14 February 2005
Declaration Approved at Social Development Commissions High-Level Segment Calls for Renewed Commitment to Vision for More Just, Equitable World
Ten-Year Review of Copenhagen World Summit Continues at Headquarters
NEW YORK, 11 February (UN Headquarters) -- A ministerial-level review of the 1995 World Summit on Social Development culminated today in the approval of a 10-point draft Declaration by which the participating governments would renew their invitation to all people in all countries and in all walks of life, as well as the international community, to join in realizing the shared vision for a more just and equitable world.
The Commission on Social Development is holding a 10-year review of implementation of the 10 commitments agreed at the World Summit in Copenhagen. The 46-member subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) will recommend the Declaration for adoption by ECOSOC, which will relay it to the General Assemblys high-level review of the Millennium Declaration in September.
Also by the text, the governments would recognize that, 10 years after Copenhagen -- and despite the efforts made and progress achieved in economic and social development -- the situation of many developing countries, particularly in Africa and the least developed countries, as well as those with economies in transition, required further attention and action.
In a related term, the text would renew governments commitment to support national efforts to promote a favourable environment for social and economic development, through the provision of technical and financial assistance, as appropriate, and through regional and other initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD).
During todays debate, ministers from sub-Saharan Africa took the floor to detail their successes and failures, with the African continent described as the epicentre of poverty. The results had been mixed in the United Republic of Tanzania, its Minister for Labour, Youth Development and Sports said. Substantial gains had been made in primary school enrolment, which had reached almost 100 per cent with the abolition of school fees. Yet, unemployment, particularly youth joblessness, remained particularly high, and the HIV/AIDS pandemic had threatened both social development and human resources. Growth, social welfare and improved governance would be the focus of a new poverty-reduction strategy, he explained.
Considerably more than half of Malawians still lived below the poverty line, that countrys Minister for Economic Planning and Development said, adding that poverty reduction had been the countrys major goal since 1994. To address the situation, the Government had introduced a poverty-alleviation programme that year and, in 2002, it launched the Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme, which
sought to achieve sustainable poverty reduction by empowering the poor. Malawi had also made positive strides in promoting full employment and, through a liberalized labour market, several programmes had been developed to promote full employment and investment. Womens advancement had also been high on the agenda.
Botswana was committed to a self-reliant approach to development, its representative asserted. The countrys macroeconomic aggregates were relatively sound and the economy remained robust since the 1970s when the discovery of rich diamond deposits had propelled the impoverished nation to middle-income status.
While the growth rate throughout the last decade had been nearly 7 per cent, and the fiscal situation had been generally healthy, the HIV/AIDS pandemic threatened to reverse those gains. The focus of the countrys Vision 2016 plan, therefore, was not only on poverty alleviation, but also on human resource development and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
This morning, the Commission heard presentations by the chairpersons of the round tables held yesterday on the three core social development issues - poverty eradication, social integration, and the promotion of full employment. Describing the round table on poverty eradication, the Minister for Women and Social Development of Peru said that poverty reduction was an ethical imperative, and the world needed to assume responsibility for it. The global commitment to addressing poverty must be sustained over the long term, including by relieving debt.
On the issue of employment, the Minister for Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands said that the discussion had recognized the large number of unemployed young people, stressing that they should be seen as a basis for strategies of full employment, rather than a problem. Employment was the engine of economic growth and a prerequisite for poverty eradication.
Reporting on the issue of social integration, Mauritius Minister of Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizens Welfare and Reform Institution said that, while many governments tended to focus on promoting economic growth, it could actually lead to greater exclusion if social concerns were not addressed.
Statements, including at the ministerial level, were made today by the representatives of India, Italy, Egypt, Chile, Republic of Moldova, United States, Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), Pakistan, Switzerland, Turkey, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Algeria, Guyana, El Salvador, Kazakhstan, Mali, Cambodia, Lithuania, Nigeria, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, Thailand, Croatia, Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, Republic of Korea, Senegal, Ghana, Belarus, Japan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Zambia, and Libya.
The Minister for Social Affairs of Palestine also spoke, along with the Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace of the Holy See, and a member of the European Commission.
The Commission on Social Development will meet again at 10 a.m. Monday, 14 February, to review relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups. It will continue its high-level discussion of implementation of the Copenhagen commitments in the afternoon.
As the Commission for Social Development met to continue its high-level discussion today, it heard three presentations by the Chairpersons of the three round tables held yesterday. [For background information on the forty-third session, see Press Release SOC/4658 dated 3 February 2005.]
Presentation by Chairpersons of Round tables
ANA MARIA ROMERO-LOZADA, Minister for Women and Social Development of Peru, reporting on the round table on the eradication of poverty, noted that speakers had agreed that the current level of poverty could not be tolerated and that coordinated action was needed in the fight against poverty. Recognizing the primary root causes of poverty was necessary in planning poverty strategies and polices. They included the unequal distribution of assets, insecurity and vulnerability and social exclusion and powerless. It was important to ask if the root causes were being appropriately addressed. High levels of income disparities and high unemployment rates limited the productive capacity of the poor. The vulnerability of the poor was made worse by weak social protection programmes. Long-term civil conflict and the breakdown of the rule of law put the poor at more risk.
Speakers had also agreed, she said, that the response to poverty should not only be at the level of the individual, but also be a collective responsibility of civil society, governments and international organizations. The goals of poverty-reduction strategies must be translated into the costs needed to achieve them. Some good practices in tackling the root cause of poverty included the role of governments in the redistribution of assets, such as land reform. Policies that provided opportunities for sustainable livelihood had also been promoted. Consultations with the poor in planning policies allowed for their wider participation in policy formulation.
Most speakers had stressed that since the Social Summit, governments had given increased attention to poverty reduction through, among other things, the establishment of national goals and targets, she said. Special emphasis had been placed on promoting agriculture and sustainable rural development and improving access to health, education and social services. The equity and equality dimension needed to be incorporated into national strategies and programmes. Elements of national strategies should include empowering people living in poverty, especially women. Female-headed households were more likely to be poor. Low levels of employment creation, especially among youth, were a serious obstacle to social development. Generating adequate income needed to be an important element of national poverty-reduction strategies.
Poverty existed in both developed and developing countries, she said. Poverty reduction was an ethical imperative, and the world needed to assume responsibility for it. The global commitment to addressing poverty must be sustained over the long term, including by relieving debt and sharing information and best practices for poverty eradication. Consultation with the private sector might also stimulate balanced growth across sectors. International cooperation created an environment that was conducive to poverty-reduction strategies on the ground. Many States had implemented laws to ensure government accountability. Good practices should also be reinforced at the regional and international levels to ensure durable democratic practices that increased the participation of all segments of society.
The round table had emerged with a series of recommendations, she said. They included the need for: collective responsibility for poverty eradication both at the national and global level; a comprehensive approach to poverty eradication to form the basis of the approach to address the Millennium Development Goal to halve poverty by 2015; integration of economic development into macroeconomic policies; strategies and policies that took into account the gender dimension of poverty; efforts to address the issue of debt burdens, particularly through debt cancellation; increased international and bilateral cooperation; and the promotion of good governance and the rule of law.
AART-JAN DE GEUS, Minister for Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands, reporting on Round Table 2 -- promoting full employment -- said the round table had concluded that employment should remain at the centre of social development strategies. Recognizing the potential of the global labour force for economic growth and poverty reduction, with youth constituting the major portion of that potential, it had recommended strengthening the link between education and employment, and developing workers skills for new and emerging sectors. Employment was the engine of economic growth and a prerequisite for poverty eradication. The round table had recognized the large number of unemployed young people, stressing that they should be seen as a basis for strategies of full employment, rather than a problem. It recommended building a youth employment strategy into the Millennium Development Goals as a first step in employment-oriented development strategies.
The round table had also emphasized the importance of strengthening global initiatives to enhance employment nationally and internationally, with assistance from the Bretton Woods institutions and the United Nations system, he said. It had recognized that globalization and international trade were closely linked to employment in developing countries, and that macroeconomic policies should incorporate employment creation as a key objective. The round table had recommended enhancing inter-agency policy coherence at both the international and national levels, and building a bridge between the Copenhagen Summit, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and international financial institutions. Further, a review of employment progress should be incorporated into the upcoming review of the Millennium Development Goals, and into the overall framework in United Nations reform.
He added that round-table speakers had also focused on the need to develop national action plans supporting the promotion of full employment. Such plans should pay special attention to the informal economy, which represented the majority of the labour force in many developing countries. Efforts should be made to formalize the informal economy with labour protection for its workers, and provide credits to small and medium-sized businesses. Ten years after the Copenhagen Summit, nations must turn the commitments they made there into action.
