7 February 2018
Fifty-sixth session, 11th Meeting (AM)

Social Development Commission Recommends Four Draft Resolutions on Future Working Methods, Priority Themes, as It Concludes Fifty-Sixth Session

The Commission for Social Development, acting by consensus on the final day of its fifty‑sixth session, decided to forward four draft resolutions to the Economic and Social Council, including one aimed at further focusing the Commission’s working methods in future sessions.

By the terms of a text titled “Future organization and methods of work of the Commission for Social Development” (document E/CN.5/2018/L.5) — which was approved without a vote as orally revised — the Economic and Social Council would decide that, going forward, the Commission would consider a single priority theme at each session, leading to the proposal of an action‑oriented resolution with recommendations to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  It would also decide that the 2019 priority theme would be “Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies”, and further request the Commission to adopt a multi‑year programme of work to guide its future sessions.

Speaking on that resolution, the representative of the United States said that while his delegation had joined the consensus, each country had its own development priorities and must be able to work within national parameters.

A draft resolution titled “Social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development” (document E/CN.5/2018/L.4) was also approved without a vote, as orally amended.  Introducing that text on behalf of the “Group of 77” developing countries and China, the representative of Egypt said ongoing efforts were giving a global impetus in the drive to leave no one behind, with development remaining at the core of the Group of 77.  Focusing on Africa was essential, she said, emphasizing that areas of focus included health, clean water, sanitation and empowering women and girls, with the draft resolution emphasizing the need to scale up efforts.  Despite the lack of progress in World Trade Organization discussions, the Group of 77 reiterated a call for a resumption of negotiations and for Member States to enhance their efforts in that regard.

After the Commission approved the draft resolution without a vote, the representative of the United States expressed his delegation’s disappointment, citing problematic elements in the text.

The Commission approved, also without a vote, a draft resolution titled “Third review and appraisal of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002” (document E/CN.5/2018/L.3), by whose terms the Council would encourage Member States to further strengthen their implementation of that Plan.  Among other things, it would recognize the potential of older persons and their essential contributions to societies and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’s implementation.  The Council would also encourage States to take into account the multidimensional nature of the vulnerability of older persons to poverty and economic insecurity, including through the promotion of good health, care and well‑being in their implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals at the national level.  Expressing concern that growing older presented a significant additional risk of vulnerability to economic insecurity and poverty, the Council would further encourage States to adopt measures and policies aimed at providing economic and social security and health care to older persons.

Acting again without a vote, the Commission approved a draft resolution titled “Strategies for eradicating poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”.

Prior to taking action, several delegates shared their delegations’ positions on elements of the latter, including on declaring their opposition to abortion.  An observer of the Holy See said abortion must not be part of the definition of terms regarding reproductive health and rights and that some of the text’s elements were, in the name of sustainable development, harmful to the most vulnerable.

Similarly, the United States’ representative said that while his delegation had joined the consensus on that draft resolution and remained committed to the Beijing Declaration and the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action, it did not support abortion, nor did it support the right to education.  Further, he said references in the draft resolution that aimed at guaranteeing girls’ safety in schools should only be aspirational.  Pointing out that the Second Committee (Economic and Financial) had approved a similar text, he said the draft resolution before the Commission today was duplicative and his delegation also disagreed on language on, among other things, global economic governance.  Moreover, official development assistance must be focused on those with the greatest needs, and in that regard, other resources must be cultivated.  On the issue of climate change, the United States’ position was clear, he said.

Expressing his position on several draft resolutions, the representative of El Salvador said that with regard to the text on poverty eradication strategies, any initiative to promote the 2030 Agenda was intrinsically linked with efforts geared towards vulnerable groups, including youth, women and older persons.  Turning to the draft resolution on working methods, his delegation commended the reference to the Economic and Social Council and the steps it would take to streamline efforts.  Highlighting the multidimensional nature of poverty, he also more broadly welcomed bringing issues of concern to the discussion table in a manner that promoted the 2030 Agenda.

Also on that agenda item, the Commission took note of a document titled “Implementation of the objectives of the International Year of the Family and its follow‑up processes” (document A/73/61-E/2018/4) as well as a note by the Secretariat on “Emerging issues:  towards sustainable and resilient societies: innovation and interconnectivity for social development” (document E/CN.5/2018/5).

In further action, the Commission approved, without a vote, the provisional agenda and documentation for its fifty‑seventh session (document E/CN.5/2018/L.1), as well as the draft report for its fifty‑sixth session (document E/CN.5/2018/L.2).  Mihaela Mecea (Romania), Rapporteur of the Commission, introduced the latter.

In closing remarks, Commission Chair Nikulas Hannigan (Iceland) said the session’s work had proceeded smoothly thanks to efforts by the Secretariat, the Vice‑Chairs, a number of strong keynote speakers and a range of other participants.  Over the last eight days, the Commission had convened four substantive panel discussions, each of which had been followed by highly interactive discussions.  There had also been an unprecedentedly robust level of participation by civil society, whose forum had been incorporated in the Commission’s work for the first time.  Nevertheless, he said, the Commission could become even stronger and more focused in future sessions, working to support not only the agenda of the Economic and Social Council but also carrying more value “in and of itself”.

Noting that the Commission had decided, through the resolutions adopted today, to take up several new working methods, he said that going forward it would consider a single priority theme each year.  That change that would help it “keep in step” with the Economic and Social Council’s work, he said, adding that the Commission would develop an action‑oriented resolution on its theme to present each year to the Council.  During its 2019 session, the Commission would also elaborate a multi‑year programme of work, and consider how to better support implementation at the national level “for those who need it most”.

At the meeting’s outset, Mesbah Ansari, Deputy Director for Human Rights of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iran, briefed the Commission as part of its consideration of the topic “Towards inclusive, resilient and sustainable development:  an evidence‑based approach to the mainstreaming of disability in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the 2030 Agenda”.  Pointing out that 5 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals related directly to the issue of disability — including by guaranteeing the right to inclusive and accessible education and employment, the political inclusion of persons with disabilities and the creation of accessible cities as well as affordable and accessible transport systems — he said disability issues nevertheless cut across all the 2030 Agenda’s goals and targets.

Outlining various evolving methodologies for the more effective collection of disaggregated data on persons with disabilities, he said that, as the father of a child with a disability, he understood the frustrations of bureaucratic barriers.  “What we know is that we have to move forward,” he stressed, calling on countries to put in place pilot plans for data collection and later enshrine them in national policies.  Warning that the target year of 2030 was “just around the corner”, he said the massive potential of social media and civil society groups should be harnessed to accelerate progress.  In addition, he proposed that United Nations commissions related to social development and disability issues hear more “inspirational success stories” of social inclusion, and that the Organization consider establishing an annual prize for innovative, sustainable cities.

Immediately following the closure of the fifty‑sixth session, the Commission opened the first meeting of its fifty‑seventh session in order to elect, by acclamation, Sama Salim Poules Poules (Iraq) as Vice‑Chair.  It also decided to postpone the election of the remaining members of the Bureau from the African States, the Eastern European States, the Latin American and Caribbean States and the Western European and other States.

For information media. Not an official record.