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Youth Delegates Demand ‘a Seat at the Table’ to Help Shape Inclusive, Safe, Sustainable Future, as Third Committee Continues Debate

Young people’s hopes and concerns, ranging from growing discrimination to direct participation in decision-making processes, came under the spotlight as the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) concluded its debate on social development.

Several youth delegates stressed that they wanted “a seat at the table” and to be active participants not only in shaping decisions affecting them, but also on national and global issues.  Ireland’s youth delegate emphasized the importance of engaging young people in the implementation, review and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adding that engagement should go beyond ticking a box.

Those views were echoed by Sweden’s youth delegate, who also called on countries to create an inclusive and enabling environment for all young people by providing accessible welfare systems, free access to education and mechanisms to fighting prejudice.  Some youth delegates pointed out that conversations with their peers revealed that they believed in building inclusive societies founded on respect for human rights.  However, Germany’s youth representative pointed out that young people were worried the path towards a peaceful and inclusive future was being threatened by conflicts, rising right-wing populism and growing militarization.

While such challenges persisted, some States said their belief in the next generations made them try harder to overcome obstacles.  Young people were a pillar of development, said Libya’s delegate, adding that although his country was going through a difficult transition period, it was working to ensure schooling for displaced children and protect them to allow them a better future while trying to ensure the participation of youth.

In response to a growing interest from young people to take part in political processes, several Member States had put in place measures to engage them in decision making.  Nigeria’s representative said the Government had created targeted programmes for youth, including a “Prosperity Scheme” and a bursary programme providing support to engineering, mathematics, science and technology students.  The United Arab Emirates’ delegate described efforts such as establishing national youth councils and holding seminars for young people to exchange ideas.  Myanmar’s representative said youth had a say in the national peace process while Jordan’s speaker elaborated on a joint effort with Norway to launch Champions of Youth, a group of countries aimed at continued political commitment to youth agendas of peace and security, and the Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism.  Similarly, Malaysia’s delegate highlighted its national youth development policy, which encompassed leadership and volunteering.

Countries had also introduced programmes to cater specifically to the needs of young people, such as providing them with quality education and jobs.  Sudan’s representative said national efforts included youth employment and gender equality programmes.  Bahrain’s speaker said his Government had recently hosted youth from around the world to discuss strategies for achieving sustainable development and was also working with the private sector to promote growth, with young people as a guiding force.  The Government of Maldives had implemented entrepreneurship programmes to help young people launch small and medium enterprises with the aim of allowing them to make a decent living.

To many youth delegates, preparing young people for the workforce must start with quality education.  Suriname’s youth delegate said efforts were underway to advocate strongly in favour of draft legislation to increase the age of compulsory education to age 16 from age 12 while her counterpart from Romania placed access to education and the creation of skills as a policy priority.

Youth delegates also took the opportunity to bring attention to the plight of migrant children.  Serbia’s young representative noted that migrant children in her country were given access to social services such as schools.  Thailand’s young speaker said youth also played a key role in helping migrants integrate in society and stressed the importance of teaching multiculturalism in schools.

Also participating in the debate were representatives from Saint Lucia (for the Caribbean Community), Kyrgyzstan, Algeria, China, United States, Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, Turkey, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Kuwait, Venezuela, Belgium, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Nepal, Ethiopia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Djibouti, Bangladesh, Morocco, Luxembourg, Czech Republic, Burundi, Togo, Denmark, Madagascar and Bolivia, as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO) Office to the United Nations.

Representatives of the Russian Federation, Georgia and Ukraine spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) will reconvene at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 4 October, to begin its debate on crime prevention, criminal justice and international drug control.

Background

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) continued its debate on social development today.  For background, see Press Release GA/SHC/4195.

Statements

COSMOS RICHARDSON (Saint Lucia), speaking on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and aligning himself with the Group of 77 and China, said a regional strategy had been approved to guide development efforts among CARICOM members.  The strategy sought to build economic, social, environmental and technological resilience from early childhood to old age.  Social resilience had been identified as a clear priority in efforts to empower individuals, families and enterprises to be productive and adaptable to changing trends, he said, adding that recent adverse weather patterns underscored the importance of building resilient societies.

Social exclusion of any kind denied those affected full participation in social and political life, he continued.  Inequality, including that between countries remained a major challenge to prosperity.  Noting that the gap between rich and poor was widening even in advanced economies, he said that in order to bridge those gaps human beings must be the “primary resource” determining the development process.  CARICOM recognized the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships and of investing in the human and institutional resources that would manage those partnerships, he said, emphasizing that every citizen should have the opportunity to contribute to prosperity and realize their full potential.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan) said that eliminating poverty and providing decent work remained pivotal, adding that large-scale flows of migrants and increasing inequality demanded coordinated measures.  Kyrgyzstan was creating a long-term development programme for 2040 intended, among other goals, to reduce poverty, and ensure quality education, health care and environmental protection.  Outlining several initiatives, she said a nationwide project was targeting corruption, while child mortality levels had dropped and, in 2016, more than 98 per cent of children had attended school.  With strong legal and political frameworks to strengthen the role of women, Kyrgyzstan’s law on legal documents ensured that all draft laws were reviewed to consider gender, and it had changed the criminal code to better protect them against violence, she said.

NORA IMANE BELLOUT (Algeria), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, emphasized the need for special attention to social development, citing several national initiatives.  Algeria had launched a national plan to pay for care within poor communities and had created institutions to address the needs of disadvantaged groups.  Monthly subsidies were provided to persons with disabilities, the elderly or those unable to work, she said.  Algeria had also enforced social integration and was working to provide opportunities for young people, women and persons with disabilities.  Going forward, Algeria would continue to work with partners, using cutting-edge technology in pursuit of social justice.

WU HAITAO (China), associating himself with the Group of 77, said social development needed greater attention and inputs, calling for proper operational mechanisms to be put in place for eradicating poverty and ensuring greater access to health services and education.  Social development could be more easily realized with a universal and sustainable social protection system and international as well as North-South cooperation whereby developed countries lent a helping hand to developing States through official development assistance (ODA).  China had put in place a social protection system entailing a unified basic pension insurance plan for urban and rural residents, he said.  By the end of 2016, the insured population under that system had reached 888 million while those covered by basic medical insurance had exceeded 1.3 billion, which meant that more than 95 per cent of the population was covered.  China was also committed to a path of green and innovative development and remained committed to eradicating global poverty, he said, adding that his country would be providing 60 billion RMB in assistance to developing countries over the next three years and would work with African countries to support development efforts in that region.

LAURIE SHESTACK PHIPPS (United States), highlighting the issue of cyberbullying among young people, said it was on the rise due to the spread of social media.  Online bullies had been emboldened because they could act in anonymity, but the negative effects of cyberbullying were tremendous, she said, noting that they ranged from mental stress to suicidal tendencies.  Putting a stop to bullying among young people could be achieved by ensuring that they grew up in healthy families that inculcated empathy and kindness.  However, too many children and youths were being left behind because of poverty and conflict, she noted, adding that young people should be encouraged to use technology in positive ways that would result in solutions to challenges and in building stronger communities and families.

LAUREN FLANAGAN, youth delegate from Ireland, called upon the international community to be brave, not in rallying to war but in committing to peace, pointing out that conflict and persecution had forcibly displaced 22.5 million refugees, more than half of them under the age of 18.  In direct contravention of customary international law, States had turned refugees away from their borders, an indication of the broader international backlash against human rights, she said, declaring: “We cannot turn a blind eye to the dangerous rhetoric of populism”.  Describing international human rights treaties as the tools for realizing a brighter future, she called upon Governments to recognize the inherent potential of all young people, saying States should ensure that each one received quality higher-level education.

PAUL DOCKERY, youth delegate from Ireland, emphasized the importance of engaging young people in the implementation, review and monitoring of the 2030 Agenda, adding that engagement should go beyond ticking a box.  “It means giving young people the right to sit at decision-making tables,” he said, adding that it was essential to encourage and empower young women and girls to enter politics and hold public office.  Noting that 176 of the 196 speakers during the recent general debate had been men, she called upon States to engage with youth, women and girls, and those from marginalized backgrounds stressing that young people did not wish to inherit a world in chaos or one beyond the point of repair.

FRANCISCO ANTONIO CORTORREAL (Dominican Republic), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and with the Group of Friends of Older Persons, said people could only develop insofar as their Governments invested in them.  The Dominican Republic was spearheading initiatives to end poverty and inequality by investing in education and health care, he said, citing one programme, “Surprise Visit”, which was creating thousands of jobs and improving the quality of life for farmers.  The national development strategy was in keeping with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the country was ready and willing to work with the new Envoy on Youth, he affirmed.  The Dominican Republic intended to include young people in all decision-making processes, not only those immediately affecting them.  The Government was also working to design programmes intended to meet the needs of disabled persons in schools.  Families and communities must share responsibilities, he emphasized, while also stressing the need to combat a rising tide of violence against older persons.  It was crucial to establish a legally binding international instrument to promote and protect their human rights, he added.

HANNA BERGMAN, youth delegate from Sweden, said that, in ensuring a world at peace and without violent xenophobia, structural racism, homophobia, gun violence and other causes of human suffering, Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) on youth, peace and security must be implemented seriously, and young people must have a seat at the table.  Emphasizing the role of every nation in creating an inclusive and enabling environment for all youth, he said accessible welfare systems, free access to education and hard work against prejudice were particularly important.  Describing inequity in the world as “an ancient monster refusing to die”, he stressed that it included not only gender-based violence, but all kinds of discrimination and injustice, including unequal vulnerability to climate change.

RUSLAN BULTRIKOV (Kazakhstan), recalling the proposal by his country’s President that each State consider allocating 1 per cent of its annual defence budget to the Organization’s Special Fund for Sustainable Development, said that democratic policymaking called for supportive, transparent and accountable public institutions.  He said that his country’s national strategy, “Kazakhstan 2050”, focused on higher-quality education and health care, affordable social housing, and enhanced social security.  It also enabled young people to enjoy free formal education at all levels, while the Council on Youth Policy ensured youth participation in national policy and decision-making processes.  Furthermore, Kazakhstan was implementing the National Action Plan 2012-2018 with a view to opening new horizons for persons with disabilities, he said.

The representative of Germany introduced his delegation’s two youth delegates — Anaïck Geißel and Mio Kuschick.

Ms. GEIßEL (Germany) said she had travelled through Germany for months, talking to young people who said they were scared the future would bring war and who also feared rising right-wing populism, growing militarization, and diplomacy losing ground to military might.  Germany believed in diplomacy and that young people could find new ways to solve conflicts peacefully, she said, emphasizing that nuclear weapons must be banned and arms control supported for the safety of future generations.

Mr. KUSCHICK (Germany) said that during their tour of Germany, the youth delegates had not spoken exclusively with young Germans, but also with young refugees who had fled conflict and terrorism.  Their hopes of a peaceful future were the same as those of European youth, he noted.  Societies gained when they included diverse groups of people, but they must all – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and questioning persons – enjoy the same rights, he emphasized, adding that solidarity among different groups would make the world a better place.

Ms. PANSA, youth delegate from Suriname, emphasized the importance of access to quality education, saying that by investing in early learning initiatives, States could ensure a greater degree of success for citizens.  Suriname’s youth were advocating strongly in favour of draft legislation that would increase the age of compulsory education from 12 to 16 years, she said.  Turning to sexual violence against girls and boys, she said that it was an increasing problem in Suriname, due partly due to the difference in upbringing between girls and boys.  Parents and caregivers must be educated to address issues of sexual and reproductive health, she stressed.

Ms. MATAR (United Arab Emirates) said the direct participation of young people in decision-making processes was crucial.  Youth should be seen as partners and not wait for ready-made solutions.  The United Arab Emirates had developed policies that would cater to the needs of young people while involving them in political processes through national youth councils.  In addition, seminars had been conducted for young people, giving them forums in which to exchange ideas, she said, adding that her country was ready to share its experience of engaging young people in decision-making with other countries.

TEODORA PAVKOVIĆ, youth delegate from Serbia, said her country had devised a national strategy on young people focused on addressing their real needs.  It had also adopted a law on youth that put both legal and administrative measures in place to protect their rights.  The national focus on youth extended to young migrants who passed through Serbia on the way to Western Europe, she said, noting that migrant children were given access to social services such as schools.  Young people were also committed to achieving a path of inclusive growth and should be included in national working groups where they could contribute to implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

JUAN CARLOS MENDOZA-GARCÍA (Costa Rica), associating himself with the Group of 77 and with the Group of Friends on Older Persons, said his country had made sustained efforts to ensure that each individual could fulfil his or her potential.  Groups on the fringes of society, such as migrants, must be reached, and the international community must work to reduce inequality by developing solutions, he emphasized.  Vulnerability and exclusion could lead to poverty, he explained, noting that Costa Rica used a multidimensional poverty index to develop an analysis of that condition.  Each indicator was linked to an existing social policy, he explained, saying the index made measuring poverty easier.  Costa Rica was also bringing information and communications technology to the most vulnerable members of society and improving education for children, he said.  Describing both formal and informal education as drivers of social development that enabled young people to enter the labour market, he expressed concern that increasing numbers of young people were neither in the labour market nor in education.

MURAT UĞURLUOĞLU (Turkey) affirmed his country’s strong commitment to the transformative 2030 Agenda, adding that the national development strategy encompassed social protection and inclusion as well as rapid economic growth and macroeconomic stability.  Sustainable development would be impossible without the integration of all human potential into global efforts, including that of women, persons with disabilities and of all ages.  Turkey’s current development plan was oriented towards that goal and was yielding positive results, he said, citing improved access to education and health services in particular.  The country would keep gender equality and youth employment high on its agenda.  He called for greater international cooperation in assisting displaced persons, pointing out that his country hosted the world’s largest refugee population, including 3.1 million Syrians.

JUANA SANDOVAL (Nicaragua), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, stressed the importance of eradicating poverty, saying that could only be achieved through peace, solidarity and sufficient political will and commitment.  Nicaragua had made progress in reducing poverty and promoting sustainable development through policies that focused on gender equality, increasing access to infrastructure and creating jobs.  The Government also ensured that the rights of the elderly and of people with disabilities were safeguarded, she said, expressing the Government’s continuing commitment to protecting the human, social, political and human rights of all citizens.

IOANA COVEI, youth representative of Romania, said young people wanted opportunities to express themselves and to be taken seriously by those in power, noting that when people felt ignored they may choose to remain silent.  Romanian youth placed access to education and the creation of skills as their policy priority, she said, adding that developing problem-solving skills was also central to success on the job market.  Without critical thinking, young people would repeat past mistakes, she cautioned, urging greater investment in non-formal education to foster the creation of skills.

VLAD MACELARU, youth representative of Romania, said discrimination remained a barrier to development, noting that such barriers were preventing the largest young generation the world had ever seen from achieving their full potential.  Awareness of diversity provided a path to empowerment and the decision-making autonomy of young people, he said.  Given the right tools and opportunities today, young people would be better decision-makers tomorrow, he stated.

DARYNA HORBACHOVA (Ukraine), associating himself with the statement delivered by the European Union delegation, reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the 2030 Agenda, despite ongoing Russian aggression.  Priorities in that context included ensuring adequate sustainable energy, an effective public health system, affordable education and decent work, as well as promoting innovation and developing infrastructure.  With such efforts and following recent agreements, Ukraine was becoming an integral part of the European continental economy, he said, adding that it was also implementing economic reforms and finally making progress against corruption.  Further efforts included extending universal health care and strengthening gender equity.  Describing legal and humanitarian steps to address the massive displacement caused by the conflict in eastern Ukraine, he said that ending military aggression and restoring full Ukrainian sovereignty was the best way to restore economic and social development for those affected.

PWINT PHYU THINN (Myanmar), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said social development was the core of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.  Myanmar recognized that promoting the all-round well-being of young people would secure a prosperous future for them, and to that end, youth were having a say in the national peace process, she said.  Turning to the question of older persons in Myanmar, she said their care was traditionally handled by families and local communities while the Government provided social services and cash disbursements.  Greater integration of people with disabilities was enshrined in national legislation, and particular efforts were made to assist the deaf, she said, adding that programmes were being implemented to increase employment among persons with disabilities.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and with the African Group, said Governments must remain focused on meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Nigeria remained committed to fulfilling the social contract through people-centred social policies.  A conditional cash-transfer scheme disbursed money to the poorest and most vulnerable in society, and a housing scheme provided loans that enabled Nigerians to build or buy their own houses.  A financial inclusion scheme provided interest-free loans to entrepreneurs, without collateral, and a “Prosperity Scheme” took aim at young people, as did a bursary scheme providing support to engineering, mathematics, science and technology students.  Regarding persons with disabilities, he said Nigeria recognized the importance of their economic empowerment, and had embarked on developing a national policy on ageing.  For Nigeria, family values were an integral aspect of social development, he said, emphasizing that the family was the natural, organic and fundamental unit of society.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said his Government’s policies were framed to ensure the progress and well-being of all individuals, adding that inclusivity was the foundation of all its social development programmes.  Recognizing the role of young people in development, he said access to primary and secondary education and to health care was guaranteed for all youth.  The Government was implementing entrepreneurship programmes to help launch small and medium enterprises, he said, adding that such initiatives would reduce unemployment and encourage all young people to seek a decent living.  Employment initiatives were also in place to help persons with disabilities.  As for the empowerment of women, he said laws enshrining the principles of equal opportunity and equal outcomes had been passed.  He added that promoting the development of vulnerable groups would help them reach their aspirational goals.

Ms. ALZOUMAN (Kuwait), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said young people had an important role to play in the pursuit of sustainable development.  Youth in Kuwait were involved in voluntary work that allowed them to gain a better understanding of how to contribute to society.  Kuwait was also committed to protecting the rights of the vulnerable, including people with disabilities and the elderly, she said, adding that the Government provided them with the means to work and with access to medical, social and psychological services.  In addition, it provided the elderly with monthly subsidies and special housing, and they were exempted from paying taxes.  The Government also provided divorced women with support services and had established centres for settling family disputes and preventing violence within families, she said.

ROBERT ALEXANDER POVEDA BRITO (Venezuela), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said that social development was at the heart of his country’s social policies.  A vast portion of the national budget was devoted to social programmes, including poverty eradication and protection of the rights of the vulnerable, he said, adding that progress had been made in reducing inequality while housing had been provided for the poor.  He stressed the need for greater cooperation among countries of the global South as they worked towards a shared and sustainable future.

