Wide Range of Social Concerns - Crime, the Aging, Disabled - Acted on by Third Committee

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Wide range of social concerns--crime, the aging, disabled--acted on by Third Committee

Thirteen drafts covering such topics as the world social situation, crime prevention, aging, the disabled, and national experience in achieving social and economic change were approved by the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) in November.

The Committee, after reviewing the 1985 report on the World Social Situation, asked the General Assembly to call on Member States to implement within their national plans "an interrelated set of policy measures" in the fields of employment, education, health, nutrition, housing facilities, crime prevention, the well-being of children, equal opportunities for the disabled and the aging, and the participation of youth and women in development.

By a vote--120-1-23--taken on 27 November, the Assembly was also asked to note with "deep concern the continuing deterioration of the economic and social situation of the world", particularly in the developing countries and in Africa, where the situation is "critical".

Also by that draft--one of three approved by the Committee on the subject of the world social situation--the Secretary-General would be requested to continue monitoring the world social situation "in depth" on a regular basis and to submit the next full report on that question to the General Assembly in 1989, through the Economic and Social Council.

The Assembly also would reaffirm the "urgent need" to implement the objectives contained in the 1969 Declaration on Social Progress and Development, the International Development Strategy for the Third United Nations Development Decade, and the Substantial New Programme of Action for the 1980s for the Least Developed Countries. It would also call for implementation of General Assembly resolution 39/29 which contains the Declaration on the Critical Economic Situation in Africa.

The Committee reviewed the 1985 Report of the World Social Situation (E/CN.5/1985/2/Rev. 1), prepared by the Office for Development Research and Policy Analysis, Department of International Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations. The report, a major document before the Committee, discusses obstacles to social progress, analyses "pervasive forces" of social change, and details certain social challenges and conditions (see UN Chronicle 1985, No. 5).

"Social conditions have been changed profoundly since 1945, by technology and by decolonization, to take two prominent influences," stated the report. "But that they stubbornly resist change in other areas is testified to by the persistence of violent conflict and mass poverty. Current social trends remain, as ever, ambivalent and blurred."

The eleventh in a series of reports issued beginning in 1952, the report also provides an analysis of the implementation of the Declaration on Social Progress and Development in light of the International Development Strategy.

Another major social issue considered by the Third Committee in November was that of crime prevention and criminal justice, with emphasis on recommendations of the Seventh United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, held in Milan, Italy, (26 August-6 September 1985). Six decisions were taken, all without a vote, on that issue.

In addition, the Committee approved texts on the implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons and on the United Nations Decade of Disabled Persons (1983-1992); implementation of the International Plan of Action on Aging; and on national experience in achieving far-reaching social and economic changes for the purpose of social progress. All those texts were adopted without a vote on 19 November, with the exception of the draft on national experience which was approved by a vote of 120-1 (United States)-15.

Shuaib Uthman Yolah, Under-Secretary-General for International Economic and Social Affairs, in describing world socio-economic trends, before the Third Committee, said that the economic situation of developing countries in 1985 was not improving, that, in fact, the year might be the start of a protracted period of "very low growth" in those countries. …