SPEAKERS HIGHLIGHT IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION, TRADE, TECHNOLOGY ACCESS IN ACHIEVING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AS THIRD COMMITTEE CONTINUES DEBATE

GA/SHC/3847
3 October 2006

SPEAKERS HIGHLIGHT IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION, TRADE, TECHNOLOGY ACCESS IN ACHIEVING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AS THIRD COMMITTEE CONTINUES DEBATE

3 October 2006
General Assembly
GA/SHC/3847
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-first General Assembly

Third Committee

3rd & 4th Meetings (AM & PM)


SPEAKERS HIGHLIGHT IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATION, TRADE, TECHNOLOGY ACCESS IN ACHIEVING


SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AS THIRD COMMITTEE CONTINUES DEBATE


Concerned by the slow and uneven progress in global poverty reduction, speakers in today’s Third Committee debate highlighted the importance of education, increased development assistance, better terms of trade and access to technology in achieving the social development goals made in Copenhagen, Beijing, Cairo, Monterrey, Johannesburg and New York over the past decade and a half.


More than 1.1 billion people still lived on less than a dollar a day and the socio-economic lot of the multitudes of poor in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and West Asia was no better today than 11 years ago, said Cuba’s representative.  A few powerful nations had perpetuated a global economic and political order for self-benefit while neglecting to make good on their commitments to aid poor nations grappling with widespreadpoverty, unemployment, malnutrition and disease.  Powerful countries devoted almost $650 billion to military expenditures but just a tenth of that amount to official development assistance (ODA) despite their siren calls in Monterrey in 2003 to “make poverty history”.


Also focusing on the need for increased development assistance, India’s representative said developed nations indeed must honour their promise to set aside 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for aid to developing countries and cancel those poorer nations’ external debt.  Developing nations could not achieve the millennium target of halving extreme poverty by 2015 without significant external resources and access to advanced science and technology –- essential tools for building the kind of physical and social infrastructure necessary to attract private investment.  It was also imperative to identify new sources of financing.  India had taken modest steps to spur growth in poor nations by providing $500 million in credit to West Africa, essential medicines, debt cancellation for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries and technical cooperation.


Stressing the link between literacy and development, Nigeria’s representative urged delegates to continue supporting the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the African Union initiative to meet the millennium target of free, universal primary education by 2015. 


Indonesia’s representative shared the belief that while alternative sources of financing such as remittances, microcredit and microfinance were beneficial, international financial aid was crucial to erasing poverty.  He supported small and medium-sized enterprises, which had boosted Indonesia’s GDP and spurred job creation.  A truly democratic global playing field would enable developing countries to conduct free and fair trade and earn the money needed for socio-economic programmes for marginalized groups.


Iran’s representative echoed that claim, stating that globalization often exacerbated extreme poverty and inequality while interference in trade relations, invasion, occupation and arbitrary use of force impeded the ability of countries to use modern technology and generate resources for social development.  Such actions contradicted the objectives of the Copenhagen Summit and deserved the full attention of Member States.  Poverty eradication required international cooperation and identifying the root causes of the world economic system’s structural imbalances.  As structural unemployment remained high in many developing nations expanding employment opportunities, particularly for women and youth, should be a priority.


Norway’s representative, one of several youth delegates making statements today, noted that half the world’s youth lived in poverty.  Young people also accounted for almost half of all people newly infected with HIV/AIDS.  Another youth delegate from Germany said poverty and illiteracy among youth kept millions of them worldwide from achieving their full potential.  They urged Governments to strengthen developing countries’ education systems in particular to provide quality education for all -– the key to decent work and dignity.


Also making statements today were the representatives of Belarus, Finland, Australia, United States, United Arab Emirates, Colombia, Sweden, Denmark, Myanmar, Mongolia, Viet Nam, Oman, Suriname, Syria, Iraq, Mexico, Russian Federation, Senegal, Venezuela, Eritrea, Jamaica, Netherlands, Philippines, Nepal, Kenya, Thailand, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, El Salvador, Yemen, United Republic of Tanzania, Qatar, Kazakhstan, the Congo and Libya.


The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 4 October, to begin consideration of its agenda item on crime prevention and international drug control.


Background


The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general discussion of social development.


For more background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3846 of 2 October.


Statements


VIKTAR GAISENAK, Deputy Foreign Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said social development was a key and promising area of United Nations activity.  However, the social record was dissimilar in different parts of the world, and required additional and more efficient efforts from the international community.  Over the past 10 years, Belarus had been pursuing economic development with a strong social emphasis.  Education, employment, health care and care for the elderly were key priorities.  Along with high gross domestic product (GDP) growth of more than 10 per cent per year, Belarus had protected its people from an extreme social gap, and its unemployment rate of 1.5 per cent was the lowest in Eastern Europe.  Education was a top priority as well, with public spending on education –- at six per cent of GDP -– higher than in many well-developed countries.  The literacy level among adults was 99.7 per cent.


He said Belarusian social policy focused on providing sufficient care for the aged, especially veterans of World War II.  The main objectives were the consolidation of social guarantees and increasing the welfare of the aged population.  In 2005, the Government had examined living conditions of all veterans of World War II, helping to reveal their most urgent needs and to choose the most appropriate measures to address them.


PAIMANEH HASTEH (Iran), associating her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, noted that, in an increasingly globalized and interdependent world, economic policies had often accelerated conditions of extreme poverty and inequality, and intensified suffering.  Unilateral sanctions, interference in trade relations and actions such as invasion, occupation, threats and arbitrary use of force considerably limited the ability of countries to use modern technology and generate necessary resources for advancing their social development.  Such actions contradicted the objectives of the Copenhagen Summit and deserved the full attention of Member States.  Efforts to eradicate poverty required national and international cooperation, as well as looking for the root causes in the structural irregularities of the world economic system.  Many developing countries continued to face high levels of structural unemployment and expanding employment opportunities, particularly for women and youth, should be a basic economic priority.


Iran remained committed to accomplishing the goals of the World Summit for Social Development and relevant United Nations programmes of action.  Her country had carried out significant efforts to meet recommended targets by 2015 and had enjoyed fair performance in eradicating poverty and hunger and in improving health, education, life expectancy, access to clean water and other basic necessities, and reducing child mortality.  However, she noted, natural disasters continued to pose major threats to the implementation of national development plans and strategies, particularly in disaster-prone countries such as Iran.  Expanded assistance by the international community to national Governments in all stages of preparedness, rapid response, recovery and reconstruction was required.  Also, the illicit cultivation and trafficking of narcotic drugs threatened economic growth and sustainable development.  No single Government could tackle this problem without the full cooperation of all countries concerned.


