Italy’s Statement at the Debate on Social Development in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly

NEW YORK, 69th SESSION OF THE UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY, THIRD COMMITTEE, FIRST MEETING ON ITEM 26 (SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT), 7 OCTOBER 2014.

On 7 October 2014, during the debate in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly, Italy’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Lambertini, expressed the position of Italy on social development. After declaring that Italy aligned itself with the statement made by the European Union, Mr Lambertini addressed the issues of persons with disabilities, youth empowerment, rights of the elderly, gender equality, and role of families, including non-traditional couples, in the development process. He said:

Because the world’s economy is still living the aftermath of the financial and economic crisis, it is particularly timely and necessary for the UN agenda to focus on social development. The Third Committee will address many of the most urgent social development issues under item 26. I would like to briefly address some of them.

Inclusive and sustainable development cannot take place without the full participation of all persons, including those with disabilities. This is not just a moral imperative: it is also a smart choice. Since Italy ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2009, we have established a National Observatory on the status of persons with disabilities.
Last year we developed a Biennial Action Plan for the full empowerment of persons with disabilities. Within the Biennial Action Plan specific measures are foreseen, in close collaboration with the Italian Network on Disabilities and Development, on the protection of most vulnerable persons with disability in Developing Partner Countries, particularly in the case of humanitarian emergencies.

Through a series of international cooperation projects, the most important being the International Network on Disabilities and Development, Italy is actively promoting the empowerment of persons with disabilities around the world. This is why we welcome the inclusion of disabilities in the Proposals of the Open Working Group for Sustainable Development Goals. Education, employment, social inclusion and accessibility of public spaces and transport should be granted to all persons with disabilities. We are committed to assuring that references to these goals will be maintained in the final version of the Post-2015 Development Agenda. As designated Vice Chair of the Bureau of the eighth Session of the Conference of State Parties to the CRPD, Italy is eager to work on these issues together with all the Parties and stakeholders.

Another issue that will be at the centre of our discussion is the empowerment of youth. Youthful unemployment threatens development and the recovery from the financial and economic crisis in many countries in Europe and the world. The UN has a crucial role to play in assuring that adequate measures are taken to fully empower young people. We look forward to continuing our cooperation with the UN World Programme of Action for Youth to develop new approaches to the issue of empowering young people. Some promising approaches, focused on the role of sports, access to financial services, and protecting young persons with mental disabilities have been developed in recent years, and deserve increased attention from the international community.

While a focus on youth is crucial, a truly inclusive society cannot exclude the elderly. Older persons are not an obstacle: they are a resource. In this regard, the Open-ended Working Group on Ageing continues to be an effective instrument. We all should continue to assure that the elderly fully enjoy universal human rights and promote their social inclusion.

We are firmly convinced that gender equality underlies all these issues. The commitments undertaken in the Beijing Platform for Action must be respected and implemented. The Beijing+20 process will play a crucial role. We commend the work of the UN Commission on the Status of Women for its efforts to achieve gender equality. In this regard, Italy organise a ministerial event on September 24th together with Ghana, WFP, IDLO and UN Women on “Food Security and Women’s Empowerment.” Next year’s World Expo 2015, to be held in Milan with a focus on the theme “Feeding the planet,” will be a valuable opportunity to explore the link between gender equality and food security, especially through the Women for Expo platform.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family, we wish to voice the importance we attach to an institution at the heart of the Italian legal system: a dynamic player in the development process. We recognise the needs of non-traditional couples and families and we are strongly committed to adopting measures to sustain the family and its members in all their needs and rights.

In tackling these and the other challenges we will have to face, Italy is ready to engage with the inclusive approach we have always pursued and is determined to play its role in advancing the world social development agenda.

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