SAMIOLLAH LAUTHAN, Minister for Social Security, National Solidarity, Senior Citizens Welfare and Reform Institution of Mauritius and Chairman of Round Table 3, noted that fostering social integration, the theme of the third round table, required more effective social policies. The challenge was to reinstate the concept of social integration at the centre of all policies and to find practical means to achieve a society for all. There was disappointment at the extent to which commitments had been implemented. A people-centred approach was required. There was a sense of rift between efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the implementation of the broad Copenhagen commitments. That rift must be overcome. The concept of social integration should be mainstreamed into efforts to achieve the Goals.
Social integration was a prerequisite for social development, he said. Equality of opportunity was crucial to social integration and a society for all. That meant ensuring that all members of society enjoyed full and equal participation. Investing in social development must be seen as a good investment and not simply as a cost. Education was vital for providing people with the skills they needed to participate in society. The education of girls yielded the highest return on investments. While several policies to improve the education level of girls had been identified, it was a question of the political will to implement those policies. Achieving gender equality was essential for social development. Gender mainstreaming should be further implemented, and women needed to be fully protected against discrimination, violence and disease. Maternal mortality remained a concern in developing countries.
Groups with special needs continued to be marginalized, he continued. Older persons increasingly constituted large portions of national populations. While they were increasingly active, the ageing of societies would have profound effects on social integration. Pension reform, on the agenda of many countries, could affect intergenerational solidarity. Ensuring the social integration of persons with disabilities required legal instruments to protect them from discrimination while ensuring their basic rights. The family as a time-tested institution was essential for fostering social inclusion. The skills needed to be a family could not be assumed. Public health policy could directly combat poverty, and universal access to public health could also reduce social exclusion.
Civil society was vital for social development, particularly in promoting a people-centred focus, he said. Greater attention should be given to supporting civil society. Governments alone would not make the total difference -- neither would civil society. It was important to create mechanisms, networks and institutions through which governments and civil society organizations could build consensus. Social integration policies should be based on a policy of non-discrimination. Governments should improve coordination among ministries and departments to overcome sectoral competition. Government structures must become more flexible to meet current challenges. Decentralization to local governments was key for ensuring more participatory decision-making.
While many governments tended to focus on promoting economic growth, it could actually led to greater exclusion if social concerns were not addressed, he said. Governments should create the regulatory framework for cooperation with civil society. Governments should act as facilitators to strengthen civil society. Families could support vulnerable members, but needed the skills and resources to do so. The private sector should be encouraged to invest in social development, and volunteerism was an important mechanism for developing social capital and overcoming social exclusion. Improved international cooperation was also needed. As a central forum for discussion among countries, the Social Development Commission remained vital and its role must be expanded and strengthened.
NIRUPAM SEN (India) said that indicators in the Secretary-Generals report presented a stark and grim reminder that the goals set by the international community in Copenhagen were yet to be met. Uneven progress had been observed in achieving the main goals - namely, the reduction of poverty and elimination of extreme poverty, creation of full employment, and social integration. One reason for the gap between intention and action had been the inadequate capacity of national governments to adopt and implement appropriate social policies, which must be addressed through capacity-building in developing countries. During the current meeting, the international community must deliberate, develop and adopt a set of practical measures to set the path for real achievements in social development.
He said effective national action required an enabling international environment in which developing countries formulated policies designed to promote economic growth and social justice. Some developing countries had attempted to mobilize domestic resources, but a huge gap remained between resources available and developing country needs to achieve the Millennium Goals and other commitments. The resource base in developing countries must also be broadened to help those nations achieve their own development priorities.
A key issue that had received inadequate attention was the need for an enabling international economic environment, he added, which was critical to achieving social development goals. Effective developing country participation in decision-making and norm-setting processes in the international monetary, financial and trade institutions was vital. Such participation would have a direct and beneficial impact on the ability of developing countries to influence the multilateral trading and financial systems, which did not always consider their interests.
ALDO MANTOVANI (Italy), speaking on behalf of Roberto Maroni, Minister of Labour and Social Policies, said that in the past decade the number of people in extreme poverty had declined significantly, and across several countries, social conditions had been ameliorated; child mortality had declined; and access to health care and schooling had improved. And, the Millennium Development Goals seem to be achievable by 2015. Nevertheless, a great deal remained to be done to fully implement the Copenhagen commitments. He shared the Secretary-Generals view that socio-economic development depended largely on the efforts that governments were willing to make in the coming years. The immense challenge now was to promote stable, safe and just societies in which each person shared ownership of the development progress, which could be achieved through international cooperation.
He said that while States pursued their primary responsibility for social and economic development, they must also ensure that adequate policies were in place to support the values of solidarity, equality of opportunity, social justice and social inclusion. Unless globalization was accompanied by improvements to basic infrastructure and by training, it could have adverse effects in the poorest area of the world. In addition, any strategy aimed at promoting a coherent approach to economic competitiveness and social development must have the development and implementation of adequate social policies that paid special attention to education, health care and employment. Under such conditions, and in full compliance with the Copenhagen commitments, social policies could then play an extraordinary role in harmonizing economic and social development models, and in assuring that all development was people-centred, aiming to produce greater opportunities and foster well-being for all.
AMINA ELGUINDY, Minister for Insurance and Social Affairs of Egypt, said that, despite the enormous increase in population, with an increase of 30 million since the beginning of the 1980s, Egypt had managed to enhance and sustain a provision of services to its citizens, not just in terms of quantity but also quality. As a result, life expectancy had increased by 10 years; child mortality had decreased enormously; female participation in the work force had more than doubled; and the number of female university students had increased to almost half the total students. Expenditures on health and education had doubled, and more attention was given to children, women, families, the elderly and persons with special needs. The social insurance umbrella had been extended, and efforts were exerted to assist and protect limited income families.
In order to implement a vision that linked political, social and developmental stability, Egypt had adopted economic policies that catered to the basic interests of the poor and middle classes, as well as the increased participation of the private sector and civil society institutions. The Governments strategy included developing and fostering small and medium enterprises, and providing revolving microcredit to the poorest, in addition to cash grants to encourage those groups to obtain jobs. At the national level, the private sector had become a major player in solving the countrys unemployment problem. Egypt had also accorded special attention to enhancing the status of women, and established the mechanisms needed for enabling them to actively participate in development.
YASNA PROVOSTE, Minister for Planning and Cooperation of Chile, said that thanks to the economic and social policies pursued during the past decade, Chile had achieved a significant reduction in poverty and acute poverty, as a result of which it had now achieved the Millennium Development Goal in that sector. During the period from 1990 to 2003, the poverty rate had declined from 38.6 per cent to 18.8 per cent, while the rate of acute poverty had dropped from 12.9 per cent to 4.7 per cent during the same period. Despite those achievements, the current Government had introduced a social welfare system for families, known as Chile Solidario, whose objective was the incorporation of families living in extreme poverty into social networks, ensuring their access to better living conditions. The main features of the system were social advancement and assistance. In the field of education, one of the priorities had been the strengthening of a modern system of primary and secondary education.
Improved health for the population had also been a priority, she continued. Chile now had a health-care system with wide coverage and a primary health-care network that covered the most remote areas of the territory and was linked through agreements to more advanced public-health networks and private establishments. The result had been an improvement in the quality of life of the population, in general, and of the poorest sectors, in particular. Also noteworthy had been the launching of the first phase of the most ambitious health reform undertaken in the country in the last 50 years, whose objective was to guarantee access, timeliness, quality and financial coverage. Its basic instrument was the Plan Auge, whose approach was based on rights and benefits for all Chileans, without discrimination on grounds of age, gender, economic status, place of residence or the health insurance with which individuals were affiliated.
DAVID FAITI, Minister for Economic Planning and Development of Malawi, said poverty reduction had been a major goal for his country since 1994, since about 60 per cent of Malawians lived below the poverty line. To address the situation, the Government had introduced the poverty alleviation programme in 1994. In 2002, the Malawi Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme had been launched with the objective of achieving sustainable poverty reduction by empowering the poor. With the Programme, a large proportion of resources were being devoted to human capital development. Malawi had also made positive strides in promoting full employment as a basic priority within its economic and social policies. Through a liberalized labour market, several programmes had been developed to promote full employment and investment.