LOTTA BACKLUND, Youth Representative of Finland, said it was crucial not to forget young people.  Youth-led development had to be promoted at all levels; young people wanted to take responsibility for developing their own futures.  The education of girls and young women needed an extra focus; their opportunities were fewer than their male peers.  Even though young people today were the most educated generation ever, 113 million children were still growing up without any schooling and 130 million young people could not read.


Young people had to be made equal partners and actors in creating their own society, their own future and their own development, she said.  With knowledge and skills, young generations could together lead initiatives against poverty.  One of the themes of the World Programme of Action for Youth was youth participation, but participation and possibilities to influence were not self-evident to many young people.  This had to change.  Young people everywhere should be able to take responsibility for their own decisions and their own lives and futures.  It was a shame to see so few youth delegates at the sixty-first General Assembly.  Young people needed access.  To hear the voices of young people was to learn something.


KATHRINE SUND, the youth delegate of Norway, noted that today’s generation of young people was the largest in history, but that half of the world’s youth was living in poverty.  Young people also accounted for nearly half of all new HIV infections, with around 6,000 young people infected every single day.  The second of the Millennium Development Goals focused on primary education, but it was the entire education system that needed to be strengthened.  She noted three groups that were especially vulnerable with regard to education and influence: indigenous peoples, women and girls, and children and youth in conflict zones.  She said that, looking around the room, she noticed that there were not many young people at a session designated for the discussion of youth issues.  While there may be many experts on youth issues, the real experts were the young people themselves.  Youth participation at all levels of the United Nations was essential, she said.


Urging Governments to focus on strengthening the entire education system in developing countries to provide an education of good quality, relevant for everyday life and respectful of local culture and sensitive to the needs of marginalized groups, she also called on the General Assembly to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  All Governments, she said, should eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education no later than 2015.  The international community also should take responsibility for the education of children and youth in conflict zones, ensuring that the humanitarian response was well-resourced and coordinated, and that a percentage of funds raised through United Nations flash appeals for emergencies was earmarked for education.  She also urged Governments to include youth representatives when issues related to youth were being debated.


ELISE KLEIN, Youth Representative of Australia, said there were 2.6 million people in the age range from 15 to 24 in her country; that was 14 per cent of the population.  Most of them led healthy and happy lives, but some were facing such issues as family breakdown, rural isolation, drug use, anxiety and depression, and sexual abuse.  However, when young people had the support and self-belief gained through education, they could overcome such challenges.  That was why education was a key part of the Millennium Development Goals.


She cited, by way of example, the case of a rural community in Australia where some young indigenous women faced abuse and discrimination, resulting in feelings of helplessness and apathy.  Thanks to a combination of education, peer support and activities to raise self-esteem, these women were able to pursue their dreams of finding work, finishing school and going to university.  Youth were the next generation which would confront the challenges being left to them.  They needed to be brought up and educated, so as to be able to do this.  It could never be forgotten that young people were powerful, intelligent, wise and a creative resource which needed to be used at this critical time in world history.


Ms. HUGHES ( United States) focused her remarks on efforts to combat illiteracy, which was one key aspect of social development.  Literacy was critical to successful democracy, employment generation and the defeat of terrorism.  She noted that more than 800 million people around the world were illiterate, and that 771 million of these were adults.  More than two thirds of illiterate adults were women, and 61 percent of illiterate children were girls.  She said the United States foreign assistance to education programme totalled more than $492 million in support of basic education and activities in 43 developing countries.  Those activities emphasized increasing access to underserved groups, including girls and the poor, particularly those in rural areas.  She highlighted the work of the African Education Initiative, a $600 million multi-year programme consisting of scholarships for girls, textbooks, and teacher training opportunities.  The United States was working with other Group of Eight (G-8) leaders alongside leaders of the Broader Middle East and North Africa to reduce illiteracy rates by one half over the next decade.  The United States also funded literacy programmes for out-of-school youth and adults, particularly women and girls, in other countries in Asia and the Near East.  Since 2002, the United States had supported a teacher exchange programme for women teachers in Afghanistan.


In September, First Lady Laura Bush had hosted a White Conference on Global Literacy in her capacity as Honorary Ambassador for the United Nations Literacy Decade, she said.  Mrs. Bush highlighted the critical need to focus on education and literacy, particularly for women and girls, announcing that the United States would contribute $1 million for implementation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme.  That donation augmented previous contributions aimed at gathering data to determine why certain populations and sub-groups had lower literacy rates than others.  She praised UNESCO as a dynamic partner in sustaining the momentum of the White House conference and was encouraged by the agency’s leadership in this critical area of social development.


HANAN AL MADHANI ( United Arab Emirates) said that in her country, there had been remarkable progress in most social development indices, and that in the United Nations Human Development Report 2005, hers was listed among the top 50 nations in terms of human development.  This reflected growing per capita income and greater government spending on education, health and social services, and social security programmes.  The enrolment rate for elementary education stood at 87 per cent for both boys and girls; illiteracy rates had fallen and there were more women in the work force.  Polio and malaria had been eliminated, and the spread of HIV/AIDS limited to a very small number.


Convinced that human beings were the real wealth of a country, she said the United Arab Emirates had attached great importance to the development of human resources throughout society.  There was free education at all levels to prepare young people for occupations to fulfil the national development plans.  The Government had also issued a number of laws to protect human rights, including the rights of children, and in July 2005, the President had issued a federal law prohibiting the use of children under age 18 for camel races.  A law had also been introduced to prohibit labouring under the sun during the hot summer months.  In February, the country’s first human rights civil society was launched; meanwhile, special centres had been set up for troubled youth and juveniles.


CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said the Copenhagen social development commitments were still fully valid for Colombia.  The Secretary-General’s report to the Commission for Social Development accurately highlighted the need to keep in mind the structural causes of poverty when formulating effective strategies to eradicate it.  Colombia’s Seven Equity Tools Plan had, among other things, resulted in some 1.4 million new school openings between 2002 and 2006, with some 3.8 million Colombians receiving technical training.  With the national literacy plan, the level of illiteracy, which was currently at some 8.6 per cent, would be significantly reduced.  The Families in Action programme provided monthly economic subsidies for about 600,000 vulnerable families.  Regarding health care, some 11.7 million new Colombians had joined the social protection programme, which today included 35 million members.


