ENB:10:23 [Next] . [Previous] . [Contents]

DISCUSSIONS ON THE RESTRUCTURED DRAFT PROGRAMME OF ACTION

On Tuesday the Secretariat distributed a new version of CRP.3, which was restructured according to the G-77's proposal. No language or wording was changed, although some text proposed by the G-77 was included as alternative language. Given the fact that the Declaration was under discussion in the extended Bureau, all references to the commitments in the beginning of each chapter of CRP.3 were removed.

The new structure of the draft Programme of Action, which was largely supported by the Committee, contained a 4-paragraph preamble and five chapters. In the beginning of Chapters I-IV, the overall goal and a series of objectives are listed. Then, for each objective there are two sections: Basis for action and Actions. Chapter V in the G-77 text contains the same basic structure as CRP.3. All paragraph numbers are the same in both documents.

The following is a summary of the restructured version of CRP.3 as well as the discussions that took place in the Committee of the Whole from 25-27 October 1994.

PREAMBLE

The four-paragraph preamble noted the historic occasion of the World Summit for Social Development and the fact that it builds on a series of global conferences. Actions to address the three central issues -- poverty, unemployment and social disintegration -- must integrate social, economic, environmental and cultural concerns.

Most of the discussion on the preamble focused on paragraph 2, which lists various global conferences upon which the Social Summit should build. Some countries, such as the US, the EU and Jamaica, supported retaining this list. They maintained that such a list provides an important context for the Social Summit. Others, such as New Zealand, Sweden and Australia, preferred a more general reference, arguing that such a list could never be exhaustive and would prematurely date the Programme of Action. The Chair decided that brackets would be placed around three options: retention of the current list; a general reference; and an expanded list. He invited delegates to submit their suggestions for inclusion in the latter.

CHAPTER I -- AN ENABLING ENVIRONMENT

The overall goal of this chapter is "To give the highest priority at the national and international levels to social development and betterment of the human condition." The chapter contains nine objectives:

Germany, on behalf of the EU, supported objective 1 (favourable national political environment), but felt that referring only to national policies was too restrictive. Other countries, including Indonesia, requested reference to the social and economic environment as well. Switzerland suggesting merging objective 1 with objective 3 (favourable international economic environment). Most G-77 countries opposed this merger on the grounds that the objectives referred to two separate ideas. China insisted that the right to freedom of association, referred to in paragraph 41, should be applied in accordance with national situations.

Under objective 2 (patterns of development), the EU requested inclusion of "sustainable" as a qualifier for development. Malaysia called for reference to "sustainable consumption." Norway preferred "respect for human rights" instead of "human dignity." The G-77 felt that such a reference was unduly restrictive. Zimbabwe called for an action paragraph on the right to self-determination. New Zealand expressed concern that reference to cooperatives, farmers and trade unions restricted the scope of civil society organizations who have a role to play in social development.

Many delegates felt that the reference to the international environment in objective 3 (favourable international economic environment) should be restricted to economic dimensions. The EU suggested merging objective 3, with objective 4 (international cooperation for social development). The G-77 preferred keeping them separate since objective 4 deals with broader issues such as poverty alleviation. Japan objected to any references to structural adjustment, debt relief and ODA in this chapter. New Zealand also suggested moving all references to resources to Chapter V. By contrast, the G-77 proposed including reference to resources at the end of each chapter. The Ukraine highlighted the omission of reference to countries with economies in transition.

CHAPTER II -- ERADICATION OF POVERTY

The overall goal of this chapter is: "To eradicate poverty in the world, in the shortest period possible, by decisive national actions and international cooperation as a moral, political and economic initiative of humankind." The four objectives in this chapter are:

There appeared to be general agreement to refer to the eradication of extreme poverty and the reduction of overall poverty. Switzerland suggested restructuring the chapter to clarify the commitments. He preferred a stronger emphasis on the provision of health care and education. The Holy See called for reference to the need to explore bilateral agreements on social insurance and security. New Zealand supported acknowledgment of the different forms of poverty in the first Basis for Action paragraph, but felt that there was a contradiction between the first and the second paragraphs in this section, which refers to the concentration of poverty in Africa and the LDCs. He suggested reference to the existence of poverty in all countries. The US highlighted the need for the poor to have access to credit, shelter and land tenure, and to be supported in the pursuit of their own livelihoods. Chile said that poverty eradication measures must be realistic and accompanied by clearly defined target dates. There was considerable discussion regarding the need for definitions and indicators. The G-77 said that poverty must be defined according to national conditions and circumstances. Many delegates called for linguistic consistency with the Cairo Programme of Action.

CHAPTER III -- PRODUCTIVE EMPLOYMENT AND THE REDUCTION OF UNEMPLOYMENT

The overall goal of this chapter is: "To promote and protect the right of all people to earn livelihoods through freely chosen productive employment and other forms of work with full employment as the general goal." The five objectives in this chapter are:

The G-77 affirmed the importance of paragraph 132, which calls on countries to create the appropriate economic framework for the stimulation of employment. Japan acknowledged the improvement in the reorganized text, but stressed the need for active labour market policies. Japan also opposed the reference to the liberalization of inter-country movement of workers. China felt that trade liberalization and inter-country movement of workers should be solved bilaterally. Canada favoured a broader concept of work.

Sweden appreciated the G-77's omission of reference to the multiple roles of women, arguing that it was an outdated phrase that does nothing to advance the cause of gender equality. TheUkraine expressed concern regarding the omission of all the references to countries with economies in transition that had been incorporated throughout the previous text.

India said that expansion of the informal sector (including self-employment) is key to the attainment of full employment. This requires market information, skills training and the removal of infrastructural impediments. The G-77 said that Section F (in the original CRP.3) on the expansion of the concept of work is useful, but does not apply to developing countries. Other countries disagreed and requested that this section be included in the next draft. Austria called for a more truthful pricing of labour.

