Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development
1. The present Programme of Action outlines policies, actions and measures to implement the principles and fulfil the commitments enunciated in the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development adopted by the World Summit for Social Development. Our success will be based on the results that we achieve.
2. Actions are recommended to create, in a framework of sustained economic growth and sustainable development, a national and international environment favourable to social development, to eradicate poverty, to enhance productive employment and reduce unemployment, and to foster social integration. All the recommended actions are linked, either in the requirements for their design, including the participation of all concerned, or in their consequences for the various facets of the human condition. Policies to eradicate poverty, reduce disparities and combat social exclusion require the creation of employment opportunities, and would be incomplete and ineffective without measures to eliminate discrimination and promote participation and harmonious social relationships among groups and nations. Enhancing positive interaction between environmental, economic and social policies is also essential for success in the longer term. The well-being of people also requires the exercise of all human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to the provision of good education, health care and other basic public services, and the development of harmonious relations within communities. Social integration, or the capacity of people to live together with full respect for the dignity of each individual, the common good, pluralism and diversity, non-violence and solidarity, as well as their ability to participate in social, cultural, economic and political life, encompasses all aspects of social development and all policies. It requires the protection of the weak, as well as the right to differ, to create and to innovate. It calls for a sound economic environment, as well as for cultures based on freedom and responsibility. It also calls for the full involvement of both the State and civil society.
3. Many of the issues mentioned in the present Programme of Action have been addressed in greater detail by previous world conferences concerned with questions closely related to the different aspects of social development. The Programme of Action was elaborated against the background of, and taking into account the commitments, principles and recommendations of, these other conferences, and is also based on the experience of many countries in promoting social objectives in the context of their particular conditions. The special importance of the Programme of Action lies in its integrated approach and its attempt to combine many different actions for poverty eradication, employment creation and social integration in coherent national and international strategies for social development. The implementation of the recommendations contained in the Programme of Action is the sovereign right of each country, consistent with national laws and development priorities, with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of its people, and in conformity with all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Each country will also take action in accordance with its evolving capacities. The outcomes of relevant international conferences should also be duly taken into account in the implementation of the present Programme of Action.
An Enabling Environment for Social Development
Basis for action and objectives
4. Social development is inseparable from the cultural, ecological, economic, political and spiritual environment in which it takes place. It cannot be pursued as a sectoral initiative. Social development is also clearly linked to the development of peace, freedom, stability and security, both nationally and internationally. To promote social development requires an orientation of values, objectives and priorities towards the well-being of all and the strengthening and promotion of conducive institutions and policies. Human dignity, all human rights and fundamental freedoms, equality, equity and social justice constitute the fundamental values of all societies. The pursuit, promotion and protection of these values, among others, provides the basic legitimacy of all institutions and all exercise of authority and promotes an environment in which human beings are at the centre of concern for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
5. The economies and societies of the world are becoming increasingly interdependent. Trade and capital flows, migrations, scientific and technological innovations, communications and cultural exchanges are shaping the global community. The same global community is threatened by environmental degradation, severe food crises, epidemics, all forms of racial discrimination, xenophobia, various forms of intolerance, violence and criminality and the risk of losing the richness of cultural diversity. Governments increasingly recognize that their responses to changing circumstances and their desires to achieve sustainable development and social progress will require increased solidarity, expressed through appropriate multilateral programmes and strengthened international cooperation. Such cooperation is particularly crucial to ensure that countries in need of assistance, such as those in Africa and the least developed countries, can benefit from the process of globalization.
6. Economic activities, through which individuals express their initiative and creativity and which enhance the wealth of communities, are a fundamental basis for social progress. But social progress will not be realized simply through the free interaction of market forces. Public policies are necessary to correct market failures, to complement market mechanisms, to maintain social stability and to create a national and international economic environment that promotes sustainable growth on a global scale. Such growth should promote equity and social justice, tolerance, responsibility and involvement.
7. The ultimate goal of social development is to improve and enhance the quality of life of all people. It requires democratic institutions, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, increased and equal economic opportunities, the rule of law, the promotion of respect for cultural diversity and the rights of persons belonging to minorities, and an active involvement of civil society. Empowerment and participation are essential for democracy, harmony and social development. All members of society should have the opportunity and be able to exercise the right and responsibility to take an active part in the affairs of the community in which they live. Gender equality and equity and the full participation of women in all economic, social and political activities are essential. The obstacles that have limited the access of women to decision-making, education, health-care services and productive employment must be eliminated and an equitable partnership between men and women established, involving men's full responsibility in family life. It is necessary to change the prevailing social paradigm of gender to usher in a new generation of women and men working together to create a more humane world order.
8. Against this background, we will promote an enabling environment based on a people-centred approach to sustainable development, with the following features:
- Broad-based participation and involvement of civil society in the formulation and implementation of decisions determining the functioning and well-being of our societies;
- Broad-based patterns of sustained economic growth and sustainable development and the integration of population issues into economic and development strategies, which will speed up the pace of sustainable development and poverty eradication and contribute to the achievement of population objectives and an improved quality of life of the population;
- Equitable and non-discriminatory distribution of the benefits of growth among social groups and countries and expanded access to productive resources for people living in poverty;
- An interaction of market forces conducive to efficiency and social development;
- Public policies that seek to overcome socially divisive disparities and that respect pluralism and diversity;
- A supportive and stable political and legal framework that promotes the mutually reinforcing relationship between democracy, development and all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
- Political and social processes that avoid exclusion while respecting pluralism and diversity, including religious and cultural diversity;
- A strengthened role for the family in accordance with the principles, goals and commitments of the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and those of the International Conference on Population and Development, as well as for community and civil society;
- Expanded access to knowledge, technology, education, health-care services and information;
- Increased solidarity, partnership and cooperation at all levels;
- Public policies that empower people to enjoy good health and productivity throughout their lives;
- Protection and conservation of the natural environment in the context of people-centred sustainable development.
9. The promotion of mutually reinforcing, broad-based, sustained economic growth and sustainable development on a global scale, as well as growth in production, a non-discriminatory and multilateral rule-based international trading system, employment and incomes, as a basis for social development, requires the following actions:
- Promoting the establishment of an open, equitable, cooperative and mutually beneficial international economic environment;
- Implementing sound and stable macroeconomic and sectoral policies that encourage broad-based, sustained economic growth and development that is sustainable and equitable, that generate jobs, and that are geared towards eradicating poverty and reducing social and economic inequalities and exclusion;
- Promoting enterprise, productive investment and expanded access to open and dynamic markets in the context of an open, equitable, secure, non-discriminatory, predictable, transparent and multilateral rule-based international trading system, and to technologies for all people, particularly those living in poverty and the disadvantaged, as well as for the least developed countries;
- Implementing fully and as scheduled the Final Act of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations; /1
- Refraining from any unilateral measure not in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations that creates obstacles to trade relations among States, impedes the full realization of social and economic development and hinders the well-being of the population in the affected countries;
- Increasing food production, through the sustainable development of the agricultural sector and improvement of market opportunities, and improving access to food by low-income people in developing countries, as a means of alleviating poverty, eliminating malnutrition and raising their standards of living;
- Promoting the coordination of macroeconomic policies at the national, subregional, regional and international levels in order to promote an international financial system that is more conducive to stable and sustained economic growth and sustainable development through, inter alia, a higher degree of stability in financial markets, reducing the risk of financial crisis, improving the stability of exchange rates, stabilizing and striving for low real interest rates in the long run and reducing the uncertainties of financial flows;
- Establishing, strengthening or rehabilitating, inter alia, through capacity-building where necessary, national and international structures, processes and resources available, to ensure appropriate consideration and coordination of economic policy, with special emphasis on social development;
- Promoting or strengthening capacity-building in developing countries, particularly in Africa and the least developed countries, to develop social activities;
- Ensuring that, in accordance with Agenda 21 /2 and the various consensus agreements, conventions and programmes of action adopted within the framework of the follow-up to the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, broad-based, sustained economic growth and sustainable development respects the need to protect the environment and the interests of future generations;
- Ensuring that the special needs and vulnerabilities of small island developing States are adequately addressed in order to enable them to achieve sustained economic growth and sustainable development with equity by implementing the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States. /3
10. To ensure that the benefits of global economic growth are equitably distributed among countries, the following actions are essential:
- Continuing efforts to alleviate the onerous debt and debt-service burdens connected with the various types of debt of many developing countries, on the basis of an equitable and durable approach and, where appropriate, addressing the full stock of debt of the poorest and most indebted developing countries as a matter of priority, reducing trade barriers and promoting expanded access by all countries to markets, in the context of an open, equitable, secure, non-discriminatory, predictable, transparent and multilateral rule-based international trading system, as well as to productive investment, technologies and know-how;
- Strengthening and improving technical and financial assistance to developing countries to promote sustainable development and overcome hindrances to their full and effective participation in the world economy;
- Changing unsustainable consumption and production patterns, taking into account that the major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries, which is a matter of grave concern, aggravating poverty and imbalances;
- Elaborating policies to enable developing countries to take advantage of expanded international trading opportunities in the context of the full implementation of the Final Act of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations; and assisting countries, particularly in Africa, that are not currently in a position to benefit fully from the liberalization of the world economy;
- Supporting the efforts of developing countries, particularly those heavily dependent on commodity exports, to diversify their economies.
11. Within the framework of support to developing countries, giving priority to the needs of Africa and the least developed countries, the following actions are necessary at the national and international levels, as appropriate:
- Implementing effective policies and development strategies that establish a more favourable climate for social development, trade and investments, giving priority to human resource development and promoting the further development of democratic institutions;
- Supporting African countries and least developed countries in their efforts to create an enabling environment that attracts foreign and domestic direct investment, encourages savings, induces the return of flight capital and promotes the full participation of the private sector, including non-governmental organizations, in the growth and development process;
- Supporting economic reforms to improve the functioning of commodity markets and commodity diversification efforts through appropriate mechanisms, bilateral and multilateral financing and technical cooperation, including South-South cooperation, as well as through trade and partnership;
- Continuing to support the commodity diversification efforts of Africa and the least developed countries, inter alia, by providing technical and financial assistance for the preparatory phase of their commodity diversification projects and programmes;
- Finding effective, development-oriented and durable solutions to external debt problems, through the immediate implementation of the terms of debt forgiveness agreed upon in the Paris Club in December 1994, which encompass debt reduction, including cancellation or other debt relief measures; inviting the international financial institutions to examine innovative approaches to assist low-income countries with a high proportion of multilateral debt with a view to alleviating their debt burden; developing techniques of debt conversion applied to social development programmes and projects in conformity with Summit priorities. These actions should take into account the mid-term review of the United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa in the 1990s /4 and the Programme of Action for the Least Developed Countries for the 1990s /5 and should be implemented as soon as possible;
- Supporting the development of strategies adopted by these countries and working in partnership to ensure the implementation of measures for their development;
- Taking appropriate actions, consistent with the Final Act of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, /1 in particular the decision on measures in favour of the least developed countries and the decision on measures concerning the possible negative effects of the reform programme on the least developed countries and the net food importing developing countries, in order to give these countries special attention, with a view to enhancing their participation in the multilateral trading system and to mitigating any adverse effects of the implementation of the Uruguay Round, while stressing the need to support the African countries so that they can benefit fully from the results of the Uruguay Round;
- Increasing official development assistance, both in total and for social programmes, and improving its impact, consistent with countries' economic circumstances and capabilities to assist, and consistent with commitments in international agreements, and striving to attain the agreed upon target of 0.7 per cent of gross national product for official development assistance and 0.15 per cent to the least developed countries, as soon as possible.
