Go to

World Summit on Social Development, Copenhagen 1995:

Download as TXT (5 KB)

A Brief Introduction *

At the conclusion of the World Summit for Social Development, held 6-12 March 1995 in Copenhagen, Denmark, Governments adopted a Declaration and Programme of Action which represent a new consensus on the need to put people at the centre of development. The largest gathering yet of world leaders ll7 heads of State or Government - pledged to make the conquest of poverty, the goal of full employment and the fostering of stable, safe and just societies their overriding objectives.

The Copenhagen Declaration

Among the ground-breaking agreements made by the world's leaders in the Declaration are ten commitments to:

The Declaration and Programme of Action grew out of three two-week preparatory sessions that began in January 1994, and a week of informal consultations in October. They were finalized in Copenhagen after five days of negotiations, presided over by Ambassador Juan Somavia of Chile, Chairman of the Summit's Main Committee and of its pre-summit Preparatory Committee. Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen served as President of the Summit.

The Summit was mandated by the General Assembly in December 1992, by its resolution 47/92. It was organized principally by the United Nations Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development.

Wide Participation

Over 14,000 participants attended the Summit, among them delegates from 186 countries. Included were some 2,300 representatives from 811 non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and over 2,800 journalists.  Additionally, some 12,000 NGO representatives and others gathered daily from 3 to 12 March on the grounds of a former naval base called Holmen, for a parallel event called NGO Forum '95.

Although the Social Summit was the first major UN conference specifically on social development issues, it was closely linked to a series of high-level meetings which together are reshaping the Organization's development work. The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action draw extensively on the recommendations for sustainable development agreed at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro (Agenda 21), and the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, and in turn are complemented by the work of the Fourth World Conference on Women (September 1995, Beijing) and the United Nations Conference on Human Settlements-Habitat II (1996, Istanbul). 

Summit Follow-up

Primary responsibility for implementing the Summit agreements will be at the national level, where the UN and its development agencies are providing support for that effort. At the international level, the Summit strongly endorsed the leadership role of the UN in social development, assigning specific responsibility to several UN institutions as well as to the Secretary-General, ECOSOC and the General Assembly. It also called for closer links between the Bretton Woods international financial institutions and the UN system. During its session in 1996, which was the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty, the General Assembly reviewed progress in implementing the Summit pledges on poverty eradication. A special session of the Assembly will be held in the year 2000 to examine the overall implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.

* Taken and adapted from:
The UN web-site "Gateway to Social Policy and Development" at and



Go to UNED-UK Home Page