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Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations arrow Newsarrow 52nd Session of the Commission for Social Development. Statement delivered by Ms. Nafsika Vraila, Deputy Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of Greece

52nd Session of the Commission for Social Development. Statement delivered by Ms. Nafsika Vraila, Deputy Permanent Representative Permanent Mission of Greece

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Statement delivered by

Ms. Nafsika Vraila
Deputy Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Greece

52nd Session of the Commission for Social Development
Agenda Item 3a)
General discussion
Priority Theme

United Nations

New York

11 February 2014


(Check against delivery)


Thank you, Chair,

I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries Turkey, Montenegro*, and Serbia*, the countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

Madame Chair,

With regard to the way the position of the EU and its Member States is stated in this Commission, we do not want to delay the proceedings in this general discussion, but we find it important to underline our views: while I have the honour to deliver this statement today, we are still in the process of clarifying how the EU can deliver its statements in the context of the ECOSOC reform Resolution 68/1.

We thank the Department of Economic and Social Affairs for the preparatory work carried out in advance of this session and the Secretary-General for his informative report which provides a good basis for our debate today. We welcome the focus of this session of the Commission for Social Development on the empowerment of people. We agree that it is a key objective of social development and an essential means of eradicating poverty, promoting social integration and contributing to the creation of productive employment and decent work for all.
Long-term poverty reduction and shared prosperity for all are a key part of the external dimension of EU policies.  In the last 12 years, 600 million people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. The MDGs played an important role in this achievement. With developing countries in the lead, we must continue our common efforts towards reaching the MDGs.

While substantial progress has been made, the achievements of the MDGs have been unevenly distributed, not only between countries but also within countries. Benefits of economic growth have not been always adequately shared. Poverty still remains a pressing global challenge. Discrimination and inequalities, unemployment, precarious employment, access to basic services and social protection, access to human development services, productive resources and an inadequate standard of living are still of universal concern. Now we need to design an ambitious overarching post-2015 framework that uses the MDGs as a springboard towards making poverty a thing of the past. Enhancing productive capacity, developing sustainable agriculture and promoting education for all and skills development, appropriate training and retraining, full and productive employment and decent work for all, with an emphasis on youth and women, reduction of inequalities as well as access to productive resources and adequate social protection need to be addressed.

The Commission for Social Development has an essential role to play in ensuring the promotion of the social component as one of the three pillars of sustainable development in the post-2015 Agenda, especially in the light of the adoption of General Assembly resolution 68/1, on the strengthening of ECOSOC. This will notably be the case during the integration segment of the revised ECOSOC cycle, which aims at promoting and monitoring the balanced integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development throughout the work of the ECOSOC system.
Within the EU, "The European Platform against Poverty and Social Exclusion" initiative, launched as part of the Europe 2020 Strategy lays the foundations for a strong and balanced recovery. - It aims at ensuring an equitable approach that prioritizes social inclusion, while recognizing the interdependence of the other two core goals - poverty eradication and full employment.

We also stress the importance of tackling youth unemployment and inactivity - which has reached unprecedented levels in many countries, as well as promoting decent work for young people. In this regard, the EU's key priority is now the implementation of the Youth Guarantee, to ensure that all young people under 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within four months of leaving formal education or becoming unemployed. We are ready to share our experiences with all interested parties in this regards.

These are all challenges that cannot be overcome without empowering people to be agents of their own positive change. An empowered society, in its entire diversity, represents an integral component of any democracy, a rich resource for the development of more effective and equitable policies, and a key contribution to inclusive sustainable growth and development.

In promoting empowerment particular attention must be paid to the empowerment of women. We stress in particular the close inter-linkages between sustainable achievements in poverty reduction and economic and social development and the empowerment of women, including at the political level. Gender equality should therefore be central to programming, implementation, monitoring and evaluation policies.

Particular attention must also be paid to people who are socially and economically disadvantaged, including poor children, persons belonging to minorities, indigenous peoples, refugees, migrants and persons with disabilities - many of whom are among those at highest risk of suffering social exclusion and poverty.
As the Secretary General's report rightly recognizes, all Governments can adopt an empowering approach to policymaking and policy implementation - ensuring that social, economic, political and legal institutions are open and inclusive - in order to create an enabling environment for the effective participation of all members of the society in decision making. Respect for, and the promotion and protection of, human rights - such as promotion of non-discrimination, freedom of expression, opinion, assembly and association, both on-line and offline, as well as equal access to the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights - are essential to empowerment. Furthermore, transparency, accountability and the fair and impartial administration of justice are necessary safeguards to these rights and to their meaningful exercise.

The report rightly emphasizes the need for governments to strengthen civic engagement in general and foster broad-based inclusive partnerships with all stakeholders. The role of civil society organizations, including social partners, is of particular importance in this regard. They have the capacity to empower, represent, defend and reach out to vulnerable or socially excluded groups. They can also encourage economic and human development, as well as social cohesion and innovation. Moreover, these organizations often engage in initiatives to advance participatory democracy for transparent, accountable and legitimate governance, including in fragile situations.

More specifically, the role of trade union and employers' organizations and of social dialogue, one of the four pillars of decent work, needs to be given greater recognition, as provided for by the fundamental principles and rights at work promoted by the ILO.

We particularly welcome the attention paid in the Secretary General's Report to social protection as a practical measure to promote empowerment. We reiterate our support for the "Recommendation Concerning National Floors of Social Protection," adopted at the 2012 International Labour Conference, and underline our continued support for the Decent Work Agenda, one of whose pillars is social protection.

A large number of people remain trapped in chronic poverty and vulnerability, which is increasingly associated with exclusion and marginalization. This requires greater emphasis to be put on measures that relieve poverty, support investments in human development and, in the longer term, inclusive and sustainable growth. Such growth should be characterized by an increased ability of individuals, families and groups to participate in wealth and job creation and to benefit from universal access to basic services, such as health and education. Social protection policies can play a transformative role in society by fostering equity and promoting social inclusion. Social partners and civil society should be empowered and encouraged to partner with the state in developing and implementing social protection systems. The EU will encourage partner countries to include in their national policies the provision of higher levels of social security through, inter alia, income security and universal and non-discriminatory access to essential services throughout the life cycle.

The EU recognizes that social protection is a human right that is essential for the eradication of poverty. It should also be seen as an infrastructure for human development without which sustainable and inclusive economic growth would not be possible. We should consider social protection systems as strategic investment and as a pillar to inclusive and sustainable growth, and not as a cost thus preventing accumulation of disadvantage over the life course and breaking cycle of poverty by investing in people's skills and capacities to improve their opportunities and ensuring that all people realize their full potential. We stress our support to the development of inclusive, nationally-owned social protection policies and programs, including social protection floors.

Finally, the EU also sees a clear need to intensify efforts to promote and protect economic, social and cultural rights. We consider it necessary to strengthen efforts to ensure universal and non-discriminatory access to affordable basic services of adequate quality, with a particular focus on poor and vulnerable groups.

Thank you, Chair.

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