12. Making economic growth and the interaction of market forces more conducive to social development requires the following actions:
- Implementing measures to open market opportunities for all, especially people living in poverty and the disadvantaged, and to encourage individuals and communities to take economic initiatives, innovate and invest in activities that contribute to social development while promoting broad-based sustained economic growth and sustainable development;
- Improving, broadening and regulating, to the extent necessary, the functioning of markets to promote sustained economic growth and sustainable development, stability and long-term investment, fair competition and ethical conduct; adopting and implementing policies to promote equitable distribution of the benefits of growth and protect crucial social services, inter alia, through complementing market mechanisms and mitigating any negative impacts posed by market forces; and implementing complementary policies to foster social development, while dismantling, consistent with the provisions of the Final Act of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations, protectionist measures, and to integrate social and economic development;
- Establishing an open market policy that reduces barriers to entry, promotes transparency of markets through, inter alia, better access to information and widens the choices available to consumers;
- Promoting greater access to technology and technical assistance, as well as corresponding know-how, especially for micro-enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises in all countries, particularly in developing countries;
- Encouraging transnational and national corporations to operate in a framework of respect for the environment while complying with national laws and legislation, and in accordance with international agreements and conventions, and with proper consideration for the social and cultural impact of their activities;
- Adopting and implementing long-term strategies to ensure substantial, well-directed public and private investment in the construction and renewal of basic infrastructure, which will benefit people living in poverty and generate employment;
- Ensuring substantial public and private investment in human resource development and in capacity-building in health and education, as well as in empowerment and participation, especially for people living in poverty or suffering from social exclusion;
- Supporting and paying special attention to the development of small-scale and micro-enterprises, particularly in rural areas, as well as subsistence economies, to secure their safe interaction with larger economies;
- Supporting the economic activities of indigenous people, improving their conditions and development, and securing their safe interaction with larger economies;
- Supporting institutions, programmes and systems to disseminate practical information to promote social progress.
13. Ensuring that fiscal systems and other public policies are geared towards poverty eradication and that they do not generate socially divisive disparities calls for:
- Enacting rules and regulations and creating a moral and ethical climate that prevents all forms of corruption and exploitation of individuals, families and groups;
- Promoting fair competition and ethical responsibility in business activities, and enhancing cooperation and interaction among Governments, the private sector and civil society;
- Ensuring that fiscal and monetary policies promote savings and long-term investment in productive activities in accordance with national priorities and policies;
- Considering measures to address inequities arising from accumulation of wealth through, inter alia, the use of appropriate taxation at the national level, and to reduce inefficiencies and improve stability in financial markets in accordance with national priorities and policies;
- Re-examining the distribution of subsidies, inter alia, between industry and agriculture, urban and rural areas, and private and public consumption, to ensure that subsidy systems benefit people living in poverty, especially the vulnerable, and reduce disparities;
- Promoting international agreements that address effectively issues of double taxation, as well as cross-border tax evasion, in accordance with the priorities and policies of the States concerned, while improving the efficiency and fairness of tax collection;
- Assisting developing countries, upon their request, to establish efficient and fair tax systems by strengthening the administrative capacity for tax assessment and collection and tax evader prosecution, and to support a more progressive tax system;
- Assisting countries with economies in transition to establish fair and effective systems of taxation on a solid legal basis, contributing to the socio-economic reforms under way in those countries.
14. To ensure that the political framework supports the objectives of social development, the following actions are essential:
- Ensuring that governmental institutions and agencies responsible for the planning and implementation of social policies have the status, resources and information necessary to give high priority to social development in policy-making;
- Ensuring the rule of law and democracy and the existence of rules and processes to create transparency and accountability for all public and private institutions and to prevent and combat all forms of corruption, sustained through education and the development of attitudes and values promoting responsibility, solidarity and a strengthened civil society;
- Eliminating all forms of discrimination, while developing and encouraging educational programmes and media campaigns to that end;
- Encouraging decentralization of public institutions and services to a level that, compatible with the overall responsibilities, priorities and objectives of Governments, responds properly to local needs and facilitates local participation;
- Establishing conditions for the social partners to organize and function with guaranteed freedom of expression and association and the right to engage in collective bargaining and to promote mutual interests, taking due account of national laws and regulations;
- Establishing similar conditions for professional organizations and organizations of independent workers;
- Promoting political and social processes inclusive of all members of society and respectful of political pluralism and cultural diversity;
- Strengthening the capacities and opportunities of all people, especially those who are disadvantaged or vulnerable, to enhance their own economic and social development, to establish and maintain organizations representing their interests and to be involved in the planning and implementation of government policies and programmes by which they will be directly affected;
- Ensuring full involvement and participation of women at all levels in the decision-making and implementation process and in the economic and political mechanisms through which policies are formulated and implemented;
- Removing all legal impediments to the ownership of all means of production and property by men and women;
- Taking measures, in cooperation with the international community, as appropriate, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, /6 other international instruments and relevant United Nations resolutions, to create the appropriate political and legal environment to address the root cause of movements of refugees, to allow their voluntary return in safety and dignity. Measures should also be taken at the national level, with international cooperation, as appropriate, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, to create conditions for internally displaced persons to voluntarily return to their places of origin.
15. It is essential for social development that all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development as an integral part of fundamental human rights, be promoted and protected through the following actions:
- Encouraging ratification of existing international human rights conventions that have not been ratified; and implementing the provisions of conventions and covenants that have been ratified;
- Reaffirming and promoting all human rights and fundamental freedoms, which are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated, including the right to development, and striving to ensure that they are respected, protected and observed through appropriate legislation, dissemination of information, education and training and the provision of effective mechanisms and remedies for enforcement, inter alia, through the establishment or strengthening of national institutions responsible for monitoring and enforcement;
- Taking measures to ensure that every human person and all peoples are entitled to participate, to contribute to and to enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development; encouraging all human persons to take responsibility for development, individually and collectively; and recognizing that States have the primary responsibility for the creation of national and international conditions favourable for the realization of the right to development, taking into account the relevant provisions of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action;
- Promoting the realization of the right to development through strengthening democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and through effective development policies at the national level, as well as equitable economic relations and a favourable economic environment at the international level, since sustained action is indispensable for fostering a more rapid development of developing countries;
- Removing obstacles to the realization of the right of peoples to self-determination, in particular of peoples living under colonial or other forms of alien domination or foreign occupation, which adversely affect their social and economic development;
- Promoting and protecting the human rights of women and removing all obstacles to full equality and equity between women and men in political, civil, economic, social and cultural life;
- Giving special attention to promoting and protecting the rights of the child, with particular attention to the rights of the girl child, by, inter alia, encouraging the ratification and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s adopted at the World Summit for Children; /7
- Providing all people, in particular the vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, with the benefit of an independent, fair and effective system of justice, and ensuring access by all to competent sources of advice about legal rights and obligations;
- Taking effective measures to bring to an end all de jure and de facto discrimination against persons with disabilities;
- Strengthening the ability of civil society and the community to participate actively in the planning, decision-making and implementation of social development programmes, by education and access to resources;
- Promoting and protecting the rights of individuals in order to prevent and eliminate situations of domestic discrimination and violence.
16. An open political and economic system requires access by all to knowledge, education and information by:
- Strengthening the educational system at all levels, as well as other means of acquiring skills and knowledge, and ensuring universal access to basic education and lifelong educational opportunities, while removing economic and socio-cultural barriers to the exercise of the right to education;
- Raising public awareness and promoting gender-sensitivity education to eliminate all obstacles to full gender equality and equity;
- Enabling and encouraging access by all to a wide range of information and opinion on matters of general interest through the mass media and other means;
- Encouraging education systems and, to the extent consistent with freedom of expression, communication media to raise people's understanding and awareness of all aspects of social integration, including gender sensitivity, non-violence, tolerance and solidarity and respect for the diversity of cultures and interests, and to discourage the exhibition of pornography and the gratuitous depiction of explicit violence and cruelty in the media;
- Improving the reliability, validity, utility and public availability of statistical and other information on social development and gender issues, including the effective use of gender-disaggregated statistics collected at the national, regional and international levels, including through support to academic and research institutions.
17. International support for national efforts to promote a favourable political and legal environment must be in conformity with the Charter of the United Nations and principles of international law and consistent with the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. /8 Support calls for the following actions:
- Making use, as appropriate, of the capacity of the United Nations and other relevant international, regional and subregional organizations to prevent and resolve armed conflicts and promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom;
- Coordinating policies, actions and legal instruments and/or measures to combat terrorism, all forms of extremist violence, illicit arms trafficking, organized crime and illicit drug problems, money laundering and related crimes, trafficking in women, adolescents, children, migrants, and human organs, and other activities contrary to human rights and human dignity;
- States cooperating with one another in ensuring development and eliminating obstacles to development. The international community should promote effective international cooperation, supporting the efforts of developing countries, for the full realization of the right to development and the elimination of obstacles to development, through, inter alia, the implementation of the provisions of the Declaration on the Right to Development /9 as reaffirmed by the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action. /10 Lasting progress towards the implementation of the right to development requires effective development policies at the national level, as well as equitable economic relations and a favourable economic environment at the international level. The right to development should be fulfilled so as to equitably meet the social development and environmental needs of present and future generations;
- Ensuring that human persons are at the centre of social development and that this is fully reflected in the programmes and activities of subregional, regional and international organizations;
- Reinforcing the capacity of relevant national, regional and international organizations, within their mandates, to promote the implementation of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the elimination of all forms of discrimination;
- Elaborating policies, within the mandates and functions of the various international institutions, that will support the objectives of social development and contribute to institutional development through capacity-building and other forms of cooperation;
- Strengthening the capacities of Governments, the private sector and civil society, especially in Africa and the least developed countries, to enable them to meet their specific and global responsibilities;
- Reinforcing the capacities of Governments, the private sector and civil society in the countries with economies in transition, with a view to helping them in the process of transforming their economies from centrally planned to market-oriented ones.
