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World Summit for Social Development and Beyond:
Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalizing World,
Geneva 2000


UN Process *


Current State

UN and Governments are preparing a document which 

This document is being negotiated in the Preparatory Committee and will become the outcome of the Special Session. At the moment, it contains three parts:

Objectives of WSSD+5

The objectives of the Special Session will be 

In assessing what has taken place since Copenhagen, the Special Session will attempt 

The Special Session will also examine current forms of international cooperation and the role of international institutions in promoting social progress. This diagnosis should lead to new initiatives for developing concrete measures and policies to further implement the commitments made in Copenhagen in 1995.


The Intergovernmental Process

A Special Session of the UN GA is an additional meeting convened for a specific purpose. Since the opening of the United Nations, the GA has held 22 Special Sessions, addressing topics which have ranged from disarmament and apartheid to international economics. There will be two Special Sessions in June 2000: 
the Beijing+5 session: ‘Women 2000: Gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century,’ as the 23rd Special Session, 
and the WSSD+5 session: 'World Summit for Social Development and beyond: Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalizing World, Geneva 2000'  as the 24th Special Session in the United Nations’ history.

Several intergovernmental bodies are contributing to the preparations of WSSD+5:

1. The Commission for Social Development

The Commission for Social Development is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Commission has the primary responsibility for the follow-up to the Social Summit - monitoring and reviewing the implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. 
The Commission used to have 32 members (member states of the UN) Now it has 46 members.
It meets annually and its multi-year programme of work for the period 1996-2000 included priority themes addressed by the Summit: eradication of poverty, promotion of full employment; social integration; and social services for all. 

For its 2000 session (8-17 February 2000), the Commission will 

For the Commission meeting, there will be a report from the UN Secretary-General which based on national reports submitted to the UN since mid 1999. These national reports are important, comprehensive reviews of progress made by countries in implementing the Copenhagen commitments.

2. The Preparatory Committee for the Special Session

The UN General Assembly established a Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) open to the participation of all States Members of the United Nations and members of the specialized agencies in 1997. The Committee held its first meeting, discussing organisational matters, in May 1998, and the first substantive session in May 1999.

The PrepCom initiated discussions on preliminary assessment of the implementation of the ten commitments and on further initiatives. It invited all relevant organs and specialized agencies of the UN system and other stakeholders to submit review reports and proposals for further action and initiatives. These have been submitted to the Secretariat by end December 1999 and are being publicly distributed. 
The Committee also decided on other further procedural matters such as further consultations and modalities for accreditation of non-governmental organizations at the Special Session.

The Committee recommended to the General Assembly that the full title of WSSD+5 should be "World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world" which was agreed.

The Preparatory Committee will hold its second and last substantive session from 3-14 April 2000. It will then continue the work on the draft outcome of the Special Session, and decide on organisational matters for the Special Session. 

3. The General Assembly (GA)

Since the Social Summit, the GA annually reviews the progress made on the implementation of the Copenhagen commitments. This brings together government representatives for an exchange of views on the various aspects of social development and and trends in social development. 
Many interesting reports on national policies and constraints have been presented.


The Actors

The United Nations is an international body with a membership of 188 Member States (as of November 1999).
Member States determine the agenda of a Special Session. They decide the priority areas of consideration and what information is required in order to assess these priorities, and agree to the final documents. They participate as 'delegations.' The size and composition of delegations can vary greatly. In general, delegations include senior ministry representatives, technical experts, representatives from the mission or embassy where the meeting is held, and, occasionally, NGO representatives. While Member States are encouraged to include NGOs on official delegations, they are not required to do so.
The Commission on Social Development, which meets annually, is a functional commission of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It prepares recommendations and reports to the Council on social development issues. Following the World Summit on Social Development, the Commission was mandated to follow up to the conference. 
United Nations System funds, programs, and agencies and other intergovernmental bodies are expected to contribute to the preparations of five-year reviews of UN world conferences in a number of ways. They report on their own activities and support governmental and NGO preparations. UN organizations have no formal role in decision-making or voting with respect to specific recommendations and resolutions emerging from the five-year review. Relevant bodies with regard to the WSSD+5 process are the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Research Institute on Social Development (UNRISD), the World Bank, etc.
NGOs and civil society are often active in helping to shape UN agendas, but have neither an official negotiating role nor the right to vote. To attend UN meetings, NGOs and civil society organisations need to be in consultative status with the UN or one of its bodies, commissions, agencies. In the Case of the Social Development process, most participating NGOs are in consultative status with ECOSOC. Any NGO wishing to attend the upcoming meetings needs to be accredited with an NGO in consultative status.

Arrangements by the Government of Switzerland

The Government of Switzerland has been working closely with the United Nations Secretariat to ensure that facilities and arrangements for the Special Session at the Palais des Nations are well in place by June 2000.
In parallel to the intergovernmental event, the Swiss Government is also organizing the Geneva 2000 Forum: "Geneva 2000: The next step in social development", which will provide a platform for exchange and sharing of experiences through special events such as panel discussions, exhibitions, workshops etc. organized by non-governmental organizations, and other interested actors in the development process. The Forum is expected to attract not only representatives from NGOs, but also parliamentarians, industry and business groups, trade unions, academics, citizen interest groups and professional organizations, as well as governments and intergovernmental organizations. One of the key events of the Forum will be the Geneva Symposium which will bring together the main actors of the development process.


Copenhagen +5 Official Web-Site

All the new developments and information about the United Nations General Assembly Special Session to follow-up the 1995 Social Summit, which will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 26-30 June, 2000, are available on the Internet at
Intended as a site for news and information concerning the special session, from the impact of the World Trade Organization to the social crisis in Central Asia, the new Web site provides delegates, non-governmental organizations, media, and the public with up-to-date coverage of the events leading up to the Geneva meeting. The site also contains the latest official documentation for the session, as well as the latest negotiated texts.
The Web site is maintained by the United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Social Policy and Development and by the United Nations Department of Public Information.


* material taken and adapted from:

The official UN web-sites on WSSD+5 and

NGO Steering Committee to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, 1999. Guide to the 7th Session.

UNIFEM, 2000: Gender on the Agenda. A Guide to Participating in  Beijing+5.



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