UN Commission on Social Development

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36th Session, 1998

The Commission for Social Development 36th session took place 10-20 February, 1998. The following report was adopted by the Economic and Social Council.

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Contents

Summary

I. Matters calling for action by the Council or brought to its attention
A. Draft decisions
B. Resolution and decisions brought to the attention of the Council

II. Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development

III. Provisional agenda for the 37th session of the Commission

IV. Adoption of the report of the Commission on its 36th session

V. Organization of the session

 

Chapter I. Matters calling for action by the Council or brought to its attention  

A. Draft decisions                                                                                   [ Up ]

1. The Commission for Social Development recommends to the Economic and Social Council the adoption of the following draft decisions:

DRAFT DECISION I

Activities of the Consultative Group for the International Year of Older Persons*

(* For the discussion, see chap. II, paras. 38-39.)

The Economic and Social Council decides:

(a) That the ad hoc informal open-ended support group to assist the Commission for Social Development in the preparations for the International Year of Older Persons, in addition to its current activities of promoting awareness and exchange of information on the preparations for the International Year between States, the United Nations system and non-governmental organizations, will serve as an informal consultative forum for discussing national and international proposals and initiatives to help lay the groundwork for the discussion of the item on the International Year at the thirty-seventh session of the Commission;

(b) To change the name of the support group to Consultative Group for the International Year of Older Persons, keeping the informal and open-ended nature of the Group.

DRAFT DECISION II

Report of the Commission for Social Development on its thirty-sixth session and provisional agenda and documentation for the thirty-seventh session of the Commission

The Economic and Social Council:

(a) Takes note of the report of the Commission for Social Development on its thirty-sixth session and endorses the decisions adopted by the Commission;

(b) Approves the provisional agenda and documentation for the thirty- seventh session of the Commission set out below.

PROVISIONAL AGENDA AND DOCUMENTATION FOR THE THIRTY-SEVENTH SESSION OF THE COMMISSION FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

1. Election of officers.

2. Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters.

3. Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development:

The Commission will review progress made in the implementation of and follow-up to the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development and consider at each of its sessions issues relating to the enabling environment for social development, the special situation of Africa and the least developed countries, enhancement of social development goals in structural adjustment programmes, the mobilization of domestic and international resources for social development, and the framework for international, regional and subregional cooperation for social development.

(a) Priority themes:

(i) Social services for all;

(ii) Initiation of the overall review of the implementation of the outcome of the Summit;

(b) Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups.

In accordance with earlier decisions of the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission, the Commission will consider, under item 3 (b) of the agenda of its thirty-seventh session, issues pertaining to ageing, in particular the International Year of Older Persons (1999).

The Commission will also have before it the outcome of the Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998).

Documentation

Report of the Secretary-General on social services for all

Report of the Secretary-General on the initiation of the overall review of the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development

Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the results of expert workshop(s)

Note by the Secretary-General regarding the International Year of Older Persons and follow-up arrangements

4. Programme questions and other matters:

(a) Programme performance and implementation;

(b) Proposed programme of work of the Secretariat for the biennium 2000-2001;

(c) United Nations Research Institute for Social Development.

Documentation

Note by the Secretary-General on the draft proposed programme budget for the biennium 2000-2001

Note by the Secretary-General on the nomination of members of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

Report of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

5. Provisional agenda for the thirty-eighth session of the Commission.

6. Adoption of the report of the Commission on its thirty-seventh session.

B. Resolution and decisions brought to the attention of the Council    [ Up ]

2. The following resolution and decisions adopted by the Commission for Social Development are brought to the attention of the Economic and Social Council:

Resolution 36/1. Promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons*

(* For the discussion, see chap. II, paras. 29-31.)

The Commission for Social Development,

Having considered the priority theme for 1998, "Promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons",

1. Takes note of the report of the Secretary-General on promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons; 1/

2. Decides to adopt the following agreed conclusions and to transmit them to the Economic and Social Council for its consideration at its substantive session of 1998 and appropriate follow-up action;

3. Also decides to transmit the agreed conclusions to the Preparatory Committee for the special session of the General Assembly in 2000 for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development including its organizational session (19-22 May 1998), as well as to the Commission on Narcotic Drugs acting in the capacity of the preparatory body for the special session of the Assembly devoted to the fight against the illicit production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and related activities, at its second session from 16 to 20 March 1998.

AGREED CONCLUSIONS ON PROMOTING SOCIAL INTEGRATION AND PARTICIPATION OF ALL PEOPLE, INCLUDING DISADVANTAGED AND VULNERABLE GROUPS AND PERSONS

1. Social integration is best promoted in close harmony with efforts to expand productive employment and eradicate poverty, given their mutually reinforcing interrelationships.

2. The primary responsibility for promoting social integration rests with national Governments. Social development cannot be successfully achieved without the collective commitment and efforts of the international community. In this context, the international community should give strong support to the efforts of developing countries to solve their serious social and economic problems. In pursuit of this, the participation of all countries, particularly developing countries, in international economic decision-making should be broadened and strengthened.

3. Globalization of the world economy presents opportunities and challenges for the development process as well as risks and uncertainties. As a result of the process of globalization and growing interdependence in the economic, social and environmental fields, an increasing number of issues cannot be effectively addressed by countries individually. Therefore, international cooperation is required. Furthermore, non-State actors with a global reach, such as transnational corporations, private financial institutions and non-governmental organizations, have important roles to play in the emerging network of international cooperation.

4. Global cooperation and partnership must be on the basis of sovereign equality, and mutual respect and benefit. They must consider the gap between the level of development of different countries and the need to narrow the gap between developed and developing countries. In accordance with the commitment made at the World Summit for Social Development, the need remains for countries to fulfil commitments undertaken to official development assistance (ODA) and to provide additional resources and to enhance resource flows from both public and private sources to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, to promote their social development programmes.

5. Countries with economies in transition, undergoing fundamental political, economic and social transformations also require the support of the international community.

6. Where globalization has effects on social integration, such as instability of labour markets, impoverishment, increased vulnerability and marginalization of individuals and groups, these effects need to be addressed by positive measures at the local, national, regional and international levels in order to minimize them and to promote social development. Efforts also need to be made to ensure that globalization provides opportunities for all countries, particularly countries in Africa and least developed countries.

7. Partnerships between Governments, the private sector, and civil society are needed to promote ethical business practices through, inter alia, voluntary codes of conduct that will contribute to social integration. Relevant international organizations, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the World Bank, are encouraged to support this process.

8. To ensure that growth-oriented macroeconomic policies build societies that are more inclusive, attention must be given to mainstreaming social development, including maximizing the growth of productive employment and promoting social integration.

9. Social development, in particular the eradication of poverty, facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights by all. Social integration must be pursued by each country on the basis of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, cultural and religious diversity, and the special needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, democratic participation and the rule of law.

10. Social development requires placing people at the centre of development, based on the inherent dignity and worth of the human person. It also requires respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development. Social development facilitates the enjoyment of all human rights. Poverty is a cause of social exclusion. Effective social development policies at the national level would therefore be strengthened by a favourable economic environment at the international level.                                                        [ Up ]

11. Social development also requires respect for all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 2/ Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can be fully realized.

12. Social development and social integration require comprehensive and holistic approaches and must deal with the root causes of social exclusion or disempowerment.

13. Social integration also requires investing in social institutions and social capital, enhancing social networks, building consensus and promoting individual and organizational capacities, especially of those living in poverty or otherwise marginalized. Policies for social integration should respect cultural diversity and prevent exclusion on the basis of culture.

A. Promoting social integration through responsive government, full participation in society, non-discrimination, tolerance, equality and social justice

14. Governments have a responsibility for creating an environment that encourages participatory approaches, empowers people and combats all forms of discrimination, including against women, minorities and disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons.

