Remarks at a UN Third Committee Meeting on Social Development

Sofija Korac
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
October 2, 2019


Chairperson, reform of the Commission for Social Development (CSocD) is the surest path to advance social development and to ensure that those which the CSocD devotes particular attention to – older persons, youth, and persons with disabilities –share in the benefits of development. Only through reform can we act consistent with the 2030 Agenda’s objective to leave no one behind. The Commission was established in 1946 to call attention to the groups I have mentioned, but since then other UN bodies, mechanisms, and frameworks were created which address their concerns more effectively and in greater depth. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing, and the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities all have higher profiles than the CSocD. We must now ask if there are compelling reasons for the CSocD to exist as a separate subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), or whether we can sunset its mandate and fold its work into other UN fora.

If the Commission is to continue to exist, its functions must be made consistent with the Secretary-General’s reform agenda. It should operate efficiently, add value to the UN’s work, and avoid duplicating the work of other UN bodies. Shortened three to four day annual CSocD sessions would allow enough time for hearing statements, discussing the main theme, and negotiating and adopting documents. Informal negotiations should continue to start several weeks before an annual session opens, to minimize time constraints during the session. And instead of working on the same recurring resolutions, member states should negotiate a single document on the priority theme each year. Various UN commissions have used the model of a single thematic outcome document to good effect.

Member states have already made progress on reforms. The CSocD 2019 resolution on working methods encourages the Commission to produce resolutions biennially, and no longer dictates that the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs or the CSocD must implement the World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons. The World Programme of Action is now an outdated document that has been surpassed by the current approach that focuses on upholding the dignity of persons with disabilities. Moreover, the Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities is now the main UN forum for considering issues affecting the lives of the estimated one billion persons who have disabilities. We hope to fully reform disability issues out of CSocD and that further reforms to the CSocD will be discussed in future sessions.

The accomplishments of the CSocD 2019 session and our recommendations for further reforms are consistent with the decisions made during the ECOSOC revitalization process. Our overarching goal is to reduce reports, conferences, and negotiations by 50 percent, so that UN resources are used to make tangible improvements on the ground. Thank you Mr. Chair.