AMIR HAMZAH MOHD NASIR (Malaysia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said young people played a crucial role in shaping the 2030 Agenda as the international community worked toward sustained development.  Malaysia’s national youth development policy encompassed leadership and volunteering.  On the former, the Government had developed an initiative allowing Malaysian youth to engage in the policymaking process.  Issues affecting youth included the cost of living and unemployment; another pertinent challenge was social exclusion caused by growing inequality.  Malaysia championed South-South and triangular cooperation to strengthen the transfer of knowledge and skills, as recommended by a related Secretary-General’s report on social development.  Nations could only develop their real potential through inclusive development programmes, he said, noting that Malaysia would continue to work for progress on those issues.

WORAWIT DUMKLANG and JARIDA CHITTRAWAT, youth delegates from Thailand, offered insight into their experiences.  Mr. DUMKLANG said achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals called for the recognition of young people as agents of change.  The ability to absorb information without bias made young people central to bridging the inequality gap.  People-centred, inclusive development also called for greater involvement of older persons in decision-making, he said, noting that Thailand had developed initiatives to foster cultural exchanges between young and older generations.  Ms. CHITTRAWAT said young (people) played a key role in helping migrants of all kinds integrate into society.  Migrants were positive contributors to economic and cultural development, she stressed, adding that they helped to cement prosperity in Thai society (and) must be seen as agents of development.  Multiculturalism could be fostered from an early age in schools, she said, noting that achieving inclusion called for use of the Internet to shape public sentiment and achieve social harmony.

ANNELIES VERSTICHEL (Belgium) said education was a vast topic with both academic and social aspects.  Youth should be involved in school decision-making processes, which would have a positive impact on the schools and students.  MARIAME KEITA and MATHIAS ROMBOUTS, youth delegates, also spoke, with Mr. ROMBOUTS saying that Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) had acknowledged the potential of youth in peacebuilding, which legitimized youth taking action in a whole range of related fields.  Ms. KEITA said quality education was inclusive, but diversity was not always visible, giving as an example her law school classes.  Of more than 400 students, there were only a few with African and Asian origins.  Young people’s socioeconomic backgrounds were strong determinants of educational success, but children should be able to succeed despite any disadvantages affecting them.  While not everyone needed a university degree, all young people should have equal access to a quality education.  Likewise, Member States should invest in support for learners and promote inclusive education.

NAWAL AHMED MUKHTAR (Sudan), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said inclusion must drive the fight against poverty.  Given that education was the main driver of social change, Sudan was implementing programmes to combat poverty with a focus on youth employment and gender equality through a plan to expand access to schooling and to eradicate illiteracy.  Political stability and social development were closely linked, she said, adding that Sudan was pursuing a peace process to consolidate stability and empower the most vulnerable sectors of society.  People with disabilities were also benefiting through Government projects such as microfinancing and housing assistance.  In closing, she called for stronger international cooperation to push for comprehensive social development efforts.

MAHMOOD NAJEM (Bahrain) said youth in the Middle East accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the population and had to be viewed as a “source of social strength”.  With United Nations guidance, Bahrain was developing youth empowerment strategies to ensure their participation towards the achievement of the 2030 Agenda objectives.  Those efforts were incorporating all sectors of society, he said, identifying inclusion as central to working towards the Sustainable Development Goals.  Bahrain had recently hosted youth from around the world to discuss strategies around achieving sustainable development, he said, adding that the economic empowerment of young people would help them to meet labour demands.  Bahrain was also working with the private sector to promote growth, with young people as a guiding force.

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), associating himself with the African Group and Group of 77 and China, said sustainable development was at the core of the country’s economic development plan.  The plan was based on national priorities which covered areas such as food security, social services and poverty eradication.  The Government had introduced several measures to eradicate poverty such as a maize import substitution programme to address food security challenges.  The program allowed the country to achieve a bumper harvest in the 2016-2017 agricultural season and had been expanded to the production of other crops such as soya beans and wheat.  Partnerships with United Nations agencies had also brought progress in the areas of gender equality, HIV and AIDS programs and public administration and governance.  He noted that 1 million Zimbabweans had access to anti-retroviral treatment (ART) this year and the country was moving closer towards achieving universal access for the 1.3 million HIV positive populations.

MARIAME FOFANA (Burkina Faso), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said much progress has been made in youth employment and protection (of) the rights of the vulnerable.  Developing inclusive societies was at the heart of Burkina Faso’s policies, with the Government taking a number of steps in that regard.  It had ratified the Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and national economic and social development plans protected the needs of the youths, persons with disabilities and the elderly.  In addition, legal and regulatory frameworks had been strengthened to allow persons with disabilities to have greater access to employment and basic social services while other programmes had been launched to care for orphans and street children.

DURGA PRASAD BHATTARAI (Nepal), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said the world was witnessing immense strides forward in social development.  However, inequality and exclusion continued to be a harsh reality at a time when security and climate challenges were most directly affecting least developed and landlocked countries.  Inclusion had been identified as the glue to social cohesion and national strength, he said, emphasizing that achieving a pluralistic society was the goal of all Government policies.  Providing some examples, he said Nepal had affirmed its commitment to the economic and political empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups, established constitutional commissions to protect the rights of minorities and provided assistance through social protection schemes for older people and persons with disabilities.

SAMAR SUKKAR (Jordan) said the influx of Syrian refugees and protracted regional crises had pushed her country’s absorptive capacity to its limits.  Jordan 2025: A National Vision and Strategy, however, aimed at achieving a prosperous, resilient and inclusive economy.  The empowerment of women and youth were crucial prerequisites of sustainable development in Jordan and represented the most critical crosscutting themes related to achieving goal set out in the 2030 Agenda.  Together with Norway, Jordan had launched Champions of Youth, a group of countries aimed at continued political commitment to youth agendas of peace and security.  The two countries had also launched the Group of Friends of Preventing Violent Extremism.  As the social development agenda was focused on shared prosperity, burden sharing could not continue to be disproportionate and Jordan remained committed to achieving the 2030 Agenda for the benefit of its citizens and the world.

HAILESELASSIE SUBBA GEBRU (Ethiopia), associating herself with the African Group and the Group of 77 and China, said the world had made progress towards achieving the eradication of poverty, full employment and social integration.  But, conflict and natural disasters had affected gains.  For the good of future implementation of international agreements such as the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, policymakers needed to pay attention to women, the elderly, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees.  Ethiopia, for its part, was working to mitigate climate change consequences, which had been affecting social development.  Other efforts included working to promote equal opportunity for persons with disabilities, enacting a national plan on older persons and taking action on the health needs of persons living with HIV/AIDS.  Poverty would not be solved by growth alone; social protection programmes were critical to reducing poverty over the long term.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that despite remarkable progress in combating poverty, the phenomenon continued to affect millions of people across the globe.  For its part, Azerbaijan was experiencing consistent economic growth that was enhancing the development of social services, with a projected 1 per cent reduction in poverty by 2020.  Efforts included expanded education programmes, assistance to internally displaced persons and initiatives that allowed children with special needs to receive education at home.  The national youth policy focused on awareness raising and empowerment, both nationally and internationally.  Turning to the issues of older persons, he said caring for them was deeply rooted in Azerbaijani culture and, with that in mind, the Government was implementing programmes to strengthen their social protection and promote active ageing.

LILIT GRIGORYAN (Armenia), associating herself with the European Union, said caring for the needs of displaced people posed serious risks and challenges.  Armenia had received over 22,000 displaced persons in recent years and had prioritized their integration and settlement.  In other areas, gains were also being made.  The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs was working with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to implement a project aimed at enhancing access to services for persons with disabilities.  Youth development was also another priority, with targeted education programmes launched to help them reach their full potential.  However, Armenia continued to grapple with challenges that stood in the way of its development agenda, including unilateral coercive measures and closed borders.

MOHAMED SIAD DOUALEH (Djibouti), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said social development was a priority to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Multi-sectoral policies were being implemented to ensure inclusion of all citizens in development strategies.  Building the resilience of its citizens would actively promote their well-being.  With increased focus on young people, those strategies sought to ease the transition into adulthood.  Djibouti was working to ensure the socioeconomic integration of young people through, among other things, vocational programmes to provide skills for young people to pursue positive opportunities.  Focus on education was necessary to build a brighter future.  Inequality posed serious challenges to development.  State policy since 2015 directly supported increasing the purchasing power of marginalized groups.  The Government was targeting development efforts at the most vulnerable households.

Ms. KHALED (Bangladesh), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China, said the key to eradicating poverty was empowering all citizens.  Combating inequality called for the provision of social safety nets, decent employment and financial inclusion.  Better employment opportunities were pivotal to youth development, she said, adding that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals required building social awareness and ensuring sustainable livelihoods.  Bangladesh recognized the need to embrace the demographic shift caused by its increasing older population and was promoting active ageing.  To reach all vulnerable groups, families were identified as the main building block for development.  Bangladesh affirmed its commitment to working with the international community to improve the livelihood of marginalized people, including migrants.

The representative of Morocco handed the floor to two youth delegates, the first, ANAS BEN MEJDOUB, who said he represented dynamic and thriving youth eager to do more for inclusion in society.  Morocco was among those who had called for the active involvement of youth in the General Assembly.  Morocco’s second youth delegate, NOUR MEHADJI, said that while the world changed continuously, so did the issues regarding youth.  Youth saw poverty and economic disparity persisting.  A lack of tolerance in the world led to more and more conflict, undermining the premise of a better future.  Youth in Morocco made up 26 per cent of the population, and the country had put the development of youth at the centre of initiatives.  The integrated national youth strategy targeted strategic goals; the creation in Rabat of the Union of Young African Parliamentarians allowed youth to build a strong African continent. 

CLEMENTINE RIXHON (Luxembourg) said she and her co-delegate were the first youth delegation from Luxembourg and that the rise of populism as well as Brexit had caused young people to revolt and engage to tackle their future.  Young people were rejecting extremism.  Young people who lacked prospects for the future could find responses in radical ideologies; that was also a quandary for the European Union.  Youth had concerns about the welfare of those fleeing violence and poverty, she said, saying that youth cared about human rights and principles of international human rights, such as non-refoulement.  Youth would continue to exert pressure to ensure people left behind were cared for.  Luxembourg’s second youth delegate, MATTHIEU LOHR, said youth acted as agents of peace, yet many young people were too frequently marginalized.  Inclusion mattered, not least because terrorist groups targeted not only young educated people but also marginalized people.

DAVID ULVR and PETRA SYKOROVA, youth delegates from Czech Republic, delivered a joint statement, noting that they were appearing before the Committee as members of the first generation of young people born into the free, democratic, liberal country of the Czech Republic.  While their presence meant that young people in that country were being given consideration, “this is only a start”, and more measures were needed to guarantee a better future.  Calling for the space to create and express their opinion in an atmosphere free of the bias of ageism, and which would provide inclusive, participatory education, they noted that Assembly resolution 70/133 had recognized the importance of youth participation for development and urged Member States and the United Nations to promote new avenues for their participation.  Such participation must be institutionalized in decision-making processes, and youth should be included in the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of development strategies.  Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) had also emphasized the importance of youth participation.

ALBERT SHINGIRO (Burundi), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, welcomed the priority given to reducing poverty and combating exclusion of vulnerable groups.  Burundi had ratified laws protecting people with disabilities and further protections were up for consideration this year.  The Government had set up social protection programmes based on the principle of equality for all.  Turning to young people, he said investing in youth was central to the sustainable development of Burundi.  Plans were in place to establish a youth investment bank to encourage their economic integration.  Gaps in gender equality remained, with high dropout rates among female students.  To that end, schooling was being offered equally to boys and girls.  Burundi called attention to “hasty” unilateral sanctions imposed against it that were negatively affecting vulnerable people.

Mr. DOUTI (Togo), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, said meeting the Togolese people’s expectations called for participatory national development plans.  Togo’s development strategies prioritized improving wellbeing of all citizens, infrastructure development, sustainable use of the environment and consolidating peace.  Community development was being undertaken with United Nations assistance with the recognition that social stability was critical to establishing peace and security.  Those efforts were reaching the most isolated populations.  Turning to youth empowerment, he said employment opportunities, including in the agricultural sector, were central to economic integration.  The construction of decent affordable housing remained a key priority, he said, adding that 5,000 social housing units were expected to be built by 2020.

IBRAHIM K. M. ALMABRUK (Libya), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China and the African Group, underscored the importance of the Secretary-General’s report on social development.  Disparities between rich and developing countries had had a negative impact on economic development.  Growth rates had remained relatively low because financing programmes were insufficient.  Developing countries needed both aid and assistance to build the necessary infrastructure and provide chances for employment.  Libya was going through a difficult transition period, the country was nevertheless doing its best to implement laws on issues such as social security.  Libya was working to ensure schooling for displaced children, and tried to protect children to allow them a better future.  Libya had significant challenges to meet, however, particularly in the area of health.  Young people were a pillar of development, he observed, adding that Libya with its large numbers of young people faced difficulties in meeting its objectives.  However, Libya tried to ensure the participation of youth.

CLARA HALVORSEN, youth representative of Denmark, called for the Sustainable Development Goals to become a reality in the next 13 years.  The Goals constituted a “contract between generations”.  Fulfilment of the contract required development strategies created with youth, rather than for youth.  Denmark had identified young people as a key priority for development cooperation.  Youth-related issues should not be viewed as isolated.   Rather, they had to be incorporated into existing development agendas.  Danish youth organizations were already afforded the opportunities to engage with young people across the world.  Those initiatives fostered inclusion and instilled trust in young people of international mechanisms, she concluded.

HANTASOA FIDA CYRILLE KLEIN (Madagascar), associating herself with the Group of 77 and China and with the African Group, said Madagascar had adopted a programme to improve the lives of people through social protection mechanisms.  Measures included access to basic social services for people in situations of social precariousness.  Young people were at the heart of Madagascar’s initiatives, and the country had adopted important measures allowing youth access to training on family planning, HIV/AIDS and education.  To address the heightened prevalence of early marriages and pregnancy, she said that a new law allowed universal access to family planning.  As for persons with disabilities, Madagascar had multiple initiatives including rights to education.  The conduct of a general census of Malagasy people was needed, as the last one had been held in 1993.  There could be no development without the knowledge of the needs of the people.

JUAN MARCELO ZAMBRANA TORRELIO (Bolivia), associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said realities in the world today were rather discouraging, with social conflict and migratory crises.  Those crises gave a feeling that the world was going backwards and not forward.  States had made commitments to raise the living standards of all, but social gaps seemed to be increasing fast, with wealth becoming concentrated among ever fewer hands.  Bolivia had been implementing new programmes allowing the country to balance the economic and social landscape, and aimed to universalize basic services.  The nationalization of hydrocarbons played a strategic role; from the oil income, Bolivia was building infrastructure.  It was crucial that basic services were recognized as human rights, he said, and that the rights of Mother Earth were recognized. 

KEVIN CASSIDY, the representative of the International Labour Organization (ILO), reiterated the Secretary-General’s message that decent work was the most sustainable path out of poverty.  Voices everywhere were expressing doubts that the global economy could meet people’s expectations.  A lack of employment opportunities was a root cause of many of the problems the international community faced, and there would need to be greater concerted efforts made to tackle stagnating wages and social exclusion.  As the international community attempted to tackle challenges in the field of employment, that field was changing to the degree that it could be called a new industrial revolution.  The ILO would study the future of work; with partners including the World Bank Group and the European Commission, a Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection had been launched, too.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Russian Federation, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, regretted the use of the United Nations by Georgia and Ukraine as a platform to disseminate trumped up and distorted information.  She urged both delegations to acknowledge the actions taken by their own Governments and denounced the politicization of social development issues.

The representative of Georgia said the Russian Federation had continued violating Georgian sovereignty and integrity and had been the perpetrator of military aggression, ethnic cleansing and continued occupation.  He then called on the Russian Federation to honour its international obligations.

The representative of Ukraine said the scale of atrocities that the Russian Federation had committed was a clear breach of its international obligations, adding that Russia had been recognized as an occupying Power.  She noted that, since the start of the Russian occupation of Crimea, mortality rates in the region had increased.

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Concluding Session, High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development Adopts Ministerial Declaration Aimed at Expediting Fulfilment of 2030 Agenda

Language on Multilateral Trading System, Obstacles to Self-Determination of People Living Under Foreign Occupation Retained Following Recorded Votes

The High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development today adopted a Ministerial Declaration aimed at accelerating the pace of implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to lift millions out of poverty, as it closed its 2017 session.

Closing its session on the theme of eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions through promoting sustainable development, expanding opportunities and addressing related challenges, the Forum, by the Declaration (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2), recognized that achieving the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals required bolstered partnerships and urgent action.

However, some speakers representing blocs of countries expressed regret at the omission of key issues in the Declaration.  Ecuador’s representative, speaking for the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, said it was unfortunate that despite a number of proposals some States had made, there was no mention of harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  Echoing a concern shared by other groups of countries, Estonia’s delegate, speaking for the European Union, said that while the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development, many issues that the bloc had been promoted were absent, among them the root causes of migration and issues such as sexual and reproductive health rights.

High-level officials, by adopting the declaration, recognized that eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity required collective and transformative efforts, putting the furthest behind first.  They also acknowledged that while extreme poverty had fallen globally, progress had been uneven and 1.6 billion people still lived in multidimensional poverty.

Prior to adopting the Declaration, the Forum decided, by separate recorded vote, to retain two paragraphs.  By a recorded vote of 104 in favour to 8 against (Australia, Canada, Federated States of Micronesia, Israel, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 4, which called for further effective measures and actions to remove the obstacles to full realization of the right of self-determination of peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, which continued to adversely affect their economic and social development and their environment.

With 112 in favour to 1 against (United States), with 46 abstentions, the Forum decided to retain paragraph 21.  That paragraph stated that efforts would continue to promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non-discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization as well as meaningful trade liberalization.

The Declaration as a whole, adopted without a vote, addressed a number of 2030 Agenda-related issues, touching upon the 17 Goals.  Stressing that climate change was one of the greatest challenges facing humankind, it also recognized pressing challenges to achieve Goals related to gender equality, food insecurity and the role infrastructure, industry and innovation could play in transforming and improving the quality of life for millions.

In terms of implementing the 2030 Agenda, the Declaration stated “there can be no effective implementation, or accountability to our citizens, where no awareness exists.”  It also emphasized the need to take appropriate action towards localizing and communicating all the Goals from grassroots to national levels.

That notion was addressed during the ministerial segment, when ministers and other high-level officials shared experiences and fresh ideas for turning the 2030 Agenda into reality in their countries.  Maria Luisa Navarro, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, summed up a common thread of the day’s discussion, saying “you can govern in a way that reduces poverty” as she pointed to a range of national initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.

Many speakers from developing countries underlined the importance of partnerships in advancing progress on achieving the Goals.  Tekeda Alemu of Ethiopia, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized.  To change that, the international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.

