6. This summary does little justice to the ambiguities and complexities of evaluating
progress or setbacks since Copenhagen. Accurate generalities are impossible because trends
are so diverse. Progress and regress are striking at various times and places, and barely
discernable at others. Progress itself also is not a straightforward concept. Therefore a
number of crosscutting issues merit attention when evaluating both reasons for and
obstacles to progress.
7. Key issues which emerge from the reports and which could appropriately be addressed
in the debate about further initiatives include:
8. The importance of rehabilitating the public sector: The process of economic
reform has in many cases weakened the capacity of the state to promote social development.
One of the lessons learned from recent financial crises is that liberalization and
privatization should not take place at the expense of an appropriate regulatory framework.
A strong, transparent public sector is required to oversee the process of economic reform,
and to create an enabling environment for social development. While there has been a
transformation of the public sector towards the role of enabler rather than that of
universal provider, this latter function
nevertheless requires strengthening rather than weakening of public institutions. The
"rehabilitation" of the public sector involves strengthening the legal and
regulatory framework and the transparency and predictability of public institutions as
well as their capacity for enforcement.
9. The growth of inequality: Growing inequality within and between nations calls
for more focussed policies aiming for a more equitable distribution of resources and of
opportunities within and amongst nations. Whereas inequality was once viewed as the price
paid for economic growth, it may in fact have become an impediment to sustainable growth.
Inequality relates directly to all three of the main themes of Copenhagen, namely,
poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. Inequality in incomes, skills and access to
social services is an issue that affects future generations as well as the present one.
Urgent action is required to replace inequality with solidarity and to ensure that
opportunities are not rationed to the lucky few, but rather are available to all.
10. Informalization of employment: In many developing countries, formal sector
employment represents a small and declining share of the labour market. Since in many
parts of the world, formal sector employment is not growing fast enough to absorb an
expanding workforce, there is renewed interest in the informal sector as a means to absorb
new job seekers. Furthermore the informal sector is no longer just characteristic of
developing countries: all over the world, the informal sector is growing in a symbiotic
relationship with the formal sector. Globalization and liberalization are resulting in new
linkages between the formal and informal sectors. Therefore, a major challenge for
employment policy is in how to improve revenues from and social protection in the informal
sector. In some parts of the world, companies are relying on subcontracting labour and
products as a way of avoiding providing employment benefits. Membership of labour unions
has been declining in many parts of the world.
11. The working poor: Although in some parts of the world employment has
increased, all too often the new jobs are of low quality, and associated with insecurity,
low wages and inadequate social protection. Increasingly employment is not sufficient to
bring people out of poverty. Therefore an important issue is the growing phenomenon of the
"working poor"and what can a done to improve wages, job security and social
protection at the low end of the labour market?
12. Making economic growth more employment-intensive: One major challenge facing
the Social Summit process is how to create more and better jobs, not just through
fostering faster economic growth, but by enabling this growth to be more
employment-intensive. There is considerable scope for creating new jobs within the limits
of existing resources and using market-based parameters by re-orienting investment
policies in a pro-poor and employment-friendly direction. Countries implementing
welfare-to-work policies, or embarking on public works programmes, community-based
infrastructure development or urban rehabilitation all have an interest in maximizing the
impact of these initiatives on employment. Unemployment represents an enormous cost to
society, just as does environmental pollution. The cost, and benefits, of introducing
incentives for employment creation should be weighed against the costs inflicted on
society by high levels of unemployment and underemployment. To be sustainable, such
programmes should also foster increasing worker productivity, training and rely on
13. Conflict, crises and social development: Wars, local conflicts and natural
disasters have had a devastating negative impact on social development in many countries.
Scarce development resources are being allocated to an increasing number of crisis
interventions that are much more costly, in both human and financial terms, than crisis
prevention and longer-term investment in human development. Such crises are not only more
costly than not investing in social development, but are often the result of failing to
make such investments.
Economic sanctions have severely constrained development in several countries. How can
conflicts, crises and disasters be better managed to reduce the extent of these
destructive consequences? A major challenge facing the Special Session is how to translate
the same sense of urgency and political will created by conflict and humanitarian
disasters into positive and ongoing action in favour of social development.
14. Financing of social protection: Some governments are improving social
security while others are cutting back on systems providing social protection or social
assistance. Such systems are being increasingly targeted towards the most vulnerable
groups in society. However, targeting and means-testing of benefits can lead to a
reduction in social solidarity which in turn erodes political support and resource
allocations for those services. How can solidarity and sustainability be reconciled with
the need for greater effectiveness in providing social services?
15. Reversing the decline of ODA: While certain countries have increased
allocations of ODA, this has taken place in the face of an overall trend of decline,
despite the pledges made at Copenhagen. What strategies can be adopted to reverse this
trend and to increase solidarity between nations and peoples? Although ODA may be viewed
as a cost to donor countries, it in fact represents a good investment, preempting higher
future costs by growing global disarray. A number of European countries have taken firm
action to meet and even surpass their commitment on ODA. However, the full impact will be
felt only if the major economies follow this example.
16. Debt reduction: Debt servicing has become a severe and growing burden. How
can debt relief be most effectively implemented so as to increase social expenditure? What
institutional arrangements and policies can countries adopt that could increase their
attractiveness to private investors, without squandering their resources or the potential
benefits? Additional mechanisms at both the national and international levels are called
for to ensure that debt relief supports poverty eradication, to speed up the pace and to
widen the scope of debt reduction and to help beneficiary governments from falling back
into unsustainable levels of debt.
17. Globalization and liberalization: Globalization and liberalization are
posing new, although not identical, challenges to, and opportunities for social
development. There is growing concern with achieving a more equitable sharing of the
benefits of globalization. Many governments, which have made great sacrifices in the
framework of economic reforms and liberalization of their economies, feel they have yet to
reap the anticipated benefits. What global institutional mechanisms are required to
address the impact of liberalized trade and capital movements on social development?