15. The promotion of more responsive government that is representative, transparent and accountable is an important factor for the enhancement of social integration and social justice and full participation.

16. Participation is expressed in many forms and practices. It needs to be encouraged at all levels - national, regional and international. Citizen involvement in community activities, in local government and at the national level are essential.

17. The empowerment of communities at the local level through, inter alia, decentralization is an important factor for the promotion of full participation. Governments are encouraged to empower local communities and local governments and enhance people's participation in all matters affecting them.

18. Voluntary activities, including by non-governmental organizations and self-help groups, are an important means of providing and improving service and strengthening advocacy at local and national levels, and need to be encouraged and recognized, inter alia, through due consideration of knowledge and skills acquired in these voluntary activities.

19. To build more inclusive societies, the elaboration of policy that promotes social development and social inclusion needs to be strengthened by creating mechanisms taking into account the views and perspectives, and involving the participation, of all, in particular the vulnerable and marginalized.

20. A supportive environment for the formation and development of civil society organizations at all levels and their active interaction with public institutions contribute strongly to enhancing participation, bearing in mind its specific national context.

21. In the context of developing policy instruments and programmes to promote a "society for all", two considerations should guide actions to promote the participation of all individuals and groups - the interdependence of all members of society, and the lifelong development approach which emphasizes the potential productive and social contribution of all persons throughout life.

22. In this regard, the International Year of Older Persons in 1999 provides an opportunity for all actors, on all levels, to take practical steps towards ensuring full integration and continued participation of older persons, thereby promoting the goal of a "society for all ages".

23. The family is the basic unit of society and as such should be strengthened. It is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support. In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist. The rights, capabilities and responsibilities of family members must be respected.

24. The family should be helped in its supporting, educating and nurturing roles and in contributing to social integration, and this help should involve (a) encouraging social and economic policies that are designed to meet the needs of families and their individual members, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members, with particular attention to the care of children; (b) ensuring opportunities for family members to understand and meet their social responsibilities; (c) promoting mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation within the family and within society; (d) promoting equal partnership between women and men in the family.

25. In situations where family structures have been eroded or destroyed, such as cases of conflict, extreme poverty or natural disaster where family reunification is impossible, it is important to promote alternative-care provisions, bearing always in mind the best interests of those needing care.

26. Participation in productive work, in other economic activities and in economic decision-making through different forms of association, including trade unions and stake ownership, is essential to social integration and well-being. Important steps to be taken in this regard include establishing and expanding small and medium-sized enterprises, expanding the employment potential of the informal sector and enhancing its productivity and increasing the extent of ownership of shares.

27. Governments should enhance the quality of work and employment by safeguarding and promoting respect for basic workers' rights, including the prohibition of forced labour and child labour, freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, and non-discrimination in employment, fully implementing the conventions of ILO in the case of States parties to those conventions, and taking into account the principles embodied in those conventions in the case of those countries that are not States parties, to thus achieve truly sustained economic growth and sustainable development.                                                         [ Up ]

28. Fair, effective and efficient taxation systems are an important instrument to build more inclusive societies in terms both of their redistributive impact as well as of the resources that they build in society for, and the stake they create in, services and social protection systems.

29. The empowerment of women and their active participation are essential to social integration. Policies and programmes should ensure gender equality through changes in attitudes and practices, encourage the full participation and empowerment of women in social, economic and political life, and enhance the gender balance in decision-making processes at all levels as well as improve access to ownership of resources and to positions of responsibility. Discriminatory attitudes and stereotyping must be actively combated. In this context, policies and programmes to enable women and men to combine working life and family life are essential.

30. Education is at the heart of participation and a powerful force for social integration. Equal access to quality education and training for all are essential to enhance lifelong education. Education should also promote tolerance, understanding of and respect for cultural diversity, and solidarity.

31. Information is not only a commodity. Access to information is essential for full participation in all spheres of life, including the global economy. Polices should be formulated to promote new, cost-effective, inclusive and participatory approaches in the production, dissemination and use of information. To avoid the widening of the gap between the information-rich and information-poor, particularly the gap between developed and developing countries, strategies must be developed to prioritize and promote adequate investment, including access to technology in order to provide equal opportunity for all. In this context, measures should be taken to promote access by developing countries to the new information superhighway.

32. The media provide the vehicles for the exercise of freedom of opinion and expression, and need to be responsive to the many requirements of all individuals. Access to media by all, particularly the disadvantaged and marginalized, is essential for enhanced participation in all spheres of life. Broad-based, free, pluralistic media that are aware of their responsibilities to society and that can preserve and accommodate diversity and plurality of views and perspectives are essential to the building of inclusive societies. This is as true within countries as in the international community at large.

33. In the effort to promote the mainstreaming of social development objectives at the local, national, regional and international levels, Governments, the private sector and civil society are encouraged to consider the impact of their actions on social integration and social development through, inter alia, social impact analyses, social audits and monitoring assessments.

34. Bilateral and multilateral assistance and technical cooperation should be based on the participatory principle and should be country-driven. Policy dialogue between development partners should be held on the basis of mutual respect.

35. In the context of globalization, the United Nations system and the international community, particularly the international financial institutions, need to consider further the social consequences of their policies and programmes.

36. The collaboration and contribution of the regional commissions are important for the implementation of the Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development. 3/ The regional commissions, within their mandates, are invited to convene regional review meetings in preparation for the global review of the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development at the special session of the General Assembly in the year 2000.

37. Governments are encouraged to provide to the Commission for Social Development on voluntary basis information about specific participatory methods and initiatives at different levels. The Secretary-General is requested to make this information widely available to enable the Commission to consider periodically the lessons learned.

B. Enhancing social protection, reducing vulnerability and enhancing employment opportunities for groups with specific needs

38. Policies that address vulnerability must be based on a proper understanding of the risk of poverty and social exclusion. Their aim should not be limited to providing social protection but should enable people to move out of poverty.

39. Social development policies and programmes must create an enabling environment for vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups, especially the poor, by incorporating their needs and interests, ensuring equal access and opportunities, and enable them to play a useful role in society, thereby contributing to the national development process.

40. The experiences of poor and marginalized people drawn through participatory techniques should serve as an input to improve the effectiveness of policies and programmes addressing the interest of these groups.

41. Enhancing social protection requires food security, adequate primary health care, access to clean water, sanitation and shelter, education, access to resources such as land, credit facilities and opportunities for involvement, particularly for vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups, in community life.

42. Where formal social protection systems exist or are possible, these should play an important role in countering vulnerability and promoting employability. They should be extended, strengthened and targeted to the extent necessary to meet adequately the needs of vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups. Where necessary, they should be modernized and reformed to meet changing conditions. All Governments should, within their capacity and capability, establish or strengthen social safety nets for those in need of support and care.

43. Solidarity-based social protection arrangements play an important role in countering vulnerability and promoting employability. They should be encouraged by Governments. Social safety nets for all people are an essential component of solidarity-based social protection arrangements.

44. It is important to continue to establish and strengthen partnerships to enable civil society and the private sector to cooperate with Governments on policies and programmes to reduce vulnerability.                                                         [ Up ]

45. Policies to reduce vulnerability should aim to strengthen networks and organizations in the community, including the family, recognizing the essential support that they can provide.

46. The international community should assist developing countries, upon request, in building their capacity to develop and implement policies and programmes aimed at removing the obstacles confronting all vulnerable and marginalized groups and facilitating their greater access to society in all of its aspects.

47. Strategies and policies to address vulnerability should lead to the implementation of programmes that take into account the particular conditions of vulnerability in rural and urban areas.

48. Efforts at raising public awareness and sensitizing the public towards improved access and participation of vulnerable persons and groups should be initiated or strengthened, with the aim of building more cohesive societies.

49. Expansion of productive employment is an essential means to eradicate poverty which is one of the major causes of social exclusion in all countries. Strategies should be developed, taking into account the special needs and skills of various groups, to expand opportunities for productive employment and small income-generating schemes.

