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    Background Release Press Release No: UNIS/GA/1649
    Release Date:  23 June 2000
    General Assembly Special Session Will Review Implementation
    Of 1995 Social Summit Commitments in Geneva, 26-30 June

      NEW YORK, 22 June (UN Headquarters) -- A global conference organized to accelerate the momentum towards people-centred development will be held in Geneva from 26 to 30 June.

     The special session of the General Assembly, officially titled the "World Summit for Social Development and Beyond:  Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalizing World", is following up on 10 international commitments made in Copenhagen in 1995 aimed at eradicating poverty, achieving full employment and strengthening social integration.

     The Social Summit in Copenhagen, which is viewed as the first concerted international effort to address the impact of the global economy on the lives of people and which anticipated many of the concerns that have now risen to the top of the international agenda, expected the commitments to serve as the basis for global efforts to confront the structural causes and consequences of “profound social problems”. 

     Those commitments concern:  (1) an enabling environment for social development; (2) poverty eradication; (3) full employment; (4) promotion of social integration; (5) equality and equity between women and men; (6) universal and equitable access to high-quality education and health services; (7) acceleration of development in Africa and in the least developed countries; (8) inclusion of social development goals in structural adjustment programmes; (9) resources for social development; and (10) international cooperation for social development. 

     In anticipation of the Geneva meeting, the Assembly established a Preparatory Committee to review the progress made in implementing those commitments and to recommend new initiatives that would aid in their implementation and further advance the cause of social development. 

     The Preparatory Committee drafted a three-part document that will form the basis for discussion and negotiation in Geneva:  a political declaration reaffirming the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit in 1995; a review and assessment of the implementation of the Copenhagen Programme of Action; and new initiatives and actions to implement the commitments made at the Summit.

     The Preparatory Committee, which was open to delegations from all countries, conducted preliminary negotiations on the substance of provisions in the draft.

     Full agreement was reached on the review and assessment, with near agreement on the political declaration.  Approximately half of the third part on new initiatives has been agreed upon.  The portions of the 129 paragraphs in the third part on which there is still disagreement will be subject to final negotiation and decision by the high-level delegations attending the meeting in Geneva, with the aim of adoption of the outcome document by consensus. 

     The draft document addresses such complex and controversial issues as worker rights, good governance, the role of civil society, and proposals for financing social development, especially in the area of debt relief and tax reform.

     Countries have already agreed, in the draft, on a target date of 2015 for halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty.  To move towards that goal, the draft recognizes the importance of there being universal access to basic education and health services by the same year. 

     They have also agreed to support the International Labour Organization's comprehensive programme of providing decent work, which aims to create jobs that allow people to properly support themselves while protecting the basic rights of workers.  They have agreed that there must be a mechanism to ensure the availability of credit, especially for small and micro-enterprises. 

     While there is agreement to support a global campaign to stamp out the worst forms of child labour, it remains to be seen whether there will be agreement over whether the United Nations agencies, together with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), should carry out an integrated approach to ensure workers' rights.

     Countries agreed that national governments and the IMF should ensure that structural adjustment programmes do not cause a drop in economic activity or sharp cuts in social spending.  A number of provisions aimed at extending debt relief or cancellation are still under consideration, however.

     Tax policies were also addressed, with countries agreeing to develop appropriate means of international cooperation in tax matters and to explore methods of dividing multinational corporate taxes on profits earned in several jurisdictions.  A provision to remove tax allowances for bribes remains under consideration, as do provisions for limiting tax shelters and tax havens.  A proposal to discuss the feasibility of an international transaction tax also remains to be decided. 

     The draft also contains proposals to establish a mechanism that would allow developing countries to receive medicines for HIV/AIDS at lower prices and to increase incentives for pharmaceutical companies to invest in research on diseases common in developing countries, as well as to set targets for reducing HIV/AIDS infection. 

     The draft contains agreed provisions on the need to promote gender equality and to adopt strategies towards alleviating the problems of the ageing. 

     Among the important issues that remain to be resolved in Geneva are paragraphs on improved market access for exports from developing countries, debt reduction and reform of the structures and policies of the international financial institutions.  Other outstanding paragraphs include those on good governance, labour rights and the social responsibilities of business.

     The officers of the Preparatory Committee were:  Chairman, Cristián Maquieira (Chile); Bagher Asadi (Iran), Abdallah Baali (Algeria), Ion Gorita (Romania) and Koos Richelle (Netherlands) as Vice-Chairmen.  Mr. Asadi was also designated to serve as Rapporteur.

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