Human Rights and Measures to Help the Homeless among Main Concerns of Economic and Social Council; Issues Relating to Drugs, Women Also on Agenda

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Human rights and measures to help the homeless among main concerns of Economic and Social Council

A WIDE VARIETY of issues relating to human rights, including the right to adequate housing, was among the major issues discussed at the first regular session in 1987 of the Economic and Social Council (4-29 May, New York). The 54-member body adopted 63 resolutions and 46 decisions on such other matters as illicit drug traffic, the status of women, social development, crime control, disaster relief assistance, natural resources, racial discrimination, youth, the aging and the disabled.

World-wide efforts to promote the goals of the United Nations-sponsored International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, being observed this year, were examined.

In one text, the Council expressed its deep concern that millions of people did not enjoy the right to adequate housing, and reiterated the need to take appropriate measures, at the national and international levels, to promote the right of all persons to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate housing.

States and international organizations concerned were called on to develop shelter strategies and settlement improvement programmes. The vote on that text was 53 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (United States).

In a related action, Governments and all national and international institutions concerned were asked by the Council to adopt decisive steps to achieve the objectives and goals of the International Year for the Homeless. In assessing the results of the Year, the Secretary-General was to pay due attention to the social and human aspects of housing for the poor and disadvantaged and, in that connection, to the practical follow-up of the Year through the Commission for Human Settlements.

Particular situations relating to human rights in specific countries and areas were also discussed and acted on, among them issues concerning southern Africa.

Action to advance the status of women in general was recommended, and recommendations made for a third and fourth world conference on women's rights to be held not later than 1990 and in the year 2000. Consideration was to be given to proclaiming an International Year of the Family.

Within the framework of the United Nations system, the Secretary-General was asked to continue to bring into focus the implementation of the social aspects of the United Nations Programme of Action for African Economic Recovery and Development 1986-1990, adopted by the General Assembly in June 1986. The Council appealed for increased co-operation and assistance in establishing or improving the infrastructure necessary for sustained social development in Africa.

Disaster relief assistance to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, the Sudan, Uganda, Vanuatu, El Salvador and Ecuador was approved. Seven resolutions were adopted on the recommendation of the Council's Committee on Natural Resources (see p. 70), including a text concerning progress in implementation of the Mar del Plata Action Plan, adopted at the 1977 United Nations Water Conference in Argentina. The Council also granted Category II consultative status to 33 non-governmental organizations and roster status to 20 others.

Council officers are: Eugeniusz Norowyta of Poland, President; and Abdel Halim Badwai of Egypt, Lloyd M. R. Barnett of Jamaica, Paul Laberge of Canada and Aneesuddin Ahmed of Pakistan, Vice-Presidents.

Apartheid, racism

Among texts concerned with the situation in southern Africa was one by which repression of the independent black trade union movement by the South African Government was condemned. The Council also demanded the immediate release of all trade unionists imprisoned for exercising their legitimate trade union rights.

In acting on the recommendation of its Commission on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) (see p. …