5 October 2005
States Committed to Copenhagen Goals, but Many Far from Being Realized, Third Committee Told as Discussion of Social Development Continues
Dire Poverty, Hunger, Malnutrition, Disease Plague Millions Worldwide, Says Venezuela's Representative
NEW YORK, 4 October (UN Headquarters) -- Member States were indeed committed to achieving the social development objectives set forth in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and other development documents a decade ago, but many of those goals were far from being realized and had also been sidelined during the recent 2005 World Summit, several representatives told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) today as it continued its debate on social development.
During the September gathering of world leaders, the General Assembly had paid scant attention to the dire poverty, hunger, malnutrition and disease that continued to plague millions of people worldwide, Venezuela's representative said. That was a missed opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. She considered the World Summit Outcome Document null and void, and a regression to previous conferences rather than advancing the development agenda.
The Republic of Korea's representative expressed concern that while Member States had consistently made poverty eradication an urgent priority, the other two pillars of social development -- employment and social integration -- had to some extent taken a back seat. The result would be inadequate policies that hindered overall social development. States could not claim to have achieved real progress by merely increasing wages or creating more jobs, he said. They could only truly succeed in all three areas by placing people at the centre, empowering them to lead healthier, more productive lives and, thus, helping to create more just and inclusive societies. While there had been significant progress since the World Summit on Social Development and during the forty-third Commission on Social Development, much more needed to be done.
Benin's representative said the international community had not really moved toward a family-based approach in designing and implementing policy programmes, particularly in the social and economic spheres. Family was indeed the basic social unit through which all social cohesion questions -- particularly those affecting youth, the elderly and disabled persons -- could be addressed. States must be proactive as they had been regarding other subjects and should determine the role of morals and ethics in any definition of the family. In conducting that normative process, the international community must help States, particularly those in Africa.
The representative of Azerbaijan agreed, stressing the need to protect and strengthen the family and for the United Nations to maintain a supportive role in promoting family policies at the national, regional and global levels. He added that the global commitment to eradicate poverty must be sustained over the long term, and not just to manage financial emergencies or national calamities. Unless the structural causes of that multidimensional challenge were addressed, there would be no significant improvement in socio-economic security, especially among disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.
Similarly, the Observer of the International Organization for Migration said that the power of the United Nations development agenda was in its comprehensive and integrated approach, making sure that social and economic spheres were tackled coherently. That was particularly crucial in the field of international migration, where migrants were at times considered a mere factor of production. Partnerships between the private sector, employer association and social actors were needed to address discrimination against migrants, and to ensure productive participation of newcomers in workplaces and local communities. Successful integration of migrants fostered diversity, creativity, growth and economic advancement.
Also making statements today were the representatives of Bangladesh, Sudan, Japan, Ghana, Russian Federation, Algeria, Mexico, Libya, Philippines, Syria, Indonesia, Ukraine, Thailand, Malawi, Jordan, Nepal, Viet Nam, United Republic of Tanzania, Colombia, Guinea, Belarus, South Africa and Nigeria.
The Observers for the Holy See and the Organization of the Islamic Conference also spoke.
The Committee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 5 October, to conclude its discussion of social development issues.
The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) met today to continue its general discussion of social development.
The Committee had before it identical letters dated 24 August 2005 from the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Economic and Social Council (document A/60/377/-E/2005/92), which transmits the Declaration of the Doha International Conference on Ageing in View of Present-Day Changes, held in Doha, Qatar from 4 to 6 April 2005.
For more background information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/3814 of 3 October.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said his Government remained deeply committed to make progress in all spheres of social development in line with the Copenhagen commitments and Millennium Development Goals. By adhering to the values of pluralism, democracy, good governance, human rights, gender justice and women's empowerment, his Government had brought significant societal transformation in Bangladesh. His Government had also been advocating for quite some time that the United Nations could play a significant role as an identifier and collator of best practices so that they could be translated and transmitted throughout the wider international community. He believed that any societal transformation began with the family, and poverty was one of the main hindrances to the attainment of familial goals.
Noting his satisfaction at the draft of the convention on disabled persons, he said that developing countries would be in urgent need of technical and financial support for their preparedness to become party to the convention. It was also necessary to mainstream the cause of the ageing population into national development agendas. In addition, mainstreaming youth in the process of poverty eradication was a complex challenge that required continuous attention and concerted action. Member States could not fail in their endeavours to realize the universally acknowledged social goals, he added.
