UNGA Third Committee calls for greater inclusion of vulnerable groups

Third Committee Opens Session to Calls for Greater Inclusion of Youth, Women, Persons with Disabilities in Decisions Affecting their LivesThe importance of inclusiveness in efforts to achieve the social advancement of young people, families, persons with disabilities, those mired in extreme poverty and other vulnerable groups was stressed as the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) began the work of its seventy-second session on 2 October.

“We can only achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals if we double our efforts and ensure that development efforts put people and planet at the centre and leave no one behind”, Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs said in opening remarks.

Inclusive and fair globalization was critical to that effort, he said, as was facing the devastation of extreme weather.  Youth unemployment and the kind of deep poverty that had not been affected by recent positive strides in global development were also notable challenges.

In the ensuing debate on social development, many speakers called for accelerated implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to foster inclusiveness.  Ecuador’s delegate, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said more international cooperation was needed to surmount the obstacles of conflict, slowed economic growth, climate change and corruption.

Egypt’s representative, speaking on behalf of the African Group, also noted hurdles to progress despite much work to improve education, sanitation and health services in Africa.  To address such challenges, the overarching priority must be the eradication of poverty in all its forms, through collaborative partnerships and ambitious action plans, he said.

The European Union’s representative, meanwhile, said divergences across the world called for policies that simultaneously promoted sustainable development and social inclusion, adding that the priority must be placed on providing all people the choice to shape their lives.

Youth delegates from Switzerland, Slovenia, Finland, Italy and Israel prioritized education in ending exclusion, particularly in relationship to migrants and women of many different groups.  Hate speech was seen by the Finnish youth representative as a major impediment to the inclusion of marginalized groups, while Bulgaria’s youth delegate stressed the importance of inter-cultural dialogue.

Ms. Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, presented six reports and a note by the Secretariat.  The report on the World Summit for Social Development (document A/72/158) provided an overview of trends and strategies for reducing inequality.  Highlighting the situation of young people, older persons, persons with disabilities, among others, the report recommended attention to the structural causes of poverty, investments in human capital and support for national poverty eradication commitments.  The Secretariat note on the World Social Situation 2017 (document A/72/211) outlined conditions for promoting inclusive social protection: universal coverage — so that such programmes met the needs of diverse groups; improved access and sufficient benefits to guarantee adequate living standards.

Noting that the report on cooperatives (document A/72/159) made the case for why they were important for realizing the new Sustainable Development Goals, she said the report on ageing (document A/72/161) covered the determinants of poverty and vulnerability in old age, while that on the International Year of the Family (document A/72/166) analysed trends and described cash transfers as effective when accompanied by access to education and health services.  The report on social integration (document A/72/189) covered strategies for youth, older persons, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples, while the reports on youth (document A/72/190) and women and girls with disabilities (document A/72/227), respectively, recommended efforts to strengthen youth development policies, and to ensure the equal participation of those women and girls in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol.

Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Social Affairs (UN DESA), said:  “We can only achieve the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals if we double our efforts and ensure that development efforts put people and planet at the centre and leave no one behind”.  Inclusive and fair globalization was critical to that effort, as was facing the devastation of extreme weather and other rising challenges caused by climate change, demographics and other factors.

Describing sharp rises in unemployment and inequality, he said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stressed the importance of building strong partnerships to bring about the transformations needed to overcome such ills, as well as facing the strong hurdles to accomplishing what he called “the last mile of poverty eradication”, to assist the 766 million people still mired in extreme poverty despite overall progress.  Implementation of the Agenda must be accelerated and the sharing of national experiences increased.  Social protection should be recognized as a key policy tool in all such activities; universal access to such protection was a fundamental human right and necessary to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty.  Most importantly, an integrated approach tying together all efforts was essential, he said.

Read more at: http://www.un.org/press/en/2017/gashc4195.doc.htm


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