Eradication of Poverty
Basis for action and objectives
18. Over 1 billion people in the world today live under unacceptable conditions of poverty, mostly in developing countries, and particularly in rural areas of low-income Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the least developed countries.
19. Poverty has various manifestations, including lack of income and productive resources sufficient to ensure sustainable livelihoods; hunger and malnutrition; ill health; limited or lack of access to education and other basic services; increased morbidity and mortality from illness; homelessness and inadequate housing; unsafe environments; and social discrimination and exclusion. It is also characterized by a lack of participation in decision-making and in civil, social and cultural life. It occurs in all countries: as mass poverty in many developing countries, pockets of poverty amid wealth in developed countries, loss of livelihoods as a result of economic recession, sudden poverty as a result of disaster or conflict, the poverty of low-wage workers, and the utter destitution of people who fall outside family support systems, social institutions and safety nets. Women bear a disproportionate burden of poverty, and children growing up in poverty are often permanently disadvantaged. Older people, people with disabilities, indigenous people, refugees and internally displaced persons are also particularly vulnerable to poverty. Furthermore, poverty in its various forms represents a barrier to communication and access to services, as well as a major health risk, and people living in poverty are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of disasters and conflicts. Absolute poverty is a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to social services.
20. There is general agreement that persistent widespread poverty, as well as serious social and gender inequities, have significant influences on and are in turn influenced by demographic parameters, such as population growth, structure and distribution. There is also general agreement that unsustainable consumption and production patterns are contributing to the unsustainable use of natural resources and environmental degradation, as well as to the reinforcement of social inequities and poverty, with the above-mentioned consequences for demographic parameters.
21. Urban poverty is rapidly increasing in pace with overall urbanization. It is a growing phenomenon in all countries and regions, and often poses special problems, such as overcrowding, contaminated water and bad sanitation, unsafe shelter, crime and additional social problems. An increasing number of low-income urban households are female-maintained.
22. Among people living in poverty, gender disparities are marked, especially in the increase in female-maintained households. With increasing population, the numbers of youth living in poverty will increase significantly. Therefore, specific measures are needed to address the juvenilization and feminization of poverty.
23. Poverty has various causes, including structural ones. Poverty is a complex multidimensional problem with origins in both the national and international domains. No uniform solution can be found for global application. Rather, country-specific programmes to tackle poverty and international efforts supporting national efforts, as well as the parallel process of creating a supportive international environment, are crucial for a solution to this problem. Poverty is inseparably linked to lack of control over resources, including land, skills, knowledge, capital and social connections. Without those resources, people are easily neglected by policy makers and have limited access to institutions, markets, employment and public services. The eradication of poverty cannot be accomplished through anti-poverty programmes alone but will require democratic participation and changes in economic structures in order to ensure access for all to resources, opportunities and public services, to undertake policies geared to more equitable distribution of wealth and income, to provide social protection for those who cannot support themselves, and to assist people confronted by unforeseen catastrophe, whether individual or collective, natural, social or technological.
24. The eradication of poverty requires universal access to economic opportunities that will promote sustainable livelihood and basic social services, as well as special efforts to facilitate access to opportunities and services for the disadvantaged. People living in poverty and vulnerable groups must be empowered through organization and participation in all aspects of political, economic and social life, in particular in the planning and implementation of policies that affect them, thus enabling them to become genuine partners in development.
25. There is therefore an urgent need for:
- National strategies to reduce overall poverty substantially, including measures to remove the structural barriers that prevent people from escaping poverty, with specific time-bound commitments to eradicate absolute poverty by a target date to be specified by each country in its national context;
- Stronger international cooperation and the support of international institutions to assist countries in their efforts to eradicate poverty and to provide basic social protection and services;
- Development of methods to measure all forms of poverty, especially absolute poverty, and to assess and monitor the circumstances of those at risk, within the national context;
- Regular national reviews of economic policies and national budgets to orient them towards eradicating poverty and reducing inequalities;
- Expanded opportunities to enable people living in poverty to enhance their overall capacities and improve their economic and social conditions, while managing resources sustainably;
- Human resource development and improved infrastructural facilities;
- Comprehensive provision for the basic needs of all;
- Policies ensuring that all people have adequate economic and social protection during unemployment, ill health, maternity, disability and old age;
- Policies that strengthen the family and contribute to its stability in accordance with the principles, goals and commitments contained in the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and in the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development; /11
- Mobilization of both the public and the private sectors, more developed areas, educational and academic institutions and non-governmental organizations to assist poverty-stricken areas.
26. Governments should give greater focus to public efforts to eradicate absolute poverty and to reduce overall poverty substantially by:
- Promoting sustained economic growth, in the context of sustainable development, and social progress, requiring that growth be broadly based, offering equal opportunities to all people. All countries should recognize their common but differentiated responsibilities. The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development, and should continue to improve their efforts to promote sustained economic growth and to narrow imbalances in a manner that can benefit all countries, particularly the developing countries;
- Formulating or strengthening, preferably by 1996, and implementing national poverty eradication plans to address the structural causes of poverty, encompassing action on the local, national, subregional, regional and international levels. These plans should establish, within each national context, strategies and affordable time-bound goals and targets for the substantial reduction of overall poverty and the eradication of absolute poverty. In the context of national plans, particular attention should be given to employment creation as a means of eradicating poverty, giving appropriate consideration to health and education, assigning a higher priority to basic social services, generating household income, and promoting access to productive assets and economic opportunities;
- Identifying the livelihood systems, survival strategies and self-help organizations of people living in poverty and working with such organizations to develop programmes for combating poverty that build on their efforts, ensuring the full participation of the people concerned and responding to their actual needs;
- Elaborating, at the national level, the measurements, criteria and indicators for determining the extent and distribution of absolute poverty. Each country should develop a precise definition and assessment of absolute poverty, preferably by 1996, the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty; /12
- Establishing policies, objectives and measurable targets to enhance and broaden women's economic opportunities and their access to productive resources, particularly women who have no source of income;
- Promoting effective enjoyment by all people of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, and access to existing social protection and public services, in particular through encouraging the ratification and ensuring the full implementation of relevant human rights instruments, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights /13 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; /13
- Eliminating the injustice and obstacles that women are faced with, and encouraging and strengthening the participation of women in taking decisions and in implementing them, as well as their access to productive resources and land ownership and their right to inherit goods;
- Encouraging and supporting local community development projects that foster the skill, self-reliance and self-confidence of people living in poverty and that facilitate their active participation in efforts to eradicate poverty.
27. Governments are urged to integrate goals and targets for combating poverty into overall economic and social policies and planning at the local, national and, where appropriate, regional levels by:
- Analysing policies and programmes, including those relating to macroeconomic stability, structural adjustment programmes, taxation, investments, employment, markets and all relevant sectors of the economy, with respect to their impact on poverty and inequality, assessing their impact on family well-being and conditions, as well as their gender implications, and adjusting them, as appropriate, to promote a more equitable distribution of productive assets, wealth, opportunities, income and services;
- Redesigning public investment policies that relate to infrastructure development, the management of natural resources and human resource development to benefit people living in poverty and to promote their compatibility with the long-term improvement of livelihoods;
- Ensuring that development policies benefit low-income communities and rural and agricultural development;
- Selecting, wherever possible, development schemes that do not displace local populations, and designing an appropriate policy and legal framework to compensate the displaced for their losses, to help them to re-establish their livelihoods and to promote their recovery from social and cultural disruption;
- Designing and implementing environmental protection and resource management measures that take into account the needs of people living in poverty and vulnerable groups in accordance with Agenda 21 and the various consensus agreements, conventions and programmes of action adopted in the framework of the follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development;
- Establishing and strengthening, as appropriate, mechanisms for the coordination of efforts to combat poverty, in collaboration with civil society, including the private sector, and developing integrated intersectoral and intra-governmental responses for such purposes.
28. People living in poverty and their organizations should be empowered by:
- Involving them fully in the setting of targets and in the design, implementation, monitoring and assessment of national strategies and programmes for poverty eradication and community-based development, and ensuring that such programmes reflect their priorities;
- Integrating gender concerns in the planning and implementation of policies and programmes for the empowerment of women;
- Ensuring that policies and programmes affecting people living in poverty respect their dignity and culture and make full use of their knowledge, skills and resourcefulness;
- Strengthening education at all levels and ensuring the access to education of people living in poverty, in particular their access to primary education and other basic education opportunities;
- Encouraging and assisting people living in poverty to organize so that their representatives can participate in economic and social policy-making and work more effectively with governmental, non-governmental and other relevant institutions to obtain the services and opportunities they need;
- Placing special emphasis on capacity-building and community-based management;
- Educating people about their rights, the political system and the availability of programmes.
29. There is a need to periodically monitor, assess and share information on the performance of poverty eradication plans, evaluate policies to combat poverty, and promote an understanding and awareness of poverty and its causes and consequences. This could be done, by Governments, inter alia, through:
- Developing, updating and disseminating specific and agreed gender- disaggregated indicators of poverty and vulnerability, including income, wealth, nutrition, physical and mental health, education, literacy, family conditions, unemployment, social exclusion and isolation, homelessness, landlessness and other factors, as well as indicators of the national and international causes underlying poverty; for this purpose, gathering comprehensive and comparable data, disaggregated by ethnicity, gender, disability, family status, language groupings, regions and economic and social sectors;
- Monitoring and assessing the achievement of goals and targets agreed to in international forums in the area of social development; evaluating, quantitatively and qualitatively, changes in poverty levels, the persistence of poverty, and vulnerability to poverty, particularly concerning household income levels and access to resources and services; and assessing the effectiveness of poverty eradication strategies, based on the priorities and perceptions of households living in poverty and low-income communities;
- Strengthening international data collection and statistical systems to support countries in monitoring social development goals, and encouraging the expansion of international databases to incorporate socially beneficial activities that are not included in available data, such as women's unremunerated work and contributions to society, the informal economy and sustainable livelihoods;
- Mobilizing public awareness, in particular through educational institutions, non-governmental organizations and the media, to enable society to prioritize the struggle against poverty, while focusing attention on progress or failure in the pursuit of defined goals and targets;
- Mobilizing the resources of universities and research institutions to improve the understanding of the causes of poverty and their solutions, as well as the impact of structural adjustment measures on people living in poverty and the effectiveness of anti-poverty strategies and programmes, strengthening the capacity for social science research in developing countries and integrating, as appropriate, the results of research into decision-making processes;
- Facilitating and promoting the exchange of knowledge and experience, especially among developing countries, through, inter alia, subregional and regional organizations.
