|For information only - not an official document.|
|Press Release No: UNIS/GA/1658|
|Release Date: 30 June 2000|
|General Assembly Special Session Hears Further Calls for GreaterAttention
And Resources to Combat Social Problems
GENEVA, 28 June (UN Information Service) -- A General Assembly special session intended to review and augment the impact of the 1995 United Nations Social Summit heard additional requests this morning for heightened levels of aid and reduction of the foreign debt of poor nations; for measures to reduce the negative effects of economic globalization and volatile international financial flows; and for greater efforts to spur development, reduce poverty, and close widening gaps between the rich and the poor.
In a third day of debate under an agenda item on "proposals for further initiatives for social development", officials of 19 governments, many of them high-level ministers, also said not enough had been done to implement the Copenhagen Declaration, the outcome of the Social Summit which listed 10 commitments aimed at eradicating poverty, achieving full employment, and strengthening social integration. Many speakers urged that it was time to translate words into action.
The commitments relate to (1) an enabling environment for social development; (2) poverty eradication; (3) full employment; (4) promotion of social integration; (5) equality and equity between women and men; (6) universal and equitable access to high-quality education and health services; (7) acceleration of development in Africa and in the least-developed countries; (8) inclusion of social development goals in structural-adjustment programmes; (9) resources for social development; and (10) international cooperation for social development.
Speaking at the morning meeting were the Vice-President of the Philippines; Vice-President of the Council of Ministers and the Minister for Economy and Planning of Cuba; State Minister Coordinator for People's Welfare and Poverty Eradication of Indonesia; State Minister and Coordinator for People's Welfare and Poverty Eradication of Ecuador; Minister of Social Development of Jordan; Minister for Social Security and Intergenerational Affairs of Austria; Minister for Social Affairs and Labour of Syria; Minister of Social Development of Argentina; Minister for Social Affairs and Labour of Kuwait; Minister for Planning and External Cooperation of Haiti; Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia; Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy; Chairman of the Japanese delegation to the special session; Permanent Secretary of the Minister of Community Development and Sports of Singapore; Chairman of the delegation of Mauritius; Chairperson of the San Marino delegation; Chairman of the Brazilian delegation; First Lady of Egypt; and Minister for Social Development of Mali.
Officially titled the "World Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalizing World", the week-long special session -- the twenty-fourth in the General Assembly's history -- intends to conclude Friday with adoption of a programme of new initiatives for improving social well-being.
The special session will reconvene at 3 p.m. to resume its debate.
GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, Vice-President of the Philippines, said the Philippine Government sought to implement the major aims of the Copenhagen Summit, particularly through reducing poverty and increasing employment. Social services had been devolved to the local level, which encouraged a greater sense of responsibility among local governments. The twin effects of the Asian financial crisis and the El Niño weather phenomenon, coupled with the emerging unbalanced impact of globalization, had affected the country's labour productivity, and the Government had had to respond appropriately.
Internationally, there was a need for a better understanding of the social dimensions of globalization, for more protection of the rights of migrant workers, and for effective collaboration to tackle such issues as drug trafficking; trafficking in women and children; terrorism; environmental degradation; marginalization of persons with disabilities; disease; and armed conflict -- in particular, there was a need for assistance to the immediate health needs of civilians displaced by armed conflict. Countries should refrain from unilateral measures, particularly involving the denial of basic social services, as a form of political pressure. Also, improved measures were required to address the excessive volatility of short-term international capital flows, to address the external debt problems of developing countries, and to reverse declines in official development assistance. More grant assistance rather than loans should be provided for social development programmes and projects.
JOSE LUIS RODRIGUEZ GARCIA, Vice-President of the Council of Ministers and Minister for Economy and Planning of Cuba, said five years ago, 118 world leaders had met in Copenhagen to discuss social development issues. By 1995, the disastrous affects of neo-liberal globalization were being noticed on economic and social development, no matter how much the negative results were being covered up. There had been a proclamation that when economic growth was achieved and certain adjustment policies established, social development would flow naturally and enormous wealth would be created for all. But five years later, there was a very different reality. Now, what was spoken about was the imperfections of the market and the necessity of lessening their effects. The underdeveloped countries that grew at an annual average of 6.2 per cent between 1990 and 1995 only reached 4.8 per cent of growth from 1995 to 1999. An unprecedented financial crisis had fallen in 1997 on the Asian South-east and Latin America, eliminating the monetary reserves of a group of countries in a few hours.
