NEEDS OF ELDERLY POPULATION ADDRESSED IN THIRD COMMITTEE
NEEDS OF ELDERLY POPULATION ADDRESSED IN THIRD COMMITTEE19951016
Greater international attention to the needs of the growing elderly population was necessary, speakers told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) this morning, as it continued its discussion of social development questions.
The representative of China said it was estimated that by the year 2001, the world population would climb to 6.3 billion, and that one of every 10 would be 60 years old or older. In some developed countries and regions, the ratio would be almost one to five. Faced with such a prospect, addressing the issue of ageing in a satisfactory manner had become an urgent task of the international community.
The representative of Malaysia said the elderly needed special services relating to health, housing and transportation. Emphasis should be on the creation of community-based programmes that would provide care for the elderly and promote their participation in the society, taking into account their needs and interests, the representative of Japan said.
The representative of Chile said the phenomenon of ageing could not be interpreted merely as a biological process that affected only the individual; it was a variable to be considered in economic planning. Societies had not yet been able to give older persons a social role other than that of a worker.
Addressing the particular problems of countries with economies in transition, characterized by reduced birth rates and a rapidly ageing population, the representative of Belarus emphasized their need for pensions and medical care.
In achieving the most efficient use of resources for social development, including problems of the elderly, the United Nations, like individual governments, would have to "renew, reform and revitalize the various parts of the United Nations System", the representative of the United States said.
The representatives of Botswana, Kenya, Cuba, Romania, Bangladesh, Andorra, Mongolia, Bahrain, Algeria and Benin also made statements.
The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. today to conclude its consideration of social development questions.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this morning to continue its discussion on social development questions. It had before it an interim report on the world social situation; a report on the preparations for the International Year of Older Persons in 1999; a mid-decade review in the struggle against illiteracy; a report on the International Year of the Family (1994); the World Programme of Action concerning disabled persons; a report on the monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities; the note on the report of the 1995 World Youth Leaders Conference; and a report of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development. (For background information on reports before the Committee, see Press Release GA/SHC/3301.)
ODIRELENG JANKEY (Botswana) said that there were currently many pressing youth problems, including unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, teenage pregnancy and health-related problems such as HIV/AIDS. In most countries, those problems were alarming. If not attended to adequately, they could erupt at any time. Societies needed to effectively safeguard against them.
She said that countries and the international community should find effective interventions to the problems of youth. Such intervention should include full involvement of young people in decision-making at local, national and international levels and in the execution of development programmes.
The youth could not maximize their participation in development programmes unless they had necessary education and skills, she continued. As a result, Botswana had committed itself to universal access to education up to the junior secondary level. It also aimed at increasing access to secondary and tertiary level education.
ROHANI ABDUL KARIM (Malaysia) said that young people in all countries were a major human resource for development and were the key agents of change, economic development and technological innovation. Their imagination, ideals, considerable energies and vision were essential for continuing development of the societies in which they lived.
The tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year was an opportunity for the international community to reaffirm it's commitment to the needs and aspirations of the youth, she said. Youth in developing countries required not only better health but access to better education, training, technical assistance, technology and credit. Addressing the needs of the youth would ensure economic and social stability.
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All countries were experiencing an increase in the absolute and relative size of the ageing population, she continued. With rapid development in the medical and economic fields, the number of persons who were 60 years and over was anticipated to increase to 1.2 billion by 2025. That increase would double the rate of growth of the total world population and would raise the proportion of the elderly from 8 per cent to 14 per cent of the world's population. Malaysia had focused on the needs of the ageing in line with its philosophy of a caring society. Several measures had been taken by the public and private sectors in that regard, including special services relating to health, housing and transportation.
ADAM E. ADAWA (Kenya) appealed to industrialized countries and international agencies to provide new and additional resources to help finance programmes designed to eradicate poverty, increase employment opportunities and accelerate the advancement of women in developing countries, particularly, in sub-Saharan Africa.
He said that economic prosperity under the open market system led to marginalization of sections of the population. The most affected included women, children, female-headed households and the elderly. It was the responsibility of the government to protect and assist those who could not cope with the demands of the market forces. Particular actions needed to be incorporated into the reform process to safeguard the poor and vulnerable. Such actions included structural adjustment programmes which took into account the social dimensions of development; reduction or cancellation of both bilateral and multilateral debt of low income countries; and the allocation of new and additional resources to education, health, housing and infrastructure in general.
His Government had allocated resources in its 1994-1995 budget to address the social dimensions of development, to cushion the poor from the adverse effects of the economic reforms. A service had been established to train the youth in jobs for the public and private sectors as well as for self-employment. Non-governmental organizations as well as religious institutions were providing assistance to the elderly. Disabled persons' involvement in the economic sector was being promoted by special arrangements. To improve the health of mothers and children, family associations had established special programmes.