IDREES MOHAMMED ALI MOHAMMED SAEED (Sudan) said his country was aligned with Jamaica's statement on behalf of the "Group of 77" developing countries and China, which reflected developing countries' concerns as they related to social development challenges. Despite progress achieved in the past decade since the Copenhagen Summit, a large gap remained between objectives and achievements in poverty eradication, job creation and social advancement. Member States must reassert their political determination to overcome all existing obstacles to achieving those goals.
The recent September Summit had given States an opportunity to do just that, he said, stressing the importance of the renewed commitment to achieve the millennium targets. Debt alleviation for developing countries was essential to enable them to advance socio-economically. The Sudan was doing its part to move in that direction, having reached a global peace agreement to put an end to the war in the southern part of the country. That accord was helping the Sudan promote stability and security. The Sudan was also seeking to promote regional peace. He also supported the Madrid Plan of Action, as well as Qatar's efforts during the April conference on ageing issues to define ageing and support older persons in civil life. The Committee's current session must focus on ageing issues and must emphasize social development, poverty eradication and job creation to achieve the millennium targets.
SATOMI OKAGAKI (Japan) said development efforts must be people-centred. In that regard, Japan had been promoting human security as a key component of its foreign policy. Human security entailed protecting and empowering people against critical and pervasive threats and situations. Japan had adopted a medium-term policy on official development assistance (ODA) in February, with particular emphasis on human security. She welcomed the commitment of Member States in the 2005 World Summit Outcome to discuss the concept of human security in the General Assembly and was poised to take the lead in such discussions.
The Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing was essential, she continued, stressing the importance of mainstreaming ageing into national plans and international strategies. Japan was doing its part, maintaining a system of continuous employment for persons up to age 65 and re-employment for the elderly. Further, it had reformed its pension and health care system and was providing education and social grants for the elderly. It was designing elevators and escalators in public transportation terminals to be more accessible to the elderly. Japan had been an active participant in negotiations of the Ad Hoc Committee on the convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, and had amended in 2004 its Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities to provide such persons with a greater role in policymaking.
NANA EFFAH-APENTENG (Ghana) said that it was unfortunate that the much-desired aspirations for a just social system continued to be a mirage. Essential social services for the young and old, rich and poor, as well as for vulnerable groups, seemed perpetually to remain a goal rather than an end. It was evident that sub-Saharan African countries continued to present the world with the most formidable and daunting development challenges. Yet, Africa was also at a turning point, with stronger leadership emerging, as well as African countries taking ownership and accountability for their development programmes. His Government, in particular, had taken concrete measures aimed at accelerating growth, poverty reduction and human development to enable citizens to benefit from new opportunities.
Reiterating his Government's support for the steps taken regarding ageing, he noted that a lack of requisite capacity-building, implementation strategies and technical cooperation were hampering the implementation of such plans. He also expressed concern about deteriorating circumstances regarding the family, and urged all delegations to continue to actively participate in the work of the Ad Hoc Committee to facilitate the adoption of a convention on disabled persons. His delegation also supported the conclusion of the Secretary-General's report, which emphasized that due consideration must be given to integrating economic and social policies into macroeconomic ones. Lastly, he called for the speedy implementation of measures aimed at meeting the special needs of Africa, which he said would hopefully facilitate the equitable economic and social development of the globalized world.
MR. CHERNENKO (Russian Federation) said that it was clear that besides the new threats and challenges that existed as a result of globalization, the well-being and development of world communities were being threatened by a range of problems that had not been resolved over the past century. There was currently much social and economic tension, and States needed to combine their efforts to overcome poverty, pandemics, and natural disasters, as well as those to address the growth of the underprivileged. Any of those situations could escalate into conflict and, thus, threaten people's lives and security. His Government supported the idea of the intimate link between security, human rights and development. It was necessary to guarantee security for all mankind, and he was convinced that the decisions taken at forum would give new impetus to efforts to resolve problems.
The issue of developing effective social policies was a key element of Russia's economic reform, and his Government would be undertaking reforms in the areas of health, education and housing. One of the main priorities of the Russian Government was to reduce poverty, and it would also try to increase the wages of the public sector over the next three years, as well as strengthen the role of the family by considerably increasing the budget to support young families. Noting the outcome of the session by the Ad Hoc Committee on disabled persons, he said he was pleased that delegations had made considerable progress on the substantive content of a convention.
ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria) said the Copenhagen Plan of Action went hand in hand with the millennium targets to eradicate poverty, promote full employment, ensure primary health care and advance development through ODA and financing for development. The February meeting of the Commission on Social Development enabled the international community to take stock of progress made in the last 10 years. While some regions had enjoyed significant economic development, others had not. The 2005 report of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs attributed much of the economic decline to globalization, noting that it had benefited only a few countries and that others had not reaped the benefits due to the resulting impact of employment, low wages, macroeconomic readjustment and competition.
