Commission for Social Development Concludes Forty-ninth Session Urging, in One of Five Resolutions, Debt Relief, Market Access to Address Poverty

18 February 2011

Commission for Social Development Concludes Forty-ninth Session Urging, in One of Five Resolutions, Debt Relief, Market Access to Address Poverty

18 February 2011
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Commission for Social Development

Forty-ninth Session

12th & 13th Meetings (AM & PM)

Commission for Social Development Concludes Forty-ninth Session Urging, in One

of Five Resolutions, Debt Relief, Market Access to Address Poverty


Texts also Focus on Youth Poverty and Unemployment, Family, Mainstreaming

Disability in Development, Ensuring Social, Economic Support for Older Persons

The Commission for Social Development wrapped up its forty-ninth session today by approving without a vote five draft resolutions calling for wide-ranging steps, from support for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the upcoming review of the action plan on ageing to improving the lot of youth, persons with disabilities and families.

Threeof the five texts recommended specific action by the Economic and Social Council.  By the terms of the resolution on the social dimensions of NEPAD, the Council, concerned that Africa is the only continent not on track to achieve any of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and deeply concerned how the recent economic, food and energy crises and climate change may hinder Africa’s social development objectives, would urge continued support of measures such as debt relief, improved market access, official development assistance (ODA) and technology transfer to address poverty eradication and sustainable development.

Further to that text, the Economic and Social Council would encourage all development partners to implement the principles of aid effectiveness and NEPAD into their development assistance programmes, and encourage the international community to support African countries in addressing climate change through financial and technological resources and capacity-building to support adaptation and mitigation.  The Council would also encourage African countries and their development partners to put people at the centre of Government development action and to secure core investment spending in health, education and social safety nets.

In a related provision, the Economic and Social Council would decide that the Commission should continue to give prominence to and raise awareness of NEPAD’s social dimensions.  It would ask the Secretary-General to submit a report on the matter for consideration during the Commission’s fiftieth session, scheduled for 2012. 

Speaking before adoption of the resolution, the representative of the United States said his country was committed to the negotiations that had led to this year’s original draft, which included a plan for NEPAD that would have strengthened its engagement and reflected the latest developments occurring at the United Nations, in Africa and around the world.  This morning, a move was made to return to the text approved last year by the Council.  The United States would not block consensus on this resolution.  But an unfortunate precedent was set as an agreement had been reached, and then at the last moment, jockeying and reneging on deals had occurred.  The United States looked forward in the future to negotiated resolutions that were based on consensus.

The representative of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the draft’s sponsor — the Group of 77 developing countries and China — stressed that the resolution, while concerning NEPAD, was about Africa and the situation of developing countries as well as fundamental issues of development.  The Group stood firmly behind it.  It believed it was best for the Commission to take action on the proposal made this morning, which was similar to the resolution submitted last year.  Failure to adopt it would create the impression that the Commission was not concerned about NEPAD and Africa.

Speaking after adoption, an observer for the Holy See said that the most developed countries had a responsibility to address the imbalances that affected Africa.  It repeated its opposition to article 14 of the Maputo Protocol, which promoted abortion, under the guise of family planning and contraception.

On behalf of the European Union, the representative of Hungary said she regretted that important elements agreed to last Tuesday, which would have supported social development in Africa, were withdrawn this morning.

A draft on preparation for and observance of the twentieth anniversary of the International Year of the Family would have the Economic and Social Council urge Governments to view 2014 as a target year for national policies and strategies to improve the well-being of families.  The Council would ask the Commission to consider several themes to guide preparation of the Year, including family poverty and social exclusion, ensuring work-family balance, and advancing social integration and intergenerational solidarity, and to review preparations as part of its multi-year programme of work until 2014.

By a text on further promotion of equalization of opportunities by, for and with persons with disabilities and mainstreaming disability in the development agenda, approved as orally revised, the Council would call upon Governments and United Nations bodies and agencies to include disability issues and persons with disabilities as they reviewed progress towards achieving the Millennium targets and expedite efforts to include in their assessment the extent to which persons with disabilities would be able to benefit from efforts to achieve the Goals.  The Council would also call upon Member States to enable persons with disabilities to participate as agents and beneficiaries of development.