Although flows of labour have not kept pace with liberalization of trade and investments,
new forms of employment and labour mobility should be anticipated and addressed in the
global economy. What policies, strategies and tools can be developed to manage better the
process of globalization to the benefit of human development. A major challenge facing the
Special Session will be how to address social development in an integrated manner, that
is, how to globalize social development, while at the same time respecting local values
18. Local development and values in the global economy: Many governments have
expressed concern that all-pervasive markets have eroded traditional values. There is also
seen to be a growing discrepancy between global market-based values and local values based
on cultural and regional specificity. Globalization cannot be addressed in isolation from
the simultaneous trend towards decentralization and devolution of responsibilities to
local government. This trend towards localization has been amplified by the urbanization
of the planet, increasing the importance of cities and urban governance. While
urbanization was once equated with the development of industrialized economies, the
highest rates of urbanization are now found in developing regions. Urbanization is a
critical factor influencing social integration and participation. Decentralization can be
conducive to greater participation and accountability, but not necessarily conducive to
equitable distribution of resources across regions and populations groups. How can these
conflicting concerns best be reconciled? How can local culture and society keep pace with
the global economy and leave room for both local autonomy and diversity?
19. National reports have flagged these and other issues as part of their assessment of
implementation. Each is a global issue affecting, albeit in different ways and to varying
degrees, all regions of the world. By providing a forum for exchanging experiences and for
comparing what has worked, and not worked, in different situations, it is hoped that this
Comprehensive Report will contribute not only to evaluating progress, but also to
developing further initiatives for social development.
B. Assessing progress in poverty eradication, full
employment, social integration, resource mobilization and capacity building
20. Part I contains summarized contents of a total of seventy-four national reports
received from Governments in response to the note verbal of the Secretary-General. The
national efforts and achievements to implement the outcome of the WSSD are presented in
five chapters: poverty eradication, employment creation, social integration, mobilization
of resources and capacity building for social development.
21. All reports reiterate the commitment of Governments to achieve the objectives of
eradication of poverty, employment creation and social integration. In their strategies,
policies and programmes, governments place priority on overall social development and many
have formulated strategies for the eradication of poverty within identified periods of
time. Governments have also set up institutions and mechanisms specifically with
responsibilities for implementing programmes to which countries committed themselves at
the Social Summit.
22. It is evident from the responses of States that achieving the objectives of poverty
eradication, employment creation and social integration are not only the outcome of
policies that are highly integrated but that those policies affect deeply other aspects of
society, including the political. High rates of economic growth absorb reserves of
unemployed labour and reduce unemployment in the long run, but it is also clear that
economic growth alone is insufficient to achieve full employment; it must be accompanied
by the right balance between the demand and supply of labour. Similarly, high rates of
economic growth are conducive to social integration, but targeted policies aiming
explicitly to strengthen social integration are also essential. Political processes, the
nature of the State and efficiency in Government are essential for the mobilization of
resources for social development, both domestically and overseas, and in capacity building
for the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes. Civil society groups
have become indispensable partners to Governments in their efforts to eradicate poverty,
create employment and promote social integration.
23. Governments report on a broad range of initiatives to alleviate poverty, including
measures to promote macro-economic growth, stabilization and structural adjustment; the
adoption of national anti-poverty programmes, policies and strategies; the creation and
expansion of social security systems; efforts to increase public transfers and public
spending on social services, in particular improvements in health and education; as well
as the implementation of specific projects and programmes in areas such as rural
infrastructure development and income generating activities aimed at improving
24. However, despite this plethora of national measures, it is evident from the
national reports that the years since the Summit have posed severe problems for poverty
eradication. In the least developed economies, mostly in Africa, economic growth has
barely resumed. In the countries with economies in transition, universal social security
schemes have broken down and no adequate arrangements have been introduced to replace
them. Member States affected by recent international financial crises have suffered
reduced incomes and increased poverty. In some developed countries, high unemployment,
increasing inequality in income distribution and changes in welfare policies have done
little to reduce poverty. Floods, drought, tornadoes and earthquakes have also increased
the numbers living in poverty. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has cost many lives, stretched the
demand for medical services and left many children orphaned and poor. Civil war and ethnic
conflict in a number of countries has reduced rates of economic growth, destroyed physical
assets, disabled large numbers and killed many. Economic sanctions have reduced the
capacity of affected countries to grow and increased the number of poor in those
societies. Large populations have been displaced or driven out as refugees to eke out poor
living in great discomfort. War has also claimed resources that could otherwise have been
used to provide social services.
25. All countries seek sustained economic growth as a basis for a sound social
development. Many developing countries have carried out radical economic reforms to
stabilize prices, reduce the role of government and change the structure of their
economies. These reforms, however, together have often increased unemployment, reduced the
security of employment and incomes and so increased poverty. Cut backs in government
expenditure as well as increased foreign debt servicing has reduced the resources for
poverty alleviation. The promise of poverty eradication as a result of faster growth
consequent upon stabilization and structural adjustment programmes generally remains to be
delivered. Even where economic growth has been sustained over the short term, there has
often been no substantial increase in employment.
26. The drop in economic activity following the financial crisis has exacerbated the
need for social security arrangements to look after the well being of those temporarily
unemployed. In economies in transition negative or stagnant economic growth and inflation
has reduced resources available for alleviating poverty. The long process of institution
building, including those of Government, has left populations without mechanisms for
providing social security. In developed countries, emphasis on price stability and the
political decision in some to reduce dependency on welfare benefits has created new
challenges for reducing poverty. The tendency for wages of unskilled workers to fall
whilst economies grew and other wages rose, has presented a new set of problems in some of
27. The constraints on resources for social protection and the failure of economic
growth to generate significant employment opportunities is posing dilemmas for policy
making, particularly in developing countries, pitting short term poverty alleviation
priorities against investment for longer term growth. The absence in many developing
countries and in some economies in transition of a strong private sector, has led many
governments to embrace the need to create an enabling environment that would make it
possible for entrepreneurs and the private sector to play an influential role in the
process of growth and development.