50. The effectiveness and relevance of microcredit programmes as a viable tool for poverty eradication, generation of productive employment and sustainable livelihoods and empowerment of women and other marginalized groups are well recognized. Microcredit programmes should therefore be promoted actively at the national level for the empowerment of the poor and marginalized groups and for their integration in the mainstream economic and political process of society. In this context, the support of the international community is essential.

51. Governments should take measures, in collaboration, when appropriate, with employers and trade unions, to eliminate discrimination in employment against vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups and persons. Policies must address the special needs of groups that are the most vulnerable in the labour market, and promote opportunities to develop and gain new skills. Labour policies need to be particularly sensitive to their needs, including provision for equal remuneration, flexible working hours, adequate protection of part-time workers and access to information and training, and involvement in trade unions.

52. In countries where unemployment among young people is high, redoubled efforts are required to expand meaningful employment opportunities for them.

53. Attention should be given to reconciling professional activity and family responsibilities, for both men and women, inter alia, through affordable childcare, family support and appropriate flexible working arrangements.

54. Recognition needs to be formally given to unpaid work that is socially useful and to voluntary activities so as to raise awareness of the importance of these activities, in particular in the context of reducing vulnerability and dealing with its consequences. Work on appropriate methodologies to this end needs to be strengthened.

55. In countries where the informal sector in the economy is important, measures that promote an environment conducive for its appropriate development are critical. The establishment of self-generating employment, self-help schemes and productive and sustainable livelihoods, and the development of cooperatives and small-sized enterprises and access to microcredit, particularly to improve access of the vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups in order to make them more self-sufficient, should be encouraged and promoted.

56. The elimination of child labour should be achieved as part of a larger programme in which society provides alternative assistance or economic opportunity; ILO, in close cooperation with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and other United Nations organizations, supports national efforts to eliminate child labour. Continued financial support from the donor community for the ILO International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) is particularly important; ILO should pursue its normative work on child labour by promoting the ratification and implementation of its Convention No. 138 concerning Minimum Age for Admission to Employment (Minimum Age Convention, 1973); 4/ Governments should support ILO work on the drafting of a new ILO convention on the elimination of the most intolerable forms of child labour.

57. Early childhood education, both formal and informal, is a tool for reducing vulnerability and promoting social integration by providing all children with the basic skills that will give them a firm foundation for further learning. Provision of nutritional supplements, immunization and primary health care to all children, at both pre-school and primary school levels, is necessary for giving them a better start in life.

58. Particular attention needs to be given to the acquisition by all of the basic skills of literacy, verbal ability and numeracy and to equipping all people to adapt to technological, economic and social changes. Their access to lifelong learning is important with respect to maintaining and upgrading their employability.

59. General education at all levels, starting from pre-school education, should contribute to mutual understanding, tolerance and skills of intercultural communication.

60. Equal educational opportunities at all levels for persons with disabilities should be ensured.

61. Government at all levels should take appropriate actions to reduce the drop-out rates from school, using a holistic gender-sensitive approach to causes and solutions.

62. Cultural activities, sports and community service are among the activities that integrate all people into society and should therefore be encouraged and promoted.

63. The regional commissions are invited, within their mandates, to further study issues relating to vulnerability, including its relationship to discrimination against vulnerable, disadvantaged and marginalized groups.

C. Violence, crime and the problems of illicit drugs and substance abuse as factors of social disintegration                                                                              [ Up ]

64. Violence, crime and illicit drugs and substance abuse problems pose serious challenges to the social structure of all societies and need to be addressed by specific policies and programmes for their prevention and elimination. These policies and programmes must be tackled as part of an integrated strategy for social and economic development that includes appropriate measures for dealing with these problems but that, equally, seeks to understand and address the causes of such phenomena.

65. Women are particularly vulnerable to acts of violence including all forms of sexual harassment and exploitation. Violence against women both violates and impairs or nullifies their enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Violence in all its forms, including domestic violence against women, children, older persons, migrants and other minorities, and persons with disabilities, hinders development and prevents the full enjoyment of their human rights and the achievement of equality.

66. Poor people, among them - and particularly - women and children, are often the most vulnerable to all forms of violence and abuse, including domestic violence, trafficking for labour and sexual purposes, crime and civil conflicts. Systems of justice, law enforcement and government service and assistance to the victims should be managed in a way that makes them, in practice, fully available to all.

67. Women and men are affected differently by drug abuse. International as well as national strategies that target the abuse of licit as well as illicit drugs must integrate a gender perspective. Participation of women in the planning and implementation of drug abuse prevention programmes is the key to ensuring that issues specific to women can be addressed adequately. There is a need for more gender-disaggregated data and research concerning gender-related differences in drug-taking. Treatment and rehabilitation centres for drug addicts must be available for men and women on a non-discriminatory basis.

68. Developments in communication, transportation and technology have globalized violence, crime and the illicit drugs problem.

69. While the primary responsibility for crime prevention and criminal justice rests at the national level, violence, crime and illicit drugs activities are of such magnitude and also have such major transnational dimensions that they require international cooperation and coordination in respect of formulating and implementing effective responses.

70. That the developing countries especially face a serious challenge, inasmuch as they must also confront lack of resources, illiteracy, unemployment and underemployment, and deteriorating economies, makes all forms of international assistance imperative. The need for assistance to alleviate burdens placed on their national administration, in supporting the international legal framework and cooperation in the application of law, should also be underlined. Technical support should also be extended to facilitate the effective implementation of legal instruments.

71. The main responsibility rests at the national level, and involves countering the disintegration of social structures, which previously may have discouraged an individual from turning to drug abuse, trafficking or illicit cultivation and production. Promoting a cohesive social structure, while supporting opportunities to access lawful sources of employment and income, can contribute to the quality of the individual's living environment and may be the best guarantee against his or her turning to drug abuse and/or drug trafficking. International cooperation has a key role to play in complementing national efforts.

72. As the problem of illicit drugs is multifaceted, all strategies aimed at combating this scourge must be based on a comprehensive and balanced approach that includes all aspects of the problem, with a view to strengthening international cooperation in addressing it within the framework of the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 5/ and other relevant conventions and international instruments. The vast financial and human resources available to the illicit drugs trade, in many cases exceeding the resources of national Governments, have made international cooperation and coordination imperative for an effective anti-drugs strategy. The affected countries should be extended all possible assistance, including technical assistance, to enhance the capacities of all agencies engaged in combating illicit drugs.

73. The application of the principle of shared responsibility is key to the overall efforts to address the issue of international drug control.

74. Integrated alternative development is an important component of any approach to solving the narcotic drugs problem, including the problem of the cultivation of illicit crops. It must be promoted through participatory social and economic development measures in affected countries, inter alia, through crop substitution and, when necessary, supported by law enforcement efforts.

75. Drug abuse by young people is on the increase in many parts of the world and the situation is particularly critical among the young who are socially disadvantaged. Stable, supportive family life can provide a vital shield against drug abuse, particularly among minors. However, youth groups can also be engaged as active agents in the field of prevention of drug abuse. Youth culture can be a valuable tool for awareness-raising. All information technologies, including the Internet, should be used in order to spread information about the negative consequences of drug abuse and on how to seek help.

76. Education is an important mechanism in the prevention of drug abuse by children and youth. Schools should be encouraged to implement curricula that provide information on the dangers of drug abuse and addiction, and to provide appropriate textbooks. Schools should also provide counselling for students and parents, and teachers should receive training to prepare them for this role. After-school activities, such as cultural events and sports, should be available to fill excess leisure time and unsupervised time. Special programmes should be developed for youth outside the formal education system.

77. Youth should be given the opportunity, and encouraged, to express their views and speak of the problems they face with regard to drug use and addiction, and to participate in the identification of effective solutions.

