4 October 2005
Equality Should Be at Forefront of Socio-Economic Policymaking, Third Committee Told at Beginning of Debate on Social Issues
NEW YORK, 3 October (UN Headquarters) -- The principle of equality should be at the forefront of socio-economic policymaking to ensure development was people-centred and social investment efforts should be given priority in all national development strategies, José Antonio Ocampo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today as it began its debate on social development issues.
More decisive action to achieve the millennium target of building a global partnership for development, especially in the key areas of aid, debt relief, and trade, was essential, he said. States also needed to build stronger institutions to support creation of integrated policy frameworks and encourage social actors to speak for the disenfranchised, make the social effects of economic policy highly visible, and effectively mainstream social objectives into economic policymaking.
The recent World Summit on Social Development recognized the interrelatedness of the world's social, economic, environmental, and political threats and challenges, as well as the need to address their root causes with resolve and determination. Decisions made during that gathering of world leaders held much promise for advancing progress on the United Nations development agenda. The Committee's current session would factor greatly in the collective ability of States to make the most of them, he said, stressing the Committee's crucial responsibility in addressing central elements of those challenges related to social development, gender equality and human rights.
An integrated response increased the chances of the poorest and most vulnerable people to a better life, he stated. While absolute poverty was declining, inequality between and within countries was rising. The overall picture pointed to the need for a broad approach: targeting hunger and inadequate income, while simultaneously waging a much wider assault on inequalities in access to health, education, personal safety, employment and political participation.
Representatives of several countries stressed that 10 years after the adoption of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, the international community was far behind schedule in realizing the Summit's main goals and targets, including poverty eradication, employment and social integration. Progress in implementing those goals remained slow and uneven, while poverty and unemployment -- particularly in developing countries -- continued to rise. Member States also called for the promotion and protection of the rights of youth, the ageing, and disabled persons.
Also today, the Committee adopted its work programme, as outlined in document A/C.3/60/L.1/Rev.1, and invited several Special Rapporteurs and independent experts of the Commission on Human Rights to address the Committee during the current session on such issues as torture and other cruel punishment, religious freedom, the right to food, internally displaced persons, migrants' rights, mental health, violence against women and the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories occupied since 1967, Myanmar, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sudan.
Other experts were invited to speak on the promotion and protection of the rights of children, indigenous issues and the elimination of racism and racial discrimination.
The representatives of the United Kingdom (on behalf of the European Union), Madagascar (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Jamaica (on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China), Argentina (on behalf of the Rio Group), China, Pakistan, Egypt, Cuba and Switzerland also made statements. Francis Butagira (Uganda), Third Committee Chairman, made a statement.
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development; Johan Schölvinck, Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development; and Robert Leigh, Representative of the United Nations Volunteer Programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also made introductory statements.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 4 October, to continue its debate on social development.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to begin its general discussion of social development.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General's report on follow-up to the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (document A/60/80), which gives an overview of the Summit's tenth anniversary activities and highlights the uneven progress made in achieving its goals and targets. It also suggests that implementation at all levels and in all areas continues to be essential.
According to the report, the Commission notes that macroeconomic policies should enable Governments to counter globalization's negative impact on social development by allowing for employment growth, poverty reduction and long-term development. Specific policy measures should guarantee marginalized groups access to assets and opportunities -- particularly education, land, capital and technology. Further, they should expand international and bilateral cooperation, including technology transfer and best practice sharing; promote good governance and the rule of law; and take into account the gender dimension of poverty.
Moreover, it states that employment policies should promote decent work, incorporate the informal sector in social protection programmes, promote job creation by directing investment to productive and labour-intensive sectors and encourage small and medium-sized enterprises.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's report on cooperatives in social development (document A/60/138), which focuses on the role of cooperatives in poverty eradication, social integration, income generation and employment creation.