28. Among the major constraints on eradication of poverty, especially in developing
countries, is the lack of resources, weak infrastructures and inefficient administrative
systems. Declining terms of international trade and reduced inflows of financial resources
further limits the capacity of many Governments. Furthermore, economic growth rates have
failed to match rapid growth in populations. In many countries, especially the least
developed, reductions in government expenditure have posed several problems. The need for
resources for public services in health, primary education, physical infrastructure,
protection of the environment and fundamental institutions remains high in these
societies. The private sector is thin and unformed and needs the support of legal and
economic institutions that are normally provided by government.
29. Some Governments mention the lack of awareness by the public of the importance of
social issues. This has sometimes led to lack of support from civil society for programmes
and interventions aimed at the eradication of poverty. The lack of awareness has also
constrained participation by civil society in the preparation and implementation of
policies to eradicate or alleviate poverty. In some countries, non-governmental
organizations are in early stages of development and cannot contribute significantly to
the responsibilities of providing social security to the poor. Paradoxically, governments
themselves have been weakened by reductions in the size of civil service and of wages;
corruption and the mismanagement of resources has increased in some countries. In order
that governments can perform their functions more effectively, including the delivery of
services to the poor, many of them, in collaboration with United Nations agencies
including UNDP, have set out to improve the quality of governance.
30. It is evident in most national reports that employment is an issue that impacts on
other main themes of the Social Summit including poverty alleviation, social integration,
the mobilization of resources and capacity building. Employment is at the centre of all
aspects of social development, and policies for full employment are an integral part of
broader social and economic policies.
31. Governments report on measures such as macro-economic policies, including
liberalization of trade and capital flows at the international level as well as fiscal and
monetary policy and economic and structural adjustment at the national level; the
establishment of consultation mechanisms with social partners and civil society in the
formulation of employment policies; specific labour market policies to reduce unemployment
for women, youth, older persons, the disabled, indigenous people and the long-term
unemployed; education, training and skills-enhancement of the workforce; efforts to
increase labour market flexibility, including more even distribution of employment; local
and regional employment initiatives, including investments in infrastructure; and
enhancing the quality of employment.
32. The goal of full employment has in practical terms often been neglected in favour
of a macro-economic policy aimed at stabilization, fiscal austerity and budgetary balance.
An analysis of national reports reflects a divergence on whether or not employment can
best be achieved indirectly, by putting in place what are viewed as Asound macro-economic
policies", or directly, by explicitly modifying and targeting such policies to foster
33. Since Copenhagen, social and economic policy has become less the domain of
technocrats. Increasingly these issues are becoming the subject of scrutiny by, and indeed
the responsibility of, politically elected representatives as well as of social partners
representing the world of work. The national reports highlight the importance of
recognizing that the goal of full employment has political and social ramifications to
which economic policy must adequately respond. Whereas robust economic growth continues to
be a strong determinant of employment creation, increasing attention is being paid to how
to increase the employment intensity of economic growth, both in the skill-intensive
knowledge-based economies as well as in labour-intensive developing economies.
34. There have been tendencies to integrate income support policies for the excluded
and vulnerable with active labour market policies in favour of those able to work. This
trend, while prominent in the labour market, is at the centre of policies designed to
combat social exclusion. Social security systems have been installed to provide social
safety nets. It has been increasingly recognized that active labour market policies must
work to eliminate dependence and to decrease financially and politically unsustainable
levels of social assistance by giving priority to employment and inclusion.
35. However, the shift from welfare to work, when poorly implemented, contributes to
increasing the number of working poor. In some countries, sharp curtailments in the scope,
level and coverage of various forms of social security (i.e., pensions, disability
allowances, unemployment insurance, subsidies) has resulted in pushing people into poorly
remunerated employment in an uncertain job market. In countries where an increase in
employment of this nature was reported, often the increase has been largely in short-term
employment, part-time work and other insecure and poorly protected forms of employment. In
developing countries, employment in the formal sector has stagnated and often regressed
with increased employment confined largely to the informal economy. Therefore the
challenge of employment policy is not simply on creating more "jobs" but also on
creating what the ILO Director-General has called "decent" work. It is necessary
to take uncertainty and insecurity out of employment in developed countries and improve
productivity and extend social protection in the informal sector in developing and
36. A final conclusion relating to employment derived from the reports is the
importance of implementing polices and programmes to achieve goals set by governments and
the rest of society. In many countries, governments have developed national policies and
programmes for employment creation but employment has either stagnated or in, some
instances, regressed. Setting national goals and policies is essential but unless
implemented with determinated effort, that process achieves little.
37. From the reports of Governments, it is evident that social integration is the
outcome of many forces in society and a particularly complex objective to achieve.
National efforts to foster social integration range from the promotion of democratization,
equality of treatment and human rights, and participatory forms of governance; to the
social protection and inclusion of social groups such as children and youth, older
persons, persons with disabilities, families, ethnic minorities and migrants, refugees and
38. The national reports show that expansion of economic space often permits better
integration of various groups in society but slow economic growth and development in some
and economic decline in others during the last five years has been a principal barrier to
closer social integration. People in poverty have been marginalized with poor capabilities
to participate fully in the functioning of their societies. Unemployment has not only
driven persons into poverty but also disrupted social bonds and networks established
through the workplace. Unemployment and poverty has reduced chances for children to
receive education and fully participate in common processes of socialization.
39. Reduced government resources has cut down the capacity of governments to implement
policies and programmes to promote social integration. Yet many governments have enacted
laws, established new government agencies and implemented policies and programmes to bring
communities together, to enable the disabled and the aged to fully participate in the
activities of their societies, to reduce deprivation, to eliminate discrimination, to
provide social protection and to increase mutual understanding and respect for each other.
Several governments have also actively adopted international norms and standards to
promote social integration. More resources and the more effective use of resources in
programmes to promote social integration have proven to contribute substantially to those
40. The adoption of democratic forms of government by many countries has contributed to
opening opportunities for people to participate in decision making regarding governance
and the implementation of policies. Devolution of political power, the decentralization of
administration and the development of local and municipal government are reported to have
contributed greater social integration. In some countries, conflict between ethnic and
religious groups has been solved or eased by adopting one of the means mentioned above.