78. Relevant training and information as well as assistance to workers who have problems with drugs and substance abuse are necessary. As part of rehabilitation, vocational training should be available to drug addicts to help them obtain jobs and to better integrate into society.                                                                  [ Up ]

79. Policies aimed at prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and social reintegration should include appropriate training of doctors and social workers dealing with drug addicts. Knowledge of the immediate and long-term effects of drug use on physical and mental health as well as on the social life of individuals, along with the distribution of information about appropriate treatment and specialist organizations, is necessary to achieve improved prevention and to deal adequately with drug addicts.

80. The key role of the media in ensuring the dissemination of information on the dangers of drug abuse and addiction should be recognized and promoted.

81. The civil society, including non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations, is widely recognized as a partner of Governments in the fight against drug abuse. Those organizations are particularly active in the fields of prevention, rehabilitation and social integration. In many countries, non-governmental organizations are the main providers of shelter and counselling to victims of violence. Continued support of such organizations is encouraged.

82. The role of the relevant United Nations bodies, in particular the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), in the collection of systematic and gender-disaggregated data as well as in research on the social impact and the root causes of drug and substance abuse, should be encouraged. These tasks necessitate close cooperation among relevant organs, funds and programmes of the United Nations system as well as other relevant institutions. UNDCP has an important role to play in the provision of technical assistance in the field of demand reduction. In this context, the exchange of best practices should be encouraged on the subregional, regional and international levels.

83. We welcome the special session of the General Assembly devoted to the fight against the illicit production, sale, demand, traffic and distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and related activities in June 1998 and encourage the international community to ensure a successful outcome.

In this context, participation at a high political level is encouraged. We note with appreciation the decision already taken by several heads of State or Government to participate in the special session.

Decision 36/101. Options for the future review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing*

(* For the discussion, see chap. II, paras. 40-41.)

The Commission for Social Development, having considered the report of the Secretary-General on the options for the future review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 6/ decides:

(a) To take note of the report of the Secretary-General;

(b) To emphasize the importance to the review and appraisal exercise of the improvement of data collection in the field of ageing;

(c) To stress the need for a more focused and substantially improved method of monitoring the implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing, 7/ which may involve strengthening, reformulating or changing the current methodology;

(d) To stress the need to introduce a gender perspective into the review and appraisal process of the Plan of Action;

(e) To take note of the reorganization of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, and the opportunities for better synergies that it offers, including making better use of the existing information, expertise, statistical, research and technical assistance capacities already available to the Department;

(f) To request the Secretary-General to explore ways of using these opportunities in order to strengthen the United Nations Secretariat's capacity to review the implementation of the Plan of Action;

(g) To request the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to continue its contact with the United Nations Development Programme in order to explore, among other possibilities, the feasibility of an ageing-related development index to be included in the Human Development Report;

(h) To invite the Department of Economic and Social Affairs to draw up, for further discussion by the Commission, proposals on developing an Internet database on public policies and programmes on ageing;

(i) To request the Secretary-General to submit to the Commission at its thirty-seventh session a report on action taken to implement the present decision and on further possible options for substantially improving the reliability, validity and practicability of the current review and appraisal exercise, focusing in particular on priorities identified in ongoing preparatory discussions for the International Year of Older Persons.

Decision 36/102. Documents considered in connection with the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development

The Commission for Social Development takes note of the following documents:

(a) Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Expert Workshop on Participation and Social Justice, held in London from 29 September to 3 October 1997 (E/CN.5/1998/4);

(b) Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Expert Workshop on Ways and Means to Enhance Social Protection and Reduce Vulnerability, United Nations Headquarters, 10-14 November 1997 (E/CN.5/1998/5).

Notes
1/ E/CN.5/1998/2.
2/ General Assembly resolution 27 A (III).
3/ Report of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, 6-12 March 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.8), chap. I, resolution 1, annex II.
4/ See International Labour Organization, International Labour Conventions and Recommendations, vol. II, 1952-1976 (Geneva, International Labour Office, 1996), pp. 525-537.
5/ See Official Records of the United Nations Conference for the Adoption of a Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, Vienna, 25 November-20 December 1988, vol. I (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.94.XI.5).
6/ E/CN.5/1998/3.
7/ Report of the World Assembly on Ageing, Vienna, 26 July to 6 August 1982 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.82.I.16), chap. VI, sect. A.

 

Chapter II. Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development        [ Up ]

1. The Commission for Social Development considered item 3 of its agenda (Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development: (a) Priority theme: "Promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons"; (b) "Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups") at its 1st to 14th meetings, from 10 to 13 and 17 to 20 February 1998. The Commission had before it the following documents:

(a) Report of the Secretary-General on promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons (E/CN.5/1998/2);

(b) Report of the Secretary-General on the options for the future review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing (E/CN.5/1998/3);

(c) Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Expert Workshop on Participation and Social Justice (E/CN.5/1998/4);

(d) Note by the Secretary-General transmitting the report of the Expert Workshop on Ways and Means to Enhance Social Protection and Reduce Vulnerability (E/CN.5/1998/5);

(e) Letter dated 3 February 1998 from the Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations addressed to the Chairman of the Commission for Social Development transmitting a text entitled "A draft declaration of interdependence" (E/CN.5/1998/6).

2. At the 1st meeting, on 10 February the temporary Chairman, Mr. Ion Gorita (Romania), made a statement.

3. At the same meeting, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs addressed the Commission.

4. Also at the 1st meeting, an introductory statement was made by the Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

5. At the 14th meeting, on 20 February, the Chairman made the following statement: "I take it that it is the wish of the Commission that the following documents should be transmitted to the Preparatory Committee for the special session of the General Assembly in 2000 for an overall review and appraisal of the implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for Social Development at its organizational session (19-22 May 1998): resolution S-1996/1, entitled "Strategies and actions for the eradication of poverty", 1/ adopted by the Commission for Social Development at its special session in 1996; and resolution 35/2, entitled "Productive employment and sustainable livelihoods", 2/ adopted by the Commission at its thirty-fifth session in 1997, by which the Commission decided to adopt agreed conclusions on productive employment and sustainable livelihoods."

Promoting social integration through responsive government, full participation in society, non-discrimination, tolerance, equality and social justice

6. The Commission considered item 3 (a) of its agenda at its 3rd to 6th, 8th to 11th, 13th and 14th meetings, on 11, 12, 17, 18 and 20 February.

7. At the 3rd meeting, on 11 February, statements were made by the representatives of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the European Union and on behalf of Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), Indonesia (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of 77), the United States of America, China, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Norway, Venezuela, Nepal and the Netherlands.

8. At the same meeting, the observer for Algeria made a statement.

9. Also at the 3rd meeting, the observers for the World Bank and the International Labour Organization made statements.

10. At the same meeting, the observer for the Business Association for the World Summit for Social Development, a non-governmental organization, made a statement.

11. At the 4th meeting, on 11 February, statements were made by the representatives of El Salvador, Canada and the Republic of Korea.

12. The observer for the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean made a statement.

13. Statements were made by the observers for the Foundation for the Rights of the Family (PRODEFA), the International Federation of Settlements and Neighbourhood Centres, Mani Tese '76 and the Women's Environment and Development Organization, non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.

14. At the 5th meeting, on 12 February, statements were made by the representatives of France, Romania and Chile.

15. At the same meeting, the observer for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization made a statement.

16. Also at the 5th meeting, a statement was made by the observer for the Gray Panthers, a non-governmental organization in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.

17. At the 6th meeting, on 12 February, statements were made by the representatives of Egypt, Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Philippines, Pakistan, Peru, Guatemala and India.

18. Statements were made by the observers for the following non-governmental organizations: International Movement ATD Fourth World, Franciscans International, the International Federation on Ageing, the World Veterans Federation, New Humanity, the World Movement of Mothers, Gran Fraternidad Universal and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches.                                                                     [ Up ]

19. At the 9th meeting, on 17 February, statements were made by the representatives of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the European Union and on behalf of Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia), Indonesia (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of 77), China, Cuba, Belarus, Jamaica and Gabon.

