Curtain raiser

1st Session of the 1995 WSSD Preparatory Committee


The first session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for theWorld Summit for Social Development begins today in New York andcontinues until 11 February 1994. This session is the first ofthree meetings of the PrepCom to be held over the next year inpreparation for the World Summit, scheduled for 6-12 March 1995 inCopenhagen, Denmark.


The process was set in motion several years ago when AmbassadorJuan Somava, the Permanent Representative of Chile to the UnitedNations, was appointed the Special Representative of theSecretary-General to hold comprehensive consultations with MemberStates on the World Summit for Social Development. Somava's reporton the consultations, as requested by the Economic and SocialCouncil (ECOSOC) in its decision 1991/230 of 30 May 1991, resultedin the General Assembly resolution 47/92 adopted December 1992.This resolution, "Convening of a world summit for socialdevelopment," was considered in the light of resolution 45/199 of21 December 1990, regarding the adoption of the InternationalDevelopment Strategy for the Fourth United Nations DevelopmentDecade, and resolution 42/125 of 7 December 1987, in which theGeneral Assembly endorsed the "Guiding Principles for DevelopmentalSocial Welfare Policies and Programmes in the Near Future."

Resolution 47/92 set out the following eleven objectives for theSummit: to further the objectives of the Charter of the UnitedNations, as stated in Article 55, to promote "higher standards ofliving, full employment, and conditions of economic and socialprogress and development" and "solutions of international economic,social health, and related problems," with particular focus onsocial development aspects; to express a shared world-widecommitment to put the needs of people at the center of developmentand of international cooperation as a major priority ofinternational relations; to stimulate international cooperation; toformulate strategies on goals, policies and priority actions; tocreate international awareness; to address, in creative ways, theinteraction between the social function of the State, marketresponses to social demands and the imperatives of sustainabledevelopment; to identify common problems of socially marginalizedand disadvantaged groups; to promote programmes to ensure legalprotection, foster effective social welfare programmes and enhanceeducation and training for different groups in all societies; toassist in ensuring a more effective delivery of social services forthe more disadvantaged; to highlight the need to mobilize resourcesfor social development at the local, national, regional andinternational levels; to make appropriate recommendations regardingmore effective action by the United Nations system in the sphere ofsocial development.

Resolution 47/92 also decided that, taking into account theseobjectives, the core issues affecting all societies to be addressedby the Summit are: the enhancement of social integration,particularly of the more disadvantaged and marginalized groups;alleviation and reduction of poverty; expansion of productiveemployment.


The PrepCom held its organizational session in New York from 12-16April 1993. Somava was elected Chair and it was decided that theBureau would have nine Vice-Chairs and that Denmark would serve asan ex officio member of the Bureau and as a Vice-Chair. Theremaining members of the Bureau were elected: Cameroon and Zimbabwe(Africa); Indonesia and India (Asia); Latvia and Poland (EasternEurope); Netherlands and Australia (WEOG); and Mexico (GRULAC). ThePrepCom adopted decisions on: 1) the Bureau's intent to meetintersessionally; 2) the modalities for the participation of NGOs;3) national preparations for the WSSD; 4) the mobilization ofvoluntary resources for the WSSD Trust Fund as outlined inA/CONF.166/PC/4; 5) the intention of the Department of PublicInformation (DPI) to launch a public information programme on theissues and objectives of the Summit; 6) deferring a decision onorganizational matters; 7) its organization of work including thetask of the Preparatory Committee, a timetable and level ofrepresentation; 8) the expert group meetings; 9) the dates for theSummit and the PrepCom sessions; and 10) the provisional agenda forthis first session.


The Secretary-General has established a Secretariat for the WSSD,within the Department of Policy Coordination for SustainableDevelopment (DPCSD), headed by Under-Secretary-General Nitin Desai.The Secretariat is led by Jacques Baudot, Coordinator for the WSSD.


At its organizational session for its 1993 session, ECOSOC decidedthat the high-level segment should be devoted to the considerationof the theme: "World Summit for Social Development, including therole of the United Nations system in promoting social development".The ECOSOC substantive session was held in Geneva from 28 June-30July 1993. The proceedings of the high-level segment, held from28-30 June 1993, is contained in the documents, E/1993/SR.12-17.

The conclusions of the high-level ministerial segment aresummarized by Ambassador Juan Somava, President of ECOSOC for1993, in the Report of ECOSOC, A/48/3 of 15 September 1993.

The substantive session of ECOSOC adopted Resolution 1993/64,"Preparations for the World Summit for Social Development". TheCouncil said that it was "convinced that the World Summit forSocial Development would provide a unique opportunity to focus theattention of all countries on the main social and human concernsand to promote policies and strengthen international cooperation inorder to effectively address these concerns." In this resolution,the Council decided that an African common position on the issuesbefore the Summit should be formulated by the meeting of theConference of African Ministers Responsible for Human Development,held 17-21 January 1994, which would serve as the regionalpreparatory meeting for the Summit. Furthermore, the Councilrequested that the Executive Secretary of the Economic Commissionfor Africa prepare, in cooperation with the Organization of AfricanUnity and other African regional and subregional organizations,should draft an African common position on the issues before theSummit, and further requested the Executive Secretary of theCommission to transmit the African common position to thePreparatory Committee for the Summit at its first session.


