THIRD COMMITTEE CONTINUES CONSIDERING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUES
THIRD COMMITTEE CONTINUES CONSIDERING SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ISSUES19951016 The United Nations system had agreed last week on a process for strengthening its commitment to the goals established at the 1995 World Social Summit in Copenhagen, the Third Committee (Social Humanitarian and Cultural) was told this afternoon, as it continued its discussion of social development questions.
The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), James Gustave Speth, said in strengthening its commitment, the United Nations system would keep additional machinery to a minimum, ensuring that inter-agency arrangements were light and flexible. Four new inter-agency task forces to enhance collaboration in the implementation of social development measures, had been conceived. They were chaired by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the World Bank. The fourth would be established after Member States had considered the recommendations of the Fourth World Conference on Women.
Prada de Mesa, of the International Labour Organization (ILO), referred to her organization's work with the disabled, as promoting equal treatment and opportunity in training and employment for them. In support of the principles outlined in the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention -- already ratified by 51 countries -- the ILO had implemented technical programmes that emphasized full integration of disabled people into mainstream vocational training, employment and small enterprise development.
The representative of Viet Nam said assisting the country's nearly 5 million disabled people -- who account for nearly 7 per cent of the total population -- had been a high priority of her Government.
The representative of Pakistan said without economic development, it would not be possible to provide the means to eradicate poverty, generate employment and promote integration. The representative of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea said that in promoting social development, international financial institutions needed to accord priority to developing countries.
The representatives of Kazakstan; Qatar; Trinidad and Tobago, also speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM); Ukraine; Thailand; Turkey; Iran; Swaziland; Zaire; and Sudan also made statements.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 17 October, to continue its discussion on social development questions and begin its consideration of crime prevention and criminal justice as well as international drug control.
Committee Work Programme
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met this afternoon to conclude 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; a 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 of 12 October.)
PRADA DE MESA, of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said the goal of his organization's work with the disabled was to promote equal treatment and opportunity in training and employment for persons with disabilities. Those efforts were carried out through standard setting, technical cooperation and advisory services.
So far, 51 countries had ratified the 1983 Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, she went on. In support of the principles outlined in that Convention, the ILO had implemented technical programmes that emphasized full integration of disabled people into mainstream vocational training, employment and small enterprise development. Those programmes included active contribution to the public debate on disability issues, development of international and regional research and support networks, publications, and vocational training and income-generating programmes.
She said training and employment programmes were currently under way for disabled citizens and ex-combatants in a number of countries which were rebuilding their economies after armed conflict, such as Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Namibia and Nicaragua. A new programme was also being prepared with the Palestinian Authority.
Efforts to address the social situation of the elderly focused on prevention of age discrimination in employment and occupation, and improved social protection and preparation for and access to retirement, including provision of a decent pension, she continued. The organization's technical programmes emphasized the need to give older people the opportunity to pursue work, retirement or a combination of the two as they wished. Assistance was provided to governments, social security institutions and workers' and employers' organizations on drafting necessary primary and secondary legislation to encourage social integration of the elderly, setting up the administrative organization to improve old age income security schemes, training personnel in various specialized areas and advising on specific problems of health care.
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JAMES GUSTAVE SPETH, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said that building on institutional mandates, the United Nations system last week agreed on a process for strengthening its commitment to the goals established at the World Social Summit in Copenhagen. In doing so, it kept additional machinery to a minimum, ensuring that inter-agency arrangements were light and flexible.
Four new inter-agency task forces had been conceived, he went on. Those task forces were on basic social services for all, chaired by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); on full employment and sustainable livelihoods for all chaired by the ILO; on an enabling environment for social development, to be chaired by the World Bank; and on the empowerment of women, which could be established after Member States had considered the measures to pursue the Fourth World Conference on Women.
Resources of the UNDP were focused more than ever on poverty, he said. Almost 90 per cent went to those countries with per capita incomes of less than $750 per year. He was in the process of creating a "poverty elimination fund" within UNDP to enable the Programme to enhance its support for the Social Summit's objectives. That fund would be used primarily to assist countries in the preparation of national anti-poverty plans.
He said that UNDP resident coordinators had been instructed to ensure that UNDP programmes focused on empowering those living in poverty, especially women, through participation and capacity development. They were also to support initiatives that provided equitable access to productive assets and opportunities. They had been requested to help build national capacities for policy development and programme implementation.
AKMARAL KH. ARYSTANBEKOVA (Kazakstan) said poverty, unemployment and social disintegration were among the most acute problems facing today's society. International action to solve such problems was imperative.
There were 3 million elderly and disabled persons in her country, she said. The disabled were in need of social rehabilitation as well as of training and education. The family played a key role in social development. Her Government had launched a national programme to help the socially vulnerable sectors of the population. Furthermore, the World Bank and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), among other institutions, had greatly assisted her country. The project for social protection, with the aid of the World Bank, had greatly contributed to social development in Kazakstan.