That they persist in several other countries is proof of the inadequacy of these
approaches to reconcile the rival claims of contending parties. Fresh understandings and
approaches need to be developed to avoid large-scale violence, destruction to persons and
property and damage to human welfare.
41. Avoiding and reducing conflict among groups in each society has been a crucial
necessity in several countries to further social integration. Conflict over the
distribution of resources and benefits from government action has sometimes caused
division. At other times, conflicts have arisen regarding who should control instruments
42. The search for identity within groups smaller than the nation state has made the
tasks of social integration much more difficult. Those tasks have distracted attention and
resources from the positive aspects of social development to those of conflict resolution,
the reconstruction of destroyed physical infrastructure, rehabilitation of populations
that were displaced or that fled as refugees and the restoration of peace. There are major
tasks of disarmament, building up confidence between deeply divided parties,
reconstruction and development and the installation of institutional machinery to avoid
43. One of the more encouraging developments in the growth of participation by people
in government and society has been the strengthening of civil society institutions. They
provide means for people to work together to promote common interests, to work
independently of government and exercise checks on excesses committed by governments.
44. Reports from governments give detailed accounts of policy initiatives to integrate
various social groups into the mainstream of economic and social activity. Children and
youth, older persons, the disabled and those with special needs have received attention in
almost all countries. The family is often considered an institution of high value in these
45. International attention to the solution of problems of social integration has been
of many kinds. The United Nations and regional organizations have been instrumental in
stopping violence and establishing peace in a number of instances. There have been many
more instances where, resources permitting, the international community could have acted
more forcefully to stop internal conflict. The work of caring for displaced persons and
refugees also suffered from a similar scarcity of resources. With greater commitment, the
international community could contribute far more substantially to integrating persons
affected by conflicts into their societies and more important, to prevent the outbreak of
discontent and disagreement into open warfare and destruction.
and utilization of resources for social development
46. The mobilization of resources, domestic and foreign, their allocation and efficient
utilization are central to achieving the objectives of the WSSD. At the national level,
Member States report on improved means by which resources for social development were
mobilized, including reforms of their systems of taxation and the financing of social
services through the introduction of user fees and various cost-sharing schemes. To
improve on the utilization existing resources, many Governments are reallocating within
budgetary limits to increase social expenditures and carrying out reforms to improve the
efficiency and effectiveness of public resource use.
With respect to mobilization of resources at the international level, the reports
underline the importance of official development assistance (ODA) in promoting social
development, with both recipients and many donor countries expressing concern over
declining levels of official development assistance. Several donor countries report on
reorienting priorities and principles in ODA towards basic social development objectives.
47. Governments report on a variety of national arrangements for resourcing social
development. In most instances, Governments are the principal source. The contribution of
the private sector is of varying significance among countries, significant in some and
marginal in others. Non-governmental organizations and the community at large are not
insignificant contributors of resources for social development. Several governments
reported of the value of contributions in kind for capital projects in education.
48. Some social services, including primary education and health care, are viewed as
being in the nature of public goods and are paid for out of government revenue. However,
these are not the only publicly financed services paid for out of public funds. In
instances where higher education and sophisticated curative health services are paid for
out of public funds, there can be adverse effects both on efficiency and equity; more
services are sometimes provided than are necessary, and those with higher levels of income
receive implicit transfers from those in lower levels of income. User fees have been tried
in several countries as a means of reducing the demand for unnecessary services. In some
of these instances, adverse equity consequences have been encountered: the poor are denied
services because they cannot afford to pay even low fees to cover a minor portion of total
costs of those services. A variety of mechanisms exists through which costs of higher
education and expensive health can be recovered without adverse consequences for equity.
49. The allocation of resources for social development receives high priority in
government policy in all countries that report on the matter. Many governments report
scarcity of resources and problems of allocation among many important and urgent
programmes. In those circumstances, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that costs
are minimized and the effectiveness of expenditure maintained at a high level.
Sophisticated budgeting and accounting techniques have been adopted in several countries.
The cooperation of local governments and beneficiary communities has been found to be
valuable in raising efficiency in the delivery of services. Different methods of paying
for services have also been found to be effective in restraining costs, although some of
these techniques put unrealistic demands on market information in developing countries.
50. Regarding the mobilization of international resources, several countries, mainly
donors, address the issue of the role of international assistance in realizing the goals
of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.
51. In general, the importance of international funding for social development is
underlined by most countries and increasing attention is being given to social development
in development cooperation. Poverty eradication through sustainable development is defined
by many countries as the chief objective of international development assistance. Funding
policies frequently make explicit provisions for investment in basic social services,
especially education and health. Strategies to combat social exclusion, and to a lesser
extent unemployment, form part of most donor-supported poverty eradication strategies.
52. A significant proportion of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) of major
donors is directed towards Africa and the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). There is
widespread recognition that the debt burden faced by the most indebted countries is
unsustainable and constitutes a major obstacle for social development. This is being
matched by new initiatives to address both the debt problem and social development, in
some cases simultaneously.
53. Concern over the overall decline in ODA is widespread and includes many traditional
donors. ODA levels have fallen from 0.35 per cent of GDP of donor countries in the 1970s
and 1980s and 0.33 per cent as late as 1992, to 0.23 per cent of GNP in 1998.
Nevertheless, the commitment to ODA is generally reaffirmed in the national reports.
However, only a handful of countries report on concrete steps to reverse this trend or
adopted time-tables to fulfil the agreed target of 0.7 per cent of GNP as ODA. The decline
in external assistance for one reason or another is reported to have impacted negatively
on social development programmes in several developing countries. Efforts to fulfil ODA
targets by the biggest and wealthiest economies of the G-7 could make the biggest
difference in stimulating an enabling environment for social development.