According to the report, the Assembly would recommend that Governments and international organizations, in partnership with cooperatives, promote greater participation of cooperatives and apex cooperative groups in designing, implementing and monitoring Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs). The Assembly would also recommend legislation to expand cooperatives and apex cooperative organizations, as well as broaden and deepen their outreach to the poor, women and vulnerable groups. It would also suggest introducing and supporting programmes to improve access to technology and capacity-building through improved financial and organizational management.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on follow-up to and celebration of the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family and beyond (document A/60/155), which highlights recent national actions to strengthen and improve the well-being of families and recent activities of the United Nations programme on the family.
Further to the report, the Assembly would invite Governments to prepare for observance of the anniversary through coordinated policies and activities. The Assembly could encourage the programmes, funds and specialized agencies to consider ways to integrate a family perspective into their activities and to identify a focal point on family matters, as well as request that the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) build upon existing family-related development cooperation activities. The Assembly could encourage Governments to support the United Nations Family Trust Fund and encourage research on public policies with a family perspective.
In addition, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General's report on implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning disabled persons: towards a society for all in the twenty-first century (document A/60/290), which addresses the international policy framework on disability, progress toward equal opportunity for persons with disabilities, initiatives aimed at promoting a disability perspective in development, and actions to improve United Nations access for disabled persons.
The report concludes that while the Programme calls for mainstreaming a disability perspective into the development agenda, the United Nations international and national development frameworks contain no reference to equal opportunity for disabled persons. The Assembly may wish to consider options for mainstreaming disability within the context of common country assessment and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, as well as options for more effective synergy to monitor implementation of the Programme, the Standard Rules on Equalization of Persons with Disabilities and the proposed international convention to protect the rights and dignity of disabled persons.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on global analysis and evaluation of national action plans on youth employment (documents A/60/133 and A/60/133/Corr.1), which provides an overview of the challenges relating to youth employment in general and in the context of the Millennium Declaration, as well as an analysis and evaluation of 39 action plans or progress reports on youth employment. It also analyses the plans' policy and programmatic orientations and offers recommendations on the role of the Secretary-General's Youth Employment Network as a support and review mechanism for catalysing action on national and international youth employment.
The report encourages countries to implement existing national reviews and action plans on youth employment and those without to prepare and submit such plans or progress reports to the network focal point in the United Nations Secretariat. Further, it encourages Governments to integrate action plans into their broader development and poverty reduction strategy documents, earmark the necessary resources for implementation and devise policy-oriented indicators to chart progress. It also suggests strengthening the network's youth consultative group to give constituent youth groups a more active role in national action plans and invites new countries and partner organizations to join the network.
The Committee also had before it the Secretary-General's World Youth Report 2005 (document A/60/61-E/2005/7), which evaluates implementation since 1995 of the priority areas identified in the World Programme of Action, taking into account globalization's impact on young women and men, the use of and access to information and communication technologies, the dramatic rise of HIV infections among young people, youth's active involvement as victims and perpetrators in armed conflict and the increased importance of addressing intergenerational issues in an ageing society.
Governments, it suggests, should develop holistic and integrated youth policies for follow-up action and should pay particular attention to various disadvantaged groups, among them disabled youth, young migrants and indigenous youth. Governments should continuously evaluate their youth policy, and involve young people in the evaluation. It also suggests increasing investment in youth and replicating and funding successful small-scale projects that address poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and HIV/AIDS among youth.
It recommends that the Assembly consider at its sixtieth session asking the Secretariat to develop a suitable set of indicators for Governments and other actors to measure progress achieved by 2015. Further, it recommends that the Assembly consider calling on Member States to ensure the inclusion of young people in the official delegations to the Assembly's special meeting to mark the tenth anniversary of the World Programme of Action for Youth.
In addition, the Committee had before it the Secretary-General's report on making commitments matter: young people's input to the 10-year review of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond (document A/60/156), which summarizes inputs from consultative meetings and in response to the "Making commitments matter: a toolkit for young people to evaluate national youth policy" booklet published in 2004 by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The Committee had before it the Secretary-General's report on follow-up to the implementation of the International Year of Volunteers (document A/60/128), which observes that since the Year ended in 2001 it had encouraged a vibrant and expanding volunteer movement, as well as action among Governments, the United Nations, civil society and the private sector.