20. At the same meeting, statements were also made by the observers for Kazakhstan and Iraq.

21. Also at the 9th meeting, the observer for Switzerland made a statement.

22. At the same meeting, statements were made by the observers for the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

23. At the 9th meeting, statements were also made by the observers for the Movement for a Better World and Rehabilitation International, non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.

24. At the 10th meeting, on 18 February, statements were made by the representatives of Mexico, Malta, South Africa, Finland, India, Norway, the United States of America, Canada and Mongolia.

25. At the same meeting, Mr. Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director, Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, made a presentation and entertained a dialogue with members of the Commission.

26. At the 11th meeting, on 18 February, statements were made by the representatives of the Philippines, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation, Nepal, Argentina and Chile (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Southern Cone Common Market (MERCOSUR).

27. At the same meeting, the observer for the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific made a statement.

28. Also at the 11th meeting, the observers for the World Movement of Mothers and the National Youth Council of Luxembourg, non-governmental organizations, made statements.

Action taken by the Commission

Promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons

29. At the 13th meeting, on 20 February, the Commission had before it a draft resolution (E/CN.5/1998/L.6 and Add.1 and 2) entitled "Promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons: elements for the agreed conclusions of the Commission", submitted by Vice-Chairmen Faith Innerarity (Jamaica), Maria Lourdes V. Ramiro Lopez (Philippines) and Joanna Wronecka (Poland), on the basis of informal consultations. The Commission was informed of the amendments that had been agreed to during the informal consultations held on the agreed conclusions.

30. At the 14th meeting, on 20 February, the Commission adopted the agreed conclusions (see chap. I, sect. B, resolution 36/1).

31. The representatives of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the European Union), the United States of America, the Netherlands, Chile and Indonesia (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of 77) made statements.

Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups

32. The Commission considered item 3 (b) of its agenda at its 7th, 12th and 14th meetings, on 13, 19 and 20 February.

33. At the 7th meeting, on 13 February, the Director, Division for Social Policy and Development, made a statement.

34. At the same meeting, Mrs. Julia Tavares de Alvarez (Dominican Republic), in her capacity as Coordinator of the Consultative Group for the International Year of Older Persons and also on behalf of Mr. Aurelio Ferna'ndez (Spain) in his capacity as Coordinator of the Consultative Group, made an oral report on the activities of the Consultative Group in assisting the Commission for Social Development in the preparations for the Year (1999).

35. Also at the 7th meeting, statements were made by the representatives of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (on behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the European Union as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia), the United States of America, Austria, Spain, China, Guatemala, Finland, Norway, the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.

36. At the same meeting, the observer for Lithuania also made a statement.

37. At the 7th meeting, statements were also made by the observers for the American Association of Retired Persons and the International Right to Life Federation, non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council.                                                                     [ Up ]

Action taken by the Commission

Activities of the Consultative Group for the International Year of Older Persons

38. At the 12th meeting, on 19 February, the representative of the Dominican Republic, on behalf of the two Coordinators of the ad hoc informal open-ended support group to assist the Commission in the preparations for the International Year of Older Persons, introduced a draft decision (E/CN.5/1998/L.5) recommending that the Economic and Social Council, inter alia, change the name of the support group to the Consultative Group for the International Year of Older Persons.

39. At the 14th meeting, on 20 February, the Commission adopted the draft decision (see chap. I, sect. A, draft decision I).

Options for the future review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing

40. At the 12th meeting, on 19 February, the Chairman of the Commission introduced a draft decision (E/CN.5/1998/L.4) entitled "Options for the future review and appraisal of the implementation of the International Plan of Action on Ageing".

41. At the 14th meeting, on 20 February, the Commission adopted the draft decision (see chap. I, sect. B, decision 36/101).

Documents considered in connection with the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development

42. At the 14th meeting, on 20 February, upon the proposal of the Chairman, the Commission took note of the documents it had before it in connection with its consideration of the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development (see chap. I, sect. B, decision 36/102).

Special presentations on the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development

43. At the 1st, 5th and 9th meetings, on 10, 12 and 17 February, the Commission held special presentations on the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development.

44. At the 1st meeting, on 10 February, presentations were made by Mr. Yang Qingwei (China), Mr. Reinaldo Ruiz (Chile), Mr. Ernst Sucharipa (Austria), Mr. K. J. Hlkuama-Mupaine (Namibia) and Mrs. Marcela Maria Nicodemos (Brazil).

45. At the 5th meeting, on 12 February, presentations were made by Mr. Cielito Habito (Philippines), Mr. Nazar Mohammad Shaikh (Pakistan) and Mr. Maged Abdelfattah (Egypt).

46. At the 9th meeting, on 17 February, a special presentation was made by Mr. Torben Brylle (Denmark).

Panel discussions

Panel discussion I: "Participation and social justice"

47. At the 2nd meeting, on 10 February, the Commission held a panel discussion entitled "Participation and social justice".

48. The Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs acted as Moderator. Dr. Marju Lauristin (Estonia), Mr. Jaime Joseph (Peru), Dr. Hussein M. Adam (Somalia) and Dr. Suchitra Punjararatabandhu (Thailand) made presentations.

49. Following their presentations, the panellists participated in an exchange of views with the Commission.

Panel discussion II: "Enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability"

50. At the 8th meeting, on 17 February, the Commission held a panel discussion entitled "Enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability". The Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Aurelio Ferna'ndez (Spain), acted as Moderator. Dr. Vappu Taipale (Finland), Dr. Meryl James-Sebro (Trinidad and Tobago), Dr. John D'Mello (India) and Dr. Anna Maria de Frappola (Uruguay) made presentations.

51. Following their presentations, the panellists participated in an exchange of views with the Commission.

Chairman's summaries of the panel discussions

52. At the 12th meeting, on 19 February, the Commission had before it a Chairman's summary of the panel discussions.

53. At the 14th meeting, on 20 February 1998, upon the proposal of the Chairman, the Commission decided to include in its report the Chairman's summary of the panel discussions on "Participation and social justice" and "Enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability".

54. The Chairman's summaries of panel discussion I, entitled "Participation and social justice", and panel discussion II, entitled "Enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability", are set out below:

Panel discussion I: Participation and social justice

The following issues raised by the panellists were subjects of consideration.

The importance of participation

Participation is an essential means to empower individuals and communities to identify their priorities, and to ensure their control over resources and actions needed to achieve their goals. This implies a framework of interaction among individuals, groups, collectivities, the market and civil society that emphasizes partnership and shared responsibility. Participation is not simply about access to resources or to government, but about people's being an essential element in the processes of resource acquisition and political power-sharing. It has social, economic, political and cultural aspects which are interrelated, each affecting, and being affected by, the others.                                                                     [ Up ]

Some prerequisites of achieving participation

The prerequisites of successful participatory development would appear to be the following: (a) democracy and freedom of speech, press and communications; (b) decentralization of political and developmental decision-making to regional, local and community levels. This includes a commitment by national Governments to stimulate socio-economic development for all, as well as encourage transparency and accountability at all levels; (c) a strong and shared commitment to participatory development by national and local governments, including an explicit commitment to address the needs of vulnerable groups, such as women and the elderly, as both recipients of development aid and participants in the process; and (d) accountability and transparency at all levels of government and institutions engaged in the development process.

The more vulnerable and weaker elements of society need to be fully included in all phases of the development process. The articulation of their priority socio-economic needs must govern the identification, formulation and implementation of development strategies, plans and programmes aimed at poverty alleviation. The human resources of the local community must be incorporated into the development process.