Cuba had always defended the concept that development was inextricably linked with social development. Without the full satisfaction of the basic human needs and without an educated society, it would not be possible to aspire to the authentic development of the human being. Today, Cuba was a country able to be mobilized in a boy's defence, kidnapped in the most powerful country on Earth, in a claim for his right to a better life. Despite the economic war waged by the United States, which had gone on for more than 40 years, Cuba had sustained a gradual recovery of the economy that had grown an average of 4 per cent annually between 1995 and 2000. In these years, social development did not cease. The doctor-to-patient ratio had dropped from 1 to 193 to 1 to 172; the infant mortality rate had decreased from 9.4 per 1,000 born to 6.4 per 1,000 born; the level of the population's schooling had advanced from eight to nine degrees, and the benefits of social security had increased 7.2 per cent.
BASRI HASANUDDIN, State Minister Coordinator for People's Welfare and Poverty Eradication of Indonesia, observed that poverty ran rampant throughout the world and in some countries had actually increased. Reducing unemployment continued to be a slow process, let alone addressing the need for productive employment. Social integration eluded the international community's grasp. In fact, the goals set at Copenhagen seemed at times to be a distant hope. One major impact on social development, particularly within the developing countries, had certainly been the process of globalization and liberalization. It had clearly accentuated the development problems of the developing countries such as access to markets, financial resources and technology, and prematurely opened up many economies exposing them to overwhelming competition. It was a telling sign that growth in the developing world was decreasing at the present moment in history of great change and innovation.
If the international community was sincere in its pronouncement for social development, then certainly one should work to redress the existing asymmetries and imbalances in the global economy, Mr. Hasanuddin said. In that connection, Indonesia would call on the international community to reduce the negative impact of the financial crisis by assisting developing countries in strengthening their domestic capital markets. That should include measures to deal with short-term capital flows and the volatility they would bring to financial markets. To achieve that, developing countries should attain greater participation in the decision-making process of international financial institutions.
He further said that despite three decades of vigorous work to achieve economic and social development, the Indonesian Government had been unable to cope with the overwhelming financial losses and had lost its legitimacy. In its place, a new reform government had successfully faced the challenge of the economic collapse, and simultaneously constructed a more democratic and transparent political structure. Indonesia had achieved a measure of success on all counts. One of the most significant features of Indonesia's efforts to enhance the social conditions of the country was the significant progress that was being made in the promotion and protection of human rights.
RAUL PATINO AROCA, Minister of Social Welfare of Ecuador, said regrettably the years after Copenhagen showed a regression in his country's struggle to eradicate poverty. Most of the commitments assumed at the 1995 Summit were ones that were impossible to comply with. Seventy per cent of the population was poor, and the number of indigents, the poorest of the poor, had increased from 1.4 million to 3.2 million -- that was 34 per cent of the population. The measurable weight of debt carried by the country had had a profound affect on the country's finances. There was now an unprecedented economic crisis which had created conditions of extreme political instability. Human values had mercilessly been substituted by military values, and the rights of indigenous peoples, women and children were being compromised.
Debt had turned into the main obstacle to Ecuador's development, the result of a perverse system, Mr. Aroca said. Pope John Paul II had called debt immoral, and people of the third world had seen all their efforts at development vanish in the last two decades because of the demands of debt payments. Those payments were taking the place of social investment, including education, health, and aid for the poorest groups. Economic growth was not enough to ensure social development. Ecuador had recently set up a social development programme that was aimed at improving the situation for women, children and retirees. In order to set a new plan in motion, Ecuador had received the support of the World Food Programme (WFP) and other international organizations. The plan included battling corruption, engaging in international dialogue and seeking justice. Justice was what the world needed. It was not fair that millions of mothers and fathers were in tears because they did not know how to feed their children. It was not fair that Ecuador had to pay 81 per cent of its resources to repay its debt.
TAMAM EL-GHUL, Minister for Social Development of Jordan, said that the international community should examine the reasons which had not allowed the full implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and should design new mechanisms to achieve the commitments undertaken at that time. With regard to measures taken by Jordan, she said welfare projects had been implemented to help those who were in need of social assistance. Through a network of civil solidarity, the Government had extended its social services to all aspects of the social strata. Concerning refugees, the Government had translated its convictions into practice by helping them to live under its territory and enjoy all the privileges they deserved. The refugees in Jordan were socially integrated and lived in harmony with the rest of the population.
