Summary report, 31 January – 11 February 1994

1st Session of the 1995 WSSD Preparatory Committee

The first session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for theWorld Summit for Social Development (WSSD) met in New York from 31January - 11 February 1994. This session was the first of threemeetings of the PrepCom to be held over the next year inpreparation for the World Summit, scheduled for 6-12 March 1995 inCopenhagen, Denmark. The Summit will bring together Heads of Stateand Government from around the world to agree on a programme ofaction for alleviating and reducing poverty, expanding productiveemployment and enhancing social integration.

The objective of this session of the PrepCom was to define theexpected output and provide elements for inclusion in the documentsto be adopted at the Summit. Based on these elements, theSecretariat will prepare a draft negotiating text for the finaldocuments for the second session of the PrepCom, which will be heldfrom 22 August to 2 September 1994. The second session will thenprepare a first draft of the final text of the declaration andprogramme of action of the Summit and the third session, which willtake place in January 1995, will prepare the final provisionaldocuments that will be adopted formally at the Summit.

At this session of the PrepCom, the first week was devoted toopening statements from governments, NGOs, UN agencies and otherintergovernmental organizations. During the second week, thedelegates worked to draft a series of decisions that will helpguide the Secretariat and the PrepCom in the preparation of theexpected outcomes of the Summit. By the conclusion of PrepCom I,delegates had agreed on the existence, format and structure of adraft declaration and draft programme of action, which will beprepared by the Secretariat by 1 June 1994, as well as the possibleelements to be included in these documents.


In December 1992 the United Nations General Assembly adoptedResolution 47/92, "Convening of a world summit for socialdevelopment," and set the process in motion for organizing ameeting of Heads of State to tackle the critical problems ofpoverty, unemployment and social integration. Resolution 47/92 setout the following eleven objectives for the Summit:

  • To further the objectives of the Charter of the United Nations, as stated in Article 55, to promote "higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of economic and social progress and development" and "solutions of international economic, social health, and related problems," with particular focus on social development aspects;
  • To express a shared world-wide commitment to put the needs of people at the center of development and of international cooperation as a major priority of international relations;
  • To stimulate international cooperation;
  • To formulate strategies on goals, policies and priority actions;
  • To create international awareness;
  • To address, in creative ways, the interaction between the social function of the State, market responses to social demands and the imperatives of sustainable development;
  • To identify common problems of socially marginalized and disadvantaged groups;
  • To promote programmes to ensure legal protection, foster effective social welfare programmes and enhance education and training for different groups in all societies;
  • To assist in ensuring a more effective delivery of social services for the more disadvantaged;
  • To highlight the need to mobilize resources for social development at the local, national, regional and international levels; and
  • To make appropriate recommendations regarding more effective action by the United Nations system in the sphere of social development.


The PrepCom held its organizationalsession in New York from 12-16 April 1993. Amb. Juan Somava(Chile) was elected Chair and it was decided that the Bureau wouldhave nine Vice-Chairs and that Denmark would serve as an exofficio member of the Bureau and as a Vice-Chair. The PrepComelected the following Bureau members: Australia, Cameroon, India,Indonesia, Latvia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, and Zimbabwe.The PrepCom also adopted decisions on: 1) intersessional meetingsof the Bureau; 2) the modalities for the participation of NGOs; 3)national preparations for the WSSD; 4) the mobilization ofresources for the WSSD Trust Fund; 5) the intention of the UNDepartment of Public Information (DPI) to launch a publicinformation programme on the issues and objectives of the Summit;6) deferring a decision on organizational matters; 7) itsorganization of work, including the tasks of the PrepCom, atimetable and level of representation; 8) the expert groupmeetings; 9) the dates for the Summit and the PrepCom sessions; and10) the provisional agenda for the first session of the PrepCom.


At its 1993 session, which was held in Geneva from28 June - 30 July 1993, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)adopted Resolution 1993/64, "Preparations for the World Summit forSocial Development." The Council said that it was "convinced thatthe World Summit for Social Development would provide a uniqueopportunity to focus the attention of all countries on the mainsocial and human concerns and to promote policies and strengtheninternational cooperation in order to effectively address theseconcerns." In this resolution, the Council decided that an Africancommon position on the issues before the Summit should beformulated by the meeting of the Conference of African MinistersResponsible for Human Development (17-21 January 1994), which wouldserve as the regional preparatory meeting for the Summit.Furthermore, the Council requested that the Executive Secretary ofthe Economic Commission for Africa prepare, in cooperation with theOrganization of African Unity and other African regional andsubregional organizations, an African common position on the issuesbefore the Summit.