Some speakers underlined the need to foster change and progress in other areas of concern, including gender equality and climate change.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” said Andrew Doyle, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland.  That translated into implementing the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance and as a road map for domestic action.

Likewise, William Amos of Canada said domestic action had been aligned with the Goals.  Abroad, Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change and was executing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address gender inequality.

Throughout the day, the Council heard voluntary national reviews from representatives of Ethiopia, Honduras, India, Maldives, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, Belize, Denmark, Togo, Iran, Cyprus, Botswana, Qatar, Slovenia, Tajikistan and El Salvador.

Participating in the general debate of the ministerial segment were ministers and other senior officials for Cyprus, Sweden, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Estonia, Brazil, Argentina, Sudan, Morocco, Croatia, Hungary, United States, Kenya, Slovakia, Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, Georgia, Latvia, Algeria, France, Colombia and China.

The Economic and Social Council will meet again at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, 20 July to continue its high-level segment.

General debate

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Inclusive and Sustainable Industrial Development, said that empirical evidence had shown that countries and regions that had successfully developed their manufacturing sector had made spectacular progress in poverty reduction.  In developing countries, sustainable industrialization had enabled lasting and inclusive economic growth.  It had also significantly helped to reduce poverty, end hunger, create decent jobs and income, and reduce inequalities.  Unsurprisingly, the world’s poor countries were quite often the least industrialized. 

To get on the path to economic transformation, least developed countries must overcome challenges such as low industrial capacity, lack of access to appropriate technology and knowledge, inadequate capacity to ensure high-quality environmental standards in industry, and the difficulty of attracting investment in nascent industry, he continued.  The international community must play a critical role in helping countries overcome their challenges by supporting investment promotion for all, private sector development, and technology and knowledge transfer.  He highlighted the role of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in assisting developing countries in designing and implementing industrial policies and enhancing local productive capacities.  However, despite its unique role, the organization had witnessed a decreasing membership over the past years, he added, calling for a reversal of that trend.

NICOS KOUYIALIS, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment of Cyprus, said the fact that the Sustainable Development Goals were not binding did not relieve the international community from the responsibility to work towards their implementation.  Action must be taken through national development strategies and the appropriate resource mobilization.  That must include the involvement of civil society and the private sector.  He outlined several national programmes aimed at development of the social, tourism, and rural sectors.  Further to the national policies, Cyprus recognized its role in regional cooperation for achieving a number of targets, primarily Goal 14 on seas and oceans.  Cyprus had taken the initiative with Greece and Israel to draft an action plan that aimed to address marine pollution from oil spills.

ARDALAN SHEKARABI, Minister for Public Administration of Sweden, said that delivering on the agenda required leadership.  He added that Sweden’s foreign policy on gender equality was based on four Rs:  rights, representation, resources, and reality. It advocated reproduction rights and gender equality as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights.  Sweden remained the largest donor per capita to the Green Climate Fund.  “We cannot afford to leave our people and our planet behind,” he continued, adding that leadership was about sharing the burden.  The Ocean Conference in June had stimulated cooperation and partnerships, which were at the heart of the 2030 Agenda.  Decent work contributed to reducing inequality, he added.  Solutions to challenges could be found in many places, including within the United Nations and other international organizations as well as regional platforms.

ÁLVARO GARCÍA, Minister of Budget and Planning of Uruguay, said that no matter how small a country was, it could still implement change that could affect humanity for the better.  The Sustainable Development Goals had become national objectives that required State cooperation.  Uruguay was working in a cross-cutting fashion across its ministries, which had all committed to implementing the targets.  “We must work as a collective, hand-in-hand if we are to achieve the goals established,” he added, emphasising the need to work with civil society.  Additionally, the academic sphere had a critical role to play in identifying the root causes of poverty.  The private sector and official development assistance (ODA) were both imperative in filling national capacity gaps.  Development was multifaceted, he added.

PATRICK A. CHINAMASA, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Zimbabwe, said the Sustainable Development Goals represented a way to address core challenges, including infrastructure and economic growth.  As such, the Goals had been integrated into national plans.  Recognizing the need for partnerships was a key to achieving progress and national efforts were benefiting from collaboration with partners in the areas of health, gender equality and sustainable development.  National priorities were also informed by the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and other relevant strategies.

ADO LOHMUS, Deputy Minister for Environment of Estonia, emphasized the importance of science, technology and innovation.  In that vein, the Government was operating programmes to ensure progress in those areas, including by working towards creating a digital society and supporting e-Government initiatives.  Smart e-solutions were not limited by borders and cooperation and coordination was needed on a global scale.  Pointing at the textile industry as an example, he said efforts should be made to reduce pollution levels and foster solutions.

MARIA LUISA NAVARRO, Vice-Minister for Multilateral Affairs and International Cooperation of Panama, said national efforts had been presented in the voluntary review process.  “You can govern in a way that reduces poverty,” she said, pointing to initiatives aimed at reaching those most in need.  Panama had worked to ensure the better mobilization of finances and strengthened institutions to maintain competitiveness.  It had also made progress in complying with international fiscal standards, bringing in domestic legislation in that regard.  Panama was moving from being a recipient to being a donor and could not afford to see any gains reversed.  A major goal now was to ensure that more women and girls participated in the process.

JOSE ANTONIO MARCONDES DE CARVALHO, Vice-Minister for Environment, Energy, Service and Technology of Brazil, said establishing a national framework for implementing the Goals was essential.  Relevant public policies and action would guide the way to ensure that no one was left behind.  Going forward, inclusive approaches were needed.  Brazil, emerging from a recession, was now working to restore order in public finance in a way that would have a positive impact on employment levels.  The Forum had provided an opportunity for Brazil to focus on finding solutions, with the 2030 Agenda being a road map.  All stakeholders must now adjust actions with a view to achieving the Goals set the 2030 Agenda.

GABRIELA AGOSTO, Executive Secretary of the National Council for Coordination of Social Policies of Argentina, said Latin America was the most unequal region in the world.  The 2030 Agenda enshrined a commitment applicable to all nations.  Argentina would continue to work toward achieving the 2030 Agenda and share its national experience.  The 2030 Agenda required the participation of national Governments, the business sector, civil society and the academic world.  Developing nations needed support in technology and in enhancing capabilities.  She noted the formation of a national cabinet whose ultimate goal was to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, emphasizing the need for public institutions which were democratic and inclusive.  Achieving gender equality and empowering women was a top goal for Argentina, she said, outlining several initiatives including one that made it easier for women to enter the labour market.  She added that the most vulnerable people must be empowered.

IBRAHIM ADAM IBRAHIM MOHAMED, State Minister of Welfare and Social Security of the Sudan, associating himself with the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the Group of Least Developed Countries, and the African Group, said that his Government had implemented a comprehensive framework for development, peace and prosperity.  Sudan had not been able to implement all of its goals but had set up a national mechanism to follow up on the progress.  It also established a five-year economic reform plan and economic policies in favour of disadvantaged people.  A fund had been set up to protect women and children.  Food security remained a focus both at the national and regional levels, he continued, adding that his country had been focused on development for many years.  However, unilateral sanctions, the burden of debt, illegal migration, desertification and internal displacement hampered Sudan’s capacity.  “We need external assistance,” he added.

NEZHA EL OUAFI, Secretary of State to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Sustainable Development of Morocco, said that while efforts had been made to implement the 2030 Agenda, many challenges persisted.  They required the international community’s attention and action.  “By 2030, we can achieve the Sustainable Development Goals but everyone needs to get on board,” she added.  Morocco was working in the legislative and legal spheres to protect the environment.  Setting up a green economy by 2030 required increasing the use renewable electricity.  She also stressed the need to combat all forms of discrimination against women.  All stakeholders must be involved, including the private sector and representatives of civil society.

AMIR MUHAREMI, Assistant Minister for Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, said that as a Mediterranean country, Croatia was keen on protecting ocean, sea and marine resources.  There were several challenges, including growing urbanization of coastal areas, overfishing and global climate change.  It was critical to keep increasing the level of knowledge and introduction of new marine technologies.  Peace was a prerequisite to eliminating poverty, he added, also pledging his country’s continued fight against chronic non-communicable diseases.  Croatia also aimed to promote healthy lifestyles.  Ending hunger required tackling the great amount of food waste, he said, adding that Croatia was actively helping develop European Union guidelines in facilitating food donations.

ANDREW DOYLE, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture of Ireland, said 2030 Agenda was being implemented domestically and with partners abroad.  Developing country partners’ efforts were being supported, using the Goals as an overarching framework for guiding and monitoring development assistance.  “Leaving no one behind means combating climate change and ending poverty together,” he said, noting the detrimental effects on fragile States and vulnerable groups.  “As challenges for poor communities intensify, Ireland will continue to focus in particular on action to help such communities to adapt and, in the longer term, to end extreme poverty, hunger and undernutrition by 2030.”

FERENC DANCS, Deputy Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said national implementation steps included determining priorities and strategies to ensure a sustainable future.  Hungary held conferences on related issues, including trafficking and child labour, to examine ways to address challenges.  Several new policies had aimed at, among other things, strengthening child-care services and employment.  Gains had also been made in health-related areas.  Abroad, Hungary was helping developing countries in their effort to lift people out of poverty.

WILLIAM AMOS, Member of Parliament of Canada, said domestic priorities were aligned with the Goals and included investing in infrastructure, renewing a relationship with indigenous peoples and reaching gender balance targets.  Abroad, Canada was implementing its new feminist international assistance policy by working with countries to address inequality.  Priority areas included promoting respect for sexual and reproductive health rights and women’s economic rights.  Turning to climate change, he said Canada was contributing to efforts to implement the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Moving forward on all the Goals, innovative and new ways must address financing gaps to ensure the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

NERISSA COOK, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organizations of the United States, underlined the importance of identifying steps required for progress.  Efforts must ensure that the United Nations system remained effective, she said, calling on the Organization to better coordinate its work.  “We need a new way of doing business,” she said, one that would lead to cost-cutting and more results.  Reduction of overlap must occur and there must be a push to stop the tired, stale debates at United Nations Headquarters and focus on those in need.  Initial progress had been seen, but more should be done to make the United Nations even better than it was with regard to achieving development goals.

WILSON IRUNGU NYAKERA, Principal Secretary, State Department for Planning, Ministry of Devolution of Kenya, said Kenya’s Vision 2030, the country’s long-term development blueprint, mirrored the 2030 Agenda.  Underscoring the need for quality, reliable and timely data, he said that Kenya was building the capacity of its Bureau of Statistics to allow for effective reporting on the implementation of the Goals.  Kenya continued to put in place targeted economic empowerment programmes aimed at specific segments of the population, particularly the youth, women and persons living with disabilities.  To ensure universal access to comprehensive health care, the National Hospital Insurance Fund had been reformed to include the introduction of free maternal health in all public health facilities and to address disparities among regions.  In addition, the country had adopted a devolved system of Government that had decentralized both services and resources to the subnational levels.  Kenya recognized the critical role of infrastructure, industrialization and innovation in the achievement of its long-term development goals and had instituted programmes to empower youth to enable them to participate effectively in productive economic activities.

ALENA SABELOVA, Director-General, Office of the Government of Slovakia, said the world did not have the “luxury to even waste one day” in the fight against poverty.  It was clear that the implementation of the 2030 Agenda would require open minds in the area of policymaking.  While progress had been made, there was still a long way to go.  Slovakia was ready to carry its sustainable development responsibilities in solidarity with the most vulnerable people.  The Government had already adopted a national strategy with help from the academic sector and it would convene next week to discuss a road map for achieving the 2030 Agenda.  Slovakia’s national framework aimed to engage all stakeholders, particularly civil society.  “No real progress can be achieved without paying attention to those most in need,” she added.  A complex review mechanism, soon to be introduced, would help ensure that resources were being used in the most effective manner.

JEONG JINKYU, Director-General of the Development Cooperation Bureau of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, noted efforts to improve domestic implementation of the 2030 Agenda as well as the country’s efforts to help developing nations achieve the Goals.  The Republic of Korea was deeply interested in providing assistance to the most vulnerable, although efforts to combat poverty, however laudable, would fall well short of achieving prosperity without fairness, justice and equal opportunities for all.  Government efforts alone would not be enough to realize the vision of poverty eradication, and in that context the private sector’s contribution to and participation in development cooperation was of great importance.

MATTHEW RYCROFT of the United Kingdom, associating himself with the European Union, said no task was more urgent than eradicating extreme poverty.  However, Governments alone would not be able to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  “We need the private sector to be there with us,” he said.  Meeting the goals also depended highly on how the multilateral system responded to global challenges.  The United Kingdom would continue to aid those caught in crises and at risk of violence.  It would also strengthen its work on gender equality and boost its focus on helping persons with disabilities and combating child exploitation.  He stressed the need to deepen understanding of vulnerable populations and partner with civil society and the private sector.  Delivering a short statement on behalf of the Champions of Women’s Economic Empowerment, comprising 17 Member States, he said more must be done to address the gender opportunity gap worldwide. Governments must push structural change, he continued, encouraging Member States to consider the group’s recommendations in their national plans.

NINO TKHILAVA, Head of the Department of Environment Policy and International Relations, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Protection of Georgia, said his Government had recently established a council that brought together task forces committed to planning, monitoring and evaluating policy.  Georgia had also improved the environment for entrepreneurs and was promoting green growth.  It was also taking specific measures to alleviate extreme poverty, including with a social assistance programme which provided cash benefits for those living in extreme poverty.  Georgia had also taken steps to expand access to health care with a programme that covered the basic package of planned and emergency in-and-out-patient clinical care, including oncology and maternity services.  On the agriculture front, the Government was working to foster competitiveness and it was promoting the steady growth of high-quality food production.  Georgia was also focused on ways to ensure gender equality and empower women.

MARA SIMANE, Adviser, Cross-sectoral Coordination Centre, Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia, associating herself with the European Union, said that the time had come for pragmatic action.  That meant mainstreaming the 2030 Agenda into national budgets and plans.  Latvia had created its own development programme in 2010, under which it fully supported policy coherence, the effective use of resources and building synergies.  However, to deliver on the 2030 Agenda, strengthened United Nations action would be vitally important.  Latvia continued to support the targets on gender equality and peaceful and inclusive societies as those Goals accelerated achievement of all the other ones.  Latvia also supported public sector reform and combating corruption.  She noted the 2030 Agenda’s universal nature and said that today’s global challenges transcended borders.  In the same vein, results would depend on attention to detail and leaders who could make critical choices, she added.  

BELHIMEUR MERZAK, Director-General of International Economic and Social Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Algeria, said that it was up to the international community to gain consensus and overcome inertia and procrastination.  Eradicating poverty was a top priority in his country’s development policies, he continued, adding that Algeria had achieved almost all the Millennium Development Goals before the 2015 deadline.  In order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, Algeria had set up a national strategy with human well-being at its centre.  Social programmes aimed to protect the most vulnerable by combating the negative impacts of natural disasters, building low-cost housing, and helping young people find jobs. Implementing the 2030 Agenda would require international commitment, particularly in Africa where 40 per cent of the population still lived in poverty.  The United Nations had a major role to play in raising-awareness and advocacy.

HATEM CHAKROUN (France) said national and international efforts included steps such as building a Sustainable Development Goals’ community and selecting indicators most relevant for domestic action.  The 2030 Agenda was a new social contract aimed at getting all stakeholders involved.  Succeeding in energy, environmental and territorial efforts were essential to protect the planet.  France had launched an appeal in June to call for a new global pact for the environment.  That pact would render ongoing efforts easier because all related principles would be enshrined in one text.  Climate partners must strengthen their collective efforts to ensure future success.

MARIA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said ambitious results must be achieved and greater action was needed to achieve genuine sustainable development.  Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls would make a decisive contribution towards achieving the Goals, including respecting their sexual and reproductive rights.  If that happened, the global economy would be more dynamic.  Without an international environment that fostered the movement of financial flows, it would be impossible to achieve the 2030 Agenda.  In addition, all stakeholders must participate in what should be an inclusive effort.

LIU JIEYI (China) said development must be a priority and countries needed to align their strategies with the 2030 Agenda.  Major international cooperative initiatives should help countries in their efforts to move ahead and States must work towards a global partnership.  Developed countries must honour their aid commitments and provide more access to assistance for other countries.  All countries must work to create a new type of international relations concerning climate change issues.  For its part, China was taking steps to implement the 2030 Agenda.

Adoption of Ministerial Declaration

The Forum then turned to the ministerial declaration on the theme of “Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world” (document E/2017/L.29-E/HLPF/2017/L.2).  A vote was requested on operative paragraph 4.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of Israel said he called for a vote due to the politicized language contained in the paragraph.  Such language aimed to single out Israel and shine a spotlight on a highly controversial issue that did not belong in the Economic and Social Council.  Israel had constructively engaged in the Forum’s informal negotiations and opposed making the Forum yet another political battleground against Israel.

By a recorded vote of 104 in favour, to eight against (Australia, Canada, Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 48 abstentions, operative paragraph 4 was retained. 

Another recorded vote was requested on operative paragraph 21, with the results as follows:  112 in favour to one against (United States), with 46 abstentions, which meant the paragraph was retained.  

Speaking after the vote, the representative of Mexico said it was absurd to reiterate the fact that the rights of women and children were human rights.  Some delegations felt uncomfortable speaking of gender equality and the empowerment of women.  “We cannot understand why people do not understand that without women and girls our societies could not grow or prosper,” he added.  It was skewed practice to analyse one group of goals rather than all of them together.  He expressed support for paragraph 21.  Noting that some delegations were trying to change the Addis Ababa Action Plan, he said it was not the right place nor time to reopen what had already been agreed.  The Paris Agreement on climate change must be upheld as well.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia and New Zealand, reaffirmed support to the World Trade Organization.  Public policy and mobilizing the effective use of domestic resources was central to the common pursuit of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  For the first time since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Plan, core objectives to meeting those goals were omitted from the Ministerial Declaration.  It was for that reason his country and others had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Japan, in explanation of vote, said his country had not broken the silence procedure as it accepted the draft as a whole, though some parts were not satisfactory.  Paragraph 21 was not balanced and had focused too much on economic models.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from the vote.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, emphasized the importance of self-determination and sovereignty.  Unfortunately, several issues of concern did not appear in the Ministerial Declaration, including issues such as harmony with nature and the distribution of wealth.  On the means of implementation, the text had not included fundamental issues such as acknowledgement of the need to have an economically enabling environment and the need for States to honour their ODA obligations.  However, the Group had supported the text to demonstrate its commitment to the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Estonia, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said the text was balanced in its treatment of the three pillars of sustainable development.  Yet, many issues that the bloc had promoted were absent.  He regretted to say that there was no mention of the root causes of migration.  Even though references to gender equality appeared early in the text, he expressed dissatisfaction in the way the issue was handled.  For instance, paragraph 17 did not align with Goal 5.  The 2030 Agenda had already identified Goal 5.3, 5.6 and 5.8 as integral to progress.  Leaving out issues such as sexual and reproductive rights was not acceptable.

