UNGA 59th session

Third Committee

Agenda item 94 (b) 







11 October 2004

Mr. Chairman,


            My delegation has the honor to introduce the draft resolution entitled “United Nations Literacy Decade: Education for All” on behalf of the delegations listed in the document A/C.3/59/L.15, namely Belarus, Cameroon, China, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Iceland, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, Suriname and Venezuela. I am delighted to announce that ………… have also become co-sponsors of this draft resolution.


            Almost two years have past since the launching in February 2003 of the United Nations Literacy Decade. At this session we have been presented with the first report on the implementation of the International Plan of Action for the Decade contained in document A/59/267. It is encouraging that considerable efforts have been made by Member States, international organizations to address the Decade’s objectives. But, as we can see from the report and from our deliberations on this agenda item, the fight against illiteracy remains to be one of the most urgent tasks of today. Over 100 million children are still out of school and some 800 million adults are illiterate around the world, the majority of whom are women. This is an unacceptable situation in a world where the access to and processing of information and knowledge is the basis of opportunity and growth.


            It goes without saying that illiteracy is a serious problem that needs far greater attention and resources than it is currently receiving. It is closely interrelated and interlinked with many other problems, and first of all, with the eradication of poverty. The fact that the map of illiteracy continues to overlap with the map of social, gender and ethnic inequalities, makes the struggle for literacy a struggle not only for education goals, but also for social justice, for human dignity and empowerment. We can not succeed in eradicating poverty and unemployment, promoting human rights and social justice, democracy and development, without eliminating illiteracy.  This has been recognized on many occasions. And today, as we strive to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, renewed efforts should be made towards eradicating illiteracy.


There is no question that the promotion of literacy is primarily the responsibility of national Governments. Therefore, the draft resolution submitted for your consideration and unanimous adoption appeals once again to all Governments to regularly review the literacy situation in their countries, establish benchmarks and indicators to monitor the progress towards the Decade’s goals, backed up by more reliable literacy data and information, to further reinforce political will and mobilize adequate national resources. It further urges all Governments to take the lead in coordinating the activities of the Decade at the national level, bringing all relevant national actors together in a sustained dialogue and collaborative action in policy formulation, implementation and evaluation of literacy efforts.


While it is agreed that the primary responsibility rests with national governments, the international community including the UN and its specialized agencies should continue to provide effective support for national efforts. Furthermore, the implementation of the agreed targets and success would depend, to a great extent, on the coordinated efforts of the international community and UN bodies. To that end it is proposed in the draft resolution that the national Governments should report to or provide UNESCO with relevant information on the progress achieved in implementing their national programmes and plans of action, and UNESCO should reinforce its lead coordinating role at the international level.


Mr. Chairman,


Once again, I wish to draw your attention to the fact that according to present trends, as the report indicates, it is unlikely that the goals of the Decade will be met unless appropriate actions are taken. There is also a growing concern that the issue of literacy is not sufficiently high in the national agendas. Therefore, we need to renew our efforts, undertake concrete actions to achieve the Decade’s goals and regularly review the progress achieved. The draft resolution requests for the progress report on the implementation of the International Plan of Action to be submitted to the General Assembly at its sixty-first session.


Like many others, my delegation believes that the United Nations Literacy Decade will open a critical window for change – a chance to give further impetus to the commitments of Dakar and the Millennium Summit. And this chance must not be missed.


             In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I wish to inform you that my delegation has received a number of proposals and amendments to the draft resolution and informal consultations are requested to be organized to finalize its text. I am confident that we will come out with an agreed text which will be circulated as document L.15 Rev. as soon as possible.