She said that while it was the primary responsibility of States to eradicate poverty, financial support and commitment was needed to reach the Millennium Development Goals.  To make the most of those resources, coordination between the various actors, including governments, civil society and the private sector, was essential.  Equally important was the participation of developing countries in United Nations organs and international financial institutions.  Given the synergy between the Copenhagen commitments, Copenhagen-plus-five and the Millennium Goals, it was essential to ensure integrated follow-up to United Nations social development conferences.  Colombia would continue driving its national actions to reduce poverty and make progress in the area of social development.


LUIS ALBERTO AMOROS NUÑEZ (Cuba), joining the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries, stressed the urgent need to solve the problems of poverty, unemployment, deteriorating health, nutrition and other issues affecting developing countries.  In the 11 years since the Copenhagen Summit, he noted that the world had grown more unjust and unequal.  Despite many promises, statements and beautiful words from the haves, they lacked the political will to keep what they promised to the have-nots, he said.  The hard reality was that more than 1.1 billion people lived on less than a dollar a day.  There had been no achievements in poverty eradication in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and West Asia -— which constituted most of the developing world.  The lack of progress was because the powerful continued to perpetuate a world economic and political order –- or disorder -– that fostered inequalities and led to chaos in a unipolar world for the benefit of a few nations.  The most powerful countries devoted almost $650 billion to military expenditures and ten times less to official development assistance (ODA), which was only about 0.25 per cent of their GDP, despite their siren calls in Monterrey in 2003.


The Cuban Revolution had, from the beginning, undertaken socio-economic changes in order to build a just and solidarity-driven society, facing all the risks, threats, aggression, and a criminal and long-running blockade from the United States.  The blockade had been intensified in the last few years, posing the main obstacle to more accelerated social advancement in Cuba.  Despite those challenges, the entire Cuban population had access to free health and education, a life expectancy of 77 years, an infant mortality rate of 5.8 for every thousand live births, 100 per cent primary schooling and 99 per cent secondary schooling.  More than two thirds of the country’s budget was devoted to education, health, social security and assistance, culture, sports, and scientific and technical research, he noted.  Cuba also had provided scholarships and technical assistance and cooperation in the areas of health care, sports and education to 110 countries around the world.  He called on Member States to fight for a more just and equitable economic world order.


LAILA NARAGHI, Youth Representative of Sweden, said it was a common perception, especially among youth, that the United Nations was only about beautiful words.  This might be true, but the United Nations was also about making commitments matter.  Nevertheless, there were plenty of injustices in the world, resulting from national policies which did not respect international agreements.  Everyone had the freedom of opinion and expression, but millions were still living in dictatorships.  Far too many people in the world were living under foreign occupation, and unsafe abortions and female genital mutilation were a fact of everyday life for many young women.


She said that in all countries young people were particularly vulnerable.  This was the case not only in societies torn by conflicts or polluted by oppression, but also in those living in peace and welfare.  That was why the World Programme of Action for Youth was so important.  The best way forward in implementing this Programme was to cooperate with youth civil society.  Young people could not be seen as a target group; they were important actors who were needed by society as a whole.  Governments and parliaments had to enable youth to be involved in all policy areas.  Youth also had to participate within the United Nations, but it was surprising to see so few countries making youth representatives an important part of their national delegations.  That must be improved.


HOLGER KALLEHAUGE ( Denmark), of the Danish Council of Organizations of Disabled People, said adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was a milestone in the history of the disability movement, the last civil rights movement.  While the text of the convention was the result of many good and solid compromises, he said there was one black mark in the draft; at the last moment China, Russia and the Arab world had inserted a footnote to article 12 stating that in their countries “legal capacity” meant the capacity for rights without the capacity to act.  This was literally meaningless, since having rights on the basis of which one could not act was the same as not having any rights at all.  He urged all Governments to seek to convince China, Russia and the Arab world that the footnote should be deleted.  The Convention, nevertheless, represented a giant step forward in the way that persons with disabilities were perceived and would be treated.


ANDREAS RUDKJØBING, of the Danish Youth Council, said he was proud to come from a society where children and young people were granted freedom of speech and where youth participation was regarded as a fundamental aspect of policy-making.  However, if the Millennium targets were to be achieved, it was necessary to strengthen the participation and influence of young people even further.  He noted that the 2007 World Development report would focus on youth, and he congratulated the World Bank for taking on this important task.  He hoped further steps would be taken to enhance knowledge about children ad young people.  Young people must be allowed to participate in society at all levels, from community and national processes to the General Assembly of the United Nations. 


U KYAW TIN ( Myanmar) said it was true that national governments bore primary responsibility for attaining social development goals.  However, for developing countries, support from development partners was needed if national programmes for poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration were to be strengthened.  Increased ODA was a prerequisite, since many least developed countries were unable to allocate adequate resources to their national social development programmes.  Fulfilment of the ODA target of 0.7 per cent of GDP by developed States would significantly contribute to the social development of developing countries.


He said that in Myanmar the virtual end of insurgency had paved the way for the Government to step up development efforts in far-flung border areas.  Three national development programmes had been put in place with a view to balance development and to narrow the gap between rural and urban areas.  These programmes included providing an alternative livelihood to opium farmers, with the result that opium production had declined by some 80 per cent over the last eight years.  Meanwhile, new schools had been opened all over the country; there was now a school in every 1 1/2 mile radius, enabling all citizens to have literacy skills.  Ageing was not a serious problem in Myanmar, given that there were 4.46 million older people out of a population of 55 million.  It was a traditional code of social conduct for people in Myanmar to look after their parents and grandparents, and those who had no relatives could have free care at homes for the aged.


O ENKHTSETSEG, Director-General of the Department of Multilateral Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia, added her voice of concern over the slow and uneven progress in global poverty reduction.  With all the political commitments made in Copenhagen, Beijing, Cairo, Monterrey, Johannesburg and New York over the past decade and a half, one might wonder what had gone wrong with implementation at the national and international levels.  Implementation of the Millennium targets in many developing countries had been handicapped by significant capacity constraints and international support was much needed.  Mongolia had adopted a resolution endorsing the national Millennium targets and was developing a comprehensive development strategy, in line with commitments made at the 2005 World Summit.  Most of the Millennium goals, particularly related to education, health and gender, were well on track and could be achieved by 2015, she said.  However, poverty remained a persistent problem that needed to be addressed more aggressively.