30. Members of the international community should, bilaterally or through multilateral organizations, foster an enabling environment for poverty eradication by:
- Coordinating policies and programmes to support the measures being taken in the developing countries, particularly in Africa and the least developed countries, to eradicate poverty, provide remunerative work and strengthen social integration in order to meet basic social development goals and targets;
- Promoting international cooperation to assist developing countries, at their request, in their efforts, in particular at the community level, towards achieving gender equality and the empowerment of women;
- Strengthening the capacities of developing countries to monitor the progress of national poverty eradication plans and to assess the impact of national and international policies and programmes on people living in poverty and address their negative impacts;
- Strengthening the capacity of countries with economies in transition to develop their social protection systems and social policies for, inter alia, the reduction of poverty;
- Addressing the special needs of small island developing States with respect to eradicating poverty and meeting poverty eradication goals and targets, within the context of social development programmes that reflect their national priorities;
- Addressing the problems faced by the land-locked developing countries in eradicating poverty and supporting their efforts aimed at social development;
- Supporting societies disrupted by conflict in their efforts to rebuild their social protection systems and eradicate poverty.
31. The opportunities for income generation, diversification of activities and increase of productivity in low-income and poor communities should be enhanced by:
- Improving the availability and accessibility of transportation, communication, power and energy services at the local or community level, in particular for isolated, remote and marginalized communities;
- Ensuring that investments in infrastructure support sustainable development at the local or community levels;
- Emphasizing the need for developing countries that are heavily dependent on primary commodities to continue to promote a domestic policy and an institutional environment that encourage diversification and enhance competitiveness;
- Supporting the importance of commodity diversification as a means to increase the export revenues of developing countries and to improve their competitiveness in the face of the persistent instability in the price of some primary commodities and the general deterioration in the terms of trade;
- Promoting, including by micro-enterprises, rural non-farm production and service activities, such as agro-processing, sales and services of agricultural equipment and inputs, irrigation, credit services and other income-generating activities through, inter alia, supportive laws and administrative measures, credit policies, and technical and administrative training;
- Strengthening and improving financial and technical assistance for community-based development and self-help programmes, and strengthening cooperation among Governments, community organizations, cooperatives, formal and informal banking institutions, private enterprises and international agencies, with the aim of mobilizing local savings, promoting the creation of local financial networks, and increasing the availability of credit and market information to small entrepreneurs, small farmers and other low-income self-employed workers, with particular efforts to ensure the availability of such services to women;
- Strengthening organizations of small farmers, landless tenants and labourers, other small producers, fisherfolk, community-based and workers' cooperatives, especially those run by women, in order to, inter alia, improve market access and increase productivity, provide inputs and technical advice, promote cooperation in production and marketing operations, and strengthen participation in the planning and implementation of rural development;
- Promoting national and international assistance in providing economically viable alternatives for social groups, especially farmers involved in the cultivation and processing of crops used for the illegal drug trade;
- Improving the competitiveness of natural products with environmental advantages and strengthening the impact that this could have on promoting sustainable consumption and production patterns, and strengthening and improving financial and technical assistance to the developing countries for research and development of such products;
- Promoting comprehensive rural development, including by land reform, land improvement and economic diversification;
- Improving economic opportunities for rural women through the elimination of legal, social, cultural and practical obstacles to women's participation in economic activities and ensuring that women have equal access to productive resources.
32. Rural poverty should be addressed by:
- Expanding and improving land ownership through such measures as land reform and improving the security of land tenure, and ensuring the equal rights of women and men in this respect, developing new agricultural land, promoting fair land rents, making land transfers more efficient and fair, and adjudicating land disputes;
- Promoting fair wages and improving the conditions of agricultural labour, and increasing the access of small farmers to water, credit, extension services and appropriate technology, including for women, persons with disabilities and vulnerable groups on the basis of equality;
- Strengthening measures and actions designed to improve the social, economic and living conditions in rural areas and thereby discouraging rural exodus;
- Promoting opportunities for small farmers and other agricultural, forestry and fishery workers on terms that respect sustainable development;
- Improving access to markets and market information in order to enable small producers to obtain better prices for their products and pay better prices for the materials they need;
- Protecting, within the national context, the traditional rights to land and other resources of pastoralists, fishery workers and nomadic and indigenous people, and strengthening land management in the areas of pastoral or nomadic activity, building on traditional communal practices, controlling encroachment by others, and developing improved systems of range management and access to water, markets, credit, animal production, veterinary services, health including health services, education and information;
- Promoting education, research and development on farming systems and smallholder cultivation and animal husbandry techniques, particularly in environmentally fragile areas, building on local and traditional practices of sustainable agriculture and taking particular advantage of women's knowledge;
- Strengthening agricultural training and extension services to promote a more effective use of existing technologies and indigenous knowledge systems and to disseminate new technologies in order to reach both men and women farmers and other agricultural workers, including through the hiring of more women as extension workers;
- Promoting infrastructural and institutional investment in small-scale farming in resource-poor regions so that small-scale farmers can fully explore market opportunities, within the context of liberalization.
33. Access to credit by small rural or urban producers, landless farmers and other people with low or no income should be substantially improved, with special attention to the needs of women and disadvantaged and vulnerable groups, by:
- Reviewing national legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks that restrict the access of people living in poverty, especially women, to credit on reasonable terms;
- Promoting realistic targets for access to affordable credit, where appropriate;
- Providing incentives for improving access to and strengthening the capacities of the organized credit system to deliver credit and related services to people living in poverty and vulnerable groups;
- Expanding financial networks, building on existing community networks, promoting attractive opportunities for savings and ensuring equitable access to credit at the local level.
34. Urban poverty should further be addressed by:
- Promoting and strengthening micro-enterprises, new small businesses, cooperative enterprises, and expanded market and other employment opportunities and, where appropriate, facilitating the transition from the informal to the formal sector;
- Promoting sustainable livelihoods for people living in urban poverty through the provision or expansion of access to training, education and other employment assistance services, in particular for women, youth, the unemployed and the underemployed;
- Promoting public and private investments to improve for the deprived the overall human environment and infrastructure, in particular housing, water and sanitation, and public transportation;
- Ensuring that strategies for shelter give special attention to women and children, bearing in mind the perspectives of women in the development of such strategies;
- Promoting social and other essential services, including, where necessary, assistance for people to move to areas that offer better employment opportunities, housing, education, health and other social services;
- Ensuring safety through effective criminal justice administration and protective measures that are responsive to the needs and concerns of the community;
- Strengthening the role and expanding the means of municipal authorities, non-governmental organizations, universities and other educational institutions, businesses and community organizations, enabling them to be more actively involved in urban planning, policy development and implementation;
- Ensuring that special measures are taken to protect the displaced, the homeless, street children, unaccompanied minors and children in special and difficult circumstances, orphans, adolescents and single mothers, people with disabilities, and older persons, and to ensure that they are integrated into their communities.
35. Governments, in partnership with all other development actors, in particular with people living in poverty and their organizations, should cooperate to meet the basic human needs of all, including people living in poverty and vulnerable groups, by:
- Ensuring universal access to basic social services, with particular efforts to facilitate access by people living in poverty and vulnerable groups;
- Creating public awareness that the satisfaction of basic human needs is an essential element of poverty reduction; these needs are closely interrelated and comprise nutrition, health, water and sanitation, education, employment, housing and participation in cultural and social life;
- Ensuring full and equal access to social services, especially education, legal services and health-care services for women of all ages and children, recognizing the rights, duties and responsibilities of parents and other persons legally responsible for children, consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Ensuring that due priority is given and adequate resources made available, at the national, regional and international levels, to combat the threat to individual and public health posed by the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS globally and by the re-emergence of major diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness) and diarrhoeal diseases, in particular cholera;
- Taking particular actions to enhance the productive capacities of indigenous people, ensuring their full and equal access to social services and their participation in the elaboration and implementation of policies that affect their development, with full respect for their cultures, languages, traditions and forms of social organizations, as well as their own initiatives;
- Providing appropriate social services to enable vulnerable people and people living in poverty to improve their lives, to exercise their rights and to participate fully in all social, economic and political activities and to contribute to social and economic development;
- Recognizing that improving people's health is inseparably linked to a sound environment;
- Ensuring physical access to all basic social services for persons who are older, disabled or home-bound;
- Ensuring that people living in poverty have full and equal access to justice, including knowledge of their rights and, as appropriate, through the provision of free legal assistance. The legal system should be made more sensitive and responsive to the needs and special circumstances of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in order to ensure a strong and independent administration of justice;
- Promoting full restorative services, in particular for those who require institutional care or are home-bound, and a comprehensive array of community-based, long-term care services for those facing loss of independence.
36. Governments should implement the commitments that have been made to meet the basic needs of all, with assistance from the international community consistent with chapter V of the present Programme of Action, including, inter alia, the following:
- By the year 2000, universal access to basic education and completion of primary education by at least 80 per cent of primary school-age children; closing the gender gap in primary and secondary school education by the year 2005; universal primary education in all countries before the year 2015;
- By the year 2000, life expectancy of not less than 60 years in any country;
- By the year 2000, reduction of mortality rates of infants and children under five years of age by one third of the 1990 level, or 50 to 70 per 1,000 live births, whichever is less; by the year 2015, achievement of an infant mortality rate below 35 per 1,000 live births and an under-five mortality rate below 45 per 1,000;
- By the year 2000, a reduction in maternal mortality by one half of the 1990 level; by the year 2015, a further reduction by one half;
- Achieving food security by ensuring a safe and nutritionally adequate food supply, at both the national and international levels, a reasonable degree of stability in the supply of food, as well as physical, social and economic access to enough food for all, while reaffirming that food should not be used as a tool for political pressure;
- By the year 2000, a reduction of severe and moderate malnutrition among children under five years of age by half of the 1990 level;
- By the year 2000, attainment by all peoples of the world of a level of health that will permit them to lead a socially and economically productive life, and to this end, ensuring primary health care for all;
- Making accessible through the primary health-care system reproductive health to all individuals of appropriate ages as soon as possible and no later than the year 2015, in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, and taking into account the reservations and declarations made at that Conference, especially those concerning the need for parental guidance and parental responsibility;
- Strengthening efforts and increasing commitments with the aim, by the year 2000, of reducing malaria mortality and morbidity by at least 20 per cent compared to 1995 levels in at least 75 per cent of affected countries, as well as reducing social and economic losses due to malaria in the developing countries, especially in Africa, where the overwhelming majority of both cases and deaths occur;
- By the year 2000, eradicating, eliminating or controlling major diseases constituting global health problems, in accordance with paragraph 6.12 of Agenda 21; /2
- Reducing the adult illiteracy rate - the appropriate age group to be determined in each country - to at least half its 1990 level, with an emphasis on female literacy; achieving universal access to quality education, with particular priority being given to primary and technical education and job training, combating illiteracy, and eliminating gender disparities in access to, retention in and support for education;
- Providing, on a sustainable basis, access to safe drinking water in sufficient quantities, and proper sanitation for all;
- Improving the availability of affordable and adequate shelter for all, in accordance with the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000; /14
- Monitoring the implementation of those commitments at the highest appropriate level and considering the possibility of expediting their implementation through the dissemination of sufficient and accurate statistical data and appropriate indicators.
