Agreed Conclusions of the 37th session of the Commission for Social
Follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development:
priority theme: social services for all
A. General Principles and Goals
B. Delivery and provision of social services to
promote social development
1. Social services are an integral part of, and positively contribute to, social and
economic development. Investment in social services will contribute to poverty
eradication, peace, equity and equality, social progress and cohesion, economic
productivity, productive employment, and full participation of all people in society. In
this respect, it is of fundamental importance that Governments either provide social
services or ensure universal and equitable access to social services -- especially, in
times of economic recession. It is, furthermore, essential that economic, including
fiscal, policies pursued by Governments support and encourage the social goals to which
they committed themselves at the World Summit for Social Development. International
cooperation to enhance social development would facilitate the provision of basic services
2. The primary responsibility for ensuring provision of and universal access to social
services rests with Governments. In many countries, the provision of social services
significantly benefits from the support of active citizens, non-governmental organizations
and voluntary groups, as well as trade unions and private businesses, but Governments have
the main responsibility, acting through international, national, regional and local
policies, to create an enabling environment to promote the establishment and maintenance
of efficient social services and to ensure gender and racial equality and equity in access
to social services.
3. The Copenhagen Programme of Action recognizes the need for social services for all,
ensuring provision of services to meet the essential needs of the entire population, in
particular those excluded from social services; to respond to the needs that exist at
different stages in an individual's life span; and to take into account the requirements
of population groups with specific needs.
A. General Principles and
4. Universal access by all to social services is a central goal for social and economic
development policies. The major objective of social services is to contribute to and to
facilitate greater equity and equality of opportunities for every member of society in
order to promote the strengthening of social cohesion and to avoid social exclusion.
Therefore, ensuring that high-quality, basic social services are available to all must be
a high priority for all Governments, requiring them to ensure that the implementation of
the Copenhagen Programme of Action is a central political goal, to mobilize the necessary
resources, to enhance political will and to recognize the importance of accountability,
transparency and participation.
5. In all countries, to a greater or lesser extent, provision of or access to social
services is not available to all people at all times. Lack of development is a major
obstacle to the provision of social services in many countries. Further significant
obstacles include competing governmental priorities and inadequate resources.
6. Governments and other social service providers face a changing environment which
poses further challenges and calls for new ideas. The planning and provision of services
should take into account changing family circumstances, gender equality and changing
responsibilities of women and men, shifts in population age structure, and mass migration
and displacement of people.
7. Access to social services for all is essential to enable people to satisfy their
basic human needs and to live lives of dignity, safety and creativity while participating
fully in society. Services should be based on concepts of full participation and
non-discrimination, thereby facilitating greater equity and equality of opportunities for
every member of society.
8. Special efforts should be made to ensure that all social services are accessible to
those who are living in poverty, are disadvantaged or socially-excluded, or have special
needs. Services should be adapted to ensure they remain appropriate to the needs of these
9. Special attention should be given to providing emergency relief to persons suffering
from the impact of natural or man-made disasters, and to the expeditious reconstruction of
social services after such disasters in order to meet the basic needs of the affected
populations. International cooperation in such situations is an important element to
address these situations, in addition to national efforts.
10. The elimination of discrimination against women and the empowerment and full
participation of women in all areas of life and at all levels, should be priority
objectives at the national as well as the international level, and an intrinsic part of
social development. Services should be gender-sensitive and designed to take into account
and serve the specific needs of girls and women. Public agencies and non-governmental
organizations should involve women at all stages of decision making in the planning,
management and delivery of social services. Women, especially in developing countries,
often bear the negative consequences and the brunt of responsibilities resulting from a
lack of social service provision, among other factors. Policies should recognize their
contributions and provide them support in these roles.
11. Policy concepts devised to provide and maintain services have to take into account
the differences in the social and economic development of individual States. Variations in
the range and coverage of services among and within countries may reflect both these
different stages of development and cultural diversities. There are also important local
and national differences affecting the needs of different population groups, and these
should be reflected in policies and programmes.
B. Delivery and provision of
social services to promote social development
12. It is the responsibility of the State to promote and protect all human rights,
civil, political, social, economic, cultural, and the right to development. Efforts by
each State to ensure social services for all are an important contribution to promote and
protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all.