The advancement of women and gender equality continued to be high on Malawis development agenda, he stated. The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the Assemblys twenty-third special session continued to be the blueprint guiding the implementation of all gender-related programmes. Malawi continued to work towards the attainment of a 30 per cent target for women in decision-making levels. The country had registered notable achievements such as an increase in the number of women involved in economic activities, improvements in girls education at both secondary and tertiary levels, and an increase in the number of women in top management positions in both the public and private sectors. In the political arena, there had been a 59 per cent increase in the number of women in decision-making levels from 1994 to 2004. Despite those achievements, some obstacles still remained to be surmounted to fully attain gender equality.
JUMA A. KAPUYA, Minister for Labour, Youth Development and Sports of the United Republic of Tanzania, said his Government attached great significance to the 10-year review, especially its three core issues. The Government recognized the central role of social sectors in achieving overall development. While efforts had been made to increase pro-poor social expenditure, due to resource constraints, their potential impact had not been fully realized. Since Copenhagen, the Government had developed a number of policies in employment, social development and poverty reduction. Vision 2025 was designed to achieve a poverty-free Tanzania. The emphasis of that programme was on national ownership of the social development agenda. In the area of poverty reduction, the country had developed, in 2000, a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, which had focused on water, agriculture and HIV/AIDS. Success had been recorded in education and infrastructure development, especially the building of roads. Challenges remained, however. A second generation poverty reduction strategy had also been developed to focus, among other things, on growth, improved social well-being and improved governance. The strategy would cover the period from 2005 to 2010.
He said his country had achieved mixed results in terms of achieving the goals of the Copenhagen Programme of Action. Of particular importance were the substantial achievements in primary school rule enrolment which had reached almost 100 per cent as a result of the abolition of school fees. Good progress had also been achieved in the democratization process. Unemployment was a problem, however, particularly among the youth. The question was not a simple one, however. The prospects for the future of many developing countries were threatened by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which was greatly affecting human resources. He reaffirmed his countrys commitment to the Copenhagen Programme of Action and the outcome of the 2000 special session. People must be at the heart of the development agenda.
EUGENIA KISTRUGA, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova, noted that only modest progress had been made in implementing targets laid down at the Copenhagen Summit, as well as the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly. The worlds current socio-economic situation revealed an increasing divide among nations, with the gains of globalization reaching too few people. Globalization had contributed to a sense of insecurity in some nations, including developing and transition countries, which had been marginalized from the global economy. There was an urgent need for higher levels of international cooperation based on the principles of non-discrimination, open competitiveness, transparent access to global markets and fair and just rules of international trade. The international community must also continue to work towards closer integration between economic and social policies, both at the international and national levels.
Moldova, he said, had spared no effort to pursue development by reforming its labour, employment and social legislation, while doing its utmost to minimize the adverse social impact of economic reforms. Its main aim was to create a just system of social security based on personal participation, social solidarity and State guarantees. Despite its efforts, however, the country still faced considerable hardships, and the unsettled political conflict in the eastern districts had had negative impacts on its social situation.
He added that his country placed great importance on cooperation with developed countries and international organizations in the field of social development. It was ready to learn from more advanced nations and share its own social experiences. As a member of the Council of Europe and a country that aspired to European Union membership, it had been adjusting its social legislation to align with the relevant instruments and standards of various international bodies, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), International Labour Organization (ILO), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
SICHAN SIV (United States) said the 10 commitments made at Copenhagen were as vital today as they were in 1995. They were often reduced to three themes, namely, poverty alleviation, full employment and social integration. The United States saw them as connected to a single idea: the essential value of the individual. The way to reach full employment, eliminate poverty and integrate society was by enabling each person to reach his or her full potential. To do that, nations had to provide a stable and secure environment in which people could live and thrive. Basic education and appropriate social safety nets must also be provided, while keeping the family strong. The family was the fundamental unit of society, as it was within a secure and loving family that parents taught their children the basic values and morals needed to succeed in life. At the same time, the barriers to personal development must be eliminated. The Social Summit had put people at the centre of social development, and he was pleased that so many had gathered to renew that commitment.
The United States had done a great deal to implement its commitment to the goals of Copenhagen, he said. To reduce poverty and increase employment, it had strengthened its emphasis on a stable work environment and the rule of law. Every person who wanted to work should be able to seek employment without discrimination based on race, sex, religious belief or national origin. The United States had also reformed its welfare system to break the cycle of dependency and emphasize the dignity of work, while providing support for childcare and training to enable a smoother transition into the workforce and a ladder to better-paying jobs. The Americans with Disabilities Act had created opportunities for millions of children and adults with disabilities to participate fully in their communities. The New Freedom Initiative sought to tear down remaining barriers to equality for the 54 million Americans with disabilities.
He said the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) was President Bushs multi-year, multi-billion dollar initiative that embodied several of the ideas discussed at Copenhagen. The programme was designed to work with countries that put their people first and governed wisely. The MCA encouraged all nations to embrace political and economic reform. The United States had pledged to increase its core development assistance by half, adding $5 billion annually by 2006. To be eligible, nations must root out corruption, respect human rights and adhere to the rule of law. They must also improve their health-care systems and schools, unleash the creativity needed for economic growth by opening up their markets, remove barriers to entrepreneurship, and reduce excessive bureaucracy and regulation. The MCA was based on the idea that foreign aid yielded better results when invested where policies were already in place to support poverty reduction and economic growth.
The United States had been working towards equality for women and girls at home and abroad since before Copenhagen, he said. In recent years, it had increased work in the area of womens political and economic participation. Societies that enabled their girls and women to participate most fully enabled them to enjoy the highest quality of life.
Opportunity began with education, he added. The United States had been working with other countries to improve education for millions of people. Over the past four years, the United States had tripled its overseas education assistance from $126 million to $400 million. The African Education Initiative would provide $200 million in additional funds over five years to support Africas education programme and to provide 250,000 girls with scholarships.
AMBROSE B. MASALILA (Botswana) said his country was committed to global poverty alleviation as set out in the Millennium Declaration and was pursuing its national strategy through 2016 with a self-reliant approach to development. The countrys macroeconomic aggregates were relatively sound, and the economy had remained robust since the 1970s when the discovery of rich diamond deposits had propelled the impoverished nation to middle-income status. And while the growth rate through the 1990s had been near 7 per cent, and the fiscal situation had been generally healthy, the HIV/AIDS pandemic threatened to reverse those gains.
The focus of the countrys Vision 2016 plan was, therefore, not only on poverty alleviation through, among other ways, economic diversification, development of science and technology and employment creation, but also on human resource development and the fight against HIV/AIDS. The qualitative and quantitative targets of the plan were consistent with the Millennium Development Goals and aimed to diversify Botswanas economic base by empowering more local entrepreneurs, he said, stressing that actual long- and medium-term implementation, mainly in private sector investment and protection, could be hampered by skill shortages and HIV/AIDS.
The Government had approved a wide-ranging national strategy on poverty reduction outlining its commitment to implementing ant-poverty measures, and providing a multi-sectoral approach to designing, implementing and monitoring relevant strategies. Turning to pressing issues, he said the Government had introduced several job creation programmes aimed at the private sector to help address high levels of income inequality, and high levels of unemployment among women and youth. On the commitments agreed at Copenhagen, he said Botswanas Government had made great strides in the areas of social inclusion, gender equality, access to education and the attainment of primary health care.
ENRIQUE DEIBE, Secretary of Employment, Ministry of Labour, of Argentina, speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, said economic growth was subordinate to human dignity and improvement in the quality of life. Countries in his region had developed policies aimed at decreasing inequalities through increased social expenditure, but must first increase economic growth in a more favourable international environment. Nations in the region must create conditions necessary for sustainable economic growth, which would, in turn, enable social development. Democracy and economic and social development must be interdependent and mutually reinforce each other.
Debt servicing and unstable financial flows in his region had negatively affected economies and exacerbated financial vulnerability, affecting a significant portion of the population in his Group, he said. The region urgently needed a sustainable solution to foreign debt, so that it no longer obstructed social and economic development. The IMF must recognize the need to open fiscal policy opportunities, so that projects dedicated to eradicating hunger and poverty could be implemented. It was also necessary for developing nations to access developed country markets, including through the removal of subsidies, so that they could export their products. Increased trade would significantly contribute to employment creation and a better life for the regions people.
He added that the eradication of poverty was a priority in his region, which was ready to confront its structural and economic causes, as well as to support all initiatives aimed at improving conditions for the most affected sectors. Decisive steps were needed to create fair employment, quality education and health care for all. Unemployment was a grave problem in the region, which must create new jobs to eliminate uncertainty in the most affected portions of the population. Due to high rates of unemployment, youth with higher education faced difficulties in finding jobs, and many were forced to migrate to foreign countries. Collective action was needed by the international community to resolve that problem and seek full employment for all, which was vital in eradicating poverty.
