4 July 2002
Council Adopts Ministerial Declaration Calling Education, Health Crucial to Human Resources Development
NEW YORK, 3 July (UN Headquarters) -- Government ministers participating in the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council's 2002 substantive session today reaffirmed that poverty eradication and sustainable development were the "great ethical and human imperatives of our time".
Adopting a Ministerial Declaration at the conclusion of the three-day segment, the Council recognized that human resources development was a fundamental aspect of poverty eradication and vital to the process of sustainable development, contributing to sustained economic growth, social development and environmental protection.
Health and education, the Declaration affirmed, were in turn essential to human resources development and should be fully integrated into macroeconomic policies, including poverty-reduction initiatives, and accordingly prioritized in national budgetary allocations to health and education.
The Council also reaffirmed its commitment to the full and timely implementation of the goals, targets and commitments of the major United Nations conferences and summits, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration.
The high-level segment brought together government ministers, heads of international agencies and representatives of non-governmental organizations to discuss human resources development, with particular focus on health and education, as an essential factor in the overall development process. Over the course of the three days, participants engaged in a policy dialogue attended by, among others, top officials from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Council also held several round tables and panel discussions which examined various aspects of the broad consensus that has emerged from recent United Nations conferences and the Millennium Declaration: that the surest antidote to strife and the strongest foundation for eradicating poverty and ensuring long-term economic growth is to make the most of human resources.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan opened the discussion on Monday by saying that although the world economic outlook was plagued by an unusual degree of uncertainty, globalization offered unparalleled opportunities to achieve greater equity through more sustained and balanced growth. It was vital to seize those opportunities, and in doing so, maintain particular focus on the needs of Africa.
Emphasis was placed by many other speakers during the segment on the particular development needs of Africa. Paul O'Neill, Treasury Secretary of the United States, speaking during the policy dialogue, said investing in clean water, primary education, and fighting HIV/AIDS was vital to realizing human potential in Africa. The theme was further elaborated during a panel discussion held on Tuesday on the subject "Health Priorities in Africa: Are We in the Right Direction for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals in Health?"
Many speakers during the segment stressed the need for urgent and effective action to meet the Millennium Development Goals. Speaking Tuesday morning, Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, called on the Council to generate a sense of urgency, because at the current rate, the goals would not be met by 2015. Work in the areas of education, health and poverty eradication must be accelerated.
Addressing the Council this morning, El Salvador's Minister for External Relations said access to education and health services was among the most fundamental human rights. A comprehensive development policy must, therefore, have a multi-sectoral approach, including increasingly strengthened human resources.
Uganda's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, also speaking today, outlined his Government's efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. Numerous measures had been taken and the effort was beginning to pay off, he noted. During 2000, the prevalence rate had declined from 6.9 to 6.1 per cent in the adult population. A decade ago it had been as high as 30 per cent in urban areas and 18 per cent in the general population. The improvement was due to the Health Sector Strategic Plan, to which a 30 per cent increase had been allocated in the present financial year.
Statements were also made today by the Acting Minister of Health of Chile, the Director-General of the Agency for Development and Cooperation of Switzerland, and the Special Adviser to the President of Suriname.
The representatives of Malaysia, Australia, Ukraine, Brazil, India, Qatar, Morocco, Paraguay, Belarus, Bhutan, Canada, Botswana, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Iraq, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mongolia, Nauru (for the Pacific Islands Forum), Malawi, Fiji, Argentina, Belize, Azerbaijan, Tunisia, Libya and South Africa also spoke.
Statements were also made by representatives of the Interstate Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Committee for Development Policy, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the World Bank, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Representatives of Soroptomist International, International Organization for Migration, Doctors of the World, World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, and Znanie also spoke.
The representative of the United Kingdom, speaking in his capacity as President of the Security Council, also addressed the meeting. Ivan Simonovic (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council, made closing remarks.
Representatives of Germany, United States, India, Japan, Australia and Egypt (for the "Group of 77" developed countries and China) made statements after the adoption of the Ministerial Declaration.
The Council will meet again on Friday, 5 July, at 10 a.m. to continue its work for the 2002 substantive session.
Summary of Ministerial Declaration
The ministers and heads of delegation reaffirmed that poverty eradication and sustainable development were great ethical and human imperatives of the day. Reaffirming the universal right to education, they said the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health was one of the fundamental rights of every human being, without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.
They also reaffirmed their commitment to the full and timely implementation of the goals and targets of the major United Nations conferences and summits and their follow-up related to both health and education, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration. They recognized that human resources development was a fundamental aspect of poverty eradication and vital to the process of sustainable development, contributing to sustained economic growth, social development and environmental protection.
They recognized that health and education were in turn essential to human resources development, and should be fully integrated into macroeconomic policies, including poverty-reduction initiatives, and accordingly integrated into national budgetary allocations to health and education. They also recognized the important role of health and education professionals in all countries and the need to upgrade their skills.
They recognized that people living in poverty must be placed at the centre of the human resources development process. They stressed the need for gender mainstreaming in all human resources development policies and programmes in order to effectively address gender inequalities. Full and equal access to health care and education were fundamental to the achievement of gender equality.
The ministers and heads of delegation called for the full implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS as adopted at the 26th special session of the General Assembly, and resolved to intensify efforts to mobilize resources for the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. They also strongly encouraged research and development of necessary drugs and vaccines, particularly against diseases prevalent in developing countries.
The ministers also recognized that a substantial increase in official development assistance (ODA) and other resources was needed to provide adequate and sustained resources for effective programmes to strengthen and enhance delivery systems for health and education.
They urged developed countries that had not done so to make concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) as ODA to developing countries, and 0.15-0.20 per cent of GNP of developed countries to least developing countries.
They recognized that trade was one of the most important sources for fostering development and financing human resources development, and stressed the importance of facilitating access to and transfer of knowledge and technology on concessional, preferential and favourable terms to the developing countries. They also expressed strong support for Africa's new initiative, entitled the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which aimed, among other things, to achieve human resources development objectives.
The United Nations was called upon to strengthen its catalytic and supportive role in promoting human resources development in the areas of health and education. To that end, it must continue and strengthen its efforts to support national, regional and global efforts to integrate human resources development programmes into poverty-reduction strategies; to help countries build institutions and local technical capacity; and to promote human resources development programmes that facilitate access to information and communications technologies in all countries.
The Declaration stressed the pivotal role of the Economic and Social Council in maintaining the focus on implementing and financing human resources development as part of its responsibilities in the integrated and coordinated follow-up of major United Nations conferences and summits. It called on the Council to mobilize and promote coordinated action by the United Nations system for implementing its recommendations.
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) met this morning to continue its high-level debate on the contribution of human resources development, including the areas of health and education, to the process of development. Later today, when the high-level segment concludes, it is expected to adopt its Ministerial Declaration.
YEFIM M. MALITIKOV, Chairman of the Interstate Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), said the international community did not utilize the already existing modern instruments for the realization of decision-making and did not synchronize the results obtained. He stressed the importance of making full use of available information technology. Contemporary knowledge was being disseminated far too slowly, he said. The role of education in the sustainable development process was not valued highly enough.
Education throughout life must become the priority of State policies and a component of laws and constitutions, he said. Traditional views on education had led to the fact that 880 million people were completely illiterate. Moreover, 4.5 billion did not have a sufficient command of contemporary knowledge for people of the twenty-first century. Progressive science and policy had already made available the instruments capable of helping humankind deal with the deficit in education. In that regard, he cited distance education techniques, in particular satellite technology.
He stressed the importance of non-governmental organization cooperation with governments "as a bridge to the future". He noted that since 1997, non-governmental organizations and governments had been working on the Interstate Committee on the Promotion of Knowledge and Adult Education in the CIS.
JOAN CROMER, President of Soroptimist International, said her organization for professional women had members in 123 countries working through service projects to promote human rights and advance the status of women. It was of concern that, despite progress in protecting human rights and preserving human dignity, various forms of slavery existed all over the world. Of particular concern were issues related to the traffic in persons, sales of children, child prostitution and persons trapped in exploitative systems.
She said that worldwide each year more than 700,000 people were trafficked across international borders against their will. As an $8 billion a year global industry, it was the third largest source of profits after drugs and weapons for international organized crime. The estimate was that approximately 4 million women and children were enslaved every year by the underground industry. Most were from poor countries and were often lured into the sex trade by responding to ads for jobs in other countries for such work as nannies, secretaries or models. Without education, they had no assets of value but their bodies. Being illegal, they were particularly vulnerable to prosecution. Also, as women they were biologically vulnerable, notably to HIV/AIDS.