Jordan had continued to pay its debt despite its economic hardships, she said. The recent Asian crisis was also to be blamed for Jordan's economic hardships. In addition, the globalization process was not without negative effects on Jordan's social development.
ELISABETH SICKL, Federal Minister of Social and Intergenerational Affairs of Austria, said there was still an enormous deficit in meeting the objectives set at Copenhagen, and five years after the Copenhagen Summit it was clear that much had to be done to replace inequality with solidarity and to improve opportunities for equal social participation. Austria, together with its European Union partners, was modernizing its social-protection system; it was seeking to provide equal services and opportunities to all, including youth, women, the elderly and the handicapped, to employment, education, childcare, and housing. Currently a heated debate was going on concerning how to secure the country's pension system over the long run; and Austria intended to offer parents child-care allowances.
Over the last 45 years, Austria, with a population of 8 million, had given temporary harbour to more than 2 million refugees and had granted 650,000 persons permanent residency -- per capita, more than any other European Union country. The Austrian population also had donated $120 million to victims of the war in the former Yugoslavia. Austria welcomed enlargement of the Union as a chance for a peaceful and democratic Europe, and also looked far beyond Europe's borders through an ambitious programme of development cooperation. Austria considered that the effectiveness of such international development measures depended on the cooperation of donors, the coherence of measures taken, and the implementation of the principles of "ownership" and "partnership".
It was the political leadership in Syria which had stressed the equality of women in social and political life. In Syria, many women had high-ranking positions in the Government. Syria had conferred special attention to the family since it was the nucleus of society. For the handicapped, a number of schools and centres had been opened, providing them with education and job training. The Government had established a goal of 6 per cent of the jobs in the workforce for the handicapped. The Government had also stressed the importance of decent housing since that was one of the basic requirements for human life. The Government had also made efforts to give health coverage to all of its citizens, although particular emphasis had been given to women and children.
Syria had suffered through foreign occupation, and those in the Golan region had suffered particularly. Although Israel had said it was working for peace, it had rejected United Nations resolutions concerning land for peace. The international community's help was requested in removing Israel peacefully from the occupied territory.
GRACIELA FERNANDEZ MEIJIDE, Minister for Social Development and Environment of Argentina, said that while structural reform had opened the doors of Argentina's economy to the world and had improved its productivity, the method for bringing about such reform only widened the social gap to an unprecedented extent. Narrowing that gap was the main goal of the new Government. The national Government's work towards that goal was focused on reinforcing the institutional skills of both public and private bodies involved in social development. It was on that line of action that the Ministry of Social Development and Environment was established on the same day that the newly elected President was inaugurated. That decision was the first step of a strategy that aimed at considering social policy as an integrated form of action towards full enjoyment of the benefits of citizenship by the population at large.
She said the need to integrate social policies stemmed from an assessment of the dispersion that characterized them in the 1990s: the country had once had 66 social programmes provided by different national ministries. The keys to Argentina's strategy were the integration of social programmes, the creation of a unified record of beneficiaries and the development of a general political consensus covering every provincial government, regardless of the party it might belong to. That was the approach that Argentina had developed to face the serious social situation that characterized the country.
Ms. Meijide said that while Argentina carried out those innovations in strategy, it would not cease to assist disadvantaged families, nor would it neglect its duties if a social emergency should arise. Argentina would perform the tasks that any such emergency might call for and, at the same time, it would continue working towards building a nation of free and responsible citizens who did not need public assistance.
ABDULWAHAB MOHAMMED AL-WAZZAN, Minister for Social Affairs and Labour of Kuwait, said Kuwait had made endless efforts to realize the right to development and now was modifying and modernizing its laws to bring them into conformity with the Copenhagen Declaration -- among laws passed to meet this objective were measures on intellectual property, protection of the environment, organization of foreign investments, activation of the national workforce, and care for disabled persons. The selection of Kuwait as the Capital of Arab Culture for the year 2001 had crowned this wise policy.