At its organizational session, thePrepCom requested the Secretary-General to organize expert groupmeetings to provide opinion on the contemporary, relevant researchdata on the core issues of the Summit. It also requested that theresults of these meetings be forwarded to this PrepCom session. Twoexpert group meetings were held. The first was a meeting on socialintegration, which was held at The Hague from 27 September to 1October 1993. The topic of the meeting was "enhancement of socialintegration, particularly of the more disadvantaged andmarginalized groups." The report of this meeting can be found indocument A/CONF.166/PC/8. The second meeting was on the expansionof productive employment, which was held at Saltsj”baden, Sweden,from 4-8 October, 1993. The outcome of the meeting is contained indocument A/CONF.166/PC/9.


During theorganizational session of the PrepCom, draft decision 10, dealingwith the establishment and work schedule of a Working Group of theWhole, was withdrawn to provide governments with more time toconsider this issue. This matter was subsequently taken up by theThird Committee of the General Assembly. The elements of draftdecision 10 were incorporated into Resolution 48/100, adopted on 11December 1993. The resolution requests the Secretary-General tomake provisions for the PrepCom, if it so decides, to establishduring the first substantive session a Working Group of the Wholeto meet in parallel with the Plenary. It also calls on Heads ofState to appoint personal representatives to participate in thefirst session of the PrepCom and invites States to contributegenerously to the voluntary Trust Fund.


The first session of the PrepCom for the World Summit for SocialDevelopment opened on Monday, 31 January 1994 at UN Headquarters inNew York. The order of business was the adoption of the agenda andother organizational matters, the accreditation of non-governmentalorganizations, and an analysis of the core issues to be addressedby the Summit and policy measures to attain its objectives. Thelatter item was the subject of a general discussion that lastedthroughout the first week of the PrepCom.

The discussion began with three introductory statements. UNSecretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said the Committee'sgreatest challenge is to allay society's fears derived from socialdisorder. He outlined five issues that the Committee shouldaddress: the right connections between the causes and effects ofsocial stress; the policy and programme dimensions of socialdevelopment; the different types of attention required fordifferent types of social groups; recognition of the need fornational-level action; and promotion of the common good.Boutros-Ghali expressed hope that the WSSD will produce concreteaction and not just a declaration of principles.

WSSD Chair Juan Somava said the work the Committee has undertakenis highly political since the core issues are often thedeterminants of why governments win or lose elections. He calledfor concrete solutions with new ideas, adding that programme actionrelating to new ideas and listening to civil society, includingNGOs, unions and political parties, is part of the process. He saidthe focus should be on three core issues within the framework ofthe available resources: the form that action should take; thedesired action within the UN; and the role of internationalcooperation.

Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment Nitin Desai introduced Agenda Item 3, Status of thepreparations for the WSSD. The Secretariat paper, A/CONF.166/PC/7,summarizes Secretariat activities in 1993. A Trust Fund for theWSSD was established by the Secretary-General in June 1993. ThisTrust Fund facilitates participation of the least developedcountries and supplements resources provided by the regular budgetto undertake seminars or expert groups. Desai also urgedgovernments, NGOs, and private and public institutions tocontribute to the development of information on the Summit. He thenintroduced Agenda Item 4 covering the Secretary-General's overview,documents from UN agencies, regional commissions, and other partsof the UN system, as well as the national reports received thusfar. The reports of the two expert groups held in The Netherlandsand Sweden provide a framework for discussion of the issues.


During the week-long general debate, the PrepCom heard statementsby approximately 75 government delegations, 20 non-governmentalorganizations, and 15 intergovernmental organizations and UNagencies. A number of specific themes emerged during the course ofthe debate and Somava summarized them as follows. The first themepertained to the global social situation. Somava said thatmany delegates had noted that:

  • Social unrest is growing in scope in most parts of the world;
  • Economic globalization has not worked and the trickle-down theory is threatening all aspects of society;
  • The core issues of the WSSD affect all societies, but with different intensities;
  • The underlying political and economic causes of poverty must be addressed;
  • The extreme situations in Africa and the least developed countries require special treatment;
  • The particular problems facing women, who represent the majority of the poor, must also be addressed; and
  • Despite the gravity of the problems, emphasis must be placed on the potential to deal with these problems.