Describing Soroptimist projects, such as a workshop in Moscow and the establishment of an anti-trafficking centre in India, she said the centres enabled women to obtain legal, health, and special kinds of assistance. It also provided training to help the women find economic alternatives to prostitution. The success of such projects demonstrated the importance of developing human resources, including health and education in the process of social and economic development.
Governments had committed themselves to take measures to eradicate the trafficking of women and girls by adopting the Beijing Platform for Action, she said. Yet, international sexual slavery was one of the world's fastest growing industries. Governments must implement legislation to stop it. State departments and law enforcement agencies must monitor documents, and all must exchange data and information to bring the perpetrators of trafficking to the attention of authorities. Finally, the United Nations system, governments and the corporate sector must work in partnership with non-governmental organizations to ratify and implement the provisions of all relevant international conventions.
RYOKICHI HIRONO, Professor at Sekei University, Japan, Chairman of the Committee for Development Policy, said sub-Sahara African and South Asian countries lagged behind in both educational performance and health conditions. Equally alarmingly, Central Asian countries had seen deterioration in those areas in recent years. If the situation persisted and challenges were not met, developing countries and some transition economies would not only miss the opportunities offered by globalization, they would fall behind in development efforts. Insufficient investment could widen the digital divide, as could poor and insufficient capabilities. Both could exacerbate poverty and inequality.
The greater flow of goods, services, information, technology and labour had brought new exigencies that required a redefinition of policy goals in education and health, he said. Education systems had changed their focus from passive acquisition of skills and knowledge to a more active enhancement of capacities for analysis and synthesis of information, to address rapid social changes. Education was no longer a monopoly of schools, but was extended as part of life-long capacity-building efforts. Similarly, in the health area there was a shift from curative to preventive approaches, through the development of individual and collective capacities to evaluate and cope with health risks.
The Committee had a number of recommendations, he said. First, educational and health systems should be revamped to develop and capitalize on the synergies of each field. Universal access to integrated services should be provided through increased community-based services. High quality and flexible standards should be set and social capabilities should be reinforced. All that should draw on the support of innovative institutional frameworks, developed and implemented with the participation of all stakeholders and with governments ensuring that standards were met. Opportunities resulting from new tools such as ICT should be used. Financing should be through innovative schemes, such as through the introduction of new international transaction taxes and through local, regional and global partnerships.
MARIA EUGENIA BRIZUELA DE AVILA, Minister for External Relations of El Salvador, said that her Government attached great importance to health and education as key components of development. The right to education and health were some of the most fundamental human rights, she added. A comprehensive development policy must, therefore, have a multi-sectoral approach, including increasingly strengthened human resources. In El Salvador, the Government had undertaken a broad reform process, which defined new targets to strengthen human capital, including the expansion of the universality and the improvement of the standard of education. Programmes also included action in the areas of material capital, infrastructure, human capital and information and communication technologies.
One of the major challenges, however, was the improvement of the educational system. It was evident that if the population of El Salvador could increase its levels of education, there would be a positive impact in several other areas, including health and the economy. She stressed that the Government included the gender perspective in all its education programmes. Women and children were a priority group, representing over 60 per cent of the population. Health programmes covered the environment, sanitation, and child mortality, and aimed to eventually provide free health care for women and mothers.
The Government had recognised the importance of integrating health and education policies, she said. The ECOSOC had an important role to play in this context, particularly in avoiding duplication. The Council needed to be given a greater capacity, particularly in the areas of monitoring performances and in financing for development. It had been stressed that the international community needed to adopt a multi-sectoral approach and work together to strengthen human resources. El Salvador had the political will to contribute to do so, and would continue to work in cooperation with the international community to achieve sustainable development in all countries.
BERNARD DOMPOK, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Malaysia, said the philosophy underlying Malaysia's development initiatives was that growth was not to be pursued as an end in itself. Growth must always be accompanied by equitable distribution, so that all segments of society benefited from the development process. Economic and social initiatives had thus to be integrated and coordinated, as they were interdependent and mutually reinforcing.
He said it was essential that the Council seriously consider the proposal of introducing a dedicated pool of international financing for the development of infrastructure in developing countries. The availability of basic infrastructure was a prerequisite for initiating sustained economic development, eradicating poverty and improving quality of life. Unfortunately, many developing countries lacked the necessary resources to ensure the provision of those basic infrastructure services. Greater cooperation in addressing the problem of lack of resources for development was, therefore, key.
He emphasized the importance of bridging the digital divide between developed and developing countries. That issue would feature prominently in the future and the Council should continue to address it with utmost urgency. He called upon the international community to play a greater role towards ensuring that all countries benefited from the process of development.
TOM BUTIME, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Uganda, said his country's human resources development efforts had been greatly affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Demographic indicators had been altered. The most productive segment of the population, between the ages of 19 and 45, had been most affected. Infant and child mortality rates had risen dramatically. Life expectancy had dropped from 54.1 to 42.6 years over the last 15 years.
HIV/AIDS was a global crisis, he said, but the broader and deeper development implications were more evident in Africa. While its global prevalence was estimated at one per cent of the population, the average for sub-Saharan Africa was over nine per cent. His country had taken numerous measures and it was beginning to pay off. Awareness of the disease was rated at 99.7 per cent. Knowledge of preventive methods was high, with at least 78 per cent of the population knowing at least two acceptable methods of prevention. During 2000, the prevalence rate had declined from 6.9 to 6.1 per cent in the adult population. A decade ago it had been as high as 30 per cent in urban areas and 18 per cent in the general population. The improvement was due to the Health Sector Strategic Plan, to which a 30 per cent increase had been allocated in the present financial year.
The secret behind effective prevention programmes was political will, he said. That implied a commitment at the highest level to mobilizing the population against the epidemic. That same strategy applied to advancing the level of education, which had been accorded the highest priority. The education sector had been virtually on its deathbed in the immediate post-conflict period. Primary school enrolment had been at 50 per cent and 70 per cent of school building had been destroyed or damaged. Completion rate was under 30 per cent. Since 1992, progressively well-directed policies had shifted toward mass education. A Universal Primary Education programme provided free education for four children per household, with half to be girls. The programme had raised the gross primary enrolment from 2.9 million children in 1996 to 6.5 million in 1999.
The Government did not have adequate resources to provide an education for all, he said. Resources were inadequate, high demand strained the limited resources, capacity was lacking, there was poverty at home and diseases were threatening. The Government needed to strengthen partnerships with stakeholders, the donor community and non-governmental organizations to provide the resources. With the decentralization of power, many more Ugandans were involved in the sector-wide approaches to challenges. That in turn had led to increased donor coordination and resource flow. The situation was typical of many African countries over the past two decades. The achievements would erode if critical issues of health, education and poverty eradication were not urgently addressed.
GEOFFREY RABY, First Assistant Secretary, International Organisations and Legal Division, Australia said in 2002 to 2003 Australia would provide an estimated $230 million of direct health assistance to developing countries. It focused on communicable and vector-borne diseases, especially HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria; women and children's health including reproductive health; non-communicable diseases; and national policy development and health sector reform.
Australia's $200 million, six-year HIV/AIDS initiative represented a near doubling of annual HIV/AIDS expenditure over previous levels, he said. As one of the few donors located within the Asia Pacific region, Australia directed the majority of its assistance for HIV/AIDS to that region. While not underestimating the immensity of the problems in Africa and the Caribbean, the impact of the epidemic in the Asia Pacific region had to be addressed.
He said Australia was also encouraging the United Nations to consider appropriate measures to maintain international momentum on HIV/AIDS issues. The Australian Foreign Minister had, in May this year, written to the Secretary-General to put forward the idea of appointing regional envoys on HIV/AIDS to encourage governments to take effective action against the epidemic. In that regard, Australia welcomed the Secretary-General' recent appointment of Dr. Sadik as the United Nations Special Envoy for AIDS in Asia.
