October 20, 2017

Statement by the Representative of Cyprus to the 3rd Committee Mr. Demetris Hadjiargyrou on Social Development

As this is the first time that my delegation takes the floor in the deliberations of the Third Committee, allow me to extend to you, Mr. Chairman, and to the Members of the Bureau our congratulations on your well-deserved election.

Mr. Chairman,

My delegation has aligned itself with the statement delivered earlier by the representative of Finland, on behalf of the European Union. Cyprus fully subscribes to the positions expressed by the European Union and I will therefore limit myself, for the sake of brevity, to welcoming the reports of the Secretary-General on the various issues related to the item of social development, commend the work that the United Nations system is carrying out in promoting these most important issues, and delineate Cyprus’ policies and actions on sub-items,

* 106b – Implementation of the World Programme of Action concerning disabled persons

* 106c – Implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond

* 106g – International Year of Older Persons.

Mr. Chairman,

The primary vehicle for the promotion of issues related to older persons in Cyprus is the Coordinating Agency for Older Persons, which went into operation in 1996. The Agency is comprised of governmental and non-governmental actors and is chaired by the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance. The mandate of the Agency includes the study of issues pertaining to older persons, the analysis of state policies and the submission of proposals to the various ministries and other services at the local level. Its proposals are usually adopted as official policy and develop into concrete policies which are implemented by the government.

The Coordinating Agency for Older Persons has undertaken, over the last year, the organization of various events in celebration of the International Year of Older Persons, fully adopting the theme elaborated by the United Nations “Toward a Society for All Ages”. In this context, the celebration of the International Year for Older Persons was launched in April of this year with a big event under the auspices and with the participation of the President of the Republic of Cyprus and with various other events at the local level. The Council of Ministers has issued a proclamation on the subject, while posters extolling the contribution of older persons to society have been posted at all government buildings.

The Ministry of Education and Culture has launched a competition in primary and secondary schools in the areas of art and essay writing, while the University of Cyprus has undertaken the preparation of an in-depth study of older persons in Cyprus. A television documentary is also being prepared with the participation of the public and private media of the country. A photographic competition has also been launched, while the Postal Services have introduced a special rubber-stamp on the issue. The celebration of the International Year of Older Persons will be concluded with a special commemoration event to be held in December.

Mr. Chairman,

Turning to the issue of Disabled Persons, I would like to now present my government’s policy, which is based on the World Programme of Action entitled “Towards a Society for All in the Twenty-First Century”.

The salient features of the Cyprus government’s policy concerning persons with disabilities are the following:

* the safeguarding of equal rights and the provision of equal opportunities,

* the promotion of full and equal participation of disabled persons in the social and economic life of the country,

* the de-institutionalization of disabled persons and the promotion of independent living,

* the provision of financial assistance to organizations of the disabled towards their running expenses, and

* the provision of services and the implementation of programmes for the medical rehabilitation and care, education, training and retraining, vocational assessment and guidance, placement in employment in the open market, sheltered employment, self-employment and supported employment of disabled persons, the provision of technical aids, removal of social and physical barriers, provision of allowances and other financial assistance, as well as, financial assistance for purchasing their own houses.

The aforesaid policy is based on the principle of equalization of opportunities which aims mainly at the removal of physical and social barriers, the elimination of discrimination and the introduction of positive measures in the field in favour of people with disabilities.

The removal of physical barriers has been promoted through the amendment of existing legislation for the free and safe mobility of people with disabilities on public roads and passages, public buildings, hotels, restaurants, etc. The removal of social barriers, on the other hand, is pursued through activities aiming at raising public awareness and changing negative attitudes against the employment of people with disabilities.

For the elimination of discrimination against people with disabilities, draft legislation, entitled “Bill for People with Disabilities” is now before the House of Representatives, and provides, inter alia, for the introduction of the general principle of non-discrimination as well as for specific measures in the filed of employment.

Furthermore, the draft legislation entitled “Bill for Special Education”, which is expected to have a significant impact on the equalization of opportunities for people with disabilities is also before the House of Representatives. The Bill provides, inter alia, for the integration of disabled children into mainstream education.

People with disabilities participate in the formulation, implementation and follow-up of relevant policies and actions in their favour through their representatives in the various committees and boards at national and local levels. At the national level they participate in the Rehabilitation Council, which was established in the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance and constitutes a central body for discussion of all issues concerning people with disabilities.

Furthermore, the Service for the Care and Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons, operating under the Department of Labour, was established with a view to fill the gap of coordination on disability issues and to offer specialised services in the field of vocational rehabilitation and social integration.

Mr. Chairman,

Cyprus places utmost importance on issues related to youth affairs. Over the last decade and a half, there has been a gradual devolution of responsibility for youth affairs from government bodies to non-governmental organizations, culminating with the creation in 1994 of the Youth Board, which constitutes an umbrella organization for 37 youth organizations.

The aim of my government’s policy which is implemented in close cooperation with the Youth Board is to provide to children and young people equality of opportunities and treatment, while promoting and actively encouraging their personal and social development. The specific objectives of the Youth policy aim at achieving the following goals:

* to encourage young people to participate in the affairs of the country (in the economic life and in the decision-making process),

* to ensure that young people will have the education and training for their integration into the economic life of the country,

* to support young couples to acquire their own homes,

* to support young people to set up their own businesses,

* to run programmes such as Youth Clubs, mainly in rural areas,

* to set up a Youth Information Centre,

* to encourage the establishment of Youth Exchange Programmes.

The Youth Board can submit proposals to the government concerning the formulation of policies on youth matters. It can also initiate new programmes and implement them in areas that are not covered by other departments.

International cooperation in the youth field is undertaken by the Youth Board. The Board cooperates with international organisations such as the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the European Union and the Commonwealth.

Cyprus participates in different programmes of these organisations, such as the Council of Europe’s Campaign against Racism, Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism, Intolerance, and the European Union’s programme Youth for Europe III.

On the intergovernmental level, Cyprus has bilateral agreements in the field of Culture, Education and Science, which concern directly or indirectly cooperation in the youth field and corresponding programmes with a number of countries.

The Youth Board, which is directly funded by the government, supports financially projects such as youth exchange programmes, participation of young people in international seminars, inter-cultural education, etc. All national youth organisations are entitled to government funding, through the Youth Board, provided that they have at least 100 members and are represented in three out of the six districts of the country.

The Cyprus Youth Council for International Cooperation (CYCIC), in which over 30 non-governmental youth organisations participate, has also been recently established. The Youth Board of Cyprus gives great emphasis to international cooperation in youth matters and youth exchanges.

In 1994, when the European Youth Campaign against racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance began, a National Committee was created in Cyprus. Its purpose was to both participate and follow the activities of the European Campaign. The committee has been very active in organising various activities in Cyprus. These events focus on encouraging and invigorating a spirit of tolerance amongst the people living on the island.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate my Government’s full support to the efforts of the international community, as represented by the work carried out by the United Nations, for the successful promotion of the many themes related to social development.

 

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.