on social benefits going towards retirement pensions. A National Department of Elderly Care aimed to provide creative, high-quality programmes for older persons living in State-owned residences, or their own homes. The Department also supported initiatives for training those who cared for the elderly. The United Nations International Institute on Ageing had made substantial progress in complying with its mandate, contributing to training professionals in 137 countries. The elderly were “living history books” and it was in that spirit that Malta has been looking to strengthen health care and social services for its elderly, so as to reduce the likelihood of becoming marginalized or confined to institutions.
ADHI SANKAR ( India) said the pledge the international community made 15 years ago at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen was still elusive. He called, therefore, for continuing efforts to create an enabling economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment for all citizens. His country was implementing the eleventh five-year plan (2007-2012) to ensure that the gains of economic growth reached all sections of the population, with special efforts for rural India. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act had been introduced, which ensured 100 days of employment to every rural household and improved wage levels. Women and other marginalized sections of society had been particular beneficiaries.
He said social integration was essential for fostering a stable, safe, harmonious, peaceful and just society. It should not be construed as achieving uniformity. India’s 1995 Persons with Disabilities Act had mandated affirmative action through reservation of 3 per cent of vacancies in government and education for persons with disabilities. Community-based rehabilitation involving non-governmental organizations was also government-funded. National legislation was being harmonized with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Also, the 2009 Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act entitled every child from 6 to 14 to free and compulsory education. While commendable progress had been achieved in providing access to primary education through infrastructure for primary schools, focus had also been extended to secondary and tertiary education. With 80 million older persons, the country was strongly committed to implementing the 2002 Madrid International Plan of Action
ANA MARIE LAYUGAN HERNANDO ( Philippines) voiced concern that in strategies aimed at fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals, the interests of persons with disabilities would be overlooked. Ten per cent of the global population had some kind of disability, and 80 per cent of them lived in the developing world. Their interests had to be mainstreamed. The Philippines fully agreed that concurrent global crises, as well as climate change, had rolled back gains towards achieving the Goals and could throw up obstacles for those with disabilities.
In order for national efforts to be effective, they had to be complemented by regional and international efforts, and it was important to establish mechanisms for tracking the progress of the Millennium Development Goals in relation to persons with disabilities, she said. Disability was an evolving concept. The Philippines would be submitting a draft resolution during this session of the General Assembly on the realization of the Goals for persons with disabilities, both up to and beyond 2015.
PAMELA MARTINEZ, a youth representative of the Dominican Republic, said that young people were a vulnerable group, but were also a cornerstone for building society. She noted that the youth had been left to the margins of public policy, but that young people found themselves struggling against many economic, social, and political problems, such as unemployment, armed conflict, social exclusion, degradation of the environment, increases in illness and hunger, and in particular, lack of education. She emphasized that efforts needed to be united concerning social, economic and political conditions and that alternative ways of meeting needs had to be found in order to ensure that groups such as the disabled, indigenous, ethnic minorities and children had access to services like education.
CRISTINA ZAPATA, a second youth representative, added that the failure of developed countries to keep their promises, together with weight of debt in many countries, had prevented funding that could impact on living conditions. If the international community wanted to achieve results, however, it needed to abolish mechanisms that excluded young people and bridge the gaps between youth and policy. She called for youth agents for economic growth and innovation. Stating that all Governments needed to promote human rights, she noted that calling upon the leaders of the world to meet their promises was not enough, and that if there was no response, the younger generations had to lead the process of change on behalf of the most needy. She concluded by urging the United Nations not to exclude the youth from decision-making, saying that young people were looking for greater responsibility and opportunities.
Aligning with the statements of Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Group of 77, ASHA JUMA, the United Republic of Tanzania, Minister for Labour, Youth, and Women and Children’s Development, said development that focused on people’s needs was at the centre of the Government’s approach to policy formulation, implementation and monitoring. The Government’s decentralization programme had given power to local governments and let people participate in the decisions that impacted on their own development. The Government also had policies dedicated to vulnerable groups, such as youth, the elderly, the family and persons with disabilities. She welcomed the inclusion of the needs of people with disabilities in the Millennium Development Goals outcome document.
To give greater protection to vulnerable groups, the Government had developed a National Social Protection Framework to improve the coordination and enforcement of policies that helped better the lives of extremely poor and vulnerable people. The Framework set guidelines for stakeholders involved in the funding, planning and provision of social protection interventions in the country. Despite government efforts, poverty was still a major factor that hindered social inclusion. Most Tanzanians lived in rural areas, and the development of the agricultural sector was essential to curb poverty levels and reach full employment. The development of the agricultural sector had also empowered rural women. Land legislation reforms had let women own land and set a quota for women’s participation in land tribunals.
VELISLAVA IVANOVA, youth delegate of Bulgaria, recalled her country’s commitment to youth matters going back to 1980. Young people everywhere were key agents for social change, economic development and innovation, but there was a special need for new impetus to be given to the design and implementation of youth policies and programmes at all levels. Today’s youth were tomorrow’s future, and education and employment were the key for all young people. Quality education had to help young people become active citizens, help them develop their potential and acquire knowledge according to the highest world standard. It should be relevant to the needs of the surrounding economic, social, political and ecological environment, and curricula should promote mutual respect and understanding and the ideals of peace, solidarity and tolerance.