The representative of Barbados, speaking on behalf of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and associating himself with the Group of 77 and China as well as the Alliance of Small Island States, said that while the outcome document was not perfect, it best reflected consensus after weeks of consultations.  Two years after the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, it was important to be conscious of the fact that “time is not on our side”.  Small island developing States required particular support and assistance as they worked to achieve the 2030 Agenda as well as the Samoa Pathway.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Albania, Andorra Iceland, Monaco and New Zealand, said the language on Goal 5 on empowering women and girls departed from the 2030 Agenda.  The 2030 Agenda had recognized the link between achieving both gender equality and sustainable development, she continued, expressing concern that the elimination of harmful practices carried out against women and girls was omitted from the Declaration.  Such language was essential as women continued to be denied their basic human rights.  While she had joined today’s consensus, that “did not mean we accept a weakening of what we agreed to”.  It was imperative that Member States demonstrate the highest calibre of leadership.

The representative of Canada remained concerned that the Declaration’s language failed to reflect what was agreed in the 2030 Agenda.  When leaders gathered in New York in 2015 they committed to taking steps to give women equal rights.  Those commitments remained as critical as ever to “leaving no one behind”.  An estimated $28 trillion was missing from global gross domestic product (GDP) because no country had yet managed to achieve gender equity.  Women and girls deserved to have the same opportunity as men and boys.  Women and girls continued to be subjected to discrimination and violence and did not have access to information they needed to make healthy decisions.

The representative of the United States said she joined Israel in voting against operative paragraph 4 because some Member States had attempted to politicize sustainable development.  On operative paragraph 21 and its mention of the World Trade Organization, she said it was not appropriate for United Nations members to comment on the membership of another international organization, particularly one that was not part of the United Nations.  The United States disassociated itself from portions of paragraph 7 referring to climate change.  She noted President Trump’s recent withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and reiterated her Government’s openness to renegotiating a text that would be beneficial to the United States.  She also expressed disappointment that trafficking in persons was not mentioned in the Declaration and that women and girls had not been referenced earlier.

The representative of Switzerland said more must be done to avoid holding recorded votes on parts of such declarations.  Switzerland supported some passages of the text on which votes had been called, he said, emphasizing that gender equality and trade were important issues and calling on all delegates to spare no effort to ensure consensus in the future.

The representative of Morocco regretted the absence in the Declaration of the 2030 Agenda’s recognition of territorial integrity, yet in the interest of consensus his delegation had supported the Declaration.

The representative of the Russian Federation, noting that the Declaration reflected interests in a balanced way, disagreed with attempts to interpret issues or to add new points to them.  He regretted to say that for two years, the Forum had been unable to avoid holding recorded votes on paragraphs, as it had today.  That trend would have a negative impact on the perception of the Forum as a platform to implement the Goals, he said, encouraging all States to implement the 2030 Agenda.

The representative of Venezuela emphasized the importance of the sovereign and permanent management of natural resources by States and rejected the pillaging of resources in cases of occupation.  Unfortunately, the Palestinian people and those living under foreign occupation could not benefit from their natural resources, he said, also calling for an end of unilateral and coercive economic policies.

The representative of France underscored a legal point, emphasizing that all rights must be enjoyed by all people and not just a few.

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Economic and Social Council Adopts Texts on Sustainable Development, HIV/AIDS, Population Concerns, ahead of High-Level Political Forum

Ahead of its High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development set to begin on Monday, the Economic and Social Council today adopted draft resolutions on sustainable development, HIV/AIDS and population and development, among other issues.

Acting without a vote on all items before it today, the Council adopted a resolution titled “Report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on its sixteenth session”, which underlined the Committee’s contribution to the Political Forum on the subject of challenges for institutions in eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world, stressing that Governments had a central role in that process and in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  The Council stressed that ending poverty required a whole-of-government approach as well as building the skills and capacities of elected officials at the local level.  With the adoption of the draft decision also contained in that report, the Council approved the provisional agenda of the seventeenth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration. 

Adopting a resolution titled “Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS”, known as UNAIDS, the Council recognized that the AIDS epidemic was not yet over and stressed the urgency of fast-tracking the AIDS response to meet the 2020 milestones and targets, as a prerequisite for ending the pandemic by 2030.  It also urged UNAIDS to continue the full, effective and timely implementation of its 2016-2021 strategy.  By other terms, the Council stressed the need for the Joint Programme to continue to set a path for reform by revising and updating its operating model, particularly in the areas of financing and accountability.  Noting the need to close the HIV and AIDS resource gap, it stressed the importance of a fully funded unified budget, results and accountability framework for the Joint Programme’s effective functioning.

The Council also adopted three draft decisions contained in the report of the Commission on Population and Development, including one by which it decided that beginning with its fifty-third session in 2020, the Commission would adopt a four-year cycle for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, as part of a multi-year work programme aligned with the thematic focus of the Political Forum.

On organizational matters, the Council adopted a text approving a list of nine non-governmental organizations seeking to make statements during the Council’s high-level segment this year.

Throughout the day, the Council heard from the heads of several of its relevant subsidiary bodies, who underscored the progress and challenges in their respective fields.

Jose Castelazo (Mexico), Committee of Experts on Public Administration, joining via video link from Mexico, stressing that effective institutions were essential for achieving the development goals, said Governments must consider informing legislative bodies in relation to the Goals where parliaments had not yet taken a proactive role in implementation.  Sectoral ministries had a critical role in developing and implementing policies in their respective areas as well.  Because poverty was multidimensional, it must be pursued by all parts of Government and through integrated policies, he added, noting the continued weakness in governance, including corruption.  

Morten Ussing, UNAIDS Chief of Governance and Multilateral Affairs, told the Council that sustained and bold political commitment had promoted the implementation of sound policies that would make it possible to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.  However, reiterating what was stated in the resolution, he said the epidemic was far from over.  Particularly vulnerable groups — including women, drug users and men who have sex with men — continued to be marginalized and “forced into the shadows”.  The funding environment of UNAIDS remained extremely challenging, he added, calling for support from Member States. 

Alya Ahmed Saif Al-Thani (Qatar), Chair of the fiftieth session of the Commission on Population and Development, noted that participants in the session had pointed to the long-term changes taking place in the age distribution of the world population, with people living longer and having smaller families due to various social and economic factors.  Expressing concern that the Commission had — for the second time in the last three years — failed to achieve consensus on the draft resolution before it, she called on Member States to “open our hearts and minds” and strive harder to reach agreement in future sessions.

Other topics addressed today included follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development, the United Nations Forum on Forests and human settlements.

Public Administration and Development

JOSE CASTELAZO (Mexico), Committee of Experts on Public Administration, joining via video link from Mexico, presented the report of the Committee’s sixteenth session from 24-28 April 2017 (document E/2017/44-E/C.16/2017/8).  He said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development continued to be at the centre of the Committee’s work, adding that effective institutions were essential for the achievement of the Development Goals.  Questions remained on how best to transform institutions so that Governments could play a central role in reaching their sustainable development aspirations.  Governments should consider informing legislative bodies in relation to the Goals where Parliaments had not yet taken a proactive role in implementation.  Sectoral ministries also had a critical role in developing and implementing policies in their respective areas.  Because poverty was multidimensional, it must be pursued by all parts of Government and through integrated policies, he added, noting the continued weakness in governance, including corruption.  Governments often needed to work with civil society and the private sector to offer opportunities for those most in need.  Local authorities and communities had a critical role to play as well. 

The Council then turned to chapter 1, section A of the report, which contained a draft resolution titled “Report of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration on its 16th session”.  The Council adopted the text without a vote.

Turing to the draft decision contained in chapter 1, section B titled “Provisional agenda of the seventeenth session of the Committee of Experts on Public Administration”, the Council adopted it without a vote.

United Nations Forum on Forests

PETER BESSEAU (Canada), Chair of the twelfth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests, introduced the report of that session held on 26 April 2016 and 1‑5 May 2017 (document E/2017/42-E/CN.18/2017/8), noting that it had been the first such session since the adoption of the “landmark” United Nations Strategic Plan on Forests earlier this year.  In accordance with that document, participants at the session had held technical discussions focused on the exchange of experiences as well as a series of high-level panels related to the role of forests in the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals.  The discussions had focused in particular on poverty eradication, food security, the empowerment of women and girls and the means of implementation for sustainable forest management, he said.

Recalling that a wide range of stakeholders had participated in those discussions — including representatives of private sector entities and senior representatives of the organizations comprising the Collaborative Partnership on Forests — he said the outcomes would contribute to the Council’s 2017 High-Level Political Forum.  Information transmitted to that body would include practical policy recommendations on ways to accelerate poverty eradication through the sustainable management of forests.  The session had also considered ways to improve the delivery of voluntary national contributions and enhance cooperation and coordination on forest-related issues.  It had generated several solid outcomes to form the basis for discussions at its next session in May 2018 as well as during the intersessional period.

Acting without a vote, the Council then adopted a draft decision contained in chapter 1, section A, entitled “Report of the United Nations Forum on Forests on its twelfth session and provisional agenda for its thirteenth session”, by which it took note of the Forum’s report and approved the provisional agenda.

Follow-up to the International Conference on Financing for Development

The Council turned its attention to the report of its 2017 forum on financing for development follow-up (document E/FFDF/2017/3), taking note of a recommendation contained therein, by which the Council agreed to transmit to the High-Level Political Forum on sustainable development a number of intergovernmentally agreed conclusions and recommendations.  Among those were an expression of concern about the significant impacts of the challenging global environment in 2016 on national efforts to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, a reaffirmation of the cross-cutting nature of the global sustainable development agenda and statements of recommitment to ensuring that no country or person was left behind and to focusing on places where the challenges were greatest.

Following that action, the representative of the United States — while noting that her delegation had joined the consensus — nevertheless reaffirmed the various statements and dissociations stated by her delegation at the Forum itself.

Human Settlements

FILIEP DECORTE, Acting Director of the New York Liaison Office, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), introduced the Secretary-General’s report titled “Coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda” (document E/2017/61) and the report of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT of its twenty-sixth session in Nairobi from 8‑12 May 2017 (document A/72/8).  The Secretary-General’s report, the final report of its kind, highlighted the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda, the legacy of the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (HABITAT II) in Istanbul in 1996, and preparations undertaken for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (HABITAT III).  At the regional level, UN-HABITAT continued to support the preparations for ministerial meetings in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.  ]

He said the Secretary-General’s report contained four recommendations for Member States:  work towards the implementation of the New Urban Agenda, support the work of UN-HABITAT as a focal point for sustainable urbanization, promote the leading role of national Governments, and strengthen subnational and local governments in local implementation.  The Governing Council’s report of its May session in Nairobi outlined various outcomes of that meeting, including the nine resolutions adopted, among them promoting safety in cities and enhancing the role of UN-HABITAT in urban crisis response.

The representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, introduced the draft resolution titled “Human settlements” (document E/2017/L.26).  By its terms, the Economic and Social would take note of the Secretary-General’s report on the coordinated implementation of the Habitat Agenda and the preparations for Habitat III and decide to transmit that report to the General Assembly for consideration at its seventy-second session.  The Council would also recall that the Secretary-General would report on the progress of implementing the New Urban Agenda every four years and look forward to the first report to be submitted to the General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council in 2018.

The Council then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Following adoption, the representative of Kenya, associating himself with the Group of 77 and China, said he joined consensus on the adoption of the resolution and looked forward to the effective implementation of the report and the New Urban Agenda.

The Council also took note of the report of the Governing Council of UN-HABITAT on its twenty-sixth session.

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

MORTEN USSING, Chief of Governance and Multilateral Affairs, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), introduced the Secretary-General’s note (document E/2017/62) transmitting the report of UNAIDS Executive Director.  The 2030 Agenda was very important to the AIDS response as it committed to ending the epidemic by 2030, he said.  Sustained and bold political commitment had promoted the implementation of sound policies in countries where evidence was now informing the response.  Such substantial advances had reaffirmed that ending AIDS as a public health threat was actually achievable by 2030.  More people had been reached with HIV treatment and the number of AIDS-related deaths had significantly fallen.  However, prevention services must continue to be scaled up.  There was a clear relationship between progress and growing domestic investment, which in Africa was being propelled by the African Union.

Nonetheless, the epidemic was far from over, representing the second cause of death on that continent and the first cause of death of women of reproductive age worldwide, he said.  In addition, only 60 per cent of people living with HIV/AIDS were actually aware of their status, he added, spotlighting especially vulnerable groups, including drug users and men who have sex with men.  Those groups continued to be marginalized and “forced into the shadows”.  While domestic resources to address the pandemic had increased in the past decade, overall investment in low- and middle-income countries had recently flat-lined.  The funding environment of UNAIDS remained extremely challenging, he noted, calling for support from Member States.  

The representative of Germany said that ending the epidemic was an essential element of sustainable development.  He called the text well-balanced and said that it had highlighted the crucial role of UNAIDS in eradicating AIDS by 2030.  The draft also captured the unique and multisectoral nature of the Joint Programme.

The representative of Estonia said that despite immense progress in eradicating the disease, difficult challenges remained.  Discrimination against those affected had continued, she added, stressing the need to address the matter of infections among the most vulnerable populations.  Awareness-raising, testing and diagnosing the disease early on were essential for accessing prompt care.  “We need novel and innovative resources,” she said, reiterating the need to invest more in prevention and treatment. 

The representative of Zimbabwe said that sub-Saharan Africa had continued to bear the heaviest burden.  Noting progress made in combating the epidemic, particularly in advancing access to antiretroviral treatment, he said it remained a major challenge, particularly in his region.  He urged the international community to maintain political will and financial commitment in its response.  For Zimbabwe, young women and girls were disproportionately affected by the pandemic, he added, stressing the need to eliminate discrimination and violence against them.  He expressed concern about the major funding gap and spotlighted how support from the international community had played an essential role in providing treatment in his country.  The fight against AIDS could not be won in isolation.

The representative of Ghana, speaking in her capacity as Chair of the UNAIDS Coordinating Board and on behalf of the United Kingdom, which served as its Vice-Chair, said the Secretary-General’s report before the Council demonstrated the critical role of UNAIDS in positioning and coordinating the global HIV/AIDS response at the international level.  Remarkable progress had been achieved against the backdrop of uncertainty regarding the Joint Programme’s funding and future.  By mid-2016 some 18.2 million people had been receiving antiretroviral treatment and the rates of new infection had fallen.  The rate of new infections among children had been halved between 2010 and 2015.  The 2015 UNAIDS “fast-track” strategy to end HIV/AIDS had been the first in the system to be aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Nevertheless, she said, the epidemic was far from over, with 2.1 million new infections in 2015.  Young women and girls were at particular risk, 40 per cent of those living with HIV were still unaware of their status and regional disparities in treatment were still prevalent.  There was also a worrying decrease in the global funding response, with an annual investment gap of about $7 billion.  Encouraging donors to remain engaged in that respect, she said all those issues were captured in the text currently before the Council.  The document reflected consensus across regional groups and struck a balance between welcoming strides made in the HIV/AIDS response, expressing concern about the critical challenges that remained and recommitting to ending the epidemic by 2030.

The United Kingdom’s representative, also voicing his delegation’s strong support to UNAIDS and to the text before the Council, expressed concern about the significant funding gap which had left 28 per cent of the 2016 UNAIDS core budget unfunded.  Underscoring the need to reposition the Joint Programme in line with the 2030 Agenda and to equip it with the necessary resources to fulfil its mandate, he said the United Kingdom had recently approved a new five-year funding commitment to UNAIDS and called on other donors — both current and new — to do the same.

The representative of the United States agreed that it was critical for all partners to continue to fight the HIV/AIDS epidemic, stressing that a shared responsibility and increased investment was needed in that regard.  Pointing to insufficient progress in reducing new infections among young women and girls, as well as other remaining challenges, he encouraged UNAIDS to invite new donors from both the public and private sectors and urged Member States to scale up funding for the global response.

Turning to a draft resolution titled “Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS” (document E/2017/L.27), the Council adopted the text without a vote.

Adoption of the Agenda and Other Organizational Matters

The Council then approved requests from nine non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council to be heard by the Council at the high-level segment of its 2017 session, as contained in document E/2017/73.

Population and Development

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar), Chair of the fiftieth session of the Commission on Population and Development, introduced the report of that session (document E/2017/25) held on 15 April 2016 and 3‑7 April 2017.  Recalling that the session’s theme had been “Changing population age structures and sustainable development”, she said it had provided an occasion for the Commission to focus on Chapter VI of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development on population growth and age structure.  Some participants had pointed to the long-term changes taking place in the age distribution of the world population, with broad consensus emerging on the importance of taking those shifts into account as Member States sought to implement the 2030 Agenda.  States had, for the first time, shared their experiences through a “national voluntary presentations” segment, she said.

Despite extensive informal consultations, she went on, Member States had not reached consensus on all the issues addressed in a draft resolution before them.  In the end, she had withdrawn her proposed text and received authorization from the Commission to prepare a summary of the deliberations, which was contained in the report being presented today.  Besides the three draft decisions contained in that report, she also drew attention to two decisions adopted by the Commission — namely, one determining that the themes for its fifty-first and fifty-second sessions would be “Sustainable cities, human mobility and international migration” and “Review and appraisal of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and its contributions to the follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development”, respectively, and a second taking note of several documents considered by the Commission. 

Briefly outlining some of the main themes emerging from the session’s discussions, she said participants had acknowledged that the transition towards longer lives and smaller families appeared to be universal and that those shifts were influenced by various social and economic factors.  Expressing concern that the Commission had — for the second time in the last three years — failed to achieve consensus on the draft resolution before it, she called on Member States to “open our hearts and minds” and strive harder to reach agreement in future sessions.

The Council then adopted, without a vote, three draft decisions contained in chapter 1, section A of the report.  By the terms of the first, entitled “Report of the Commission on Population and Development on its fiftieth session and provisional agenda for its fifty-first session”, the Council took note of the report and approved the provisional agenda.  By the terms of the second, entitled “Report on the flow of financial resources for assisting in the further implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”, it requested the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide a report on that topic — including technical recommendations and information on a potential revision of the methods, categories and data sources used as the basis for preparing the report — to be reviewed by the Commission at its fifty-first session.

By the terms of the third draft decision, entitled “Multi-year work programme of the Commission on Population and Development, including the cycle for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development”, the Council decided that, beginning with its fifty-third session in 2020, the Commission on Population and Development would adopt a four-year cycle for the review and appraisal of the implementation of the Programme of Action, as part of a multi-year work programme aligned with the Council’s main theme and with the thematic focus of the High-Level Political Forum.