CHAPTER IV -- SOCIAL INTEGRATION

The overall goal of this chapter is: "To promote social integration by fostering inclusive participatory, just, safe and stable societies for all people, while maintaining and promoting respect for diversity." The five objectives in this chapter are:

Indonesia referred to the family as the basic unit of society and called for an additional action to refer to the government's role in strengthening the family and inter-generational cohesion. New Zealand welcomed paragraph 207 regarding discrimination against women and called for further reference to prevent discrimination against indigenous women. Malaysia objected to the strong language in paragraph 207 regarding the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women. Canada called for greater linkage between social integration and the issues addressed in the other chapters. The Sudan said that social justice must be based on economic justice. He said that in paragraph 198, which deals with mass communication, some reference must be made to the fact that most information in the world is monopolized by multinational corporations. China felt that paragraph 198 had nothing to do with social integration and, as such, should be deleted. He said that paragraph 205 (promoting a climate of tolerance) should be revised to enable governments to adopt measures that are suitable to national conditions.

The Holy See called for reference to the problems linked with organized crime, since reference is only made to drug trafficking. The G-77 challenged the requirement in paragraph 205 to ratify the Vienna Convention, on the grounds that human rights are a matter of national sovereignty. The EU called for a clear reference to the need to respect all human rights and the importance of democratic participation. The EU also called for action on international cooperation against the production and illegal trafficking of drugs and action relating to international cooperation in the struggle against crime in all its forms and to improve the system of penal justice.

CHAPTER V -- MEANS OF IMPLEMENTATION AND FOLLOW-UP

When the Chair opened the discussion of this chapter, the US and Japan stated that it was premature to discuss implementation before the Committee reached agreement on the objectives and actions. The US added that while international assistance can help, national governments have the primary responsibility for developing funding and sustaining social programmes. Canada supported the existing structure and highlighted the need to spell out a basis for action in each section since the Programme of Action as a whole should be addressed in the implementation section. Canada also called for a section on information systems along the lines of the Chapter XII in the Cairo Programme of Action. Chile also supported the existing structure. Australia suggested developing a list of priorities, however, Canada, Chile and the G-77 did not feel this was the right place to set priorities because every State is sovereign and should develop its own priorities.

A. Guiding principles for implementation: This section contains a list of eleven principles. The EU called for reference to human rights and equality of the sexes in this list. In principle (vi), which calls for greater coherence of international actions to support national efforts, the EU questioned the meaning of the phrase "global compact." The G-77 and China questioned the use of the phrase "Regional and subregional cooperation based on common values."

B. Implementation and follow-up at the national level: The EU supported the identification of quantitative and qualitative indicators for social development, but the G-77 said it was not clear what type of indicators can be provided. Japan questioned the reference to equitable taxation systems in paragraph 255. Canada stressed the need to include civil society and local communities in national follow-up activities.

C. International cooperation for social progress: Uruguay, Mexico and Argentina expressed concern about the mobilization of volunteers to implement social programmes (paragraph 259). Germany, Japan and New Zealand expressed concern about the call for the harmonization of donor agency assistance procedures (paragraph 260).

D. The role of the United Nations and the United Nations System: Canada, supported by Australia, stressed the need to reflect the ongoing work on the Agenda for Development in this section. A number of delegates, including the EU, Mexico, the G-77, New Zealand and Japan, expressed concern with a proposed additional paragraph on the establishment of a high-level inter-agency committee to monitor follow-up. Mexico, Malaysia and Cuba all suggested deletion of paragraph 266, which refers to joint or parallel consideration of security and development issues. The EU, Mexico and Japan proposed deletion of a proposed additional paragraph that recommends the convening of a summit meeting every five years to evaluate the results achieved in the implementation of the Declaration and Programme of Action. Iraq, Libya and Cuba supported a proposed additional paragraph on mitigating the adverse consequences of economic sanctions, but the EU felt that this was a political issue that oversteps the boundaries of the Social Summit.

A number of countries commented on paragraph 271, which refers to respect for the reporting mechanisms established by certain human rights mechanisms. Malaysia and Cuba called for its deletion, while Surinam thought that all human rights instruments should be included. As a potential compromise, Algeria, on behalf of the G-77, proposed mentioning the Declaration and Programme of Action of the 1993 Vienna Conference on Human Rights. Finally, there was some question about the role of the ILO in follow-up activities. China wanted to delete paragraph 265 on this issue, whereas the EU insisted that the ILO has an important role to play.

E. Mobilizing resources for social development: The EU and Japan suggested deleting paragraph 279 (expanding the ad hoc working group of the Commission on Sustainable Development to include social development). Australia and China also expressed concern about this paragraph. The EU, Japan, Australia, Mauritius and Uruguay felt that the proposed additional paragraph establishing an "International Fund for Social Development" should be deleted. Malaysia, Iran and the Philippines wanted to retain this paragraph.

Members of the G-77 preferred the original language in paragraph 273 that calls for new and additional resources, whereas developed countries preferred the alternative that only calls for "adequate" resources for social development. Many G-77 members supported the proposed additional paragraph on debt conversion for African countries. Jamaica, supported by Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Bangladesh, suggested amending this paragraph to also include non-African heavily indebted countries. The G-77 said that there should be a time-frame established for debt cancellation and proposed the year 1996. Japan preferred reference to "debt reduction" instead of "debt cancellation."

Delegates appeared divided on the issue of the 20/20 concept. India preferred the alternative to paragraph 281 that does not mention this initiative since 20/20 introduces conditionality without mobilization of additional resources. Uganda, Tanzania, Surinam and Zambia wanted reference to the 20/20 concept retained.

[Return to start of article]