She highlighted the importance of Millennium Goal 9, on promoting human rights, fostering democratic governance and the fight against corruption.  Mongolia’s Parliament had recently passed a new law against corruption and established an anti-corruption body.  Towards Millennium Goal 8, on developing a global partnership for development, Mongolia urged the full and timely implementation of the declaration adopted at the first ever Summit of Landlocked Developing Countries held last month in Cuba.  She noted that deficits in resources and in political will had contributed to the deficit in implementation of agreed goals.  Efforts needed to be redoubled to ensure that globalization was a more fair and inclusive process.  Recognizing shared responsibility and solidarity with countries facing specific constraints in their development efforts needed closer attention.  Mongolia, as sponsor of the United Nations Literacy Decade, urged every stakeholder to intensify collective efforts to achieve the expected outcomes.


NGUYEN TAT THANH ( Viet Nam) said he regretted that the Commission on Social Development had failed to adopt during its forty-fourth session an outcome document on poverty eradication.  Much remained to be done beyond the efforts of the United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006).  Overall progress in erasing poverty had been slow and uneven and the costs and benefits of socio-economic development should be distributed in an equal and socially just manner.  The international community must make good on its commitment to give 0.7 per cent of GDP in development aid and to help developing countries and ease their debt burdens.  Countries with scant resources should not be left alone to balance spending for social and economic development.


Viet Nam was steadily making progress towards achieving the Millennium targets –- important tools to forge a strong, wealthy nation, he said.  Greater attention had been given to spur economic growth and ensure universal primary education, particularly in rural, mountainous and remote areas.  Vietnamese authorities had developed microcredit schemes for women in rural areas, socio-economic projects in marginalized communities and local and national employment funds.  The Government had a strong commitment to and had made substantial investments in education.  By 2010, education expenditures would account for 20 per cent of the State budget.  Primary school enrolment was 95 per cent, and 99.8 per cent of those enrolled graduated.


SAIF AL-SHAMILEE ( Oman) said it was indisputable that illiteracy was one of the greatest impediments to development, especially in view of the close relationship between freedom from illiteracy and the ability to exploit technology.  Under the leadership of its Sultan, Oman had embarked on a campaign against illiteracy, starting with reading and writing skills, in tandem with the development of the educational system.  The Ministry of Education had come up with a special curriculum to promote literacy which included the use of television and distance learning, with a view to providing equal opportunity to all, including those with special needs such as blind and deaf persons.


With the passage of every school year, more and more citizens of Oman were being freed from illiteracy, he said.  Those who had liberated themselves from illiteracy were eligible for a range of vocations which were much needed in the labour market in order for the country’s development to move forward.  Oman had seen an acute reduction in illiteracy thanks to its programmes aimed at zero illiteracy, casting light where there had previously been ignorance.


JAN MARTIN MUNZ and CHRISTINA APEL, youth delegates of Germany, in a joint presentation, said their country was celebrating the sixteenth anniversary of its unification following the fall of the Berlin wall.  Young people, who had been reaching out for a life of democracy and dignity, had played a major role in shaping the country in the wake of that historic event.  Despite what German young people had accomplished, they still recognized that youth worldwide faced myriad obstacles which kept them from reaching their full potential.  Chief among those obstacles was a lack of education, said Jan Martin Munz, noting that worldwide some 130 million youth were illiterate; they had never sat on a school bench, never enjoyed the fruits of education.


“Can we afford [the loss of so much] of our young people’s potential due to lack of education, poverty…and the lack of opportunities?” he asked, adding “we cannot, neither in developing nor developed countries.” The voices of marginalized youth were barely heard in political processes, he said, even when the decisions being made affected them directly.  This was troubling because half the world’s population was under the age of 24.  The sheer number of youths underlined the importance of the issue to the United Nations.  The international community should exert every effort to ensure that the world’s youth were provided with access to education.  Education was the key to decent work and dignity, he said, reminding the Committee that every dollar invested in education was a much more worthwhile contribution to national and international peace and security than any money invested in weapons.


EWALD LIMON ( Suriname) said it was regrettable that the decade since the 1995 Copenhagen Summit had fallen short of expectations in implementing commitments to development.  More international cooperation was needed to create the enabling environment that would allow poverty to be eradicated, including by providing access for developing countries to international economic opportunities even as poverty eradication increasingly shaped national agendas.


He said Suriname’s Development Plan for 2006-2011 focused on poverty eradication and the providing of social protection through education, health care and housing for all.  The revised strategy would better identify those who needed help and ensure they received it.  Small and medium entrepreneurships would be encouraged and supported to stimulate employment.  The Government would work with the private sector and non-governmental organizations to create a development perspective that was both broad and inclusive.


A country-driven process with a participatory approach was key to eradicating poverty, he said.  His country’s willingness to invest in social development should be matched by corresponding efforts to reach the target of 0.7 per cent of GDP for ODA on the part of developed countries.


Mr. AL JAFAARI (Syria), associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted the negative impact of globalization on the increase of poverty.  Other factors impeding development included sanctions imposed on countries in an arbitrary and unjust fashion and conditions on international aid, he said.  If those obstacles were not dealt with sincerely, it would be difficult for countries to realize the Copenhagen objectives and the Millennium Development Goals.  His country attached great importance to sustainable development and had worked to develop national plans and strategies in conformity with the decisions of the Millennium Summit.  He expressed appreciation for the United Nations Decade against Illiteracy, noting the need to work against that scourge at the national and international levels.  Syria had one of the lowest rates of illiteracy among girls, he added.  His country had also developed a plan for protection of the elderly.


He noted that the occupation of a portion of his country, the Golan Heights, made it difficult to talk about social development.  The social and economic situation in the occupied territories was getting worse and worse.  There was a need to strengthen international cooperation in all areas to find real solutions to bring about human development, he concluded.


MABEL REBELLO ( India) said achievements, or lack of achievements, spoke for themselves.  The first of the Millennium Development Goals, namely halving extreme poverty by 2015, could not be achieved on target without a significant flow of resources and an increased application of science and technology in developing countries.  While private investment was important to achieve higher growth rates, the physical and social infrastructure in some developing countries was sometimes too weak to attract any investment.  Sequencing was therefore important.  Equally important was fulfilling the commitment of the 0.7 per cent target for ODA and debt cancellation by the developed world.  It was also imperative to identify new sources of financing.  Modest initiatives taken by India to help eradicate extreme poverty had included 500 million dollars in lines of credit to West Africa, grants of essential medicines, debt cancellation for heavily indebted poor countries and technical cooperation.