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World Must Move Beyond ‘Globalization of Exclusion’, UNCTAD President Says, as Economic and Social Council Opens Financing for Development Forum

Populism and xenophobia were challenging global solidarity at a moment when States should be working together to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, speakers stressed today as the Economic and Social Council opened its forum on financing for development follow-up.

The future of globalism was in question, warned Christopher Onyanga Aparr, President of the Trade and Development Board, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), in the forum’s opening session, highlighting that global output had slowed to 2.2 per cent in 2016, down from 2.6 per cent in 2014 and 2015, while large emerging economies had registered weak or negative growth.

The world must move beyond a “globalization of exclusion”, which had left behind the poorest, including those in the developed world who embraced nativism and populism, he emphasized.

Due to difficulties following the 2008 financial crisis, 2017 would likely be the sixth year of trade growth below 6 per cent, a state seen only once in the 70-year history of the global trading system, noted Yonov Frederick Agah, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  “This situation deserves our attention,” he emphasized, adding that it was difficult to imagine a robust economic recovery without growth in trade, although with the right mix of policies, trade could drive economic recovery.

Protectionist rhetoric was cause for alarm, stressed the representative of Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, who called for an inclusive, non-discriminatory trading system under WTO auspices in line with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Developed countries must also play their role and honour their official development assistance commitments, she stressed.

Despite signs of global economic recovery, a distrust of globalization had led to a tightening of policies that compounded uncertainty, said Shamshad Akhtar, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), speaking on behalf of the five United Nations regional commissions.  The debate on the management and composition of tax systems needed to intensify, she stressed, pointing out that people’s willingness to pay taxes were influenced by perceptions as to how well those revenues were used.

Public resources must be used in a smarter way, including as a catalyst to mobilize more public and private funding, said the representative of the European Union.  He went on to describe a new European Union external investment plan that would earmark some €4 billion from the bloc’s budget to hopefully generate at least €44 billion in additional investments in higher-risk sectors in developing countries.  “We are determined to make our development cooperation more effective and to assist others in their efforts,” he declared.

Countries were thinking more systematically about how to mobilize domestic and international resources to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, and efforts were under way to align financial flows and policies with those objectives, said Tegegnework Gettu, Acting Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).  Nevertheless, an implementation gap remained amid the slowest global growth rate since the 2008 financial crisis, he said, adding that it was critical to complement long-term investment — in resilience and sustainable infrastructure, for example — with measures to help the poor.

In a video message, Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), underscored the importance of securing adequate financing for development and stressed that cooperation between institutions was critical for success.  In that context, she emphasized the important relationship between IMF and the United Nations, saying that the only way to achieve the Goals was through open communication and collaboration.

Domestic resource mobilization was a major area of focus for the World Bank Group, highlighted Mahmoud Mohieldin, Senior Vice-President for the 2030 Development Agenda, United Nations Relations and Partnerships, World Bank Group.  Analysis suggested that many lower-income countries had the potential to increase their tax ratios by at least 2 to 4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), without compromising fairness or growth, he added.

The first priority of bolstered investments in sustainable development could stimulate global growth, said Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, who continued that growth alone would not eradicate poverty.  That would need more targeted measures, with social protection floors directly ameliorating the lives of the poor and vulnerable, he noted.

In the afternoon, two panel discussions took place on fostering policy coherence in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, as well as on inequalities and inclusive growth.

General statements were also delivered by representatives of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Panama, Kiribati, Nepal, Guatemala, Tonga, Belarus (on behalf of Like-Minded Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries) and the Netherlands.

The forum will continue at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 22 May.

Opening Remarks

FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), President of the Economic and Social Council, opened the 2017 forum on financing for development, recalling the 2015 adoption of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, and with it, a comprehensive financing framework to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  Realizing the Goals in a timely manner made the Addis Agenda more important than ever.  “The eyes of the world are upon us,” he said, stressing that there was no option but to live up to expectations.

Recalling that the forum brought together stakeholders to identify challenges to the financing for development outcomes and delivery of the means of implementation for the Goals, he said its recommendations included a range of policy measures to change the trajectory of the global economy.

He said the special high-level meeting with the Bretton Woods institutions, World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) had served as a focal point since 2002 for major institutional stakeholders to interact with Member States, offering an invaluable opportunity to promote coherence, coordination and cooperation in common efforts to implement financing for development outcomes.  Noting that the schedule included ministerial round tables, he said the forum had a moral duty to “use this opportunity wisely” to advance the world toward achieving the Goals and ensure that promises made were promises kept.  As mandated in the Addis Agenda, the outcome of the forum would be fed into the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development.

AMINA MOHAMMED, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaking via video message, recalled that the Addis Agenda, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change had provided a road map for a better future for all.  Key elements of that road map would come under scrutiny during the forum, she said, including the need for long-term, high-quality investment and urgent measures to improve the well-being of the poor and vulnerable.  The forum was an opportunity to reaffirm the collective commitment to action for sustainable development, which was the best mechanism to prevent further crises.

She encouraged participants to share their experiences with others and urged all countries to seek out and forge meaningful partnerships.  A true global partnership for sustainable development must be grounded in equality, solidarity and human rights.  Developed countries needed to deliver and countries of the global South had to pursue further South-South and triangular cooperation.

CHRISTINE LAGARDE, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), delivered a video message in which she underscored the importance of securing adequate financing for development and stressed that cooperation between institutions was critical for success.  She underlined the important relationship between IMF and the United Nations and said that the only way to achieve the Goals was through open communication and collaboration.  The Addis Agenda was vitally importance and in that context, the Fund was advancing it in several ways.

The IMF continued to strengthen the global financial architecture and assist countries seeking outside financing, while also boosting domestic revenue mobilization, which would be critical for developing countries, she said.  The Fund had also boosted capacity-building support and increased cooperation with the United Nations, while also evaluating the negative impact of illicit financial flows on development efforts, including by supporting reforms that addressed money‑laundering and terrorist financing through systemic risk assessments.  The IMF was engaging with small States to help them build their macroeconomic and financial resistance to natural disasters and climate change.  It continued to work with a variety of public and private shareholders to promote debt sustainability and develop innovative instruments to manage public debt.  She recalled that report of the Inter-agency Task Force for Financing for Development showed that while significant progress had been made, cooperation must be strengthened going forward.

MAHMOUD MOHIELDIN, Senior Vice-President for the 2030 Development Agenda, United Nations Relations and Partnerships, World Bank Group, delivered a statement on behalf of World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, describing the forum as a critical platform for monitoring progress on commitments to finance efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and end extreme poverty.  Undoubtedly the third International Conference on Financing for Development had helped start a joint conversation within the World Bank Group and other multilateral development banks on how international financial institutions could contribute to the enormous task of funding the Goals by mobilizing the financial resources required to achieve them.  Official development assistance (ODA), which last year totalled $142 billion, remained critical, particularly for the poorest nations, but it would never be enough to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

The World Bank Group’s fund for the poorest nations, the International Development Association, had a record replenishment of $75 billion, to be committed over the next three years to the neediest countries, he said.  Domestic resource mobilization was a major area of focus for the World Bank Group, particularly as analysis suggested that many lower-income countries had the potential to increase their tax ratios by at least 2 to 4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), without compromising fairness or growth.  The World Bank Group was continuing to invest in knowledge and programmes to build durable global public goods on issues such as climate action, crisis response and infrastructure finance.  Furthermore, the Group was working to pull in the private sector whenever possible, combining those efforts with the Group’s technical and local knowledge to make that capital work for those who needed it most.

YONOV FREDERICK AGAH, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization, said the multilateral trading system supported efforts to implement the 2030 Agenda, including the Addis Agenda.  A driver of economic growth, world trade between 1990 and 2000 had expanded more than 7 per cent annually, double the rate of global growth, which had helped to increase incomes and raise living standards across the world.  Due to difficulties following the 2008 financial crisis, 2017 would likely be the sixth year of trade growth below 6 per cent, a state seen only once in the 70-year history of the global trading system.  “This situation deserves our attention,” he said.  It was difficult to imagine a robust economic recovery without growth in trade.  With the right mix of policies, trade could drive economic recovery.

Noting that the gap between developed and developing countries had narrowed, viewed by many as the most important economic event of our time, he said the integration of developing countries into the global trade system had been crucial to their economic take-off, with their share of global trade rising from less than one third in 1980 to almost half at present.  It was difficult to imagine how developing countries could grow at that rate without further trade expansion.  The global trade system brought predictability and security to international relations.  When countries had disagreements, rather than resort to unilateral measures, they asked WTO step in, using rules that both sides had agreed and helped to design.  The priority needs were to strengthen the system and resist the imposition of new trade barriers.  Such reforms would ensure WTO would continue to deliver positive outcomes.  Ahead of WTO’s next ministerial conference in December, a range of areas were being discussed, with a continued focus on issues related to the Doha Development Round.  “We must ensure we do more to spread the benefits of trade,” he said, which in turn, would create jobs and support growth.

Intergovernmental Representatives of Institutional Stakeholders

CHRISTOPHER ONYANGA APARR (Uganda), President of the Trade and Development Board, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, said the future of globalization was in question.  Populism and xenophobia were challenging global solidarity at a moment when States should be working together to meet the Goals.  Global output had slowed to 2.2 per cent in 2016, down from 2.6 per cent in 2014 and 2015, while large emerging economies had registered weak or negative growth.  Global trade had grown only 1.3 per cent in 2016 in volume terms, marked by a general decline in the first half of the year.

Moreover, he said, the green shoots of recovery were vulnerable to structural challenges, among them, rising income inequalities, slowing productivity, fragile financial markets, growing debt burdens in developing countries, climate change and migration.  ODA to least developed countries and to economic development in general, had declined, while the digital divide continued to grow.  UNCTAD’s fourteenth session was the first where developing countries, rather than developed, had led the defence of globalization.

He said the world must move beyond a “globalization of exclusion”, which had left behind the poorest, including those in the developed world who embraced nativism and populism.  The Goals and Addis Agenda commitments must serve as a road map to the next phase of a more inclusive, just globalization, which would only succeed if it empowered those left behind.  Reviving the global partnership on development, a commitment of the Addis Agenda, was more urgent today than when that instrument was agreed.  Going forward, the forum must consider how developing countries could improve domestic resource mobilization amid falling trade revenues, how the global trade and investment regimes could be reformed, and how the voice of developing countries could be heard more clearly in global economic governance.

YVONNE TSIKATA, Vice-President and Corporate Secretary of the World Bank Group, provided a brief overview of the ninety-fifth meeting of the Development Committee, part of the Spring Meetings with IMF.  At that 22 April meeting, governors said the global economy was gaining momentum, but stressed that risks remained tilted to the downside and improvements would require policies fostering inclusive and sustainable growth, addressing vulnerabilities and creating jobs and economic opportunities for all.  Calling on the World Bank Group and IMF to provide and support the advancement of such policies, deliver the 2030 Agenda and protect the most vulnerable, she said the discussion addressed a range of issues, including inequality and recent developments in the implementation of the World Bank’s “Forward Look” vision for 2030, which had identified areas for improvements, including to bolster agility and responsiveness in working across public-private sectors and to pay special attention to stabilizing the economy and supporting growth in situations of fragility, conflict and violence.

She said Development Committee members had supported the Bank’s scaled-up activities, including in the areas of crisis preparedness, prevention and response, and were encouraged by the Bank Group’s efforts to become more efficient through reforms of its operational and administrative policies.  Welcoming progress and discussions on strengthening Group’s financial capacity, they had been encouraged by the successful International Development Association replenishment negotiations, which had delivered a record $75 billion and had recognized the innovative measures introduced to help catalyse additional resources for Association member countries.  The governors had also been encouraged by progress on diversifying World Bank Group staff and management and they supported similar progress on gender diversity in the Group’s Executive Board of Directors.

PATRICIA ALONSO-GAMO, Deputy Secretary, International Monetary and Financial Committee, International Monetary Fund, noted that global growth was strengthening, but that outlook was subject to much uncertainty, as many countries were operating below their potential.  While trade and integration had brought enormous benefits, some segments of society had missed out on their rewards, leading to increased doubts about progress.  A disruption of trade could reverberate around the globe as geopolitical tensions continued to rise.  The international community must work together to enhance the resilience of economies and increase multilateralism, and in that regard, each country must play its part.  The IMF’s approach placed emphasis on structural, fiscal and monetary policies, which sought to create a more inclusive global economy by taking care of those left behind, including by prioritizing education and skills development and helping those who had lost their jobs.  “Future generations should not be left to fix our mistakes,” she stressed.

Multilateral cooperation was critical, she said, stressing the importance of working together to level the playing field for all, avoiding inward-looking measures and addressing taxation issues, she said.  The IMF would continue to provide policy advice, financial support, and capacity development, while also advocating for multilateral cooperation.  The Fund supported policies that expanded opportunities and multilateral solutions, while also seeking to support low-income countries and small and fragile States.  To foster sustainable growth and a more inclusive global economy and technical progress, it was studying how trade and capital flows affected countries.  The Fund also continued to deepen its analysis of structural reforms on growth, employment and income equality and would continue to support policies that stressed good governance, fostered cooperation, updated business environments and promoted competition.  The international community must collaborate to find multilateral solutions to challenges, accelerate gains and improve living standard where the needs were the greatest.

Keynote Presentations

WU HONGBO, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, said the 2017 report of the Inter-agency Task Force of Financing for Development was part of a broad effort to implement the Addis Agenda and represented the first comprehensive and substantive assessment of progress.  Emphasizing that the report would provide implementation guidance to all actors worldwide, he highlighted several findings, including that progress had been reported in all seven action areas:  domestic public resources; domestic and international private business and finance; international development cooperation; international trade as an engine for development; debt and debt sustainability; addressing systematic issues; and science, technology, innovation and capacity-building.  However, a difficult global environment had impeded individual and collective efforts and many implementation gaps remained.  National efforts had been affected by such economic factors as low commodity prices and trade growth and volatile capital flows alongside political and environmental factors.  Despite projected improvements for 2017 and 2018, the current growth trajectory would not deliver the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 and least developed countries would fall short by large margins.

Yet, he said, the global development agenda contained elements to reignite growth and a combination of national and international actions could change the trajectory.  The first priority of bolstered investments in sustainable development could stimulate global growth, but growth alone would not eradicate poverty.  That would need more targeted measures, with social protection floors directly ameliorating the lives of the poor and vulnerable.  The report offered options to address financing challenges related to such floors and underlined that policies and actions on investment and vulnerabilities must be gender-sensitive.  The development of integrated national financing frameworks was a promising sign, he said, underlining that national efforts must be accompanied by a supportive global environment and that many countries continued to rely on support, including ODA.  In that regard, international cooperation was as vital as ever, he said, encouraging actors to use the web portal, which provided data and analyses for each of the more than 100 clusters of commitments and actions across the Addis Agenda.

MUKHISA KITUYI, Secretary-General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, speaking by video message, called for enhanced political momentum to achieve the Addis Agenda.  “We need to speak boldly about the obstacles hampering implementation,” he said, as well as about innovative financing instruments.  He also advocated scaling up partnerships with the private sector, stressing that UNCTAD had a proven record of working in that regard.  At the same time, he cautioned against turning away from calling out the risks of public-private partnerships, which must be studied in order to ensure they did not create debt burdens for future generations.  He called on participants to “walk the talk” on commitments made in Addis Ababa, Doha and Monterrey.

TEGEGNEWORK GETTU, Acting Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), noting that the Programme contributed to Inter-agency Task Force reports, said that in the first year of the 2030 Agenda, countries were thinking more systematically about how mobilize domestic and international resources to meet the Goals, and efforts were under way to align financial flows and policies with those objectives.  Yet, an implementation gap remained amid the slowest global growth rate since the 2008 financial crisis.  Noting that the Addis framework included support for global trade as a way to increase investment in the Goals, he said it was critical to complement long-term investment — in resilience and sustainable infrastructure, for example — with measures to help the poor.

Fulfilling the 2030 Agenda also required proactive policies for education, health and credit availability, he said.  There were variety of options to finance social protection floors at the local level, including through fossil fuel subsidies, and he welcomed the proposal for the Task Force to review funding mechanisms for social protection and to report back with recommendations to the 2018 financing for development forum.  He also welcomed efforts to broaden criteria for financing eligibility, noting with concern that ODA allocated to least developed countries had dropped, despite commitments to increase such aid.  While it was important to meet international commitments to refugees, resources spent in donor countries hosting refugees should not reduce funding for meeting the Goals in developing countries.  UNDP had helped 143 countries access $3.1 billion in financing, an investment that had liberated another $14 billion in co-financing.  In response to the growing demand for support in navigating the financing for development landscape, UNDP had carried out assessments to help Governments explore how to harness financial flows.

SHAMSHAD AKHTAR, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), speaking on behalf of the five United Nations regional commissions, said that despite signs of global economic recovery, a distrust of globalization had led to a tightening of policies that compounded uncertainty.  Fiscal policy needed to play a greater role in addressing inequality and expanding the fiscal safety net.  Sustainable and well-calibrated fiscal policy could lead to inclusive sustainable development and reduce inequality.  The regional commissions had announced consultations and analytical work related to the Addis Agenda, with 50 analytical papers having been prepared over the past four years.

The commissions’ efforts were focused on four key areas, including working to promote domestic resource mobilization, she said.  Research had demonstrated that tax incentives and weak compliance had eroded the tax base across all regions.  The debate on the management and composition of tax systems needed to intensify, she stressed, noting that people’s willingness to pay taxes were influenced by perceptions as to how well those revenues were used.  Fostering infrastructure investment was a priority, including climate-resilient infrastructure.  The fiscal requirements of meeting the Sustainable Development Goals could only be achieved by building more efficient and effective tax systems through multilateral approaches.  It was important to acknowledge that countries were moving at difference paces and sequencing their reforms differently, and that social expenditures needed to be enhanced.  Declining ODA was a cause for concern she stressed, highlighting that it continued to fall far short of commitments.  Improving the capacities of Governments to effectively structure private-public-partnership transactions was also vital.

Statements

NEVEN MIMICA, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, European Union, saying the Addis Agenda was a means to an end, insisted on ensuring full coherence and coordination with the 2030 Agenda.  All actors must play their part, he said, understanding the importance of relevant international conventions, including the Paris Agreement.  The European Union expected to sign the European Consensus on Development in June, framing action to deliver on Addis commitments.  As the largest provider of ODA, bloc member States would continue their efforts.