MUHAMMAD HUMAYUN FARSHORI, Secretary of the Planning and Development Division of Pakistan, said that hopes and expectations raised by the Copenhagen Summit had not been completely dashed, although they had been diminished. Several macroeconomic trends were negatively affecting social development, causing socio-economic deprivation and inequality among individuals, social groups, entire communities and countries across the globe.
He stressed that national efforts to alleviate poverty were vital, and that a States operating environment must be benign and favourable. Trade, rather than aid, was crucial in promoting growth and realizing the benefits of globalization. Existing trading rules were clearly biased against developing nations, as rich countries provided huge subsidies of almost $1 billion per day to the tiny proportion of their populations in the farming sector. That distortion had edged developing countries out of global markets, although they enjoyed comparative advantage in agricultural commodities. Developed countries must open their markets, remove restrictions against migration, give incentives for direct investment, and promote technology transfer, as well as higher education in science and technology in developing countries.
Promoting productive employment was a priority of his Government, he said, and it had begun to draw up a targeted employment policy linked with skill development programmes by sharing best practices with its neighbours in the region. The country was also placing special emphasis on girls education to eliminate the gender gap. Over the next five years, orientation programmes would be launched to mould the country into a moderate, vibrant, just, tolerant and participatory society. Key initiatives in other sectors included the devolution of power; police, judicial, tax, civil service and political reforms; and gender mainstreaming.
PETER MAURER (Switzerland) noted that some 10 years after the Copenhagen Social Summit, exclusion and poverty persisted. As such, the commitments made in 1995, renewed in 2000 and supplemented by the Millennium Development Goals continued to be fully relevant. His country encouraged good governance and the responsibility of the State towards its citizens. It also stressed the need for integrated social development policies that respected human rights and gave particular attention to minorities and vulnerable groups. It was up to States to advance social development. That objective could only be achieved with the cooperation of various players, however. Switzerland supported dialogue between governments, civil society and the private sector. The State had the primary responsibility to comply with and promote international commitments. Switzerland encouraged the private sector to endorse the commitments taken by States.
He noted that levels of development varied among and within States. The situation of developing countries, therefore, particularly African countries, must be taken into consideration in the implementation of the social development goals. Among the most pressing issues was the critical need to create decent jobs. Social development required an integrated approach. Switzerland supported the setting up of initiatives for political consistency and the holding of multiparty debates. The results over the last 10 years had prompted his country to renew its commitment and to underscore its will to continue efforts to make that commitment a reality.
BAKI ILKIN (Turkey) said the Social Summit had been instrumental in raising awareness of the importance of social development issues. Progress had been achieved in some areas, including the decline in extreme poverty, the increase in access to primary education and the expansion of democratization. It was a fact, however, that what had been achieved globally fell far short of expectations. Turkey viewed social integration from an integrated perspective. Turkey had adopted a comprehensive strategy extending from human rights and fundamental freedoms to other socio-economic issues. In recent years, Turkey was completing a comprehensive reform process, with a view to further strengthening democracy, consolidating the rule of law and ensuring full respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.
Regarding the eradication of poverty, he said Turkeys aim was to decrease disparities in income distribution and to eradicate extreme poverty. Efforts to that end had gained momentum, particularly after the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals. To name a few concrete steps, Turkey had established a Social Security Fund to ensure an equitable income distribution by taking measures to promote greater social justice and to encourage mutual assistance and solidarity in society. The period since 1999 had been one of important structural change in Turkey. Yet, efforts aimed at full employment had been undermined by economic crisis, the effects of which had been aggravated by a major earthquake. From 1995 to 2003, the employment growth rate was 2.7 per cent, while the labour force had grown by 6.1 per cent. In 2003, the unemployment rate was 10.5 per cent. Turkey had been recently preparing a social inclusion strategy, which aimed to facilitate participation in employment and access to resources, rights, goods and services.
Regarding education and gender equality, he noted that in 1997 compulsory primary education in Turkey had been extended to eight years. Turkey had almost reached its goal of eliminating disparity in primary school education. Another major aspect of Turkeys reform process was promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. The new Civil Code, the new Law on the Protection of the Family, the new Penal Code and the amendments to the Constitution had legally strengthened gender equality in Turkey. The Commissions current session was an opportunity to reaffirm commitments for social development and to revitalize relevant efforts. For better achievements, social development should be treated as both an objective and a process involving all sectors and actors of society.
GIAMPAOLO CREPALDI, Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace of the Observer for the Holy See, noted that the world needed a big push in public investment to eradicate poverty and improve social conditions. Admittedly, the international community was currently seeking ways of accomplishing that, but it still had not occurred. In Monterrey, countries had committed to contribute a certain percentage of their gross national product (GNP) to official development assistance (ODA), but efforts were now needed to aim such assistance at the elimination of poverty. Certain donor countries were demonstrating their goodwill by developing alternative methods of financing, which should be studied carefully, and implemented when needed. In addition, for the big push to be effective, recipient countries must set up adequate intervention strategies covering all sectors, and ensure an improvement in governance.
He said the international community was now facing the genuine challenge of poverty elimination, while preserving the concept of social development that had emerged from the Copenhagen Summit. Ways must be found of ensuring that the poor participated in their own development, that social development occurred from the grass roots up. It had often been stated that the eradication of poverty was a moral imperative, but it was also useful to see it as a global public benefit of the highest importance. Such a benefit could only be attained, however, if the international community instituted a sense of social justice, which still seemed sorely lacking.
TERUNEH ZENNA (Ethiopia) said the first commitment undertaken in Copenhagen had been the creation of an environment conductive to social development, and progress had been mixed. In the current global process, inadequate financial resources remained a challenge. The reappearance of security issues on the international centre stage and its effects on social development merited deeper analysis. Progress in the areas of poverty, employment, social integration and universal access to health care had been marked by both advances and disappointments. Increases in the number of women being elected to public office was one example of progress. Progress was not shared, however, among all regions and within different groups in society.
Some regions had experienced disproportionately high levels of unemployment and inequality, he said. Advances in social development at the global level had not materialized in sub-Saharan Africa, a region trapped in extreme poverty in the last 10 years. Income had declined, and school enrolment continued to lag behind. The HIV/AIDS pandemic was wreaking havoc in the region. Drought, famine, conflict and instability had eroded the very little improvements to poverty reduction. Ethiopia had taken many steps to achieve the commitments made at Copenhagen, including a broad-based pro-poor development strategy. Implementation of the strategy and related policies in the areas of food security had begun to show positive signs. Recurrent droughts and declining commodity prices, however, had eroded the little progress made.
A review of the past 10 years should provide a valuable input to the September Summit, he said. The need to intensify integrated strategies for poverty eradication must be stressed. The equality dimension also needed to be included in poverty reduction policies. The special needs of Africa must also be remembered. Increasing ODA, debt reduction and effective preferential treatment in international trade needed to focus on Africa.
SUSANTO SUTOYO, Director-General for Multilateral, Economic, Financial and Development Affairs of Indonesia, said that while his country welcomed the Secretary-Generals report, it was somewhat alarmed by some of its observations and recommendations. The social development agenda had been repositioned in second place to the economic one. While there had been some reduction of extreme poverty and greater access to primary education, there had been less progress than expected, and it was unevenly spread between regions and across countries. Full employment and social integration had, by and large, been left aside if not ignored.
Indonesia had been attentive and sensitive to the need for a proper balance between macroeconomic policies and social development goals, he said. It was committed to human development and, on that basis, agreed with the reports recommendation that the five-year review of the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals should adopt a people-centred approach, with priority given to pro-poor development programmes. That would help to reinforce the importance of the social development goals of the millennium targets, especially those focusing on improved health, better education and full employment, all of which Indonesia had prioritized.
He said that because of a number of challenges, among them the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and the recent tsunami, there had been fluctuations in Indonesias efforts to implement the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. However, since the special session on Copenhagen + 5 in 2000, Indonesia had experienced a marked recovery and managed gradually to achieve progress in social development.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), noting that the implementation of goals set at the Copenhagen Summit was still mixed, said achieving social targets would require increased political will and stronger partnerships. International, regional and national efforts in the social area should focus on strengthening global governance to achieve more balanced benefits of globalization. The responsibility to achieve that must be effectively shouldered by the international community. Despite national constraints, the existence of an international environment favourable to development was imperative.