However, these global trends vary widely, between countries and regions, the report notes. Volunteerism was less a Government priority in the least developed countries in Africa and in countries undergoing profound social, economic and political change than in other parts of the world. In Eastern Europe and Latin America, volunteerism's potential as an integral part of the democratization process was growing as was legislation to support it. The report observes that the Year was instrumental in raising awareness in many countries about volunteerism's role in human development and that such developments must be sustained and extended to cover all countries to help achieve the millennium targets.
Also before the Committee was the Secretary-General's report on follow-up to the Second World Assembly on Ageing (document A/60/151), which outlines efforts in 2004 and 2005 to implement and mainstream ageing issues into national and international programmes and gives recommendations for implementing the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, for the Assembly's consideration.
Further to the report, the Assembly would invite Governments to consult and utilize the Research Agenda on Ageing for the Twenty-First Century as a tool to strengthen their respective national capacities to implement and appraise the Madrid Plan. The Assembly would also call on Governments, organizations and bodies of the United Nations system and the non-governmental community to reinforce their advocacy campaigns aimed at informing all major societal actors, including older persons and their organizations, about decisions taken at the Second World Assembly on Ageing. It would stress the need to increase capacity-building at the national level to promote and facilitate implementation of the Madrid Plan and encourage Governments to support the United Nations Trust Fund for Ageing.
The Committee had before it a letter dated 5 July 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (document A/60/111), which transmits the Doha Declaration and Doha Plan of Action adopted by the Second South Summit of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China held 12 to 16 June 2005 in Doha.
Chairman's Opening Statement
Opening the first meeting of the Third Committee (Social, Cultural and Humanitarian) of the sixtieth regular session of the United Nations General Assembly, Chairman FRANCIS BUTAGIRA (Uganda) stressed the importance of punctuality and adhering to time limits adopted by the Committee with respect to statements including those in right of reply; deadlines for proposal submissions; guidelines for inscription on the list of speakers; and deadlines for action on draft proposals.
He reviewed the Committee's guidelines, saying efforts should be made to reduce the number of resolutions adopted by the General Assembly and that such resolutions should be short, particularly preambular paragraphs, and should include action-oriented operative paragraphs. He said the Committee should take into account when adopting its programme of work the need to allow sufficient time for the Secretariat to prepare expenditure estimates for consideration by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ) and the Fifth Committee.
Adoption of Programme of Work
The Third Committee then adopted its programme of work (document A/C.3/60/L.1/Rev.1), as orally adjusted and corrected by the Secretary.
Next, it extended invitations to Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts to address the Committee. They included the following rapporteurs and experts on the Commission on Human Rights: Hina Jilani (Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders); Manfred Nowak (Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment); Asma Jahangir (Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief); Jean Ziegler (Special Rapporteur on the right to food); Walter Kälin (Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons); John Dugard (Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967); Paulo Sergio Pinheiro (Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar); Vitit Muntarbhorn (Special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea); Akich Okala (Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Burundi); Titinga Frederic Pacere (Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo); Paul Hunt (Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health); Yakin Erturk (Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences); Ibrahim Salamam (Chairperson-Rapporteur of the Working Group on the Right to Development of the Commission on Human Rights); Leandro Despouy (Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers); Bernards Andrew Nyamwaya Mudho (Independent Expert on the effects of economic reform policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights); Martin Scheinin (Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism); Jorge Bustamente (Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants); and Sima Samar (Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Sudan).
Also invited to speak on promotion and protection of the rights of children were Paulo Sergio (Independent expert directing the Secretary-General's in-depth study on violence against children) and Jacob Egbert Doek (Chairman of the Committee on the Rights of the Child); on indigenous issues, Rodolfo Stavenhagen (Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples); and on elimination of racism and racial discrimination: Comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, Doudou Diene (Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.
It also extended an invitation to the Chairperson of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination to address the Committee on the right of peoples to self-determination.