Such inequalities were accentuated in African and other developing countries, he continued, noting the high rates of unemployment and inadequate education and health care services, as stated in reports of the Economic Commission on Africa. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) was committed to ensuring that Africa reversed this trend. The NEPAD, together with the Heads of State of the African Union, had identified necessary actions but lacked the financial resources to implement them. International solidarity was necessary to enable Africa to progress, he said, stressing that developed countries must fulfil their ODA commitments. Algeria was doing its part, thanks to innovative measures to reduce poverty, make education universal and free, and give equal opportunity to such groups as women, disabled persons, youth and the elderly.
ALEJANDRO ALDAY GONZALEZ (Mexico) said his delegation fully agreed with the United Nations that social development should be concentrated on the individual, as agreed in Copenhagen. For that reason, the social policies of his Government recognized the complexity that surrounded the phenomenon of poverty, and it perceived such a problem with an integral and multidimensional vision. His Government also participated actively in the events relating to families, at both regional and national levels, and attached priority to the establishment of public policies on family and community focus. It attached great importance to reaffirming the respectful international undertakings to protect the family.
Stressing the need to continue to push for the negotiation of an international convention on disabled persons, he expressed hope that such an agreement would be achieved very shortly. He also recognized the strategic role played by youth in the development of a country, and said that Mexico had this year joined those countries that included young people in their official delegations in the work of the Assembly. Concerning adults, his Government directed its action toward improving their living conditions, and concentrated on employment, which he said would enable them to become productive for as long as they wished. Lastly, he said that his Government would continue working to help the above sectors by fulfilling its international obligations.
AHMED GZLLAL (Libya) said his Government attached itself to Jamaica's statement on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. Despite progress made since the 1995 Copenhagen Summit, poverty remained widespread. In Africa alone, 1 billion people lived below the poverty line. Most Africans still lacked adequate employment, decent housing, water services, and access to health care. More than 40 million people were dying of hunger annually. There was a blatant imbalance in international socio-economic policies. It was the international community's responsibility to resolve these problems. Not doing so would threaten future peace and stability.
The growth of population, drought, desertification and other natural disasters had a negative impact on agricultural productivity, he said. As a result, widespread hunger would likely continue, with devastating effects on many developing countries. Moreover, the rapid growth of infectious diseases such as the avian flu and SARS were of great concern and would have negative socio-economic consequences in developing countries. There was a lack of enthusiasm among developed partners to transfer technology, leading to blatant inequalities between developed and developing countries. He called for fair economic, social and political environments with equal access to markets. Developing countries must make development of education, health and gender equality a priority.
BAYANI S. MERCADO (Philippines) said that it had been asserted time and time again since the World Summit for Social Development in 1995 that genuine development was people-centred, and his Government remained fully committed to attaining those goals. While much had been accomplished, challenges still existed, and much more needed to be done. There was an urgent need to support efforts in building an enabling environment for social development, so as to achieve the three core priorities of the Copenhagen agenda. Acknowledging the need to embed social policy within economic policy as a way of fostering overall development, his Government joined others in reiterating the call to relevant actors to ensure that macroeconomic strategies effectively responded to the social dimensions of development.
Social development goals could only be a success if there were adequate financial resources to support it, and serious efforts must be made to effectively help countries achieve social development goals through the provision of both technical and financial resources. The importance of meeting ODA commitments was crucial in reducing poverty in developing countries, but he believed that ODA alone could not be the main source of funding for social development. He encouraged development partners and international financial institutions to seriously consider the proposal of the Philippines to convert 50 per cent of the debt owed by indebted countries to equity investments infused, among other things, into social development programmes. While poverty and economic factors remained a major driving force of global migration, his delegation believed that utmost caution should be exercised in claiming any causal relationship between migration and inequality, that is, to specifically assert that migration per se caused inequality.
FAYSSAL MEKDAD (Syria) attached great importance to achievement of the Copenhagen objectives. In the past few years, Syria had made major advances in social development thanks to national development plans. All of the country's 14 provinces, including remote areas, had compulsory basic education programmes, as well as health services and immunization programmes for major communicable diseases. Infant and maternal mortality were down; life expectancy had been increased to 72 years; and diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis had been contained. The 2000-2005 national plan focused on the need for gender equality and emphasized the role of women in the family and society. The new Syrian Authority for Family Affairs focused on promoting the convention on discrimination against women.