To achieve greater impact, he said, public resources must be used in a smarter way, including as a catalyst to mobilize more public and private funding.  A new external investment plan aimed at doing that, using €4 billion from the European Union budget to hopefully generate at least €44 billion in additional investments in higher-risk sectors in developing countries.  That plan also included the new European Fund for Sustainable Development, provisions for technical support and a focus on improving the investment climate through policy dialogue and cooperation.  Through those and related efforts, he said, “we are determined to make our development cooperation more effective and to assist others in their efforts”.

IGOR CRNADAK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, said bold steps must be taken to bolster national steps, including fostering industrial development, and multilateral development banks must work more closely in areas such as fostering private-public partnerships.  “If we want to success in this complex undertaking, we will have success stories,” he said.  “We need to be flexible and willing to learn from those who moved faster on the Sustainable Development Goals path.”  That included sharing knowledge, experience and innovative approaches or use of the transfer of technology if the Sustainable Development Agenda would be achieved by 2030.

DULCIDIO DE LA GUARDIA, Minister for Economy and Finance of Panama, endorsing the statements to be made by the “Group of 77” developing countries and China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), said his country had been the focus of a documents leak in 2016 on tax fraud that implicated many countries, including some in the Group of 20.  All countries must show a united front in tackling tax issues, including senior officials in international organizations.  Among a range of actions, he said fiscal policies should take into account the characteristics of each country of concern.  Discussions should focus on issues such as knowledge, productivity and competitiveness of all States, particularly least developed countries.

TEUEA TOATU, Minister for Finance and Economic Development of Kiribati, said his country’s development, along with that of other small island developing States, had been hampered by isolation from world markets, vulnerability to external shocks and climate change.  Existing efforts and assistance must be scaled up to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, addressing questions such as how to climate-proof related initiatives.  Financial constraints and limited financial resources were inhibiting ongoing national efforts.  “We cannot do it alone,” he said, emphasizing that outstanding commitments must be honoured.  In that regard, he asked private and donor communities to be more forthcoming in their support.

NABINDRA RAJ JOSHI, Minister for Industry of Nepal, said his country’s new Constitution incorporated universally accepted democratic and inclusive norms, which would help create an environment conducive for implementing all internationally agreed development agendas.  Nepal’s goal to graduate from least developed country status by 2022 required “huge” additional investments, and Nepal also aimed to emerge as a middle-income country by 2030.  Challenges included tackling institutional, financing and capacity constraints, he said, noting that the private sector had played a key role in development.  To mobilize domestic resources, Nepal had widened its tax base by formalizing the informal sectors, and had created special economic zones.  Beyond traditional development finance, development partners should also fulfil ODA commitments, facilitate trade and encourage investment and technology flows.

MIGUEL ANGEL ESTUARDO MOIR SANDOVAL, Secretary for Planning, Planning and Programming Secretariat of the Presidency of Guatemala, advocated working towards a multidimensional definition of ODA.  Urging a focus on prevention and pre-investment in addressing climate variability, he said foreign direct investment was needed, as were strategies with innovative models for pre-investment and legal institutional tools to foster investment in ways that promoted national priorities.  Guatemala’s national development plan aimed to reduce poverty and extreme poverty; ODA was essential to that end.  He advocated dialogue to set out development priorities and respond to commitments made under the Addis Agenda.  Guatemala was committed to foster human sustainable development, notably through international cooperation and various modes of assistance.

TEVITA LAVEMAAU, Minister for Finance and National Planning of Tonga, said his country stood with other Pacific small island developing States to implement the Goals.  Noting the need for adequate resources to support the regional coordination and national implementation of the Goals, he expressed support for Fiji’s Presidency of the twenty-third Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to advocate for innovation in climate change adaptation for island nations.  While acknowledging the work of IMF, the World Bank and others, he urged refining the definition of fragility to include the drivers of vulnerability in the Pacific, which included dependence on imported fossil fuels.  Potential options for ocean finance were also critical.

VALENTIN RYBAKOV, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Belarus, on behalf of Like-Minded Countries Supporters of Middle-Income Countries, emphasized the significant challenges faced by those countries in achieving sustainable development.  Middle-income countries should comprise all groups of developing nations, especially because as countries moved from low- to middle-income status, the assistance provided was reduced.  He underscored the need to exchange experiences, improve coordination and focus the support of the United Nations development system, international financial institutions and others.  He expressed concern that access to concessional finance was reduced as national incomes grew, and recalled the importance of technology transfer in the spirit of closing the economic and social gap.  Multilateral development banks must devise graduation policies that were sequenced and phased.  There was also a need for more nuanced, transparent country classifications, beyond the per capita income criteria, while international engagement should be tailored to middle-income country needs.

CHRISTIAAN REBERGEN, Vice-Minister for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, endorsing the European Union, said the promise of leaving no one behind was a serious commitment, serving as a litmus test at the United Nations.  The Addis Agenda focused on how to serve those most in need, he said, emphasizing that tax issues in that regard had been examined.  Resources were being used to catalyse more investments, he said, noting that the Netherlands had made efforts in that area.  The United Nations must play its role in setting norms and convening power, he said, emphasizing that there should be a moratorium on lofty outcome documents until results had been delivered on promises already made.

MARÍA CAROLA IÑIGUEZ ZAMBRANO (Ecuador), speaking on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, welcomed the forum’s draft conclusions and recommendations, adding that agreement had been reached on minimums, but not on forward-looking actions, including on climate change, trade and international development cooperation.  Financing for development was key to implementing the 2030 Agenda and predictable financial flows were indispensable on that quest.  Calling for a range of actions, she said greater international cooperation was needed to combat illicit financial flows and global economic governance must be improved to create a development-friendly environment.  Alarmed by protectionist rhetoric, she called for an inclusive, non-discriminatory trading system under WTO auspices in line with the Addis Agenda.

The Group remained committed to addressing climate change, she said, calling for further action and predictable and sustainable support, taking into account the needs of developing countries.  The international community must consider the severe difficulties faced by countries and peoples living under colonial and foreign occupation, she said, reaffirming a rejection of the imposition of laws and regulations with extraterritorial impact and all other forms of coercive economic measures, including unilateral sanctions.  Developed countries must play their role and must honour their ODA commitments.

Opening Remarks

Mr. SHAVA noted that the Addis Agenda and the Paris Agreement had scaled up support for people in countries whose needs were the greatest.  Representatives of Governments had a responsibility to ensure that their institutions, despite their different mandates, governance and expertise, worked coherently towards the common vision enshrined in the 2030 Agenda.  Over the last two decades, the world had made progress in reducing global poverty and narrowing economic gaps between countries, although inequality around the world remained high.  Experience had shown that addressing inequality did not necessarily sacrifice efficiency.  Investment in inclusive and resilient infrastructure was an important way to address inequality in access to markets, finances and technology and other opportunities.  Policy frameworks should be geared towards long-term investment so as to mitigate the risk of increased investments in infrastructure focusing on a limited number of countries, and only on sectors with potential cash flows.

HERVÉ DE VILLEROCHÉ, Co-Dean, Board of Executive Directors, World Bank Group, noted that the forum represented a critical platform to help follow-up on commitments towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and ending extreme poverty.  ODA would need to be strategically utilized to catalyse public and private investments and mobilize additional capital.  The International Finance Corporation had introduced a new long-term strategy to scale up the impact of its financing to the private sector, at large.  The World Bank Group was committed to using its balance sheets to deliver on the Goals, but was also convinced that achieving the development objectives would only be possible with continued efforts to address policies.  The Bank put particular emphasis on the importance of a growth-friendly environment, the mobilization of additional domestic resources and the need for continued momentum towards the development of global public goods.

HAZEM BEBLAWI, Executive Director, International Monetary Fund, said the focus should be on whether IMF, WTO, UNCTAD and others had been able to align their activities with the Addis Agenda to support members achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and promote global imperative for inclusive growth.  The Fund’s executive Board would consider proposals to improve debt sustainability framework.  There was a close parallel between global economic recovery and sequence of actions by major institutions and stakeholders to support the Addis Agenda.  There were gaps to be tackled and risks of setbacks and unintended consequences.  Two years after the third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, “we have already made good progress across a wide range of objectives”, he said, stressing the need for continued cooperation with other institutions and stakeholders, in line with the Addis mandate.

Mr. APARR said UNCTAD’s work to move global economic governance onto a more inclusive footing offered examples of how policy coherence could address the wide inequalities characterizing the global economy today.  All countries must work to grow exports and reform trade by moving beyond a narrow focus on multilateral trade rules and taking national steps to use trade as part of domestic and regional policies, with an eye to structural transformation.  Foreign direct investment (FDI) and investment promotion actions also could be taken.  Key to that was holding donors accountable for increasing ODA to at least 0.2 per cent of gross national income.  “FDI cannot be a substitute for ODA,” he said.  Private finance and development bank efforts to catalyse domestic finance were needed, as was a more nuanced analysis of blended finance and public-private partnerships.  Addressing illicit financial flows must also be prioritized by bringing discussion of tax evasion and fiscal paradises to the fore at the United Nations and advancing international discussions on debt.  Noting that UNCTAD was working to operationalize principles on responsible sovereign borrowing and lending, he said closing the inequality gap required addressing a key area of unfinished business to address systematic issues stressing the financial system, which held back international policy coordination.

Interactive Discussion I

Moderated by Sara Eisen, CNBC, the first interactive panel, titled ”fostering policy coherence in the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda”, featured Frank Heemskerk, Executive Director, Cyprus, Israel and Netherlands, World Bank Group; Daouda Sembene, Chair, Executive Board Committee for Liaison with the World Bank, the United Nations and other International Organizations, International Monetary Fund; and Nabeel Munir (Pakistan), Vice-President, Economic and Social Council, as lead discussants.

Ms. EISEN said that the discussion would focus on the promotion of inclusive economic growth in the pursuit of sustainable development.

Mr. HEEMSKERK said that the United Nations should continue to foster coherence by benchmarking performances of member States and by exerting pressure on the private sector, including both larger and smaller companies, which may be interested in supporting the Sustainable Development Goals.  It was important not to forget that the best form of leverage would only come from a well-functioning State; including those that followed the rule of law and made appropriate investments.  The international community must make sure that investments were well-spent and not diluted.  There was a lot of talk about public-private partnerships and blended finance, although there were many different definitions for both of those terms in use.

Mr. SEMBENE noted that IMF supported domestic policies, including by deepening policy diagnoses and advice, scaling up capacity-building and enhancing the financial safety net.  He highlighted that there were weaker growth prospects relative to the projections made in 2015.  The IMF had committed to scale up its policy diagnostics for the 2030 Agenda in key areas, including through infrastructure policy support and supporting fragile States and small, developing countries by addressing their challenges and vulnerabilities.  The Fund was also scaling up its support for capacity development in five key areas by boosting support for domestic resource mobilization and building State capacity for scaling up public investment.  Liquidity needs were growing among developing countries, which had prompted IMF to put in place a 50‑per‑cent increase in access for all concessional facilities and debt relief for countries experiencing public health disasters.

Mr. MUNIR highlighted that, at the national level, countries continued to face major challenges with formulating multisectoral, integrated and coherent policies and actions towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.  Many countries were still at the very early stages in establishing mechanisms for mainstreaming the Goals and the Addis Agenda in their national development strategies, he said, highlighting that changing institutions and mindsets were not easy processes.  For countries that were least capable of implementing such changes more international assistance to support their transition was warranted.  At the regional level, different coordination mechanisms, platforms and dialogues had helped bring together Governments around region-specific objectives.  More also had to be done at the global level to increase the coherence between national policies and global development policies.

In the ensuing discussion, the representative of Kenya, speaking on behalf of the Peacebuilding Commission, said the synergies between the 2030 Agenda and the peacebuilding architecture in creating sustainable peace were evident.  The Peacebuilding Commission stressed the need for adequate, predictable and sustained financing to assist countries in building and sustaining peace.  The Addis Agenda recognized the existence of a “peacebuilding financing gap”, which should be narrowed by strengthening partnerships with financial stakeholders, including the multilateral financial institutions.  The representative of the International Chamber of Commerce stressed that if countries wanted to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, they must ensure trade policies allowed businesses to create new jobs, while the representative of the World Trade Organization underscored that although reforms were important, greater emphasis must be placed on building trade capacity.

Also speaking were the representatives of Indonesia and the United Kingdom.

Interactive Discussion II

The forum then held an interactive discussion titled “inequalities and inclusive growth”, which featured presentations by Patience Bongiwe Kunene, Executive Director, Angola, Nigeria, and South Africa, World Bank Group; Nancy Gail Horsman, Executive Director, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada, Dominica, Grenada, Ireland, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, International Monetary Fund;  Masaaki Kaizuka, Executive Director, Japan, International Monetary Fund; and Jürgen Schulz (Germany), Vice-President, Economic and Social Council.

Ms. KUNENE noted that the World Bank’s expertise included agriculture, energy, education, climate change, conflict and violence, gender issues and resilience among many other areas.  A key question to be addressed was what sort of access was being provided to the services being produced by international organizations, Governments and the private sector.  Success was not only about having opportunities, but about having access to quality opportunities.  In that context, it was important to take into consideration things such as the strength of education systems and whether through those educational opportunities it was possible to address equality gaps.  Connectedness was very low in many African countries, including access to cell-phone and broadband services.  When looking at the access to trade and air travel, one could see why there was much more that needed to be done with regard to connectedness.  It was important to create credible evidence-based solutions that utilized data.  Some of the available data still had gaps.  The Bank had organized a meeting to brainstorm what a “strong World Bank” would look like in 2030, during which participants stressed the need to appeal to all of the financial institution’s clients in an interconnected fashion.

Ms. HORSMAN said growth had narrowed income gaps across countries.  Within most advanced and some emerging economies, inequality had increased over two decades, while slow growth since 2008 had exposed the difficulties of some groups to adjust to technical progress.  Wages of low- and middle-skill workers had stagnated, leading some to question the value of global trade and the multilateral framework underpinning it.  Technological change, more so than integration, appeared to be behind labour’s falling share, which led many to question how multilateral institutions could align their work with the goals of inclusive growth.  “Protectionism and inward-looking polices are not the answer,” she said.  The Fund was working to ensure its policies were supportive of inclusive growth by encouraging States to implement measures that boosted economic opportunities and reduced trade-offs.  She cited measures to promote financial inclusion to support long-term growth and smooth income fluctuations.  Coordinated actions by countries could boost growth, and avoid negative spillovers of policies among countries.

Mr. KAIZUKA said the Fund had several tools available to address inequality and inclusive growth, describing policy surveillance as a regular exercise for devising policy recommendations.  Such consultations with his country focused on how to solve labour market realities, including how to enhance women’s labour participation.  Country specificity should be highly appreciated in such work, he said, noting there were many policy options for inclusive growth.  The real application of policies for infrastructure, education and labour market reform, for example, should be prioritized.  Equally important was to ensure country ownership.  The Fund provided capacity-development programmes tailored to country situations, which were important to monitor.  In many IMF board meetings, members stressed that the Fund should not deviate much from its mandate to promote macroeconomic financial stability.  Yet, it was sometimes difficult to draw a line between the core and non-core mandates.  Fiscal policy must play pivotal role in reducing inequalities, as should social policies.

Mr. SCHULZ said the gap between the wealthy and the poor had widened, with Goal 10 calling on the international community to reduce inequality both within and among countries.  Rising inequality compromised social justice and human dignity.  As such, it had been at the core of the Economic and Social Council agenda and he called for the creation of inclusive institutions, combined with the right policies and regulations to ensure that everyone benefitted from economic gains.  More must be done to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth, as well as to address systemic issues by ensuring that developing countries were fully heard in economic and other institutions.  Data disaggregation was essential for reaching those most in need, with the dynamics between and within vulnerable groups — based on gender, race and ethnicity for example — understood.  He advocated redoubled efforts to implement Addis Agenda commitments on inequality.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates asked how to tackle the digital divide and reverse the trend of deepening inequality, with Costa Rica’s speaker asking about actions to ensure women’s economic empowerment.  Others described domestic and international drivers of inequality, with Ghana’s delegate pointing to a one‑size-fits-all approach to national development.  She asked how much of budget was going into social protection floors.  “Where you put your money is where your heart is,” she stressed.

Mr. KAIZUKA responded to Ghana’s delegate that social protection floors would be discussed later this week in Washington, D.C.  The Fund, working with low-income countries, set indicative targets for where the floor in the budget formulation should be set.  It was an evolutionary process.

Mr. SEMBENE added that IMF was working to ensure women’s participation by making the point that their participation was essential for countries to reach their growth potential.  The IMF also promoted gender budgeting.  It had released a tool kit last July and a book titled Women, Work and Economic Growth:  Levelling the Playing Field, in March.

The representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) spoke about the importance of policy solutions for poverty alleviation, stressing that investing in children was not only morally right but made economic sense.  Recent evidence had shown that children’s exposure to toxic environments was “costing nations a lot”, with some forfeiting two times their GDP due to additional spending on health, resulting from a lack of investment in the early years.  “We don’t need to spend much more to get the results on the ground,” she said.  Resources required to scale up child-focused interventions for achieving the Goals were moderate.  Children under age 18 comprised more than half of the global poor.

The representative of Citi Group, noting that Governments alone could not finance the Goals, said the current size and pace of private sector support would not be enough to support success.  Large, deep and liquid markets were one solution, with a transactional level focus.  The Goals’ objectives presented risks far beyond those traditionally taken by the private sector.  “We’ve not solved Rubik’s cube of using blended finance structures,” he said, noting that the public sector did not need to take significantly more aggregate risk to facilitate those transactions.  Rather, it must be better at targeting risk that often coalesced in the private sector.  He described the “integrity challenge” as crippling, with corruption as the Achilles heel of reaching the Goals.

The representative of the Financial Transparency Coalition focused on tax reforms to reduce inequality and the need for progressive taxes, which had important implications for addressing gender bias in tax structures.  Efforts to increase tax bases should shift the burden away from women.  A transformative change in international tax was needed to combat tax evasion and avoidance.

The speaker from the World Trade Organization spoke about trade finance, which played a key role in helping developed, developing and least developed countries participate in global trade.  The sixth global review of Aid-for-Trade would be held from 11 to 13 July with a cross-cutting theme of how that programme supported achievement of the Goals, notably for poverty eradication and women’s empowerment.

Ms. KUNENE added that the World Bank had a gender-diverse board, with staff incentives for women to become senior managers.  For countries, she cited educational projects for adolescent girls and cross-cutting solutions focused on gender.

A speaker from Yes Bank said the tool that could bring the $218 trillion global capital markets and the $256 trillion in global individual wealth into the Goals was impact investment.  Alternative investment funds in India and the Social Impact Bond Act in the United States were other mechanisms that allowed people to pool funds and become part of the development story.  Social entrepreneurs were also looking to address access to health and education, she said, citing the “Start Up India, Stand Up India” programme in that context.