Introductory Statements on Social Development
JOMO KWAME SUNDARAM, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, speaking on behalf of Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, José Antonio Ocampo, introduced the Report on the World Social Situation 2005 (document A/60/117), which dealt with inequality. He said inequality was inconsistent with the vision of the United Nations Charter, but was, however, increasingly difficult to address and was exacerbated by various aspects of recent developments, especially globalization. Inequality also confounded efforts at poverty eradication and, thus, hindered the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, it reflected the persistence of social injustice.
Recent inequality trends tended to not give much hope or encouragement, he continued. Inequalities in income in most countries had widened in recent decades, particularly since the 1990s. Unemployment had also become a very major source of inequality, with numbers between 1993 and 2003 rising by 31 per cent to 186 million. In recent years, there had been significant trends toward greater trade liberalization, but developed countries' trade barriers continued to harm developing countries. Furthermore, the recent trend in the last two or three decades toward financial liberalization had failed to realize the development that had been promised.
The role of Governments in relation to inequalities was of special concern in the report, he said. There had been strong pressure to reduce Government spending and create greater space for the role of the private sector, and many Governments provided fewer services than before. On the other hand, public spending was far less progressive than it used to be. The result had been lower growth, less employment, less progressive distribution, and hence, greater inequality.
It was especially important to foster democracy and greater social integration, because inequality undoubtedly jeopardized social justice. It was also necessary to encourage greater political participation, to cultivate democracy as a process that must be continually reinforced, and to embrace diversity as a source of enrichment and empowerment. He added that the report recommended that global asymmetries should be addressed to ensure the equitable distribution of benefits of the increasingly open world economy by ensuring an equitable Doha round. Lastly, he said that democracy, the rule of law, entitlements, employment, social protection and accountability needed to be promoted at all levels to ensure social integration and equity.
JOHAN SCHÖLVINCK, Director of the United Nations Division for Social Policy and Development, introduced eight reports of the Secretary-General on social development issues. The report on implementation of the outcome of the World Summit on Social Development and of the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly notes that progress in achieving the goals set forth at the 1995 Social Summit in Copenhagen had been largely uneven. He stressed the need for stronger social development and a people-centred approach in the context of the five-year review of the Millennium Declaration.
The Declaration of the Tenth Anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development (document E/CN.5/2005/L.2) adopted by the Commission for Social Development recognized the need to incorporate special measures to foster social integration and provide marginalized groups with equal opportunity. The World Youth Report 2005, which offered a comprehensive overview of 10 priority areas dealing with the global economy, civil society and risk, noted that despite some progress during the last decade, young people faced greater and more complex challenges than before. That report called for holistic and integrated youth policies, particularly concerning disadvantaged groups, as well as verifiable indicators to better chart young people's progress.
The report on cooperatives in social development stressed that Governments should promote greater participation of cooperatives in poverty-reduction strategies, particularly in the monitoring of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), and should pass laws to broaden cooperatives' outreach to the poor, especially in rural areas. The report on follow-up to the International Year of Older Persons: Second World Assembly on Ageing highlighted multi-stakeholder efforts to mainstream ageing issues into national development frameworks and poverty-eradication strategies. He urged the Committee to consider a call for advocacy campaigns to generate awareness of the decisions made at the Second World Assembly on Ageing, build national capacity to implement the Madrid Plan of Action and support the Trust Fund for Ageing to better enable the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to assistant countries.
ROBERT LEIGH, representative of the United Nations Volunteer Programme of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), introduced the Secretary-General's report on the Follow-up to the International Year of Volunteers (document A/60/128). The report established at the outset the changing environment for the expansion of volunteerism worldwide which, it underlined, was as favourable as it had ever been, he said. It also considered ways of bringing volunteerism into the mainstream, including into deliberations in international forums, and concluded with recommendations for the future.