HASAN ALMAHMOOD (Qatar) said recent world conferences indicated the importance that the international community attached to social development. The welfare of the family was the welfare of the society. Societies in which the family disintegrated and traditional family values were absent recorded high crime rates. Islam was keen on preserving social structures and considered the family the building block of society.
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He said that the family had a special place in Qatari society. Family housing provided by the Government was compatible with the size of the families. Rehabilitation and training centres for women had been set up. Women were provided with centres for social integration as well as with centres to market their produce. It was important to find ways to ensure harmony between work and the family. Priorities must be put right.
ANNETTE DES ILES (Trinidad and Tobago), also speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), said the family was one of the social institutions increasingly affected by the changing world environment. That was particularly disturbing because the family represented the primary unit of society. It was the principal source of nurturing, transmission of values and culture, social integration and education. The widespread action taken at the national, regional and international levels, in observance of the International Year of the Family in 1994, had sensitized the international community of its importance.
In the Caribbean, unemployment, poverty, teenage pregnancies, and drug and alcohol abuse were some of the problems threatening the stability of the family, she continued. The growing incidence of child neglect, domestic violence and the increase in the divorce rates were indicators of the pressures that the family unit was confronting. Female-headed households in the region was also a common feature; the high unemployment rate among women had had grave effects on such families. Other concerns of the region included youth unemployment; the risk of male youth to HIV infection and AIDS; and the increased longevity of the population.
At the national level, it was important to encourage the involvement of various interest groups in order to succeed in the process of social development, she said. At the international level, it was imperative that social development programmes be granted sufficient resources.
NINA KOVALSKA (Ukraine) said having inherited a "structurally deformed economy and weak monetary system" from the Soviet Union, her country was experiencing a complicated situation. To overcome that situation, many programmes were being carried out, such as a three-level insurance system which sought to provide a just system of pension payments. It took into account the labour contribution of each member of society.
Her country's social situation had been exacerbated by such factors as a sharp reduction in birth rates, an increase in death rates, and the ageing of the population. More active international support to countries with economies in transition was needed.
SWEEYA SANTIPITAKS (Thailand) said that the central theme of her country's current national development plan was the welfare of its people. The Government was responsible for fostering constructive social integration to achieve a "society for all" which promoted development consistent with justice for every individual, harmony among groups and social cohesion.
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Thailand had already undertaken a number of measures to promote the well- being of older persons, she went on. Its national plan and strategies aimed at bettering both the mental and physical health of older persons and at enhancing the bond between the ageing and their families. Thailand had also established a committee to provide recommendations concerning policies on welfare and rehabilitation of older persons. Since 1982, 13 April had been celebrated as Thailand's "day of the older person".
Thailand also attached great importance to the family, which was the basic unit of the society, she said. In 1990, her Government proclaimed 14 April as Thailand's "family day". A subcommittee had been established and played a central role in the implementation of the follow-up to the International Year of the Family. Thailand also paid special attention to persons with disabilities.
ARBAB MUHAMMAD JEHANGIR KHAN (Pakistan) said that the world social situation continued to be precarious. Although considerable progress had been made in the social sector during the last 50 years, the majority of the world's population continued to suffer from hunger, chronic poverty, poor health standards and unemployment. The social situation had further deteriorated because of unprecedented international migration, gender inequality, violence, severity of conflicts, problems faced by displaced persons and refugees, disruptive role of crime, and unfavourable and inequitable international economic environment.
He said that social development must be based on sustained economic growth and sustainable development. Without economic development, it would not be possible to provide the means to eradicate poverty, generate employment and promote integration. The foremost task was to make the economies of developing countries viable so that they could feed and clothe their people and provide them with health care and education.
National efforts alone could not solve the problems of social underdevelopment, he said. Vigorous international support was essential for development, peace and harmony. The present environmental crisis was mainly due to the unrestrained and unsustainable pattern of production and wasteful consumption. Social development could not be assured globally if the majority of the world's population continued to service the wasteful lifestyles of a small minority. The developed countries must, without delay, meet their commitment to allocate 0.7 per cent of the gross national product for official development assistance. Fulfilment of that commitment would be a big stride towards solving social development problems.
AHMET ARDA (Turkey) said the existing differences in the levels of social development among States posed obstacles in bilateral and multilateral cooperation. His country was ready to share its experience in social development with States that required it. Although families usually differed in size in developing and developed communities, their importance in giving essential education on such issues as solidarity, tolerance and responsibility had not diminished. His Government had actively observed the International Year of the Family and had contributed to the voluntary fund.
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His Government also paid great attention to the disabled persons, he said. Its efforts were directed at preventing disabilities and at rehabilitating the disabled in order to reintegrate them into society. The latter was accomplished by creating equal opportunities. He regretted that armed conflicts had tremendously increased the number of persons with disabilities. The United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat II) to be held in his country next year would bring the subject of human settlements to the forefront of the international community's agenda.