Other speakers from the International Monetary Fund also spoke, as did the representative of Liberia, the United States representative at the World Bank and a speaker from the Women’s working group on finance for development.

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Text adopted – Human rights in 2003 and EU policy – P5_TA(2004)0376 – Thursday, 22 April 2004 – Strasbourg – Final edition

The European Parliament ,

–   having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to all relevant international human rights instruments(1) ,

–   having regard to the entry into force of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 1 July 2002 and to its resolutions of 19 November 1998, 18 January 2001, 28 February 2002 and 4 July 2002(2) related to the ICC,

–   having regard to the United Nations Charter, particularly Article 2,

–   having regard to the entry into force on 1 July 2003 of Protocol No 13 to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms concerning the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances,

–   having regard to Article 3 of the four Geneva Conventions,

–   having regard to Article 12 of the United Nations International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights,

–   having regard to the UN declarations and resolutions on the rights of disabled persons and the UNESCO Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997),

–   having regard to Articles 12(1) and 16(1)(e) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, as well as to General Recommendations 21 and 24 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women,

–   having regard to the Declaration and Action Programme of the Fourth World Conference on Women adopted in Beijing on 15 September 1995, and to the Outcome Document of the Fourth World Conference on Women +5 Conference adopted on 10 June 2000,

–   having regard to the Millennium Development Goals adopted at the Millennium Summit of the United Nations on 8 September 2000 and the Declaration adopted by the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development on 4 September 2002,

–   having regard to the 2002 report of the UN Population Fund on the state of world population,

–   having regard to the report of the Council of Europe on the impact of the Mexico City Policy(3) and the Commission's proposal for a Regulation on aid for policies and actions on reproductive and sexual health and rights in developing countries (COM(2002) 120),

–   having regard to its resolution of 1 November 2001 on HIV/AIDS(4) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 20 September 2001 on female genital mutilation(5) ,

–   having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union(6) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 3 September 2003 on the Commission communication "Towards a United Nations legally binding instrument to promote and protect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities',(7)

–   having regard to Articles 3, 6, 11, 13 and 19 of the Treaty on European Union and Articles 177 and 300 of the Treaty establishing the European Community,

–   having regard to the entry into force on 1 April 2003 of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000(8) ,

–   having regard to the Euro-Mediterranean Assembly, which was established on 22-23 March 2004, and to its related resolution of 20 November 2003(9) ,

–   having regard to the European Convention for Human Rights and Biomedicine (1999),

–   having regard to its resolution of 13 December 1996 on the rights of disabled people(10) , its resolution of 9 March 2004 on population and development(11) , and its previous resolutions on human rights in the world(12) ,

–   having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation of fundamental rights in the European Union, in particular its resolution of 15 January 2003(13) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 23 October 2003 on peace and dignity in the Middle East (14) ,

–   having regard to its resolution of 10 February 2004 on the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, 15 March to 23 April 2004(15) ,

–   having regard to the fifth EU Annual Report on Human Rights (13449/03),

–   having regard to Rule 163 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy (A5-0270/2004),

A.   whereas progress has been made worldwide in particular through the European Union's commitment to establishing and strengthening democracy, human rights, the rule of law and good governance,

B.   whereas at the same time the situation has worsened in a large number of countries, where human rights continue to be violated as a result of discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and social class, and of bad governance, corruption, repression, abuse of power, weak institutions, lack of accountability and armed conflict,

C.   whereas on paper there is an impressive degree of endorsement of human rights values by the international community, with over 140 countries having ratified the two major covenants and almost all states having ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child,

D.   whereas a steadily growing number of countries has abolished the death penalty or has established or extended moratoria on executions, but in some countries there appears to be a reverse trend, in particular in China,

E.   whereas the role of the international community in assisting the truth and reconciliation process in post-conflict societies is recognised as a means of fostering reconciliation, peace, stability and development,

F.   whereas in countries which respect and uphold human rights, pressure groups and a free press help ensure that the democratic state functions well; whereas they must not be subject to censorship or restricted freedom of expression,

G.   stressing that in recent years control and repression of Internet use has increased dramatically in the People's Republic of China and dozens of people have been arrested for distributing messages calling for greater freedom and democracy, or for simply having distributed information via the Internet; whereas the number of arrests in such cases increased by 60% compared to the previous year,

H.   whereas the same phenomenon is occurring systematically in Vietnam, where several democracy activists have been arrested in recent months,

I.   convinced that all acts of terrorism deny the very concept of human rights,

J.   whereas the European Union supports and actively cooperates with the work of the Ad Hoc Committee of the 6th Committee of the UNGA in its work towards the preparation of a Draft Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and the preparation of a Draft International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism,

K.   whereas a state that has suffered acts of terrorism may collaborate with other states in a spirit of reciprocity, but with due respect for human rights and international law,

L.   whereas extradition should be refused if there are serious reasons to believe that the person to be extradited would be subject, in the country applying for extradition, to treatment that does not comply with international law,

M.   whereas in some cases a military procedure with no appeal or monitoring is imposed on alleged terrorists except those with the nationality of the country accusing them,

N.   whereas democratic countries must set an example when they want to pursue the perpetrators of such acts or bring them to justice, by granting them all the rights and safeguards that a country that respects human rights must provide for any accused person,

O.   whereas certain countries have created and/or put in place extra-territorial areas which are not subject to any concept of basic law or monitoring, contrary to all the international conventions and treaties,

P.   whereas the fight against terrorism constitutes a special situation that allows for restrictions on, and even outright suspension of, individual freedoms, particularly in countries with dictatorial regimes; stressing that all these countries have used the fight against terrorism as a pretext for stepping up repression against subjugated populations or any form of political dissidence,

Q.   subscribing to the principle that the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition; fully supporting the WHO principles; concerned in particular about the situation as regards the right to access to health, as this right is closely linked to the economic, social and political situation of every individual country,

R.   recognising that access to reproductive health is a fundamental human right and that women and men should therefore be guaranteed the freedom to make their own informed and responsible choice in regard to their sexual and reproductive health and rights, while being conscious of the importance of their decisions for other individuals as well as for society,

S.   whereas studies have proved that there is a direct link between access to information and high standards in all aspects of health, including lower levels of HIV/AIDS and other transmitted infections, the risk of unwanted pregnancies and correlated abortions, the risk of still-births and maternal and infant deaths,

T.   condemning the practice of female genital mutilation still used in many countries which has already produced more than 130 million victims worldwide, and poses a threat to some 2 million young girls or women each year; welcoming, in this connection, the Maputo Protocol adopted by the African Union in July 2003,

U.   whereas reproductive health is a major concern for the social and economic well-being of a nation, and deficiencies in access to reproductive health have direct effects on the economic and social fabric of the country concerned,

V.   concerned at the deliberate withholding of information in a large number of countries, which are the most affected by low standards of reproductive health,

W.   shocked by the lack of willingness shown by developed countries to ensure the necessary funding to meet the basic standards outlined in the Action Programme of the UN Conference on Population and Development adopted in Cairo on 13 September 1994 and even more concerned by the sharp decrease in the funds available since the entry into force of the Mexico City Policy, diminishing US funding to any NGO which is not following a strict abstinence promotion policy,

X.   whereas access to information on, and the promotion through social marketing of condoms can for the moment be considered as the most effective preventive measure against all forms of sexually transmitted diseases,

Y.   whereas the denial of access to treatment for HIV/AIDS through a lack of available funds, in particular access to anti-retroviral drug combinations, which are proving successful at stabilising but not curing HIV/AIDS, is causing a major security threat both regionally and worldwide, including in Eastern Europe and Central Asia where there is a sharp and deplorable increase in sexually transmitted diseases and in sexual violence;

Z.   concerned by the sharp decrease in the funds available since the entry into force of the Mexico City Policy,

AA.   whereas 2003 was the European Year of the Disabled,

AB.   whereas the UN estimates that more than half a billion people in the world are disabled through mental, physical or sensory impairment,

AC.   noting that in many countries unacceptable barriers are still too often raised against the inclusion of disabled people, thus preventing them from fully enjoying a social, professional, family, emotional and sexual life,

AD.   stressing that the specific needs of disabled people apply unreservedly to disabled people who are accused or suspected of crimes and/or are or could be imprisoned or held on remand,

AE.   whereas the international community must take into account the problem represented each year by the hundreds of thousands of people who, as a result of wars and conflicts, are disabled or physically or mentally handicapped;

1.  Expresses its satisfaction that the fifth parliamentary term has seen a number of major innovations in relation to EU policy on human rights, including the creation or further development of important instruments, that correspond largely to its own initiatives;

2.  Notes that it has contributed considerably to strengthening the human rights dimension and in putting human rights issues on the European agenda;

3.  Considers that terrorism is one of the most serious common challenges facing the international community; condemns all acts of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, irrespective of their motivation, forms and manifestations; underlines that the fight against terrorism has to remain a matter of the highest priority for the EU;

4.  Manifests its commitment to continuing to act in support of respect for human rights and promotion of democracy worldwide, and to pursuing in particular its initiatives in favour of the abolition of the death penalty and torture, the fight against impunity, the elimination of racism, xenophobia and discrimination, the protection of women's rights and children's rights (including child soldiers and child labour); the protection and accompaniment of human rights defenders; the protection of social and workers' rights, the protection of refugees (including internally displaced people), the defence of the interests of indigenous populations and of minorities, such as moutain-dwellers in Vietnam, the victims of systematic repression, freedom of the press and other means of expression, non-discrimination of homosexuality, freedom of religion and conviction and all other rights;

5.  Reiterates its view that strengthened efforts are needed to find a coordinated approach in order to mainstream human rights in its external relations activities, to link the activities of its future subcommittee on human rights, its main committees responsible and its interparliamentary delegations and to ensure a consistent follow-up to Parliament's resolutions by the Commission, the Council and the third countries concerned; reiterates its call for Parliament's financial and human resources dedicated to human rights activities to be considerably increased;

6.  Underlines the need to pursue its efforts in order to make major progress in dialogue with the Council on EU human rights policy and calls on the Council to agree upon a structure which allows systematic and timely reaction to EP resolutions; recalls, in this context, its proposals made on the basis of the Council's conclusions of December 2002;

7.  Strongly supports the Council's intention to achieve a more effective and visible EU human rights and democratisation policy through increased coherence and consistency between Community action and the CFSP, mainstreaming, greater openness and regular identification and the review of priority action;

8.  Insists that concerns on human rights situations be discussed more openly and regularly at Association/Cooperation Councils and at EU summits with third countries and that the respective conclusions should fully reflect this discussion point;

9.  Welcomes the recent release of political prisoners in Syria, but insists that all political prisoners should be set free, at the latest before the signing of the EU-Syria Association Agreement, as this would significantly facilitate Parliament's assent;

10.  Welcomes the fact that the Council's annual operational programme for 2003 was the first to be jointly drawn up by the Greek and Italian Presidencies; considers, however, that the major political priorities and actions in external relations outlined in the work programmes of the Commission and the Council would need a more explicit human rights perspective;

11.  Welcomes the fact that, at the invitation of the EU Presidency, Members of the European Parliament participated in the 3rd round of the EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue on 8/9 October 2003 and considers that Members of the European Parliament should be involved in the same way in future human rights dialogues with third countries; invites the Presidency to transmit its in-depth evaluation of the China dialogue as soon as possible and to prepare a similar evaluation of the Iran dialogue;

12.  Deplores the fact that the 3rd Round Table of the EU-Iran Human Rights Dialogue had a very abstract academic character and considers that at coming Round Tables the debate must have a stronger political dimension and contain real dialogues;

13.  Welcomes the establishment in 2003 of a Subgroup on Governance and Human Rights under the Cooperation Agreement with Bangladesh and calls on the Council and the Commission to create similar Subgroups where appropriate for the other Cooperation Agreements;

14.  Welcomes the efforts undertaken to engage in a similar exercise with other third countries and looks forward to the start of the work with Vietnam and Morocco;

15.  Is strongly convinced that human rights dialogues should not be a justification for the marginalisation of human rights vis-à-vis security, economic or political priorities; recalls its demand on the Council to formulate concrete objectives and benchmarks for human rights dialogues and to ensure that the results are regularly evaluated;

16.  Reiterates its demand for more openness and transparency on the part of the EU institutions and on the part of the Council in particular; maintains its criticism that the calls made in its resolutions for the Council to report back on the outcome of specific human rights issues, in particular as these come up in international organisations, are systematically disregarded; insists that Parliament should be given a full explanation whenever its human rights recommendations are not followed by Council or Commission;

17.  Takes note of the fact that the structure of the EU Annual Report on Human Rights 2003 has been improved, but regrets that the report still does not focus particular attention on individual cases and their follow-up, including those raised in Parliament's resolutions, nor contain any response to proposals adopted in its own Annual Report on Human Rights in the World;

18.  Calls on the Council, in this connection, to step up dialogue with civil society and, in future, to involve the relevant NGOs more closely in its initiatives and in the drawing up of its Report on Human Rights and the shaping of the annual Human Rights Forum;

19.  Welcomes the creation of the Commission's website on human rights which includes analyses, reports and research done on key issues and which allows even better information to NGOs and civil society as a whole;

20.  Recognises the progress made in paying outstanding commitments and in speeding up the pace of payments' execution in the EIDHR budget implementation within the general 60 days' time scale and the implementation plan for each budget heading as well as the Council's guidelines ensuring complementarity and consistency of EU external policy measures between the Community and Member States;

21.  Decides to create a proper format for its Annual Reports on Human Rights in the World, which adequately evaluates the human rights policy of the Council, Commission and European Parliament in the period under consideration, and provides a systematic follow-up to proposals and statements included in the preceding Annual Report on Human Rights of the European Parliament; considers that the rapporteur can further choose special themes of particular relevance for the report;

22.  Considers that the European Parliament Annual Report should be produced at a fixed time every year, and include an analysis and evaluation of the Annual Report of the Council of the same year;

23.  Decides to retain closer contacts with former winners of the Sakharov Prize to enable the prize to play a role in safeguarding and helping to ensure respect for human rights in the countries concerned; stresses, in particular, the need to continue and increase support for former Sakharov Prize winners who are still suffering from repression in their country, in particular Leyla Zana, Aung San Suu Kyi and Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas; with regard to the last of these, recalls the support given to the 'Sakharov Initiative' conducted within the European Parliament and calls on the Cuban authorities to refrain from placing any further obstacles in the way of Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas travelling to the European Union to meet with its institutions;

24.  Underlines the fact that serious human rights crises persist in a large number of countries, often in a context of violent conflict, with the international community failing to have any decisive influence; notes that the EU's existing potential has not been used in such a way as to effectively confront some of the world's worst violators; regrets that in such situations human rights have never constituted a bottom line in the EU's external policies; is convinced that respect for human rights will not result from solemn declarations which are not supported by effective actions for their implementation;

25.  Is convinced that the new European security strategy provides an important conceptual framework in relation to armed conflict and conflict resolution and insists that a proper human rights dimension has to be developed, based on a concept of prevention;

26.  Welcomes the London Declaration on Colombia (10 July 2003) and reaffirms the requirement that all parties in the Colombia conflict are required to comply without qualification with all recommendations of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Colombia;

27.  Calls on the Council to ensure that responsibility on human rights issues is made a part of crisis management and of long-term engagement in post-conflict resolution;

28.  Fully supports the Guidelines adopted by the Council on 8 December 2003 on Children and Armed Conflict and looks forward to the Commission's review of Community assistance in this area as a first contribution to the implementation of the Guidelines;

29.  Regrets, in particular, that Parliament's demands for a serious and non-selective application of human rights clauses appear to have had no visible effect on the human rights policies of the Council, the EU Member States and the Commission;

30.  Stresses, in addition, that on several occasions EU human rights policies have been undermined by the non-respect of EU arms embargoes, efforts to lift arms embargoes prematurely and by Member States not maintaining systematically a strict application of the EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports; emphasises that firm political action against the proliferation of all types of weapons, both conventional and WMD, both heavy arms and light weapons, is essential to the success of any EU campaign on human rights;

31.  Regrets that the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements lack clearly defined procedures for implementation of the human rights clause;

32.  Insists on the necessity for a mid-term review of Article 2 of all Association Agreements in order to evaluate whether respect for human rights, particularly women's rights and democratic principles, is fully implemented, and calls for specific mechanisms to enable human rights clauses to be applied more effectively and efficiently;

33.  Calls on the Commission to report back to Parliament on the state of preparation of an implementation mechanism for the human rights clause in order to maintain explicit pressure for significant improvements of the human rights situation in the countries concerned and to encourage sections of society that are in favour of promoting democracy and respect for human rights;

34.  Reiterates its call on the Council, the Commission and Member States to enforce effectively all EU political instruments, including the sanctions policies, in furtherance of human rights and to ensure that actions are not taken which deliberately undermine such policies;

35.  Reiterates its call for periodic review of sanctions policies in order to assess and enhance their effectiveness;

36.  Considers that meetings with parliamentarians and civil society from third countries having signed the human rights clause contribute to Parliament's monitoring of the concrete implementation of the clause, but is of the opinion that this effectiveness could be enhanced;

37.  Welcomes the Commission's communication on 'Reinvigorating EU actions on human rights and democratisation with Mediterranean partners - Strategic Guidelines (COM(2003) 294)', which is aimed at finding a structured approach in order to regularly assess compliance by States with their human rights obligations; supports, in particular, in line with its own proposals, a systematic discussion of human rights issues in the Association Council's meetings and welcomes the fact that the idea of establishing working groups on human rights with partner countries is gaining ground; appreciates, in particular, the 10 concrete recommendations to upgrade knowledge and expertise, improve the dialogue between the EU and its Mediterranean partners as well as to enhance cooperation on human rights issues, including through the development of MEDA National Action Plans on human rights and democracy with those partners willing to engage in such an exercise;

38.  Calls on the Commission to define a coherent EU strategy on human rights, which includes all relevant elements such as the human rights clause, dialogue, financial assistance and the reinforcement of international standards, and which is elaborated in the same way as the existing strategies for the Mediterranean partners, as well as other countries and regions;

39.  Welcomes the entry into force of the new ACP-EU partnership agreement (Cotonou) on 1 April 2003; considers that the human rights clause in the agreement has a clear implementation mechanism providing for procedures to make its application binding, suspension as a last resort and the establishment of dialogue between government and civil society, which merits being negotiated for further agreements with third countries;

40.  Stresses nevertheless that strengthening or resuming EU economic, financial and technical assistance to the developing countries, particularly the ACP countries, can only be envisaged if the authorities of the countries concerned give a parallel undertaking to remedy any continuing human rights abuses in a verifiable and lasting manner and demonstrate their commitment to good governance, democracy and the rule of law through joining in concrete action against persistent human rights violators such as the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe;