Youth should be more involved in decision-making and implementation of solutions, she said. That this was the fourth year that Bulgaria had sent a youth delegate to New York and was a confident signal that it really appreciated the role of young people. More involvement of young people in international forums, where they could share experiences and learn from each other, would promote a cross-fertilization of ideas, cultural values and aspirations. Current social and economic conditions and the well-being of future generations would be influenced by the ways in which the challenges and potential of young people were addressed.
CLAUDIA BLUM (Colombia) noted that her country joined with the statements made on behalf of the Group of 77 and China and the Rio Group, recalling that the Copenhagen Declaration recognized social integration as essential in the creation of stable, safe, just, and tolerant societies. However, a general framework to promote social integration and inclusive economic growth at the national and international levels had not been developed. In that context, she stressed the need for policies aimed at removing social, cultural and political barriers.
The main objective of Colombia’s social policy, she noted, was to ensure that all Colombians had access to quality education; equitable social security, labour and business markets; and effective mechanisms for social promotion.
Concerning social security, 95 per cent of her country’s people were affiliated with the health care system, with more than half belonging to the State’s subsidized regime, she said. In order to reduce and offset vulnerability and inequality, the “Families in Action” conditional cash transfer programme reached more than 2.5 million poor families and the “JUNTOS” network served over 1.1 million by providing access to social programmes. In terms of education, she stated that Colombia had fulfilled on the Millennium Development Goal for universal coverage in primary education and would now address increased enrolment and educational quality. Concerning youth, a socio-economically vulnerable demographic group, the Government was promoting a bill that would provide job creation for recent college graduates. Also along these lines, the National Policy on Ageing and Old Age had been developed, as well as the Disability Public Policy. In addition to national efforts, she stated, it was necessary to strengthen international cooperation, technical assistance and technology transfer.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA (Kazakhstan) noted that the unprecedented global downturn had forced States to cut budgets, but it was “inappropriate to decrease a State’s social commitments” even in current circumstances. Moreover, financial stimulus packages for social protection were economically justified. Financial means that were not directed today for education, health care or creation of decent work would require a multiple overpayment in the near future. Indeed, Kazakhstan had increased social spending to 32.4 per cent of the national budget. That was 17.6 per cent higher than in previous years, she said.
In view of a possible employment peak at the beginning of 2010, Kazakhstan underlined the importance of the ILO Jobs Pact and a “social protection floor”, she continued. In that context, her country had implemented the Strategic Plan of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection 2010-2014 to further decent work policies. Legislative measures were also undertaken to eliminate unfair remuneration. Further, the citizens of Kazakhstan had the constitutional right to a minimum pension and social security, due to old age, sickness, disability or loss of a breadwinner. Concerning the provision of primary health care, Government measures to improve the guaranteed volume of free medical assistance resulted in a 20.4 per cent increase for 2009. Noting that the economic crisis also had an impact on health through key factors, such as decent work, income, educational level, nutrition and housing, Kazakhstan called on Member States to keep the social protection floor “stable and predictable”.
LOAYZA BAREA ( Bolivia) said that social integration was an important factor in social development, with solidarity being the main pillar that ensured that no one was excluded from society. There should be justice with regard to the material goods of nature, and the State should participate in the implementation of services, ensuring for example, that there was drinkable water, that no one lived in deprivation and that there was electricity and gas for homes. Bolivia had promoted the resolution adopted by the General Assembly regarding the human right to water and health care. Health care in Bolivia was universalized and free, with no exclusion. The country also guaranteed the right to education and had eradicated illiteracy, as acknowledged by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). In addition, Bolivia’s law on agrarian reform addressed land ownership, giving priority to women.
The representative added that, in Bolivia, handicapped persons were also protected by the State and received the right to education and free health care so that they could work in adequate conditions with just remuneration, dignity and the possibility of developing their individual potential. “A society for all is a society for all ages,” he said, quoting the Secretary-General. Because young people were vulnerable, which limited their ability, the Government of Bolivia guaranteed the promotion of youth in the life of the country, with no discrimination. The increase in the number of elderly people was also a challenge, so a new policy in Bolivia’s Constitution guaranteed all elderly people the right to dignified old age and outlined legal norms for those older than 60 years old. Concluding, he said that given the challenges that remained to creating a “society for all” and the difficult current reality created by the worldwide economic crisis, human beings were still as vulnerable as ever, and the building of more inclusive societies and the participation of the United Nations were important, if progress was to be made.
AMANUEL GIORGIO ( Eritrea) said that no society could remain immune from the inter-independent world in which people lived today. Challenges remained in the way of the goals that had been set. It was important for national governments to have the space they needed to formulate home-grown strategies to address those challenges; national governments had to remain engaged and committed to sustained social progress.