Moreover, Syria was funnelling greater resources to scientific and technological research and application, he continued. A national health-care plan for the elderly had been adopted, and last month, Syria had its first conference on special Olympics for mentally retarded people, which concluded with a series of important recommendations for better treatment of and laws to protect the mentally challenged. Syria's 2006-2010 development plan was centred on human development in general and implementation of the millennium targets. Israel's continued occupation of the Syrian Golan was contrary to human development and had resulted in a continuous drain on financial, human and social resources for that region for decades.
KIM IL-BUM (Republic of Korea) said that social development was about eradicating poverty, creating more jobs, and providing equal opportunities. It was also about social integration, such that each individual in society was cared for and empowered to lead a life that was rewarding and worthwhile. As stated in the Secretary-General's report, social development was a social, political and economic goal but, more importantly, it was an ethical imperative. States could not claim to have achieved real progress in social development if they had merely increased wages or provided more jobs. Poverty eradication, achievement of full and productive employment, and social integration were the three pillars of social development, and all three must be pursued. While significant progress had been achieved since the World Summit on Social Development and during the forty-third Commission on Social Development, much more needed to be done.
It was important to understand that States would truly succeed in achieving all three pillars of social development only when they placed people at the centre, which meant empowering people and generations so that they could lead better, healthier, more productive and satisfying lives. That, in turn, would help create a more just, equitable and inclusive society. In that regard, his delegation shared the concern that while poverty eradication had consistently been treated with urgency, and rightly so, the other two pillars -- employment and social integration -- had to some extent taken a back seat. Trying to eradicate poverty without giving due consideration to social consideration or employment would result in policies that would prove to be inadequate, preventing achievement of overall goals for social development. He added that legal instruments must protect the rights and opportunities of such vulnerable groups as peoples with disabilities, especially women, as well as the elderly and children.
CELESTINO MIGLIORE, Observer for the Holy See, said the fact that people now lived longer required rethinking the role of the elderly in society and the development process. Creating a wide range of opportunities to capitalize on the potential, experience and expertise of older persons would be wise. The Holy See supported older persons through various assistance programmes. Catholic agencies and organizations worldwide cared for the aged in more than 13,000 facilities, including more than 500 centres in Africa, 3,000 in the Americas and 1,400 in Asia. Social support services were an extension of the common duty to provide for older family members who were neglected in order to reduce the impact of migration and family fragmentation resulting from globalization.
The projected demographic transition demonstrated a dramatic increase in the number of elderly by 2050, with high fertility and high mortality being replaced by low population growth, in both developed and developing countries, he continued. More than 600 million people were over the age of 60. By 2050, that number was expected to more than triple. By 2030, 71 per cent of the elderly population would live in developing countries and between 12 per cent and 16 per cent would be living in developing countries. This trend showed that every country must be "a society for all ages" and that fiscal and international policies must take that into account.
LUCA DALL'OGLIO, Observer of the International Organization for Migration, said that the power of the United Nations development agenda was in its comprehensive and integrated approach, making sure that the social and economic spheres were tackled coherently, and effectively mainstreaming social objectives into economic policymaking. That consideration was particularly crucial in the field of international migration, where migrants were at times considered a mere factor of production. As the integration process was experienced, social partnerships played an important role both from the point of view of the migrant and that of the local community. Furthermore, partnerships between the private sector, employer association and social actors were needed to address discrimination against migrants, and to ensure productive participation of newcomers in workplaces and local communities.
The inclusion of migrants -- on a temporary or permanent basis -- into the economic, social and cultural life of a country or society provided opportunities and challenges for receiving countries. Successful integration fostered diversity, creativity, growth and economic advance. On the other hand, he said that if integration experience was not successfully managed, it could lead to social and cultural conflict and limit social cohesion. His organization, through different initiatives, facilitated the exchange of information about effective practices and lessons learned in the field of integration, as well as provided research and assessments to bridge the gaps in knowledge and understanding of integration issues within a migration policy framework. It also stood ready to collaborate with both the Commission on Social Development and the General Assembly on the preparation for the high-level dialogue.
ADIYATWIDI ADIWOSO ASMADY (Indonesia) said her Government fully supported the adopted Declaration on the tenth anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development, particularly as it reaffirmed that enhanced international cooperation and action at the national level were essential to the implementation of the Copenhagen commitments. Those included adopting effective measures, such as new financial mechanisms, to support the efforts of developing countries to achieve sustained economic growth, sustainable development, poverty eradication and strengthening of their democratic systems. In line with the three core issues of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, her Government had introduced a strategy that was pro-growth, pro-employment and pro-poor in nature, and which strongly reflected a people-centred development approach.