Australia's aid activities in education were aimed at increasing access, promoting equity, and improving the quality and relevance of education and training, he stated. He noted that in some developing countries the demand for knowledge often exceeded supply, with many denied access to sources of information. Last year, the Australian Government, in partnership with the World Bank, launched a major new policy initiative that would use Australian expertise to help bridge the digital divide. While noting the Secretary-General's report calls for "massive increases" in official development assistance (ODA), that aid was only one component of the resources available for development. The Monterrey Consensus of the Financing for Development Conference highlighted those other essential elements: mobilizing domestic resources, trade liberalization, foreign direct investment and good governance.
FERNANDO MUÑOZ, Acting Minister of Health of Chile, said the improvement of the delivery and access to health services was a major element for reaching the goal of greater equity and sustainable development. Health and education were important instruments for achieving better quality of life and they were also essential for human resource development. His Government had started an important effort addressed to reform the health system of the country. That reform effort aimed to introduce greater equity and solidarity in funding and access to social protection and health service provision, and to define national health objectives for the long run, among others.
He noted that Chilean expenditures in health represented around seven per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). Health services were very important for fulfilling population needs, but they were only one of the instruments for achieving success in the control of the "major killers of our time." Chronic and emerging diseases demanded changes in lifestyle and healthy public policy in education, housing, transport and employment. They also demanded changes in the structure, funding and delivery of health services. Efforts addressed to improve health services delivery must be part of a wider process of improving health conditions in the long run.
Human resources were the basis of any health care system and changes such as those being attempted by his country must be done in fundamental agreement with health workers. Health reforms were complex and political processes that could not be developed without facing social conflict with the economic and corporate interests present in the health arena.
WALTER FUST, Director-General of the Agency for Development and Cooperation of Switzerland, said it was important to remember that sustainable development presupposed internal security and well-functioning government administration. There were a worryingly high number of countries with failing State functions and services and serious security problems. This called for a multi-dimensional approach and sustained common effort of all stakeholders involved. In these situations, education for peace and reconciliation could indeed be of paramount importance. What would many countries, for instance in Africa, look like today had only half of the money spent on arms been invested in improving health and education services? he asked.
If the United Nations system wanted to continue to play a key role in the sectors of health and education, the different entities of the United Nations would have to work much more closely together. Regrettably, what had happened over the last 10 years was that the United Nations had been entrusted with new tasks and assignments, without being provided the additional resources. The core contributions to United Nations funds and programmes had only marginally increased, and in certain cases clearly even decreased.
This year's pledging of contributions on a so-called " purely voluntary basis" was -- compared with the negotiated multi-year commitments in the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA) and other international financing institutions -- a clear handicap for the United Nations funds and programmes, which ought to be revisited. His Country had been against the "grantisation" of IDA, as Switzerland wanted to maintain a clearer distinction between the development banks, as financing institutions, and the United Nations funds and programmes, as providers of technical cooperation. The core resources of United Nations funds and programmes must grow at least at the same pace as IDA's donor resources, in order to allow those institutions to continue to play their indispensable roles and to support activities of crucial importance. The United Nations must focus more on policy development, capacity and institution building, leaving the financing of large investment programmes, with important equipment and infrastructure components, to the international financing institutions.
CORNELIS A.F. PIPOT, Special Adviser to the President of Suriname, said sustainable development in countries like Suriname meant ensuring poverty reduction and equitable distribution of income within a democratic environment. He believed that such a human rights based approach required a broader set of assessment parameters to ensure success. In that regard, the ECOSOC might play an important role bridging the gap between international financial institutions and small countries on performance priorities.
He went on to say that, since available funds were often prioritized for traditional, finance-oriented programmes, the current trend towards budgetary support, which, at least in theory, would enable good governments to allocate funds in a more comprehensive way, was a recent positive development. He emphasized the need to develop benchmarks reflecting the new comprehensive approach to development. In line with the Monterey Consensus, Suriname believed that agencies such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), donors and concerned partners should stress the importance of outcomes, rather than processes in that new approach.
He said Suriname was currently formulating long-term comprehensive development policies and, in August, would host a conference of education stakeholders to outline a relevant plan. He drew attention to the challenge many governments faced as they undertook efforts to ensure public sector reform. In Suriname, the Ministry of Home Affairs was fully involved in enhancing the public sector by introducing a strong and equitable human resources framework. That included a target-oriented approach, the use of modern information and communication technologies (ICT), financing and upgraded adult education.
VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said his Government fully recognized the importance of domestic spending on human resources development, particularly in the areas of health and education. Education remained the key to social and economic development, peace and stability, and democracy. Today, as human resources development strategies needed to be adapted in the context of rapid globalization, the role of higher education as the most important link between national potential and the modern economic system was growing.
He said there was no need to discuss whether or not improved health was central to overall development. With that and the particular impact of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world in mind, it was imperative to ensure health coverage for the poor, to reduce mortality rates, control the spread of communicable diseases and improve maternal and child health care. Ukraine considered health issues to be among its top priorities. A comprehensive State programme, "Health for the Nation", now defined a range of activities aimed at strengthening health safeguards, especially for children and those suffering from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.
He went on to say, however, that despite current trends in economic growth, Ukraine was a country without adequate resources to support its health care system. The main task before the Government was to ensure the sustainability of economic growth and translate that growth into benefits for all. Along with strengthening the social functions of the State budget, Ukraine needed external financial investments. Such investments were indispensable in developing human resources. Another indispensable element was access to European and world markets. A non-discriminatory international trade system was absolutely necessary.
He said that, as the State budget was very limited, Ukraine made the most of available health sector funds, namely to address issues that most acutely affected the country. The most urgent and alarming problems was HIV/AIDS. Ukraine had declared 2002 as the "Year of Fighting AIDS", and within that framework, national efforts to combat the epidemic have focused on two major priorities: preventing HIV infection; and support for those already infected. Fighting the disease required significant resources and Ukraine was sincerely grateful for international assistance, particularly from the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), World Bank and Global Fund, that had all supported its national strategies.
GELSON FONSECA (Brazil) said the struggle against poverty required a comprehensive approach that combined economic and social policies, and gave high priority to education and health. In Brazil, poverty eradication strategies were being articulated according to the principles of partnership, solidarity and decentralization. Special attention had been given to reducing child mortality; improving food supply in public schools and amongst low income families; stimulating family agriculture and the settlement of rural workers; giving access to and improving basic education; and providing adequate sanitation and improving worker qualification. In the area of education, significant progress had been achieved over the last 10 years. In fact, 97 per cent of children from the ages of 7 to 14 were now in school.
The improvement of health was of paramount importance in any development strategy. An efficient and equitable health system was a fundamental ingredient in building a more just and democratic society. Since 1981, Brazil had significantly changed its health strategy by undertaking large investments in primary health care, through prevention oriented initiatives. A unified health system had been established to restructure and decentralize health services. As a result, Brazil had been able to reduce by one third its infant mortality rate during the last decade; increase coverage of prenatal care and the use of contraceptive methods; and provide greater access to affordable and effective treatment and medicines through a strong generic medication program.
Concerning HIV/AIDS in Brazil, he said that in 1992 the World Bank had estimated that Brazil would have 1.2 million cases of AIDS by the year 2000. Today the figure was 600,000. The stabilization of the epidemics in Brazil was due to a programme that combined prevention with treatment. Since 1996, every Brazilian living with HIV or AIDS who needed therapy had had free access to anti-retroviral drugs. The policy of ensuring free and universal treatment encouraged the population to accept voluntary and confidential testing, improving the notification of AIDS in earlier stages. The reason for the affordability of the policy was the local production of drugs. Brazil produced eight generic versions of non-patented anti-retroviral drugs. The Government of Brazil believed that medication was fundamental for the full realization of the human right to the enjoyment of the highest standard of physical and mental health.
VIJAY K. NAMBIAR (India) said the eradication of poverty was the foremost challenge facing developing countries individually. That objective was equally important for the international community, collectively. Achieving it would require a firm political commitment to broad socio-economic development through multidimensional action in areas of health, nutrition, housing, education and sanitation. It would also require building and strengthening human and infrastructure capacities. Human resources development was the key to economic growth and poverty eradication. It promoted the acquisition of skills and knowledge and empowered people to make informed decisions.
He said health and education were at the core of human capital development. India had based its policies on the essential premise that human resources development was the most critical and durable determinate for eliminating poverty. India's experience had been that investment in the health and education sectors had accelerated economic growth. Steady and appreciable progress had been made in achieving higher literacy rates, particularly among women. The country was also committed to ensuring universal education and in 2001 a national programme had been launched which aimed to ensure universal primary education by 2010. Special emphasis would be placed on the education of girls.
