Daily report for 31 January 1994
1st Session of the 1995 WSSD Preparatory Committee
Preparatory Committee Chair, Ambassador Juan Somava of Chile,opened the first preparatory meeting for the World Summit forSocial Development on Monday morning. He quickly introduced theprovisional agenda, as contained in Document A/CONF.166/PC/5, whichdescribes the organization of work. The agenda was adopted withoutany objections. Somava then invited the Committee to considerAgenda Item 2, accreditation of NGOs, as contained in DocumentA/CONF.166/PC/11. This document was also adopted without anyobjections. The Committee then approved its organization of work,as stipulated in Document A/CONF.166/PC/L.5. Somava then invitedthe Secretary-General of the United Nations, Boutros Boutros-Ghalito open the session.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the UnitedNations, said the Committee's greatest challenge is to allaysociety's fears derived from social disorder. He outlined fiveissues that the Committee should address: the right connectionsbetween the causes and effects of social stress; the policy andprogramme dimensions of social development; the different types ofattention required for different types of social groups;recognition of the need for national-level action; promotion of thecommon good. Boutros-Ghali hoped that the WSSD will produceconcrete action and not just a declaration of principles.
Ambassador Juan Somava, Chair of the World Summit forSocial Development, said the work the Committee has undertaken ishighly political since the core issues under consideration areoften the determinants of why governments win or lose elections. Hecalled for concrete solutions with new ideas, adding that programmeaction relating to new ideas and listening to civil society,including NGOs, unions and political parties, is part of theprocess. He said the focus should be on three core issues withinthe framework of the available resources: the form that actionshould take; the desired action within the UN; and the role ofinternational cooperation.
Nitin Desai, the Under-Secretary-General for PolicyCoordination and Sustainable Development, introduced Agenda Item 3,status of the preparations for the WSSD. The Secretariat paper,A/CONF.166/PC/7 summarizes Secretariat activities in 1993. A TrustFund for the WSSD was established by the Secretary-General in June1993. This Trust Fund facilitates participation of developingcountries and supplements resources provided by the regular budgetto undertake seminars or expert groups. Desai also urgedgovernments, NGOs and private and public institutions to contributeto the development of information on the Summit. He then introducedAgenda Item 4 covering the S-G's overview, documents from UNagencies, regional commissions, and other parts of the UN system,as well as the national reports received thus far. The reports ofthe two expert groups held in the Netherlands and Sweden provide aframework for discussion of the issues. Working paper number 1,"Elements for possible inclusion in the draft declaration and planof action," will be available this morning.
ALGERIA: Amb. Ramtane Lamamra of Algeria, speaking on behalfof the Group of 77 and China, said that information from theSecretariat indicates that the gap between the economicallywell-off 20% of the world's population, and the 20% at the bottom,is increasing. The ratio between these two groups had increasedfrom 1:20 in 1960 to 1:60 by 1990. In economic terms, the richreceive 83% of the world's financial resources while the poor 20%account for a mere 1.5%. Of these, the developing countries accountfor 17% of the world gross national product. He said this indicatesthat poverty, unemployment and social disintegration are growingout of hand. He said that national solutions cannot be attainedthrough market mechanisms or public policy but by harmonizing stateinterventions with the participation of all social and economicactors.
MALTA: Amb. Joseph Cassar of Malta said that efforts atsocial integration should be based on the protection of diversity,non-discrimination, the promotion of equality of opportunity andensuring access to education and information to all. He pointed outthat the higher the percentage of the employed labour force, thelower the number of people living in poverty. Cassar reported thatan estimated 30% of the world labour force of 2.8 billion are notproductively employed; 120 million are out of work; 700 million areunder-employed; and a staggering 1.1 billion people live inpoverty. He stressed that efforts towards social justice andsolidarity are undermined each time the media exalts or projectsideas, images or models which promote arrogance, intolerance orviolence.
SLOVENIA: Amb. Ignac Golob, the State Secretary forSlovenia, outlined the efforts being made by the countries intransition to integrate social issues in economic development. Hestressed that extreme poverty relates not only to materialnecessities, but also to the lack of productive employment. Golobsaid the diminishing value of ethics may be a contributing factorto poverty and suggested preparation of an international code ofethics to counter the destructive market economy philosophy of"anything goes".
US: Melinda Kimble, the US representative, underscored thatrespect for human rights and individual liberty are the startingpoint for social development. She called on the Committee torecognize the forces for change already shaping the next centuryand to identify actions that would modify or maximize the trends inthis transformation. Kimble said that it is vital for governmentsto ensure that all societal costs are properly reflected in theprice of goods and services. She stressed that emphasis must notonly be on the protection of vulnerable groups, but also onproviding the opportunity to reduce or remove the sources of thevulnerability. Within this "Agenda for People" there must also bea recognition that "women make the difference."
ZIMBABWE: C. Utete, Chief Secretary to the President andCabinet in Zimbabwe, said that while income is the most commonmeasure of poverty, the state of affairs should be reflected byother non-financial indicators such as nutrition, life-expectancy,child mortality, literacy, illness and education. Other social illssuch as violence, insecurity, political and cultural prosecutionand other limitations on human rights are as much causes as theyare symptoms of poverty. With regard to the creation of employment,policy attention must focus on the development of small- andmedium-sized enterprises and the acceleration and diversificationof rural economic development. Social integration must address thequestion of exclusion from the control of capital, technology andinformation, and deprivation of culture and integrity. He said thatsustainable social development must address questions relating toeconomic growth, international trade, commodity prices, transfer offinancial resources and technology and external debt crises.