The report made clear that the momentum built up as a result of the International Year continued to be a driving force behind a vibrant and expanding volunteer movement, he said. Levels of awareness were growing in many countries, which were expected to translate into increased numbers of people participating in voluntary activities. Governments, the media and the private sector were increasingly vocal in their support for volunteering. Infrastructure was being developed, both in terms of the human capital needed to recruit, train and support volunteers, as well as in terms of the physical structures to sustain and enhance those activities. The legislative environment was also becoming increasingly supportive.
The report outlined several areas where further effort was suggested, taking into account local social, cultural and political contexts. Those included awareness-raising among policymakers in developing countries to include support for volunteerism in their national plans, as well as in donor countries in terms of their supporting volunteerism in overseas aid programmes. It also concluded that developments in the environment for volunteerism needed to be sustained and extended to cover all countries if its potential to help meet the Millennium Development Goals was to be fully realized, he added.
During the ensuing question-and-answer period, the representative of South Africa asked how Member States could better assist in mitigating natural disasters.
Mr. SCHÖLVINCK said that in the case of the tsunami crisis it was more for the United Nations system as a whole than for his specific department to address that.
Mr. SUNDARAM said the Department of Economic and Social Affairs had provided specific advice to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on several tsunami issues last year, as well as counsel on disaster preparedness concerning the Hurricane Katrina crisis. He added that following the natural disaster in Bangladesh in the 1970s, that country, despite widespread poverty, was able to develop a disaster preparedness system that the international community could learn from.
RICHARD WOOD (United Kingdom), speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that the Union continued to strongly support the full and effective implementation of the commitments made at the 1995 World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly. It also remained fully committed to the comprehensive implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration. It was clear from the Commission for Social Development's discussions and work in other areas of the United Nations system that employment and the promotion of decent work should be fundamental components of poverty reduction and development strategies.
In terms of employment, he said that States needed to continue to ensure that they developed policies that achieved social goals and did not hinder economic progress. In terms of poverty reduction, it was necessary to have more and better aid, delivered through real partnerships between donor and developing country Governments, fairer trade, and a focus on the special needs of Africa to help empower the poor. The European Union also agreed with the Commission's endorsement of the continuing need to promote and attain the goals of universal and equitable access to quality education, the highest attainable standard of mental and physical health, and access for all to primary heath care as part of the effort to eradicate poverty, promote full and productive employment and foster social integration, he added.
DEPHALINNÉE RAHANTABOLOLO (Madagascar), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that it was a matter of great concern that 10 years after the adoption of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, the international community was far behind schedule in realizing the goals and targets of the Summit. Despite increased efforts in that regard, poverty had continued to rise with more than a billion people today living on less than a dollar a day. The ranks of the unemployed and the underemployed continued to rise -- especially in developing countries -- while progress in the implementation of the goal and targets of social integration remained painfully slow and uneven.
The SADC region as a whole had been able to increase benefits in the area of human development, and its States were committed to addressing the goals of social development despite their limited resources. Recognizing that young people were a force for development, peace and democracy, she also called for the speedy conclusion of the international instrument to promote and protect the rights and the dignity of people with disabilities. She added that SADC States strongly believed that the root causes of poverty could only be successfully addressed if the fundamental development issues of health care, education, employment and social integration were brought back into policy formation.
STAFFORD NEIL (Jamaica), speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, said that for countries in the developing world, poverty eradication remained a most urgent objective. The mixed results noted in the Secretary-General's report and the Millennium Project Report on the status of poverty-reduction programmes contained some indication of where the focus should be concentrated. The Millennium target of reducing poverty by half by 2015 was achievable and, in order to attain that, the focus of international support on Africa -- particularly the sub-Saharan region -- was totally justifiable in light of current trends.
The obstacles to achieving the Copenhagen goals were rooted in the lack of an enabling environment for social development, he said. Among the most prominent challenges were the adverse effects of natural disasters; the spread of infectious diseases; increased security concerns; and the unequal opportunities created by globalization. Global policies should support international and bilateral cooperation, including the transfer of technology and the sharing of experiences and good practices, taking into account in particular the gender and age dimensions of poverty. Efforts should also be intensified to help countries achieve social development goals through resource flows, both technically and financially, and to eliminate the debilitating debt burden so as to free up resources for the funding of social programmes. He expressed hope that during the session -- which he said should concentrate on implementation -- members would be able to identify the ways and means to move forward with the goals they had established.