The second theme pertained to the political perception ofthe debate. Somava noted the following key comments:

  • There is a high political cost to inaction. If these problems go unchecked, the consequences will ultimately affect both national and international peace and security;
  • The Summit will be highly political in light of the transboundary nature of many of the issues being addressed;
  • This Summit would not have been possible before the end of the Cold War. Yet at the same time, the end of the Cold War eliminated a certain form of stability, and insecurity of all forms has increased;
  • State security depends on human security and human security is linked to a set of moral issues, such as the limits to human suffering, that must be addressed; and
  • There is a growing recognition of the need to move beyond narrow self-interest to genuine international cooperation. At the same time, it must be recognized that many local issues need somehow to be linked with the broader global agenda.

The third theme is related to the concept of a common visionfor the Summit. Somava noted that most delegates shared theview that the basic objective of the WSSD is to express thecommitment to put humans at the center of development and politicalactivity. This requires ensuring the dignity of the human personand the great diversity of society as well as accepting diversityas a value and not as something that should be fought against.Other visions for the Summit, as expressed by delegates, include:

  • The political long-term view that poverty is unacceptable was linked with practical suggestions for its elimination, such as investment in human resources, development of a social pact or Agenda for People, programmes that foster enterprise rather than dependence, and shifting investment towards activities that have high social multiplier effects;
  • The reduction of gender inequity was seen as a central problem to be addressed;
  • These problems can best be resolved through international action, and the Summit should forge the creation of a new model of international partnership;
  • There is a need to build on the efforts of past summits and conferences; and
  • The most successful societies are those that recognize the centrality of people in the development process.


There appeared to be generalagreement that: (1) commitments made in this process must betranslated into concrete action; (2) pragmatic and simplepriorities must be set; (3) systematic support is needed at alllevels; and (4) the action plan to be developed must be of ageneral nature but it must also consider the special needs of itsweakest members.

The fifth theme that emerged during the debate pertains to the needfor an enabling environment for social development. Pointsraised included: (1) the best route to development is throughself-sufficiency; and (2) policies related to trade, debt, marketaccess and technology transfer must be developed based on theprinciples of international cooperation. The debate oninternational cooperation was the weakest, with few concrete ideaspresented regarding the form that international cooperation shouldtake.

The sixth theme pertained to the role of civil society and therole of various actors. Two major questions were raised: (1)what role is the UN system to play; and (2) how can financialinstitutions be made more sensitive to the goals of socialdevelopment? It was agreed that the UN agencies should have a moreintegrated approach in their activities and that the relationshipbetween the UN and international financial institutions should bestrengthened. Also, delegates agreed that governments and NGOs, aswell as the public and private sectors, should work more closely inorder to comprehensively address the core issues.


During the second week of the PrepCom, delegates met in informalsessions to discuss the core issues to be addressed by the Summitin more detail. These discussions were based on Working Paper No.1, "Elements for possible inclusion in the draft declaration andplan of action," which had been prepared by the WSSD Secretariatbefore this session of the PrepCom began. Paragraph 17 of thisworking paper said that the programme of action should build onnational experiences in social development, including innovativeand successful policies, and could include the following areas:enabling economic environment; social integration; alleviation andreduction of poverty; and the expansion of productive employment.The PrepCom devoted two days of informal discussion to thesetopics.


Working Paper No. 1 suggested that thefollowing social integration issues should be addressed in theprogramme of action: (1) equality and social justice (includingensuring equal opportunity and combatting discrimination; genderequality and the empowerment of women; providing universal accessto education; and protecting cultural diversity); (2) socialparticipation (including bringing government closer to the peopleand promoting community organization and action); (3) migrants,refugees and foreigners (including promoting integration ofmigrants and meeting the needs of refugees); (4) protecting andintegrating groups and people with special needs; and (5)protecting the rights and promoting the welfare of minorities andindigenous peoples.

