24th Special Session of the UN General Assembly (WSSD+5)
The 24th Special Session of the UN General Assembly, entitled "World Summit for Social Development (WSSD) and beyond: Achieving social development for all in a globalizing world," opens today in Geneva. The Special Session will conduct an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the 1995 World Summit for Social Development.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF WSSD+5
In December 1992, the UN General Assembly (GA) adopted Resolution 47/92, which called for the convening of a world summit for social development and set in motion the process of organizing a meeting of Heads of State to tackle the critical problems of poverty, unemployment and social integration. A Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) was established, under the chairmanship of Amb. Juan Somavía (Chile), to negotiate the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and a Programme of Action (POA). The PrepCom met three times in February and October 1994, and January 1995.
The World Summit for Social Development convened in Copenhagen from 6-12 March 1995, bringing together over 118 world leaders. Despite difficult debates, Summit delegates managed to reach consensus on the Copenhagen Declaration and POA. The Copenhagen Declaration assessed the current social situation and reasons for convening the WSSD, listed principles and goals, and spelled out 10 commitments: to enhance the enabling environment for social development and to promote further initiatives for poverty eradication, full employment, social integration, equality and equity between women and men, universal and equitable access to quality education and health services, accelerated development in Africa and the LDCs, inclusion of social development goals in structural adjustment programmes (SAPs), increased resources for social development and international cooperation for social development.
The POA contains five chapters and outlines actions to be achieved in each area: an enabling environment for social development; eradication of poverty; the expansion of productive employment and the reduction of unemployment; social integration; and implementation and follow-up. It also calls on the GA to hold a special session in the year 2000 for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the WSSD, and to consider further actions.
PREPARATIONS FOR WSSD+5
In 1997, the GA established a PrepCom to prepare for the five-year review and appraisal of the implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and POA. The PrepCom, chaired by Amb. Cristian Maquieira (Chile), held its organizational session in May 1998 and its first substantive session in May 1999. It initiated discussions on preliminary assessment of the implementation of the 10 commitments and on further initiatives, and adopted a decision on the role of the UN system, inviting all relevant organs and specialized agencies of the UN system and other concerned organizations to submit review reports and proposals for further action and initiatives. The PrepCom also decided on further procedures and preparations for the Special Session, including the convening of open-ended, intersessional informal consultations from 30 August - 3 September 1999 and 21-25 February 2000.
38TH SESSION OF THE CSD
At its May 1998 session, the PrepCom invited the 38th session of the Commission for Social Development (CSD-38), chaired by Zola Skweyiya (South Africa), to consider Part II of the proposed outcome document (A/AC.253/L.5). Part II is entitled the "Overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development: Draft agreed conclusions." It contains seven sections: an introduction on developments, challenges and priorities since the WSSD; poverty eradication; full employment; social integration; Africa and the LDCs; mobilization of resources for social development; and capacity building to implement social policies and programmes. The document states that the goals of development are to improve living conditions and empower people to participate fully in economic, political and social arenas. It concludes that while efforts have been made, progress has been uneven and further attention is required.
CSD-38 was unable to conclude its negotiations during its 8-17 February 2000 session, and extra sessions were held during 21-25 February and on 6, 9 and 17 March 2000. A primary sticking point was a reference to economic sanctions and unilateral measures not in accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter. The final text sets a precedent by concluding that sanctions and unilateral measures can impede social development. There was also disagreement over references to resource mobilization, with final text acknowledging that ODA has continued to decline and only four countries now meet the agreed target of 0.7% of GNP for ODA. The review also notes that ODA has been more effective when countries are committed to growth-oriented strategies combined with poverty eradication goals and strategies.
The PrepCom held its second substantive session at UN headquarters in New York from 3-14 April 2000. It negotiated Part I of the proposed outcome document, a draft political declaration intended to serve as a statement of affirmation of the Copenhagen Declaration and POA. It also debated Part III, "Further actions and initiatives to implement the commitments made at the Summit." Structured around the 10 commitments contained within the Copenhagen Declaration, Part III is based in part on a set of 26 reports submitted to the Secretariat by organs and specialized agencies of the UN system and other concerned organizations and integrated in the "Compilation of the summaries and proposals for further action provided by the United Nations System" (A/AC.253/ CRP.2).
At the PrepCom, delegates also discussed the draft provisional agenda and organizational matters (A/AC.253/L.16) and the list of speakers (E/CN.6/2000/PC.9) for the Special Session.
Working Group I finished an initial reading of the further actions and initiatives for Commitments 1, 7, 8 and 9. Working Group II completed first and second readings of much of Commitments 2-6 and 10. Working Group III nearly succeeded in finishing negotiations on the draft political declaration, but talks broke down over paragraphs on poverty, workers' rights, governance, debt and international cooperation. About half of the text was agreed.
INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: MAY 2000
The PrepCom reconvened from 17-23 May 2000, to resume consideration of Parts I and III of the outcome document. On Wednesday, 17 May, Working Group II Chair Koos Richelle (Netherlands) opened the meeting. On Thursday, 18 May, PrepCom Chair Maquieira called on delegates to strive to leave, at most, only 10 or 12 highly political paragraphs for the Special Session to negotiate.
By the close of negotiations on Tuesday, 23 May, delegates had agreed on 183 paragraphs and sub-paragraphs, while 127 remained pending. Progress came in fits and starts, with delegates deeply divided over issues such as resources, governance, trade and political will.