Turning next to health issues, he said it was alarming that at the opening of the twenty-first century there were over 1 billion people in the world bereft of the benefits of the health revolution that had been sparked by recent advances in science and technology. As the international community struggled to tackle persistent diseases, it was now confronted with the new challenges, particularly the ravaging effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. India was committed to addressing the health care needs of its people. The National Health Policy announced this year sought to increase public health expenditures, expand access to primary health care and provide better training facilities for nurses and other medical professionals.
Still, he was aware that the health needs of India's population were enormous and domestic financial resources available fell far short of national requirements. It was his view that research in medicines and vaccines could allow for the treatment and prevention of many diseases. India was concerned that less than 10 per cent of the $60 billion spent on medical research worldwide was targeted toward curing diseases that afflicted 90 per cent of the world population. That imbalance must be corrected, so funds could be channeled to research health concerns of the developing countries. Particular attention should be paid to strengthening capacities of research facilities in those countries.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said all were aware of the importance of the development of human resources as an essential factor in the development process, particularly as it contributed to the elimination of poverty and achievement of long-term economic growth. But how could that development be ensured? The HIV/AIDS pandemic, malaria and tuberculosis were still ravaging the lives of millions of people around the world. If those conditions persisted, the results of past decades would be reversed and the future of broad sustainable development efforts would be irrevocably affected.
He said the main impediment to universal education and health care was lack of resources. By example, he said that in Qatar, before the discovery of oil, fishing for pearls was the sole source of income. The meagre living of the people was also reflected in the lack of medical services and education. After oil was discovered, however, the Government had striven to promote education. The formal education system had been established in 1952, and students had since been provided with many subsidies, such as meals, clothing and financial aid.
At present, he continued, Qatar was now an education centre which attracted numerous renowned colleges, universities and research institutions. He said that the health care system had also benefited from the resources generated by Qatar's oil industry. He offered those examples to prove that the availability of resources was the basic factor in the elimination of disease, illiteracy and poverty, and the achievement of sustainable development.
MOHAMED BENNOUNA (Morocco) said the development of human resources was basic to the development process, easing poverty and promoting economic growth. The Millennium Declaration had established concrete targets in those areas. However, if there were to be any successes in achieving those goals, the international community would have to redeploy its energy and resources. There was no way to halve the number of people living in absolute poverty by 2015 unless health and education policies were improved.
No population could survive without the most basic health care and the most rudimentary services, he said. In developing countries, it was necessary to take into consideration the infrastructure, and sometimes the lack thereof. That was particularly important in the context of vaccination campaigns. States also needed to take a stronger stance, for instance, in the creation of generic drugs, since AIDS affected more than 27 million people in Africa. It was vital to mobilize all energy to support African countries in that struggle. The solution lay in education and health, since education could not be improved without health, or vice versa. Investment in those two areas had a multiplying effect on overall development.
Extending education to rural areas remained basic for the overall success of any development strategy. During the 1980s and 1990s, because of the structural adjustment programmes, many governments had been forced to marginalize the rural population. That situation had to be reversed. Recent debates had showed that the revolution in the information society was offering new opportunities to all people, rural and urban. He added that the commitment of the international community was vital in helping to implement national resources policies in developing countries, as well as in the mobilization of financial resources.
ELADIO LOIZAGA (Paraguay) said ensuring the eradication of poverty, achieving long-term economic growth and, ultimately, sustainable development, required capable human resources. Such resources would provide people, particularly those living in poor countries, the means to generate and sustain adequate living conditions. In order to achieve those aims, the wider international community would first have to answer the question of providing the necessary financial resources.
Providing such funds for development was an obligation that governments should consider a priority, he said. International donors must respond with more than expressions of good will. Industrialized nations must live up to their commitments, particularly those aimed to upgrade human resources and building capacities in the developing countries, so the desired results could be achieved. The participation of the private sector was also necessary.
He said all must work to make the commitments agreed upon in the Millennium Declaration, Monterrey Consensus and at Doha a reality. It was critical to address the issue of fair and transparent world trade markets. Greater access to markets by poor countries was essential, for they could not increase the capacity of human resources in the face of practices that prevented free competition. The imposition of trade barriers and protectionist market strategies must be avoided. Further, other elements that conspired against achieving sustainable development, such as the debt burden, the digital divide and financial crises also hindered developing countries from being integrated into the current socio-economic order.
He hoped that the statements made during the high-level segment would help the Council produce a document that would politically ensure that Member States would live of the commitments of previous international meetings and conferences. Such an affirmation would go a long way towards ensuring human resource development programmes that would lead to economic growth and sustainable development in the developing world.
SERGEI S. LING (Belarus) said it was very important and timely to discuss the role of human resources in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. The main conclusions and recommendations of the Secretary-General's report were supported by his country, particularly the concept of an integrated approach to sustainable development. An integrated approach had long been a reality in the policies of his Government. The success of such policies was demonstrated by the positive trends in the UNDP's human development index for Belarus.
His Government supported the assistance of the United Nations system and other international structures in the implementation of human resources development. That assistance was particularly important in the implementation at the national level. The ideas that had been put forward by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the need for more flexibility and more country-specific programmes was fully endorsed by his Government. In conclusion, he said that he hoped that the results of the high-level segment would provide valuable input into future United Nations actions aimed at attaining the Millennium Development Goals.
OM PRADHAN (Bhutan) said the financing required for development projects and programmes in the developing countries was nothing short of critical. That was more so when it came to the highly disadvantaged peoples living in the least developed countries, the landlocked and the island developing States. The severity of their problems required special measures and attention by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions. The studies carried out by the World Bank and the United Nations made it more than clear that current ODA levels needed to be enhanced substantially. Unfortunately the level of assistance had, thus far, not been forthcoming. The ECOSOC must monitor the matter and determine what bottlenecks existed.
Since 1961, Bhutan had undertaken a series of socio-economic development plans, which, in view of the successes achieved, it continued to follow. The strategy focused on decentralization and a process of empowering the people. On the education front, primary education had been delivered to over 85 per cent of the population. Out of the total number of children in school, about half of them were female, thereby demonstrating that Bhutan did not have a gender discrimination problem. Similarly, primary health coverage had reached 90 per cent, and 78 per cent of the rural population had access to safe drinking water.
Bhutan was not only a least developed and a landlocked country, but the Bhutanese terrain was extremely mountainous. That made construction and the maintenance of communications infrastructure, and especially roads, expensive and difficult. The terrain further made it problematic in reaching out to and accessing all population segments with health, education and other development programmes. In that context, he stressed that the trend of reduced ODA must be reversed. The ECOSOC needed to monitor developments, determine the impact that such declines in ODA had on poverty, and the economic and social consequences to the developing countries.
GILBERT LAURIN (Canada) said health and the combating of infectious diseases must remain high priority goals. They could not be achieved without concurrent development of the human, technical and institutional capacity to sustain delivery and management of health programmes and services. Developing integrated health systems must be seen as cornerstones of the health sector response. Those systems include: mobilizing domestic resources, removing non-financial constraints to health services, strengthening regulatory capacity; ensuring access to services and medications independently of ability to pay, and increasing funding to narrow the global health research gap in which 90 per cent of diseases got 10 per cent of the funding.
Further, he said, achieving real change and reducing inequities in health and education required a genuine commitment to integrated strategies to address the broader socio-economic factors determining health. Those included employment, gender, culture, and both social and physical environment. It also required that all participate in the decision-making process so that solutions reflected the diversity of community needs.
He said that last year in Genoa, Group of 8 leaders had asked Canada to take the lead in developing a concrete Africa Action Plan to reinforce the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). At last week's G-8 summit in Alberta, the Plan had been presented. It contained measures affecting health and education. Canada had committed C$6 billion in new and existing resources over five years to implement the Africa Action Plan.
The Monterrey Consensus on Financing for Development was a historic document that recognized the full complexity of development, he said. It placed emphasis on improving coherence in the development work of the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF and the World Trade Organization. The Council was given a big role in that regard. It must promote a comprehensive and integrated framework for addressing health, education and human resource development. It should be the focal point for ensuring those were incorporated into macroeconomic and social policies and programmes.