At its organizational meeting, the PrepCom requested theSecretary-General to organize expert group meetings to provideopinion on the contemporary, relevant research data on the coreissues of the Summit. It also requested that the results of thesemeetings be forwarded to this PrepCom session.

EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON SOCIAL INTEGRATION: This meeting,organized by the United Nations and hosted by the Netherlands, washeld at The Hague from 27 September to 1 October 1993. The topic ofthe meeting was "enhancement of social integration, particularly ofthe more disadvantaged and marginalized groups." The report of thismeeting can be found in document A/CONF.166/PC/8.

EXPERT GROUP MEETING ON THE EXPANSION OF PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYMENT:This second expert group meeting, held at Saltsj”baden, Sweden,from 4-8 October, 1993 was organized by the United Nations andhosted by the Government of Sweden. The outcome of the meeting iscontained in document A/CONF.166/PC/9.


During the organizational session of the PrepCom, draft decision10, dealing with the establishment and work schedule of a WorkingGroup of the Whole, was withdrawn to provide governments with moretime to consider the establishment of a Working Group of the Whole.This matter was subsequently taken up by the Third Committee of theGeneral Assembly, which deals with social, humanitarian andcultural affairs, at its 48th session. The elements of draftdecision 10 were incorporated into a draft decision of the ThirdCommittee. This draft decision was then transmitted to the UNGeneral Assembly, which adopted resolution 48/100 on 11 December1993. The resolution requests the Secretary-General to makeprovisions for the PrepCom, if it so decides, to establish, duringthe first substantive session, a Working Group of the Whole to meetin parallel with the plenary. It also calls on States to appointpersonal representatives of heads of State to participate in thefirst session of the PrepCom and invites States to contributegenerously to the voluntary trust fund.


PLENARY: Today's session is scheduled to begin at 10:00,probably in Conference Room 4. The meeting will be opened by theChair of the Preparatory Committee, Somava of Chile. TheSecretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghali,will give a welcoming statement. Somava is expected to give somebrief opening remarks and move to the adoption of the draft agenda(A/CONF.166/PC/5). It is possible that at this time there will bea brief discussion on the programme of work. The next item on theagenda will be the accreditation of the NGOs to the preparatoryprocess, as recommended to the PrepCom by the Secretariat indocument A/CONF.166/PC/11. This list contains 76 NGOs who areeither not in consultative status with ECOSOC or on the roster ofthe Council by virtue of their request to participate in the workof the CSD. No difficulties are anticipated.Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment, Nitin Desai, will introduce the documentation preparedfor agenda items 3 and 4, the status of preparations for the WSSDand the analysis of the core issues and policy measures to attainits objectives. This will be followed by the commencement ofgeneral debate. It is expected that there will be several days ofPlenary session with statements by governments, NGOs and UNagencies.

WORKING PAPER NO. 1: Look for the introduction today ofWorking Paper No. 1, "Elements for Possible Inclusion in the DraftDeclaration and Plan of Action" prepared by the Secretariat. Thisdocument contains references to previous declarations relating tosocial development, possible elements for a draft declaration, andboth the elements and a listing of possible issues to be addressedin a draft programme of action. The annex to the document lists thedeclarations and conventions relating to the core issues of theWSSD. The idea for this document emerged from discussions betweenthe Chair and Secretariat. It was felt that something was needed tofacilitate the transition from the overview and agency documents towhat might be the basis for a decision by the Committee at the endof next week. Many observers say that the most probable outcome ofthis two week session would be a request to the Secretary-Generalto prepare a draft of what will eventually be signed in Copenhagen.While the form of this document has not been decided, recentexperience indicates that it might be both a declaration and a planof action. The Secretariat intends to circulate this document tothe delegates in order to generate comment, focus thought andprovide a framework for the eventual decision by the Committee nextweek. It is anticipated that by the end of the first week the Chairwill summarize the debate. With input from the Chair and theBureau, the Secretariat would then revise this paper in light ofthese discussions. It is unclear if this document would then takethe form of an L. document, and much depends on the outcome of thefirst week's debate and the initiatives of groups.

WORKING PAPERS 2 AND 3: Two additional working papers beingprepared by the Secretariat may appear early in the week. One willbe "Activities of the UN System", that organizes the work of theagencies around the structure outlined in Working Paper 1, so thatthe eventual recommendations for the role of the UN will be basedon a description of what the system is doing now. The second paper,"Information on Social Reports and Indicators," indicates wheredata on social problems and issues is now being compiled. The paperwill, as well, consolidate information from various annual andbi-annual reports prepared by the World Bank, UN agencies andothers on the world social situation.

IN THE CORRIDORS: Look for discussion in the corridors onthe methods for work during the second week of the first sessionand the roles of the Secretariat and governments in "driving" theprocess. The Bureau will probably meet later in the week to drafta proposal to the Committee on the schedule of meetings and thedivision of work during the second week.