Kuwait saw globalization as a double-edged weapon -- many countries were reaping rapid benefits, but many others were suffering negative consequences, and it also had led to such problems as violence, drugs, and trafficking in weapons and other internationally banned materials. There was a need for a mechanism for cooperation and coordination headed by the United Nations and its specialized agencies to combat these problems. Such a mechanism should be included in the decisions made by the Special Session. Kuwait continued to support developmental projects around the world to the tune of 4 to 5 per cent of its gross national product (GNP), and many Kuwaiti non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also provided aid to developing countries. Kuwait, meanwhile, wished to remind the special session that pressure should be exerted on Iraq to release Kuwaiti and other prisoners of war still held after some 10 years of the invasion of Kuwait, in violation of the principles of the Copenhagen Declaration.
ANTHONY DESSOURCES, Minister for Planning and External Cooperation of Haiti, said this session reflected a number of advances which countries had achieved and showed the scope of the challenge that nations faced. It was also a time for evaluation after the Copenhagen Summit. Haiti had used its meagre tax revenues to modernize the hospital system, to improve schools, and to renovate roads. There were good prospects to restart a new programme in the country next month. The long-term programme would focus on universal schooling for children aged three to 12, and modernizing the public transportation system. But there were prevailing funding difficulties. There was a low funding ceiling, and the Government would be forced to make a number of sacrifices. The Government was committed to pursuing efforts to combat poverty, and that was also a part of the long-term plan. It would be done by establishing an economic policy involving private investment; decentralizing so local authorities would be able to partake in capacity building; and mapping pockets of poverty so regions and populations could first be identified, and then addressed.
Developed countries should help developing countries in the fight against poverty, he went on to say. So far, globalization had only worked for a small number of countries. Haiti was determined to be among the nations whose economic determination and democracy were its main symbols. Regional integration was an important and ambitious goal. There was, for example, ongoing cooperation with Cuba in health and medical training.
ROUBEN SHUGARIAN, Deputy Foreign Minister of Armenia, said it was evident that all countries in the world were substantially affected by the globalization process. The specialization and the further widening of markets through trade, division of labour, and more efficient and diversified allocation of financial resources should increase overall productivity and raise living standards. However, no country could benefit from that trend spontaneously. The major task faced by governments was to pursue sound policies of structural adjustment to meet social challenges and to take advantage of opportunities that globalization offered today. Domestic economic planning and reforms were as essential as regional cooperation and integration to maximize benefits and opportunities. Therefore, improvements in the social sphere should be an integral part of effective economic policies and programmes.
The period of economic transition in Armenia was characterized by the collapse in trade with Central European and former Soviet republics followed by a drastic fall in production, a high rate of inflation and the erosion of incomes and purchasing power. Disproportion in the labour market had led to conditions where the average salary did not even ensure minimal living conditions. The past Soviet social system was no more functional; and it did not have the means to provide a social safety net of the guarantees stipulated by the Armenian Constitution.
Mr. Shugarian said that, according to some alarming estimates, the actual population of Armenia had decreased in size over the last five years. The emigration rate, which was due to the high unemployment rate, had produced demographic changes. Severe social and economic conditions primarily affected people's health and resulted in increased morbidity and mortality rates. The strategic programme on the reduction of poverty had been launched in the country, some of the components of which were the promotion of economic activity, reduction of unemployment, and improvement of the system of state administration, among other things.
RINO SERRI, Deputy Minister for Social Affairs of Italy, said development aid and the fight against poverty and for human dignity could not succeed unless the whole field of economic, financial and trade policies was involved. Globalization had huge consequences on the lives of ordinary people and had engendered wide and contradictory movements and protests, as had occurred in Seattle. It was not a question of stopping globalization but of guaranteeing within it priority for human development and civil and social growth for all communities. New relations had to be established -- first of all through the United Nations -- and these had to include financial, monetary, and trade issues.
It was clear that it was necessary to move from separate and independent development projects to shared, far-reaching strategies; to aim at unified and coordinated initiatives that went beyond purely welfare practices and invited participation by all partners in society; and to find new forms of convergence and integration. Italy was seeking to increase its resources for development assistance, was already cooperating with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other international agencies to implement framework programmes for human development, and had decided to help with special financing for trust funds set up by the UNDP and the International Labour Organizatioin (ILO). The current special session must come up with a new stimulus for social progress if it was to have a real impact, starting with reduction and cancellation of debt.