LEUTLWETSE MMUALEFE (Botswana) said there was no disputing the fact that there was a very strong correlation between human resource development, education and health, and a nation's capacity to advance its development. His country stood as a striking example of how health impacted on a country's entire development prospects. HIV/AIDS was the most serious challenge facing Botswana and was a constant threat to its socio-economic achievements.
He highlighted Government efforts to ensure essential health care services to all. Efforts had been hampered, however, by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. A significant amount of resources had had to be diverted from other priority areas of development to combat the disease. A number of multi-sectoral responses had been launched. In the education sector, significant milestones had been achieved. Botswana had near universal access to the 10 years of basic education. The ultimate objective was to achieve universal access to full secondary education by 2016.
He said now was the time for "new development architecture." The scope for development assistance should be broadened to include grant financing for such key areas as health and education and should encompass human resource development and capacity-building in general.
MARIA ELENA CHASSOUL (Costa Rica) said the search for sustainable development was the primary goal of all. Governments had the obligation to allow citizens to attain the best life possible. The right of all nations to development was closely linked to people having a better life. A broad approach to development was indispensable to ensuring improvements in health care, nutrition, education and market access. It was essential to eliminate obstacles that hindered efforts to eradicate poverty, namely restrictions in international markets, natural disasters and technological gaps. Productive activities should be stimulated and gainful employment should be supported.
She said it was necessary to invest intensively and systematically in human resources, particularly in the education and health sectors. The international community must also guarantee full political participation of women at the highest levels, and encourage their access to more and better jobs. Unfortunately, promotion of human resources was impeded by a lack of resources for education and health. National and international budgets must respond to that trend.
In that regard, Costa Rica's experience had shown that reducing military expenditure was the right path to development, she continued. Indeed, developing countries did not have the luxury to waste precious resources on arms and armies. Military expenditures could be better used for economic development, social justice and building democratic institutions. Imagine the benefits of diverting the $191 billion dollars wasted on armed forces in the developing world to education and health worldwide. Developing countries must not wait for scare resources to become available. They must take the leadership role and work for the betterment of their own peoples.
DARMANSJAH DJUMALA (Indonesia) recalled the three pillars of sustainable development -- the environment, social development and economic development -- and their relationship to human resources development, especially health and education. Bearing in mind the three pillars, he emphasized that one must not become too focused on one of the aspects of sustainable development to the detriment of others. While a healthy environment, safe water, and proper sanitation were critical to human resources development, one must not forget the dimensions of social development and economic development. Thus, health and education were both a means, and an end, of sustainable development.
Improving health and education was fundamental to the reduction of poverty and the building of human capacity, in line with the Millennium Development Goals, he said. Unfortunately, the international community was just beginning to learn those lessons and put them into practice. Much remained to be done if the Millennium goals were to be met by the year 2015, particularly the goals of universal primary education with equal access across gender, and improvements in health care, again with gender equality. Unless those goals were achieved, other goals might well be unobtainable.
Typically, it was the poorest countries that had lagged the furthest behind in achieving their goals. In order to help the poorest countries achieve their goals, it was estimated that $50 billion per year in additional aid was required. He called upon donor nations to live up to their commitments and make an extra effort towards the agreed upon ODA target. Another potential obstacle was the lack of access to information and communication technology. The issue of providing greater connectivity, especially in rural areas, was of particular importance. Reference was also made to the worldwide shortage of health care and educational professionals. The number of health care and educational professionals trained in the developing countries must be increased and the flow of such professionals out of the poor countries into the rich must be prevented.
ABDUL MUNIM AL-KADHE (Iraq) said the Secretary-General's report stated that the development of human resources was a crucial issue, which helped to reduce poverty and achieve long-term economic progress. International conferences in the past decade had adopted an integrated vision of sustainable development. Iraq agreed that despite the increased commitment to issues of health and education, progress had not been the same everywhere, nor had it been adequate. The Millennium goals would not be achieved without concerted effort, he stressed. He hoped the high-level segment would give impetus to efforts to improve the situation.
His Government had made education free of charge and had made sustained efforts to put sanitary living conditions in place, he said. Had it not been for the unjust blockade of his country, further progress would have been made. After the military aggression against Iraq in 1991, there had been a deterioration in conditions in the country, and infrastructure had been damaged. Hundreds of institutions and health clinics could not provide services, and medical equipment was lacking.
He also noted the catastrophic effects of the use of uranium in Iraq since 1991. He pointed out the deterioration of the country's educational system and the rise in use of child labour. The World Health Organization (WHO) had said that the scientific community in Iraq had been sidelined. He appealed to the Council to discharge its responsibility to put an end to the economic blockade of his country.
JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom), President of the Security Council, said there were 3.4 million new infections and 2.3 million deaths from HIV/AIDS in Africa alone in 2001. There were rapidly rising infection rates in Asia, Europe and the Caribbean. It was a fact that HIV/AIDS would get worse before it got better. HIV/AIDS had enormous potential to unravel societies, destroy economies and roll back the development gains of the last 30 years. A new generation of leadership in Africa might be lost, he said. That appalling situation had a direct bearing on Africa's capacity, even with the help of the international community, to generate enduring stability and security. HIV/AIDS drew no boundaries, neither did it respect the institutional mechanisms which the international community had established to resolve the problem. The response must be coherent and sustained over a long period of time, and guided by the Declarations of Commitments adopted at the recent General Assembly special session on HIV/AIDS. The strategy must involve national governments, civil society and the private sector.
The Secretary-General had recognized the need for the Security Council and the Economic and Social Council to work more closely on conflict issues, he said, including on HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS was now successfully being mainstreamed into the Security Council work on conflicts and emergencies through the raising of awareness amongst, and developing HIV/AIDS training programmes for, all humanitarian agencies and peacekeeping forces; developing national strategies for addressing the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst national uniformed services and civil defence forces; and focusing special consideration on the needs of women and children and the impact HIV/AIDS had on their lives.
He noted that an important challenge was to build on the impact such efforts were having; to learn lessons, both positive and negative; and to feed those lessons into future planning. One must begin by implementing effectively the decisions already taken, and then move to assessing what more was needed. It was also important to listen and to provide a voice for people who were battling day-to-day with HIV/AIDS. He reiterated the determination of the Security Council to continue to work effectively with Economic and Social Council on the issue. Today, more than ever, the United Nations system understood the linkages between peace, sustainable development, security and respect for human rights. The Secretary-General was providing leadership and political will. The main challenge was to support him and work with others to ensure that tangible results were delivered.
CARLOS MARGARINOS, Director-General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), said it was significant that many highly developed countries, enjoying high standards of living and affluence, were countries with few or non-existent natural resources. Countries like Japan and Singapore were prime examples of success thanks to a high level of human resources development, the full use of modern technology and efficient organization. Industry was one of the biggest contributors to human resource development, he said. It was industry more than any other sector that created employment and skills, disseminated knowledge and information. The rapid pace of industrial development driven by technological progress implied continuous learning and education, dissemination of knowledge and skills.
As the pace of technical change accelerated, and competition became more open, specialized state-of-the-art skills became even more critical to competitive success, he said. Traditional methods of education and training were often inadequate. Manufacturing industry was a vital source of the new skills and work attitudes known as industrial culture. There were several elements to this contribution, including the creation of an industrial tradition and work ethic; the fostering of entrepreneurial capabilities; the development of managerial and technological capabilities; the creation of skills by enterprise training; interaction between industrial enterprises and educational institutions; and transfer of foreign skills.
Given the critical role of industrial development for human resources development, UNIDO worked consistently to upgrade national technological capabilities and skills by facilitating access to information, new knowledge and modern technology, and by facilitating their efficient adoption, adaptation and utilization. UNIDO helped its counterparts -- governments, ministries, chambers of commerce and industry as well as other bodies -- to build capacity by providing knowledge on how to assist industries and enterprises in management, cost reduction, quality, restructuring, products safety, market access and other issues related to industrial development.
EDUARDO DORYAN, Special Representative of the World Bank to the United Nations, said the issues being addressed by the high-level segment had global and local significance. In a report recently prepared by Bank staff, one of seven core actions to build an inclusive world economy was embracing the importance of human resources development and the delivery of quality services to all people, particularly the poor. To achieve all the Millennium goals, there must be synergy between economic, social and environmental issues and between trade, investment climate, more and better aid, and debt relief.