While fully aware that national Governments had the primary responsibility for social development, her Government supported the Secretary-General's recommendations that the collective efforts of Governments, international organizations, civil society and other stakeholders should serve as powerful means to combat poverty. Specific policy measures should guarantee access by marginalized groups to assets and opportunities, particularly education, land, capital and technology. Policies should also expand international and bilateral cooperation, as well as United Nations agencies' assistance; promote good governance and the rule of law; and take into account the gender dimension of poverty when formulating strategies.
DMYTRO PAVLYCHKO (Ukraine) said a people-centred approach to development considered economic growth as a necessary means and not an end in itself. Human dignity, freedom, justice, democracy and the rule of law were the basis for building Ukraine's economy. Ukraine was strongly committed to implementing the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and the millennium target. National Governments should take primary responsibility for social development policies and financing development programmes. However, local, national and international cooperation played an important supportive role.
Ukraine was doing its part and had introduced legislative programmes to promote social development and provide local communities with economic opportunities and, thus, address socio-economic problems, he continued. Other programmes aimed to lessen the impact of structural change on vulnerable areas and to contribute to the development of mature, self-sufficient communities. Creation of a middle class and job generation were top priorities of Ukraine to combat poverty. Appropriate employment strategies impacted socio-economic development. Ukraine paid special attention to macroeconomic stability as the main prerequisite to social development. The country was also working to ensure social protection of all target groups, including women, children, the elderly and disabled persons.
KHUNYING LAXANACHANTORN LAOHAPHAN (Thailand) reiterated her Government's full commitment to the Copenhagen Declaration. Having achieved the millennium target of halving the proportion of people living in poverty, her Government had set a further target of reducing the proportion of the poor to below 4 per cent in the year 2009 and to ensure distribution of incomes to make figures and statistics more qualitatively meaningful. As a middle-income country, Thailand attached great importance to contributing to the global efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals, especially Goal 8 to develop a global partnership for development. Thailand's ODA programme was mostly directly in support of infrastructural projects, technical assistance and capacity-building in education, public health, agriculture, and income-generating activities. That approach was based on the firm belief in self-help and national ownership in ensuring long-term sustainable development.
On the promotion of social integration, she said her Government aimed to provide equitable social protection and social welfare to all, with a special focus on children and youth, women, older persons, persons with disabilities, and vulnerable groups. With regard to the family, Thailand placed great importance on the issue, and had adopted last year a national strategy to strengthen the family as the basic unit in economic revitalization and as the first line of defence against social malaises. It also supported the recommendation that future reports of the Secretary-General on the issue of the family focus thematically on issues affecting families and family policies, and provide for the exchange of information, experiences and good practices in implementing those policies. It seemed to her delegation that States had all realized that mainstreaming such issues as older persons, the family, and disabled persons into national agendas, policies and strategies was not at the expense of any other group, she added.
ELEYDA GARCIA-MATOS (Venezuela) said the millennium targets were far from being achieved. The central theme of poverty and social ills had been sidetracked during the World Summit, and the General Assembly had paid scant attention to the dire poverty, hunger, malnutrition and disease that affected millions of people worldwide. Member States had missed the opportunity during the Summit to carry out the necessary adjustments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. Venezuela had expressed its reservations regarding the Summit Outcome and considered the document null and void. It was not a step forward, rather a regression to previous conferences and summits.
Venezuela had looked for ways to address the tremendous social inequality that existed and improve the lot of all peoples, particularly the historically marginalized, she continued. Enormous changes were essential. The country was moving ahead to develop the domestic economy through cooperatives, innovative financing and access to credit and programmes in high-quality health care, food security and education. Within two years, 90 per cent of the country's illiterate population had learned to read. The mainstreaming changes had been structural, focusing on empowering communities to be self-sufficient and productive. Special attention was given to rural development and national food security. Cooperatives had been consolidated to give people better access to useful farm land. Cooperatives played a fundamental role in eradicating poverty and promoting social development.
YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the 10-year review of the progress in implementing the commitments made at the World Summit on Social Development acknowledged that progress over the last decade had been largely uneven, and that concerted and far-reaching efforts were needed to create a society for all and to reinforce the inclusive vision as called for by the Summit. Persisting poverty obviously fuelled inequality and inequity, and, thus, represented a serious security threat. His Government shared the view that the global commitment to eradicate poverty should be on a sustained basis and not just in response to financial emergencies or national calamities. Poverty-reduction policies should attack poverty by addressing its root causes, which required collective efforts on the part of all relevant stakeholders. Unless the structural causes of that multidimensional challenge were addressed, no significant improvement in the social and economic security of the population -- especially in the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups -- would be observed.