Developmental models and strategies pursued by India since independence had had a profound effect, she said.  The poverty ratio had declined from 45 per cent to 26 per cent over the past two decades.  New programmes were expected to reduce the poverty level by a further five percentage points by 2007 and by an additional 15 percentage points by 2012.  India had also been paying close attention to promoting full and productive employment and to fostering social integration.  As part of the latter, it had enacted a Right to Information Act ensuring greater transparency in Government.  India’s experience could, in general, be useful for others to take into account.  The role of the State was as important as that of the market; unleashing entrepreneurial energies was crucial; and education was an absolute must.


HAMID AL BAYATI ( Iraq) noted that since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world had made great gains in increasing awareness of human rights, constructing legal frameworks and creating institutions to bring about equity and justice.  Social development was a critical aspect of realizing human rights and his country’s constitution contained important provisions for the protection of family life.  His Government sought to ensure social services, including health care, and was making efforts to deal with poverty and unemployment.


He pointed out that the agreement between Iraq and the United Nations and the World Bank was aimed at helping the country achieve its national vision to move towards economic stability and self-sufficiency.  That compact had made his Government accountable to fight against poverty.  In that connection, development would help the citizens of Iraq, who had suffered from war and economic sanctions.  The Government was making every effort to improve living standards for its citizens, including by trying to ensure more jobs, improve education and welfare, provide assistance to the poor, and create social projects for rural development.  It was also working to improve the infrastructure for transportation, communication and electricity.  At present, Iraq needed the support of the international community in order to meet its responsibilities.


Ms. BERLANGA ( Mexico) said the eradication of poverty was a prerequisite to development, and that it was as important to get to the root of the problem as it was to address its structural causes.  There needed to be productive and dignified employment and it should be a priority to help developing countries by providing them with resources and by maintaining debt cancellation initiatives.


Mexico believed that progress had to be made so that development touched all social groups, with special attention being paid to those in vulnerable situations, she said.  Mexico welcomed the International Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, a milestone that should guarantee the full respect of the human rights of disabled persons and their participation in society as equals.  Mexico also reaffirmed its commitment to the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing.  It was important to fold programmes which addressed ageing into national development plans.  Mexico recognized that the family was the basis for society and needed to be strengthened.  Families needed more and better opportunities for development, in order to attain a better standard of living.


BORIS CHERNENKO ( Russian Federation) reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the Millennium Development Goals and the Copenhagen Plan of Action.  He noted that the Russian Federation had advanced its candidacy for re-election to the Commission on Social Development.  If successful, it would do its utmost for the Commission to remain the prime coordinating body for policies dealing with youth, ageing and disabilities.  On the domestic front, at the initiative of its President, the Russian Federation had put into place new mechanisms to improve living standards, based on four priorities: health care, quality education, accessible housing and efficient agriculture.  Regarding poverty, the priority was to improve income levels for the poor, and already the number of people living below the poverty line had fallen to 14 per cent.


In the Russian Federation, motherhood and childhood were under the protection of the State, he said.  More money was being provided for women’s medical consultations and assistance during pregnancy.  Major changes in social protection for disabled persons had also been developed.  The Russian Federation welcomed the adoption of the International Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, which, however, should not prompt an end to inter-governmental arrangements.  Regarding ageing, the Madrid Declaration had been well received by the Russian leadership, and major efforts had been undertaken regarding the elderly.  With almost 40 million retirees in his country, pension reform was key.  Benefits in kind had been replaced with financial benefits for the elderly, resulting in a positive impact for the beneficiaries.


LEYSA FAYE (Senegal), supporting the statement made by the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said that social development was the only way to fight poverty and ensure improved living conditions.  The under-employment of the young was a problem of special concern to the international community.  The elderly, women and children had suffered the most from weaknesses in terms of social development, she added, noting that they were often victims of marginalization and many forms of violence and abuse.  Senegal had undertaken a range of cross-cutting programmes to address those challenges, developed with the direct participation of the social groups involved.  Her country had developed an integrated strategy to address the connections between food security, the environment, and fighting poverty.


The State had undertaken a number of projects related to women, agriculture, poverty eradication, food security, nutrition, holistic health, rural infrastructure and the environment.  Her Government also had stepped up anti-corruption efforts.  In conclusion, she stressed that Senegal was committed to working towards sustainable development together with all its partners.


ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia), associating her delegation with the statement made by the Group of 77 developing countries and China, said it was clear from the Secretary-General’s report that progress towards implementation of the commitments made at the World Summit for Social Development had been quite slow and uneven.  Worse still, there had been slowed progress in areas such as school enrolment and infant mortality.  A truly democratic global playing field would allow developing countries to engage in free and fair trade to provide them with the revenues to attend to the needs of socially disadvantaged groups.  While remittances, microcredit and microfinance programmes could help in poverty reduction and development, international financial commitments remained crucial.  Indonesia supported small and medium-sized enterprises, which had contributed significantly to the country’s GDP and to job creation, and also prioritized development of the rural infrastructure.


Indonesia’s anti-poverty strategy also involved the creation of an effective social safety net, which would cost the country about $1.9 billion.  To help disabled persons, Indonesia would be guided by the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities agreed recently by the Ad Hoc Committee.  This new Convention represented a beacon of hope for an often overlooked group and should be implemented in a holistic manner, she said.  Her country promoted community empowerment through its decentralization process, which helped increase the visibility and involvement of poor people.  She concluded that despite the difficulties, Member States must continue working together to implement the contract of partnership born from recent international social and economic conferences.


ROY CHADERTON MATOS (Venezuela), supporting the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted that inequality and social injustice were the major challenges facing Member States.  Eradicating poverty was an ethical and moral imperative.  Poverty was, in and of itself, a violation of human rights, including the rights to health, food, security, education, housing and access to justice.  Venezuela believed that social justice could be achieved only through social inclusion.  To that end, the Government had implemented a series of social programmes or missions intended to ensure better distribution of wealth among previously excluded sections of society. 


He noted that in October 2005, UNESCO had declared that Venezuela was free of illiteracy.  His country also provided medical care for its people, including free medicine for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and free treatment at clinics in inner-city missions, with the assistance of Cuba.  The Government also had programmes designed to improve access to food.  There was a need to look at the root causes of poverty, he said, welcoming the Secretary-General’s recommendation for debt relief so that countries could use scarce resources for development.  Venezuela had contributed to United Nations funds and programmes, particularly those aimed at social development.  He underscored the importance of international cooperation and the mobilization of necessary resources to meet agreed objectives, including the Millennium targets.


