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        General Assembly
30 June 2000

Official Records

General Assembly
Twenty-fourth special session
10th meeting
Friday, 30 June 2000, at 3 p.m.
New York

President: Mr. Gurirab ................................................(Namibia)

The meeting was called to order at 3 p.m.


Agenda item 8 (continued)

Proposals for further initiatives for social development

(a) Review and appraisal of progress since the World Summit for Social Development

(b) Proposals for further initiatives for the full implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development


Mr. Nasr (Lebanon) (spoke in Arabic): While social development is the objective, the means to achieve it are many and various. Sometimes national economic policies and the way they are adopted create an appropriate climate for achieving economic growth and thus social development. These policies have to take into consideration the human dimension, since this is not merely a mathematical problem.

During the last two decades there have been profound changes in terms of economic infrastructures and the market economy. National economies have also become increasingly interdependent. This is also true in the social sphere. The consequences of these economic changes and their social repercussions have affected the entire world. In recent years in particular, economic restructuring has become one of the priorities of developing countries. This is sometimes carried out as a result of a conviction that it might be the ideal means to achieve social development, and sometimes under external constraints.

If economic globalization is what characterizes our world today, this globalization needs another face in order for the picture to be complete. We need to develop a global social policy that is based on new institutions, policies and entities that can put this new global social policy into effect. Social development must be built on a reciprocal sense of inter-State responsibility. Through joint efforts, national economic restructuring must be carried out in tandem with other reforms so that we can achieve the desired objective — the eradication of poverty — and so that the poorest populations can benefit from social development.

Among the priorities of the Lebanese Government — in particular as regards balanced social development — are the following. I will be very brief, as I do not have the time to list all our priorities. Lebanon is developing an economic and social policy in which partnership between the State and civil society plays a very important role. There is also a partnership between the private and public sectors.

For many years Lebanon suffered immensely as a result of the Israeli occupation, particularly in the south and the western Bekaa. Thanks to the courageous struggle and resistance of its people and the support of its friends, Lebanon was able to dislodge these occupying forces. However, there have been very negative economic and social consequences. They have sapped our economy. Repeated Israeli aggression undermined our infrastructure, including electric power stations, roads and other basic services. The consequences of this aggression have been very harmful to the social development process in Lebanon.

As I said, our Government is seriously endeavouring to achieve the goal of social development. Operating on the premise that sustainable economic growth is linked to social development, we are proceeding with financial reforms, privatization, and other projects in order to strengthen human resources, create new jobs, strengthen competition and distribute income and wealth fairly among all social strata.

Lebanon is today experiencing economic and social challenges that differ from those it faced in the past — from the first Israeli invasion in 1978 and since the painful events that stretched from 1975 to 1990. These challenges are the result of emigration, the brain drain, the departure of young people who have advanced degrees and do not find jobs in the local job market. There are also essential changes that have taken place on a global scale. All of these developments have had negative consequences for the Lebanese economy and its institutions, whether nationally, regionally or globally.

As for the policies developed by Lebanon to achieve the objective of economic growth and social development, I can sum them up as follows. First, financial reform: we need to begin by rebalancing the State’s budget. This amounts to reviewing public-expenditure policies. Secondly, privatization: this is the second pillar of Lebanon’s policy, namely, to involve the private sector, which of course means rechannelling Government expenditures to the social sector. Thirdly, liberalization of trade: we are undertaking characteristic economic growth, by which we will extend the markets for Lebanese goods. Lebanon is implementing the provisions of the executive programme of the Arab Common Market. We are also involved in talks with the European Union. Fourthly, we have a plan of action and development, whose objectives include promoting rural development, creating small- and medium-sized enterprises, developing housing credits, and developing and modernizing social security.

The major challenges to developing countries — rather, the questions that must be asked — are, how can we derive benefits from globalization and how can we reduce its negative effects on developing countries? I think that in the future the forces of globalization will have effects on multilateral trade. Some of these forces must be properly harnessed so that we can achieve the goals of economic development. If we want to overcome social development problems, this has to be done through international solidarity.


Mr. Swedan (League of Arab States) (spoke in Arabic): ...


International efforts should be made to ensure just and lasting peace, particularly in the Middle East, and to reject the settlement, expansion and hegemony policies exercised by Israel. The Palestinian people should be able to exercise their legitimate rights to establish their independent State on their national soil.


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