Mr. Wu Hongbo Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Secretary-General for the Third International Conference on Financing for Development

Opening of the Third Committee of the General Assembly

Delivered by
Mr. Thomas Gass, Assistant Secretary-General
for Policy Co-ordination & Inter-Agency Affairs, DESA

Madam Chair,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to be here at the opening session of the Third Committee of the 69th General Assembly.   I have the honour to deliver the opening statement of Mr. Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General of DESA.

Madam Chair,

I extend to you and to the members of the Bureau my congratulations on your election.

Distinguished delegates,

There is growing concern about the current state of social and humanitarian affairs worldwide. In recent months, we have seen both the emergence and resurgence of appalling violence and discrimination, the rapid spread of deadly disease, and massive waves of people fleeing their homes in search of safety, well-being, and a better future.  

We must take collective actions that are rooted in, and enabled by solidarity and inclusion. In so doing, despite the challenges, we can ensure a bright future ahead.

With the end date of the Millennium Development Goals fast approaching, and the deliberations on a post-2015 development agenda underway, Member States are in agreement on a key point: People – their social progress and the realization of their social rights – must be at the centre of development.

The Rio+20 Conference and its follow-up processes have elucidated the importance of addressing the three pillars of sustainable development on equal footing.

Building on the lessons of the MDGs, we are on track to ensure that no one, of any age or background, with or without disability, is left behind.

The post-2015 development agenda and the sustainable development goals that form its core, promise to shape a transformative agenda that integrates our social, economic and environmental realities and brings needed attention to the principles of social justice and inclusion.

Notably, the outcome document of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals calls for promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic status. It also calls for the availability of high quality, timely and reliable disaggregated data. Indeed, data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability and geographic location and other important characteristics will help ensure that no one is left behind.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Inclusive societies that respect diversity are fundamental to our ability to collectively overcome the barriers to achieving sustainable development.

The importance of social inclusion underpins the crucial work of this Committee, in your attention to protecting the rights and promoting the well-being of women, refugees, indigenous peoples, older persons, persons with disabilities and other social groups, and in strengthening criminal justice. Through fostering dialogue and guiding policies, your work is instrumental in creating the conditions in which all persons can participate fully in all spheres of life.


We have made progress towards realizing the vision of just, equitable and inclusive development.

The world continues to make tremendous progress in the fight against extreme poverty.  We have narrowed gender disparities in primary school enrolment, improved the prevention and treatment of major diseases, expanded access to improved drinking water sources, and increased women’s political participation.

We have learned that investment in human capital, agricultural productivity, job creation and active labour market policies are proven means to achieve sustainable growth. And we continue to promote the ideal that building and strengthening inclusive institutions fosters participation, people’s empowerment and social inclusion.

The forth-coming post-2015 development agenda will be built on these lessons.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Much of the progress we have made has been built on past commitments; strong commitments that remain integral to moving development forward in an inclusive, equitable and sustainable way.

Nearly 20 years ago, we – the international community – committed ourselves to refocusing on the social issues. In Copenhagen, in Beijing, and here, in New York, we outlined ambitious platforms of action for empowering women, youth and other social groups.

We underscored the need to put people at the centre of sustainable development and to achieve societies that are stable, safe and just. We recognized that this called for solidarity, equality and equity, and ensuring the full participation in society of all people. These key principles and values continue to motivate us as we work to shape the post-2015 development agenda.

Just recently, at the first World Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Member States reaffirmed the solemn commitment to promote and protect the rights of indigenous peoples through the development of action plans, strategies or other measures in  cooperation with indigenous peoples, with the aim of achieving  the ends of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The progressive outcome achieved here is a testament to our drive to recalibrate social issues within the new context of sustainable development.

During its 2015-2016 review and policy cycle, the Commission for Social Development will take on the challenge of “Rethinking and strengthening social development in the contemporary world”. The outcome of your session will be instrumental in guiding the Commission in this endeavour.

Madam Chair,
Distinguished delegates,

My Department and I will do our best to facilitate the important work of this Committee.

I wish you success in your deliberations, and thank you for this opportunity to address you today.

This concludes the statement of Mr. Wu Hongbo.

Thank you.