The World Summit for Social Development, which was held in Copenhagen from 6-12 March 1995, brought together over 118 world leaders to agree on a political Declaration and Programme of Action to alleviate and reduce poverty, expand productive employment and enhance social integration.
The Summit consisted of three parts: a Plenary from 6-10 March for statements by high-level representatives; a Main Committee from 6-10 March for final negotiations of the Declaration and Programme of Action; and the Summit of Heads of State or Government on 11-12 March. Statements during the Plenary were organized around suggested daily themes: "enabling environment" on 6 March; "eradication of poverty" on 7 March; "gender and participation of women" on 8 March; "employment and problems of unemployment" on 9 March; and "social integration" and "implementation and follow-up" on 10 March.
The Main Committee and its subsidiary contact groups negotiated the outstanding issues in the Declaration and Programme of Action that were left bracketed at PrepCom III. Despite difficult debates and the desire of some delegates to reassess agreements reached during the Earth Summit in Rio, the Human Rights Conference in Vienna and the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, delegates managed to reach agreement on all outstanding issues. The Social Summit marked the first time that the international community expressed a clear commitment to eradicate absolute poverty. In addition, UN documents have not previously addressed the need for socially-responsible structural adjustment and greater accountability by the Bretton Woods institutions to the UN system. Despite qualifying language, progress was also made on the debt question and on the 20:20 initiative. Finally, where the Earth Summit legitimated the participation of NGOs in UN negotiating processes, the WSSD highlighted the fact that the empowerment of civil society is a sine qua non for sound social development policy.
The Declaration adopted in Copenhagen contains two parts. Part I assesses the current social situation and reasons for convening the Summit in addition to principles and goals. Part II contains ten commitments that address such issues as the need for an enabling international environment, the eradication of poverty, full employment, promoting social integration, equality and equity between women and men, universal access to quality education, accelerated development in Africa, structural adjustment programmes, resources and international cooperation.
The Programme of Action contains five chapters: I. An Enabling Environment for Social Development; II. Eradication of Poverty; III. The Expansion of Productive Employment and the Reduction of Unemployment; IV. Social Integration; and V. Implementation and Follow-up.
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