Statement delivered by Laurie Shestack Phipps, U.S. Adviser, at the UN General Assembly Third Committee 2nd meeting A.I. 27, Social Development

Laurie Shestack Phipps
Adviser for Economic and Social Affairs 
New York, NY
October 7, 2013


Thank you, Mr. Chair. One of the more prominent social issues the UN has featured this past year has been the issue of ageing and how older persons are treated. The Open-Ended Working Group on Ageing met in August, and in September the Human Rights Council established an Independent Expert on the human rights of older persons with a three-year term. Because the Open-Ended Working Group and Independent Expert have similar mandates, it is essential that their efforts complement rather than duplicate each another. In addition, at the Open-Ended Working Group, Argentina announced the formation of a Group of Friends, an informal coalition of member states. We welcome more information on how the Group of Friends will operate, including what topics its members will consider in the short term.

Ageing issues are considered throughout the UN, including in these newer mechanisms as well as in the General Assembly and the Commission on Social Development. More intense, system-wide efforts are needed to implement the practical measures outlined in the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, which focuses on protecting older persons against violence, neglect, and abuse; advancing their health, economic security, and participation in the community; and encouraging partnerships between governments, civil society, and the private sector on behalf of older persons. The focus needs to be on assisting member states to implement existing laws and policies to improve the well-being of older persons, rather than the elaboration of a new normative framework. All UN bodies should take older persons’ needs into account when making decisions on programming. Language on older persons can be included in the strategic plans of the UN funds and programmes and other relevant UN organizations, including the ILO and UN Women. This will inform the development of policies and programs and allow progress to be monitored and evaluated.

On disability, Secretary of State Kerry was pleased to address the High Level Meeting on Disability and Development and to signal U.S. government support for the approaches outlined in its outcome document. The Secretary’s primary message was that the post-2015 development agenda should leave no one behind, including persons with disabilities, and consider persons with disabilities as both the implementers and beneficiaries of development. The U.S. experience over the past several decades illustrates that robust domestic laws and standards – including the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – coupled with strong domestic enforcement offer the most effective way of improving the situation of persons with disabilities.

On youth, we are pleased to announce that Tiffany Taylor has been selected as our second U.S. Youth Observer to the General Assembly. Ms. Taylor will attend events surrounding the General Assembly; engage in other UN venues in the coming year; interact with youth representatives from other nations; and travel throughout the United States to share her impressions with young Americans.

Thank you for your attention, and we look forward to a productive Third Committee session.


PRN: 2013/170