While welcoming the Special Rapporteur’s work on disability and noting his report, the Council would ask the Special Rapporteur to boost awareness of the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, and the Standard Rules; and promote the mainstreaming of disability issues in development programmes and strategies at the national, regional and international levels.

It also asked the Special Rapporteur to contribute to the preparation of the high-level meeting of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly and incorporate the priorities of the international community in strengthening efforts to ensure accessibility for and inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of development efforts.  It expressed its concern at the insufficient resources for the Special Rapporteur and asked him to submit an annual report on his activities in implementing the present resolution at the Commission’s fiftieth session.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union before the vote, the representative of Hungary said the Union was fully committed to the development of opportunities for people with disabilities and had recently acceded to the Disabilities Convention, the first regional organization to do so.

With regard to the resolution, the European Union regretted that compromises could not have been achieved in all aspects of the text.  It believed attention should be paid to all vulnerable groups, such as women and girls, and supported the inclusion of references to gender perspective in the text.  It also favoured the extension of the Special Rapporteur’s mandate until 2014.

By a fourthtext, on policies and programmes involving youth, the Commission urged Member States to work with youth-led organizations and stakeholders to implement the World Programme of Action for Youth as well as consider including youth representatives in their delegations at relevant discussions of United Nations bodies.  It called upon Member States to promote the well-being of youth by developing effective national policies and programmes that addressed youth poverty and unemployment, and support the creation and functioning of independent youth councils and junior parliaments.  It also called on donors to contribute to the United Nations Youth Fund to expedite implementation of the action programme. 

Further to that text, the Commission asked the Secretary-General to strengthen the United Nations Programme on Youth within existing resources of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, so as to meet the increased demands of the programme to support, evaluate and review youth development.

After adoption of that text, the Holy See’s observer said that during negotiations, his delegation had proposed language consistent with the General Assembly resolution, the basis upon which the World Programme of Action for Youth had been adopted.  According to that language, Governments were “invited” to implement the Programme.  That language recognized the submission of reservations (document A/RES/50/81).  Unfortunately, the present resolution attempted to go beyond that text, as well as that of the most recent resolutions adopted by the Commission and the Assembly on the issue (E/CN.5/2009/9 and A/Res/64/130).

While the World Programme of Action for Youth contained various positive elements, he reaffirmed the Holy See’s reservation to it, especially its references to “sexual and reproductive health” and “services”.  The Holy See did not consider abortion or abortion services to be a dimension of such terms.  Regarding the term “family planning”, the Holy See in no way endorsed contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.  With regard to the education of youth in sexuality, the rights of parents must be fully respected, as affirmed in international instruments, including in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

By a fifth draft, on modalities for the second review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, the Commission endorsed the timeline for carrying out the second review of the Madrid Plan of Action and invited Member States to identify actions they had taken since the first review, with the aim of presenting the information to the regional commissions in 2012.

It encouraged those commissions to keep aiding the review and appraisal process through several activities, such as promoting the networking and sharing of experiences and helping Governments gather and analyse information.  It asked the United Nations system to keep supporting Member States by providing technical assistance for capacity-building.  It also asked the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Commission’s fiftieth session that would analyse the preliminary findings of the second review and appraisal exercise as it identified prevalent and emerging issues, and to submit a report to the Commission’s fifty-first session, to be held in 2013, that would envelope the conclusion of the second review and appraisal process.

Also during the meeting, the Commission adopted the draft report of its forty-ninth session and the provisional agenda of its fiftieth session.  It took note of the Secretary-General’s report on implementation of the resolution on promoting social integration (document E/CN.5/2011/2); his report on poverty eradication (document E/CN.5/2011/3); the Secretariat’s note on emerging issues:  social protection (document E/CN.5/2011/8); the Secretary-General’s note transmitting the report of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) (E/CN.5/2011/10); as well as his note on the nomination of members of the UNRISD Board (document E/CN.5/2011/11).

After closing the session, the Commission opened its fiftieth session to elect its Bureau, re-electing by acclamation Jorge Valero Briceño as Chair, and Olisa Cifligu (Albania), Susanne Fries-Gaier (Germany), Eduardo Menez (Philippines) and Najla Abdelrahman (Sudan) as Vice-Chairs.

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