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Eurostep Position Paper
Geneva 2000
World Summit on Social Development

An Agenda for further Initiatives

The Geneva 2000 Special Session of the UN General Assembly to follow up the World Summit for Social Development will examine the progress made since the adoption of the Declaration and Programme of Action on Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995. On the basis of this assessment new initiatives will be proposed as a means to ensure that the targets set out in the Copenhagen Declaration and Action Plan will be met. The proposals set out in this paper are an elaboration of the 'Geneva Benchmark Issues, 10 NGO Demands towards the 2000 Social Summit'.

The Copenhagen Summit established a comprehensive set of qualitative and quantities targets for achieving social development and for working towards the eradication of poverty. The Copenhagen Summit recognised that while the primary responsibility for establishing and implementing strategies for meeting these targets lay with national governments. An enabling environment for social development needed to be created by the international community. Adequate support, including resources and other forms of assistance, also needed to be provided by the international community.

Progress in implementing the agreements reached in Copenhagen has been disappointing. Social components of development processes are accepted as being of crucial importance. Nevertheless, many targets set for the year 2000 have not been met, and in some cases the situation has deteriorated. Absolute poverty continues to grow and global inequality has increased over the past five years.

The Special Session in Geneva is the first opportunity for Heads of State to comprehensively re-examine strategies for ensuring that the processes of globalisation can be made conducive to national priorities in social development. Eurostep believes that in adopting further initiatives at the Geneva 2000 Special Session of the UN governments should commit themselves to:

  1. Strengthening the legal basis of existing human rights treaties and conventions, and initiate a process to establish a Convention to Eradicate Poverty;
  2. Re-affirming the goals and targets set in Copenhagen, resetting those that have been missed, strengthen capacity for effective monitoring and holding a Summit every five years until the targets have been achieved.
  3. Immediate and full debt relief for the poorest countries so as to release resources for investment in social development, and reform the management of international debt with the establishment of an International Insolvency Body;
  4. Take steps to counter the instability of global capital transactions through controls on speculative transactions, eliminating tax havens, and increasing obligations on private investors;
  5. Reform the international system of trade to make it more compatible with the economic and social needs of the developing countries. The WTO should be integrated into the United Nations system. Reforms must be based on an examination of the social impacts of the Uruguay Round agreement;
  6. Establish binding regulation for Transnational Corporations within the context of the United Nations to ensure acceptable environmental, cultural and social protection;
  7. Change Structural Adjustment Programmes so that they are compatible with national strategies, such as the proposed Poverty Reduction Strategy Plans, for pursuing social development in line with the Copenhagen commitments.
  8. Ensuring that equality between women and men is effectively achieved, with explicit recognition of the specific role and contribution that women play in social development. Governments must be urged to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women;
  9. Identify the levels of resources required for the implementation of commitments made, with at least 50% of ODA being invested in social sectors. The importance of the UN Conference on Finance and Development needs to be recognised.

1 April 2000

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