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Important Issues for Social Development
this section, you find documents which are relevant to the issues of the 10
Commitments that Governments agreed at the World Summit for Social Development,
including the full Commitments texts.
The 10 Commitments are part of the "Copenhagen Declaration on Social
10 Commitments in the Copenhagen
Declaration on Social Development:
the summary below]
Create an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment that will enable people to achieve social development;
Eradicate absolute poverty by a target date to be set by each country;
Support full employment as a basic policy goal;
Promote social integration based on the enhancement and protection of all human rights;
Achieve equality and equity between women and men;
Attain universal and equitable access to education and primary health care;
Accelerate the development of Africa and the least developed countries;
Ensure that structural adjustment programmes include social development goals;
Increase resources allocated to social development;
Strengthen cooperation for social development through the UN.
Our global drive for social development and the recommendations for action contained in the Programme of Action are made in a spirit of
consensus and international cooperation, in full conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, recognizing that the
formulation and implementation of strategies, policies, programmes and actions for social development are the responsibility of each country and
should take into account the economic, social and environmental diversity of conditions in each country, with full respect for the various religious and
ethical values, cultural backgrounds and philosophical convictions of its people, and in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms. In
this context, international cooperation is essential for the full implementation of social development programmes and actions.
On the basis of our common pursuit of social development, which aims at social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality within and among countries,
with full respect for national sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as policy objectives, development priorities and religious and cultural
diversity, and full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, we launch a global drive for social progress and development embodied in
the following commitments."
the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development, 1995)
1. Creating an enabling environment
Around the world, democratically elected Governments
continue to increase in number. However, successful democratization requires an
adequate level of education of the population; wider access to knowledge,
technology and information; an accessible system of health services; and
sustainable economic progress and social development. National progress reports
submitted to the United Nations reflect a myriad of activities carried out by
Governments and organizations of civil society to meet those needs.
An enabling environment, which calls for respect for all human rights and
fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, has been marred in
some countries by economic or political instability. The social impact of the
recent financial crisis in Asia has been felt in many countries around the
2. Eradicating poverty
Of 130 countries surveyed by the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP), only 38 have set targets for poverty reduction.
Another 40 countries are in the process of developing such plans and strategies.
According to the UNDP publication Overcoming Human Poverty, access to
micro-financing is one common strategy pursued to achieve economic empowerment
of the poor, particularly women.
3. Promoting full employment
There have been several encouraging indications of the
degree of commitment to the employment objective set at the Social Summit. For
example, the Group of Seven (G7) economic conferences have involved the
participation of ministers responsible for employment and labour policies along
with those for finance or economic affairs. In addition, several countries have
held job summits or high-level national meetings on employment problems and
ways to improve employment conditions.
4. Promoting social integration
As of January 1998, there were a total of 1,016
ratifications or accessions to major international human rights treaties
relating to social integration. Some countries have incorporated human rights
components into their formal education and community training programmes. Other
countries have taken steps to promote the cultural integration of immigrants and
migrant workers. Advocating the importance of family values has been recognized
as one way to ensure the proper socialization of children in society.
5. Achieving equality and equity between women and
There is generally greater awareness of the problems
encountered by women, and a number of countries have taken remedial actions at
local and national levels. Although many countries have set up gender
mainstreaming units in their Governments, concrete progress has been slow and
erratic. Moreover, in the critical area of poverty alleviation, women's problems
have intensified in the wake of the global fiscal crisis and economic recession.
6. Accessing health and education services
Over 100 countries have set up specific goals and plans to
achieve education for all by 2015. Some have placed emphasis on promoting equity
in education by providing financial incentives, such as provision of
scholarships to the poor. However, close to 900 million adults remain
illiterate, two thirds of them female.
In the field of health, emphasis on primary health care has become a blueprint
for the formulation of health policies at the national and international levels,
as suggested by the Alma-Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care in 1978. In both
developing and industrialized countries, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has had grave,
multiple long-term social consequences, affecting families and children.
7. Accelerating development in Africa and in the
least developed countries
World leaders at Copenhagen committed themselves to
accelerating the economic, social and human resource development of Africa and
the least developed countries. With the assistance of UN organizations and the
international community, many of these countries are undertaking various actions
to support the Summit's commitment for Africa.
Initiatives have been taken, for example, through the United Nations New Agenda
for the Development of Africa in the 1990s (UN-NADAF); the Programme of Action
for the Least Developed Countries in the 1990s; and special measures to ensure
that communicable diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS, do not restrict or reverse
the progress made by African countries in economic and social development.
Overall, many African countries have attempted to implement economic reforms,
including 22 countries that have agreements with the International Monetary Fund
8. Extended Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF),
Including social development goals in structural adjustment programmes
The concern of Governments about the negative social
consequences of structural adjustment programmes sponsored by the multilateral
financial institutions prompted countries to commit themselves to include social
development goals in their own structural adjustment programmes, including
poverty eradication, promotion of full employment and the enhancement of social
The World Bank has since taken further measures to address the adverse social
impact of its structural adjustment programmes. Poverty eradication has become a
major goal for the Bank, which now favours reallocation of public expenditures
towards such priority sectors as education and health. The International
Monetary Fund (IMF) also recognizes that with increasing democratization and
participation of civil society, popular support for adjustment programmes is a
precondition for their success. Local ownership of economic reform programmes
and the need for greater flexibility in negotiations have also become important
for the IMF.
9. Allocating resources for social development
Several countries have come up with innovative ways of
generating funds for social programmes. For example, some countries have
undertaken reforms to increase gross domestic savings as a percentage of the
gross domestic product (GDP) and to enlarge and rationalize their tax base.
However, allocation of resources for social development continues to be highly
sensitive to macroeconomic fluctuations and hence suffers when there is
Within the context of adjustment programmes, several countries have established
social emergency funds to mitigate the adverse impact of adjustment measures on
vulnerable groups. The external indebtedness of developing countries,
particularly low-income countries, is a source of concern since it constrains
their growth prospects.
The importance of the availability of resources for social development is behind
the 20/20 initiative, which encourages Governments and donors to allocate
resources for the provision of basic services, and to use such resources more
effectively and equitably. The initiative calls for the allocation of, on
average, 20 per cent of public budgets in developing countries and 20 per cent
of official development assistance (ODA) to basic social services. In this
connection, the continued decline in ODA is also a source of great concern.
10. Cooperating for social development
International cooperation has played a crucial role in
helping countries address their financial crises. The current crisis, however,
has made it clear that the International Monetary Fund's financial ability to
provide resources to crisis-ridden countries is limited. It has also exposed the
deficiencies of existing regulatory and surveillance mechanisms, in both
developed and developing countries. The Fund has since set up financial
mechanisms to assist countries in crisis, such as the Emergency Financing
Mechanism and the Supplemental Reserve Facility. Support has also been given by
the international community to those countries with economies in transition to
aid them in transforming their economies and integrating them into the global
system. Substantive dialogue on this issue between the United Nations and the
Bretton Woods institutions culminated in the Economic and Social Council
high-level meetings held in April 1998 and April 1999, with a focus on the
impact of global financial integration, and on international financial markets
and financing for development, respectively.