Opening Statement by Ambassador Rick Barton, U.S. Representative on the Economic and Social Council, for the 48th Session of the Commission on Social Development

Ambassador Rick Barton
U.S. Representative for Economic and Social Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
February 3, 2010


Mr. Chairman, Thank you for your leadership, our best wishes to you and the Bureau for continued success.

Mr. Chair, Distinguished delegates, members of civil society, The United States was an active participant in the Copenhagen World Summit on Social Development in 1995, and today we gather with all of you with a renewed commitment to achieving the goals of a people-centered and inclusive approach to development.  We look forward to continuing our work with all of you, the United Nations, and civil society in this vital work.

The United States shares the goals of poverty eradication, full employment and social integration. Indeed, the first Congressional bill that President Obama signed into law was the “Fair Pay Act of 2009”, aimed at ensuring that women and men of all colors, races, religions, ages and national origins, disabled or not disabled, have the opportunity to seek equal pay for equal work.  This year, the President also signed the “Christopher and Dana Reeve Paralysis Act,” the first piece of comprehensive legislation aimed at improving the lives of Americans living with paralysis, and the United States proudly signed the first new human rights convention of the 21st century, joining so many of you in advancing the human rights of the 650 million people with disabilities worldwide.

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 as a member of the U.S. delegation, “no one person can be freed from the bondage of poverty or fully integrated into society without the means to earn a living.” That is why one of the foremost priorities of this Administration has been to promote job creation and help Americans find employment.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has provided important resources for individuals and communities to find work and grow.

We recognize the full recovery of the economy – in the United States and globally – will take time and sustained effort.  It will not be easy.  We remain concerned about the ongoing financial crisis and its impact on development.  That is why we are working actively to stimulate the economy both domestically and internationally.  The Pittsburgh summit, for example, produced important agreements on sustaining national recovery plans and pressing ahead with key reforms of financial regulation and governance.  As President Obama declared during his speech before the General Assembly “Our goal is simple: a global economy in which growth is sustained, and opportunity is available to all.” 

We will continue to engage in appropriate fora, at the UN and elsewhere, to promote global economic growth and minimize the impact of the crisis on the poorest and most vulnerable.  Our commitment to pursuing the MDGs is genuine.

Mr. Chair, The United States has a record of fighting discrimination and social exclusion. We are continuing our work to eliminate discrimination and to provide equal opportunities for individuals of all genders, all ages, all ethnic and racial origins, and all religious persuasions. For not only is such discrimination unjust, but as Ambassador Rice declared when the United States signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in July 2009, it also “hinders economic development, limits democracy, and erodes societies.”

At the adoption of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, then-Vice President Al Gore said that the “series of great UN global conferences represents an effort by the entire world to think through the principles and the practical requirements for the creation of [a better] world.” At this crucial juncture, the world needs not only to return to the hope and idealism encapsulated in Copenhagen’s Social Summit, but also to sustain cooperative action to make those goals a reality.

The United States is eager to be an affirmative partner in this important work.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


PRN: 2010/021