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SUMMARY OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE PREPARATORY COMMITTEE FOR THE WORLD SUMMIT FOR SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT:: 16-28 JANUARY 1995

The third session of the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD) met from 16-28 January 1995 at UN Headquarters in New York. This session was the last of three preparatory meetings for the Summit, which will take place from 6-12 March 1995, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Summit will bring together Heads of State or Government from around the world to agree on a political Declaration and Programme of Action to: alleviate and reduce poverty; expand productive employment; and enhance social integration.

During the course of the two-week session, delegates negotiated the texts of the draft Declaration and Programme of Action to be adopted in Copenhagen. After grueling marathon sessions of the two working groups and numerous informal consultative groups, delegates succeeded in reaching agreement on approximately 95% of the document. In the Declaration, the outstanding issues to be resolved in Copenhagen include: debt cancellation; increased ODA; workers" rights; and countries with economies in transition. In the Programme of Action, the outstanding issues to be resolved in Copenhagen include: reproductive health; family stability; ratification of ILO conventions; and implementation of previously made commitments.

Despite difficult debates and periodic retreats from consensus language from the Earth Summit in Rio, the Human Rights Conference in Vienna and International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, PrepCom delegates managed to agree on several important issues underlying the Summit. For example, this is the first time that the international community has expressed a clear commitment to eradicate absolute poverty. In addition, no other UN documents have ever addressed the need for socially-responsible structural adjustment and for greater accountability by the Bretton Woods institutions to the UN system. Moreover, despite hard brackets, there has been considerable movement on the debt question and on the 20:20 initiative, which is seen as one of the more innovative sources of funding for social development. Finally, where the Earth Summit legitimated the participation of NGOs in UN negotiating processes, the WSSD PrepCom highlighted the fact that the empowerment of civil society is a sine qua non for good, sound social development policy.

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