The New Partnership for Africas Development (NEPAD) gave sustainable human development pride of place in Africas development, striving to place nations on road to growth and sustainable development, and put it in globalizations path, he said. In terms of the Copenhagen Summit, however, the means were often sorely lacking to implement its recommendations and achieve its goals.
He said that Algeria had made efforts in difficult conditions, including incidences of terrorism, to advance its social development by embracing the principles of social justice and social solidarity, and combating unemployment and poverty. The country attached special importance to creating sustainable jobs to overcome poverty. Other measures and programmes for social action aimed at combating exclusion were now in preparation or being implemented. Expenditures for the 2005 budget reflected its efforts in the fields of human development, employment and education.
SAMUEL R. INSANALLY (Guyana) said that for many countries the challenge of social development loomed larger today than 10 years ago. The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action had established a global consensus for action at the national and international level. An objective assessment indicated that progress lagged far behind the promise of Copenhagen. In pursuing the Millennium Development Goals, focus must be maintained on the broader development agenda. The vulnerability of the small developing States posed serious challenges for the well-being of individuals and households as a result of high levels of unemployment, underemployment the falling values of assets and their impact on the social fabric of society. The loss of skilled human resources through migration represented a serious drain on the significant national investment in social and human capital formation that Guyana had undertaken over the past decade.
Under significant economic stress due to high levels of vulnerability, exposure to exogenous shocks and the lack of resilience mechanisms, Guyanas development process was fraught with many pitfalls that the country was unable to negotiate on its own. No phenomenon had had a greater impact on the Caribbean region in recent times than that of natural disasters. In January 2005, Guyana had experienced its worst flooding in living memory. The resulting loss of life, disruption of services and weakening of the infrastructure had adversely impacted Guyanas efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. In that regard, he urged strengthened international cooperation in disaster prevention and management, including the establishment of an early warning system.
The setbacks faced by developing countries were not unrelated to the complexities of the globalization process, he said. One manifestation of that was the negative net transfer of resources from developing to the industrialized countries, which had increased for seven consecutive years. The burden of debt continued to take a heavy toll. At the global level, one of the principal challenges with which developing countries had had to contend was the lack of voice in the major political and economic decisions that shaped the livelihood of their peoples. Many developing countries remained trapped in a vicious circle of economic stagnation and social decay. A comprehensive strategy that focused on the structural disadvantages of developing States was a most appropriate starting point in addressing the social problems in developing countries.
ANABELLA LARDE DE PALOMO, Under-Secretary of the Technical Presidential Office of El Salvador, said her Government was committed to a vision of social development as a long-term strategy, with the overriding objective of maintaining economic stability. El Salvador had achieved equality in access to education among boys and girls. The Government would soon launch the nationwide education programme 2021, which would include commitments for the short, medium and long term. One of the countrys major achievements had been educational reform, particularly through communal organizations. The healthy schools programme contributed to improving citizen participation by involving parents and teachers. The local development investment fund was working with the poorest communities, investing in works and infrastructure through a broad process. The health fund had been expanded to include medical coverage for children.
On job generation, she said the countrys major challenge was underemployment. The Government was making progress in wiping out extreme poverty. The challenge was still major, however. El Salvador reaffirmed its commitment to build a society for all ages. The Government assigned great importance to the issue of migration, which was a decisive factor for the country. She reaffirmed her Governments determination to live up to the commitments it had entered into at the Social Summit.
GULSHARA N. ABDYKALIKOVA, Vice-Minister of Labour and Social Development of Kazakhstan, said her country had achieved stable economic growth, and large-scale measures had been undertaken in concert with the UNDP and other programmes and funds. Those were aimed at improving the institutional and legal basis for social protection, including in the labour sphere, as well as the promotion of social dialogue. A balanced system of social protection for the population had placed emphasis on social solidarity and ensuring targeted social assistance. The Governments immediate plans had included the establishment of a three-tiered level of social security. In keeping with the countrys financial potential, which had become evident in the course of the countrys economic growth, the Government had been implementing increased pensions. Further reforms of the pension system were needed, however, to resolve lingering problems, and would include implementation of additional social protection norms and introduce a guaranteed basic minimum pension.
She said that those reforms would assist all citizens, without exceptions, once they had reached a certain age, regardless of their income level or pension contribution. Attention was also being devoted to persons with disabilities, who numbered more than 400,000. In addition, significant efforts were being made to rehabilitate persons with disabilities and create equal opportunities for them. The Government had also introduced a system of social insurance and social security to guard citizens against social risk, including losing the ability to work, losing the breadwinner and losing a job. There were also plans to establish a network for rehabilitating persons with disabilities to ensure their equal opportunity in society. A wide range of measures was being implemented to improve the situation for Kazakhstans youth. Unemployment among young people remained high, at 29.8 per cent, and the percentage of unemployed young women now accounted for one third of all unemployed citizens. Plans were under way to assist them in job placement. Those measures were only a partial list of steps undertaken by her Government, which also sought to maintain and strengthen ties between the generations.
DJIBRIL TANGARA, Minister for Social Development, Solidarity and Ageing of Mali, said the follow-up session was of importance for all countries, particularly the developing countries. The issue of achieving full employment was crucial for his Government. In that regard, it had created a programme for the employment of young people. Poverty was a generalized phenomenon in Mali. Nearly one third of the population lived in extreme poverty. Mali had been firmly committed to poverty alleviation, as reflected by its adoption, in 1998, of a national strategy to combat poverty. The objective of that strategy was to reduce poverty to below the level of 50 per cent. New schools and health centres had also been built.
He said his country was also focusing on the issue of social integration, including by the decentralization of authority to the local level. Despite all its efforts, Malis implementation of the Declaration was encountering difficulties, including the adverse affects of globalization. The economies of the developing countries were indeed suffering the effects of globalization. International support had not been commensurate to the reform efforts they had taken. He urged the international community to honour its commitments to the developing countries. He also advocated more intense international mobilization to assist Africa in implementing the provisions of the Copenhagen Declaration.
WIDHYA CHEM (Cambodia), aligning himself with the position of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, described his countrys development programme for 2001-2005, poverty reduction strategy for 2003-2005 and various other programmes. Good governance had been identified as the most important pre-condition to economic development with sustainability, equity and social justice. Despite its efforts, Cambodia was still facing an uphill battle to eliminate poverty and tackle its impact on development. Among the main challenges before the country, he listed the decline in foreign investment and the ending of the garment import quota under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Textiles and Clothing.
The Government was focusing on the diversification of the economy and expanding the growth base to attract more private investment and ensure competitiveness, encourage greater domestic investment and promote regional initiatives to further integrate Cambodia into the regional economy. Efforts were being made to create jobs and absorb the labour surplus, primarily for new graduates and young people in agriculture, tourism and labour-intensive industries and services. Increased attention was being paid to gender issues.
Many years after the World Summit and the special session, the real challenge for many developing countries related to their efforts to foster broad-based economic growth and generate adequate resources to fund social development infrastructures. The eradication of poverty and furthering employment and social inclusion continued to require greater and wider access to economic opportunities both for the people within nations and for nations within the international community.
VLADIMIR SPIDLA, Member of the European Commission responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, said the Copenhagen guidelines were very close to those of the Lisbon strategy -- the keystone of the European Unions development model. In Brussels yesterday, he had presented the Commissions new agenda for the Unions social policy for 2006-2010, which was designed to promote employment and offer new opportunities. The Commission intended to get young people into work more effectively, enhance mobility in Europe and encourage cross-border collective bargaining. Its other priorities included efforts to combat discrimination and poverty, promote gender equality and improve social services. It would also soon launch a wide-ranging debate on economic and social changes set in motion by demographic developments in Europe.
The World Commission for the Social Dimension of Globalization had highlighted the interest throughout the world in the strategy, its integrated approach and the priority it accorded partnership, he said. Participants of a Brussels seminar last month had exchanged notes with international organizations and representatives of non-member countries and regional organizations, especially from Africa and Latin America. Also useful to others would be the Unions experience in the field of employment. The European Employment Strategy was an open method of coordination on matters of inclusion and social protection, social dialogue, corporate responsibility and equal opportunities.
The same integrated socio-economic approach should underpin the Unions external activities, he continued. It was essential, for example, to give priority to the employment dimension and decent work in its development policies. By the same token, it was crucial to tackle the social dimension of globalization. The declaration to be adopted at the end of discussions this week should clearly refer to the promotion of decent work and the social dimension of globalization as key elements in social development. Those aspects would also have to be taken into consideration during a review of the Millennium Declaration.