During the discussion, a number of delegations emphasized issuesthat should be highlighted. Peru supported tolerance among variousethnic and social groups. Switzerland said that people with specialneeds must be identified, including youth, the disabled, and theelderly. Indonesia emphasized full protection of the rights of thechild.

Greece, on behalf of the European Union (EU), said that policiesshould guarantee human rights such as justice, health and humandignity. Likewise, Chile said that nondiscrimination, equalitybefore the law, with access to the law for everyone, and sharedvalues to eliminate discrimination must be included. Tunisia andUruguay also mentioned that justice must be accessible to allmarginalized groups. Australia said social integration is based ondiversity and nondiscrimination. Important factors are: democracy,participation and good governance; the role of civil society;equality of opportunities; gender equity and use ofgender-inclusive language; and enabling policies ensuringinformation accessibility to all who want it. Pakistan stressedequity and social justice at national and international levels aswell as at inter- and intra- generational levels.

The Holy See stressed universal and equal access to education forwomen and the poor, and use of the family as a deliverer of socialservices. Brazil and China also supported access to education.Venezuela, Tunisia, Zimbabwe and the Republic of Korea alsostressed the role of the family in social integration and thetransfer of values.

Turkey said the empowerment of women should become the conceptualframework for social integration. The US also stressed the need toempower women by addressing their health issues. C“te d'Ivoireemphasized the education of women and girls as well as women'saccess to decision- making, credit and property.

Canada mentioned the need to increase popular participation.Denmark said that the African common position contains importantbasic conditions such as: a strong, honest and independentjudiciary; strengthened legislative organs of States; institutionalaccountability; an effective and free press; people's participationthrough NGOs; and strategies that favor a bottom-up approach.

Mexico requested that resources for social integration and trainingfor migrants and refugees should be assured. Croatia said resourcesfor reconstruction and assistance for war victims was needed.Austria stressed the need to include long-term employment in socialintegration.


Working Paper No. 1 listed the following issuesthat could be included in the programme of action: (1) mobilizingnational and international efforts to reduce poverty and promoteequity; (2) monitoring poverty and assessing anti-povertyprogrammes; (3) providing basic social services; (4) alleviatingand reducing rural poverty; (5) reducing poverty in fragileecosystems; (6) reducing urban poverty in developing countries; and(7) strengthening social security policies and programmes.

In the discussion, Denmark and Brazil said that it was important toattack the roots of poverty, and not just the symptoms. Algeria, onbehalf of the G-77 and China, said that the objective of the WSSDshould be poverty elimination rather than poverty alleviation.India called for eradication of poverty by the end of the century.More reference should be made to measures involving the poor and adevelopment strategy for the eradication of poverty. The elementsof such a strategy would involve: food security systems; laborintensive industries; strengthening rural agriculturalization; andminimum living standards.

A number of delegates, including Switzerland and El Salvador,stressed the importance of the relationship between theconsequences of structural adjustment and poverty. Another relatedissue mentioned by Switzerland, C“te d'Ivoire, Denmark, Brazil,Norway, the US and Australia was the importance of access to landand land reform.

Greece, on behalf of the EU, said that governments must developmacro-economic strategies at both the national and internationallevels to open markets and facilitate debt relief. The EU hasdecided that debt relief will be one of its main priorities indevelopment aid. The other priority areas include: the provision ofbasic services such as education, water, health care, and housing;improving the employment of the poor; encouraging self-helpactivities for the urban and rural poor; fundamental democraticrights; social protection of the poor; maintenance of self-helpsystems; full integration of women in the fight against poverty;and the protection of fragile ecosystems.

Denmark, Brazil, the US, C“te d'Ivoire and Australia stressed theneed to combat illiteracy and provide better education. Access tocredit was another important issue raised by Australia, C“ted'Ivoire and Norway.

Turkey said the feminization of poverty, as well as the difficultsituation of the elderly poor, and the provision of affordablehousing must be mentioned. Chile also referred to the problem ofthe feminization of poverty and urged for concrete measures, suchas the Women's Bank, and specific initiatives for child care.Norway said that to fight poverty society must also strengtheninvestment in people, especially women, their health, education,and access to credit and land. The one billion people now living inpoverty are a result of the lack of political will to redress thisproblem.