JUAN ANTONIO FERNANDEZ PALACIOS (Cuba) said current economic and political policies world wide need to be re-evaluated. A States' national economic growth and democratic institutions were unimportant if its population lacked basic needs such as employment, housing and health.
The neo-liberalist doctrine in vogue had pushed back the objectives of social justice, he said. It had sacrificed social and human development for economic growth. The social situation in the developing world required the
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most careful analysis. Thirty years ago, his country had set a political system to achieve social justice on the basis of equitable distribution of wealth and services. The system had succeeded in meeting the basic needs such as employment, education and health. That system had demonstrated that social development could be attained before economic development. It had also showed that the former could actually support the development of the latter.
ZHANG FENGKUN (China) said that the United Nations had done a lot of useful work in the area of social development in recent years and scored remarkable achievements in many respects.
It was estimated that by the year 2001, the world population would climb to 6.3 billion, and that one out of every 10 would be sixty years of age or older, she stated. In some developed countries and regions, almost one out five would be 60 or older. Faced with such a prospect, addressing the issue of ageing in a satisfactory manner had become an urgent task of the international community. China had established comprehensive institutions and services for older persons. The central and local governments had adopted various measures to guarantee the rights and interests of older persons.
She said China had always attached great importance to the issue of persons with disabilities. It had endeavoured to realize the objectives of "equality, participation and common sharing". The Government incorporated issues relating to disabilities into overall economic and social development planning. It also adopted practical measures to upgrade the status of persons with disabilities in such areas as rehabilitation, medical care, education and employment.
ALIN-CONSTANTIN CRAPATUREANU (Romania) expressed the hope that Member States would implement the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. Romania welcomed the initiative by Denmark for the holding of special plenary meetings of the General Assembly dedicated to the follow-up of the Conference. That offered an excellent opportunity for a broad exchange of views, especially for the effective design of future activities related to the provisions of the Copenhagen documents. The linkage between the economic and social progress and development needed to be considered through an integrated approach.
The equalization of opportunities for persons with disabilities was essential to the overall efforts to mobilize human resources and to intensify integration of socially-marginalized groups, he continued. The State Secretariat for the Handicapped in his country, which coordinated national policies for disabled persons, was implementing the pertinent United Nations Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities. Those included free and equal access to normal and special schools, including education at home, free medical care and medicines, and exemption from many categories of taxes.
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The family should be afforded the most effective protection and assistance in order to properly develop itself as the very basic unit of society, he continued. The family was an irreplaceable social unit fulfilling a wide complex of different functions and meeting the vital needs of its members.
IGAR GUBAREVICH (Belarus) said the commitment by States at the World Summit for Social Development demonstrated their will to find solutions to social problems. Improving the social situation of the population needed to be part of economic development; otherwise, the latter had no meaning. There was institutional weakness, at the national and international levels, in addressing social issues. He hoped that the Economic and Social Council would work towards the development of international social standards.
He stated that there were serious economic problems in countries with economies in transition, such as unemployment. In his country, almost half of the population lived below the poverty level. The Government had introduced a number of measures to alleviate the problem. Other problems of countries with economies in transition were reduced birth rates and a rapidly ageing population. Pensions and medical care were becoming more necessary. The social orientation of the reforms, currently under way in his country, provided it with some political stability. However, a global programme was necessary to help countries with economies in transition alleviate their social burdens.
Two million people in Belarus were being subjected to the harmful effects of the Chernobyl incident, he said. Tremendous financial assistance was needed to aid the population affected by such incidents.
MOHAMMAD ZIAUDDIN (Bangladesh) said developing countries' efforts for social development needed to be supplemented and reinforced by adequate international support. It was imperative that the international community acted urgently in its commitments. A global approach was necessary. Existing United Nations programmes needed to be strengthened institutionally so that they could play a catalytic role in social development.
A "new development perspective" had been launched by his Government which gave priority to education, health and population control, he said. Special emphasis was being given to young girls through stipends and free eduction to female students.
MITSUKO HORIUCHI (Japan) said that it was of critical importance that the United Nations engage in a broad range of activities on social issues of global concern. The Committee's work should reflect the progress and obstacles encountered in implementing the Declaration and Programme of Action of the Social Summit.
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As Japan was a rapidly ageing society, ageing was a pressing policy concern for it, she continued. Persons aged 65 and over represented 14.1 per cent of the total population in 1994 and that figure was expected to reach 25.5 per cent by the year 2020. The international community must give greater consideration to the kinds of lives older citizens lived. Japan would like to emphasize the creation of community-based programmes that would provide care for the elderly and promote their participation in the society, taking into account their needs and interests.
The International Year of the Family provided a valuable opportunity to raise awareness of issues relating to the family, the basic social unit, she said. In the family, as elsewhere, there should be respect for the human rights and equal status of every individual. In formulating and promoting policies, consideration should be given to the diverse forms that the family took and to the changing pattern of family life. Japan continued its effort to those ends, promoting in particular equal sharing of responsibilities between men and women in the family.