His Government fully supported the people-centred approach of the Summit, which called for the empowerment of people to maximize their capacities, resources and opportunities. Azerbaijan also attached particular importance to the policies and programmes targeting youth, and he stressed that it was also important to make every effort to protect and strengthen the family and to promote policies that supported the functioning of families. In light of that, a catalytic and supportive role of the United Nations in strengthening and enhancing concern for the family at the national, regional and global levels should be once again particularly underlined. Lastly, he stressed the importance of continued partnership and cooperation with the United Nations agencies that provided necessary assistance and expertise in formulating and implementing strategies to implement the Copenhagen commitments.
BERTIN BABADOUDOU (Benin) said States should concentrate on the issue of the family, as his delegation believed that all social questions -- particularly those affecting the young, aged, and disabled persons -- could be addressed through a common denominator, the family. Generally accepted as the natural societal grouping, the family had social functions that were the same throughout the world. A family-based approach to social issues would seem to his delegation to ensure harmonization between sectoral policies in the social domain. That meant that policies for the young should integrate a family-based approach both when they were drawn up and when they were implemented. In the same way, it was necessary to create conditions that integrated persons with disabilities into their communities, and, therefore, their families. For his delegation, it was extremely important that the international community should adopt that vision to ensure social cohesion throughout the world.
Progress since the 10-year anniversary of the International Year of the Family had been mixed, he continued. Despite efforts throughout the world within the context of celebrating the anniversary, the international community had not really moved toward the family-based approach in drawing and implementing policy programmes, particularly in the social and economic spheres. The overall situation of social groups -- including the most vulnerable, the family -- was not fully understood in that measure, which meant that much needed to be done. Family was indeed the basic social unit, and States must first agree on that. The actions of the international community should take a normative direction, leading to the adoption of instruments recognizing the family as bringing together the rights of all social groups. The international community must be proactive as it had always been with regard to other subjects, and should determine the role of morals and ethics in any definition of the family. In conducting that normative process, it was essential that the international community help States, particularly those in Africa.
ANDRINA MCHIELA (Malawi) said youth participation was a priority of Malawi. Since 2001, the country had supported the concept of a children's parliament that had increased youth's role in decision-making and had led to the creation of youth clubs and the inclusion of youth delegates in the General Assembly's current session. However, poverty, poor health, food insecurity, high illiteracy rates, unemployment, poor access to information technology, high population growth rates, gender inequality and the HIV/AIDS pandemic impeded youth development. Malawi had implemented a Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme and the Malawi Economic Growth Strategy to assist youth and other vulnerable groups.
Further, Malawi had, through a liberalized labour market, developed several employment generation and investment programmes, such as the Public Works Programme and the Targeted Input Programme to boost agricultural production, technical entrepreneurship and vocational training, she continued. The HIV/AIDS pandemic was changing the fabric of Malawian society with more and more elderly persons taking care of children who had lost their parents. In view of this loss of life of the economically productive age group, the Government had set up safety net programmes to help the elderly in their caregiver role for orphans and vulnerable children.
MU'TAZ HYASSAT (Jordan) said that his Government welcomed the review this year of the commitments made at the Summit on Social Development, particularly those in its Outcome Document. However, his Government hoped that such a review would further enhance international cooperation to ensure that the commitments were implemented, and also that States would meet the development objectives by 2015. Jordan was working tirelessly to reach those objectives, by taking such action as providing education on a much broader basis. His country was attempting to universalize education by 2015, particularly for most sectors of the population. It had also adopted a national strategy to counteract poverty, and had reduced the number of children who leave school early, as well as illiteracy. In the health sector, his Government considered the role of family to be very important, and had done much to promote family planning, such as by creating health centres and concentrating on the role played by aged persons.
His Government also attached particular importance to the youth, and had created a work plan for youth and sport activities for the period 2004-2006 to use the potential of young people and to establish values of collective and volunteer work. It was also trying to ensure equality between young men and women, and was targeting many activities especially at young women. Jordan was also completing its national youth policy for 2005-2009, and he expressed his delegation's pleasure regarding the various activities implemented for young people. Concerning persons with disabilities, his Government appreciated the work that had been carried out and the success that had been achieved, and he expressed hope that the next session would allow for the completion of work on the text to that convention.