37. Access to social services for people living in poverty and vulnerable groups should be improved through:
- Facilitating access and improving the quality of education for people living in poverty by establishing schools in unserved areas, providing social services, such as meals and health care, as incentives for families in poverty to keep children in school, and improving the quality of schools in low-income communities;
- Expanding and improving opportunities for continuing education and training by means of public and private initiatives and non-formal education in order to improve opportunities for people living in poverty, including people with disabilities, and in order to develop the skills and knowledge that they need to better their conditions and livelihoods;
- Expanding and improving preschool education, both formal and non-formal, including through new learning technologies, radio and television, to overcome some of the disadvantages faced by young children growing up in poverty;
- Ensuring that people living in poverty and low-income communities have access to quality health care that provides primary health-care services, consistent with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, free of charge or at affordable rates;
- Promoting cooperation among government agencies, health-care workers, non-governmental organizations, women's organizations and other institutions of civil society in order to develop a comprehensive national strategy for improving reproductive health care and child health-care services and ensuring that people living in poverty have full access to those services, including, inter alia, education and services on family planning, safe motherhood and prenatal and postnatal care, and the benefits of breast-feeding, consistent with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development;
- Encouraging health-care workers to work in low-income communities and rural areas, and providing outreach services to make health care available to otherwise unserved areas, recognizing that investing in a primary health-care system that ensures prevention, treatment and rehabilitation for all individuals is an effective means of promoting social and economic development as well as broad participation in society.
38. Social protection systems should be based on legislation and, as appropriate, strengthened and expanded, as necessary, in order to protect from poverty people who cannot find work; people who cannot work due to sickness, disability, old age or maternity, or to their caring for children and sick or older relatives; families that have lost a breadwinner through death or marital breakup; and people who have lost their livelihoods due to natural disasters or civil violence, wars or forced displacement. Due attention should be given to people affected by the human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) pandemic. Actions to this end should include:
- Strengthening and expanding programmes targeted to those in need, programmes providing universal basic protection, and social security insurance programmes, with the choice of programmes depending on national financial and administrative capacities;
- Developing, where necessary, a strategy for a gradual expansion of social protection programmes that provide social security for all, according to a schedule and terms and conditions related to national contexts;
- Ensuring that social safety nets associated with economic restructuring are considered as complementary strategies to overall poverty reduction and an increase in productive employment. Short term by nature, safety nets must protect people living in poverty and enable them to find productive employment;
- Designing social protection and support programmes to help people become self-sufficient as fully and quickly as possible, to assist and protect families, to reintegrate people excluded from economic activity and to prevent the social isolation or stigmatization of those who need protection;
- Exploring a variety of means for raising revenues to strengthen social protection programmes, and promoting efforts by the private sector and voluntary associations to provide social protection and support;
- Promoting the innovative efforts of self-help organizations, professional associations and other organizations of civil society in this sphere;
- Expanding and strengthening social protection programmes to protect working people, including the self-employed and their families, from the risk of falling into poverty, by extending coverage to as many as possible, providing benefits quickly and ensuring that entitlements continue when workers change jobs;
- Ensuring, through appropriate regulation, that contributory social protection plans are efficient and transparent so that the contributions of workers, employers and the State and the accumulation of resources can be monitored by the participants;
- Ensuring an adequate social safety net under structural adjustment programmes;
- Ensuring that social protection and social support programmes meet the needs of women, and especially that they take into account women's multiple roles and concerns, in particular the reintegration of women into formal work after periods of absence, support for older women, and the promotion of acceptance of women's multiple roles and responsibilities.
39. Particular efforts should be made to protect children and youth by:
- Promoting family stability and supporting families in providing mutual support, including in their role as nurturers and educators of children;
- Promoting social support, including good quality child care and working conditions that allow both parents to reconcile parenthood with working life;
- Supporting and involving family organizations and networks in community activities;
- Taking the necessary legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect and promote the rights of the child, with particular attention to the girl child;
- Improving the situation and protecting the rights of children in especially difficult circumstances, including children in areas of armed conflict, children who lack adequate family support, urban street children, abandoned children, children with disabilities, children addicted to narcotic drugs, children affected by war or natural and man-made disasters, unaccompanied minor refugee children, working children, and children who are economically and sexually exploited or abused, including the victims of the sale and trafficking of children; ensuring that they have access to food, shelter, education and health care and are protected from abuse and violence, as well as provided with the necessary social and psychological assistance for their healthy reintegration into society and for family reunification consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and substituting education for child work;
- Developing and strengthening programmes targeted at youth living in poverty in order to enhance their economic, educational, social and cultural opportunities, to promote constructive social relations among them and to provide them with connections outside their communities to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty;
- Addressing the special needs of indigenous children and their families, particularly those living in poor areas, enabling them to benefit adequately from economic and social development programmes, with full respect for their cultures, languages and traditions;
- Improving the condition of the single parent in society and ensuring that single-parent families and female-headed or female-maintained households receive the social support they need, including support for adequate housing and child care.
40. Particular efforts should be made to protect older persons, including those with disabilities, by:
- Strengthening family support systems;
- Improving the situation of older persons, in particular in cases where they lack adequate family support, including rural older persons, working older persons, those affected by armed conflicts and natural or man-made disasters, and those who are exploited, physically or psychologically neglected, or abused;
- Ensuring that older persons are able to meet their basic human needs through access to social services and social security, that those in need are assisted, and that older persons are protected from abuse and violence and are treated as a resource and not a burden;
- Providing assistance to grandparents who have been required to assume responsibility for children, particularly of parents who are affected by serious diseases, including AIDS or leprosy, or others who are unable to care for their dependants;
- Creating a financial environment that encourages people to save for their old age;
- Strengthening measures and mechanisms to ensure that retired workers do not fall into poverty, taking into account their contribution to the development of their countries;
- Encouraging and supporting cross-generational participation in policy and programme development and in decision-making bodies at all levels.
41. People and communities should be protected from impoverishment and long-term displacement and exclusion resulting from disasters through the following actions at the national and international levels, as appropriate:
- Designing effective mechanisms to reduce the impact and to mitigate the effects of natural disasters, such as droughts, earthquakes, cyclones and floods;
- Developing long-term strategies and contingency plans for the effective mitigation of natural disasters and for famine, including early warning, assessment, information dissemination and management, as well as rapid response strategies, that ensure the quick evolution of relief activities into rehabilitation and development;
- Developing complementary mechanisms that integrate governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental efforts, including the establishment of national volunteer corps to support United Nations activities in the areas of humanitarian emergency assistance, as well as mechanisms to promote a smooth transition from relief to rehabilitation, reconstruction and development, in accordance with General Assembly resolutions 46/182 and 49/139 B;
- Developing and strengthening emergency food reserves as a means to prevent acute food shortages and stabilize prices, with facilities for food storage, transportation and distribution during emergencies, making full use of traditional and market mechanisms;
- In disaster-prone areas and in cooperation with community-based organizations, developing drought and flood mitigation agronomic practices and resource conservation and infrastructure-building programmes, using food-for-work, where appropriate, and incorporating traditional disaster-response practices that can be rapidly expanded into emergency employment and rebuilding programmes in disaster situations;
- Establishing the necessary planning and logistical mechanisms to enable quick and effective response in disaster situations to provide food, psychological and social care, medicines, medical supplies and other relief to victims, especially women and children, and ensuring that the relief is effectively targeted to those who need it; and channelling and organizing disaster assistance so as to regenerate the local economy and support resource protection and development efforts;
- Mobilizing and coordinating regional and international assistance, including assistance from the United Nations system, and from non-governmental organizations, to support the actions of Governments and communities confronting disaster situations;
- Reducing vulnerability to natural disasters through the development of early warning systems.
Expansion of Productive Employment and Reduction of Unemployment
Basis for action and objectives
42. Productive work and employment are central elements of development as well as decisive elements of human identity. Sustained economic growth and sustainable development as well as the expansion of productive employment should go hand in hand. Full and adequately and appropriately remunerated employment is an effective method of combating poverty and promoting social integration. The goal of full employment requires that the State, the social partners and all the other parts of civil society at all levels cooperate to create conditions that enable everyone to participate in and benefit from productive work. In a world of increasing globalization and interdependence among countries, national efforts need to be buttressed by international cooperation.
43. Globalization and rapid technological development give rise to increased labour mobility, bringing new employment opportunities as well as new uncertainties. There has been an increase in part-time, casual and other forms of atypical employment. In addition to requiring the creation of new employment opportunities on an unprecedented scale, such an environment calls for expanded efforts to enhance human resource development for sustainable development by, inter alia, enhancing the knowledge and skills necessary for people, particularly for women and youth, to work productively and adapt to changing requirements.
44. In many developed countries, growth in employment is currently great in small and medium-sized enterprises and in self-employment. In many developing countries, informal sector activities are often the leading source of employment opportunities for people with limited access to formal-sector wage employment, in particular for women. The removal of obstacles to the operation of such enterprises and the provision of support for their creation and expansion must be accompanied by protection of the basic rights, health and safety of workers and the progressive improvement of overall working conditions, together with the strengthening of efforts to make some enterprises part of the formal sector.
45. While all groups can benefit from more employment opportunities, specific needs and changing demographic patterns and trends call for appropriate measures. Particular efforts by the public and private sectors are required in all spheres of employment policy to ensure gender equality, equal opportunity and non-discrimination on the basis of race/ethnic group, religion, age, health and disability, and with full respect for applicable international instruments. Special attention must also be paid to the needs of groups who face particular disadvantages in their access to the labour market so as to ensure their integration into productive activities, including through the promotion of effective support mechanisms.
46. Much unremunerated productive work, such as caring for children and older persons, producing and preparing food for the family, protecting the environment and providing voluntary assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals and groups, is of great social importance. World wide, most of this work is done by women who often face the double burden of remunerated and unremunerated work. Efforts are needed to acknowledge the social and economic importance and value of unremunerated work, to facilitate labour-force participation in combination with such work through flexible working arrangements, encouraging voluntary social activities as well as broadening the very conception of productive work, and to accord social recognition for such work, including by developing methods for reflecting its value in quantitative terms for possible reflection in accounts that may be produced separately from, but consistent with, core national accounts.