Grass-roots development

A local development strategy is needed to give priority to enhancing the economic capacities of the local community to satisfy local needs. It is a model based on maximizing production for utilization by the local people. A local development approach links basic human needs to local capacities, creating employment not just as a source of income, but as a meaningful enhancement of the quality of life of individuals and communities.

In megacities, in both the developing and the developed countries, there are special problems and potentialities for fighting poverty, promoting integral development, empowering people and people's organizations, and enhancing local governments as agents for development and for building participatory democracy. The promotion of local, self-centred development is important within the context of the globalized market economic model, since it is increasingly evident that this model is not resolving the basic human problems of exclusion, the increasing poverty gap, inequality and the pervasiveness of extreme poverty in both urban and rural areas. A local development strategy must give priority to enhancing the economic capacities of local communities to satisfy local needs.

Local development strategies must include basic production, local markets, financial institutions, and transportation, incentives and appropriate technology. These strategies must focus not only on the microlevel, but on the meso-level as well.

Some of the principal obstacles to effective development are a loss of political will, absence of access to information, and zero-sum strategies, which are more often conflictive rather than synergistic. The effects of extensive and prolonged poverty on local organizations and the leaders themselves must be taken into account.

Political democracy is a prerequisite of participatory development. This is particularly important at the local level where production by the people for the people is required. Some ways to increase democracy at the local level are: (a) giving priority to production that is aligned with the needs of the community; (b) investing financial resources in local development by providing incentives such as subsidies and tax abatements; (c) training and placing planning tools in the hands of the local community; and (d) working with all of the actors in an integrated fashion to develop the capacities of the local population.

Inherent in the participatory development process are ethical and spiritual values which give an important dimension beyond socio-economic and political factors. Social justice implies a recognition and application of ethical and spiritual human values.

Justice systems and countering corruption

Governments play a critical role in fostering an environment conducive to full participation. A guarantee of the rule of law and fair judicial systems, and an effective approach to dealing with corruption, are two major challenges facing Governments. Unless these two issues are tackled successfully, participation will not succeed in a meaningful way. This further requires the creation of a fair and just legal environment, including an independent judiciary with sufficient resources, as well as honest law enforcement agencies that effectively carry out court decisions. Another goal should be the provision of legal aid mechanisms, or pro bono work, by lawyers.

It is also important to introduce public interest or class action litigation, simplify legal language and implement a system of ombudsmen.

Participation, while an important means to empower people, has been impeded greatly by corruption. Corruption obstructs constitutional and legal participation since it creates biases in the legal system and distorts the rule of law. It also reduces the impact of positive measures for enhancing participation and social justice. Corruption undermines the creation of transparent and accountable public institutions, hinders a just and equitable delivery of public services, and disrupts economic efficiency. Different types of corruption have exclusionary effects on sub-groups in the population.

Street-level and petty corruption acts as a barrier to participation, insofar as it prevents access to services. It perpetuates social ills that promote social disintegration.

"Kickback" corruption correlates with the inefficient use of public funds. It violates the principles of distributive justice, and is contrary to the notion of administrative and political accountability.                                                                     [ Up ]

Another variety of corruption concerns the sale of public offices. It renders merit systems impossible, impairs administrative efficiency and ultimately leads to incompetent administration. The effects of such corruption can be severely damaging in the longer run.

Corruption must be addressed through formulating and enforcing laws and policies, allowing all groups access to participation. Measures to combat corruption may include the provision of mechanisms to publicize corruption, ensuring that corruption is punished when exposed, and making processes transparent and accountable.

Popular participation in the midst of social disintegration

There occasionally arise situations in which the authority of the central State collapses as a result of internecine warfare. In this context, the State and civil society are at war with each other, and the basic institutions of society such as the army, police, prison system, ministries, schools, hospitals and so forth, cease to exist. The situation in Somalia constitutes a contemporary case of State collapse.

The question arises as to the prospects for social development under conditions of State collapse. In Somalia, the post-centralized State environment manifests the following elements: (a) the desire for autonomy; power-sharing alternatives; (b) structures for decentralization; (c) the enhanced role of women; (d) the role of an Islamic revival as opposed to fundamentalism; (e) the critical role of newly freed markets; (f) isolation and indigenous innovations and local adaptations; (g) the primacy of traditions in future governance; (h) the emergence of a vibrant, if somewhat chaotic, press; and (i) linkages to regional priorities and neighbourhoods.

In this situation, there is an important role for the United Nations and the specialized agencies, as well as international and national non-governmental organizations. In the absence of State authority, there is maximum scope for these agencies to foster sound social development. This involves systematic decentralized planning and action through community-based data collection and analysis, planning, decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. There is ample opportunity for decentralized grass-roots action that promotes social development by rebuilding water, grazing, health, education, agriculture, marketing, income-generation and increased employment.

Identity

Popular participation has not only economic, social and political dimensions, but important cultural elements as well. Owing to the rapid increase of information and communication flows in society, individual cultural identities are articulated at many different levels. Individuals have multiple roles in modern society - father, son, husband, worker, citizen and so forth. Given the multidimensional character of identity, popular participation at all levels must be based on the possibility of free expression and participation of the individual in respect of all levels of his/her identity. The process of globalization and the new information age will bring about a multiplicity of roles and relationships at various levels. The challenge is to provide free and unrestricted access to information and opportunities to secure a truly integrated society.

Access to information and education

Rapid economic development and deep structural reforms in many countries have created new social cleavages between counties and groups that are "info-rich" and those that are "info-poor". Lack of access to information has affected people's participation in political and economic decision-making, at both the national and international levels. The emerging inequality in the access to new information technology should be addressed in a concerted way. In this context, enhancing public information, strengthening mechanisms of public accountability and providing civic education for the population are urgently required. A new information system is needed to foster democratization and social justice.

Governments should recognize the social, economic and political importance of new information policies from the viewpoint of creating an information society as a "society for all". Programmes that support the use of new information technologies as tools for a dialogue between decision makers and all groups of the population are needed. It will require computerization in schools, community computer centres, the development of cable networks, and Internet links in poor and remote areas of different societies. Disadvantaged and vulnerable segments of the population such as children, youth, women, ethnic minorities and people living in poorer regions should be trained and provided with opportunities in new technologies.

Universal education is a prerequisite of the full participation of all members of society. This is particularly true in the new information age where the scale and volume of information and communication needs are increasing exponentially. In order for modern society to ensure the full and complete participation of all its members, it will be necessary to develop curricula that pay special attention to imparting skills that will enable all individuals to have free and equal access to the information highway.

Panel discussion II: Enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability

The following issues raised by the panellists were subjects of consideration.

Vulnerability

Various definitions of "vulnerability" are possible, for instance, "a high probability of exposure to different grades of risks and a reduced capacity for protection from their negative results". Three types of vulnerability identified are: ecological, structural, and that related to the social roles that individuals play in society. Three dimensions of vulnerability are risk, mental state and impact.

The associated concept of risk implies susceptibility and a high probability that certain biological, psychological and social factors will cause problems for a person, making him or her vulnerable in different circumstances of life and leading to exclusion. Linking the types of risks that a person or specific group faces in specific situations and times of life demands complex strategies of prevention and protection with regard to the systems of social support.

The impact of globalization and structural imbalances in international relations were major concerns as well as ways and means of moving forward in international cooperation, showing respect for socio-economic diversity, and allowing each culture to unfold and control its encounter with change and development.

Structural vulnerability was seen by some as arising from power imbalances in economic, cultural and political arenas which permit some areas of the world, and some social groups, to develop at the expense of others. Such power imbalances undergird exploitation, domination and dependency and find expression in macro-policies that have rendered two thirds of the world vulnerable, particularly several groups: racial, ethnic and religious minorities, women, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, refugees and displaced people, legal and illegal immigrants and migrant workers, ethnic and religious minorities, youth, among whom are squatters and street children, the urban and rural poor, and those in the informal sector. These groups are at risk in any number of ways, including through exposure to discrimination, war and ethnic hostilities, violence, crime, and illicit drug and substance abuse.                                                                               [ Up ]

Women's struggles for standing could serve to illustrate broad developmental processes. In the same way that institutional arrangements rob women of the capacity and resources to promote and defend their own interests, those arrangements can rob nations of the ability to promote and defend their interests.

