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        General Assembly
28 June 2000

Official Records
General Assembly
Twenty-fourth special session
5th meeting
Wednesday, 28 June 2000, at 10 a.m.
New York

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

In the absence of the President, Mr. Mbanefo (Nigeria), Vice-President, took the Chair.

The meeting was called to order at 10 a.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


Mrs. Al-Koudsi (Syrian Arab Republic) (spoke in Arabic): ...


On labour and our labour force, the Syrian Constitution stipulates that it is necessary to provide work opportunities for all citizens. The Government has sought to organize labour relations through the adoption of a number of laws to protect labourers and workers, and many provisions have been included for the protection of women and adolescents. Women are given the same treatment as men, without discrimination. The State also enshrines the principle of equal opportunity, including for the disabled. With regard to migrant workers, refugees and displaced persons, the Government also ensures that there is work for Palestinian refugees, who are given the same treatment as Syrian labourers.

All migrant Arab labourers working in Syria are treated in the same way as Syrian workers, and other foreigners are treated on a reciprocal basis. The Government’s social policy supports the principle of increasing employment and facilitating access to work opportunities through investment in education and training. The educational policy focuses on providing equal educational opportunities for males and females and compulsory primary education, and establishing links between the educational and developmental objectives and the eradication of illiteracy. We have increased our emphasis on training and rehabilitation and established specialized centres designed to respond to the requirements of social and economic development in various fields and to increase both the number and the quality of skills necessary for fulfilling our responsibilities.

The Syrian political leadership has sought to enhance the role of women and to increase their participation and encourage their productive role in economic life. We founded a committee for businesswomen in 1999 in order to organize women’s efforts and further activate their role in industrial development. Syrian Arab women continue to gain access to positions of high authority and decision-making.

With regard to social welfare, the Constitution of our country has always concentrated on the concept of social welfare without distinction between citizens in terms of sex, religion, language or belief, because all citizens are equal before the law with regard to their rights and responsibilities. Syria gives special attention to the family because it is the basic nucleus of society, and the country continues to make every effort to extend full support to the family.

We have accorded the question of the disabled particular attention and established a number of institutes, schools and centres in order to provide educational and training opportunities for all categories of disabled people. The percentage of disabled people who work in various State institutions must be no less than 4 per cent, and we are currently seeking to increase the number of jobs allocated to the disabled to 6 per cent.

In caring for the elderly, we have formulated a national plan to extend health and social services to the elderly and have established nursing homes to provide for their welfare and health. The Government has also accorded special attention to the housing sector so as to secure decent housing for families, because housing is a basic requirement for human beings and provides them with dignity and security. We have therefore provided support for cooperative housing and a financial programme to provide banking facilities. We rely on modern technology in the planning and implementation of our housing projects, and have passed a number of laws in order to facilitate construction by the public sector.

The Government has also made efforts to extend the full coverage of basic services to all our citizens as part of their basic health needs, with particular emphasis on the more vulnerable groups, such as mothers and children. With regard to the services provided to migrant workers, refugees and displaced persons, we in Syria have suffered greatly as a result of foreign occupation, which constitutes a great obstacle to the enjoyment of basic human rights. Citizens, particularly women, in the occupied Golan suffer greatly as a result of the repressive practices of the Israeli authorities.

Syria has underlined in a number of forums that the establishment of a just and comprehensive peace and of stability in our region is an essential part of the basic conditions to achieve development and equality so as to alleviate all forms of suffering under which Syrian women have been living in the Golan and other occupied Arab territories.

However, Israel, which claims before the whole world that it is working for peace in the Middle East, has rejected adherence to the terms of reference of the Madrid Conference, which are based on relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and the principle of land for peace. Without such resolutions and principles there can be no just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East.

Syria once again reiterates that its strategic option is a just and comprehensive peace, and this should also be Israel’s option. We have to consider the fact that Syria will not cede even one grain of its national soil. From this rostrum, we urge the international community to support Syria in its endeavours for an end to the occupation, for Israel’s full withdrawal from the occupied Syrian Golan to the lines of 4 June 1967 and for the implementation of Security Council resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), which stipulate the restoration of occupied territories to Syria, ensuring the return of Syrian inhabitants to their land and property and allowing them to utilize their natural resources in order to attain full social development.


The meeting rose at 1 p.m.

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