54. Some countries have restructured their aid policies to focus on a few sectors and
countries on the basis of degree of poverty, quality of social and economic policies and
governance. The linkage of ODA or debt relief with performance however runs the risk of
excluding and marginalizing those countries that for one reason of another are unable
achieve the necessary threshold to qualify for such assistance or relief, defeating the
goals set by the Summit to accelerate the development of Africa and the LDCs in particular
and their integration into the global economy.
55. The HIPC initiative and trade-access related initiatives for the Africa and the
LDCs have the potential for making a significant breakthrough for the debt problem of many
of the poorest heavily indebted countries, but many developing countries have also felt
the need for the initiatives to be broadened to include other categories as well. While
initiatives for debt relief, aid, trade access and investments aimed at the poorest
countries, some transitional economies and emerging markets is taking place, there are
countries in between that continue to face an environment unfavourable to social
development. Some countries pointed out that the current classification of countries
according to GNP and per capita income masked disparities within countries and limited the
ability of some countries, notably middle income countries, access concessional finance.
56. The 20/20 initiative has contributed to the better earmarking of funds for social
development, but deserves to be seen more from the perspective of the efforts of the
receiving partner country than as a donor initiative as it has tended to be projected or
seen until now. The difficulties faced by some countries in raising or reallocating
domestic resources can, if too strong a linkage is made, affect even the quantum of
resources invested in the social sector for which some countries depend heavily on
57. The relationship between direct and indirect measures to address poverty in
developing countries, the relative role of immediate measures to ameliorate poverty such
as employment generation and fair remuneration for goods and services by the market and
more medium term measures such as primary education and basic health, and the right
balance between investments in infrastructure and in the social sector, are areas that
require further consideration.
58. The role of development cooperation to augment the productive potential of people
in developing countries and to build the capacity of the private sector to compete more
effectively in the global market place and the role of micro-credit in generating
employment, particularly for women also needs to be more fully exploited.
59. Greater attention to macro-economic factors and policies, and to greater and
differential trade access to developing countries can augment earnings and reduce
dependence on aid in the longer term. In this connection, the idea of linking debt relief
to earnings from exports by improving trade access could be considered.
Capacity-building for social
60. Capacity-building is an important means of creating a national political,
socio-economic and legal environment conducive to development and social progress. Member
States have taken a number of actions to enhance their capacities to achieve the goals of
WSSD, including adopting long-term strategies for social development; conducting national
assessments of their institutional capacities; taking legislative action to create an
enabling environment; establishing partnerships with civil society; the promotion of
decentralization and local governance; furthering accountability, transparency, and good
governance; and strengthening the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of social
policies, programmes and projects.
61. Almost all countries have taken some form of measure aimed at improving
institutional capacity for social development. These measures sometimes take the form of
reorganizing ministerial functions, unifying all departments directly interacting with the
general public in one agency. In other cases, they encompass the creation of cooperation
councils or bodies within Government. Improving information systems and training
Government staff in various skills are also quoted.
62. Action taken through legislation is cited often as a means of strengthening the
capacity to address social issues in Government. From the national reports, however, it is
evident that legislation alone is not sufficient to effectively contribute to the capacity
of Governments. Although it certainly supports the authority of Government in undertaking
action, other conditions are needed in order to establish effective social programmes and
63. One such condition is the establishment of active partnerships with civil society.
The reports provide evidence of a strong correlation between Governments' ability to
effectively, smoothly and directly implement policies in society and its responsiveness to
the actors in the society it serves. Most of those successful partnerships have been
established at local levels. Effective local governance is a valuable tool for good
Government and effective capacity-building. The various experiences reflected in the
reports demonstrate that good results are achieved in any social development programme,
which has strong, institutionalized links to the local communities it aims to serve.
64. As demands for transparency, accountability and good practice directly call on
Government to perform its tasks more efficiently and effectively, good governance has a
direct impact on capacity-building. Good governance requires a strong civil society that
is free and unobstructed in making fair and accurate assessments of Governments=
performance, and by doing so, can make a significant contribution to the implementation of
social development goals.
65. The establishment of a long-term vision and strategy for social development should
be the principle guideline for both capacity-building, as it stipulates the goals and
achievements to be reached with a set time frame. Proper and swift implementation of
social development programmes, policies and projects is important. Not always do long-term
visions translate in immediate actions. Some countries report missing links between
strategy and policy. Capacity-building measures should therefore ascertain that those
visions are translated into action.
66. Finally, there is an unequivocal role of civil society organizations in monitoring,
measuring and evaluating progress of Governments in achieving its social development
objectives. The independence of voters, civil society organizations and the fact that they
are the major stakeholders in social development activities requires that these groups
convey their findings to Government in appropriate and open ways.
International and regional cooperation for social development
67. Part II of this report describes activities undertaken and progress achieved in
international and regional cooperation. However, more important that describing each and
every major initiative in international and regional cooperation, this report describes a
new determination and spirit of cooperation across national boundaries in the field of
social development. United Nations funds, programmes and specialized agencies are at the
same time sharpening the focus of their activities within their respective mandates, while
realizing that many of the solutions to the problems faced by their constituents are to be
found outside their given sectors of expertise. To name just a few examples, health,
education and employment are closely intertwined, with strong implications for
institutional modalities within and outside of the United Nations system. Perhaps even
more central are the new initiatives and modalities of collaboration being developed
between organizations that were previously viewed as having exclusively either social or
economic mandates. The new spirit of consultation and collaboration between the United
Nations and its Specialized Agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions and other
organizations such as the OECD, the G7 and the G15 is underpinned by a growing recognition
that economic and social policies are not only intertwined, but rather part of the same
D. Evaluation of
Regional Trends in Social Development
68. Some of the conclusions drawn from the regional analysis of progress achieved, as
reviewed in part III of this report, are presented below. The conclusions are based on an
evaluation of implementation of the three core goals of the Copenhagen Declaration, as
well as the constraints that were encountered by the countries in achieving these goals.
