72 UNGA: Statement by the Cuban delegation at the general debate on Agenda item 3: Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, sub-items a) and b) NY, February 1, 2018.

Mr. Chairman,

As expressed in the Secretary-General's report on the priority issue, in the regions and countries most affected by poverty, statistical indicators show only a slight reduction in extreme poverty rates. More worryingly, this does not indicate that the root causes of this phenomenon have changed or tend to disappear. In reality, the situation remains very serious. In many countries, extreme poverty has continued to grow and, generally speaking, prospects for compliance with Goal 1 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are discouraging.

The report provides some examples of the efforts made by Governments in developing countries to improve their national performance in terms of social protection and inclusion. However, this is not sufficient. Not only the political will of the State concerned is required, but also the provision of material and financial resources, the transfer of technology, know-how and collaboration in training human resources.

In the conclusions of the report, we note that some important elements for effective poverty reduction are adequately addressed, which are stated in the form of recommendations mainly targeting at the national level in affected countries. In like manner, we believe that other core issues, critical to complement these national efforts, should be taken into account. In this regard:   

Developed countries must honor their commitments to official development assistance; the international community must develop a genuine culture of solidarity; a just international economic order must be promoted; protectionist and discriminatory trade policies against countries of the South must cease; developed countries must consciously assume their historic responsibility for the serious environmental crisis that continues to worsen as a result of a global production and consumption model that is unsustainable for present and future generations; poor countries should no longer be required to pay an external debt that has already been largely repaid; and multimillionaire resources which are currently allocated to military spending should be devoted to development.

Mr. Chairman,

Cuba supports the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons. In order to serve this sector of the population, our State has implemented a development strategy based on the principles of freedom, equity, social justice and inclusion. Its objective has been to focus attention in promoting their integral development, self-realization and full social integration.

Similarly, Cuba recognizes that involving youth in the design and implementation of policies on issues related to their specific concerns and interests remains a goal to be achieved in most countries.  Our Youth Policy has a marked vocation for social benefit, prioritizing the technical and professional training of young people, their labor insertion, their participation in discussion processes and decision-making at all levels as well as their representation in the major structures of the Government, Parliament and other decision-making scenarios.

Cuba attaches great importance to the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and, consequently, welcomes the report on the Third Review and Assessment.

Thanks to high-impact public policies and social programs, the quality of life of the Cuban people has increased significantly over the last half-century, which has enabled to raise life expectancy to 78.45 years on average, with women over 80 years old.

According to estimates, by 2030 Cuba will have 3.3 million people aged 60 or over. Therefore, our country has made attention to the elderly a priority, and carries out multidisciplinary and cross-sector work to ensure the quality of life of this sector of the population.

Mr. Chairman,

Despite the fierce economic, commercial and financial blockade suffered by my country for nearly six decades, directly affecting our social development, Cuba continues to achieve notable results in social matters and has already fulfilled several of the goals outlined in the SDGs. To cite just a few concrete developments:

The infant mortality rate at the end of 2017 was the lowest achieved in our history, with only 4.1 per 1,000 live births.

Education and health systems in Cuba are universal, accessible and free of charge to the entire population.

We have 1 doctor per 125 inhabitants and an immunization program against thirteen diseases for 100% of Cuban children.

More than two-thirds of the country's budget is allocated to improving levels of education, health, security and social welfare, culture, sports, as well as scientific and technical research.

Cuba shares its modest resources with other needy nations through international cooperation, thus contributing to their social development. More than 55,000 Cuban health professionals are currently working in 67 countries.

Mr. Chairman,

For the human species to survive, social justice, solidarity, equality and respect for the rights of peoples and every human being must prevail. On the basis of these principles, Cuba reiterates its commitment to seeking a just, equitable and inclusive world that recognizes people as a core element of sustainable development.

Thank you very much.