The Bank's main focus remained at the country level, within the platform of the Comprehensive Development Framework and the Poverty Reduction Strategies. Their driving principles were that development must be guided by a long-term view and a holistic vision of needs and solutions. The efforts must be country-led, built on partnerships and focused on development results. That approach highlighted the interdependence of all elements of development and required that development move from donor-led strategies to country-led strategies, with participation by all levels of government, civil society and the private sector.
That fresh approach had been another factor in helping bridge the old set of ideas separating the United Nations from the World Bank, he said. Now the operational homework was to deepen harmonization and, most importantly, simplification of procedures, to reduce the paperwork on developing countries, synchronize the cycles of the United Nations, the Bank and other donors and their instruments, and move toward a leaner form of joint work.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS TRÉMEAUD, Executive Director for Regions and Technical Cooperation of the International Labor Organization (ILO), said the development of human resources was finally on the ILO agenda. Based on an initial report, views were being gathered from governments, employers and workers of ILO's 176 States members on what the content should be of a new legal instrument on human resources in the knowledge age. It was expected to take the form of an international Recommendation. That was an important document, because giving priority to investment in human resources development required a consensus among stakeholders at the international and local levels. The key actors in the world of work were employers and workers. They needed to be fully involved.
In considering the areas on which human resources development should focus, he said some figures were striking. Currently, 160 million people were unemployed. More than a billion of those working earned $1 per day or less, often doing very hard labour for long hours. Their low earnings reflected weak productivity. In the next decade, most of the 500 million young people expected to join the ranks of the active population would be in developing countries. They would likely fall into the poverty trap, unless action was taken to gain them access to decent work. The urgent need to act had been recognized at the highest level at the Millennium Summit, which had set the ambitious goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. Obviously poverty had many causes. One best way to combat it was to ensure access to decent work for all under conditions of equity, security and dignity.
He said ILO's experience showed five key challenges to be met if knowledge and skills were to become a driver of economic growth and development. The first was to invest in learning and training systems, and the second was to invest in basic knowledge and skills. Third was to review and improve existing vocational education and training systems. Fourth was to recognize skills and develop systems of certifying competencies. And fifth was the strengthening and promotion of social dialogue. The background for meeting those challenges was the finding that restrictive budgetary policies, inadequate levels of remuneration, debt repayment commitments and declining public development assistance were often obstacles that prevented governments, enterprises and individuals from investing enough in education and training.
JONES KYAZZE, of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that UNESCO continued to orient its work in support of the Millennium Development Goals by pursuing the six goals of the Dakar World Education Forum. UNESCO shared the concern that, while some countries were progressing very well, others would need to make very special efforts. However, it was evident that the donor community, the cooperating agencies and the countries concerned would have to redouble their combined efforts to make achievement of the goals a reality. From UNESCO's perspective, a special effort was being made with regard to the 2005 gender-parity goal, since there was a realization that without the education of girls and women, development would be stalled. While some countries would be very hard pressed to achieve the 2005 goal of gender parity, he urged all countries to exert all possible effort towards tangible progress.
He re-emphasized the importance of literacy in all its forms, both in and out of schools. The United Nations had identified 2003 as the start of the Literacy Decade, and combined work was essential if poverty was to be eliminated. The Decade presented some unprecedented challenges, since more than 800 million adults were illiterate. However, the gender dimension, globalization and evolving information and knowledge all made attention to literacy in its many forms an overriding necessity.
Two concerns must be central to all planning and implementation if human resources development was to have any measure of success. First, to meet the Millennium Development Goals, education systems must be defined broadly and must be improved as a whole. That would require more open minds and more innovation in capacity development, he said. Second, there must be emphasis on access with a focus on quality, since it was what and how learners learnt and how they built their own knowledge systems that would make the difference, now and in the future.
ENCHO GOSPODINOV, Observer of the Permanent Observer Office of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) at the United Nations, said that volunteering was an important component of any strategy aimed at poverty reduction and sustainable development. Since the Year of Volunteers concluded last year, the IFRC had worked to realize the Assembly's recommendations in the outcome resolution. Internally, it had improved its support for its societies in recruiting, training, motivating, deploying and managing volunteers. Externally, it had worked with partners such as the United Nations Volunteers, the Inter Parliamentary Union and others to remind governments of their commitments and of the benefits of implementing the recommendations.
There were a number of special focal points to consider in the context of human resources development, he said. One was the role of older people, in line with the recent recognition by the World Assembly on Ageing that older persons were potentially a powerful basis for future development. Also of special concern were those having irregular or illegal residence in a foreign country as a result of increased movements across international boundaries over the past decade. Every individual was entitled to enjoy basic human rights in accordance with international law. Those with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases had to be ensured of access to care. IFRC's unique relationship with governments and civil society enabled it to advocate that those rights be extended to all new arrivals in all countries.
He said that while human resources development was valuable in itself, the IFRC considered it a tool to be used for a specific purpose within the broader concept of capacity building. The Federation had been working with authorities for many years in the areas of health and care. Its experience attested to the progress made over the last century. Health inequities in many countries tended to be unacceptably high. That indicated that the right health messages, commodities, tools and infrastructure did exist -- but were not reaching those most in need, either often enough or effectively enough.
ABDUL MEJID HUSSEIN (Ethiopia) said there was a growing consensus among global actors that poverty eradication must be at the centre of international partnerships for development. Just as lack of education and health services was a manifestation of lack of development, the existence of health services and education were pre-requisites for development. That notion had been reiterated at global conferences and meetings throughout the 1990s.
He said the Monterey Consensus on financing for development, and unilateral pledges to raise the level of ODA, constituted an important part of the growing acknowledgement of the need for human resources development, including in the areas of health and education. Ethiopia, he continued, faced critical challenges that included poverty eradication, access to improved health services and education.
In order to reduce poverty, the Government had adopted an Agriculture Development-led Industrialization Strategy, since most of the people derived their livelihoods from small-holding agriculture. Ethiopia had centred its development strategy on agriculture because improvement in that sector would be a key factor for improving the lives of the poor. Education and health had been given top priority in the national strategy to eradicate poverty and to bring about overall development. New policies had been formulated which increased public budgetary allocations to the social sectors.
Turning to health services, he said Ethiopia had elaborated a 20-year Health Sector Development Programme, which, had led among other things to the establishment of a grass-roots, community-level health services network. That initiative would make health care more accessible, affordable, cost effective and sustainable. Still, health coverage in Ethiopia remained very low. Various constraints, including rapid turnover of trained staff, inadequate management skills and poorly maintained equipment had hampered the roll-out of other polices and programmes.
He said the HIV/AIDS virus, poor sanitation and lack of clean water had further complicated Ethiopia's health service provision strategies. To that end, a new Water Sector Development Programme was being formulated by the Government. The link between sustainable development and the environment had long been a concern for Ethiopia, as environmental degradation was both the cause and the effect of underdevelopment. Various non-formal programmes were being carried out to promote a better understanding of the relationship between man and nature, and the notion that timely community-based action could resolve local environmental issues.
MICHEL KAFANDO (Burkina Faso) said governments had advocated development based on the human individual when they adopted the Millennium Declaration. The importance of human resources in combating poverty was a decisive factor, one that would permit the development process to be speeded up. That was why the various round tables organized at the United Nations in February and March had emphasized progress achieved in the areas of health and education. It was also why the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) had made those two areas priorities.
A balance must be struck between the economic, social and environmental pillars of development, he said. His country had elaborated a 10-year plan for national education. Efforts to combat poverty had focused on the poorest areas of the country. Vaccination efforts had been undertaken and health care centres established. Emphasis had been placed on making available generic medicaments and on increasing access to medical services.
The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals remained a daunting challenge that could be faced thanks to common determination to act, he said. He hoped the segment would help the developing countries to better invest their human resources in the most rational way in the struggle against poverty. International solidarity was essential.
JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said the importance of the segment's deliberations lay not in the fact that the subject matter was significant, but in the fact that its consideration represented in itself a contribution to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Dialogue and exchange of ideas could make a valuable contribution to an improved awareness and better understanding of the common goals, challenges and difficulties faced, and give further political impetus to development efforts.
Strengthening human resources was essential for countries to meet the challenges of globalization, to build democratic societies based on the rule of law and the protection of human rights, and to develop knowledge-based economies. Moreover, human resources development strategies must be constantly adapted to meet changing needs in the context of globalization. It was therefore essential to periodically review policies and strategies not only to measure achievements and obstacles, but also for integrating newly emerging challenges into them.