While countries in different regions of the world have encountered similar obstacles in
the implementation of the Declaration, the findings are presented by region. Cross-cutting
issues such as globalization, building of civil society, debt relief and other matters of
concern are discussed in more detail in part IV.
69. From the experience of South Asia in dealing with the three principal Copenhagen
commitments, some of the following conclusions could be drawn.
70. First, rapid population growth continues to form a heavy burden for many South
Asian countries. Without a continuing drop in fertility, it is unlikely that the countries
will be able to develop as they hope.
Second, the South Asian experience suggests that broad-based and equitable economic
development across various income groups is a necessary condition for sustainable poverty
reduction. Investments for economic growth and investments in social progress are mutually
reinforcing and need to be implemented simultaneously.
71. Third, since conditions which create poverty are different in rural and in urban
areas, separate strategies need to be developed for the rural and the urban areas.
However, since more than 80 per cent of the poor in South Asia lives in rural areas,
eradication of rural poverty will require a major expansion of rural investment and
agricultural support programmes. Since the experiences of policy makers in poverty
reduction are dissimilar, it will be important to draw upon the success stories and
72. Fourth, there is an urgent need for increased resources for education. There are
395 million illiterate adults in the region, of which 60 per cent are women and 50 million
are out-of-school children to which another 2.2 million children are added each year
because of population growth. It is estimated that if universal primary education is to be
attained, facilities need to be created for an additional 65 million children. Massive
human investment was a prime factor in East Asia's economic success, a success that can be
replicated in South Asia.
73. Fifth, strengthening civil society will be essential to bridge the gap between the
state and the citizens, and facilitate empowerment of the people to take control of their
own lives and encourage governments to work with them in more effective ways. Sixth, peace
is a prerequisite for development in South Asia. At present, defense allocations in the
region take away too many resources for development. While the region has 40 per cent of
the world's poor, it is spending $ 12 billion on defense. Ways must be found to create a
peace dividend for poverty alleviation.
74. Finally, given the cultural and historical ties between the countries of South
Asia, the potential for regional cooperation between the countries is enormous. With a
potential 1.5 billion consumers in the region, a large and vibrant middle class and
low-wage labour, there is great scope for unleashing the creative economic and social
potential of the societies. In an era of globalization increasing regional cooperation
could be crucial for increased prosperity and well-being.
East Asia and the Pacific
75. Several lessons can be learned from the recent experience of the countries of East
Asia, particularly those that have gone through a stage of increased unemployment, poverty
and social disruption after a period of high economic growth.
76. The first lesson that can be learned from the at times spectacular growth and its
positive impact on poverty and employment is that the effects were not always a result of
deliberate government intervention, but were created by households and families empowered
by increased demand and determined to raise their living standards. At the same time,
mitigations of the adverse impacts of the crisis on health and education can be traced to
the resilience of Asian families in choosing to spend higher proportions of their
household budgets on health and education, rather than governments forcing them to do so.
Naturally, the important role of governments in enabling households to make these
decisions must be commended.
77. Secondly, the countries' policy response to the crisis has rightly been not to turn
against the forces of globalization, but to reduce their vulnerability to some of their
countries' openness, and to address macro-economic issues that had made them vulnerable
from the onset of the crisis, such as governance, exchange rate policies, public and
private debt, and corporate restructuring.
78. A third obvious lesson from the recent East Asian experience is that a swift policy
response is required in times of external shock. It has become clear that a social relief
policy, directly aimed at reducing the impact of an external shock on employment, health
and schooling systems, needs to be integrated into coping strategy from the very onset of
the crisis. This of course requires a strong capacity from governments to closely monitor
those social impacts. To illustrate this latter point, after almost three years from the
onset of the crisis, there is still only scarce evidence on the impact of the crisis on
household income in Indonesia and even less on employment patterns. Little empirical
evidence exists on the perceived negative impact of the crisis on crime, delinquency and
79. A fourth lesson is demonstrated by the Korean response to the employment crisis,
which emerged in the country in 1997 that large-scale public works projects can at least
temporarily serve as a cushion for laid-off workers. What worked in the early thirties in
the fallout from the U.S. Great Depression, appears to work again 70 years later in Asia.
Those projects appear to have increased domestic demand, while at the same time offsetting
the unemployment problem for a while. It had earlier been noted that the Republic of Korea
had lacked the large rural backbone which had managed to absorb the excess labour from the
cities, as had been the case in Thailand, Indonesia, and other countries in Southeast
Asia. However, in order to succeed, those public works projects should not add to large
overcapacities that currently exist in many industrial sectors in Asia; they should be
based on sound economic principles and have clear economic and social benefits to society;
and should, obviously, not be designed to sustain poorly-managed private companies with
80. A final lesson learned from the post-crisis experience of Southeast Asia so far is
that sustained attention to human resource development is a crucial element of any reform
and relief package. Investment in health and education had been part of the Asian success
story before the crisis. Widespread provision of basic education and health services was a
major element of the region's human resource strategy. There was substantial progress in
life expectancy and declines in infant mortality. The region has achieved an average life
expectancy of nearly 70 years. Equally impressive were achievements in education. The
region has attained levels of net enrolment comparable to industrialized countries. Many
countries come close to achieving universal primary education, and secondary enrolment has
expanded greatly. Moreover, in contrast to South Asia, the gender gap in primary enrolment
has almost been closed.
Eastern Europe, the Baltic States and the CIS
81. The reconstruction of fundamental institutions of society in Eastern Europe, the
Baltic States and the CIS countries has been more difficult and prolonged than was
generally expected. Economic decline, poverty, unemployment and social disintegration over
the years since the WSSD has been the consequence of those difficulties and delays. There
is growing awareness among both policy makers and the public at large that the social
dimensions of development are integral parts of the re-construction processes at work.
While the need for short term and piece meal measures is well recognized, solutions to
problems of poverty, employment creation and social integration are seen essentially as
emerging in the long term. The genuine participation and involvement of the public is an
essential pre-requisite in the search for those solutions. The articulation of the points
of view of groups who are in positions of disadvantage is of enormous importance in
seeking solutions to their problems. They also need to be partners in processes of
decision making and implementation.