The world had not yet achieved the objectives set in Copenhagen, because it was necessary to look more closely at the social dimension of globalization, better integrate the social dimension in political priorities and reinforce governance at all levels, he added. The Union was ready to share its experience with all parties concerned, to intensify its efforts to cooperate with others and to make its policies more coherent. Let us build on our progress, secure the support of everyone involved and breathe new life into an integrated economic and social approach, he said.
INTISAR AL-WAZIR, Minister for Social Affairs of Palestine, said that the Palestinian Authority had worked very hard to implement the 10 commitments of the Summit. Yet, the continued Israeli occupation and its military practices had resulted in the destruction of property and the demolition of houses, the separation of different areas, restricted mobility of people and commodities between Palestinian villages and the outside, which had adversely affected the economic and social conditions, as well as the political environment. Unemployment had risen to 32 per cent, and the number of families living below the poverty line was now 65 per cent. Gross domestic product (GDP) had fallen by 26 per cent and private investment had also declined. That had led to difficulties in establishing new employment opportunities to absorb the high population growth and increasing joblessness.
Also difficult, she said, had been coping with those handicapped by the conflict, either physically or with psychosis, especially children who lived daily among the death, destruction and displacement. Despite those circumstances, the Palestinian Authority had continued to serve its people and help them to overcome the difficulties, including by directing programmes to women, children, the elderly, handicapped, the unemployed and poor families. The Authority was facing a real challenge in establishing a democratic PalestinianState. It had undertaken important institutional reforms, in order to implement its national reform plan, including judiciary and financial reform, and administrative development. The Palestinian people had been proud of the easy transfer of power following President Arafats death; an honest election had been conducted under very difficult circumstances. Preparations for municipal elections were under way, in a process that would bring together all political and social forces.
She called on the international community, first and foremost, to support the present peace process on the basis of implementation of resolutions of international legitimacy, namely, those of the General Assembly and Security Council. The international community should also support the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, which considered the separation wall illegal. The international community should also compel the Israeli occupying power to implement its commitments in accordance with international humanitarian law, support the Palestinian Authoritys national plan for reform, and support the development plan for the medium term (2005 to 2007), which focused on combating poverty and promoting employment and social integration.
TEODORAS MEDAISKIS, Adviser to the Minister for Social Security and Labour of Lithuania, said his country was seeking to translate the recent unprecedented growth in its economy into an improved quality of life for its people. Real wages had increased by more than 9 per cent, pensions and other social benefits had risen, and total employment had increased. Progress had also been achieved in poverty reduction, with the percentage of people at poverty risk declining from 17 to 15 per cent. Moreover, a recently approved National Action Plan against Poverty and Social Exclusion (2004-2006) provided for joint actions in employment, social protection, education, health and other policy areas.
He said one of Lithuanias main priorities was to improve life for its vulnerable groups by increasing their opportunities and decreasing their poverty and social exclusion. The country aimed to eradicate extreme poverty before 2008 and considerably decrease poverty risk before 2010. Relevant policy measures would also be taken to place institutionalized children with natural families and ease their social integration. In addition, steps would be taken to improve the protection of children, women and the elderly against violence, prevent the further spread of addiction and assist the victims, resocialize convicts, and assist those with HIV/AIDS.
Another important priority was to improve employment by removing obstacles to certain groups of people wishing to join the labour market, he said. Measures would be taken to modernize the labour market, improve labour quality and productivity, and increase total employment. To that end, active labour market policy measures would be introduced to assist people facing difficulties integrating into the labour market. Inequality in employment opportunities in urban and rural areas and different regions would also be decreased by promoting small- and medium-scale business activities.
MUSA MOHAMMED, Minister for Sports and Social Development for Nigeria, said the three priority issues set out in the Copenhagen Declaration -- poverty eradication, promoting full employment, and fostering social integration -- had become the guiding principles for the Government and had become the cornerstone of its pragmatic approach to addressing Nigerias severe and pervasive poverty. Because Nigeria had been blessed with vast human and natural resources, the first step towards addressing poverty had involved identifying root causes. From 1998 to 2000, GDP had grown incrementally: 2.82 per cent, 3.83 per cent and 3.83 per cent, respectively, in each of those years.
A number of factors had accounted for such sluggish growth, he said, highlighting the effects of globalization, corruption, heavy debt, low employment, political exclusion and high population growth, among others. As a result, President Obasanjo had embarked in 1999 on bold and pragmatic action aimed at reversing that negative trend with the establishment of the National Poverty Eradication Programme. The purpose of the plan was to coordinate all poverty eradication efforts, monitor all related activities and maintain a comprehensive databank on all the activities under way. The Programme would also intervene in key sectors, when necessary, by implementing government-funded projects.
That mechanism, along with the National Poverty Eradication Council, had affected a significant decrease in poverty levels nationwide, especially in urban areas. The situation in rural areas remained critical, he added. Nigerias ultimate goal was to improve the living conditions of its people and empower them towards full social, political and economic participation. Within its limited resources, the Government had moved to improve economic growth by improving domestic resource growth, management and accountability. It had also introduced a universal primary education programme, which had promoted more girls to enrol in schools and had dramatically increased the skill levels of the countrys youth.
But despite Nigerias best intentions, it still had a long way to go before the goals set out at Copenhagen could be fully achieved, especially in the areas of promoting full employment and social integration. Nigeria was still plagued by inequitable income distribution and access to credit, as well as poor infrastructure and ineffective social protection programmes. Resources needed to finance adequate poverty-reduction schemes were grossly inadequate and Nigerias debt overhang severely limited its purchasing power, he said. Further the scourge of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases continued to pressure development efforts. While Nigeria believed that social development was the responsibility of States, it would stress that international cooperation was essential to ensure implementation of the Copenhagen commitments. Bold steps must be taken to resolve the heavy debt burden and, for many African regions, an enabling environment must be created for the prevention of conflict.
Action on Draft Declaration
Turning to the draft declaration (document E/CN.5/2005/L.2), Commission Chairperson DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa) read out technical corrections to the text, which the Commission then adopted as orally revised.
Continuation of Statements
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) said the current session was an opportunity to consider what had been achieved in implementing the Copenhagen commitments. In the 10 years since Copenhagen, the international situation had negatively impacted many countries efforts to achieve social development. Globalization had led to greater marginalization and an ever-widening gap between developed and developing nations. In its efforts to implement the Declaration and Programme of Action, Syria had made several improvements, including in the area of health care and the strengthening the role of women. The State sought to provide free services in the areas of education and health. Other improvements included improved quality and speed in the delivery of health services. Primary health care was a responsibility of the State. Infant and maternal mortality rates had decreased.
On the issue of employment, he said the Government had undertaken a series of measures to improve training and provide an environment of cooperation conducive to development. Syrian women now held senior-level posts in the judiciary and in government. The challenges and obstacles facing developing countries were a lack of human and financial resources. He regretted that the report had not referred to the dire consequences of foreign occupation and military activity, which continued to affect his region. The occupation of the Syrian Golan and the attrition of natural and human resources had resulted in the suffering of the Syrian people. Peace was a prerequisite for realizing social development.
CARLOS ALVARADO, Vice-Minister for Social Development of Venezuela, said that neo-liberalism and globalization had adversely affected developing countries, rather than gearing them towards helping their people. His country had undergone spectacular change since 1999, when it began work on a new constitutional framework. The new constitution was guiding by State participation in the social development of the country and in guaranteeing its citizens social rights, such as health education and housing. It also paid due attention to persons with disabilities, in line with the emphasis in the Copenhagen Declaration. Fighting those efforts had been some minority political and economic groups, and pockets of trade unions and political parties, but that had been overcome in 2002. Nevertheless, that resistance had severely affected Venezuelas economic and social development.
He said that, in 2003, a new chapter had begun, characterized by the adoption of massive strategies, with a special focus on financing and volunteering, and the active involvement of all population sectors at the community level. Literacy drives had reached out to the 2 million illiterate persons country-wide and had seen to the distribution of educational assistance to those who needed it most desperately. More than 400,000 students were now working towards their bachelor degrees, and some 30,000 had received them. Scholarships were also being rewarded and job training was being provided. New sources of employment were also envisaged, particularly in the areas of health, agriculture, food technology and tourism. More than 64 centres had been set up in the various regions to stimulate job growth, involving more than 300,000 workers. The housing mission aimed to rebuild and remodel housing, through providing credit at low interest rates and for long terms. Over time, a series of programmes had attempted to narrow the gap between the haves and the have nots.
