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UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali opened the Summit on Monday, 6 March, and called on delegates to send a clear message that the international community is taking a stand against social injustice, exclusion and poverty. He noted the necessity of a new social contract at the global level. Boutros-Ghali outlined three priority objectives: providing social protection, assisting social integration and maintaining social peace.

Delegates then unanimously elected Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen as President of the WSSD. Nyrup urged delegates to use the Summit to turn the analysis of problems and possibilities into concrete commitments and actions, as was done in Rio. Following Nyrup"s statement, delegates turned to a number of procedural matters, including adoption of the rules of procedure (A/CONF.166/2) and adoption of the agenda (A/CONF.166/1). As recommended in A/CONF.166/3, delegates elected 27 vice-presidents and an ex-officio vice-president (Denmark). Mr. Sadok Rabah (Tunisia) was elected Rapporteur-General, and Amb. Juan Somav´┐Ża (Chile) was elected Chair of the Main Committee. The recommendation in A/CONF.166/3 (General Exchange of Views) for suggested themes during the Plenary was adopted. The timetables for 11-12 March, proposed in the Annex to A/CONF.166/3, were extended to provide additional time for the more than 140 expected speakers. Delegates also adopted documents A/CONF.166/6 and A/CONF.166/4 regarding accreditation of NGOs.

Nyrup then turned to Agenda Item 8, general exchange of views. Minister Cielito Habito (Philippines) opened this five-day exchange, speaking on behalf of the G-77. He welcomed delegates" agreement on the priority target of poverty eradication. Habito called for greater emphasis on the participation of women, the needs of the disadvantaged, and the role of the family. He also called for an International Fund for Social Development, adoption of the 20:20 initiative, and adequate, predictable, new and additional sources of funding for sustainable development.

Minister Simone Veil (France) then spoke on behalf of the EU. She noted the important role of women in development, outlined essential elements of an educational programme, and stated that the family is the basis of society. She also stressed the essential role of the ILO.

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