Statement by John F. Sammis, Deputy United States Representative to ECOSOC, on Agenda Item 61(a-c): Social Development, in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly

John F. Sammis, Deputy United States Representative to ECOSOC
New York, NY
October 5, 2009


Mr. Chairman, let me take this opportunity to congratulate you, and the other members of the Bureau, on your leadership role in this important committee.  The United States looks forward to making progress during this session of the Third Committee on the critical social and human rights issues before us.

The commitments of the World Summit on Social Development (WSSD) on poverty eradication, full employment and social integration are goals that the United States is actively pursuing, both domestically and on the international stage.  In the recent past, some observers dismissed poverty, hunger and despair in faraway countries as other people's problems.  But in a globalized age, the troubles that impact some states can ultimately affect us all.

Our values compel us to reduce poverty, disease, and hunger, to end preventable deaths of mothers and children, and to build self-sufficiency in agriculture, health and education.  The links between poverty, employment and social integration are clear.  As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Copenhagen in 1995, when she was First Lady and a member of the U.S. delegation to the WSSD, "no one person can be freed from the bondage or fully integrated into society without the means to earn a living."  Reversing the unemployment the world has encountered in the face of the financial crisis remains a focus of action and concern for the G-20, the G-8 and the U.S. government, as well as for the UN General Assembly and this committee.

Many of the U.S. government’s current domestic priorities are reflected in the Copenhagen Declaration and Program for Action.  Under the leadership of Vice President Biden, the U.S. has established a "Middle Class Task Force" -- an initiative that brings together representatives of labor, business and civil society to improve the lives middle-class working families in the U.S.   We are developing legislative and policy proposals to benefit working families in the areas of childcare, care for the elderly, healthcare expenses, college costs and jobs of the future.

A senior official has been appointed within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to work on issues of aging.  Our goal is to enable older citizens to live independently at home for as long as possible, as most prefer.  For our youth, we have put a new focus on making higher education affordable. 

Our commitment to social development spreads beyond our borders.  The U.S. has signed the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and we look forward to swift action in the U.S. Senate.  We will continue to work with others in this Committee and elsewhere to shape a world that provides equal opportunities for individuals of all genders, all ages, all ethnic and racial origins, and all religious persuasions.

Thank you Mr. President.


PRN: 2009/201