Statement by Laurie Shestack Phipps at a Session of the UN General Assembly's Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural) on Social Development, Item #27

Laurie Shestack Phipps
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs 
U.S. Mission to the United Nations 
New York, NY
October 5, 2011


Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, the United States welcomes this opportunity to highlight trends and challenges in social development, including special circumstances for youth, persons with disabilities, and older persons. I would like to highlight some achievements in these areas.

In particular, this committee has an opportunity to highlight the importance of job creation for today’s youth, so that youth can fulfill their potential and contribute to solutions. Young people and their desires for political freedom and economic opportunity have played a significant role in the ongoing social and political transformations across North Africa and the Middle East.

As a key to employment opportunity, as well as to social development, education is fundamental. In February, the U.S., as one of the world’s largest aid donors to education, released USAID’s new Education Strategy, which commits us to improving reading skills for 100 million children in primary grades, improving tertiary and workforce development programs, and increasing access to education for 15 million learners affected by crisis and conflict by 2015. Additionally, since 1995 we have provided nearly $780 million dollars for projects to combat the worst forms of child labor globally, helping to rescue young people from exploitative child labor and offer them new hope and brighter futures through education and training opportunities. This ambitious agenda reflects the long-standing principle – most recently affirmed at the July ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review on Education – that all children, girls and boys, should have access to quality education, and that schooling should be relevant to a rapidly changing global job market.

Partnerships such as the Global Partnership for Girls’ and Women’s Education, are increasingly important to securing the promise of education for all. We are working to elevate youth engagement at the United Nations. In December 2010, Ambassador Rice chaired a UN Security Council session in which the agenda was set by international youth; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited UNESCO in May 2011 and Under Secretary of State Maria Otero hosted a roundtable on Youth and Civic Engagement with prominent youth leaders on the margins of the UN General Assembly.

Many older persons want to continue working or volunteering. The U.S. Government programs under the Older Americans Act support home and community-based programs aimed at keeping older persons independent and healthy. We must also work to promote access and inclusion for people with disabilities. The United States continues to elevate the importance of disability issues both at home and in the international community. In July, President Obama reiterated his commitment to upholding the rights of persons with disabilities; ending all forms of discrimination against them; providing them with opportunities on an equal basis with others; and having the United States ratify the Disabilities Convention, which the United States signed in July 2009.

In conclusion, In our endeavors to promote social development, protect the most vulnerable in society, reduce poverty and increase social inclusion, the United States will continue to work with the other key partners, including the United Nations and its Funds, Programmes and specialized agencies, as we move together towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

PRN: 2011/194