Curtain raiser

2nd Session of the 1995 WSSD Preparatory Committee


The second session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for theWorld Summit for Social Development (WSSD) begins today in New Yorkand will continue until 2 September 1994. This session is thesecond of three preparatory meetings for the Summit, which isscheduled for 6-12 March 1995 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Summitwill bring together Heads of State and Government from around theworld to agree on a programme of action to: alleviate and reducepoverty; expand productive employment; and enhance socialintegration.


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 eleven objectives for the Summit. These include: to express ashared world-wide commitment to put the needs of people at thecenter of development; to stimulate international cooperation; toformulate strategies on goals, policies and priority actions; tocreate international awareness; to address the interaction betweenthe social function of the State, market responses to socialdemands and the imperatives of sustainable development; to identifycommon problems of socially marginalized and disadvantaged groups;to promote programmes to ensure legal protection, foster effectivesocial welfare programmes and enhance education and training fordifferent groups in all societies; to assist in ensuring a moreeffective delivery of social services; and to highlight the need tomobilize resources for social development at the local, national,regional and international levels. Resolution 47/92 also statesthat, taking into account these objectives, the core issues to beaddressed by the Summit are: the enhancement of social integration,particularly of the more disadvantaged and marginalized groups;alleviation and reduction of poverty; and expansion of productiveemployment.


The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the WSSD held itsorganizational session in New York from 12-16 April 1993. Amb. JuanSomava (Chile) was elected Chair and the following nine countrieswere elected to the Bureau as Vice-Chairs: Australia, Cameroon,India, Indonesia, Latvia, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, andZimbabwe. Denmark, the host country, serves as an ex officiomember of the Bureau and as a Vice-Chair. The PrepCom also adopteddecisions on: intersessional meetings of the Bureau; modalities forthe participation of NGOs; national preparations for the WSSD;mobilization of resources for the WSSD Trust Fund; intention of theUN Department of Public Information (DPI) to launch a publicinformation programme on the issues and objectives of the Summit;its organization of work, including the tasks of the PrepCom, atimetable and level of representation; expert group meetings; thedates for the Summit and the PrepCom sessions; and the provisionalagenda for the first session of the PrepCom.


The first session of the PrepCom met in New York from 31 January -11 February 1994. The objective of PrepCom I was to define theexpected output and provide elements for inclusion in the documentsto be adopted at the Summit. The first week of the session wasdevoted to opening statements from governments, NGOs, UN agenciesand other intergovernmental organizations. During the second week,the delegates drafted a series of decisions to help guide theSecretariat and the PrepCom in the preparation of the expectedoutcomes of the Summit.

By the conclusion of PrepCom I, delegates had agreed on theexistence, format and structure of a draft declaration and draftprogramme of action as well as the possible elements to be includedin these documents. Delegates agreed that the draft Declarationshould contain three parts: a description of the world socialsituation; principles, goals, policy orientations and commonchallenges to be addressed by all actors at the local, national,regional and international levels; and an expression of commitmenton issues relating to implementation and follow-up. The Declarationshould be concise and focused, and reaffirm internationalagreements, instruments, declarations and decisions adopted by theUN system that are relevant to the Summit. The Secretariat wasasked to prepare a draft negotiating text for the final documentson the basis of the contents of the 11 objectives and three coreissues stated in paragraphs 5 and 6 of General Assembly Resolution47/92.


There have been a number of intersessional seminars and workshopsheld in preparation for the Social Summit. The following arehighlights of some of these meetings.


The United Nations University (UNU) and the World Institute forDevelopment Economics Research (WIDER) sponsored a conference onthe politics and economics of global employment in Helsinki from17-18 June 1994. The conference participants noted that the successof employment creation and the reduction of unemployment must bedirectly related to the rate and patterns of economic growth.Factors that influence the rate and patterns of economic growth,the level of demand, investments, income distribution and linkagesbetween urban and rural economies must be taken into consideration.Key conditions for sustained employment-oriented growth include:increased productivity; improved functioning of labor markets;privatization; and education and improvement in human capabilities.The private sector, transnational corporations, the state and thecommunity all have roles to play.


The German Foundation for International Development hosted aroundtable in Berlin from 21-24 June 1994 to review the scope forinnovative resource management in the context of socialdevelopment. The discussions dealt with four key issues: mobilizingprivate initiative; improving efficiency and effectiveness ofsocial development spending; identifying innovative sources offinancing for social development; and optimizing the use ofnational and external assistance resources. Throughout the meetingthe consensus was that the most outstanding resource of any societyis its people. The Roundtable urged the Social Summit toacknowledge the role of women as key agents of economic and socialdevelopment and to call for the removal of all legal and otherbarriers to their full economic participation. Participants alsodiscussed the need for systems of accountability and transparencythat will reduce government corruption and debt relief.