MINA MIRBAHA (Iran) said many regions of the world were suffering from economic stagnation. Over 1 billion people lived in an unacceptable state of poverty. Equitable social development to empower the poor was a necessary foundation for development. Unless poverty and social injustice were eliminated, positive assessments regarding social development would be in serious question. Ensuring peace and security required liberation of all countries from poverty and hunger.
Today many youths were faced with problems like poverty and isolation, she said. Many had lost their faith in the future. Policies should emphasize full integration of the youth and creation of employment.
In Iran, assistance to the family was considered a moral and religious duty, she said. There was need to pay serious attention to the needs of the family throughout the world. There was also need for full integration of persons with disability. Iran had allocated large amounts of resources for activities in that regard. The family was the basic unit and the core of growth. Assistance to the family was among Iran's strategic plans. It had taken steps to improve the economic condition of lower income families.
SANELE NXUMALO (Swaziland) said over 120 million people worldwide were unemployed and even a larger number were underemployed. Those two were the main problems that families faced today. As the basic institution of society, the family needed to receive the widest possible protection and assistance. The youth, disabled and the elderly, were all members of the families. The youth needed to be equipped with education as well as skills for employment.
A draft legislation on training and employing people with disabilities was being prepared in Swaziland, he said. A vocational rehabilitation centre already existed. It trained people with disabilities in skills which included carpentry, metal craft, textile and commercial studies. In extended families, the elderly remained the senior decision-makers. Homes for the elderly were not acceptable as they were viewed as perceiving old people as social outcasts. Through public meetings and campaigns, his country's population was reminded of their responsibilities to the elderly.
WI SOK YON (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) said that due to inequitable international economic relations as well as external debts of more than $1 trillion, the economies of developing countries were worsening. About 1.3 billion people lived under absolute poverty, and 800 million people of working age were constantly threatened by unemployment and underemployment.
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Furthermore, thousands of millions of children were denied access to basic education.
In order to promote social development, the interests of the people needed to be placed at the centre of any programme, he said. International financial institutions needed to accord priority to the social development of developing countries. It was inconceivable to expect social development without paying full attention to the situation of youth. Education had to be provided. The population in general had a moral obligation to regard the sufferings of the disabled as their own and to do their utmost to take care of them.
FABIEN-EMERY ZULU KILO-ABI (Zaire) said the gap between poor and rich nations was increasing rapidly. International financial speculations were such that it could eliminate all social gains.
The international community must elaborate policies to stop the emergence of a global "technological apartheid", he said. Zaire was committed to the principles and ideals of freedom.
Zaire believed that the codification of the intrinsic values of human life should not provoke a war between generations. On the contrary it should bring about a "society for all ages" based on dynamism of youth and the experience and wisdom of the elderly. Such a codification should lead to hope. The international community could look at those cultures which showed great respect for the elderly.
He also expressed Zaire's support for the Standard Rules for the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities.
PHAM THI THANH VAN (Viet Nam) said more than 30 years of war had caused serious socio-economic problems in her country. For that reason, since 1986, her Government had developed a policy of renewal which sought to create a multi- sector economy operating under a market mechanism. It also sought to democratize social life and promote relations between her country and others.
The new economic system had resulted in large numbers of women, children, elderly and disabled persons to be marginalized due to their growing poverty. For that reason, since 1990, her country had taken measures to alleviate such situations by allocating more than 24 per cent of its annual budget to the development of the social sector.
Among the priorities of her Government's policies were the improvement of the situation of young people and the development of a system of medical treatment for the elderly as well as a pension system. In addition, prolonged wars had left the country with nearly 5 million disabled people -- accounting for nearly 7 per cent of the total population. Helping them had been a high priority of her Government. In addition, great importance had been given to the family as a strategic factor in social development. A target for the year 2000 was to build a "happy, harmonious, modern family". she said.
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SHAHIRA HASSAN AHMED WAHBI (Sudan) said the family was the basic unit of society. The individual was raised in a family, and for that reason, Sudan had given special interest and priority to the family, adopting a national policy to facilitate marriage and create a national centre for marriage formalities.
Sudan had participated actively in the International Year of the Family, she continued. A national commission was established in that regard. It had also established a coordinating committee to carry out studies concerning families with the aim of ensuring effective participation by family members in society.
She said Sudan provided services to widows and their children. It had also developed a global plan to study the problems of childhood and to provide health care for them. The purpose was to develop a vaccination plan for all children in the country; so far it had reached 85 per cent coverage. Programmes had also been developed for the children in the tribes which migrated throughout the country.
Turning to youth, she said that they were the driving force for the development process. Sudan had established possibilities for education for young people. It had established universities all over the country and, as a result, student enrolment had risen. Sudan had also increased work possibilities for young people.
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