13. Universal access to social services contributes to realizing the objectives of
social development, empowerment of people and efforts of national governments aimed at
poverty eradication. Provision of social services should target segments of society living
in poverty, with a particular focus on under-served areas.
14. In the context of a people-centred development, social services contribute to the
realization of all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, for all
people, thus enabling them to take up responsibilities and to become active members of
society. Social services for all is an important instrument for the eradication of poverty
by securing access to basic facilities for the poor. The provision of social services may
also help to prevent vulnerable people or groups from falling into poverty.
15. Those who provide or organize social services should assess in what manner services
are delivered. Policies should aim to ensure the integration of social services into a
system which combines a wide range of different services that are accessible and
coordinated with each other and thus provide complementary help and support. The services
should be of adequate quality, sensitive to the needs of the service users and be
delivered in an innovative, efficient and cost-effective way. For that purpose, for
(a) Services should be designed in a manner that best serves their purpose and the
needs of the targeted groups;
(b) Several services could be grouped around a basic service to respond to several
needs at the same time;
(c) Services could be provided at non-traditional sites where people naturally
(d) The hours when services are available should be responsive to people's needs;
16. Special attention should be given to improving the quality of management of social
services and to the ongoing training of staff. Personnel responsible for the designing and
delivery of social services, especially personnel dealing directly with users, should be
respectful of the dignity of the beneficiaries. It is important to establish standards for
measuring service delivery, based on a common understanding of needs and measurable
results. Services should be evaluated on a continuing basis and feedback provided and
assessed. The design of services should include provision for information gathering,
monitoring and evaluation.
17. The design and delivery of social services should pay due attention to the needs of
the individual throughout the entire lifespan, recognizing the family as the basic unit of
society and acknowledging that it plays a key role in social development, access to and
delivery of social services. In different cultural, political and social systems various
forms of family exist. Social services that respond to the needs of children and youth
would also contribute to the building of a society for all ages. Older persons should be
guaranteed full participation and non-discrimination in access to services which seek to
ensure that they continue to have active lives and participate in society. Access to
social services adapted to the needs of every person throughout the lifespan would
contributes to persons being able to grow old securely and with their dignity and
18. Persons with disabilities and, where appropriate, their families and advocates,
should have access to information regarding rights and available services, at all stages
and in forms or formats which are accessible to them. Systems for provision of social
services must not exclude or discriminate against people with disabilities. Delivery of
services to people with disabilities should ensure their functional independence for
active participation in the life of society. Where financially feasible, respite care and
attendant services should be made available for families which include a person with
disability. Appropriately designed social services would enable persons with disabilities
to realize their full human potential.
19. In view of the scale of international migration in an increasingly globalized
world, attention also needs to be given by Governments to access to, and delivery of,
social services to documented migrants and their families. Non-governmental organizations
are encouraged to continue to develop these kinds of services.
20. The concerns and basic human needs of undocumented migrants should also be
addressed in accordance with the Copenhagen Programme of Action.
21. Governments have primary responsibility for providing or ensuring that basic
services are available to all. The public sector plays a key role in securing universal
access by all people to social services. Civil society can play an important role in
planning, organizing and providing social services. Public authorities should cooperate
with all relevant actors of civil society in order to offer adequate coverage and a wide
range of services to the users. Decisions about services can be best made with the full
involvement of all those who have a stake in them.
22. There are many forms of partnership between the State and civil society. Depending
on the circumstances, different options could be considered for how this partnership might
take effect. In some instances Governments may wish to be the main service providers and
organize delivery directly with assistance from partners; in other cases, the role of
Government might be to establish or guarantee national minimum standards and to enable all
relevant actors of civil society, including volunteers, to take a more direct role in
provision and delivery of services.
23. Partnership should be based on shared goals, mutual respect and tolerance of
different views, joint decision-making as appropriate, and joint commitment to the
process. Partnership can be strengthened through mechanisms that facilitate the exchange
of experiences, improved standards and feedback concerning service delivery. All actors
involved in the provision and delivery of social services should be accountable to the
users of the services.
24. In many countries around the world, there are people who still lack access to the
most basic services. Community participation in defining and assessing needs and in
planning the provision of social services should be encouraged, so as to ensure social
services for all, including the poor and disadvantaged. The international community,
national governments and community-based organizations need to forge a partnership to
undertake poverty and social impact assessments and to plan strategies for the provision
of universal access to basic social services for all.