22 February 2008


22 February 2008
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission for Social Development

Forty-sixth Session

14th Meeting (PM)



Other Texts Address Disability in Development Agenda, Disability Rapporteur,

Ageing Action Plan Review, Social Dimensions of Africa’s Development Partnership

Recognizing that a people-centred approach must be at the heart of economic and social development, the United Nations Commission on Social Development today concluded its forty-sixth session, calling on Governments to match their words with deeds in terms of eliminating poverty by ensuring decent employment for all.

The Commission, which had to suspend its work at the end of last week to allow delegations more time to negotiate, also approved key resolutions urging greater attention to persons with disabilities and elderly persons, as well a text on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).  All resolutions except the text on ageing will be forwarded to the Economic and Social Council for final adoption.

Approving a consensus text on its priority theme: “promoting full employment and decent work for all”, the Commission recommended that the Economic and Social Council call on Governments “as a matter of priority” to continue efforts towards ratifying and fully implementing relevant International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions and core principles embodied by the “Decent Work Agenda”.

The Agenda brings together the goals of rights at work, employment and social protection in a coherent, development-oriented and gender-equitable vision to guide economic and social policy choices and, to that end, the resolution calls on Governments to work towards ensuring freedom of association, the effective recognition of the right to organize and bargain collectively and the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, as well as the effective elimination of child labour and discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

Recalling the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development, which had embraced the notion of putting people at the centre of development, the text would have the Economic and Social Council stress that productive employment and decent work are key elements for the sustainable development of all countries, and reaffirm that decent work should be a made a central objective of relevant national and international policies and development strategies as part of the global efforts to achieve agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.

The text reaffirms that social integration policies should seek to reduce inequalities, promote access to basic social services, education for all and health care, and increase the participation and integration of social groups and, to that end, stresses that policies and strategies to achieve full employment and decent work should include specific measures to promote gender equality and foster integration for social groups, such as youth, persons with disabilities, and older persons, as well as migrants and indigenous peoples.

Further by the resolution, the Economic and Social Council would call on the public sector to continue to play its important role in developing an environment that enables the effective generation of full and productive employment and decent work for all, while acknowledging its role as an employer, and likewise calls on the private sector to continue its vital role in generating new investments, employment and financing for development and in advancing efforts towards full employment and decent work.

Having chosen to discuss “mainstreaming disability in the development agenda” as an emerging issue this year, the Commission approved a relevant resolution expressing concern that, halfway to the target date of 2015 of the Millennium Development Goals, the situation of persons with disabilities has not been adequately considered, including in the discussions and reports on the Millennium Goals.

The text would have the Economic and Social Council encourage States, United Nations entities and the wider international community to take advantage of the range of international normative and policy instruments on disability, including the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Those instruments, according to the text, would guide international efforts to ensure that the issues related to persons with disabilities, including the disabled people’s perspective, are incorporated into the formulation of policies, the conduct of their mandate and missions, and their budget allocations, aiming at the full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in development, both as beneficiaries and agents.

A related text would have the Economic and Social Council renew the mandate of the Commission’s Special Rapporteur on Disability through 31 December 2011, and request the Special Rapporteur to further advocate the promotion of equal opportunities for persons with disabilities towards the full enjoyment of all their human rights.  Further, that expert would be requested to create awareness of the Convention, act as a catalyst to promote international and technical cooperation on disability issues and collaborate with all relevant stakeholders.

Also by that resolution, the Council would call on all Governments to continue engaging in direct dialogue with the Special Rapporteur, and call on those States and regional organizations that had not yet signed or ratified the Convention and the Optional Protocol to consider doing so.  It also would urge Governments, the Secretary-General, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations, as well as invite human rights treaty bodies and others, to further promote implementation of the World Programme of Action.

By another text, the Commission recognized the successful conclusion of the first review and appraisal of the 2002 Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing, and its results at the international, regional and national levels, and called on Governments to continue to participate in the implementation of the Action Plan, through, among other ways, improving data collection and sharing ideas, information and good practices.

The resolution also encourages Governments to continue their efforts to mainstream the concerns of older persons in their policy agendas, “bearing in mind the crucial importance of family, intergenerational interdependence, solidarity and reciprocity for social development, and the realization of all human rights for older persons, and to prevent age discrimination and provide social integration.”

Also adopted by consensus was a resolution on the social dimensions of NEPAD.  It would have the Economic and Social Council welcome the progress made by African countries in fulfilling their NEPAD commitments, but also stress that further steps forward “require a favourable national and international environment for Africa’s growth and development, including measures to promote a policy environment conducive to private sector development and entrepreneurship”. 

It recognizes the need for national Governments and the international community to continue efforts to increase the flow of new and additional resources for development financing, and welcomes the efforts by development partners to align their financial and technical support to Africa more closely with the priorities of NEPAD.

In other action, the Commission decided that the priority theme for its 2009-2010 review and policy cycle would be “social integration”, taking into account its earlier discussions on poverty eradication (2006) and full employment and decent work for all (2007-2008).  It decided to maintain the two-year review and policy cycle programme until its fiftieth session (2012), while continuing to review its working methods.

The forty-sixth session, which opened at Headquarters on 6 February, dealt with employment, ageing, disability and youth, with discussions focused squarely on “jobless growth”, an emerging phenomenon many delegations believed was becoming more pronounced as world economies expanded, but failed to generate enough decent employment to lift people out of extreme poverty.

