8 October 1999


8 October 1999

Press Release



Elects New Members to Programme and Coordination Committee Grants Observer Status to Black Sea Cooperation Organization

"World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world", is the title approved by the General Assembly for the special session it will convene at Geneva in June 2000 in order to review progress made since the World Summit for Social Development, held in Copenhagen in 1995.

The Assembly took the decision without a vote, on the recommendation of the Preparatory Committee for the special session. On the same basis, it approved logistical arrangements for the session, and made provision for the participation of regional commissions, specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It also adopted a provisional agenda.

Before taking those actions, the Assembly concluded debate on follow-up to the World Summit, hearing statements by representatives of Ukraine, Israel, Tanzania, Jamaica, and Yemen. The observer for Switzerland also spoke. Assembly President Theo-Ben Gurirab (Namibia) announced that another draft resolution on World Summit issues was expected to be considered at a later date.

Also, this morning, the Assembly elected 20 members to serve on the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2000, as follows: Cameroon, Gabon, Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Peru, Germany, Italy, Portugal, San Marino and United Kingdom.

The Assembly also granted observer status to the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Speaking before the decision, which was taken without a vote, the representatives of three member States of that body -- Greece, Romania and Armenia -- spoke in support of the text.

The Assembly meanwhile deferred consideration of a proposal to grant observer status to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, sponsored by 42 nations. It also

General Assembly Plenary - 1a - Press Release GA/9632 31st Meeting (AM) 8 October 1999

deferred consideration of a 27-power draft resolution on cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), by which the Assembly would call for a formal agreement to be concluded between the two organizations.

The Assembly will meet again today at 3 p.m. to continue its consideration of the report of the Secretary-General on the work of the Organization.

Assembly Work Programme

The General Assembly met this morning to conclude its consideration of the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen in 1995. It had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document A/54/220) and the report (documents A/54/45 and Corr.1 and Add.1) of the Preparatory Committee for the Assembly's special session on social development, which is scheduled to take place in Geneva in June 2000. (For details, see Press Release GA/9629 of 7 October.)

In that context, the Assembly had before it a series of draft decisions contained in the Preparatory Committee’s report (A/54/45 and Corr.1, para. 71, and Add.1, para. 6) pertaining to procedural matters, as follows: arrangements for the special session; title of the session; the session’s provisional agenda; and arrangements regarding the participation of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The Assembly also had before it for action three draft resolutions on the following issues: Assembly observer status for the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization (document A/54/L.8) and for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources; election of members for the Committee for Programme and Coordination; and cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) (document /54/L.8).

The Assembly also had before it for action a note of the Secretary-General (document A/54/400) containing the names of 20 candidates nominated by the Economic and Social Council for membership to the Committee for Programme and Coordination.

The candidates, proposed on the basis of geographic balance among the regional Groups, would serve for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2000.

SERHIY REVA (Ukraine) said that preliminary assessment of the implementation of the outcomes of the Copenhagen Summit indicated a shift towards recognizing social development as a political priority of the international community. The decisions adopted at that forum, although non-binding, had set out stable ethical and moral standards which were to become the goal of humankind’s social development in the twenty-first century. International cooperation needed to be based on the principles of non-discrimination, open competitiveness, partnership and mutual benefit.

United Nations activities in the social and economic area should focus more on the specific requirements of countries with economies in transition, he said. That would facilitate the process of their integration into the world economic space. International cooperation and assistance would ensure more effective implementation of economic reforms in those countries, thus accelerating their economic development. In Ukraine, social issues were considered a decisive

factor of economic development. The Government pursued a national programme of action to establish a stable system of social relations in the market economy, and to promote social integration and social justice.

DORE GOLD (Israel) said globalization and the new information age promised to bridge geographical distances, transcend borders and replace traditional sources of global wealth. In the decades to come, global wealth would be generated not by what was in the ground, but in human minds. That opened the door to unprecedented opportunities. Alliances could now be built on joint ventures, not geo-political

differences. In that new arena, a significant responsibility would lie with those countries with specialized expertise. Israel had a long tradition of development cooperation; its Center for International Cooperation had established a network of projects, courses and programmes that had trained about 70,000 persons from more than 150 countries.

He drew attention to Israel’s training programmes, including one which had trained hundreds of Chinese professionals on the function of Israel’s market economy and the way it tapped the creativity of its people. Convinced that poverty eradication could be accomplished by developing potential industry, Israel had worked with Peru on projects to enhance full export trade, and with El Salvador to rehabilitate the dairy industry. The Center had made a top priority of insisting that its joint ventures with partner countries included efforts to decentralize planning and increase participation by various players in the development process.

SEIF IDDI (United Republic of Tanzania) said that since Copenhagen, his country had undertaken a comprehensive reform programme, covering the entire social, political and economic sectors, seeking to make them more accountable to the people. The Government had brought in measures to improve revenue collection, including a value added tax introduced in 1998. Tax administration had improved and so had deficit financing; meanwhile, strict budgetary controls had been put in place.

However, it was clear that unilateral action could be effective only up to a point, after which international cooperation became necessary. A holistic and complementary approach that included both the economic and social dimensions was needed. Improved terms of trade, access to international markets, increased direct foreign investment, alleviation of external debt burdens and an expanded resource base were some of the crucial issues that had to be considered.

PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) said that the world's poverty level was cause for extreme concern, as were the linked problems of violent crime and illicit drugs. Market economies and democratic political institutions had generally been viewed as promoting universalism through the removal of barriers to equality. However, in most societies there were major limitations on the operations of meritocratic principles, including those were unequal access to material resources and earning opportunities, and other status factors, such as gender, race, colour and ethnicity.

She added that focal points for economic and social development programmes should include an appropriate macroeconomic policy; and ensured access to credit and appropriate technologies for small-scale enterprises. Critical policy objectives included stimulating economic growth, and addressing the needs of the poor and other groups in the field of education.

NAGIBA AHMED AL-NADARI (Yemen) said her country had based its social development programme on economic growth in order to be able to strike a balance at the microeconomic level. In developing strategies to combat poverty and increased job opportunities, the concept of democracy always remained at the fore. Her Government considered giving women a chance to participate directly in decision-making of major importance in its strategy, she noted. That strategy had been embodied in a five-year plan and in accordance with the Copenhagen Declaration.

She noted the imbalance between Yemen's resources and population growth. Since 1994, average wages had been reduced by 70 per cent, causing the poor to shoulder a heavy burden in that deteriorating climate. She outlined measures being undertaken by the Government to facilitate ease of access to education and social security, as well as the involvement of women and children in the society. Yemen was facing serious economic difficulties that led to structural imbalance. Therefore abiding by the Declaration could only occur through cooperation between State entities and local NGOs. She hoped that the international community would intensify efforts to achieve its outcome, she concluded.

JENO C. A. STAEHELIN, Permanent Observer for Switzerland, reviewed the objectives of the special session to be held at Geneva and said that it was necessary to reach agreements on innovative solutions. Progress had been made on the elaboration of a draft final document to be submitted to the special session for action. The impact of the special session would depend on the level of participation. However, even if preparations were well advanced, governmental participation was not sufficient. It was necessary to achieve a synergy among governments, international organizations the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

He said the Swiss Government would organize a Forum, with the collaboration of the United Nations and the participation of NGOs, the private sector and the academic world, to strengthen public interest in social development and stimulate new initiatives. He called on the governments to participate in that Forum.

Action on social development drafts

The Assembly then proceeded to adopt, in turn, each of the draft decisions contained in the report of the Preparatory Committee (documents A/54/45 and Corr.1, para. 71 and Add.1, para. 6) dealing with, respectively: arrangements for the special session; title of the session; provisional agenda; and participation of NGOs.

The Assembly President said that a further draft resolution on the follow-up to the World Social Summit would be submitted to the Assembly at a future date.

Election of CPC members

The Assembly next elected 20 members of the Committee for Programme and Coordination, as follows: for the African States -- Cameroon, Gabon, Mauritania, Zimbabwe; for the Asian States -- Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan; for the Eastern European States - - Poland, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine; for the Latin American and Caribbean States -- Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Peru; for the Western European and other States -- Germany, Italy, Portugal, San Marino, United Kingdom.

Draft on IUCN observer status

Consideration was deferred on the draft decision concerning Assembly observer status for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Draft on CTBTO Preparatory Commission

The Assembly also deferred consideration of the item concerning cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO.

Statements before vote on Black Sea Cooperation Organization

ELIAS GOUNARIS (Greece), speaking in explanation of vote before the vote on the draft decision concerning observer status for the Black Sea Cooperation Organization, said the organization aimed at establishing a network of economic cooperation among its 11 founding member States. At first, it had functioned effectively as an intergovernmental forum, then, in May 1999, it had been transformed into a regional international body. It had set up working groups to deal with issues of economy, finance, tourism and the environment.

Since its inception, the organization had extended its scope to develop a grid of international relations, he continued. It had granted observer status to nine States. The principles and objectives of its charter were in harmony with those of the United Nations Charter. Obtaining observer status would assist the organization in consolidating the positive results it had already achieved and in continuing to pursue its goals and principles.

ION GORITA (Romania), also speaking before the vote, said that the status of observer would represent additional support for the intergovernmental organization’s member States. The Constitution of the organization, adopted in 1992, underlined the willingness of its members to work together to transform the Black Sea area into a zone of peace and stability and to promote friendship. The participation of Romania in that Organization represented a means of speeding its economic development and its integration into the European Union.

He supported the idea of transforming the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization into an economic regional organization, with a strong position in its relationships with other international organizations. The organization also attached importance to cooperation with the European Union. He noted that the European Union had decided to assist the member States of the organization, through various programmes, and to participate permanently in the organization’s meetings.

MOVSES ABELIAN (Armenia), also speaking in explanation of vote, said the Black Sea basin had historically been “a region with a lot of problems and intersection of interests of different countries”. Armenia, ever since independence had been firmly committed to regional cooperation and had been a founding member of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization.

Much had been done in the seven years of the organization’s existence, he said, but it still faced difficulties that might be accounted for by the fact that the majority of its members were in transitional periods or reform to the market economy. Its member States were also open to a global economic environment and sought to promote working relationships with other international organizations and institutions. Observer status would help the organization realize its mission and increase its weight in the international arena. As a sponsor of the draft, Armenia urged the Assembly to support it.

* *** *

For information media. Not an official record.