AMANUEL GIORGIO ( Eritrea) said poverty eradication had become very much part of the international development agenda.  However, poverty in Africa had been increasing as a result of lack of adequate infrastructure, difficulties in accessing global markets, droughts and famine, conflicts, civil strife and diseases.  Unless the fight for poverty eradication was intensified and coordinated at the global and national levels, many countries would fail to halve poverty by the target year of 2015.  Everyone had to rally to ensure the full and timely implementation of the global development agenda.


Eritrea remained committed to the goals of the Social Summit through creating a more equitable social system focusing on women, youth, the family, older persons and those with disabilities, he said.  While international cooperation had an important role to play, national Governments should be given the policy space needed to decide on home-grown strategies and initiatives that reflected country-specific conditions and priorities.  In Eritrea, every able-bodied person, especially youth, had been mobilized in a national programme, the Warsai Yikaalo Development Program, allowing for economic and social development to be broad-based and participatory while ensuring ownership.  Serious efforts were also being made to address adult illiteracy, and to raise the profile of persons with disabilities.


TRACI-ANN JOHNS ( Jamaica), a youth representative, thanked the Third Committee for resolution 60/2, which encouraged the participation of youth in national delegations and had made it possible for her to address the forum about the critical problems faced by youth worldwide.   Several United Nations measures had sought to find solutions to problems such as unemployment, poverty and epidemic diseases, which had been impacting youth.   And although general conditions had improved, the World Youth Report 2005 had outlined 10 priority areas which needed attention.


She said Jamaica, helped by several United Nations aid programmes, had formulated a number of policies geared towards alleviating poverty among youths, but 20 per cent of youth still lived in conditions of poverty.   The United Nations Development Programme could play a greater role by setting up microcredit financing programs that could promote entrepreneurial behaviour in young people.


HIV/AIDS remained a scourge that affected Jamaica’s youth, she continued.  An estimated 10,000 youth, aged 15 to 24, were thought to be infected.   A five-pronged approach had been introduced to combat the problem, which included behaviour change, communication, and better treatment and care.  The links between HIV/AIDS infections and unemployment continued unabated, as infected youth were being discriminated against in the workplace.


WILCO OTTE ( Netherlands), Youth Delegate, said that his work as a youth representative for his country had sent him, among other places, to visit the slums of Hyderabad.  That up-close look at poverty had made him realize that Dutch children had many more opportunities than many other young people.  Injustice caused by social, political and economic inequality was widespread, crossed borders and affected all people.


He went on to paint a troubling picture of the scarce opportunities available to children in the developing world by contrasting their daily lives with that of Dutch children.  While youngsters in the Netherlands had the chance to go to school and could not hold “a proper job” until they turned 16, some 218 million children worldwide had to work to support their families.  “There is no question of a choice in the matter; they don’t have the opportunity to go to school”, he said.  For many children in the North, chatting with friends or new acquaintances near and far on the Internet provided an excellent opportunity to share information and learn new ideas.  But for young people trapped in war torn regions, the only advanced technology they saw was the weapons that destroyed their lives.


With that in mind, he urged Member States to spare no effort to generate the political will needed to ensure the best possible chance for the world’s children to reach their full potential.  Among other things, he called for the creation of a proactive campaign to provide young people with opportunities for decent employment, making it less likely that they would join gangs or disruptive groups or factions.


LAURO L. BAJA, JR. ( Philippines) associated himself with the position of the Group of 77 and China and said that while the multidimensional understanding of poverty had widened, recognizing the links between its social aspects and the macroeconomic architecture had not really translated into policies.  It was from that point of view that his Government was intensifying its implementation of its Medium-Term Development Plan for 2004-2010.  Its more focused and integrated action strategies included promotion of livelihood, strengthening of education, attainment of fiscal stability, decentralized development and the means to arrive at sustained national harmony.


He expressed appreciation to the developed countries that had honoured their commitment of allocating 0.7 per cent of their GDP to that cause. In that connection, he also referred to the “debt-for-equity in Millennium Development Goals projects” proposal by the Philippines, which did not ask debt forgiveness, cancellation, moratorium of discounts.  Creditor countries, multilateral institutions and large commercial banks were invited, on a voluntary basis, to plow back into the economies of debtor countries 50 per cent of a previously agreed portion of the debt service payments due them in the form of equities and channelled to such Millennium Development Goals projects as housing, safe water systems or hospitals.  He also urged continued discussion on how best to facilitate the optimization of remittances as a driver of sustainable development.


His Government appreciated continued focus on various vulnerable groups, he added. In that context, he welcomed the recently concluded negotiations of the Ad Hoc Committee on Disability.  He also emphasized the importance of providing decent and productive jobs to people, saying that the Philippines had especially focused on the plight of young people, who comprised the great majority of the country’s population.


NARENDRA BIKRAM NEWANG, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of Nepal, said that with more than 85 per cent of its people living in rural areas, Nepal’s national development plan was focused on improving the well-being of inhabitants of rural and remote areas.  However, population growth, poverty, lack of adequate infrastructure development and a primitive stage of industrial development were daunting challenges.  Moreover, in the past decade, the people of Nepal had suffered very much from violence and armed conflict, destruction of development infrastructure and public property, and the suppression and violation of human rights.  Women, children, youth and the elderly had especially suffered the brunt of difficulties.  Nepal was fully committed to the peace process with a view to resolving all issues through dialogue and negotiation and the holding of free and fair elections as soon as possible.


He said the Government had adopted a policy of decentralizing power and responsibility to local authorities to enable them to formulate, implement and monitor development programmes.  High importance had been attached to partnership with civil society and non-governmental organizations.  The integration of economic and social policies should focus on poverty eradication, and it would help if there were greater market access in developed countries for products from less developed nations, enabling the latter to achieve sustained growth and mitigate the negative effects of globalization.  Nepal felt that the international community should make a greater effort in speeding up financial and technical assistance, giving special consideration to least developed countries that were emerging from conflict.


Z.D. MUBURI-MUITA ( Kenya) said his country had implemented policies and programmes to address social problems, including through an Economic Recovery Strategy for Wealth and Employment Creation for the years 2003-2007 and implementation of a free and compulsory primary education programme.  Health services were also subsidized, particularly for HIV/AIDS related illnesses, malaria and maternal/child health.