Working Paper No. 1listed the following categories for the delegates to consider: (1)ensuring that economic growth creates jobs; (2) improving patternsof investment and economic activity; (3) improving employment forvulnerable groups; (4) integrating migrants into labor markets; (5)improving working conditions; and (6) new approaches to employmentin post-industrial societies.

Austria said that the definition of "productive employment" in thedocument gives rise to a serious misconception as it seems tosuggest that the reduction of unemployment will lead to reductionof poverty. But the current demographic changes and the access bywomen to productive employment indicate that unless the problem ofunemployment is fully resolved, the problem of productiveemployment will not be fully addressed. Hence the PrepCom shouldaddress "full employment."

India said that productive employment is a basic individual rightsince it not only provides a wage but is also an expression ofself-fulfillment and dignity. The Summit should address fullemployment, as it is a concern of both the developed and developingcountries. Unemployment may be inversely related to the level ofwages, but it has persisted with growth in all countries becausemodern growth is technology-based and higher technology is based onsaving labor rather than saving land-based resources.

Australia said a principle requirement in attaining full employmentis a conducive economic environment. He suggested that the ILO andUNDP could prepare a paper on this topic, based on five centralthemes: increases in private and public investment usinglabor-intensive technologies; training; development of smallbusinesses; fair wages and work conditions, with wages relating toincome distribution; and flexible work schedules.

France commented that jobs of social usefulness, such as helpingthe elderly and families, maintaining buildings in urban areas andenvironmental protection, are necessary. Finland mentioned thathealth is also important when discussing productive employment.Malaysia suggested programmes for productive employment, such asprivate sector investment and human resource development. The HolySee said training is crucial to promote skills literacy for youthand the long-term unemployed. El Salvador said that there is a needfor an analysis of unemployment in rural and urban areas and forthe private sector to aid in job creation. Mali urged the creationof an environment favoring motivation and the retention of highlyskilled workers. Sweden suggested the ILO could act as a follow-upmechanism for the Summit.


Working Paper No. 1 listedfour topics in this priority area: (1) growth with social justice;(2) social dimensions of macroeconomic adjustments; (3) resolvingthe external debt; and (4) adaptation to a changing global economicenvironment. During a very brief discussion on this topic,Australia suggested five themes to be addressed within the contextof the enabling economic environment: the importance of favorabletrade and financial environments; the importance of nationalmacro-economic policies; the need to revise national publicexpenditure priorities; the role of the taxation system; andnational accounting procedures that take into account environmentaland human impacts.


At the final meeting of the Plenary on Friday, 11 February 1993,the PrepCom adopted a series of decisions that will help shape itsfuture work. Amb. Somava first invited delegates to consider thedraft decision pertaining to Agenda Item 3, "Status of thePreparations for the World Summit for Social Development," ascontained in document A/CONF.166/PC/L.9. The document is dividedinto seven sections and: urges States and other bodies and sectorsto contribute to the Trust Fund to enable the participation ofdelegates from the least developed countries, since only threeMember States so far had contributed; notes the need for seminars,workshops and other activities, such as those already undertaken inThe Netherlands and Sweden, to particularly address the question ofpoverty; urges Member States to undertake national arrangements andprepare reports for the WSSD preparations; calls for theparticipation of non-governmental organizations at all levels;stresses the important role of the UN system; stresses the need forresearch activities that will ensure the widest possible context ofthe preparations; and stresses the need for a broad programme ofpublic information to bring the Summit to the attention of a wideraudience.

Delegates then considered Agenda Item 6, the draft provisionalagenda for the second session of the PrepCom, as contained indocument A/CONF.166/PC/L.10. The provisional agenda includes: theadoption of the agenda and other organizational matters; theaccreditation of NGOs; status of preparations for the WSSD; draftoutcomes of the WSSD; draft provisional rules of procedure;provisional agenda for the third session of the PrepCom; and theadoption of the report of the PrepCom. The delegates agreed to adda separate item concerning a review of the status of the Trust Fundin view of the fact that many developing countries had difficultyin participating since contributions have not been forthcoming.