SHARADA SINGH (Nepal) said Nepal's 2002-2007 socio-economic development plan aimed to achieve broad-based economic growth, social sector development, targeted social inclusion programmes and good governance. It focused on poverty reduction and job creation. Social sector development accounted for 35 per cent to 40 per cent of the national development budget. Lack of infrastructure development, poor governance and corruption had exacerbated poverty, social exclusion and social backwardness. Terrorism during the last decade had also pushed back social development. Still, in the past decade, poverty had dropped by 11 per cent; life expectancy had increased; child and maternal mortality was down; literacy was up; and public utility services had improved.
Nepal attached great importance the role of cooperatives in developing rural areas and the agricultural sector and in reducing poverty and improving socio-economic well-being, she continued. She encouraged the participation of women and the vulnerable groups in cooperatives in all economic sectors. She also supported the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons, stressing that the Madrid International Plan of action on Ageing 2002 had helped mainstream ageing issues into national and international programmes.
NGUYEN TAT THANH (Viet Nam) said that while it was encouraging to see some progress in the field of social development, his Government was concerned about the unevenness and persistent inequalities and asymmetries that needed to be redressed as contained in the Report on the World Social Situation 2005. The challenges before Member States remained mostly the same, but they might become more persistent and harder to overcome. Those included, among others, the widening gap between developed and developing countries, the inequitable international trade regime, the debt problem of developing countries, the spread of deadly diseases, natural disasters, and armed conflicts. Since it was a reality that social development goals could not be achieved if they were disconnected from the economic realm, relevant and supportive coherent economic policies must be adopted and implemented at both international and national levels.
At the international level, he continued, commitments by developed countries and international financial institutions on ODA, debt relief and debt rescheduling, transfer of technology and market access must be honoured. Concrete timely actions should also be taken to implement the outcome document adopted last month. At the national level, social development goals needed to be mainstreamed into development strategies and programmes, in order to maximize the use of available resources. In Viet Nam, poverty reduction was one of the most significant achievements of social development, and his Government was also taking efforts to promote social integration, implement programmes to benefit children, and adopt policies on the provision of support and care for older persons and support for disabled persons. His Government was strongly committed to the achievement of social development goals, and would continue to make every effort to that end, he added.
JOYCE SHAIDI (United Republic of Tanzania) said her country had developed a comprehensive National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty, which focused on growth and reduction of income poverty, improved quality of life and social well-being, and good governance and accountability. This 2005-2009 strategy also incorporated the concerns of vulnerable groups and issues related to gender, environment, employment and HIV/AIDS. Tanzania was also committed to people-centred development policies and was currently studying the possibility of enacting social protection legislation.
Rising unemployment, particularly among youth, was of great concern to the Tanzanian Government, she continued. Most Tanzanians lived in rural areas and were dependent on agriculture for their livelihood and had limited economic opportunities. Underemployment, rather than unemployment, was the case. She supported the statement in the World Summit Outcome Document that rural and agricultural development should be an integral part of national and international development policies, as well as the world leaders' commitment to increase support for agricultural development and trade capacity.
MARÍA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR (Colombia) said that the follow-up to major conferences and summits should be a priority, as well as the design of specific tools to foster development and prosperity for countries, with long-term approach policies. States must remain distant from the assistance approach and focus on policies that would effectively ensure the well-being of peoples of the developing countries in a sustainable and on-going manner. Her Government believed that with the full compliance of the commitments made during the major conferences, States could come close to ensuring a dignified and safe future for all populations. An ambitious approach of social development was required from the United Nations in order to achieve that. A broader cooperation between States and a strengthening of their national capacities in policymaking and social investment was necessary at the moment, when the United Nations was debating on its relevance in the reform process.
At the national level in Colombia, there was a growing recognition regarding effective public management of social investment. For her Government, employment creation -- both in urban and rural areas -- was a priority. Education was also of fundamental importance to guarantee sustainable social development, as it constituted the minimum common denominator for all individuals to fully participate in their societies. For Member States, further cooperation and the strengthening of strategies to consolidate sustainable social development with a joint and holistic outlook on societies were the challenges at the moment. Debates should translate into concrete actions and, within the system, States should join efforts to revitalize the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and convert it into a high-level forum for development.
PAUL GOA ZOUMANIGUI (Guinea) said the objectives of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action were fundamental to socio-economic development at the international and national levels. A human-centred approach to social advancement was key. He noted the link between economic and social policies and the need for integration to create favourable conditions. Guinea's 2000 National Poverty Reduction Strategy aimed to accelerate economic growth, improve access to social services and promote good governance through education, health, comprehensive rural development, infrastructure development and strengthened institutional capacity.
