My delegation associates itself with the remarks delivered by Pakistan on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. In addition, I would like to point out the following elements in national capacity.
Two years after the outbreak of the pandemic, the socio-economic situation triggered by the COVID-19 continues to seriously impact on all areas of social development.
However, as is always the case in today's unfair international order, it is us the developing countries the ones that face an incommensurate impact, as well as the worst conditions to confront this reality and recover from it. The very low level of access of developing countries to vaccines against COVID-19 confirms this.
The current international economic order, with unsustainable production and consumption patterns, undemocratic and non-transparent financial institutions, and market rules that perpetuate underdevelopment and exclusion, prevents our countries from making huge strides toward social development as part of sustainable development.
In today´s dynamics, the sustainable development goals do not seem achievable in less than a decade, especially when millions of dollars are invested in military expenditures instead of being earmarked to development.
In this context, it is imperative to strengthen international cooperation and the transfer of resources, technologies and expertise. As an international community, we must foster an inclusive and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to attain sustainable livelihoods, social well-being and dignity for all people.
There can be no social development, nor can the commitments and mandates of the 1995 Copenhagen Conference be fulfilled, as long as millions of human beings starve or do not receive sufficient and nutritious food.
It is unacceptable that there are millions of hungry people on the planet, while resources, expertise and productive capacity exist to prevent it, and tons of foodstuffs are thrown away every year.
Poverty eradication, a centerpiece of social development along with full employment and social inclusion, can only be accomplished through multilateralism and international cooperation, including North-South, South-South and triangular cooperation.
In this regard, the Commission for Social Development must continue to play its irreplaceable role in promoting the commitments undertaken at the Copenhagen Conference, whose Declaration and Programme of Action remain fully valid.
Neither will there be social development for all countries as long as unilateral coercive measures, which have a destructive impact, are applied. The economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed against my country by the United States for six decades, and intensified in an unprecedented manner in times of pandemic, directly impairs the quality of life of our population and hinders the provision of public services.
This policy of hostility is an outrage to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and International Law; it violates the human rights of the Cuban people and constitutes the major hindrance to our economic and social development.
Only between the months of January to July, 2021, the blockade brought about damages to Cuba in the region of 2 billion dollars in all spheres of society, including health, agriculture, food, education, culture, tourism, transportation, communications and the biopharmaceutical industry.
Nevertheless, despite the blockade and at the cost of huge sacrifices, Cuba has continued to prioritize, as a government strategy, the protection of its population, even within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuba is the only country in Latin America that has developed its own vaccines against COVID-19, with more than 34 million doses administered, as an indispensable step to control the spread of the virus and begin a recovery process from the pandemic. Out of a population of just over 11 million inhabitants, 9.8 million people have already been vaccinated, and 5.3 million have received a booster dose. We also became the first country to implement a mass vaccination program for children aged 2 and older.
Likewise, since the beginning of the pandemic, the Cuban government has adopted various measures in the fields of labor, wages, taxes and social security and assistance to protect the most vulnerable sectors of the population, so that no one would be left to fend for themselves.
We have continued to strengthen our programs for children, youngsters, the disabled and the elderly, as well as to diversify sources of employment and improve the institutions responsible for providing quality public services to our people.
On the other hand, we have continued to make progress in our housing construction programs, and we have given a strong push to the local reanimation and development of vulnerable communities and neighborhoods.
All this would be much less difficult and costly, and greater results could be achieved, if Cuba did not have to live under a policy of undeserved punishment such as the one that the U.S. blockade imposes.
In concluding, allow me to thank you for your leadership at the helm of the Commission for Social Development, and to reiterate Cuba's commitment to this body, its mandate and the postulates of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.
I can assure you that Cuba will continue to move forward, along the path of development that its people have freely chosen, in the construction of an increasingly equitable society.