GA Third Committee calls for inclusion of world’s most vulnerable in social development policies
Global Extreme Poverty Not on Track to End by 2030, Under Secretary-General Warns, Cites Slow Progress in Reducing Child, Maternal Mortality among Factors
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) opened its session on 1 October, with UN Delegates underscoring the need to focus on the world’s most vulnerable groups — including youth, older persons and people living with disabilities — in order to achieve true social development.
In opening remarks, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Liu Zhenmin reminded delegates of the commitments made at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development, which positioned social progress as vital to creating opportunities for the world’s poor. With that in mind, the Committee’s deliberations this year could not be more crucial for realizing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
In particular, he urged delegates to consider the variety of factors undermining progress. Of these, inequalities predicated on age, gender, disability, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, are engrained in developed countries and developing countries alike. Similarly, slow global economic growth, climate change, hunger, income disparities, gender inequality and extreme poverty, remain intractable challenges, he said.
Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Inclusive Social Development in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, introduced several reports by the Secretary-General, highlighting in particular, the importance of proper technical and vocational training to ease the “delicate transition from school to work”. On the opposite end of the spectrum, she spoke of the specific needs of older persons, especially in emergency situations, and more broadly, focused on lifelong learning as a tool for empowering those who might otherwise be disadvantaged, such as ethnic minorities and people living with disabilities.
Rosa Kornfeld-Matte, Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of All Human Rights by Older Persons, said she was pleased to address the Committee on the International Day for Older Persons and outline her efforts to ensure equality. Older people are sometimes invisible, both figurately and in policy-making, she said, which is a mistake, as older persons have a vital role to play in society. However, they face a variety of challenges that are exacerbated in emergency situations and often complicated by difficulties in communication.
In the ensuing debate, delegates outlined a range of social development challenges facing their countries and regions. The representative of Saint Lucia, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said that equality was essential in the fight to end poverty. With that in mind, CARICOM has firmly commited to improve health care and the health care sector. He also described efforts to provide opportunities for youth, by harnessing the potential of the green economy.
In a similar vein, El Salvador’s representative, speaking for the Central American Integration System, said the increasing number of older persons in Latin America is both an opportunity and a challenge. Policies must be created and implemented that fully promote their social inclusion.
On that point, an observer for State of Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said the contribution of older persons to society is vital. Tackling the many challenges they face is a core responsibility of the international community. She called for fighting ageism so that older people can fully enjoy their human rights. This is a priority for inclusive development, she assured.
Among the many youth delegates taking the floor on their Government’s behalf was the young speaker from Finland, who said shrinking civic space and growing inequality, combined with Internet algorithms, have all triggered a polarization of opinions and lived experience. This has led to a lack of understanding about “the other”. Stressing that 40 per cent of young people in Finland have faced hate speech online, she underscored the importance of overcoming divisions by supporting social campaigns and cited the current global climate movement as “a great example of bottom-up political engagement”.
Source: UN DGC