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The first session of the PrepCom for the World Summit for Social Development opened on Monday, 31 January 1994 at UN Headquarters in New York. The order of business was the adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters, the accreditation of non-governmental organizations, and an analysis of the core issues to be addressed by the Summit and policy measures to attain its objectives. The latter item was the subject of a general discussion that lasted throughout the first week of the PrepCom.

The discussion began with three introductory statements. UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said the Committee's greatest challenge is to allay society's fears derived from social disorder. He outlined five issues that the Committee should address: the right connections between the causes and effects of social stress; the policy and programme dimensions of social development; the different types of attention required for different types of social groups; recognition of the need for national-level action; and promotion of the common good. Boutros-Ghali expressed hope that the WSSD will produce concrete action and not just a declaration of principles.

WSSD Chair Juan Somav´┐Ża said the work the Committee has undertaken is highly political since the core issues are often the determinants of why governments win or lose elections. He called for concrete solutions with new ideas, adding that programme action relating to new ideas and listening to civil society, including NGOs, unions and political parties, is part of the process. He said the focus should be on three core issues within the framework of the available resources: the form that action should take; the desired action within the UN; and the role of international cooperation.

Under-Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development Nitin Desai 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 Trust Fund for the WSSD was established by the Secretary-General in June 1993. This Trust Fund facilitates participation of the least developed countries and supplements resources provided by the regular budget to undertake seminars or expert groups. Desai also urged governments, NGOs, and private and public institutions to contribute to the development of information on the Summit. He then introduced Agenda Item 4 covering the Secretary-General's overview, documents from UN agencies, regional commissions, and other parts of the UN system, as well as the national reports received thus far. The reports of the two expert groups held in The Netherlands and Sweden provide a framework for discussion of the issues.

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