Promoting social development

The Fiftieth Session of the Commission for Social Development took place in New York on 1-10 February

This year was the policy session on the priority theme “Poverty eradication, taking into account its relationship with social integration and full employment and decent work for all”. General discussions and a high-level panel discussion were devoted to this theme on 1 February. A Special Event on the financing of social development was organized on 3 February and a panel discussion was held as part of emerging issues on “youth: poverty and unemployment” on 6 February.

Priority theme: poverty eradication

A high-level expert panel discussion preceded the general discussions on this agenda item. Delegations expressed concern about the ongoing financial and economic crisis which could further undermine the realization of the MDGs, especially poverty and hunger eradication. Job creation, economic growth and people-centered socio-economic policies should be at the core of the current macroeconomic policies to mitigate further worsening of the negative impacts.

Addressing the main causes of poverty – unemployment, inequality, instability and armed conflicts – remained a priority. Identification of sources of innovative financing for social development globally and mobilizing domestic resources of the developing countries were named among some tools to pursue, considering the current trends to reduce public budgets. Many delegations welcomed the social protection floor initiative.

Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups

The Commission heard a presentation by the Special Rapporteur on Disability, Mr. Shuaib Chalklen. The Rapporteur first briefed the Commission on his work during the past year and outlined latest steps in the promotion, monitoring, and implementation of the human rights and disability-specific instruments worldwide, with a specific focus on Africa. Mr. Chalklen stressed the need for disability to be mainstreamed into all development agendas. The upcoming UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012 and the High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Disability and Development, to be held in September 2013, provide such opportunities. 

Youth: poverty and unemployment

The Commission held a panel discussion on the topic of “Youth: poverty and unemployment”, chaired by Mr. Mohamed Elbahi, Vice-Chair (Sudan). The panellists discussed social and economic policies to foster decent work opportunities for young people; EU’s work to prioritize youth employment within the G-20 agenda, in partnership with the ILO; ways to better align education programmes to match the actual demands of the labour markets; more careful data collection and monitoring of youth employment trends to ensure better policy responses; and Uruguay’s tri-fold approach involving young people, the State and private-sector companies to address youth unemployment.

Special event on financing of social development

The Commission held a special event on this topic moderated by the Director of UN DESA’s Financing for Development Office, with presentations by representatives of the IMF, ILO, civil society and the President of the National Institute of Statistics of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

The panellists discussed ways to leverage ODA for social protection systems; financing of social development as a national priority that has to be country-specific; innovative strategies that could help finance social development, such as taxing mineral exploitation, increasing social contributions, reducing non-essential spending, taxing hydrocarbon sales and cancelling debt; and finding the right balance between social and economic investments by mobilizing national resources, regulating foreign direct investment, establishing fair rules for world trade and initiating new instruments for development.          

Session concludes

The Commission concluded its session by adopting seven draft resolutions for adoption by the Economic and Social Council, covering topics that ranged from the mainstreaming of disability into the international development agenda, to the priority theme for the next session.

Several of the texts approved focused on organizational matters, including the Commission’s future organization and working methods. By its terms, the Economic and Social Council would select “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all” as the priority theme for Commission’s fifty-first session. 

Other draft resolutions approved focused on specific initiatives, including preparations for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family (1994), while others explored the social dimensions of existing international instruments, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

For more information:
Commission for Social Development