Delegates then considered document A/CONF.166/ PC/L.11, whichoutlines the documents to be prepared for the second session of thePrepCom. These include: the draft outcome of the WSSD; a review ofthe existing international commitments by Member States, such asconventions and declarations, and including procedures formonitoring and reporting; an updated Working Paper No. 2("Activities of the UN system with the framework of the coreissues"); and an updated Working Paper No. 3 ("Information onsocial development publications and indicators in the UN"). Thedecision also requests the Secretary-General to invite the ILO, incooperation with UNDP, to carry out a study on options for makingthe international economic environment conducive to growth andoutput. This latter proposal was the subject of an extensive debateon the participation of other relevant organizations and thecontents of the paper. In the end, it was agreed that the proposalshould be deleted, but that in light of the interest by delegates,the ILO and UNDP, as well as other relevant organizations, couldsubmit an options paper for the Secretariat's considerationcovering the issues outlined in the proposal, as well as thoserelated to the reduction of unemployment.

Finally, the delegates considered a draft decision outlining thepossible elements to be included in a text to be adopted by thePrepCom, based on the analysis of the core issues to be addressedand policy measures to attain its objectives. This draft decision,which was considered by a Drafting Group under the Chairmanship ofAmb. Richard Butler (Australia), was negotiated during the last twodays of the PrepCom. Agreement was reached shortly before the startof the last session of the Plenary. The discussions were based onan amended text provided by the G-77 and China, based on documentA/CONF.166/PC/L.8. The final text, as adopted by the Plenary,states that the PrepCom at its second session will consider draftsof the expected outcomes of the WSSD: a draft declaration and adraft programme of action. It also calls on the Secretary-Generalto prepare these documents on the basis of the contents of the 11objectives and three core issues stated in paragraphs 5 and 6 ofGeneral Assembly Resolution 47/92. The decision further states thatthe draft declaration should contain three parts: a description ofthe world social situation; principles, goals, policy orientationsand common challenges to be addressed by all actors at the local,national, regional and international levels; and an expression ofcommitment and issues relating to implementation and follow-up. Thedeclaration should also be concise and focused, and reaffirminternational agreements, instruments, declarations and decisionsadopted by the UN system that are relevant to the Summit. Thedelegates further agreed on the contents of the two documents thatwill be considered by the PrepCom during its second session. Anadditional paragraph that provides an opportunity for delegationsto submit their contributions to the Secretariat for inclusion inthe draft texts (which will be released by 1 June 1994) wasintroduced. Although the final text was not available, delegatesadopted the decision.

In his concluding statement, the Chair noted that the PrepCom hadmade considerable progress on the issues and established a goodworking spirit by reducing levels of tension, doubt, fear andmisunderstanding. Somava then adjourned the Plenary at 8:30 pm.


The World Summit for Social Development is the fourth in a seriesof five landmark world conferences organized by the United Nationsin the 1990s. These five conferences -- the 1992 UN Conference onEnvironment and Development; the 1993 World Conference on HumanRights; the 1994 International Conference on Population andDevelopment; the 1995 World Summit for Social Development; and the1995 Fourth World Conference on Women -- are part of a processattempting to give priority to the social policy agenda within theUN system. As was noted during PrepCom I, the machinery for theadvancement of the social agenda within the UN system is carriedout by the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, theSecurity Council, the UN specialized agencies, and the BrettonWoods institutions. While the Security Council's main charge is tomonitor international peace and security, security is no longerdefined strictly in military and political terms. In fact, at theEarth Summit, the Heads of State adopted a definition of securityincorporating economic and social factors. What is needed in the UNsystem are policies that further social development goals andensure coherence and coordination of action. It is up to the WSSDto reshape this machinery.

Now that the PrepCom has completed its first session, it is usefulto take a step back and assess the progress made so far indeveloping these new policies and goals for social development.During the course of this two-week session a number of governmentdelegates, representatives from UN agencies and NGOs expressed acertain degree of pessimism about the process so far. The firstweek's general debate was filled with well-worn rhetoric. DespitePrepCom Chair Juan Somova's urging, few delegates were prepared tomake concrete, substantive proposals. Delegates' statements werelimited to addressing the symptoms of poverty rather than theeconomic roots of the problem. Nevertheless, it is important toremember that this is only the first substantive session of thePrepCom. There are still two more sessions and one more year untilthe Summit convenes in Copenhagen. This stage in the multilateralnegotiating process typically focuses on issue definition andexploration. Detailed discussion usually takes place later in theprocess.