Mongolia, as a landlocked developing country with an economy in transition, attached a particular importance to its human resources development. While acknowledging primary responsibility for it, he wished to emphasize, like many other developing countries and those in transition, that a more effective mobilization of national and international resources was required in order to achieve the Millennium goals. Member States were urged to reflect in the outcome document on the specific needs of that group of countries.
VINCI NIEL CLODUMAR (Nauru), speaking on behalf of the Pacific Island Forum Group, said human resources development was fundamental to the development process, contributing to poverty eradication and long-term economic growth through improved health, education and human capacity-building. For many of the developing nations in the Pacific region, progress was constrained by lack of resources, both financial and human. Skills were scarce, and while he acknowledged the key role that could be played by non-governmental organizations, civil society, and the private sector in assisting governments, more often than not even these sectors were constrained in many islands. Nevertheless, finding the strength in resource sharing, and with the support of regional and other donors, Pacific Forum countries had in recent years striven to design regional policies that addressed both the health and education sectors.
He said that the concept of a "Healthy Islands" framework, adopted by Pacific Ministers of Health, took a population-focused approach rather than a disease-focused approach, consolidating aspects of health care and social and economic well-being. Recognizing that every country needed the capacity to measure and analyze the health status of its population, the region had established a public health surveillance network more than five years ago. It covered the collection, collation, analysis and interpretation of health data, and the communication of the information derived from those data to those responsible for disease control and prevention. Combating HIV/AIDS had similarly involved focused regional action. Pacific populations had a high proportion of young people with particular health needs. A Pacific Regional HIV/AIDS Strategy had therefore been developed, and individual countries had responded to the pandemic with their respective Strategic Plans of Action.
Basic education was the fundamental building block for society, he said. When combined with greater employment opportunities, basic education led to enhanced personal and societal security, he said. The region had developed a "Basic Education Action Plan" which covered areas such as teacher training, community support, improving educational planning and data collection, early childhood education, the use of indigenous languages, information technology, financing education, non-formal education and the teaching of governance and civics. More needed to be done to improve coordination and cohesion of cross-cutting programmes across the two sectors, so that health and education policies were integrated into poverty-eradication strategies. He added that they must be integrated in a manner that was consistent with macroeconomic policy considerations and with community-based approaches in order to maximize efficiency and impact.
ISAAC C. LAMBA (Malawi) said basic education developed capacity to learn and to process information. Secondary education helped broaden understanding of young people and prepared them for either vocational or higher education. Higher and advanced technical education was critical for achieving breakthroughs in productivity, particularly in developing countries. Clearly, he said, the interplay of the three levels enhanced the enriched function of education for both girls and boys in human resources development. Democratization of education was important in facilitating education for all and ensuring gender integration by removing gender stereotyping in curricula and teaching materials and in health care.
In Malawi, he said, the primary education had survived daunting problems and pressures. For example, donors could not easily see the economic rationale for free education in a poor country which suddenly required additional physical school infrastructure, teaching and learning materials, more teachers and more teachers' housing. Classes held under a tree for lack of classrooms eventually convinced donors about the seriousness of Malawi's intentions. The enormous interdependence of education and health was inevitable in human resources development, he said. If the health status of children determined their learning capacities, then education equally promoted health through wider understanding of the ingredients of good health, such as water, good nutrition and sanitation.
Malawi gave health and education the largest budgetary allocation, but that investment fell short of requirements to build the necessary capacity for the Millennium Development Goals, he said. In developing countries, privatization of health services would touch the fringes of human rights sensitivities, as the poor who were the most exposed to disease would be deprived of health care. The most crippling factor in the development debate remained poverty, which impacted negatively even on education and health, the central pillars of meaningful human resources capacity and development. The appropriate human resources would be those that could promote productive competitiveness -- as long as "competitiveness" was not used to block exports from poor countries. It was international trade and investment rather than just donor aid that held an important promise, he said.
AMRAIYA NAIDU (Fiji) said the successful attainment of the Millennium Development Goals was, in part, contingent upon how well human resources development and macroeconomic policies were addressed and integrated at the national and global levels. Understanding the linkages between health, education and poverty eradication was the premise on which the formulation and implementation of Fiji's policies and strategies were based, he said. Critical to that equation was the need for protection and promotion of health services through adequate and improved access to health facilities for all. His Government had adopted as high priorities the activities based on the "Healthy Islands" concepts, control of communicable diseases, improved maternal and child health through addressing child mortality, and improving reproductive health programmes.
Fiji was now better poised to meet the dynamic challenges of delivering quality, accessible and equitable education for all children, he said. To support that process, the Government had this year substantially increased the amount in the national budget for education, which had become the single biggest expenditure item. He added that although primary enrolment for the first eight years was customarily well above the 98 per cent mark, it had recently been made compulsory. That measure was a long-term policy strategy for inducing children to progress to higher levels of education. All children enjoyed tuition-free education for up to 11 years of schooling.
He stressed that developing countries could not achieve the Millennium Development Goals alone. Only with involvement, efforts, and sacrifices by all stakeholders could the goals be met. The good will and assistance of the developed partners and the firm commitments of national governments were critical to the success of the process. To offset meagre resources, rising costs of professional or skills development, lack of monetary rewards to remunerate progressive professional achievements, appropriate long-term strategies were necessary.
LUIS ENRIQUE CAPPAGLI (Argentina) said the relevance of human resources had been emphasized at all the development-related conferences. The goals could only be reached through leadership and the implementation of policies in a multi-sectoral approach. In the field of health, it was necessary to address the HIV/AIDS pandemic and to reduce its present high mortality rate. Elimination of prejudice, greater research and access to medications were the steps to achieving that.
In the field of education, he said it was time for secondary training to follow up primary education. The tools of the information age must be employed, such as the ICTs and distance education. His country's per capita income had fallen to $3,000, due to an unemployment rate of 25 per cent. Just as Argentina had been built by foreign immigration, there was now a brain drain as people sought better conditions elsewhere. It was hoped that host countries would be sympathetic to those who were seeking new homes.
He said his country was addressing its problems as an exporting country that was highly indebted. A truly free trade model should be adopted for international trade. It should address the debt issue and allow more funds to be dedicated to human resources development.
STUART LESLIE (Belize) said free trade and participation in the global economy were offered as the solution to the eradication of poverty. That could be part of the solution, but it was also known that countries such as his must build economic capacities before they could be equal partners in a globalized economy. Education and health were the greatest weapons in combating poverty. The quality of education and health care must be improved to build up economic capacity.
Like many countries with a predominantly young population, his country placed a high priority on education, he said. It dedicated 33 per cent of the national budget to education, since education empowered people with the ability to contribute to their own development. Belize was committed to using all available resources to enable education to catalyze development. In that context, it would be well to emphasize the need for the international community to turn its attention to making development meaningful for local communities.
He said progress in education was not separate from progress in health. HIV/AIDS both affected development and strained health systems. Still, availability and accessibility to treatment were limited. That compounded the Sisyphusean struggle to combat the pandemic. All those development issues were inextricably linked to the ability to trade. In preparing for Johannesburg, the pressure to address poverty issues must be raised in the context of trade and development. Developed countries must meet the commitment they made in Rio to provide 0.7 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP) in official development assistance (ODA) because poverty alleviation was a global responsibility.
YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said the spread of globalization made knowledge, and particularly knowledge of information and communication technologies (ICT), a necessary attribute for development. Wider access to modern ICTs would give the developing and transitional countries a powerful tool for additional capacity building in human resources and enhance their development ability.
His Government was trying in good faith to fulfil its share of obligations undertaken during the Millennium Summit to halve, by the year 2015, the scale of world poverty and to ensure that boys and girls were able to complete a full course of primary schooling and had equal access to all levels of education. It was also striving to reduce maternal and child mortality, and halt and reverse the spread of malaria and other major diseases. A national poverty reduction strategy incorporating human resources development had been instituted.
His Government was actively cooperating with international organizations on the realization of a number of large projects aimed at strengthening public educational and health systems, he said. He noted the detrimental impact of armed conflicts on overall development, including the development of human resources. Women and children were among the most vulnerable in that regard. Conflict prevention and sustainable development were correlated and mutually complementing. For that reason he praised the Council's increasing involvement in conflict prevention and rehabilitation efforts.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said the contribution of health and education to development remained a major concern of the international community. The education of young people should be a priority of any education sector. He noted the important role being played by ICT in education, and stressed the importance of introducing that subject into all curricula.