47. There is therefore an urgent need, in the overall context of promoting sustained economic growth and sustainable development, for:
- Placing the creation of employment at the centre of national strategies and policies, with the full participation of employers and trade unions and other parts of civil society;
- Policies to expand work opportunities and increase productivity in both rural and urban sectors;
- Education and training that enable workers and entrepreneurs to adapt to changing technologies and economic conditions;
- Quality jobs, with full respect for the basic rights of workers as defined by relevant International Labour Organization and other international instruments;
- Giving special priority, in the design of policies, to the problems of structural, long-term unemployment and underemployment of youth, women, persons with disabilities and all other disadvantaged groups and individuals;
- Empowerment of women, gender balance in decision-making processes at all levels and gender analysis in policy development to ensure equal employment opportunities and wage rates for women and to enhance harmonious and mutually beneficial partnerships between women and men in sharing family and employment responsibilities;
- Empowerment of members of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, including through the provision of education and training;
- A broader recognition and understanding of work and employment and greater flexibility in working time arrangements for both men and women.
48. Placing the expansion of productive employment at the centre of sustainable development strategies and economic and social policies requires:
- Promoting and pursuing active policies for full, productive, appropriately remunerated and freely chosen employment;
- Giving priority at the national and international levels to the policies that can address the problems of unemployment and underemployment.
49. Minimizing the negative impact on jobs of measures for macroeconomic stability requires:
- Pursuing the coordination of macroeconomic policies so that they are mutually reinforcing and conducive to broad-based and sustained economic growth and sustainable development, as well as to substantial increases in productive employment expansion and a decline in unemployment world wide;
- Giving priority to programmes that most directly promote viable and long-term job growth when budgetary adjustments are required;
- Removing structural constraints to economic growth and employment creation as a part of stabilization policies;
- Enabling competing claims on resources to be resolved in a non-inflationary manner through the development and use of sound industrial relations systems;
- Monitoring, analysing and disseminating information on the impact of trade and investment liberalization on the economy, especially on employment;
- Exchanging information on different employment promotion measures and their consequences, and monitoring the development of global employment trends;
- Establishing appropriate social safety mechanisms to minimize the adverse effects of structural adjustment, stabilization or reform programmes on the workforce, especially the vulnerable, and for those who lose their jobs, creating conditions for their re-entry through, inter alia, continuing education and retraining.
50. Promoting patterns of economic growth that maximize employment creation requires:
- Encouraging, as appropriate, labour-intensive investments in economic and social infrastructure that use local resources and create, maintain and rehabilitate community assets in both rural and urban areas;
- Promoting technological innovations and industrial policies that have the potential to stimulate short and long-term employment creation, and considering their impact on vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;
- Giving developing countries the capacity to select specific and suitable technologies;
- Providing technical assistance and expanded transfer of technology to developing countries to integrate technology and employment policies with other social objectives, and to establish and strengthen national and local technology institutions;
- Encouraging the realization in the countries with economies in transition of programmes for on-the-job personnel training, facilitating their adaptation to market-oriented reforms and reducing mass unemployment;
- Promoting mutually supportive improvements in rural farm and non-farm production, including animal husbandry, forestry, fisheries and agro-processing industries, aiming to expand and diversify environmentally sound, sustained economic activity and productive employment in the rural sector;
- Encouraging community economic development strategies that build on partnerships among Governments and members of civil society to create jobs and address the social circumstances of individuals, families and communities;
- Introducing sound policies to mobilize savings and stimulate investment in capital-short areas;
- Maximizing the job creation potential inherent in Agenda 21 through the conservation and management of natural resources, the promotion of alternative livelihoods in fragile ecosystems, and the rehabilitation and regeneration of critically affected and vulnerable land areas and natural resources;
- Encouraging the utilization of renewable energy, based on local employment-intensive resources, in particular in rural areas.
51. Enhancing opportunities for the creation and growth of private-sector enterprises that would generate additional employment requires:
- Removing obstacles faced by small and medium-sized enterprises and easing regulations that discourage private initiative;
- Facilitating access by small and medium-sized enterprises to credit, national and international markets, management training and technological information;
- Facilitating arrangements between large and small enterprises, such as subcontracting programmes, with full respect for workers' rights;
- Improving opportunities and working conditions for women and youth entrepreneurs by eliminating discrimination in access to credit, productive resources and social security protection, and providing and increasing, as appropriate, family benefits and social support, such as health care and child care;
- Promoting, supporting and establishing legal frameworks to foster the development of cooperative enterprises, and encouraging them to mobilize capital, develop innovative lending programmes and promote entrepreneurship;
- Assisting informal sectors and local enterprises to become more productive and progressively integrated into the formal economy through access to affordable credit, information, wider markets, new technology and appropriate technological and management skills, opportunities to upgrade technical and management skills, and improved premises and other physical infrastructure, as well as by progressively extending labour standards and social protection without destroying the ability of informal sectors to generate employment;
- Promoting the creation and development of independent organizations, such as chambers of commerce and other associations or self-help institutions of small formal and informal enterprises;
- Facilitating the expansion of the training and employment-generating opportunities of industries.
52. Facilitating people's access to productive employment in today's rapidly changing global environment and developing better quality jobs requires:
- Establishing well-defined educational priorities and investing effectively in education and training systems;
- Introducing new and revitalized partnerships between education and other government departments, including labour, and communications and partnerships between Governments and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, local communities, religious groups and families;
- Ensuring broad basic education, especially literacy, and promoting general education, including the analytical and critical thinking that is essential to improve learning skills. This is the foundation for acquiring specialized skills and for renewing, adapting and upgrading them rapidly to facilitate horizontal and vertical occupational mobility;
- Promoting the active participation of youth and adult learners in the design of literacy campaigns, education and training programmes to ensure that the labour force and social realities of diverse groups are taken into account;
- Promoting lifelong learning to ensure that education and training programmes respond to changes in the economy, provide full and equal access to training opportunities, secure the access of women to training programmes, offer incentives for public and private sectors to provide and for workers to acquire training on a continuous basis, and stimulate entrepreneurial skills;
- Encouraging and supporting through technical assistance programmes, including those of the United Nations system, well-designed and adaptable vocational training and apprenticeship programmes to enhance productivity and productive employment;
- Promoting and strengthening training programmes for the employment of new entrants to the job market and retraining programmes for displaced and retrenched workers;
- Developing an enhanced capacity for research and knowledge dissemination by encouraging national and international exchanges of information on innovative models and best practices;
- Developing, in the area of vocational and continuing education, innovative methods of teaching and learning, including interactive technologies and inductive methods involving close coordination between working experience and training.
53. Helping workers to adapt and to enhance their employment opportunities under changing economic conditions requires:
- Designing, developing, implementing, analysing and monitoring active labour policies to stimulate the demand for labour in order to ensure that the burden of indirect labour costs on employers does not constitute a disincentive to hiring workers, identifying skill shortages and surpluses, providing vocational guidance and counselling services and active help in job searches, promoting occupational choice and mobility, offering advisory services and support to enterprises, particularly small enterprises, for the more effective use and development of their workforce, and establishing institutions and processes that prevent all forms of discrimination and improve the employment opportunities of groups that are vulnerable and disadvantaged;
- Improving employment opportunities and increasing ways and means of helping youth and persons with disabilities to develop the skills they need to enable them to find employment;
- Promoting access by women and girls to traditionally male-dominated occupations;
- Developing strategies to address the needs of people engaged in various forms of atypical employment;
- Promoting labour mobility, retraining and maintenance of adequate levels of social protection to facilitate worker redeployment when there is phasing out of production or closure of an enterprise, giving special attention to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;
- Facilitating the integration or reintegration of women into the workforce by developing adequate child care, care for older persons and other support services and facilities;
- Encouraging cooperation between employers and workers to prepare for the introduction of new technologies and to plan for their employment effects as far in advance as possible, while ensuring adequate protection and adjustment;
- Strengthening public and private employment services to assist workers to adapt to changing job markets and provide social safety mechanisms, occupational guidance, employment and job search counselling, training, placement, apprenticeships and the sharing of information;
- Strengthening labour market information systems, particularly through development of appropriate data and indicators on employment, underemployment, unemployment and earnings, as well as dissemination of information concerning labour markets, including, as far as possible, work situations outside formal markets. All such data should be disaggregated by gender in order to monitor the status of women relative to men.
54. Governments should enhance the quality of work and employment by:
- Observing and fully implementing the human rights obligations that they have assumed;
- Safeguarding and promoting respect for basic workers' rights, including the prohibition of forced labour and child labour, freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively, equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value, and non-discrimination in employment, fully implementing the conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the case of States parties to those conventions, and taking into account the principles embodied in those conventions in the case of those countries that are not States parties to thus achieve truly sustained economic growth and sustainable development;
- Strongly considering ratification and full implementation of ILO conventions in these areas, as well as those relating to the employment rights of minors, women, youth, persons with disabilities and indigenous people;
- Using existing international labour standards to guide the formulation of national labour legislation and policies;
- Promoting the role of ILO, particularly as regards improving the level of employment and the quality of work;
- Encouraging, where appropriate, employers and workers to consider ways and means for enhancing the sharing of workers in the profits of enterprises and promoting cooperation between workers and employers in the decisions of enterprises.
55. To achieve a healthy and safe working environment, remove exploitation, abolish child labour, raise productivity and enhance the quality of life requires:
- Developing and implementing policies designed to promote improved working conditions, including health and safety conditions;
- Improving health policies that reduce, with a view to eliminating, environmental health hazards and provide for occupational health and safety, in conformity with the relevant conventions, and providing informal sector enterprises and all workers with accessible information and guidance on how to enhance occupational safety and reduce health risks;
- Promoting, in accordance with national laws and regulations, sound labour relations based on tripartite cooperation and full respect for freedom of association and the right to organize and bargain collectively;
- Setting specific target dates for eliminating all forms of child labour that are contrary to accepted international standards and ensuring the full enforcement of relevant existing laws, and, where appropriate, enacting the legislation necessary to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ILO standards, ensuring the protection of working children, in particular of street children, through the provision of appropriate health, education and other social services;
- Designing labour policies and programmes to help eradicate family poverty, which is a main cause of child labour, eliminating child labour and encouraging parents to send their children to school through, inter alia, the provision of social services and other incentives;
- Establishing policies and programmes to protect workers, especially women, from sexual harassment and violence;
- Encouraging incentives to public and private enterprises to develop, transfer and adopt technologies and know-how that improve the working environment, enhance occupational safety and reduce, with a view to eliminating, health risks.