Delegates came to New York with the knowledge that the Summit willtake place in March 1995 and that the General Assembly, inResolution 47/92, had decided that the Summit should address threecore issues: enhancement of social integration, particularly ofdisadvantaged and marginalized groups; alleviation and reduction ofpoverty; and expansion of productive employment. The goal of thissession of the PrepCom was to agree on the elements for inclusionin the draft declaration and the programme of action to be adoptedby the Summit. This goal was reached despite concurrent meetings inGeneva, Kuala Lumpur and UN Headquarters that pulled delegates awayfrom the PrepCom, limited instructions from capitals, and twosnowstorms that practically shut down New York City.

Delegates did agree that discussions regarding a new socialdevelopment agenda must be premised on the importance of puttingpeople at the center of development and economic policies. Anythingless will result in social disintegration. During the debate, thedelegates also indicated that while the three core issues do affectall countries, they do so in differing degrees. Therefore, thesolutions need to take into account regional, national and localdimensions of the problem. As such, and in view of the long list ofthemes, the Committee will need to define the priority areas. To dothis, delegates need to determine which are the problems that arebetter left to national governments and those that must beaddressed in the international context. Some of these issues havealready been identified: the effect of the Bretton Woodsinstitutions on social development as well as their relationship tothe United Nations; the solution to dwindling international aid,the effects of structural adjustment programmes and debt; theratification of already existing international instruments relatingto the issues; the role of the Security Council and the Economicand Social Council in light of the redefinition of peace andsecurity; and the need for a value-system or code of ethics toguide international economics. Given the highly political nature ofthese issues, governments and regional groups must engage inconsultations during the intersessional period to develop theirpositions.

Despite the progress made, there were several problems that emergedduring PrepCom I that could have lingering effects on thepreparatory process, as well as the Summit itself. First,governments seemed reluctant to discuss some of the importantissues, including the relationship between international economicpolicies and social development. Although there was agreement thatthese policies are a barrier to human development, there was anapparent unwillingness by some delegates to identify specificproblems and possible solutions. The impacts and socialconsequences of international economic policies, includingstructural adjustment programmes and debt, were recognized.However, delegates preferred to merely address the linkages betweenthe international financial institutions, the UN and variousgovernments, without suggesting concrete reforms.

There was also a reluctance to discuss the financial resourcesneeded to assist the South, even though delegates were willing toconsider the possibility of debt relief for the least developedcountries. Many delegates affirmed the importance of recognizingthe special plight of Africa. However, few were able to articulatethe form in which this special attention should be provided.African countries will have to be more innovative in their call forspecial assistance, especially in the face of dwindling developmentaid flows. In the attempt to focus on the special problems of theseregions, there was a tendency to disregard the fact that certainsectors in the North face similar problems that also requireattention.

A second problem was the fact that documents were not prepared anddistributed far enough in advance. As a result, governmentdelegates did not have sufficient time to prepare their ownpositions much less agree upon regional positions. During thelatter part of the PrepCom, meetings were suspended or delayed toallow time for regional consultations. This resulted ininsufficient time for the discussion of some of the importantdecision documents. Many delegates urged that the documents bedistributed in a more timely manner to provide delegates withsufficient time to prepare their positions and hold regionalconsultations. Not only will this encourage constructive dialogue,but it will also allow the PrepCom to make the best use of thelimited time available during the next year.

A third problem was that most NGOs tended to provide rhetoricrather than innovative and practical solutions. This may have bedue to the total absence of representatives from affected sectors,such as marginalized social groups and the trade union movement, inboth the North and the South. To be more effective at the nextsession, NGO representatives will need to consult with theseaffected sectors and ensure their presence at PrepCom II or, at thevery least, ensure that their voices are heard.

To ensure that PrepCom II is a success and delegates are able tobuild upon the decisions taken at PrepCom I, rather thanback-pedaling even further, governments, UN agencies, theSecretariat and NGOs must arrive in New York prepared to commenceconcrete, focused and political discussions on both the draftdeclaration and the draft programme of action. First, theSecretariat should do its best to ensure that the draft documentsare ready by the set deadline of 1 June 1994. If this deadline ismet, governments and non-state actors will have the necessary timeto review the documents and formulate concrete positions andproposals.