41.  In the framework of implementation of the "Wider Europe" policy, supports the Commission in its commitment to ensure that human rights and democratisation issues are fully taken into account in the political chapter of "Wider Europe Action Plans", to be negotiated with the Union's eastern and southern neighbours;

42.  Calls on all states, in the spirit of the UN Millennium Declaration, to put their commitment to uphold respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms into practice and to dedicate themselves to the full and effective implementation of international human rights treaties to which they are parties; this means that whenever domestic laws (e.g. Sharia laws) are contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international treaties, these laws must be amended and brought into line with the commitments that have been given;

43.  Welcomes the UN Human Rights Sub-Commission guidelines on multinational enterprise (18 August 2003), as an important stepping stone towards a binding global code of conduct;

44.  Reiterates its call on all states that have not done so to establish a moratorium on executions, as a first step towards the universal abolition of the death penalty, which no state should reject; calls upon the EU to start a dialogue on invoking the human rights clause against those countries which continue to execute non-adult and disabled individuals;

45.  Regrets the deaths of UN staff in Iraq, symbolic of human rights defenders worldwide; insist that firm policies should be developed to support all those who campaign for the respect of human rights; welcomes therefore the initiative of the Irish Presidency to produce guidelines on the protection of human rights defenders;

46.  Expresses grave concern at the continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has led to a seemingly endless spiral of hatred and violence and to increased suffering for both Israelis and Palestinians;

47.  Shares the deep concern expressed by the Council at the continuation of illegal settlements and expropriation of land for the construction of the so-called 'security fence', which leads to the violation of a number of basic human rights such as freedom of movement, and the right to family life, to work, to health, to an adequate standard of living, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to education; the prohibition on discrimination contained in many international conventions is clearly violated in the closed zone in which Palestinians, but not Israelis, are required to have permits;

48.  Takes note of the fact that the situation in each of the Central Asian countries is different; reiterates its concern with regard to human rights violations and cases of political repression, particularly in Turkmenistan where the human rights situation has deteriorated dramatically recently and in Uzbekistan where there are continuing serious concerns;

49.  Welcomes the determined EU campaign against all forms of torture and degrading behaviour; regrets that by December 2003 only six EU Member States had signed (and ratified) the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture as adopted by the UN in 2002; insists that the human rights clause must be invoked against all economic and political partners of the EU which allow their judiciary and police services to continue torture practices against their citizens; reiterates its concern that the Commission undertakes the financing of torture prevention projects at the cost of projects for the rehabilitation of torture victims; urges that a ban be introduced on the production, sale and exportation of torture equipment;

50.  Reiterates its demand on the EU, and the Commission in particular, to fully support the cause of indigenous populations, in particular to provide all aid possible to the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples and the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations;

51.  Recalls its priorities for the 60th Session of the UNCHR as spelled out in its abovementioned resolution of 10 February 2004;

52.  Reaffirms the importance of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights as the world's highest body for human rights protection to ensure public scrutiny of situations of gross and persistent abuse;

53.  Insists that, for the EU's global human rights policies to be effective, there cannot be 'double standards' in which human rights violations within the enlarged EU are not addressed properly and exemplarily;

54.  Welcomes the EU's support for the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) but reiterates that the EU and its current and future Member States should stand more firm and united against pressure from states which do not wish to adhere to the Court and who want to reduce the ICC's scope and efficiency;

55.  Underlines that no immunity, as recognised under Article 41, paragraph 2, of the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on Diplomatic Relations, should ever afford the possibility of impunity for any individual accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, and is concerned about the fact that some regions of the world are still severely under-represented within the group of countries that have signed and ratified the Rome ICC Statute;

56.  Urges the Council and the Commission to use the EU's political leverage under Cooperation Agreements in order to promote the signature and the ratification of the Rome ICC Statute by as many countries as possible;

57.  Expresses its regret that an ad hoc International Criminal Court has not yet been established by the UN Security Council, as this would be the most expedient way of dealing with the case of the detainees held in Guantánamo;

58.  Asks the US authorities to put an end immediately to the current legal limbo in which the detainees held in Guantánamo Bay have, since their arrival, been placed and to guarantee immediate access to justice in order to determine the status of each individual detainee on a case-by-case basis, either by charging them under the rules laid down in the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions and the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (particularly Articles 9 and 14 thereof) or by releasing them instantly, and to ensure that those charged with war crimes receive a fair trial in accordance with international humanitarian law and in full compliance with international human rights instruments;

59.  Welcomes the projects undertaken by the Commission to promote freedom of expression under the EIDHR, and calls on the Commission to extend such projects specifically to the promotion of freedom of conscience and religion;

60.  Reiterates its call on the Council and the Commission to make the early identification of the abuse of religions for political purposes a priority of EU human rights policy, and calls for reinforced EU efforts to seek to prevent violent religious extremism which threatens human rights;

61.  Calls again on the Council, Commission and Member States to make religious freedom a priority for action in the European Union's relations with third countries where appropriate, and requests that penalties be laid down for violation of this freedom;

62.  Recalls the decision of the Valencia Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference to set up a EuroMed Foundation, providing a structure for intercultural and interreligious dialogue with and between the countries and societies on the Mediterranean's southern shore, and urges all governments involved to provide sufficient funding in order to make the establishment of the Foundation possible by the announced date of 1 July 2004;

63.  Calls on the Commission to enhance the dialogue with non-governmental organisations, including with religious and non-religious organisations, in order to promote peaceful coexistence between different religious and cultural communities; considers that such dialogue should, to start with, take place in the framework of the implementation of the abovementioned Commission Communication;

64.  Reiterates that access to modern communications technologies and language courses can facilitate inter-cultural exchanges, tolerance and understanding for other cultures and religions within and outside the European Union, and welcomes in this respect the many initiatives undertaken by the Commission such as the Euromed Youth programme, the Asialink and the eSchola Programmes, and looks forward to receiving annual evaluations of these programmes;

65.  Insists that there should be no diminution of support by the Commission and Council for mine action and stresses the importance of assistance to countries and NGOs engaged in activities to clear anti-personnel landmines and other unexploded ordnance, as well as assistance to mine victims; urges the Commission to publish regular progress reports to clarify how far the Member States of the enlarged EU adhere to their obligations under the Ottawa Treaty (a global ban on anti-personnel landmines) and to what extent these states follow Parliament's expressed wish that cluster submunitions no longer be used;

66.  Underlines that the fight against terrorism has to take place in the framework of international law; calls on the Council and the Member States to work actively in the preparation of the Draft International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism and the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism, which should include an internationally recognised status for victims of terrorist acts, as a means of further developing a comprehensive legal framework of conventions dealing with terrorism and to inform Parliament regularly about important developments in this area;

67.  Acknowledges that the legal or regulatory policy concerning reproductive health falls within the Member States' sphere of competence, but considers that on an international level the EU is obliged to do its utmost to meet the Millennium Development Goals and to ensure that obligations are fulfilled in the framework of the UN Charter, UN Conventions and many other agreements covering the issue;

68.  Calls on the Commission to pay particular attention to assisting not only developing countries, but also countries in Eastern Europe, Latin America and Asia, which are not covered by the Cotonou Agreement, and to provide financial and technical support as well as training for personnel;

69.  Welcomes the action taken by ECHO in the field of humanitarian aid, which often has a component of reproductive health, and urges it to pay even greater attention to the dramatic situation caused by the lack of access to all aspects of reproductive health in emergency situations and in refugee camps;

70.  Insists that the Council and the Member States have to address even more firmly the magnitude of HIV/AIDS, which represents a major threat to global security, with 3 million people dying yearly despite the possibility of treatment; underlines that the fight against HIV/AIDS must include effective public health programmes involving education, prevention, treatment, care and support;

71.  Calls on the Commission to step up its funding of educational programmes devoted to reproductive health, focusing on the fight against sexual violence and female genital cutting or mutilation, and educating people on responsible sexual behaviour and the use of modern family planning methods, as well as available HIV/AIDS preventive methods;

72.  Calls on the Council to act upon its stated intention to step up funding for the Global Fund, specifically for programmes in the field of reproductive health as well as funding of NGOs under all assistance programmes (TACIS, PHARE, MEDA, CARDS, etc.) via not only health projects, but also projects dedicated to drug problems and general educational and awareness-raising projects;

73.  Asks the Commission, in particular, to step up its reproductive health programmes in the TACIS area as the situation is increasingly worrying and the countries concerned do not have the means to meet educational and supply needs, which results in a sharp increase of HIV/AIDS transmission (1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Eastern Europe/Central Asia), an extremely high rate of abortions (3.6 abortions per lifetime per woman), poor-quality contraceptive methods and a high infant mortality rate (up to 74 per 1000 compared to 5 per 1000 in France);

74.  Calls on the Member States to meet their obligations under the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as one of the most effective means in the fight against AIDS and other contagious, poverty-related diseases;

75.  Calls on the Commission and the Council to take all appropriate measures as soon as possible, including the necessary legislative measures, to fulfil their commitment to act upon the decision of the General Council of the World Trade Organisation on the Implementation of Paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health;

76.  Welcomes the report on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health presented to the 60th Session of the Commission on Human Rights, and the report on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and other aspects related to the issue;

77.  Calls on the Commission to make up for the loss of funds due to the Mexico City Policy, and to the US policy advocating exclusively abstinence promotion programmes, in particular to step in for the funds withheld from UNFPA and the funds cancelled for NGO programmes;

78.  Urges all Member States and applicant countries to respect the human right to privacy and the right to travel freely, and to fully respect the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights in this area; is outraged at recent attempts by applicant countries to disregard this ruling;

79.  Calls on the Commission and Council to make ratification of the Maputo Protocol one of their priorities in relations with third countries affected by the phenomenon of female genital mutilation;

80.  Regrets that people arrested in Egypt on grounds of their sexual orientation are all too often denied certain aspects of their fundamental human rights, including the right to a fair trial;

81.  Following persistent arrests and harassment of homosexual men in Egypt and the entrapment of homosexuals by security services over the internet, expresses deep concern about the denial of fundamental rights, including the right to free association, the right to privacy and the right to a fair trial;

82.  Welcomes the statement of the Council in the EU Annual Report on Human Rights 2003 on the situation of disabled people and the steps taken in the international arena towards advancement of persons with disabilities; however, considers that although some progress has been made, persons with disabilities are still unable to fully enjoy human rights on an equal basis;

83.  Notes with regret that in some states there are numerous obstacles, unacceptable restrictions and/or limits to access to training and/or education for disabled children, adolescents or students, in so-called normal as well as special schools, disregarding the human right to education and training;

84.  Considers that accessibility and use of public space and the built environment, both public and private, is a fundamental right and an essential guarantee of disabled people's freedom of movement, equal opportunities, and freedom from discrimination and thus of respect for human rights;

85.  Stresses that disabled people exercising their right to mobility must not suffer any form of direct or indirect discrimination, whether deliberate or not, or financial discrimination, and regrets that public transport (buses, coaches, taxis, underground trains, trams, and transport by rail, air, river and sea) are still hard for disabled people (and their guide dogs) to access and use;

86.  Deplores the human rights abuse experienced by many disabled people in the world, notably disabled persons living in institutions subject to degrading treatment, violence and abuse, as well as exploitation of disabled persons by organised begging and cases of forced sterilisation, and calls on the Commission to draw up a specific report on the subject of human rights abuse of disabled people;

87.  Condemns the continued use of caged beds for some mentally ill patients in a small number of Accession countries and calls on the Commission to encourage and support a swift end to this inhuman and degrading method of restraint;

88.  Welcomes the programmes set up to provide proper medical assistance for at least some of the Chechen children terribly affected by the war in their country and calls on all Member States and the EU itself to help strengthen humanitarian programmes of this kind so as to cater for the enormous needs of the Chechen population in this respect;

89.  Asks the Commission to include in the horizontal EIDHR programme measures to increase awareness of the human rights of disabled people among various social and political actors and decision-makers in the partner countries, as is happening in the area of cultural dialogue, and to include in the various countries" strategic programmes objectives concerning the accessibility for disabled people of health care, education and public buildings in that country;

90.  Supports the assistance provided by ECHO and disability NGOs in emergencies; stresses that psychiatric problems caused by conflicts must be diagnosed and treated, particularly in children;

91.  Asks the Commission to record the various ways of caring for and treating disabled people in the countries with which it has Cooperation Agreements and to identify and reinforce good practice, while remaining aware of the particular circumstances of each country;

92.  Insists that the unacceptable differences between rich and poor countries in the options available for treating post-infection and post-trauma disabilities must be reduced as a priority through appropriate programmes;

93.  Calls on the Member States and the Council to continue their support for an International Convention to ensure the full enjoyment of human rights by persons with disabilities, to actively support its resolution of 3 September 2003 and to ensure that the UN Convention includes effective monitoring and implementation mechanisms at both national and international level, also guaranteeing the active participation of representative disability organisations throughout the process;

94.  Reiterates its call on the Commission and the Council to strongly support initiatives to promote and enhance the fight against caste discrimination in all relevant United Nations fora; calls on the Commission and the Council to ensure that the issue of caste discrimination and policies to combat this wide-spread form of racism is properly addressed in all country strategy papers, mid-term reviews of these and communications on countries affected by it;

95.  Deplores that no action has been taken by the Commission and the Council to enhance the political and human rights dialogue with caste afflicted countries on the issue of the continued dehumanising practice of caste discrimination, and that the effectiveness of EU human rights policy in terms of addressing caste discrimination still remains to be assessed;

96.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the accession countries, the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the governments of the countries mentioned in this resolution and the offices of the main human rights NGOs based in the EU.

(1) NB: for all relevant basic texts, please consult the table annexed to report A5-0270/2004 of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy.
(2) OJ C 379, 7.12.1998, p. 265; OJ C 262, 18.9.2001, p. 262; OJ C 293 E, 28.11.2002, p. 88; OJ C 271 E, 12.11.2003, p. 576.
(3) CoE document 9901, 11.9.2003.
(4) OJ C 78, 2.4.2002, p. 66.
(5) OJ C 77 E, 28.3.2002, p. 126
(6) OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.
(7) P5_TA(2003)0370.
(8) OJ L 317, 15.12.2000, p. 3.
(9) P5_TA(2003)0518.
(10) OJ C 20, 20.1.1997, p. 389.
(11) P5_TA-PROV(2004)0154.
(12) P5_TA(2003)0375 adopted 4.9.2003; OJ C 131 E, 5.06.2003, p. 138; OJ C 65 E, 14.3.2002, p. 336; OJ C 377, 29.12.2000, p. 336; OJ C 98, 9.4.1999, p. 270; OJ C 20, 20.1.1997, p. 161; OJ C 126, 22.5.1995, p. 15; OJ C 115, 26.4.1993, p. 214; OJ C 267, 14.10.1991, p. 165; OJ C 47, 27.2.1989, p. 61; OJ C 99, 13.4.1987, p. 157; OJ C 343, 31.12.1985, p. 29; OJ C 172, 2.7.1984, p. 36; OJ C 161, 10.6.1983, p. 58.
(13) OJ C 38 E, 12.2.2004, p. 247.
(14) P5_TA(2003)0462.
(15) P5_TA(2004) 0079.
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Worldwide, resistance and alternatives to free trade

29/11/2016

European Parliament, Brussels, 7 December 2016, 14:30, room ASP1G2 | Followed by three workshops for the follow-up, on 8 December at 09:30 and a short plenary from 11:30 to 13:00.

Worldwide, resistance and alternatives to free trade

Worldwide, resistance and alternatives to free trade

European Parliament, Brussels, 7 December 2016, 14:30, room ASP1G2

(Interpretation: FR, DE, IT, NL, EN, DA, EL, ES, PT, FI, SV, CS)

Introductory words: Gabi Zimmer, President GUE/NGL

Panel 1:  Why we oppose free trade deals, lessons from different parts  of the world:

Moderated by MEP Stelios Kouloglou, Greece

- Jane Nalunga, Southern & Eastern Africa Trade Information & Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), Uganda

- Celeste Drake, AFL-CIO - America’s Unions, USA

- Luciana Ghiotto, Attac:TNI, Argentina

- Toni Salvador, Philippine campaign, The Philippines

Panel 2:   Building alternatives to FTAs:

Moderated by MEP Eleonora Forenza, Italy

- Emiliano Brancaccio, Sanio University, Italy

- Manuel Perez-Rocha, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington

- Representative of the Consumers Union of Japan

- Sergi Corbalan, Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Panel 3:  The way forward to consolidate alternatives

Moderated by MEP Helmut Scholz, Germany

-  Ana Cazzini, Campact anti-TTIP campaign, Germany

- Jorge Marchini, Fundación para la integración Latinoam. /CADTM AYNA, Argentina

-  Delmah Ndhlovu, Zimbabwe Small holder Organic Farmers Forum, Via Campesina

-  Adriana Espinosa, Universidad Carlos III, Spain

Concluding words

-  Brid Brenan, Transnational Institute (TNI), Amsterdam

Followed by three workshops (see registration form) for the follow-up, on 8 December at 09:30 and a short plenary from 11:30 to 13:00.

Conference

The current debate over CETA and TTIP in Europe, the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, and the federal election campaign in the United States, among others, have highlighted how many people, in the both Southern and Northern  countries as well, are deeply concerned about free trade.

Deals like TTIP, CETA, TPP, TiSA, the EPAs, and EU bilateral free trade deals with Japan, Tunisia, Singapore, Mercosur (...) are facilitating an unprecedented level of power for multinational companies; the concentration of wealth among ‘the one per cent’; the liberalisation of public goods and services; an absurd division of labour; the ‘race to the bottom’ of endless and senseless competition; and favouring foreign investors. The neoliberal model of trade and economics is offering no future for those who cannot fit into this model or those who don’t accept exploitation and environmental destruction.

The more these deals and their consequences are imposed on people, the more opposition grows. While the far right is attempting to capitalise politically on this discontent without providing any credible and democratic solutions, progressive organisations and individuals are building real alternatives and fairer approaches to trade are rapidly expanding.

Across all continents, social movements and progressive political forces are organising more and more effectively against free trade agreements, the power of corporations and speculative investors. Millions of people are standing up to defend public health; public services; democracy; cultural diversity; sustainable and autonomous energy; small, medium and cooperative farming; the precautionary principle; the commons; the right of all countries to protect sensitive sectors of their economies; and the free movement of people. Millions of fair and sustainable alternatives based on principle of democracy and solidarity are emerging to replace the current unfair trade model.

GUE/NGL is organising this Conference to facilitate dialogue and coordination among the organisations and individuals who are resisting free trade and building better alternatives for people and for the planet.  

Registration: HERE                       Contact : paul-emile.dupret@europarl.europa.eu

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