82. Government and processes of governance need to grow much more efficient, effective
and accountable to the public. The need is not to go back to the omni-present state but to
make it adequate to handle responsibilities for social and economic development. In many
cases, the general weakness of state and governments in this long period of transition has
permitted small groups to capture the benefits of change for their personal benefit, at
enormous costs to economic and social development. Assets of working enterprises have been
stripped and sold for individual enrichment, incomes earned illegally have been
transferred abroad, skills of the long-term unemployed have been lost and misery and
alienation have cost many lives.
83. Within those countries new institutional capacity must be built to enable efficient
and effective functioning. Perhaps, nowhere has these been better demonstrated then in the
failure of tax administrations to collect revenue to meet the demands of public
expenditure. Those failures have in turn pushed large parts of economies into the informal
84. One of the major challenges in post-socialist societies remains the need to enhance
civil society institutions and give further stability to civil society. Genuine civic
engagement in life of the community and society is indispensable for strengthening the
responsibility of citizens for the management of their communities and for shaping the
political and economic agenda conducive to social progress and development.
Latin America and the Caribbean
85. Three key issues have emerged from the experience of Latin America and the
Caribbean during the last five years, which have major implications for the future. They
include the increasing participation of NGOs and their collaboration with governments, the
internalization of poverty concerns in government policy, and the effectiveness of
government expenditure, when adequately focused.
86. To make social progress feasible, the amount of national and external resources
allocated to social programmes needs to be significantly increased. Debt relief and
greater stability of international financial flows would contribute greatly to efforts to
achieve social and economic development in the region.
87. To have the desired impact, the allocation of resources for social development must
be subjected to clear guidelines on effectiveness, efficiency, focus and accountability.
In Brazil and Chile, where the proportion of households living in poverty fell by 12 per
cent and 13 per cent respectively between 1990 and 1996, there is evidence that adequate
policies infused with these characteristics could produce good results.
88. To make the processes politically sustainable, there is need to bring about better
collaboration between government and civil society at all stages of policy making and
implementation. Policy formulation in areas other than social development, and especially
in economic areas, must be coordinated with social policies and objectives. To enlist
greater support from the public and increase awareness, social development objectives must
be recognized at the same level of priority as that given to economic and other national
issues. Capacity to produce useful and reliable data on social indicators must be
improved. A holistic approach should be adopted in the design and implementation of
policies to increase social integration. Such policies should embrace not only poor and
marginalized but also other vulnerable groups in order to avoid the risk of their
situation deteriorating while that of others is improving.
89. Any anti-poverty strategy should include a crisis prevention component and take the
needs of the poorest segments of the population as a top priority. A pro-poor response to
economic shocks should be based on the protection of Government programmes,which are aimed
at the support of the poor.
West Asia and Northern Africa
90. From the experience in West Asia and Northern Africa, four sets of lessons could be
91. First, substantial equality in the distribution of income and wealth, fairly equal
access to social services, little conflict on religious affiliations and informal networks
of support and solidarity have served the Arab World well. These informal ties should be
strengthened. Policy-makers must aim to prevent inequality from sharpening. Informal
networks contribute to building social welfare institutions. In some countries, Islamic
charities have been prominent partners of the national social welfare agencies. In others,
a rigid distinction has been maintained between religious institutions and public social
welfare agencies. Whatever the situation, because of the large amount of resources that
they mobilize and the impact that they have on social welfare, it would be valuable for
them to function with greater efficiency and effectiveness.
92. Second, more information on the incidence of poverty and the way policies and
programmes function to reduce poverty would be very useful. Several countries, including
Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia have undertaken poverty
assessment studies, sometimes with assistance from the United Nations system.
93. Third, the contribution of the state to the formulation, implementation, monitoring
and evaluation of social development policies has been substantial. Special emphasis now
needs to be laid on coordination mechanisms and data collection. Coordination and
evaluation are especially important in these countries where the centralized state is
strong and there are several public actors. The need to monitor and evaluate regularly the
impact of the policies and programmes cannot be overemphasized. However well formulated
they may be, policies and programmes can have unexpected effects. Changing contexts and
the incomplete knowledge of local cultures may collude to render ineffective the best
policies. In many of the Maghreb countries, social observatories have been established to
monitor the impact of the social strategies implemented. In other countries in the Region,
the quality and quantity of data on social development and poverty have improved markedly.
Yet, publicly financed programme evaluation is rare. When it is not done, more rapid and
less costly social assessment would be a desirable alternative.
94. Finally, there is widespread apprehension, in these societies, that their cultures
may be radically altered by unfettered globalization. It is feared that Westernization
might introduce consumerism, raise criminality, weaken family ties, undermine religious
commitment and debase traditional social values. Globalization, arriving in many ways --
from tourism to the growing availability of goods produced in the West -- is perceived by
many as potentially threatening to the social and cultural integrity of their societies.
The crucial lesson seems to be the need to acquire capacity to profit from globalization
without renouncing the core values and norms of their culture. This is a very complex
task, which requires, among others, institutional change, access to information and better
95. The hardest lesson learned from the experience in Africa in achieving the
objectives of the WSSD through economic and social development is the inadequacy of
existing policy prescriptions to respond sufficiently and effectively to the challenges of
economic development and the improvement of social conditions in Africa. If the principal
problem is one of insufficient resources, it still begs the question why resources have
not been mobilized domestically and why foreign investment inflows have been so low.
Debates about refinements in poverty lines and the most satisfactory criterion for drawing
them are less important where there are small islands of prosperity and the population at
large is generally poor. It is entirely possible that existing paradigms may not provide
adequate strategies and that new insights should be sought by examining the situations
from diverse viewpoints.
96. Institutions fundamental to economic and social development have been either absent
or wholly inadequate in many countries in Africa. Of these none is more important than the
institution of government.
In several countries governments have ceased to be effective due to civil wars or
military conflicts, and in others mismanagement or corruption is reported to be endemic.