Second, delegations will need to consult within their regionalgroups to identify their regional positions in advance of the nextsession. In particular, they will need to identify the areas ofdivergence within each of the groups and streamline their positionsto ensure that the regional spokespeople are adequately briefed.This will reduce the necessity to suspend and defer officialmeetings for regional consultations. It will also enablerepresentatives of the various regional groups to hold smallinformal drafting meetings, when the need arises.

Third, as there was minimal input from the civil society andenvironmental groups at PrepCom I, NGOs should lobby theirgovernments to ensure that the proposals their governments putforward are both people-centered and ecologically friendly. TheSecretariat will also need to furnish NGOs with adequate and timelyinformation and documentation to enable them to raise publicawareness and ensure that sufficient public pressure is mobilizedto generate the necessary political will.

Finally, all participants must arrive at PrepCom II ready to tacklethe difficult issues that lie ahead, particularly those thataddress the relationship between international economic policiesand social development. Unless these and other key issues areaddressed in a forward-looking, productive manner, the World Summitfor Social Development may fail to produce any concrete proposalsthat will actually alleviate and reduce poverty, expand productiveemployment and enhance social integration.


The WSSD Secretariat will be busyduring the intersessional period preparing documentation forPrepCom II, which will be held from 22 August - 2 September 1994 inNew York. These include:

  • Draft outcome of the World Summit for Social Development (draft declaration and programme of action);
  • Review of existing international commitments by Member States, through international instruments (e.g., conventions and declarations) relevant to social development and the three core issues; this review should include procedures for monitoring and reporting;
  • Completion and updating of Working Paper No. 2, "Activities of the United Nations system with the framework of the core issues;" and
  • Completion and updating of Working Paper No. 3, "Information on social development publications and indicators in the United Nations system."


The WSSD Secretariat will be busyduring the intersessional period preparing documentation forPrepCom II, which will be held from 22 August - 2 September 1994 inNew York. These include:

  • Draft outcome of the World Summit for Social Development (draft declaration and programme of action);
  • Review of existing international commitments by Member States, through international instruments (e.g., conventions and declarations) relevant to social development and the three core issues; this review should include procedures for monitoring and reporting;
  • Completion and updating of Working Paper No. 2, "Activities of the United Nations system with the framework of the core issues;" and
  • Completion and updating of Working Paper No. 3, "Information on social development publications and indicators in the United Nations system."


The United Nations DevelopmentProgramme (UNDP) Human Development Report will focus on the SocialSummit and is expected to be released by June 1994. In addition,the International Labour Organization (ILO), in cooperation withUNDP, is expected to carry out a study on options for making theinternational economic environment conducive to growth inemployment and output.


NOVIB, a Dutch development agency, isplanning a series of intersessional meetings in Europe to stimulatethe interest and participation of European NGOs in the WSSDpreparatory process and to catalyze NGO lobbying efforts in Europe.NOVIB will also assist in the dissemination of WSSD information toits many Southern partners and help to ensure that NGO input ischannelled to the Secretariat. For further information, contactNOVIB at: +31-70-3421-621.

The Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO) isplanning to help organize NGO advocacy work at the national levelas well as helping to stimulate grassroots campaigns in manycountries. WEDO's work will focus on the positive contributionsthat women have made in local communities around those issues beingaddressed by the WSSD. For further information, contact WEDO at:+1-212-759-7982.

Other possible intersessional NGO activities include: a regionalNGO meeting in Tunis in early June before the OAU Ministerialmeeting; an international NGO meeting in Finland in July inpreparation for PrepCom II; and a series of meetings that may beorganized by the International Council for Social Welfare.

By the end of this PrepCom, NGOs had agreed to defer discussion ofa formal NGO Secretariat until PrepCom II. The idea was toestablish a body that could facilitate NGO participation and inputsinto the official process. After considerable discussion, it wasfelt that a formal body was not necessary, but those interestedcould organize themselves into a loose liaison group to undertaketasks necessary to facilitate their own participation. Thepossibility of a formal body may be considered the weekend afterthe first week of PrepCom II, if necessary.


National governments
Negotiating blocs
African Union
European Union
Group of 77 and China
Non-state coalitions