Remarks at a Meeting of the Third Committee on Agenda Item 28: General Discussion on Social Development

Sofija Korac
ECOSOC Advisor
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 2, 2018



Thank you. The United States champions social development and the empowerment of social groups through government policies and programs at the domestic and international levels. These groups, including older persons, youth, and persons with disabilities participate in UN fora demonstrating their ability to make significant contributions to the broader society. The United States has documented our dynamic efforts for social development on various websites and in our detailed responses to UN questionnaires. Rather than outlining specific national efforts, today I will speak on how the United Nations can best promote social development.

The Secretary-General’s reform agenda calls for eliminating overlap and duplication among UN bodies and structuring UN institutions so that they augment the UN’s existing efforts. Since the Commission’s establishment over 70 years ago, other UN bodies, mechanisms, and frameworks have come into being which examine the same topics it considers in a more thorough and effective way. These include the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the High-Level Political Forum, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, and the Conference of States Parties in the UN Disabilities Convention. Given the existence and continuing work of these high-profile bodies and processes, we need to ask whether the Commission is still able to provide added-value to debate on these subjects.

The annual CSocD sessions have a standing agenda item on the improvement of the Commission’s future organization and methods of work. As long as the CSocD continues in its current role, and as Member States continue their efforts to strengthen the Commission, the United States offers the following recommendations to improve its performance in the near term. First, we favor shorter annual sessions. A ten-day meeting is not needed because Member States start negotiating draft resolutions before a session begins. Two to four days are sufficient for hearing prepared statements, discussing the main theme, and acting on negotiated documents. Second, we propose eliminating multiple reoccurring resolutions and having a single negotiated document on the annual main theme. Member States should strive to make the document action-oriented to effect meaningful improvements in people’s lives, a main objective of social development. Various UN commissions, including the Commission on the Status of Women, have successfully used this approach to consider a topic comprehensively and give attention to emerging issues. Third, the CSocD should reduce its number of reports, which are resource-intensive and which duplicate work being done elsewhere. Documentation for the 2018 session included reports on the 2030 Agenda, older persons, and persons with disabilities. A report on the World Summit for Social Development mentioned in detail these groups as well as indigenous peoples and children. Reports with similar analysis and conclusions are already being prepared throughout the UN system. Our proposed reforms are consistent with our recommendations for making the work of the UN General Assembly and ECOSOC more efficient and effective, including seeking to reduce the number of reports, conferences, and negotiations by 50 percent.

We ask Member States to give these proposed reforms serious consideration. At the same time, Member States should seriously reflect on whether a stand-alone Commission for Social Development – at an estimated overall cost of over $515,000 excluding staffing costs – is necessary. We should give thought to whether other UN bodies and processes can handle the issues it considers more effectively and with better results. Thank you for your attention.