And some Governments have generally been weakened by policies to restrain public
expenditure under stabilization and structural adjustment programmes. Poor pay and
unsatisfactory conditions of work in the civil service have undermined integrity. While
these problems are not exclusively those of Africa, their severity commands immediate
97. Weak or dysfunctional governments have meant in the first place an absence of the
rule of law, which raises transactions costs so high as to inhibit all but the simplest
and the most short-term of investments. In the absence of established judicial procedures
that work dependably and without undue delay, contracts cannot be enforced and foreign
investors look for less risky opportunities elsewhere. The establishment of democratic
forms of government, more recently in the large countries such as Nigeria and South Africa
can be expected to improve conditions. The delivery of social services can be ineffective
because of absent teachers, hospitals without drugs and the misdirection of resources. The
important role and intervention by responsible citizens and non-governmental organizations
need to be strengthened in this regard. Decentralized government, higher levels of general
education and more active participation in government can be expected to bring in
98. There is no alternative to efficient and active government in the development
effort in Africa. There is no vibrant private sector in most African economies, whose
proverbial energies can be unleashed to develop the continent. Public health, primary
education, transport and communication services, the establishment of justice systems, the
establishment of regulatory mechanisms and many more functions are the responsibility of
governments, which if not performed, leave these economies without the institutional
infrastructure that is fundamental to good governance, economic and social development and
the enjoyment of human rights.
99. It has been unrealistic to expect rates of economic growth of the order of 5-8 per
cent per year in most of Africa. Highly desirable as these objectives are, they now seem
utopian in most instances. In the very few cases where these targets have been achieved,
every effort must be made to maintain those high rates. Each of the other economies need
to be studied with as little pre-judgement as possible to identify those policies which
would raise rates of economic and social development. The countries whose eco-systems are
fragile run the risks of swift deterioration and they therefore need special attention.
100. The principal mechanism for achieving these goals must remain faster economic
development, mainly because there is little to redistribute in Africa. Poverty on a
widespread scale will not loosen its grip until unskilled labour earns wages that can pull
families out of poverty. Productivity of unskilled labour will begin to rise when the
workers are healthy and literate and there is demand for their services.
101. None of these tasks will be accomplished without peace and security. African
leaders have worked through the Organization of African Unity to establish mechanisms for
conflict resolution in Africa; and in regional initiatives such as the intervention of
ECOWAS member states in West Africa to bring peace in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea
Bissau, and of leaders in East and Southern Africa to resolve several conflicts in that
subregion. Political and community leaders as well as intellectuals and opinion makers in
each country have vital roles to play in establishing peace, viable governments and
102. In all this, the rest of the world has heavy and undeniable responsibilities. In a
generation remarkable for opening up the world for trade in goods and services, for larger
and faster capital inflows and outflows and for the freer movement of people and
knowledge, Africa has been left in relative isolation. The promises held out in the 1970s
of providing official development assistance to developing countries in general, and to
the least developed countries in particular, have not been fulfilled. Technical
co-operation provided by the United Nations and its affiliated agencies has been cut back
under pressure of resource constraints. Benefits from new technology involving computers,
satellites and new flows of information have largely by-passed Africa. Internal conflict,
political instability and inadequacies in infrastructure have kept private capital from
flowing into Africa. The World Summit for Social Development provided an opportunity for
the world to focus its attention on Africa and commit itself to integrate Africa into the
process of world development. Much has not been delivered during the last five years. It
is time to make a renewed commitment.
103. Even with high levels of income, robust economic growth and well functioning
institutions, poverty, unemployment and social disintegration were important social
problems in the OECD countries. Poverty in these societies was not as severe as in most
developing countries. Unemployment was most of the time relieved by transfer payments from
government. Social integration had more to do with economic opportunities than with ethnic
or religious differences.
104. In periods of rapid economic and social change with new techniques of production
and changing patterns of social behaviour, failure to participate in the new production
processes became a significant cause of poverty and social exclusion. Persons so excluded
faced long term unemployment or low wage employment both of which dragged them down to
poverty. If for mostly other reasons, those so unemployed also could not provide family
support, those families and children ran the danger of suffering from all the
disadvantages of poverty including short lives, poor education and social exclusion.
105. More resources by themselves did not always raise the quality or effectiveness of
social service delivery. There were substantial differences in levels of expenditure on
health care and education services both within and between countries that did not
translate themselves into tactile differences in the quality of services. Experiments with
alternative mechanics were still too short lived for assessment. Substantial government
expenditure has enabled the OECD societies to work to reduce poverty, promote employment
and secure social integration. There were several mixtures of social institutions that
could work together to produce roughly similar outcomes.
106. New programmes for movement from "welfare to workfare" were not always
as direct or easy to implement as was first assumed. There were as many people earning low
wages and in poverty where welfare payments were reduced as in countries where the
unemployed received undiminished welfare benefits- they had not escaped either welfare
dependency or poverty.
107. The transfer of certain powers of government both to more centralized organs such
as the European Parliament and European Central Bank and to more local organizations such
as Parliament in Scotland and Wales both contributed to social integration. These
contradictory but complementary movements served different functions.
108. In conclusion, new initiatives will have to embrace an integrated approach to
social development. Political will and ownership for such initiatives will have to be
mobilised by developing specific constituencies around given sets of issues, for example,
in the fields of employment, health, education, etc. However, the constituents or
stakeholders representing given issues will also have to read beyond their given sectors
if sustainable solutions are to be found. For example, the key to good health may be found
in decent work, and the key to full employment may be found in access to education for
all. Successful implementation of the Copenhagen commitments will necessitate combining
renewed political will with the ability to translate commitment into action, and with the
courage to reach beyond one's own constituency and sector towards integrated partnerships
for social development.
109. The Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly on
Follow-up to the Social Summit has decided that the Special Session of the General
Assembly should not re-negotiate the commitments made at Copenhagen in 1995. The challenge
facing the General Assembly is therefore rather to develop the political will and
practical tools necessary to put those commitments into practice.