ORLANDO REQUEIJO GUAL (Cuba), noting that some 20 per cent of the world population consumed 80 per cent of its resources, wondered how some developed countries refused to hear about the critical situation of poor countries. Some so-called partners had floated the idea that the hungry and sick were a threat to their own peace and security. Over the years, Cubas Government had not wavered in its determination to provide coverage for all workers, guarantee pensions and to make sure that no one was abandoned. Cuba had a full employment economy in line with international indicators and had pursued a programme that comprised all realms of social development.
Social protection was offered to 100 per cent of Cubas population, he said. The Government was also expanding opportunities for training and for better attention to the elderly and disabled. Such advances had been made, notwithstanding the belligerence of the United States and its trade blockade. That policy had been tightened by the announcement of new measures last year as part of its efforts to recolonize Cuba. Political will could bring about tangible results, he said. An initial investment of $3.7 billion in 12 years could provide literacy for 1.5 illiterate people. Ten years after the summit, it was time to open the way to solidarity.
LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) said the Copenhagen outcome texts were very important instruments, both internationally and domestically, to which she reaffirmed her countrys unwavering support. Since the last special session of the General Assembly on social development, in 2000, Thailand had achieved remarkable progress in complying with the three main pillars of Copenhagen - poverty eradication, promotion of full employment, and social integration. Most of Thailands progress had been made in poverty eradication, as it had been able to achieve its domestic targets. In fact, it was ahead of the targeted time frame. Moreover, Thailand was determined to reach a more aggressive target by reducing its poverty rate further by 2009, representing a four-fifths reduction in the number of people living in poverty.
She said her Government had attached great importance to eradicating poverty. It had striven to increase income at the grass-roots level, reducing expenditure and creating more opportunity. The underlying principle had been to pursue a middle path, with the aim of overcoming the economic crisis brought about by unexpected changes and conditions of rapid globalization. In addition, a scheme had been formulated to compile statistics, and more than 8 million people had registered. Already, the scheme had revealed that poverty-related problems could be categorized into several different areas, including lack of land ownership or insufficient land for farming, homelessness, needy school children, indebtedness and housing problems.
To address those problems, national poverty-eradication centres had been set up, with strategies that included the promotion of macroeconomic policies and the development of social safety nets for the underprivileged, she said. A road map had also been devised for poverty eradication by 2009, and a community plan had been launched to empower grass-roots communities to fight poverty and become self-reliant. Employment had been on the rise, aided by a social security system, labour protection, an employment insurance programme, and a scheme for illegal migrant workers. Social laws had also helped such vulnerable groups as women, children, the elderly, and persons living with HIV/AIDS.
NINO GANEC, State Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Croatia, said that meeting the global challenges of poverty eradication, employment and social integration required the development of an overall legislative framework and political strategies for equal access to social rights for all, as well as the creation of an environment suitable for the social integration of vulnerable groups. Two key elements had characterized the current social situation in Croatia - the transition, and the conflict-related problems inherited from the beginning of the 1990s. In preparation for further economic development and European integration, the Government was endeavouring to restructure the social sector.
An active employment policy was being carried out in accordance with an adopted National Employment Incentives Programme. There were still a few particularly vulnerable groups that were more exposed to the problem of unemployment, namely, women, youth without work experience, workers over the age of 50 and persons with disabilities. In the area of education, changes planned for pre-school, primary and secondary education should respond to globalization and enable Croatia to meet world trends in knowledge and education, as well as in the development of expertise in line with the needs of the labour market. Reform of the welfare system presupposed further decentralization and the transfer of authority to local self-government, in order to make services and departments as effective and as accessible to the general public as possible. It was believed that the privatization of welfare services would contribute to their diversity and, hence, a higher quality of care for clients.
OLGA SAMARINA, Deputy Director, Department of Ministry of Health and Social Development of the Russian Federation, said that, while a great deal had changed since the holding of the Social Summit, the problems had become no less pressing. The expansion of poverty had become a major cause of crisis and conflict. The Russian Federation valued the progress achieved by the developing countries in reducing the scale of poverty. It was important, however, that national governments step up their efforts to stimulate economic activity, equalize economic opportunity and strengthen social integration through the creation of specialized programmes. National programmes must be supplemented by adequate international financial support, including by ensuring favourable conditions for the expansion of trade.
As the epicentre of poverty, the African continent must be the focus of efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, she said. Russia had written off the debt of African countries in the amount of some $14 billion. Imports from African countries to Russia amounted to $600 million, more than half of which were goods included in the preferential trade regime. The Government had taken specific steps to build up Russias donor potential. The substantive increase in its international assistance was in part due to success in the socio-economic sphere. Russias investment rating continued to grow, and it had paid off loans granted by the IMF. The reduction of poverty was a major part of Russias socio-economic policy. Clear guidelines had been laid down to aid that policy.
Over the last five years, Russias revenue income had grown by 1.7 per cent and real wages by a factor of 2.2 per cent, leading to a reduction in the scale of poverty, she added. Economic stability had made it possible to form a social security system. The Russian Federation was moving from plans to implementation. Todays discussion must make a contribution to the collection of initiatives on the eve of the 2005 Summit. Social development issues were equally important for the future of civilization, as was the war on international terrorism. She hoped the 2005 Summit would bring the social development to a higher plane.
ILGAR MAMMADOV (Azerbaijan) said that having mainstreamed a people-centred approach into its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper, Azerbaijan continued to promote policies aimed at strengthening the welfare of its population. It sought to strengthen the private sector, increase economic opportunities, improve the quality of jobs and provide equal access to social protection and services. Together with the UNDP, on 1 February, the country had initiated a project for potential use of Azerbaijans oil revenues for the development of the countrys human resources. As a result of the Governments new policies, hundreds of thousands of farmers had become landowners, and under the State programme for the development of regions some 600,000 new jobs would be created in 2004-2008.
However, the process of social development in Azerbaijan still faced serious challenges, he continued. For instance, as a result of the conflict with Armenia, the country now had about 1 million of refugees and internally displaced persons. The Government, through the State oil fund, continued to allocate resources to solve the problems of housing and employment of the displaced population, but high rates of unemployment and poverty, as well as poor living standards arising from peoples displacement, remained a burden for a country with an economy in transition. To create and sustain a strong economic base, it was important to achieve policy coherence between national and international development policy and good governance at all levels. Azerbaijan looked forward to progress in the area of ODA, market access, debt relief and instability in commodity prices. All those issues were essential for better financing development.
Azerbaijan supported the partnership spirit of Monterrey Consensus as an important contribution to national efforts, but did not consider it a substitute for such efforts, he said. At the national level, he highlighted the importance of United Nations operational activities and favoured the idea of strengthening the Resident Coordinator system. He supported a more active engagement of Bretton Woods institutions in the analysis of the social impact of policies in support of their improved design and monitoring. Azerbaijan looked forward to a comprehensive review of progress in implementation of all commitments undertaken by Member States. He, indeed, considered the 2005 Summit as a transparent review by peers and looked forward to its action-oriented outcome.
SHIN KAK-SOO (Republic of Korea) said the core principles set out at Copenhagen - poverty reduction, promotion of full employment, and social integration - were guiding his Government as it struggled to deal with the critical challenge of income disparities in many sectors throughout the country: between the rich and the poor, between rural and urban areas, and between large and small- to medium-sized companies. His country would have to meet those challenges effectively in order to achieve social integration and ensure a higher quality of life for its people. To improve distribution of wealth and spur sustainable economic growth, the Government was actively working to create jobs and boost productivity, he said.
The Republic of Koreas current administration had, in 2003, launched a five-year welfare plan to strengthen social safety nets and to promote productive welfare. However, he said that the countrys recent economic difficulties had put pressure on the existing social system, leaving many needy citizens without essential benefits. Accordingly, the Government had amended the nations Basic Living Security Act in order to provide housing, education and medical benefits to the people living below the poverty line. He added that a host of new schemes and plans were being worked out to ensure the welfare of elderly persons, persons with disabilities and youth.
In addition, the health and welfare service-delivery system would be transformed to provide more customer oriented services, he continued, adding that the empowerment of local authorities, who would be better able to identify specific needs, would be critical in that initiative. Coordination between the central Government and local authorities would be important as the plan moved forward, and social workers would be encouraged to participate more actively in the policy-making process.
MARE LO, Director of the Cabinet of the Ministry for Family, Social Development and National Solidarity of Senegal, said his Government had enacted strong policies to uphold and promote the rights of children, women and families, provide access to productive resources, and protect the most vulnerable. The country had drawn up a strategic document to fight poverty, and developed agencies to promote investment and promote employment. It had also adopted its own national version of the Millennium Declaration, which included a set of goals to significantly change the quality of life for its people.