Steps had also been taken to address challenges in the agricultural sector, he went on, saying that was the main source of income in sub-Saharan Africa with 90 per cent of the rural population employed in it.  A national Roads Board and district Road Committees had been established to address rural transport infrastructure.  A second window coffee auction now enabled coffee farmers to sell their produce directly to buyers.  The Agricultural Finance Corporation had been revived and enhanced to provide credit, and a mechanism in the Ministry of Agriculture provided extension services to farmers.  Development partners were encouraged to support such measures, and developed countries were called upon to increase market access for the products.


Among measures in the area of health, he said, Kenya had instituted a “Roll-Back Malaria” strategy, and it supported anti-pandemic activities by providing funding, capacity-building and equipment with resources from international sources such as the Global Fund.  A Ministry for Youth Affairs had been established for the youth, who were 60 per cent of the population.  But all those measures were not sufficient to reduce poverty without trade liberalization and access to developed country markets.  Resources had been mobilized to fund social development, including by enhanced tax and revenue collection, aggressive crack-down on corruption and reallocating of funds from other sectors.  They were not enough.


KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN ( Thailand) said that progress had been made in reducing absolute poverty globally after 10 years, but overall progress in poverty eradication has been slow and uneven, with poverty increasing in some places.  Development commitments needed implementation, and she committed Thailand to South-South cooperation and trilateral partnership with developed countries and international agencies.


She said the United Nations needed to play a central role in ensuring policy coherence and coordination of poverty eradication and social development, which could lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness.  But she noted that aid was not sufficient for countries to escape the poverty trap, and countries needed to be permitted to trade their way out of poverty, requiring a resumption of the Doha Round. 

She agreed with the Secretary-General’s finding that economic growth could sometimes exacerbate poverty, and called for even distribution of the fruits of growth.  All members of society needed to be empowered for sustainable and equitable development to occur, and she called for effective implementation of the Ministerial Declaration on Employment Generation and Decent Work adopted at the June Economic and Social Council session.  She pledged continued support for implementation of the United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012), and said that Thailand had set ambitious targets beyond the second Millennium Development Goal to achieve universal upper secondary education by 2015.  Thailand was mainstreaming ageing and the concerns of older persons into its national development plans and programmes.  She welcomed the agreement on the International Convention on Protection and Promotion of Rights and Dignity of Persons with Disabilities.  She concluded by calling for empowerment to go beyond individual and group levels to communities and nations.


ELCHIN GADIROV, Minister of Labour and Social Protection of Azerbaijan, said a review of the past decade clearly showed that despite the key place given to poverty eradication, progress continued to be uneven.  There was a need to establish the root causes of poverty; in order to do this, there needed to be a collective effort by all parties.  Azerbaijan itself had seen 26.4 per cent GDP growth in 2005 and even higher growth in the first half of 2006.  But economic growth was not enough, and so measures were being put into place to enhance social development.  Priority in Government spending was going towards social needs and the non-oil sector.


Since the mid-1990s Azerbaijan had been improving the basis for social protection.  Disabled persons in particular had been given necessary labour conditions.  Sixty-nine per cent of the unemployed were under the age of 35, however, and a State youth programme had been put into place to create jobs for young people and encourage youth entrepreneurship.  The Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict had left many people without jobs, especially among the young.  Also, as in the rest of Europe, there was a problem with an ageing population, and it was important to protect the rights of the elderly.  It was hoped that the Madrid Plan of Action would stimulate action regarding older citizens.


VOLODYMYR PEKARCHUK ( Ukraine) said the 1995 World Social Summit had recognized the importance of social development and the central role of employment in efforts to eradicate poverty.  Poverty was an issue of particular concern in Ukraine and had become a top priority for the Government.  The advancement of a socially oriented economy had been incorporated into recent legislation and poverty eradication and social integration also were part of the national unity pact signed in August 1996.


Poverty, social disintegration and lack of access to decent work still prevailed in many parts of world, he noted.  There was a need to address the root causes of poverty, which could be found in global economic systems.  While Governments had the primary responsibility for promoting development, it was essential to work in partnership with the United Nations, international financial institutions, the private sector and non-governmental organizations.  His Government was keen to support the Commission for Social Development and looked forward to the debate at its next session on the theme of poverty eradication.


MIRNA FARFÁN ( El Salvador) said her country had implemented a four-point social development plan which sought to enhance human capital and promote equality between all Salvadorians through satisfying their basic needs in health, education, housing and social and family development.  Poverty did not only mean precarious living conditions; it also meant environmental marginalization.  El Salvador had been promoting its social policy based on a systematic ongoing focus on poverty, providing services with stress on the individual.  Decisions on whether to take advantage of available services depended on families, as it was at the family level that poverty was liable to be passed from generation to generation.


El Salvador’s efforts had a strong gender component, and women now were the main promoters of the anti-poverty programme.  It was also the Government’s aim to reduce infant mortality, malnutrition, common diseases and the use of child labour.  In education, it aimed to increase literacy and school enrolment.  Street gangs were also a growing concern, and strengthening the nuclear family and other preventative steps were essential for combating that scourge.  El Salvador had already hosted a regional forum on young people in trouble with the law.


ABDUL KADER AHMED SAEED ALSUBEIHI ( Yemen) noted that despite the importance of the Copenhagen Plan of Action, implementation had not been complete or in keeping with the expectations of the people.  Poverty, disease and unemployment continued despite partnerships between developed and developing countries.  Achieving development for all called for equality of opportunity, he said, suggesting the opening of markets of developed countries to developing countries, the taking down of customs barriers and the need to address the debt burden.  Developing countries meanwhile needed to focus on good governance, expanding national sources for financing and anti-corruption efforts.  Yemen’s poverty reduction strategy was focused on providing health and education services.  His Government also had established an anti-corruption committee.


Believing that development was closely tied to education, Yemen had instituted programmes aimed at improving access to education, he said.  The Government was providing equipment to schools in all regions, particularly where education services had not been provided prior to 1990.  Primary education was now obligatory.  The Government also had expanded access to medical services, which now reached 60 per cent of the people.


He said Yemen was implementing the Madrid Plan for Action on Ageing, including through the establishment of a social fund to provide monthly assistance to elderly persons.  The Government also provided financial assistance to support small-scale development projects in the agricultural and fishing sectors.  Yemen had participated actively in negotiations on the Convention on the protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities and hoped the treaty would be adopted at the current session of the General Assembly.  Concluding, he reiterated Yemen’s commitment to work for social development and hoped that the international community would meet its commitment to bring about a true partnership for development from which all people of the world would benefit.


