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The UN social summit,  held in Copenhagen from 6 to 12 March  1995, was the
first world forum  at head of state  and government level to  tackle social
development. The  Summit's three  central themes  were poverty,  employment
and preventing social exclusion.

The  European Union  made a  decisive contribution  to the  success  of the
summit. The  Commission has been actively  involved in the work  to prepare
and coordinate the common  policies of the EU. The EC delegation, which, as
in  Rio  and  Cairo,  had  special  status  as  full  participant  in   the
conference, was  led by Mr Flynn,  Commissioner responsible  for Employment
and Social Affairs.  The conference had been extended to representatives of
the  European Parliament  and for  the  event to  the  Economic and  Social
Committee  and  the  social partners.  Mr  Flynn  spoke  on behalf  of  the
European Community during  the ministerial part  of the  Summit, while  the
President of the Commission,  Mr Santer, addressed  the Heads of State  and
Government on Sunday, 12 March 1995.

What was achieved

The European  Commission sets  great  store by  the results  of the  summit
which, while not achieving any spectacular progress,  nonetheless made some
headway along a new path of development strategy.

The salient points on the social side concerned the contexts of:

employment, where

-the priority  given in national  policies to the  creation of jobs and  on
the  role  of  employment  as  an  essential  factor  of  integration  were
stressed;

-the summit  also  gave prominence  to  the  promotion of  the  fundamental
rights  and interests of workers through respect  of the ILO Conventions on
the banning of forced and child labour, the  freedom of workers to organise
and bargain collectively and the principle of non-discrimination;

-in addition,  the  countries  represented  were  urged  to  encourage  the
establishment   of   employer/employee   relations   in   their    national
legislations;

poverty, for which:

- the structural causes were recognised along  with the need for  a multi-
  dimensional approach involving the poor themselves; 

- a commitment was received from all the countries to  announce as soon as
  possible national plans to  reduce all forms of poverty and to eradicate
  absolute poverty; 

prevention of exclusion, for which:

- the  role and  importance  of  society in  general in  the  preparation,
  implementation and monitoring of social policy were acknowledged;

- the need for access for everyone to basic social services such as health
  care and education was recognised;

equal opportunities for men and women, where:

- the  role  and  importance  of  the  involvement  of  women  in  social,
  political,  cultural and economic  life were highlighted as  part of the
  lead-up to the fourth World Women's Conference in Beijing;

human rights, where:

- respect for all human rights and for democracy as  essential elements in
  development   were  explicitly   and  unequivocally   acknowledged.  The
  countries  represented  undertook  to  ratify  and  fully  implement the
  international conventions on human rights; 

education, where:

- the importance of the right to education  and health for everyone as  an
  essential factor  in  reducing inequality  and as  a vehicle  of  social
  development was enshrined by the adoption of a specific commitment.

On the financial front, the following conclusions were adopted:

- the  political  improvement  of  development  aid  is  increasingly  the
  precondition for the political support of the donors when responding  to
  the  ever more  urgent  needs of  the  poorest  countries and  the  most
  underprivileged sectors  of the  developing countries.  In this context,
  the latest initiatives by the Club of Paris will be implemented in order
  to  alleviate the  burden of debt  of the poorest and  the most severely
  indebted countries; 

- the need to incorporate  the social dimension as an essential element of
  all adjustment policies, through  the commitment of countries to promote
  basic social programes and shield them from budget cutbacks, and through
  the  commitment of the Bretton  Woods institutions  to fully incorporate
  the social dimension of such programmes;

- the accent  was  placed on  the importance  of efficient  and  equitable
  national fiscal systems to satisfy fundamental human needs and guarantee
  minimum  social security, and on the  role of the  internal and external
  private sector  as the  driving force for investment,  job creation  and
  consequently the fight against poverty and social exclusion;

- as  there   was  some  opposition,   particularly  from  the  developing
  countries, to the so-called 20-20 compact - whereby donors would  commit
  20% of their  official development aid and the developing  countries 20%
  of  their  national  budget  to  the  social sector  -  a  20-20 compact
  applicable on a voluntary bilateral basis was adopted. It has the double
  advantage of maintaining the notion of parallelism of efforts by  donors
  and  beneficiary countries, and of consolidating the priority which must
  be  given to the  social sector, particularly open  access to education,
  health and drinking water.

The  credibility  of the  summit's  outcome  will  now  hinge on  effective
follow-up both  nationally and  within the United  Nations. This  follow-up
must be  implemented in close conjunction with  the social partners and the
NGOs.  The  summit's conclusions  also  point  to the  need  for  a genuine
dialogue  and cooperation between the Bretton Woods institutions, the World
Trade Organisation  (WTO) and  the ILO with  a view  to integrating  social
policy into their policies.

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