His Excellency Deputy Prine Minister Pham Gia Khiem
Head of the Delegation of Vietnam
Excellencies, Heads of States and Governments,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, I wish to convey to you, Mr. President, and all distinguished delegates attending this Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Social Development our warmest greetings.
The Vietnamese Delegation greatly shares the assessments reflected in the draft document on the implementation of the Copenhaghen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action. We are of the view that the most prominent result so far has been the consensus reached by the international community on the importance of social development and the higher priorities countries are giving to social development in pursuit of their overall development objectives and policies. The success of the international conference on the 20/20 initiative that the Government of Vietnam had the honour to host in Hanoi in October 1998 constitutes a vivid manifestation of the international community's awareness of the importance of social development. We note with satisfaction that over the past years, many countries have formulated and successfully implemented poverty reduction, job creation and social integration programmes, thus improving considerably their peoples' living conditions, creating positive impacts on social development.
However, Mr. President, many challenges and difficulties remain for each country and for the international community as a whole to overcome. We are witnessing the widening gap between the rich and the poor within and among countries. Many developing countries are further lagging behind. Wars, ethnic and religious conflicts have been wearing out national resources, which otherwise could be used for social development. At a time when knowledge-based economies are contributing greater and greater parts to the growth of the world economy as a whole, in many developing countries, the number of children going to school accounts for less than 50% A large part of the world's population continues to live with hunger and in poverty. Together with all that, the lack of education and unemployment are becoming fertile soil for the spread of HIV/AIDS infection and transmission and other social evils such as drug addiction, corruption, smuggling, organized crimes... Here and there, times and again, women continue to be victims of discrimination and unequal relations in their own families and in society.
In the context of the above-mentioned situation, the Vietnamese Delegation holds that the need to strengthen international solidarity and cooperation in solving pressing social issues of nations and striving for social development has truly become more important and urgent than ever. Such solidarity and cooperation are essential in efforts aimed at reforming international institutions and regimes in the fields of trade, investment, intellectual property, environment, labour, etc... in order to make them equitable and non-discriminative , thus being able to render effective assistance and services to developing and least developed countries. In the same spirit of solidarity and cooperation, the developed countries should reserve for developing countries preferential treatment in market access, technology transfer, debt restructuring, reduction and cancellation... While expressing our high appreciation to those developed countries which have been living up to the commitment to reserve at least 0,7% of their GNPs for official development aid, we appeal to the others to do likewise. The Vietnamese Delegation hopes that the final document of this Special Session will be one of international solidarity and cooperation. And, this, I believe, Mr. President, will be its success.
The Vietnamese Government always considers that just social policies in pursuit of happiness for the people constitute a 'strong driving force to release the people's creativity in national building. Our fundamental and consistent approach to socio-economic policies is to link economic growth with social justice. State investment in social sectors keeps increasing, accounting for more than 25 % of annual State budgets, with special priorities for investment in poverty reduction, job creation, education and other basic social services. As a result, the poverty rate was reduced from 20% in 1995 to 11 % in 2000; by 2000, objectives in illiteracy elimination and primary education universalization have been achieved nation-wide; over 90% of the population have access to health-care services; the population growth rate has been brought down from 1.8% to the present 1.53%, for which success in 1999 Vietnam was selected for the United Nations Population Award; 60% of the households have access to clean water; 80% of the nation's territory is covered by television programmes, 90% by radio broadcasts; the livelihood of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups has improved substantially and they hence have better integrated into the national community.
The Vietnamese Government is at present in the process of defining the socio-economic development strategy for the 2001-2010 period. Even though the country remains poor with an imbalanced budget and limited financial resources , in the formulation of strategies and in the adjustment of economic and investment structures, we will continue to give high priorities to social development; especially to the promotion of education and training which is aimed at raising the people's knowledge, developing human resources and nurturing talents. We will concentrate utmost efforts on promoting the broad participation by the entire society, especially mass organizations, in the process of social development. The same efforts will be spent on improving the legal system and on administrative reform.
In concluding, Mr. President, from this forum, I wish to express our gratitude to countries, international organizations, especially those pertaining to the UN system, and non-governmental organizations the world over for their valuable assistance and cooperation during the past years which we hope to further enjoy.
Thank you for your attention.