56. The full participation of women in the labour market and their equal access to employment opportunities require:
- Establishing the principle of equality between men and women as a basis for employment policy and promoting gender-sensitivity training to eliminate prejudice against the employment of women;
- Eliminating gender discrimination, including by taking positive action, where appropriate, in hiring, wages, access to credit, benefits, promotion, training, career development, job assignment, working conditions, job security and social security benefits;
- Improving women's access to technologies that facilitate their occupational and domestic work, encourage self-support, generate income, transform gender-prescribed roles within the productive process and enable them to move out of stereotyped, low-paying jobs;
- Changing those policies and attitudes that reinforce the division of labour based on gender, and providing institutional support, such as social protection for maternity, parental leave, technologies that facilitate the sharing and reduce the burden of domestic chores, and flexible working arrangements, including parental voluntary part-time employment and work-sharing, as well as accessible and affordable quality child-care facilities, to enable working parents to reconcile work with family responsibilities, paying particular attention to the needs of single-parent households;
- Encouraging men to take an active part in all areas of family and household responsibilities, including the sharing of child-rearing and housework.
57. The improvement of the design of policies and programmes requires:
- Identifying and reflecting the specific needs of particular groups, and ensuring that programmes are equitable and non-discriminatory, efficient and effective in meeting the needs of those groups;
- Actively involving representatives of these groups in planning, design and management, and monitoring, evaluating and reorienting these programmes by providing access to accurate information and sufficient resources to ensure that they reach their intended beneficiaries.
58. Employment policies can better address the problem of short- and long-term unemployment by:
- Incorporating, with the involvement of the unemployed and/or their associations, a comprehensive set of measures, including employment planning, re-education and training programmes, literacy, skills upgrading, counselling and job-search assistance, temporary work schemes, frequent contact with employment service offices and preparing for entry and re-entry into the labour market;
- Analysing the underlying causes of long-term unemployment and their effect on different groups, including older workers and single parents, and designing employment and other supporting policies that address specific situations and needs;
- Promoting social security schemes that reduce barriers and disincentives to employment so as to enable the unemployed to improve their capacity to participate actively in society, to maintain an adequate standard of living and to be able to take advantage of employment opportunities.
59. Programmes for entry or re-entry into the labour market aimed at vulnerable and disadvantaged groups can effectively combat the causes of exclusion on the labour market by:
- Complementing literacy actions, general education or vocational training by work experience that may include support and instruction on business management and training so as to give better knowledge of the value of entrepreneurship and other private-sector contributions to society;
- Increasing the level of skills, and also improving the ability to get a job through improvements in housing, health and family life.
60. Policies should seek to guarantee all youth constructive options for their future by:
- Providing equal access to education at the primary and secondary levels, with literacy as a priority and with special attention to girls;
- Encouraging the struggle against illiteracy and promoting literacy training in national languages in developing countries, in particular in Africa;
- Encouraging various actors to join forces in designing and carrying out comprehensive and coordinated programmes that stimulate the resourcefulness of youth, preparing them for durable employment or self-employment, and providing them with guidance, vocational and managerial training, social skills, work experience and education in social values;
- Ensuring the participation of youth, commensurate with their age and responsibility, in planning and decision-making with regard to their future.
61. The full participation of indigenous people in the labour market and their equal access to employment opportunities requires developing comprehensive employment, education and training programmes that take account of the particular needs of indigenous people.
62. Broadening the range of employment opportunities for persons with disabilities requires:
- Ensuring that laws and regulations do not discriminate against persons with disabilities;
- Taking proactive measures, such as organizing support services, devising incentive schemes and supporting self-help schemes and small businesses;
- Making appropriate adjustments in the workplace to accommodate persons with disabilities, including in that respect the promotion of innovative technologies;
- Developing alternative forms of employment, such as supported employment, for persons with disabilities who need these services;
- Promoting public awareness within society regarding the impact of the negative stereotyping of persons with disabilities on their participation in the labour market.
63. There is need for intensified international cooperation and national attention to the situation of migrant workers and their families. To that end:
- Governments are invited to consider ratifying existing instruments pertaining to migrant workers, particularly the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families; /15
- In accordance with national legislation, Governments of receiving countries are urged to consider extending to documented migrants who meet appropriate length-of-stay requirements and to members of their families whose stay in the receiving country is regular, treatment equal to that accorded their own nationals with regard to the enjoyment of basic human rights, including equality of opportunity and treatment in respect of religious practices, working conditions, social security, participation in trade unions and access to health, education, cultural and other social services, as well as equal access to the judicial system and equal treatment before the law;
- Governments of countries of origin, transit countries and countries of destination are urged to cooperate in reducing the causes of undocumented migration, safeguarding the basic human rights of undocumented migrants and preventing their exploitation;
- Governments of both receiving countries and countries of origin should adopt effective sanctions against those who organize undocumented migration, exploit undocumented migrants or engage in trafficking in undocumented migrants;
- Governments of countries of origin are urged to facilitate the return of migrants and their reintegration into their home communities and to devise ways of using their skills. Governments of countries of origin should consider collaborating with countries of destination and engaging the support of appropriate international organizations in promoting the return on a voluntary basis of qualified migrants who can play a crucial role in the transfer of knowledge, skills and technology. Countries of destination are encouraged to facilitate return migration on a voluntary basis by adopting flexible policies, such as the transferability of pensions and other work benefits.
64. A broader recognition and understanding of work and employment requires:
- Acknowledging the important contribution of unremunerated work to societal well-being and bringing respect, dignity and value to societal perceptions of such work and the people who do it;
- Developing a more comprehensive knowledge of work and employment through, inter alia, efforts to measure and better understand the type, extent and distribution of unremunerated work, particularly work in caring for dependants and unremunerated work done for family farms or businesses, and encouraging, sharing and disseminating information, studies and experience in this field, including on the development of methods for assessing its value in quantitative terms, for possible reflection in accounts that may be produced separately from, but are consistent with, core national accounts;
- Recognizing the relationship between remunerated employment and unremunerated work in developing strategies to expand productive employment, to ensure equal access by women and men to employment, and to ensure the care and well-being of children and other dependants, as well as to combat poverty and promote social integration;
- Encouraging an open dialogue on the possibilities and institutional requirements for a broader understanding of various forms of work and employment;
- Examining a range of policies and programmes, including social security legislation, and taxation systems, in accordance with national priorities and policies, to ascertain how to facilitate flexibility in the way people divide their time between education and training, paid employment, family responsibilities, volunteer activity and other socially useful forms of work, leisure and retirement, giving particular attention to the situation of women, especially in female-maintained households;
- Promoting socially useful volunteer work and allocating appropriate resources to support such work without diluting the objectives regarding employment expansion;
- Intensifying international exchange of experience on various aspects of change in the recognition and understanding of work and employment and on new forms of flexible working time arrangements over the lifetime.
65. The development of additional socially useful new types of employment and work requires, inter alia:
- Helping vulnerable and disadvantaged groups to integrate better into society and thus participate more effectively in economic and social development;
- Helping older persons who are dependent or providing support for families in need of educational assistance or social support;
- Strengthening social ties through these forms of employment and work, which represents an important achievement of social development policy.
Basis for action and objectives
66. The aim of social integration is to create "a society for all", in which every individual, each with rights and responsibilities, has an active role to play. Such an inclusive society must be based on respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, cultural and religious diversity, social justice and the special needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, democratic participation and the rule of law. The pluralistic nature of most societies has at times resulted in problems for the different groups to achieve and maintain harmony and cooperation, and to have equal access to all resources in society. Full recognition of each individual's rights in the context of the rule of law has not always been fully guaranteed. Since the founding of the United Nations, this quest for humane, stable, safe, tolerant and just societies has shown a mixed record at best.
67. Nevertheless, progress has been noted, as shown in the continuation of the ongoing process of decolonization; the elimination of apartheid; the spread of democracy; wider recognition of the need to respect human dignity, all human rights and fundamental freedoms and cultural diversity; the unacceptability of discrimination; increasing recognition of the unique concerns of indigenous people in the world; an expanded notion of collective responsibility for all members of a society; expanded economic and educational opportunities and the globalization of communication; and greater possibilities for social mobility, choice and autonomy of action.
68. Notwithstanding the instances of progress, there are negative developments that include social polarization and fragmentation; widening disparities and inequalities of income and wealth within and among nations; problems arising from uncontrolled urban development and the degradation of the environment; marginalization of people, families, social groups, communities and even entire countries; and strains on individuals, families, communities and institutions as a result of the rapid pace of social change, economic transformation, migration and major dislocations of population, particularly in the areas of armed conflict.
69. Furthermore, violence, in its many manifestations, including domestic violence, especially against women, children, older persons and people with disabilities, is a growing threat to the security of individuals, families and communities everywhere. Total social breakdown is an all too real contemporary experience. Organized crime, illegal drugs, the illicit arms trade, trafficking in women and children, ethnic and religious conflict, civil war, terrorism, all forms of extremist violence, xenophobia, and politically motivated killing and even genocide present fundamental threats to societies and the global social order. These are compelling and urgent reasons for action by Governments individually and, as appropriate, jointly to foster social cohesion while recognizing, protecting and valuing diversity.
70. There is therefore an urgent need for:
- Transparent and accountable public institutions that are accessible to people on an equal basis and are responsive to their needs;
- Opportunities for all to participate in all spheres of public life;
- Strengthened participation and involvement of civil society in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of decisions determining the functioning and well-being of societies;
- Publicly available objective data to enable people to make informed decisions;
- Maintenance of social stability and promotion of social justice and progress;
- Promotion of non-discrimination, tolerance and mutual respect for and the value of diversity;
- Equity and equality of opportunity and social mobility;
- Gender equality and equity and empowerment of women;
- Elimination of physical and social barriers with the aim of creating a society accessible for all, with special emphasis on measures to meet the needs and interests of those who face obstacles in participating fully in society;
- Giving special attention to the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, and to health as a factor of development;
- Promoting the principle of caring for one another's well-being and fostering the spirit of mutual support, within the context of human rights education;
- While acknowledging legitimate national defence needs, recognizing and addressing the dangers to society of armed conflict, and the negative effect of excessive military expenditures, trade in arms, especially of those arms that are particularly injurious or have indiscriminate effects, and excessive investment for arms production and acquisition. Similarly, the need to combat illicit arms trafficking, violence, crime, the production, use and trafficking of illicit drugs, and trafficking in women and children should be recognized and addressed;
- The elimination of all forms of violence and the full implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women. /16
71. Governments should promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, bearing in mind the interdependent and mutually reinforcing relationship between democracy, development and respect for human rights, and should make public institutions more responsive to people's needs by:
- Ensuring that decisions are based on accurate data and are taken with the participation of those who will be affected, keeping under review, within each country's constitutional framework, the responsibilities of the different levels of government and the administrative arrangements for organizing and delivering services;
- Keeping under review, within each country's constitutional framework, the national, provincial, municipal and local capacity and capability in raising revenue, and allocating resources to promote local initiatives in maintaining and increasing community cohesion;
- Simplifying administrative regulations, disseminating information about public policy issues and initiatives for collective interests, and facilitating maximum access to information;
- Opening channels and promoting full confidence between citizens and government agencies, and developing affordable recourse procedures accessible to all people, especially those who have no access to channels and agencies of communication to seek redress of grievances;
- Encouraging the production of relevant studies/research to assess the consequences of global and technological changes on social integration and the production of evaluations of the policies and programmes put in place to achieve the various components of social integration; and encouraging national and international exchanges and dissemination of information on innovative models and successful practices;
- Requiring accountability for the honest, just and equitable delivery of public services to the people from all public officials;
- Making their services accessible to all citizens and taking special care to ensure that the services are provided to all persons in need;
- Strengthening popular political participation, and promoting the transparency and accountability of political groupings at the local and national levels;
- Encouraging the ratification of, the avoidance as far as possible of the resort to reservations to and the implementation of international human rights instruments aiming to eliminate barriers to the full enjoyment of all human rights.