Instability in the subregion had impeded progress in implementing programmes aimed at achieving the millennium targets, she continued. That fact reaffirmed that development was not possible without peace and that peace was not possible without development. She appealed to the international community to step up financial and development assistance to Guinea. The international community must take these points into consideration. Good governance and reciprocal accountability were indispensable.
ANDREI A. TARANDA (Belarus) said that 10 years after the Copenhagen declaration, States were able to assess that progress had been uneven and in many cases negligible. Overcoming the problems of inequality and the uneven levels of development between countries was necessary to support peace and security. Stressing the importance of ensuring equal access to all States to world markets, he said such action was necessary for all to enjoy the benefits of the multilateral trade system. It was also necessary to create proper social conditions for development in Africa, and to address the problems being encountered in Africa in order to seek a more just and equal world. The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) provided the necessary basis and potential to ensure sustainable development in the African region, but debt relief for African States and an increase in the level of ODA were necessary to support NEPAD efforts.
His Government was committed to one of the key principles of the Copenhagen Declaration, and that was that the individual should be at the core of all measures to ensure development. Such a principle was the starting point in developing the national strategy and programmes of reform of Belarus, he said. A social approach based on the interests of the individual was enshrined in the concept of socio-economic development of Belarus to 2015. Despite the difficulties facing transition economies, protecting the more vulnerable sectors of society continued to be one of the main elements of national social policies. His Government had spent about 14 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) each year on various social payments, he added.
BUSANI NGCAWENI (South Africa) said that the core priorities of both the Copenhagen Declaration and World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond were mutually reinforcing. They included the eradication of poverty, the promotion of social integration, and the attainment of quality education and full employment. The Millennium Development Goals were viewed as a new set of internationally agreed targets aimed at young people, and most of those goals were directly related either to children and the youth of the next generation, or to issues of great concern to young people, such as development, health, gender equality and education.
Welcoming the convening of the 10-year review of the World Programme of Action for Youth during the session, he said his Government found it disheartening that in reviewing the progress made in achieving those goals and targets, there were still many challenges that persisted, particularly youth unemployment. His Government was actively creating capacities for youth structures to participate in decision-making processes and policy formation, and had created a youth unit in the presidency. South Africa valued the positive energy and contribution that youth could bring to all aspects of life. Working with the African Union and the NEPAD Secretariat, South Africa was beginning to promote youth development policies and programmes to the rest of the continent. That was in line with the Youth Programme and Millennium Development Goal that States should actively enter into national, regional and international partnerships to promote the development of young people.
SIMEONE ADEKANYE (Nigeria) said poverty eradication, job creation and social integration were the guiding principles of national action to combat poverty in Nigeria. The Nigerian President chaired the National Poverty Eradication Council which oversaw all poverty-eradication activities. Specific measures in that regard included construction of new roads, improvement of health-care systems, job creation for teachers, and improved school infrastructure. Nigeria had also introduced universal primary education, dramatically increasing the number of young people with basic skills acquired through vocational training centres, particularly girls. Education was featured prominently in the World Summit Outcome Document, he said, stressing that commitments made should be translated into active support for educations programmes in developing countries.
Nigeria's 2005-2009 National Strategic Framework included a multisectoral response strategy recommended by the United Nations to curb the scourge of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases, he continued. During the World Summit, global leaders stated that a sustained international response was needed to ensure that these infectious diseases did not impede efforts to attain the Copenhagen objectives and millennium targets. He welcomed the international community's resolve to strengthen global partnerships among national Governments, international organizations and civil society. He stressed the importance of NEPAD and international support for the African Union's initiative to extend universal primary education throughout Africa by 2015.
S. SHAHID HUSAIN, Observer of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, said that while his organization acknowledged with interest some of the advances toward the 10 priority areas that had been reported, it shared in full measure the concern of previous speakers over the fact that planned targets in most other areas had not been reached. His organization also believed that the Programme of Action must be renewed and augmented by five additional priority areas of support, including globalization, information and communication, HIV/AIDS, armed conflicts and intergenerational relations.
On the issue of family, he noted with satisfaction that the tenth anniversary of the International Year of the Family in 2004 had attracted a good deal of response from Governments, United Nations organizations, intergovernmental organizations and families themselves. The view about the natural family being the basic social unit of society appeared to be gaining more ground, and his organization stood for the objective of strengthening the family so that a clean and healthy family environment emerged from all national development fronts. He added that his organization maintained its readiness to cooperate with the United Nations in strengthening families and family values.
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