TATSUO ARIMA, Chairman of the delegation of Japan, said since the Copenhagen Summit, so-called globalization had resulted in the widening gap between the rich and the poor. The central concern of the measures implemented here had to be the protection of the livelihood and of the dignity of the individual. Concern had to be placed with human security -- it was at the very core of the action of social development. Japan, as the top overseas development assistance (ODA) donor for nine consecutive years, attached particular importance to poverty reduction in developing countries. Poverty reduction efforts of developing countries should be supported by debt relief. Japan was firmly committed to the full cancellation of all ODA debt owed by Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC), under an initiative adopted at the Cologne Summit last year. It was urgent that the implementation of the initiative be accelerated, and in this connection, Japan decided this April to extend enhanced debt relief of up to 100 per cent to non-ODA debt owed by eligible HIPCs. In implementing debt relief, it was important to ensure that resources released through debt relief be used effectively for the well-being of the people in debtor countries. To that end, the participation of civil societies and other parties concerned in that process would be beneficial. Japan would implement its debt relief measures taking into consideration the views of various parties, including NGOs and other civil societies.
In the long run, however, developing countries should strengthen their debt- management capacity and increase their ability to make the best use of available loans. For those purposes, Japan had organized debt-management seminars since 1999 with the participation of African countries. In the efforts to reduce poverty in developing countries, the importance of primary education and health, as well as the empowerment of women, could not be over-emphasized. Japan actively contributed to the promotion of quality basic education with particular emphasis on the education of girls. And to contain the spread of infectious diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, Japan implemented assistance amounting to about $100 million between fiscal 1994 and fiscal 1998.
LIM SOO HOON, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Community Development and Sports of Singapore, believed that one should invest in people and provide them with the opportunities for development and growth. Accordingly, Singapore worked very hard to remain cohesive as a people by carefully managing its diversity. Every Singaporean was imbued with the sense that rewards could only be brought about through hard work, based on the principles of meritocracy and self-reliance. Singapore did not believe in social handouts. Rather, it believed the family was the basic building block of the society. It should be the first line of support in the social safety net if the individual needed help. Only if the family could not help should assistance be considered from the community and the Government. A recent survey on the family in Singapore revealed that the family was relatively well.
Nevertheless, the family as an institution in Singapore would increasingly come under strain due to globalization, she said. Working parents faced the struggle to balance work and family. The country, especially the educated and career-minded, were postponing marriage and having fewer children or none at all. Like many other countries, Singapore was also experiencing a decline in fertility rates. That had caused the country to have one of the fastest ageing populations in the world. Although the population was relatively young today, it would change rapidly over the next 20 to 30 years.
Ms. Lim stressed that, for Singapore to compete effectively, it was necessary to upgrade the quality of its work force through continuous training to meet the rapidly changing needs of industries. The recent economic recession in Asia had reinforced the need for skills upgrading and retraining to increase productivity and enhance the employability of workers and tackle structural unemployment. The knowledge-based economy would transform the workplace and workers had to be prepared to make the transition into the new economy.
DHARMADASS BAICHOO, Chairman of the delegation of Mauritius, said Mauritius had carried out policies for promoting human development long before Copenhagen and had continued them since; it devoted some 35 per cent of its budget to the social services sector. Since 1968, it had established a pension scheme for all citizens over age 60; a trust fund for projects to integrate vulnerable groups; free education from pre-primary to tertiary level; committees of elderly people to ensure their social integration; a national health service; a Women's Entrepreneur's Council; a housing scheme to ensure a "roof for every family"; and a programme for clean and safe drinking water. Although the country's economic growth had hovered around 5 per cent per year, it remained vulnerable, as a small island State, to the economic volatility of globalization, the absence of a level playing field at the international level, to competition among unequals, and to the erosion of preferential and guaranteed market access for its exports. Further opening of markets and an increase in official development assistance, as agreed in Copenhagen, should be given urgent consideration by the developed countries.
Market economies were valuable, but growth for growth's sake had to be tempered so that it did not lead to skewed results and great income and wealth disparities within and between countries. The quest should be for a "decent" and "civilized" society, and new, fresh ideas were needed for gradual reform of the current system.
FEDERICA BIGI, Chairperson of the delegation of San Marino, said there were difficulties in overcoming obstacles to ensure social development for all. But the efforts were a source of constant hope and optimism, despite unavoidable occasional failures. Promoting social development meant guaranteeing defence for the weakest members of the population, especially children. Last February, San Marino had ratified ILO Convention 182 concerning the worst cases of child labour. In recent decades, there had been unprecedented economic growth, thanks in part to globalization. But only a small part of the world enjoyed that. The gap between the rich and poor had widened, and it had weakened the economic competitiveness of these other countries.