Social integration must be a process in which vulnerable groups themselves were actively involved, he said, if it was to achieve equality for all. Consolidating democracy and the rule of law, as well as safeguarding human dignity and security, had become a reality in Senegals development policy. ,The country had laid down sectoral policies based on in-depth analyses of its social situation, and had allocated a significant proportion of its budget to education. One of the main points of its policies were to bring decision-making as close to the people as possible, so that they could have a hand in their own affairs.
The country was also focusing on improving life for the disabled through a major programme for recovery and rehabilitation at the community level, and had committed itself to a more consistent and integrated family and development policy. His Government stood ready to tirelessly pursue its efforts to achieve a fair and equitable society and was duty-bound to meeting that challenge globally.
ROBERT TACHIE-MENSON (Ghana) said there had been no significant African progress in reaching the Copenhagen Summit goals. In some cases, indicators had even regressed, due to the heavy debt situation, limited market access, limited capital resources, conflicts and the ravages of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases. Stressing that Africas situation should be of concern to all, he said the continent must not and should not continue to be left behind. Since social development could not be sharply differentiated from economic development, the international community must examine obstacles impeding achievement in those two spheres in tandem. It was vital that both national and international mechanisms be further strengthened and equipped to pursue a comprehensive approach to social development that was socially sustainable in reducing poverty and inequality, and in promoting social justice.
Ghana, he said, was vigorously pursuing strategic polices and programmes in five priority areas - infrastructure development, modernization of agriculture, delivery of enhanced social services, strengthening of the private sector, and strengthening of institutions of good governance. Emphasizing, however, that international economic cooperation was critical to its endeavours, he called for a more equitable and just economic world order that would ensure the empowerment of all countries, particularly developing countries, to enable them to effectively pursue the social development agenda. The business-as-usual approach, which had been characterized by wide gaps between rhetoric and implementation, must not continue. Developed partners should uphold the commitments made at international conferences and support developing countries with the required resources.
ANDREI DAPKIUNAS (Belarus) said the Copenhagen Summit had marked a new stage in international cooperation in the area of development. Achievements in the area of socio-economic development continued to be described as the gap between declared intentions and actions. Commitments to speed up development in Africa remained largely unmet. Ensuring equal access of States to world markets and the advantages of globalization was essential.
He said the Copenhagen meeting had played an important role in his countrys transformation. Belarus had gone down the path of sharp reform. Today, that reform process had achieved significant results. The number of poor people had been reduced, and income levels had risen. There had also been an increase in the labour market and decreasing unemployment. The State budget for the health-care system ensured that all members of society received free medical care. Strengthening the health-care system was particularly vital in light of the Chernobyl disaster. He reaffirmed his Governments dedication to the commitments contained in the Copenhagen Declaration. Belarus would continue to contribute to improving developments in the social sphere.
SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) noted the uneven progress that had been made in poverty reduction over the past 10 years. Based on its experience with East Asian countries, Japan was convinced that poverty reduction could be achieved by realizing sustainable economic growth through infrastructure support and human resources development, focusing on capacity-building and peoples empowerment. Stressing that the East Asia development experience could provide a practical reference for Africa, he said Japan would continue to actively promote Asia-Africa cooperation through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development process.
Japan had realized, through its own economic difficulties, the clear importance of employment in enabling individuals to maintain their livelihoods and dignity, and in enabling society to be decent and prosperous, he said. It now gave priority to promoting employment for youth and older persons. While struggling to overcome a difficult domestic situation, Japan had been extending international cooperation in the field, focusing on vocational training, with special attention on women and vulnerable persons.
As for social integration, Japan had steadily elaborated measures to assist older persons and persons with disabilities, child-rearing parents, and to promote human rights education. The country was revising its socio-economic system, reforming both pension and care insurance. In addition, the Japanese Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities was revised last year to include an article prohibiting discrimination and advocating greater representation in policy-making.
ARMEN MARTIROSYAN (Armenia) noted that one of the Summits major achievements, particularly for countries with economies in transition, was the unequivocal recognition of the importance of the people-centred approach to development and the commitment to ensure the inclusion of social development goals in structural adjustment programmes. Armenia had undergone significant political transformation in the early 1990s, including a major economic crisis resulting in increased poverty, unemployment and a tremendous decline in the quantity and quality of services. That situation had been further aggravated by the 1988 earthquake and the influx of some 400,000 refugees from Azerbaijan.
One of Armenias major developments, he said, was progress in the reconstruction of the earthquake zone, which covered about 40 per cent of the countrys territory. Reconstruction alone, however, was not enough. Today, unemployment was one of the countrys biggest challenges. Creation of new employment opportunities was, therefore, a priority for the Government. Another area of concern was the problem of migration. Poverty eradication, as a key to solving many of the countrys socio-economic problems, was among the Governments top priorities. The Government also worked to revitalize once-effective social services. The creation of a new social security system, which would best fit the conditions of the current economic realities, was under way. Development was impossible without gender equality and full participation of women in all spheres of life.
Despite efforts made, progress in the implementation of the Copenhagen Programme of Action had been slow and uneven, he said. Effective realization of the development agenda required strong national ownership, including civil societys active involvement. The issue of debt relief for the developing countries was currently gaining more importance. Combating corruption and promoting good governance at all levels would foster a favourable environment for the fulfilment of the Copenhagen commitments and could help achieve more even progress, both within and among nations.
ZULFIQUR RAHMAN (Bangladesh) said his country paid special attention to social development and the work of the Commission, which was vital in advancing critical social goals. Discussions in the three round tables had shown that further efforts were needed to fulfil the Copenhagen Summits three main commitments regarding poverty eradication, employment and social integration. Any development -- economic or social -- must take place against a backdrop of democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and gender equity. His country had demonstrated that external assistance mixed with home-grown concepts could be most effective in poverty alleviation. The poor had the capacity to improve their situation if the right vehicle was provided.
He stressed that poverty eradication was vital for progress, and was the most important factor in empowering the population. Since the Copenhagen Summit, poverty eradication had received more attention than ever before. Today, the world was witnessing unprecedented prosperity, while billions of people continued to languish in poverty. To address that asymmetry, the focus must be shifted to pro-poor growth, as well as adequate social and financial assistance. Social development must embrace a holistic process with all stakeholders on board.
MWELWA C. MUSAMBACHIME (Zambia) said the past decade had been a period of major political and economic change at the global level. At the regional level, Africa had been adversely affected by a number of global developments, including the HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, the heavy debt burden and regional ongoing conflicts. HIV/AIDS had ravaged communities and curtailed productivity in many sectors, especially in rural and small-scale agriculture. To address those challenges, Africa had, over the last 10 years, come up with major institutional changes at the regional level. The African Union had transformed itself into a more vibrant entity, focusing more on social and economic advancement than just political development of the continent. The NEPAD initiative had also been put in place to advance those goals.
At the national level, Zambia had developed strong democratic and human rights institutions, much in line with the political changes taking place globally, he said. A strong civil society had emerged and continued to grow. Zambia had witnessed meaningful progress in implementing the priority areas of the Social Summit, particularly in the area of social cohesion, womens rights and education. The country had witnessed a number of challenges in striving to achieve the Summits goals. The eradication of poverty had been one of its major challenges. In its attempt to reduce poverty, Zambia had put in place measures to achieve broad-based, pro-poor growth by investing in education, health and other social sectors.
The heavy debt burden posed another challenge in implementing the Summits goals, he said. Zambia looked forward to achieving the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, which would result in debt service relief funds being channelled to priority social development areas. To ensure that poverty-reduction programmes were effectively implemented, the Government was putting in place a well focused resource allocation system. The other major challenge was to enhance good governance. In achieving that objective, the country had embarked on a decentralization policy, which was key to ensuring decision-making at the local level.
AHMED A. OWN (Libya) said that poverty had remained a burning issue, which was clearly illustrated by appalling figures showing that measures to alleviate it had been unsuccessful. Wealth had remained in the hands of a small minority, while the poor remained neglected and excluded. The international community must quickly respond to change that situation and combat HIV/AIDS, which would decimate labour forces and retard the progress towards social goals. There must be cooperation and assistance for developing countries in meeting the Copenhagen commitments. Globalization must be controlled and prices stabilized for raw materials.
Libya had managed to progress in the area of social development by diagnosing the obstacles, which had provided opportunities for its people. The road to social development must include measures to decrease poverty, strengthen gender equality and increase employment opportunities.
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