Social development in Eritrea was guided by principles of social justice and social cohesion, the representative said. Young people had been involved in addressing poverty and underdevelopment; they were agents of change. Eritrea was on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals pertaining to maternal health, HIV/AIDS and malaria. Life expectancy in the country had grown from 52 years in 1995 to 60 years in 2008. But, the road to the Goals was long and torturous. The situation of persons with disabilities was high on the agenda of the Government. Enhancing cooperation at all levels, including the United Nations system, was the key to moving forwards on a socio-economic agenda.
LEYSA SOW ( Senegal) identified social integration, full employment and the elimination of poverty as the major challenges on the road to social development. Efforts were needed to combat gender discrimination, with a view to enabling women to play their role in society to the fullest, and to participate in development and decision-making. In Senegal, social protection was seen as a tool at the service of solidarity between generations, as well as an effective means to confront poverty by way of the redistribution of the dividends of growth.
The poverty reduction strategy set out by the Ministry of Economy and Finance called for reform and strengthening of the formal social security system, the extension of social protection, the protection of vulnerable groups and the management of disaster risks, she said. Strengthening the capacity of the population to deal with risk and increasing access to risk management tools and social protection systems were fundamental elements of the struggle against poverty. Through such an approach, the Government hoped to reduce the impact of shocks that directly threatened the population.
A.K. ABDUL MOMEN ( Bangladesh), aligning his country with the Group of 77 position, said Bangladesh was one of the nine countries in which 54 per cent of the world population and 67 per cent of the world’s non-literate youth and adults lived. That should provide an idea of how challenging it was for his country, as a least developed country, to ensure education for all. Yet, the adult literacy rate in Bangladesh had increased from 35 per cent to 53 per cent between 1985 and 2007, a result of many Government actions taken to provide primary and mass education. He pointed to the Primary Education (Compulsory) Act adopted in 1990, as one example. Net enrolment at the primary level was 91.1 per cent. Bangladesh achieved the Millennium Development Goals target of gender parity at the secondary level in 2006. About 54.8 million textbooks had been printed and distributed among primary school students during the 2008 academic year. Primary school tuition was free, and the Government’s next plan was to provide free tuition - up to the undergraduate level - for female students.
The Government had initiated many programmes to reach out to its poorest citizens and boost literacy levels, he said. For example, to help increase the enrolment of poor children and curb child labour, the Government had financed the Food for Education Programme in 1993. That programme compensated poor parents for sending their children to school and about 27 per cent of the country, or 2.2 million disadvantages students, had been brought under the programme. He urged developed countries to fulfil their official development assistance (ODA) commitments to help the Government reach its literacy goals, such as 100 per cent primary school enrolment by 2011 and 100 per scent literacy by 2014. “To achieve such noble targets, we need support from the donors,” he said. “We have to ensure this because we know that education gives us the highest yield in any investment.”
BOGOLO KENEWENDO, a youth representative of Botswana, said that the major challenges facing the youth of Botswana today included significant poverty and unemployment levels, a technical skills deficit, lack of participation in decision-making, crime and alcohol abuse. Given that the youth in Botswana constituted 38.4 per cent of the population, that meant that addressing the problems of youth translated to addressing system-wide issues. Noting the importance of private sector-led growth and economic diversification, she underscored the need for young people to play a role in long-term economic strategies, adding that youth were among the most vulnerable in the changing global job market.
Botswana had passed a National Youth Policy in 1996 to address issues of youth development and empowerment, allocating consistently high budgets to health care and education, she said. Further, a Youth Development Fund was established to enable the creation of youth enterprises, demonstrating the Government’s political determination to respond to the needs of youth. Emphasizing partnership and collaboration, she noted that youth were interested in economic empowerment partnerships, mentoring, private microenterprises, youth community-based projects, the establishment of business clinics and peer counselling projects to strengthen training and employment opportunities. She also urged Member States to address such hindrances to social development as juvenile delinquency and alcohol and drug abuse, and to introduce effective rehabilitation schemes.
JANE STEWART International Labour Organization (ILO) noted that there were an estimated 152 million young women and men who worked, but were unable to earn enough to lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty. That number corresponded to 28 per cent of the total youth employed globally and exceeded that of adults. Also of concern was the fact that youth unemployment levels had reached unprecedented heights in 2009 and were expected to increase through 2010. Past experience indicated that current conditions could be prolonged, unless urgent action was taken. In 2009, the ILO member States signed the Global Jobs Pact, which included a pledge to take active measures to support the young labour force.
Demographic transition was yet another trend impacting societies and the world of work, she said. By 2050, 2 billion people would be aged 60 years or over, with 80 per cent of them living in developing countries. In that context, she noted the concept of the Social Protection Floor that promotes access to health, water and sanitation, education, food, housing, life and asset-savings information. The Social Protection Floor Advisory Group had been created to elaborate global policy aspects of the concept. On another important issue, she said “the absence of effective measures for reconciling work and family responsibilities compromises development.” The conclusions of the June 2010 ILO Conference highlighted that domestic workers, as all other workers, should be entitled to fair and decent working conditions, and their concerns and rights taken into account in the context of efforts to reconcile work and family, she concluded.
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