Economic vulnerability: There was concern that large macro-processes - liberalization, free market policies, structural adjustment - rendered people more vulnerable. The gap between the rich and poor within and between countries was widening. Specific examples of the negative impact of macro- policies on indigenous peoples and the poor include (a) displacement without replacement of entire villages to make way for dams and so on; (b) with the advent of big mechanized operations, unemployment in traditional industries, sometimes forcing displaced workers, often women, into bonded labour in inhuman conditions; (c) landlessness, as farms are consolidated and mechanized; and (d) tourism creating in its wake a "five-star culture", in other words, a commercialized and mercenary value system in place of village solidarity.

Cultural vulnerabilities are created when only one group's views and values are portrayed, and consumed with little analysis and interaction by others. Multiple insecurities, including in personal and cultural identities, and value confusion regarding what is right and wrong, are generated. A pervasive "tele-reality" takes hold as media messages increase and reference points (such as family and other social institutions) weaken.

According to one view, global media messages are imprinting a capitalistic value frame throughout the third world. This is happening subliminally, subtly, subconsciously. It is spreading an ethos of consumerism, materialism, profit-seeking, a purely mercenary approach to life, preoccupation with success at any cost, concern for self and disregard for disparity, injustice and vulnerable groups. Through its messages, the first- world media are preparing the ground for its economistic model of development.

It is co-opting the upper and middle classes, thereby creating a first world within the third world. The integrated vision of social development shaped at the Copenhagen Summit is being eroded.

Strategies to enhance social protection and reduce vulnerability

There was a need to exorcise "the demons in development", a too pervasive assumption that indigenous cultures were incapable of development in their own way. Development came too much from outside rather than through an unfolding of cultures. In a "post-development" era, there was a need for more agency, empowerment and indigenous constructive action to effect structural change and maximize social protection.

The definition of development as a gradual unfolding towards a full-grown stage is a double-edged sword for both development scholars and practitioners, and those they seek to "develop", in that it implies an unfolding of the so-called South from the dark depths of a retrogressive tyranny of tradition, into the lightness, brightness and whiteness of a modern, industrialized and technologically advanced North.

Development needed to be seen rather as a self-defined, self-determined process, which gives people the opportunity to evaluate and assess their own problems and to create and implement strategies from their own intimate knowledge and experiences. Rather than bemoan supposed vulnerabilities, it was time to applaud the resilience and survival strategies of groups that have had vulnerable positions imposed upon them. Rather than speak of victimization, resignation and hopelessness - as implied by the term "vulnerable" - it was time to speak of resistance, activism, agency, self-determination and autonomy. This could shift the focus from merely trying to reduce vulnerability to enhancing and enabling resistance to structural vulnerability.

Indigenous cultures had their own structural vulnerabilities, however, so that, while respecting them, it was not useful to romanticize them. Development could best proceed by a combination of indigenous efforts and external contributions, balancing tradition and innovation. Multiculturalism was thought to be preferable to either cultural fundamentalism resistant to change or rapid disruptive change coming from outside.

To escape their vulnerability, the poor also needed to get beyond the level of micro-coping strategies to that of sustainable businesses that grew and could be left as legacies to break the cycle of poverty and vulnerability in succeeding generations.

Major country initiatives creating an inclusive environment for disabled persons and a "caring world" for older persons reflect a focus on developing human potential so as to minimize vulnerabilities.

The issue of the need to support the "non-vulnerable" working-age population in its efforts to support a rapidly expanding older population was raised.

Refining the development vision is a vital enterprise from which policies will flow. Efforts to understand the root causes are more valuable in the long run than activities to treat the symptoms.

The information revolution

The information revolution offers benefits as well as risks. Information is too important to remain in the hands of the "technologically advanced but socially unaware". The foremost challenge is to replace the current instrument-centred focus with a content focus. A range of useful and meaningful as well as culturally diverse information is needed.

Information technologies can overcome obstacles of distance, time and disability; they can be used for lifelong learning, and to educate and inform regarding gender equality thereby reducing vulnerabilities.

Making sectoral partnerships work                                                             [ Up ]

Collaboration of government, the private sector and civil society was seen to be crucial in reducing vulnerabilities and enhancing social protection. Reference was made to "welfare clusters", inspired by the concept of industrial clusters, the latter being fostered by ministries of trade and industry in various countries. Welfare clusters could facilitate the interdependence of economic, research and service actors, while permitting each to function with its own distinct aims and procedures.

The concept of "social capital", meaning the generation of confidence and reliability in networks of social actors, was also mentioned. Social capital was seen as a precursor and guarantor of good governance, and a precondition of economic life. The emergence at the local level of the "social company" and the "social firm" was noted.

The view was also expressed that collaboration of government, the private sector and civil society was not always easy, as each entity had different objectives - to maintain power, to make a profit, and to survive. Government and the private sector may easily exclude civil society from vital decisions.

It was noted that there are different types of non-governmental organizations. Some have been "co-opted" by foreign funding agencies or the State; some are purely humanitarian in function; others operate like business consultancies or multinationals; some proselytize or promote a fundamentalist framework. It was the community-based and community-oriented organizations that could best assist the vulnerable. Through organization, and alliance with other weak and poor groups, they could protect their interests, lobby for government action and legislation and, by linking with women's, ecological, human rights and workers' movements, become a countervailing centre of power.

The family was recognized as a basic unit in society and as an important institution in which people receive their initial socialization and are protected at various vulnerable periods in their lives. Families are under pressure in many instances. Strengthening the family was an important part of support systems for inclusion and protection against vulnerability.

Giving priority to global social policies

Globalism has been discussed from economic perspectives; more needs to be said about it from the perspective of social policies, continuing to build on the work of the World Summit for Social Development.

Existing paradigms of welfare policy and strategy are breaking down in the face of the deconstruction of work and security. An emerging social political vacuum is being filled by different international organizations and non-governmental organizations, each introducing its own policies and values. The importance of social impact assessments was stressed in this context.

The Commission for Social Development provides the only forum for a global discussion solely on social policy. It could collaborate with the Commission on Sustainable Development which has decided to address "consumption and production patterns and poverty" in its five-year programme (1998-2002).

Global social policies, it was said, would be the best way to reduce vulnerability and enhance social protection. However difficult it might be to gain consensus, global social policies would need to address (a) redistribution (through development cooperation and so forth); (b) regulation (matters of trade, information and so on); and (c) provision and empowerment (where there is considerable regional/local expertise, and desire for innovation).

Social policies could be guided by the integrative vision of social development elaborated at the World Summit for Social Development and by human rights instruments. They could reaffirm agreed principles such as the importance of families and other institutions; self-determination, diversity, solidarity and multiculturalism; and the twin approaches of "thinking globally, acting locally".

Dialogue with non-governmental organizations

55. At the 5th and 11th meetings, on 12 and 18 February, the Commission held dialogues with non-governmental organizations.

56. At the 5th meeting, on 12 February, presentations were made by the following non-governmental organizations: the American Association of Retired Persons; the International Council on Social Welfare; the Zambia NGO Coordinating Committee; the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions; Pax Christi, International Catholic Peace Movement; and the Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Third World Institute) (on the Social Watch initiative).

57. At the same meeting, statements were made by the representatives of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Republic of Korea and the Netherlands.

58. Also at the 5th meeting, the Chairman made a statement.

59. At the 11th meeting, on 18 February, presentations were made by the following non-governmental organizations: Rotary International, Caritas Internationalis, the Norwegian Federation of Disabled Persons' Organizations, the International Council on Social Welfare, and Environmental Development in the Third World.