JOYCE KAFANABO (United Republic of Tanzania), associating her delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, noted that the three core issues addressed by the World Social Summit in Copenhagen were as relevant today as they were at the time of the meeting, more than a decade ago.  She urged more concerted efforts on the part of all Member States to realize the agreed goals.  Tanzania had undertaken several measures to meet the targets set forth in the Copenhagen Plan for Action, including implementation of a national poverty reduction strategy based on the Millennium Development Goals and developed through wide consultations with different stakeholders.  The strategy addressed employment, the environment, youth, gender and HIV/AIDS, among other social issues.


Youth in Tanzania, defined as those aged between 15 and 35, faced unemployment as well as underemployment, particularly in rural areas where most people lived.  The Government had implemented special programmes aimed at supporting youth through microcredit schemes for economic ventures and vocational skills training.  Microcredit was not, however, a panacea for poverty reduction, and the problem of employment was not limited to youth only, she noted.  Believing that decent and productive employment was every citizen’s right, the Government had launched a campaign to create 1 million jobs by 2010.  Turning to the issue of ageing, she noted her Government’s commitment to implementing the Madrid Plan of Action.  The HIV/AIDS pandemic had further constrained the lives of the elderly, with grandparents often charged with the task of caring for the sick and for children whose parents had died.  Tanzania welcomed the agreement on a text for the convention on the rights of people with disabilities.  She also highlighted Tanzania’s efforts to combat illiteracy, which, despite earlier progress, was increasing at a rate of 2 per cent annually.


Sheikh SUHAIM AL-THANI ( Qatar) said that his country had established a modern State firmly grounded in democratic principles, respect for human rights and the rule of law.  His Government subscribed to the promotion of social justice, and the preservation of traditional and universal values, while placing a premium on the development of its people.  The status of women, children, youth, the elderly, the family and persons with disabilities, had all been enhanced through policies, programmes and legislation.  Social integration had been given distinct operational expression through many initiatives in Qatar, including comprehensive services in universal quality education and primary health care.


He noted that while the issues of poverty eradication and employment had been prominent in several forums, it was imperative that more intensive global dialogue on social cohesion and integration and development take place.  The Copenhagen Declaration in 1995 had stated that the aim of social integration had been to create a society for all, and it was extremely important that that be implemented on every level.


Expressing support for UNESCO and the Division for Social Policy and Development, he particularly commended the Programme on Ageing.  It needed support on its focus on national capacity-building, and it was furthermore essential, to enhance the technical assistance capabilities of Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in the context of the implementation of the Madrid Plan.  His Government also welcomed the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and looked forward to its adoption.


BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) said that social development issues should continue to be a top priority of the United Nations, and that the realization of development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals, was possible only through a firm commitment by Member States to a global partnership.  Kazakhstan’s national strategy for social development was based on implementing decisions made in Copenhagen, Madrid, and at other international conferences on social development.  His country remained committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, and had reached or was on its way toward reaching those targets.


The task of increasing the people’s standard of living was a priority of his Government’s social and economic policy, he continued.  In 2007, allocations for social development and education would account for 34 per cent of the country’s GDP.  Through the successful implementation of a national programme on poverty eradication, Kazakhstan was able in five years to halve the proportion of people with incomes below the subsistence level.


The Government was undertaking special measures to address the problem of youth unemployment, which continued to be high, he said.  Kazakhstan also had undertaken a number of measures to improve the quality of education.  Primary education was compulsory and covered 99.5 per cent of the population.  Higher education and vocational training were provided free of charge.  Meanwhile, the government also was working to improve the quality of life of elderly persons, including through reform of the pension system and through compulsory individual health insurance.  His country welcomed agreement on the text of the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and had adopted national legislation and programs to address the special needs of persons with disabilities.


RENÉ NSEMI ( Congo) said the world’s social situation was still marked by the persistence, or even the worsening, of the gap between rich and developing countries.  Extra efforts had to be made at all levels if the decade’s goals on poverty were to be met.  In Congo, the struggle against poverty was the cornerstone of Government policy, and attention was being focused on job creation, access to basic services and improving the quality of life, as demonstrated in a detailed programme for 2004-2009, and with the support from development partners.


Unemployment among young people was an issue of particular concern to the Government, which had put into place an inter-sectoral committee to promote employment.  Overall, the national economy had created more than 30,000 jobs over the past three years.  In rural areas, the incapacity of the agricultural sector to meet the needs of the population, due to weak investment and a lack of affordable technology, was a major obstacle.  Nevertheless, the Government had undertaken a number of initiatives, including the promotion of cooperative partnerships, the revival of food and truck farms, and the production of cash crops and produce for export.  Much remained to be done, however, as Congo has been confronting an unbearable burden of debt, a shortage of domestic savings and less direct foreign investment particularly in the non-oil sector.  In such times, no country by itself could overcome the problems that it faced.


Ms. ABUBAKER (Libya) supporting the statement made by the Group of 77 developing countries and China, called for greater support to national strategies for development.  Noting the persistent problems of famine, poverty, and illiteracy, she urged members of the international community to keep their pledges regarding ODA and to strengthen effective multilateral cooperation.  She regretted that the Commission on Sustainable Development was unable to arrive at conclusive results at the end of the Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.


Her country, believing in the importance of the development of Africa, had financed a number of projects on the continent, including for food security.  In December 2005, Libya had launched programmes aimed at African women, youth and children.  The Government was committed to implementing the results of the World Social Summit and had undertaken special programmes intended to balance the needs of the individual with the needs of society.  She hoped that the General Assembly would adopt the draft Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.


SIMEON A ADEKANYE ( Nigeria) said that his Government’s guiding principles in addressing poverty were the eradication of it, promoting full employment, and fostering social integration.  Those core issues were reflected in the mandate of the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS) -- a home-grown response to Nigeria’s development challenges. 


He addressed specific measures taken to address poverty and social development, including offering farmers improved machinery and crop varieties and prioritizing the improvement of the educational system.  Improving the system of health care delivery and the reform of the pension scheme were also mentioned.  On universal primary education, he noted that the number of young people with basic skills had increased dramatically as a result of its introduction.  Adult literacy continued to pose a major challenge, however, and necessary steps had to be taken to change that.  He expressed gratitude to UNESCO for its support of Nigeria’s national educational plan through the Literacy Initiative Empowerment (LIFE).


Nigeria welcomed the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and would be guided by the principles of its contents, he said.  It was important that international support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development be sustained.  Furthermore, it was necessary that the commitment to support the African Union’s initiative for all children to have access to complete and free primary education by 2015 be translated into action. 


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.