23 March 2006

Commission for Sustainable Development Concludes 44th Session; Adopts Draft Report, Decision on Priority Theme

NEW YORK, 22 March (UN Headquarters) -- The Commission for Social Development this afternoon concluded its forty-fourth session with the adoption of its draft report and a decision regarding its priority theme.

Acting without a vote, the Commission decided to transmit the Chairperson's summary of the panel discussion on the priority theme, "Review of the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006)", held during the forty-fourth session, to the coordination segment of the Economic and Social Council's 2006 substantive session.

Speaking on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, Fiola Hoosen (South Africa) expressed deep regret that the Commission had not achieved a negotiated outcome on the priority theme.  Poverty eradication was the essence of the commitments made and reflected in the Millennium Development Goals, the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and the General Assembly's twenty-fourth special session.  Poverty eradication could not be discussed in a vacuum or in "silos of preference" because there was a "development and an economic dimension" and not just a "social dimension" to poverty eradication.  Poverty eradication could not, therefore, be entirely de-linked from efforts to reform the international financial architecture, the need to have a comprehensive solution to the external debt problem and the need to increase market access for developing countries.

An enabling environment was an important precondition for the achievement of poverty eradication and sustainable development, she said.  The time had come for the Commission to acknowledge that the obstacles to achieving the Copenhagen goals were rooted in the lack of an enabling environment for social development.  The Commission had the responsibility to ensure an effective enabling environment for the achievement of poverty eradication.  Social development commitments could not be achieved without adequate resources and international cooperation.  A discussion on poverty eradication required reference to the expectation that development partners would make concrete efforts to implement the internationally agreed commitments.

She said the fact that certain Member States had not been willing to accept even "agreed language" was of grave concern to the Group.  That inflexibility and the sense that certain negotiating partners were not ready to support agreed language did not bode well for future negotiations.  The setback of not achieving a negotiated outcome would not deter developing countries from having their voices heard on the issues of poverty eradication and development.

Jorge Cumberbach Miguen of Cuba expressed serious concern regarding the Commission's method of work, as adopted by its members, at a critical moment for the United Nations development agenda.  It was inconceivable that the Commission, which had reviewed the barriers to social development during the session, had not resulted in concerted action to overcome the areas addressed by Member States and United Nations entities.  For Cuba, it was clear that individual resolutions in areas normally addressed by the Commission, including those considered "emerging", could not be prevented.  The Commission must identify horizontal questions.  The revitalization of the Commission's work could not become merely a slogan, with the Commission shelving its commitments to the Third World countries.

In other action, the Commission took note of the report of the Secretary-General on the first United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006) contained in document E/CN.5/2006/3; and the report of the Special Rapporteur on Disability of the Commission for Social Development on the monitoring of implementation of the Standard Rules on Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities contained in document E/CN.5/2006/4.

In addition, the Commission adopted the draft report of its forty-fourth session, as orally revised and contained in document E/CN.5/2006/L.1, which was introduced by Rapporteur Victor Leu (Republic of Moldova).  It also adopted the draft provisional agenda and documentation for its forty-fifth session, as contained in document E/CN.5/2006/L.7.

Immediately following the closure of the forty-fourth session, the Commission held the first meeting of its next session in order to elect the bureau.  Hedda Samson of the Netherlands and Francis Lorenzo of the Dominican Republic were elected as Vice-Chairpersons for the forty-fifth session.

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