CÉSAR MAYORAL (Argentina), speaking on behalf of the Rio Group, supported recommendations in the Secretary-General's report on the 2005 state of global youth and said the Rio Group was working for the well-being and participation of young people in all political, social, cultural and economic areas. He urged broader cooperation with the United Nations system to strengthen national capacity to strengthen the role of the family in socio-economic development and well-being. Further, he supported the convention to promote and protect the rights of disabled persons, noting that the proposed document would be the first human rights instrument to enter into force in the new millennium and would require close monitoring and cooperation.
Adequate financial resources, including official development assistance (ODA), a free and equitable multilateral trade system, fair foreign debt policies for developing countries and measures to combat corruption were essential to achieving social development in the developing world, he continued. Conditions should not be imposed on developing countries' access to large markets. Further, education, rural development, employment and health of groups with special needs such as migrants, disabled persons, indigenous people, minorities, women and children in conflict situations should be taken into account to strengthen the Millennium Development Goals.
CHE YING (China) said that the Secretary-General's report had provided a comprehensive analysis of the current issues of social development. Social development was essentially the development of the whole of humanity, and it not only had a direct bearing on a country, but constituted an important foundation for peace and security. It required broad cooperation at the global level, as was evident in the outcome document. The Copenhagen Summit had laid an important foundation for the cooperation of the international community, and as a result of unremitting efforts, the status of social development had been notably increased in various countries.
While progress had been made in social integration and employment, Member States were still far away from achieving the Millennium Development Goals, she said. Diseases, poverty and unemployment still hindered the development of many developing countries. It was necessary for the international community to create a stable and peaceful environment, as well as establish an economic order that was favourable to the balance of the world. Increased attention to vulnerable groups was an important achievement of the United Nations, and she expressed hope that the international community would make joint efforts to achieve the noble objective of social development for all. China had made great progress in poverty reduction and in building a harmonious society, and would continue to work hard for the implementation of the outcome document and the achievement of the Millennium targets.
AIZAZ AHMAD CHAUDHRY (Pakistan) said that 10 years since the Copenhagen World Summit on Social Development, progress on the core objectives of the Summit -- poverty eradication, full employment and fostering social integration -- had been uneven, needing concerted and far-reaching efforts. During the current session, members needed to undertake concrete steps in achieving uniform progress on all three fronts identified in the Copenhagen Summit, including poverty eradication, employment and social integration; eliminating asymmetries of globalization and its uneven costs and benefits; and making efforts for greater social and economic stability and security by addressing inequalities within and among countries.
Members also needed to concentrate on creating new financial resources, prioritizing actions to remove global insecurity by resolution of ongoing armed conflicts, and eradicating root causes of poverty, among other things. Development was the highest priority for the vast majority of Member States, he said, and they needed to build upon the recommendations of the Summit on ODA targets, debt relief, enhancing and improving aid, and addressing the special needs of Africa in the outcome document. Implementation of development commitments must be accorded first priority in the follow-up to the Summit. The national strategies of developing countries needed the support of development partners to further strengthen ongoing programmes for poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration, he added.
HESHAM AFIFI (Egypt) said the right to development was a basic human right and was fundamental for socio-economic development and peace. Much still remained to be done to achieve all the Copenhagen objectives to reduce and eliminate poverty, disease, unemployment and other social ills. Development was a national responsibility. Further national and international efforts were needed to support policies to make societies inclusive for all members. The closure policies pursued by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories had undermined the Palestinians' ability to achieve social development and had impeded the rights of women, children and the family.
Egypt was creating a socio-economic and political climate for implementation of social development, balancing economic reform with integrated social programmes. Despite a large population increase, the country had achieved marked improvement in health and education. He noted improvements such as a 10-year increase in life expectancy, a doubling of women in the work force, reduced illiteracy and the empowerment of marginalized groups. He also noted that the Egyptian Constitution had been amended to allow more than one presidential candidate to be on the national federal election ticket.