Japan had been promoting comprehensive policies based on a long-term programme for the disabled, with a view to attaining the objective of full participation for the disabled, she continued.
JULI MINOVES-TRIQUELL (Andorra) said arms control or military agreements would become less important for the man of the twenty-first century. The man of the future would feel secure once his family was well fed and educated.
Social integration needed to address the different needs of the various generations, he said. Unemployment was pushing the young towards drugs and desperation. New generations needed to be integrated in the work force without affecting the situation of older people. The elderly also needed an environment that addressed their needs. A stronger United Nations was needed in the future.
OCHIR ENKHTSETSEG (Mongolia) said that peaceful advancement of the human family and its safe livelihood could no longer be sustained in a world characterized by abject poverty, a growing number of uprooted and displaced persons, violence and discrimination, and infectious diseases. Growing recognition of those ills as a major source of tension both within and among States was evidenced by the World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen.
Significant advances had been registered in the growth of literacy rates, increase in the number of literate adults and expansion in educational enrolments in many parts of the world, she continued. It was even more gratifying that that progress had come to embrace many developing countries, especially in East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean where literacy rates had approached or exceeded 90 per cent. However, the report of the
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Secretary-General and the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) revealed that major problems still persisted. More than one in five was still illiterate, and more than three illiterates in five were women. An estimated 129 million children of primary school age found themselves out of school. All those required greater mobilization of efforts at both the national and international level.
MOHAMMED SALEH (Bahrain) said social development was the core of development and progress. Social development must guarantee the right to education and health as well as the participation for the human being to serve his society. It must also provide care for all sectors of the society.
He said the family was the nucleus of society. It was a moral and religious duty to promote the welfare of the family. Islam accorded the family a special status and mandated that the family must be cared for. Bahrain accorded the family the importance it deserved, a testimony to the importance attached by his Government to social development.
Bahrain participated in the observance of the International Year of the Family and all United Nations conferences held in the past few years, he continued. At those conferences, it emphasized its achievements in the care of the family.
His Government also provided social security and medical care for older persons. The social security arrangement provided the necessary legal guarantees in cases where older persons failed to qualify for other forms of insurance. Bahrain did not face problems in the care of older persons as in other societies. Efforts had been made to provide care for all, as well as necessary facilities for youth. The Bahrain International Center provided care for the disabled.
AMINA MESDOUA (Algeria) said the existing gap between the rich and the poor had widened. No lasting solution to the problem of poverty and social disintegration would be possible without a global approach. The establishment of a positive international economic environment was imperative in achieving national prosperity. Furthermore, social development could only be possible within an environment of economic growth and democracy. A pluralist society where social justice and political equality existed was necessary for social development.
Her country's commitment towards progress had been clear with its change from a centralized to a market economy, she said. Furthermore, measures to train young people had been made.
LANE KIRKLAND (United States) said the implementation of the Programme of Action of the Social Summit was primarily the responsibility of individual governments, moving forward on programmes designed specifically for their
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country's needs. In many countries, particularly in Africa and the less developed countries, those country-specific plans would be supported by bilateral and multilateral assistance. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) would be the logical choice to coordinate multilateral assistance within country-specific programmes.
Like individual governments, the United Nations would have to make hard choices to achieve the most efficient use of resources for social development as well as for other programmes, he continued. As noted in the Social Summit Programme of Action, the United Nations would have to "renew, reform and revitalize the various parts of the United Nations system".
The United States was committed to ensuring equal opportunity for all, including people with disabilities, youth, and older persons, he said. It fully supported the implementation of the Standard Rules for Equalization of Opportunities for People with Disabilities and the efforts of the Special Rapporteur to assist and monitor the implementation of the rules.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the International Youth Year, the United States looked forward to its youth delegates participation in the special plenary sessions on youth, he went on. The future of all societies depended on the youth. The international community should also increase opportunities for older persons to contribute to the present. Their knowledge and skills were valuable resources that often went untapped, to the detriment of all.
PAUL HOUSSOU HOUANSOU (Benin) said the globalization of the economy had had negative repercussions especially on African countries. Even though programmes of structural adjustment had been implemented, social disorders such as crime had worsened. Economic stagnation had forced many African countries to adopt programmes to combat poverty, and to improve the quality of housing and education. Efforts by developing nations had been hampered by their commitments to pay their foreign debts. It was becoming vital to rethink and redefine development priorities.
FIDEL COLOMA (Chile) stressed the importance of ensuring the full enjoyment of equal opportunities by persons with disabilities. The proportion of older persons in the world would soon increase to one in four. It was expected that Chile would have moved from being a society with a young age structure to being one with an ageing population structure by 2025. The phenomenon of ageing could not be interpreted merely as a biological process that affected only the individual. Ageing was a variable to be considered in economic planning.
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Societies had not yet been able to give older persons a social role other than that of a worker, he said. A major success of the United Nations had been the creation of awareness at the international level of the profound relevance of the problem of ageing.
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