Combating poverty was an economic and social obligation of every country in the world. It was inhumane to expect people in the world today to go without basic human needs. Many NGOs had done an enormous amount of work to raise the consciousness of many of these issues, and to put the fight against poverty at the forefront. The question of foreign debt was a serious one. Countries with a heavy debt burden found it difficult to commit the necessary resources for social development. States and the international community had a duty to commit themselves to every society, every family and every person. Fundamental rights of the individual could not be sacrificed in the name of the market or in the name of free market forces.
GELSON FONSECA, Chairperson of the delegation of Brazil, said that in spite of the problems and turbulence caused by two international financial crises and of the need to consolidate monetary stability, the ideals of a fully fledged democracy with permanent social progress remained intact. In Brazil, the Government, Parliament and different sectors of civil society had joined forces to implement the commitments of Copenhagen. Without democracy, there was no social development. Over the last years, Brazil had tried to improve the interaction between the State and society, so as to better identify the public interest and pursue policies compatible with it. The reforms undertaken had led to a more transparent dialogue between the State and society, with a balanced distribution of responsibilities. The efficiency of public administration had increased, to the benefit of social justice, for it allowed the State to concentrate its resources on measures of immediate interest to the poor.
Mr. Fonseca continued to say that while it was true that globalization had created new opportunities for countries to take part in the global economy, it should be recognized that those opportunities had not brought the expected benefits to developing countries. It was imperative that the growing disparities with the international economic system be redressed. It was essential that opportunities for economic growth be expanded to all countries. Economic development depended on appropriate domestic policies and an international system based on clear and just rules. In the 1990s. Brazil had accepted the challenges of globalization by opening its market to foreign goods and by attracting foreign investment.
SUZANNE MUBARAK, First Lady and Chairperson of the delegation of Egypt, said that five years after Copenhagen, the world was still looking for the human face of globalization. The process was exposing people to new, magnified uncertainties; the Copenhagen commitments remained largely unmet. Was it too much to expect that the gap could be narrowed between those nations that lived in prosperity and plenty and those that had trouble providing for the basic needs of their citizens? It was time to go beyond wish lists and socially responsible rhetoric to accomplishments. Mixed results would continue unless the rules of the game were changed. Currently, developing countries were expected to accomplish in a few years what the industrialized nations had accomplished over many decades. And developing countries were being asked to do this with often-crushing debt burdens against stiff international competition in which the rich countries had numerous advantages. It was time to make clear that globalization had a duty to do public good.
Egypt had been struggling to advance, and its efforts had resulted in qualified progress, she said. Despite many constraints, social budget allocations had been increased and a spirit of bottom-up partnership had permeated all efforts. Challenges remained, but Egypt had quadrupled the number of school buildings in the last decade and had increased enrolment to 96 per cent at the primary level and 78 per cent at the secondary level; it had greatly closed the education gender gap; it had made progress in health, nutrition and poverty reduction.
The current special session should come up with a mechanism for micro- and small enterprises to become a vehicle for a new development model, as small enterprises seemed best for helping the very poor households everyone wished to target, Mrs. Mubarak said. More official development assistance was owed to such poor people, and it should be aimed at promoting assistance for the informal sector. Similarly, information technology should be provided to the poor in rural and urban settings, and there should be a global trust fund for women, such as she had suggested during the recent Beijing Plus Five meeting in New York.
DIKITE FATOUMATA NDIAYE, Minister of Social Development of Mali, said sustainable development was essential to social development, but they should both be supported by social policies. In Mali, several policies and strategies had been adopted. Anti-poverty was a major objective. There was average growth in the country, but unfortunately that had not cut the poverty rates in all areas. Health development and social progress programmes stemmed from an international approach. The idea was to reduce mortality rates, and to strive towards universal access. The country was hoping to improve the education system, with a goal of 75 per cent education in the next few years.
Every citizen should be able to address the State directly if there was an infringement of any rights. The idea was to bring justice to all. To promote the objective of full employment, the Government had focused on the development of small- and medium-sized businesses. There was also an effort to equal the treatment of men and women in the workforce. There was still a great deal to be done, and there needed to be a firmer commitment. The President had called social development a real world challenge that everyone had to address. Now was the time to go from speeches to action and to actual practice.
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