JORGE CUMBERBACH MIGUÉN (Cuba) said poverty remained a chronic global ill, with 900 million hungry people in the world. Despite medical advances, HIV/AIDS was prevalent and millions of children died annually from preventable diseases. Developing countries were required to adopt neo-liberal economic policies prescribed by international financial institutions, which had resulted in economic collapse and social despair. Commercial barriers that prevented developing countries from accessing important resources had yet to be removed. According to United Nations estimates, $40 billion to $70 billion was needed to meet the millennium targets, while $1 trillion was spent annually on the arms industry.
Cuba had carried out programmes to achieve superior levels of education, health care, social security, sports and scientific and technical research, allocating 68 per cent of its 2005 national budget for this purpose, he continued. The result had been universal social protection, greater participation and increased economic independence for women, greater career opportunities for youth and improved assistance for disabled persons. Such steps had been taken amidst the United States commercial and financial embargo on Cuba.
NATALIE ERARD (Switzerland), said that 10 years after the Summit and five years after the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, Switzerland commended the progress that had been achieved, however unequal. Social integration must be a priority of Member States and of the marginalized groups in particular. She expressed hope that access to basic services, health, social protection and employment would be guaranteed to all.
The fight against poverty required taking into account the level of development of each country, she continued. It was also necessary to intensify international cooperation and ensure the adoption of monetary and budgetary policies aimed at combating the negative effects of globalization. Her country supported an integrated approach towards economic and social policies at both the national and international levels. She commended the debates that took place in the Commission for Social Development, as her country always supported cooperation and an exchange of views between different parties, particularly between civil society, the private sector, and States. She reiterated her Government's support and will to contribute to attaining the social development goals.
Statement by Under-Secretary-General
JOSÉ ANTONIO OCAMPO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said that the recent World Summit acknowledged that people lived in a world of changes so profound and rapid that no country could stand wholly alone and that all, large and small, were tested. The Summit also recognized the interrelatedness of the world's social, economic, environmental, and political threats and challenges, as well as the need to address their root causes with resolve and determination. At the Summit, world leaders clearly and cogently asserted the valuable role of the major United Nations conferences and summits, and the Summit decisions held much promise for advancing progress on the United Nations development agenda, and for the wider effort to build better societies and a better world.
The Committee had a crucial responsibility in addressing central elements of those challenges, he continued. It rested on a cluster of issues on social development, gender equality and human rights that were not separate, but were facets of a complete and complex agenda. An integrated response increased the chances of the poorest and most vulnerable people to place their lot with that of others who had greater opportunities for a better life. Furthermore, concern with inequality was at the core of many of the specific issues addressed by the Committee. While the world had experienced a global decline in absolute poverty, such advances were being eclipsed by increasing inequality between and within countries. The overall picture pointed to the need for a broad approach: targeting hunger and inadequate income, while simultaneously waging a much wider assault on inequalities in access to health, education, and personal safety, and in opportunities for employment and political participation.
Providing opportunities for all social groups to contribute to society remained one of the cornerstones of social integration and socially inclusive development, he continued. That was critical for women, as well as for older persons and youth, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, who continued to suffer from discrimination and lower standards of living. In the fight against poverty and hunger and for social inclusion, the sustainable development of indigenous peoples and their communities was critical, as recognized by the Summit.
The principles of equality should be at the forefront of social and economic policymaking, he said, to ensure that economic growth fostered a people-centred development. The time had come to accept, promote and demand that priority be given to more effective social investment efforts in all national development strategies. That should be accompanied by more decisive action toward the eighth goal of the Millennium Declaration -- building a global partnership for development, especially in the key areas of aid, debt relief, and trade. States also needed to build stronger institutions to support the development of integrated policy frameworks. Such institutions should serve to encourage social actors to speak for the disenfranchised; make the social effects of economic policy highly visible; and effectively mainstream social objectives into economic policymaking.
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