UNGA Third Committee session focused on greater solidarity with world’s most vulnerable people, unequal economic progress, and need to empower youth.

Casting an overview of challenges facing social development – ranging from inequalities in employment through specific issues facing rural populations – the UNG Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) delegates during the week called for closer international cooperation and solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable groups.

In his opening remarks Mr.Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, stressed that transformative leadership and national ownership of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be key for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. He reminded the Committee that not all regions had shared equally in the progress made and that economic inequality was rife both between countries and within them.  Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia had not shared in the gains, he added.

As delegates began their debate on social development, several addressed the issue of inequality and welcomed the continuing focus on youth.  Thailand’s representative, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, and  Angola’s representative, on behalf of the African Group emphasized the need for greater investment in young people to allow harnessing  the demographic dividend and address the inequalities at the root of many global challenges.  Importance of ensuring the rights and well-being of older people was underlined by the representative of the European Union, the urging Governments to take steps to address age discrimination.  Supporting the position, the representative of the Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), confirmed that ASEAN had adopted the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Ageing last year.

The UN Secretariat introduced a note and three reports under the Committee’s agenda item on social development.  The Secretariat’s note on the ‘World Social Situation in 2016’ provided an overview of the global social situation.  Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals for all at all ages required identifying who had been left behind and in what ways.  The full report on the situation examined patterns of social exclusion and found that some people were excluded from access to resources and had little voice in political processes.  The report also argued that promoting social inclusion required, among other measures, those to facilitate participation. Leaving no one behind also required special measures and called for institutional change.  A growing body of evidence pointed to family policies contributing to poverty reduction.  The report emphasized that gender equality started in families and must be secured in access to justice and fair family laws.

Education was high on the list of priorities for delegates many of whom called for greater access to quality education and better employment opportunities.  The findings of UNESCO’s report, “Literacy for Life: Shaping Future Agendas”, introduced in the meeting by UNESCO Director General, stressed that literacy was a development accelerator, contributing to efforts to realize an equitable, inclusive and sustainable world.  Hence building institutional capacity in literacy, placing particular emphasis on literacy for women and girls and innovations, such as digital learning, are key components of any national approach to expanding literacy.

Delegates in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) shared the floor with youth representatives grappling with issues of inequality, unemployment and xenophobia that hampered young people’s advancement and driving inequality. Youth delegates urged for better access to education, inclusion of youth in decisions and reminded the Member States that while education was a human right, 59 million children of primary school age remained out of school.  Many of them had been displaced by war and violence, which made the current refugee and migrant crisis a generational one.

In turn, country delegates shared steps their Governments had taken to include young people in policy making, supporting an increase in youth volunteerism, involvement in interest groups and involving young people in social decisions, and in formulating policies and implementing programmes. Taking a broad perspective, Nigeria’s representative urged the United Nations to create a youth agency that would integrate youth issues throughout the 2030 Agenda.

Delegates from the various PPD member countries addressed the Committee including Egypt ,  India,  Mexico, Morocco, Viet Nam, Kenya, Sri Lanka,  Tunisia, , Bangladesh,  China, , Ethiopia,  Indonesia,  , Pakistan, Senegal, , South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. PPD was represented in the Committee’s deliberations by the Permanent Observer.


From PPD Permanent Observer at the UN, New York.
08 October 2016

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