INFORMAL CONSULTATIONS: JUNE 2000
Delegates held a final round of consultations on 19 and 20 June 2000, and discussed text from four commitments in Part III of the outcome document. By the close of the session, approximately 40% of the text remained bracketed.
Commitment 1: Enabling Social Development: Delegates agreed on paragraph 1 with reference to the report of the WSSD. No agreement was reached on: paragraph 6, on environmental protection; 6(a), on sustainable development; and 6(b), on multilateral assistance. In 6(d), delegates worked from a G-77/China reformulation, and accepted "developing national, and, where appropriate, regional guidelines." A reference to productivity and efficiency remains bracketed.
In 8(b), delegates accepted language on, inter alia, technology transfer, but there was no agreement on language referring to financing. The G-77/China blocked the Chair's proposal to drop 8(b) bis, on complementing developing country efforts. No consensus was reached in 8(c) on references to, inter alia, non-tariff barriers, the multilateral trading system, and measures that unjustifiably hinder trade and limit export earnings. Pakistan opposed a proposal from Japan to borrow language from UNCTAD X. In paragraph 10, delegates deleted references to policies and measures, and the text was agreed. Delegates agreed to negotiate a G-77/China proposal for 10(a), but reached no consensus, including on a proposal from Canada to refer to temporary stand-still arrangements for debt. Delegates agreed to the Chair's proposed combination of 10(b) and 10(b) ter, including an EU-suggested reference to the "potential" negative impact of financial operations. In 10(b) bis, they accepted a G-77/China-proposed insertion of "where appropriate" and reference to fields instead of policies.
Commitment 2: Poverty Eradication: In 27 bis (i), delegates accepted language on progressively improving working conditions through respect for basic workers' rights, to enhance social protection. In 27 bis (o), delegates accepted reference to, inter alia, sex, but text on social impact assessments remains bracketed. In 27 bis (u), there was no consensus on references to, inter alia, reproductive and sexual health care services. In 27 ter (a), the G-77/China proposed deleting a reference to the ILO; it remains bracketed.
Commitment 3: Employment: In 38(a), the G-77/ China, with the US, India and Japan, preferred reference to "strongly consider ratifying" ILO conventions, while Norway and the EU preferred "ratify." No agreement was reached.
Commitment 5: Gender Equality: In paragraph 71, delegates differed over, inter alia, "taking into account" or "upholding" Beijing+5's outcome. The US objected to the latter, noting that not all delegations agreed to all of the outcome's provisions. After making minor amendments and accepting paragraph 72, on gender mainstreaming, and 72 bis (e), on violence, delegates adopted Beijing+5 language for: 72 bis (a) and (b), on education; (b) bis, on adult literacy; (c), on labor; (d), on maternal mortality; and (f), on work and family responsibilities. Libya, with Pakistan, proposed a chapeau reference to international assistance. Delegates accepted WSSD language that includes reference to national efforts. Consensus was reached on 72 quater, on statistics, and 72 quin, on implementation of the WSSD and Beijing, after the EU suggested language from Beijing+5. Similarly, agreed paragraph 73 follows a Beijing+5 reference to the CEDAW Optional Protocol. In 73 bis, on health, delegates disagreed over which text should serve as a basis for negotiations.
The PrepCom held its sixth and final meeting on 20 June and agreed to transfer the three-part proposed outcome document, consisting of: Part I, the political declaration (A/AC.253/L.5/ Rev.2); Part II, the overall review and appraisal (A/AC.253/L.5/ Rev.3); and Part III, further actions and initiatives (A/AC.253/L.5/ Rev.4).
Chair Maquieira then noted that delegates would reconvene to consider the list of NGOs requesting accreditation to the Special Session (A/AC.253/29). Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Canada, Libya, Pakistan, Cuba, Sudan, China and the Russian Federation expressed concern about the document's late arrival. Canada and the EU noted this would complicate arrangements for NGOs. On June 22, the PrepCom resumed its final session, chaired by Amb. Ion Gorita (Romania), and adopted the document without further debate.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR TODAY
PLENARY: The Plenary will meet at 10:00 am in the Assembly Hall. The chairman of the delegation of Namibia will open the session, following welcoming remarks by the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Denmark and the President of the Swiss Confederation. Delegates will hear proposals for further initiatives for social development from high-level government representatives.
AD HOC COW: The Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole will meet at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm in Room XIX. Following the election of officers and adoption of the organization of work (A/S-24/ AC.1/L.1), delegates will hear proposals for further initiatives for social development from UN agencies and NGOs.
WORKING GROUPS: Working Group II will meet at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm in Room XVIII to discuss Commitments 2-6 and 10. Working Group III will meet at 11:30 am and 4:00 pm in Room XXVI to debate the draft political declaration. Working Group I will meet at 8:00 pm in Room XVII to negotiate Commitments 1 and 7-9.
CONTACT GROUPS: Contact groups will be held from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm in locations to be announced. Luis Fernándo Carranza-Cifuentes' (Guatemala) group will discuss paragraph 9, on unilateral sanctions. Sonia Felicity Elliott's (Guyana) group will debate paragraphs 5 bis, 10(a), 15, 87(a), 95, 105(g), 112 and 112(b) bis, on debt. Aurelio Fernández's (Spain) group will negotiate paragraphs 39, 39 ter and 40, on globalization and labor.