60. At the same meeting, statements were made by the representatives of Jamaica, India, the Philippines and Mexico.

61. Also at the 11th meeting, the Chairman made a statement.

62. At the same meeting, the Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development of the Department of Economics and Social Affairs made a statement.

Notes
1/ Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1996, Supplement No. 9 (E/1996/29), chap. I, sect. C, resolution S-1996/1.
2/ Ibid., 1997, Supplement No. 6 (E/1997/26), chap. I, sect. C, resolution 35/2.

 

Chapter III. Provisional agenda for the 37th session of the Commission       [ Up ]

1. At the 13th meeting, on 20 February 1998, the Commission considered item 4 of its agenda. The Commission had before it a note by the Secretariat containing the draft provisional agenda for the thirty-seventh session, together with a list of requested documentation (E/CN.5/1998/L.3).

2. At the same meeting, statements were made by the representatives of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.

3. Also at the 13th meeting, the Chairman orally amended the provisional agenda by inserting the following wording under sub-item 3 (b):

"In accordance with earlier decisions of the Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and the Commission, the Commission will consider, under item 3 (b) of the agenda of its thirty-seventh session, issues pertaining to ageing, in particular the International Year of Older Persons (1999).

"The Commission will also have before it the outcome of the Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998)."

4. At the same meeting, the Commission decided to approve the provisional agenda for the thirty-seventh session of the Commission, as orally amended, together with the requested documentation (see chap. I, sect. A, draft decision II).

 

Chapter IV. Adoption of the report of the Commission on its 36th session     [ Up ]

1. At the 14th meeting, on 20 February 1998, the Rapporteur introduced the draft report of the Commission (E/CN.5/1998/L.7), which he orally corrected.

2. The Commission then adopted the report and entrusted the Rapporteur with its completion.

 

Chapter V. Organization of the session    [ Up ]

A. Opening and duration of the session

1. The Commission for Social Development held its thirty-sixth session at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 10 to 20 February 1998. The Commission held 14 meetings (1st to 14) and a number of informal meetings.

B. Attendance

2. In accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/7 of 22 July 1996, the Commission is composed of 46 States Members of the United Nations, elected on the principle of equitable geographical distribution.

3. The session was attended by 43 States members of the Commission. Observers for other States Members of the United Nations and for non-member States and representatives of specialized agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations also attended. A list of participants is given in annex I to the present report.

C. Election of officers

4. At the 1st meeting, on 10 February 1998, the Commission elected Mr. Aurelio Ferna'ndez (Spain) as Chairman by acclamation.

5. At the same meeting, the Commission elected the following officers:

Vice-Chairmen: Ms. Faith Innerarity (Jamaica) Ms. Maria Lourdes Ramiro Lopez (Philippines) Ms. Joanna Wronecka (Poland) Mr. Mathe Diseko (South Africa)

6. At the 3rd meeting, on 11 February, the Commission elected Mr. Mathe Diseko (South Africa) as Vice-Chairman-cum-Rapporteur by acclamation.

D. Agenda

7. At the 1st meeting, on 10 February 1998, the Commission adopted its provisional agenda for the session (E/CN.5/1998/1 and Corr.1).

The agenda was as follows:

1. Election of officers.

2. Adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters.

3. Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development:

(a) Priority theme: "Promoting social integration and participation of all people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons";

(b) Review of relevant United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups.

4. Provisional agenda for the thirty-seventh session of the Commission.

5. Adoption of the report of the Commission on its thirty-sixth session.

E. Organization of work

8. At the 1st meeting, on 10 February 1998, the Commission approved the organization of work of the session (see E/CN.5/1998/L.1/Rev.1).

F. Opening statements

9. At the 1st meeting, on 10 February 1998, the Commission heard an opening statement by the temporary Chairman, Mr. Ion Gorita (Romania).

10. At the same meeting, the Commission heard a statement by the Under- Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat.

G. Documentation

11. The documentation before the Commission at its thirty-sixth session are listed in annex II to the present report.

H. Special presentations

12. At the 1st meeting, on 10 February 1998, the Commission held a special presentation on the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development. Presentations were made by the following: Mr. Yang Qinqwei (China), Mr. Reinaldo Ruiz (Chile), Mr. Ernst Sucharipa (Austria), Mr. K. J. Hlkuama- Mupaine (Namibia) and Mrs. Marcela Maria Nicodemos (Brazil).

13. At the 5th meeting, on 12 February, the Commission also held a special presentation. Presentations were made by Mr. Cielito Habito (Philippines), Mr. Nazar Mohammad Shaikh (Pakistan) and Mr. Maged Abdelfattah (Egypt).

14. At the 9th meeting, on 17 February, the Commission also held another special presentation which was made by Mr. Torben Brylle (Denmark).

15. At the 10th meeting, on 18 February, the Commission heard a presentation by Mr. Pino Arlacchi, Executive Director, United Nations International Drug Control Programme.

Panel discussions and dialogue

Panel discussion I. Participation and social justice

16. At the 2nd meeting, on 10 February, the Commission held panel discussion I. Mr. Nitin Desai, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, acted as moderator.

17. The following panel members addressed the Commission:

Dr. Marju Lauristin, University of Tartu, Estonia;

Mr. Jaime Joseph, Centro Alternativa, Peru;

Dr. Hussein M. Adam, Holy Cross College, Massachusetts, United States of America;

Dr. Suchitra Punjararatabandhu, National Institute of Development Administration, Thailand

18. Members of the Commission held a general exchange of views with the panel members.

Panel discussion II. Enhancing social protection and reducing vulnerability

19. At the 8th meeting, on 17 February, the Commission held panel discussion II. Mr. Aurelio Ferna'ndez (Spain), Chairman of Commission, acted as moderator.

20. The following panel members addressed the Commission:

Dr. Vappu Taipale, Director-General, National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, Finland;

Dr. Meryl James-Sebro, Director, First Works International (a non-governmental organization), Trinidad and Tobago;

Dr. John D'Mello, Profession of Sociology and Theology, St. Pius College, Bombay, India;

Dr. Anna Maria de Frappola, Head, Inter-American Organization, Uruguay.

21. Members of the Commission held a general exchange of views with the panel members.

Non-governmental organizations dialogue segment

22. At the 5th meeting, on 12 February, the Commission held a non-governmental organizations dialogue. The following made presentations:

American Association of Retired Persons;

International Council on Social Welfare;

Zambia NGO Coordinating Committee;

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions;

Pax Christi, International Catholic Peace Movement;

Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Third World Institute) (on the Social Watch initiative)

23. At the 11th meeting, on 18 February, the Commission held another non-governmental organization dialogue segment. The following made presentations:

Rotary International;

Caritas Internationalis (International Confederation of Catholic Charities);

Norwegian Federation of Disabled Persons' Organizations;

International Council on Social Welfare;

Environmental Development in the Third World.

I. Consultations with non-governmental organizations

24. In accordance with rule 76 of the rules of procedure of the functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council (E/5975/Rev.1), representatives of the following non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Council made statements:

General consultative status

American Association of Retired Persons, Franciscans International, International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, International Council on Social Welfare, International Federation on Ageing, International Movement ATD Fourth World, World Veterans Federation

Special consultative status

Foundation for the Rights of the Family (PRODEFA), International Federation of Settlements and Neighbourhood Centres, Mani Tese '76, New Humanity, Pax Christi, International Catholic Peace Movement, Rehabilitation International, Commission of the Churches on International Affairs of the World Council of Churches, World Movement of Mothers

Roster

Gray Panthers, Instituto del Tercer Mundo (Third World Institute) (on the Social Watch initiative), International Right to Life Federation, Movement for a Better World

25. Written statements submitted by non-governmental organizations are listed in annex II to the present report.

United Nations Document E/1998/26 E/CN.5/1998/7

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