He said 51.6 per cent of Tunisia's 2001 national budget had been devoted to the social sector, with 30 per cent going to the educational sector. Both boys and girls were guaranteed education. More than one Tunisian out of four went to school.
Health and education were complementary and mutually reinforcing, he said. Like education, health should be given special attention. Nevertheless, in many countries, access to health services remained very unequal. He called for international assistance to be increased to finance the World Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS. He also called for the establishment of a World Fund for Solidarity to Eliminate Poverty. Enhancement of ODA and alleviation of the debt burden were essential.
ABUZED OMAR DORDA (Libya) said the human element at the heart of all societies must be allowed to achieve the stated aims of human resources development. There could be no development without people who had the health and the education to accomplish it.
He said the key to promoting human rights development in his country was to work along the lines of synergies. For example, health care was addressed in the context of corollary services, such as the provision of drinking water and housing. It was provided free of charge, and inoculation against diseases was emphasized. Health institutions were provided with the most modern tools possible.
Those measures produced results, he said. Infant mortality rates had gone down, and the country was considered a leader in vaccinations against infectious disease with 25 per cent of its children inoculated. Many challenges had been overcome, including a shortage of personnel and facilities. To address that problem, centres had been set up and students had been sent abroad. Simultaneously, drinking water was now provided to most cities. Hundreds of thousands of living units had been built and utilities were provided, including electricity.
Further, he said, education had also been made a priority. It was provided free of charge throughout the country, with efforts focused on integrating curricula to take advantage of technological advances. Needs were quantitatively determined through statistical studies. Higher education had been made available, as had vocational training. Yet despite those many advances in human resources development, sanctions against the country had undermined growth and undercut the standard of living. The international community had supported Libya, but the United States had not allowed the sanctions to be dropped.
HENRI STEPHAN RAUBENHEIMER (South Africa) said that although globalization was potentially beneficial in a number of respects, it had also dramatically highlighted the negative consequences of a fast-changing international economic and political system. The glaring inequalities between the developed and developing world had been exposed, forcing the international community to act and address the development challenges faced by many poor countries.
He said the issues of education, health and nutrition should not be seen in isolation, but rather as critical elements in the campaign for poverty eradication and for the achievement of sustainable development. Recent increased ODA commitments were encouraging, but a stronger commitment linked to a definite time frame was needed.
He emphasized the importance of debt relief, especially for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Debt Initiative. It was obvious that financial resources currently used to pay off international debt could be used more effectively for development, if those resources could be allocated to increase funding for education and health issues within national budgets. He added that in the NEPAD, African Governments had accepted the responsibility of guiding the process of their own development. In so doing, they had acknowledged the importance of mainstreaming gender into policy issues to ensure that girls received the same schooling as boys.
PETER SCHATZER, Director, External Relations Department of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that while sustainable development was a core concern of the international community, the inextricable link between migration and development had so far not been the subject of in-depth examination as part of the broader United Nations agenda. One could say that while the international community examined many aspects of the future of the global family, migrants frequently remained the orphans whose life-stories, problems and contributions stayed out of sight. In light of the theme for this year's high-level segment -- the contribution of human resources development to the process of development -- discussion of the topic was particularly timely. Human resources and migration were inextricably linked, he said. In fact, many States owed their wealth -- whether human or economic -- to population movements over the centuries.
There was increasing evidence that the diaspora's skills constituted an important input for the strengthening of development strategies put in place by countries of origin, provided that the migrants were not faced with having to choose between their rights in the host country and a definite return home. The reverse side of the coin, for the countries of origin in particular, was the potential or real loss of highly skilled human resources -- frequently without any immediate return. He added that the health, education, technical and agricultural sectors were the ones mostly affected, especially in the least developed countries. The IOM had developed an innovative approach to this dilemma, initially for the African continent through Migration for Development in Africa. That approach was an institutional capacity-building programme, based on a synergy between profiles of migrants and needs of developing countries, the aim being to transfer the vital skills and resources of the African diaspora to support the development of their countries of origin.
He added that the driving force for IOM's work on the programme, as in all of its work, was the profound conviction that well-managed migration could produce benefits for countries of origin and destination, as well as for migrants themselves. Nevertheless, turning migration from a zero-sum game into a win-win situation would remain a challenge for many countries involved in migration processes all over the world. Those were not easy issues to deal with, he said. However, it was abundantly clear both that migration was a major phenomenon of the new millennium, and that migration had considerable positive potential if it was orderly and humanely managed.
A representative of Doctors of the World stressed the importance of developing the capacity of beneficiaries to play an active role in improving their own health and quality of care. His organization's experience was that investing in the empowerment of people through health education yielded impressive results. It was currently in the midst of a highly successful effort to provide reproductive health education to Roma men and women in Kosovo. The result was an increase in their demand for and access to health care services that would improve their quality of life.
Similarly, he said, by teaching tuberculosis sufferers and their families in Kosovo about their illness, by encouraging them to ask their doctors questions about their treatment, his organization expected to increase treatment completion. He looked forward to the day when all health and development programmes incorporated the education and empowerment of people as a primary goal, when "informed consent" became the norm, and when all persons could play an active role in achieving the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health for themselves and their families.
LESLEY BULMAN, Director of the World Bureau of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, said it was important to emphasize the liberating effect that good health and education had on individuals. With health, knowledge and skills that came with education, individuals could take responsibility for combating the poverty that might surround them. She said it was clear that there was much to do if the Millennium Goals were to be met on time. The Millennium Declaration made a powerful case for donors to help with more resources, but there was no corresponding call for working closely with NGO partners.
She said civil society could mobilize millions of volunteers around the world, often with grass-roots contacts that could make appreciable and effective impact. She doubted that there was any community that did not have some contact with civil society groups. She added that, as a relative newcomer to the United Nations community, she had to point out that the Organization could seem rather Olympian and distant with its high-level meetings, and perhaps did not always use synergies with natural NGO partners as effectively as it could.
She said that the world was changing rapidly and could seem very confusing for young people. Civil society groups could help develop self-esteem and self-confidence, especially in girls and young women. Self-confidence, a sound set of values and a supportive peer group could help develop the courage and skills to cope with potentially harmful situations.
She added, however, that throughout the world, gender discrimination and stereotyping limited the full development of girls and young women, as well as boys and men. She called on the Council to look closely at those traditional cultures and practices which restricted or even endangered the development and health of girls and women in particular. That was a very sensitive issue, particularly as those practices related to marriage and sexuality. Only government leaders could find a way forward that was acceptable both in terms of human rights and individual communities.
YE. M. MALITIKOV, for the International Association Znanie, said his organization represented scientists living in 30 States throughout the world. He noted Socrates' phrase, "I know that I know nothing". He drew attention to the industrial path of development -- modern society could not live with that era's leftovers. He said billions of people on the planet were exposed to the terror of ignorance -- some 880 million could not read or write.
Education must be dealt with at the most contemporary level, he said. Without the effective use of ICT, there would be no sustainable development. The United Nations and Agenda 21 were the remedy to the problems being faced. He called for new economic and political solutions.
Concluding Remarks by Council President
IVAN SIMONOVIC (Croatia), President of the Economic and Social Council, thanked all for their active participation. Work would continue as the international community moved forward in addressing the challenges of sustainable development. Noting the importance of civil society for the achievement of the Millennium Goals, he said the Council had taken a step forward this year in involving civil society in all aspects of its work.
He then outlined the series of events that had been held during the three-day segment, characterizing the discussions as "rich and lively." Human resources development was a goal in its own right and a means to achieve development targets, including poverty eradication. Among the issues highlighted during the week were the importance of gender mainstreaming and increasing girls' access to education.
The fight against HIV/AIDS had been recognized as a priority activity, he said, as had been the need to mobilize more domestic resources and international assistance for effective human resources development. He stressed that now was the time for implementation -- 2015 was fast approaching. Targets should not be changed -- rather "we should be more reliable in the delivery of what we have promised."
The Council then adopted its Ministerial Declaration.
The representative of Germany pointed out a technical problem in the text.
A representative of the Secretariat responded that a verb was missing from the text.
Representatives of the United States, Germany, India, Japan, Australia and Egypt (for the "Group of 77" developing countries and China) then made statements after the vote without translation services.
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