The Overseas Development Council (ODC) convened a meeting from24-26 June 1994 in Princeton, New Jersey, of policymakers,academics and NGOs concerned with the Social Summit. One of therecommendations was that principles guiding the Social SummitDeclaration and Programme of Action should include an affirmationthat people are the ends -- not the means -- of economic progressand development. Governments and international institutions shouldplace greater emphasis on increasing productive capacities andopportunities of people through the provision of education andtraining, health services, clean water and sanitation, and accessto credit. Governments should be encouraged to create an enablingenvironment for civic organizations. Women, ethnic and racialminorities and other groups who suffer from discrimination must beempowered. Economic development strategies should includeemployment generation as a key goal. The Social Summit should alsoestablish procedures to reform the IMF, World Bank, UN and GATT/WTOto increase efficiency, transparency, coordination andeffectiveness.


The UN Development Programme (UNDP) convened a roundtable on globalchange entitled "Change: Social Conflict or Harmony?" from 22-24July 1994 in Stockholm, Sweden. More than 150 participants analyzedthe reasons why efforts have often failed to ensure human securityand proposed action at both the national and international levels.Participants also examined possible solutions to poverty,unemployment and social fractures. Five working groups wereestablished to examine issues of human security, poverty, jobs,social integration, and political will. The Roundtable'srecommendations to the Social Summit include: the adoption of aglobal compact that could include a three percent reduction inmilitary spending and a three-year phase-out in militaryassistance, military bases and subsidies to arms exporters; therecognition of the role of the civil society; and the use of themedia in empowering people and in shaping their perception ofreality.


The WSSD Secretariat, the World Bank and The Netherlandsco-sponsored the Expert Meeting on Poverty, which was held from27-29 June 1994 in Lusaka, Zambia. Over 30 international expertsexamined the effectiveness of poverty reduction strategies: how toenhance the contributions of women and minority groups to economicdevelopment; the social consequences of structural adjustment; andthe role of NGOs and local communities in the struggle againstpoverty. The report of the meeting is being tabled as PrepComdocument A/CONF.166/PC/17.

This meeting was the third in a series of expert meetings. TheExpert Meeting on Social Integration was held in The Hague, TheNetherlands in September 1993 and the Expert Meeting on ProductiveEmployment was held in October 1993 in Saltsjobaden, Sweden.


The UN Research Institute on Social Development (UNRISD) and UNDPjointly organized an international seminar on Ethnic Diversity andPublic Policies from 17-19 August 1994, at UN Headquarters in NewYork. During the two-day conference, an array of some sixtypolicymakers, activists, researchers, journalists and UN officialsaddressed a range of topics related to ethnic diversity, includingcountry experiences and the role of the media. The results andrecommendations from this seminar will be distributed at thePrepCom.


PLENARY: The first meeting of the second session of thePrepCom for the World Summit for Social Development will convenethis morning at 10:00 am in Conference Room 4. UN Secretary-GeneralBoutros Boutros-Ghali is expected to open the session. The secondspeaker will be PrepCom Chair Juan Somava (Chile) who will outlinethe objectives of this session of the PrepCom. A number ofprocedural items will follow, including the adoption of the agenda(A/CONF.166/PC/14), adoption of the organization of work(A/CONF.166/PC/L.14) and accreditation of an additional 233 NGOs tothe process (A/CONF.166/PC/11/ Add.1). Nitin Desai,Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and SustainableDevelopment, is then expected to introduce documentA/CONF.166/PC/15, "The status of preparations for the WSSD."

The Plenary should then immediately move into a discussion of thedraft Programme of Action for the Summit (A/CONF.166/ PC/L.13).There will be no general debate. Rather, delegates have been askedto focus their statements on the portion of the Programme of Actionunder discussion. Thus, today's discussion should focus on Part I,"An Enabling Environment." The Plenary will examine each section ofthe document with the goal of completing a first reading of boththe draft Programme of Action and the draft Declaration by the endof the week.

NGO ACTIVITIES: The Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS)has prepared a provisional schedule of NGO meetings during thePrepCom. NGOs are also advised to check the daily calendar of NGOevents, which will be available in Conference Rooms A and B and theNGO hospitality center in the Church Center every morning. Thespace available for NGOs in the UN is limited and is beingallocated primarily to collective efforts such as caucuses andNGO-government dialogues. To book a room in the UN, please contactJoslyn Barnes at NGLS, 212-963-3125. To book a room in the ChurchCenter, please contact Debra Storms, 212-682-3633.


Non-state coalitions