ARGENTINA: Emilio Cardenas spoke on behalf of Argentina. Hestated that comprehensive analysis should be embodied in thedeclaration. He also affirmed the important role of NGOs and notedthat the substantive decisions of this process must be correlatedwith public information regarding the important work that iscurrently being done.
AUSTRALIA: John Langmore, M.P., Chair of the AustralianNational Consultative Committee for the WSSD, called on governmentsto develop new policies in order to meet those needs that areidentified as actual rights in the UN Charter. He also identifiedthe four pillars that should be incorporated into the Summit'soutputs: recognition of the historic setting of the Summit;statement of the global community on the importance of socialdevelopment; enumeration of the national measures to ensure povertyeradication; and policies and actions to be undertaken within theUN. Langmore also identified several criteria for the success ofthe Summit: necessary changes to multilateral organizations; use ofsocial indicators; and enhancement of ECOSOC to ensure it plays acentral role in the implementation phase.
RUSSIAN FEDERATION: The Representative of the RussianFederation commented on the need to start the practical work ofpreparing the draft final documents, including a plan of actioncontaining action-oriented and verifiable measures leading toconcrete results. He urged that special attention must be paid tothe most serious problems of developing countries. He noted that itwas the duty and direct responsibility of the internationalcommunity to find solutions so all populations have a chance at abetter life. He added that countries in transition are facingeconomic changes accompanied by new social problems such as massiveunemployment and widespread poverty.
ICFTU: Beatrice von Roemer spoke on behalf of theInternational Confederation of Free Trade Unions. She noted theICFTU recommendation that the public sector should undertake amajor programme of active labor market policies to provide bettereducation, training and retraining. She added that hugecontributions could be made to global recovery by effectivemeasures to raise purchasing power in developing countries. Shesaid that the section on civil society in the Secretariat'sdocument failed to mention the trade union sector and its importantrole in the institutional reform for the integration of social andeconomic development.
NOVIB: The Netherlands Organization for DevelopmentCooperation (NOVIB) outlined several measures needed to ensure thefull participation of NGOs including: accreditation reviewprocedures and broader dissemination of information and resources.She expressed hope that each country would have already analyzedits own social development in full partnership with NGOs. She alsourged that the WSSD provide the necessary resources and monitoringmechanisms to ensure that real progress is made in reaching thestated goals. She said that the PrepCom must not disregard theimportance of fully integrating women's realities in all aspects ofthe Summit.
AAJ: The American Association of Jurists said that povertyalleviation must be an immediate goal, noting that one of the rootsof poverty is unfair terms of trade and structural adjustmentpolicies. He said that the IMF, the World Bank and all otherinternational economic institutions must be democratized. He addedthat the WSSD must pay attention to the participation of women insocial development decision-making, as well as the importance ofprotecting cultural rights.
BAH"'": The Bah ' International Community said that "freshthinking and a unified spirit" must be brought to bear on theSummit's core issues. He said that only by embracing the principleof the "oneness of humanity" can the PrepCom ensure thatdeliberations will center on the well-being of the entire humanfamily, thereby extending the concept of social welfare beyondnational boundaries.
IAAE: The International Association for Adult Education saidthat it is necessary to define development in terms of an integralconcept involving economic and social dimensions, bearing in mindthe significance assigned to development in different countries.Underdevelopment, poverty and marginality are world securityissues. Under-development is not caused solely by actions of thedeveloped North, but are also caused by an incapacity to proposeand execute creative development alternatives. Poverty, one of theSummit's main concerns, should be seen as a result of civil andethnic wars and environmental deterioration. The NGO agenda for theSummit includes: i) the promotion of equity and social justice; ii)strengthening civil society; iii) promoting people's sovereignty;iv) targeting the structural causes of poverty; and v) stimulatingpluralism and cultural identity. NGOs can also link and harmonizedifferent and sometimes opposing interests.
IISD: Naresh Singh, of the International Institute forSustainable Development (IISD), noted that the IISD position paper,to be distributed today, will contain: contributions towards an"Agenda for People -- an Action Agenda"; policy actions directed atthe national, regional and international levels; a strategy formaking structural adjustment programmes more people-centered andconsistent with sustainable development principles; and a list ofjob categories in which new employment, consistent with sustainabledevelopment and social cohesiveness, might be created.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: General debate will continue today in ConferenceRoom 4 on Agenda Items 3 and 4, "Status of the preparations for theWSSD" and "Analysis of the core issues to be addressed by theSummit and policy measures to attain its objectives." Look forinterventions during the morning from ECLAC, Brazil, Denmark,Indonesia, Colombia, Iran, Jamaica, FAO, Peru and the Netherlands.Possible afternoon speakers include the World Bank, theInternational Chamber of Commerce, Guyana, Kenya, Japan, ILO,UNICEF, Ethiopia, WHO, UNIDO, UNRISD and Education International.
WOMEN'S CAUCUS: The Women's Caucus will meet every morningfrom 9:00 to 10:00 am in Conference Room E. Amb. Somava will meetwith the Caucus this morning at 9:30 am. The principle focus of theCaucus is to provide a feminist analysis of the document,contribute a women's perspective (both mainstream andcross-cutting) to the preparatory process and to ensure that womenare central to the outcome of the Summit. The "gender-inclusive"meeting is open to NGOs, delegates, UN representatives and media.
NGO FACILITATING COMMITTEE: The NGO Facilitating Committeehas organized a meeting of NGOs for today at 1:00 pm in ConferenceRoom E to discuss participation in the Facilitating Committee.