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Third Committee

(New York, February 4, 2010)

Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the United Nations, 48th Session of the Commission for Social Development Social Integration

 

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation congratulates you on your election as Chairman of this Commission and is confident that under your leadership we can develop a productive session. I extend this greeting to the other members of the Bureau.

Colombia joins the statements made by Yemen on behalf of the Group of 77 and China, by Mexico, on behalf of the Group of Rio, and by Argentina, on behalf of MERCOSUR.

Mr. Chairman,

In his report on Promoting Social Integration, the Secretary-General recalled that in the World Summit for Social Development, governments committed themselves to promoting social inclusion as the overall framework for creating stable, safe, just and tolerant societies. However, it stresses that 15 years after proclaiming the Copenhagen Declaration and Program of Action, the vision to create "a society for all" through social integration has not been effectively implemented.

My delegation concurs with the Secretary-General that social welfare programs reduce poverty significantly and counteract vulnerability and the persistent inequalities. Colombia is carrying out an agenda to eradicate poverty, ensure full employment and reduce social exclusion. Development policy is based on ensuring that all Colombians have access to quality education, to equitable and inclusive social security, to employment and business markets and to effective mechanisms for social promotion.

The Colombian State established, since 1993, a social welfare system that aims to protect the entire population from economic risks and help the poor overcome their situation in the short and long terms. In 2002, Law 789 defined the Social Protection System as a set of public policies aimed at reducing the vulnerability of the population and improving their quality of life, particularly for the most vulnerable.

Within this system, social security is achieved through insurance mechanisms on health, pensions and occupational risks. The health system provides access for all through two modalities: For those with sufficient income, a payroll tax; and for those with insufficient income, the State subsidizes insurance through various sources. The later, benefits the unemployed, people working in the informal sector, people living in poverty, indigenous populations, and displaced persons, among others. By October 2009, 90% of the population, more than 40 million Colombians, had health insurance; more than half of them are beneficiaries of the subsidized regime. Currently, the Government is undertaking a reform in the health sector in order to ensure the sustainability of the system, universal coverage and unify the benefits for the two regimes.

Mr. Chairman,

Colombia has a broad portfolio of social assistance programs through direct and indirect transfers to vulnerable groups. As part of the poverty and inequality reduction strategy, it is implementing the network "JUNTOS" with the purpose of providing comprehensive care to families in extreme poverty through preferential access to the supply of social programs and projects, turning them into managers of their own development. By December 2009, 1,039,381 families had been covered by this program.

To ensure equitable participation of women in income generation, the Program for Comprehensive Support for Female Heads of Household was created. The Program promotes social and economic development of women through access to credit, training and business management with a gender approach. The Government has also created incentive programs for companies that decide to hire persons with disabilities. In addition, it created the social assistance program for older persons in extreme poverty the main purpose of which is to protect them from the inability to generate revenue and against the risk of social exclusion.

Colombia considers that the implementation of comprehensive and interdependent policies will consolidate an economic, social and institutional environment which is favorable for economic recovery, the creation of decent and productive employment and social cohesion.

In this context, education and training of human resources are fundamental tools for creating a more inclusive society. Between the years 2006 - 2009, the National Learning Service, SENA, the national institution for technical training for youth and adults, offered a total of 7,800,000 admission slots for training at the technical, professional and operational levels. These advances in education contributed to move Colombia up five positions in the Human Development Report 2009, with respect to the 2006 Report.

Mr. Chairman,

Most of the Government's actions have been focused on addressing the international economic crisis that threatened to weaken and undermine the most important indicators and the progress made to date. The lower intensity with which Latin America has been hit by the current global crisis helped the national efforts in this area.

However, in addition to national efforts, it is necessary to strengthen international cooperation, technical assistance and technology transfer. Despite the current economic crisis, national governments and international institutions must strengthen the commitment to give priority to social investment designed to reduce high rates of poverty, the prevailing inequalities and various forms of discrimination. The construction of a more inclusive, equitable and fair society, benefits the entire international community equally.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

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