The Commission followed-up the first of its two-year action-oriented implementation cycles on “promoting full employment and decent work for all”, aiming to devise policy options and practical measures that States could use to implement internationally agreed goals for full employment and productive work.  The Commission’s forty-fifth session, the implementation cycle’s “review segment”, identified constraints, best practices and possible approaches for achieving full employment and reversing trends towards low-paying, insecure and temporary jobs.

Along with its consideration of the growing conditions of job insecurity and instability that workers are experiencing worldwide, the growing ranks of self-employed and the rapid growth of the service sector, the 46-member Commission discussed trends in youth employment and continued its follow-up to the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the 1995 World Summit for Social Development.  The Commission also discussed and reviewed the preliminary findings of the first review and appraisal of the 2002 Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing.

Also during the session, the Commission heard the latest report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability, Sheikha Hissa al-Thani, and held an interactive discussion with Manuela Tomei, Director of the Working Conditions Branch of the International Labour Organization (ILO).on “full employment and decent work: intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women”.

The session opened with a keynote address by Carlos Tomada, Argentina’s Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Protection.  Other highlights included three expert panel discussions, respectively on “promoting full employment and decent work for all”, “review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing” and “mainstreaming disability in the development agenda”.

By an oral decision taken today, the Commission took note of the documents it had before it during the session: a note by the Secretariat on the future organization and methods of the Commission’s work; a note by the Secretary-General on preparation of the strategic framework for the period 2010-2011; the Secretary-General’s report on promoting full employment and decent work for all; the Secretariat’s note on full employment and decent work; intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of violence against women; the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability; and the Secretariat’s note on mainstreaming disability in the development agenda.

Immediately following the closing of the forty-sixth session, the Commission held an organizational meeting for the next session, electing by acclamation Kirsti Lintonen (Finland) as Chairperson of its forty-seventh session; and Lilit Toutkhalian (Armenia), Tareq Md. Ariful Islam (Bangladesh) and Lorena Gimenez (Venezuela) as Vice-Chairpersons.  In the absence of nominations of candidates for Vice-Chairpersons from the other regional groups, the Commission postponed the election of the remaining members of the Bureau.

Action on Drafts

The first item taken up by the Commission was a draft resolution on its future organization and methods of work (document E/CN.5/2008/L.6), introduced by Vice-Chairperson Ignacio Llanos (Chile), who drew the Commission’s attention to some technical corrections to the text.  The resolution was approved as orally amended.

Commenting on the reports and documents before the Commission, the representative of the Philippines said her delegation would find useful the analytical assessments of social development initiatives around the world, not merely lists of submissions by States.

The Commission next took up the draft resolution on the social dimensions of the NEPAD (document E/CN.5/2008/L.3), which had been introduced by the representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China in a brief meeting on 14 February.  Today, she introduced a number of technical corrections and amendments to the text.

Before action was taken, the representative of the United States said that the way the resolution had been handled had “frankly caused a bit of concern”.  It had been submitted at the very last minute and some of the negotiating sessions had not been announced.  Hence, not all delegations had had a chance to participate.  The United States believed that the subject matter of the text was too important to be handled in such a “careless manner”.

The text was approved without vote.

Turning next to its priority theme, “full employment and decent work for all”, the Commission took up a relevant draft resolution presented by the Chairperson (document E/CN.5/2008/L.8).  The resolution was approved as orally amended by the Chairperson.

Following the adoption of the text, the representative of Japan said that language in operative paragraph 9 on a comprehensive solution to the external debt problem did not mean that a new debt relief scheme should be created, but that efforts should be stepped up to promote efforts already under way.

The representative of Antigua and Barbuda, speaking on behalf the Group of 77 and China detailed how the final language of the draft had been arrived at.  She stressed that the Commission had had a relatively short meeting schedule, which caused problems and scheduling conflicts for a delegation as large as the Group of 77.  With that in mind, adequate flexibility and consideration should be given during negotiations.

Following that action, Commission Vice-Chairperson, Zhang Dan (China) introduced a draft resolution on the First review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing (document E/CN.5/2008/L.5), contained in an informal working paper.  The text was approved without vote.

The Commission next heard the introduction of a draft resolution on further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities, and protection of their human rights, (document E/CN.5/2008/L.7) introduced by Vice-Chairperson Sonja Kreibich (Germany).  It was approved without a vote.

The Commission then adopted without vote a draft resolution on the mainstreaming of disability in the development agenda (document E/CN.5/2008/L.4), which had been introduced on 14 February by the representative of Antigua and Barbuda on behalf of the Group of 77 developing countries and China.

Today, she introduced extensive technical corrections and amendments to the text.  She said that negotiations on the text had been concluded prior to introduction, so the delegation had taken those concerns on board.

After the text was approved, Ms. Kreibich said the Commission worked in a way that required taking a decision on resolutions largely on their merits.  She had been troubled, therefore, by attempts this year to link the adoption of some texts with the adoption of others.  If such attempts had not occurred, the Commission might have been able to wrap up its negotiations and finish its work on time.

Finally, the Commission adopted the draft provisional agenda of its forty-seventh session (document E/CN.5/2008/L.2), as well as the draft report of its current session (document E/CN.5/2008/L.1), introduced by Vice-Chair and Commission Rapporteur, Ms. Zhang.

The Commission will meet again at a time and date to be announced.

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