18 February 2005


Press Release

Commission for Social Development

Forty-third Session

14th & 15th Meetings (AM & PM)

Concluding annual session, social development commission approves texts


on disabled persons, African development, organization of work

Opens Next Session to Elect Officers

The Commission on Social Development, concluding its annual session today, recommended a draft text to the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) for adoption, which would have the Commission organize its work in a series of two-year action-oriented cycles on implementation of internationally agreed commitments to advance social development, including review and policy segments, beginning in 2007.

The draft decision presented by the Commission Chairman would also have the Commission include review and policy segments in its implementation cycles, and continue to review plans and programmes of action pertaining to social groups, including in relation to the priority theme.  Also by the text, the review of implementation of relevant conference outcomes -- the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and the outcome of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly -- would emphasize increased exchange of national, regional and international experiences, focused and interactive dialogues among experts and practitioners, and sharing of best practices and lessons learned.

Two draft resolutions on persons with disabilities were also approved today by consensus –- including a text, as orally revised, on the drafting of the convention on disability, and another, as orally amended, on the promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and protection of their human rights.  A draft submitted by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) was also recommended for adoption by ECOSOC.

Commission members adopted the draft report of the session, as orally revised.  Following its adoption, the Netherlands’ representative, referring to the summaries of the three round tables held on 11 February, said that “an outcome document of any interactive dialogue should never be a negotiated document in whatever form”, but be solely based upon the outcomes of the dialogues.  That had always been the Commission’s practice.  He regretted that the impression had been created that negotiations had been part of a process of “summarizing the summaries”, since only the Chair’s summary “counts”.  Consultations should always be conducted in a fully transparent and unbiased manner, he said.

Similarly, Cuba’s representative had disagreed with the summary of the round table on full employment, which had excluded special questions on the international order that affected the underdeveloped countries and which had been raised by various participants from those States.  One point to which he was referring, and which his delegation had raised during the round table, had concerned unilateral, coercive measures taken against his country in contravention of the United Nations Charter.  Other delegations had a similar attitude with regard to the omission of other issues raised during that round table.  The Chairman of a round table must exercise his responsibility with due respect for freedom of opinion and expression, even in the case of divergent opinions.

Argentina’s speaker agreed that the round-table summaries were not negotiated texts, and should properly reflect the opinions of all members.  He had sought to incorporate some elements omitted from the summary into the Commission’s final report, with a view to having a more balanced summary of the opinions expressed at the round table.  He thanked the Commission’s Chairman for having included them in session’s report.

The representative of Canada welcomed the high-level interaction that had prevailed throughout the session.  On a procedural note, she said she was surprised at the discussion about the Chairperson’s summaries and was confident that, in the future, the Commission’s established practice could continue.

Prior to the report’s adoption, members took note of the Secretary-General’s report on review of further implementation of the World Summit for Social Development and the outcome of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document E/CN.5/2005/6).  They also took note of the Secretary-General’s report on the review of the Commission’s work methods (document E/CN.5/2005/2).

In closing remarks, the Commission Vice-Chairperson, Hossein Moeini Meybodi (Iran), said the meeting had been exceptional in several ways, especially given the participation of high-level representatives from both member and non-member countries.  He thanked negotiating partners and delegations for their cooperation.

Representatives of Jamaica, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, and Luxembourg, on behalf of the European Union, expressed thanks at the session’s successful conclusion.

The Commission’s forty-third session began on 9 February with a high-level review of implementation of the commitments undertaken by world leaders in Copenhagen 10 years ago, and renewed in the General Assembly in 2000.  The high-level plenary meeting, held from 10 to 12 February, culminated in the consensus approval of a 10-point Declaration by which participating governments, pending adoption of the text by ECOSOC, would renew their invitation to all people in all countries and in all walks of life, as well as the international community, to join in realizing the shared vision for a more just and equitable world.  (The Declaration will be relayed through ECOSOC to the Genera Assembly’s high-level review of the Millennium Development Goals in September.)

Opening of Forty-fourth Session

In keeping with its usual practice, the Commission opened its next session, the forty-fourth, upon conclusion of the 2005 session, and elected the Bureau by acclamation, as follows:  Ernesto Araníbar Quiroga (Bolivia), Chairman; Valérie Bruell-Melchior (Monaco), Vice-Chairperson.  Elections for the three remaining Vice-Chairpersons and one Rapporteur were pending further consultations.

The incoming Chairman said the next session would be held just months following that important event on the Millennium Development Goals, which should motivate the Commission’s work towards full employment, poverty eradication, and social integration.

Summary of Texts

By the text on implementation of the social objective of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Economic and Social Council would recognize the serious challenges facing social development in Africa, in particular illiteracy, poverty, HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases, and, therefore, stress the need for renewed political will at the national, regional, and international levels to invest in the people and their well-being, so as to achieve the objectives of social development.

Emphasizing that democracy, respect for human rights, transparent and accountable governance and effective participation by civil society were among the indispensable foundations for the realization of social and people-centred development, ECOSOC would urge United Nations system, in coordinating its activities at all levels, to foster a coherent response, including through close collaboration with bilateral donors, in NEPAD’s implementation in response to the needs of individual countries within the Partnership’s larger framework.

By a related text on further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and protection of their human rights (document E/CN.5/2005/L.3), ECOSOC would decide to renew the mandate of the Special Rapporteur through 31 December 2008 to further the promotion and monitoring of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, including the human rights dimensions of disability.

Also, the Council would urge governments, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations to take practical action to create greater awareness and support for the further implementation of the Standard Rules.  It would request the Secretary-General to strengthen consultation mechanisms, information exchange and the active participation of the relevant United Nations bodies, the specialized agencies and related organizations to further implement the Standard Rules.

By the text on the comprehensive and integral international convention to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities (document E/CN.5/2005/L.4), ECOSOC would welcome progress achieved so far in the negotiation of a draft convention, and invite Member States and observers to participate actively in the Ad Hoc Committee, with a view to an early conclusion of a draft convention to be presented to the General Assembly for adoption.

The Council would also request the Commission for Social Development to contribute to the negotiation process in the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities and the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons.  The Department of Economic and Social Affairs would be requested to support the work of the Ad Hoc Committee, through collaboration with the Special Rapporteur and other United Nations bodies, through, among other things, providing information on issues related to a draft international convention and promoting awareness of the Ad Hoc Committee’s work.

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For information media. Not an official record.