72. Encouraging the fullest participation in society requires:
- Strengthening the capacities and opportunities for all people, especially those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged, to establish and maintain independent organizations representing their interests, within each country's constitutional framework;
- Enabling institutions of civil society, with special attention to those representing vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, to participate in the formulation, on a consultative basis, implementation and evaluation of policies related to social development;
- Giving community organizations greater involvement in the design and implementation of local projects, particularly in the areas of education, health care, resource management and social protection;
- Ensuring a legal framework and a support structure that encourage the formation of and constructive contributions from community organizations and voluntary associations of individuals;
- Encouraging all members of society to exercise their rights, fulfil their responsibilities and participate fully in their societies, recognizing that Governments alone cannot meet all needs in society;
- Establishing a universal and flexible social safety net that takes into account available economic resources and encourages rehabilitation and active participation in society;
- Facilitating the access of disadvantaged and marginalized people to education and information, as well as their participation in social and cultural life;
- Promoting equality and social integration through sports and cultural activities.
73. Eliminating discrimination and promoting tolerance and mutual respect for and the value of diversity at the national and international levels requires:
- Enacting and implementing appropriate laws and other regulations to combat racism, racial discrimination, religious intolerance in all its various forms, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination in all walks of life in societies;
- Encouraging the ratification of the avoidance as far as possible of the resort to reservations, and the implementation of international instruments, including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination /17 and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; /18
- Taking specific measures, in the context of the implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, /19 to remove long-standing legal and social barriers to employment, education, productive resources and public services; assist women in becoming aware of and realizing their rights; and ensure the elimination of intra-family discrimination for the girl child, especially in regard to health, nutrition and education;
- Ensuring gender equality and equity through changes in attitudes, policies and practices, encouraging the full participation and empowerment of women in social, economic and political life, and enhancing gender balance in decision-making processes at all levels;
- Reviewing with a view to changing legislation, public codes and practices that perpetuate discriminatory practices;
- Disseminating information in plain language to all groups in society about people's rights and the means available to redress complaints;
- Strengthening or establishing machinery for monitoring and resolving disputes and conflicts related to discriminatory practices, and developing arbitration and conciliation procedures at the local and national levels;
- Setting an example through State institutions and the educational system to promote and protect respect for freedom of expression; democracy; political pluralism; diversity of heritage, cultures and values; religious tolerance and principles; and the national traditions on which a country has been built;
- Recognizing that the languages spoken or used in the world should be respected and protected;
- Recognizing that it is of utmost importance for all people to live in cooperation and harmony, and ensuring that the traditions and cultural heritage of nations are fully protected;
- Encouraging independent communication media that promote people's understanding and awareness of all aspects of social integration, with full respect for freedom of information and expression.
74. Governments should promote equality and social justice by:
- Ensuring that all people are equal before the law;
- Carrying out a regular review of public policy, including health and education policies, and public spending from a social and gender equality and equity perspective, and promoting their positive contribution to equalizing opportunities;
- Expanding and improving access to basic services with the aim of ensuring universal coverage;
- Providing equal opportunities in public-sector employment and providing guidance, information and, as appropriate, incentives to private employers to do the same;
- Encouraging the free formation of cooperatives, community and other grass-roots organizations, mutual support groups, recreational/sports associations and similar institutions that tend to strengthen social integration, paying particular attention to policies that assist families in their support, educational, socializing and nurturing roles;
- Ensuring that structural adjustment programmes are so designed as to minimize their negative effects on vulnerable and disadvantaged groups and communities while ensuring their positive effects on them by preventing their marginalization in economic and social activities, and devising measures to ensure that such groups and communities gain access to and control over economic resources and economic and social activities. Actions should be taken to reduce inequality and economic disparity;
- Promoting full access to preventive and curative health care to improve the quality of life, especially by the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, in particular women and children;
- Expanding basic education by developing special measures to provide schooling for children and youth living in sparsely populated and remote areas, for children and youth of nomadic, pastoral, migrant or indigenous parents, and for street children, children and youth working or looking after younger siblings and disabled or aged parents, and disabled children and youth; establishing, in partnership with indigenous people, educational systems that will meet the unique needs of their cultures;
- Ensuring that the expansion of basic education is accompanied by improved quality, appropriate attention to children of different abilities, cooperation between family and school, and a close link between the school curriculum and the needs of the workplace;
- Evaluating school systems on a regular basis by results achieved, and disseminating research findings regarding the appropriateness of different methods of evaluation;
- Ensuring that all people can have access to a variety of formal and non-formal learning activities throughout their lives that allows them to contribute to and benefit from full participation in society; making use of all forms of education, including non-conventional and experimental means of education, such as tele-courses and correspondence courses, through public institutions, the institutions of civil society and the private sector, to provide educational opportunities for those who in childhood missed necessary schooling, for youth in the process of transition from school to work, and for those who wish to continue education and upgrade skills throughout their lives;
- Providing equal access for girls to all levels of education, including non-traditional and vocational training, and ensuring that measures are taken to address the various cultural and practical barriers that impede their access to education through such measures as the hiring of female teachers, adoption of flexible hours, care of dependants and siblings, and provision of appropriate facilities.
75. Governmental responses to special needs of social groups should include:
- Identifying specific means to encourage institutions and services to adapt to the special needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;
- Recognizing and promoting the abilities, talents and experience of groups that are vulnerable and disadvantaged, identifying ways to prevent isolation and alienation, and enabling them to make a positive contribution to society;
- Ensuring access to work and social services through such measures as education, language training and technical assistance for people adversely affected by language barriers;
- Supporting by legislation, incentives and other means, where appropriate, organizations of the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups so that they may promote the interests of the groups concerned and become involved in local and national, economic, social and political decision-making that guides society as a whole;
- Improving the opportunities for people who are disadvantaged or vulnerable to seek positions in legislatures, Governments, judiciaries and other positions of public authority or influence;
- Taking measures to integrate into economic and social life demobilized persons and persons displaced by civil conflict and disasters;
- Promoting and protecting the rights of indigenous people, and empowering them to make choices that enable them to retain their cultural identity while participating in national, economic and social life, with full respect for their cultural values, languages, traditions and forms of social organization;
- Implementing the Plan of Action adopted by the World Summit for Children in 1990 and ratifying, as appropriate, and implementing the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child;
- Encouraging youth to participate in discussions and decisions affecting them and in the design, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes; ensuring that youth acquire the skills to participate in all aspects of life in society and to lead self-sufficient lives through the provision of relevant and innovative educational programmes; and establishing laws and measures that ensure the protection of youth against physical and mental abuse and economic exploitation;
- Adopting specific measures to equip young people for responsible adulthood, particularly out-of-school youth and street children;
- Promoting the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities /20 and developing strategies for implementing the Rules. Governments, in collaboration with organizations of people with disabilities and the private sector, should work towards the equalization of opportunities so that people with disabilities can contribute to and benefit from full participation in society. Policies concerning people with disabilities should focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities and should ensure their dignity as citizens;
- Within the context of the United Nations Principles for Older Persons /21 and the global targets on ageing for the year 2001, /22 reviewing or developing strategies for implementing the International Plan of Action on Ageing /23 so that older persons can maximize their contribution to society and play their full part in the community;
- Facilitating the implementation of the guidelines for further planning and suitable follow-up in the field of youth /24 with a view to promoting the integration of youth into societies;
- Taking measures to enable persons belonging to minorities to participate fully and contribute to the development of their society.
76. In order to address the special needs of refugees, displaced persons and asylum-seekers:
- Governments are urged to address the root causes of movements of refugees and displaced persons by taking appropriate measures, particularly with respect to conflict resolution; the promotion of peace and reconciliation; respect for human rights, including those of persons belonging to minorities; and respect for the independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty of States. Governments and all other entities should respect and safeguard the right of people to remain in safety in their homes and should refrain from policies or practices that force people to flee;
- Governments are urged to strengthen their support for international protection and assistance activities on behalf of refugees and, as appropriate, displaced persons, and to promote the search for durable solutions to their plight. In so doing, Governments are encouraged to enhance regional and international mechanisms that promote appropriate shared responsibility for the protection and assistance needs of refugees. All necessary measures should be taken to ensure the physical protection of refugees, in particular that of refugee women and refugee children and especially against exploitation, abuse and all forms of violence;
- Adequate international support should be extended to countries of asylum to meet the basic needs of refugees and to assist in the search for durable solutions. Refugee populations should be assisted in achieving self-sufficiency. Refugees, particularly refugee women, should be involved in the planning of refugee assistance activities and in their implementation. In planning and implementing refugee assistance activities, special attention should be given to the specific needs of refugee and displaced women and children. Refugees should be provided with access to adequate accommodation, education, health services, including family planning, and other necessary social services. Refugees should respect the laws and regulations of their countries of asylum;
- Governments and other relevant actors should create comprehensive conditions that allow for the voluntary repatriation of refugees in safety and dignity, and the voluntary and safe return of internally displaced persons to their homes of origin and their smooth reintegration into society;
- Governments are urged to abide by international law concerning refugees. States that have not already done so are invited to consider acceding to the international instruments concerning refugees, in particular the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees /25 and the 1967 Protocol to the Convention. /26 Governments are furthermore urged to respect the principle of non-refoulement, that is, the principle of no forcible return of persons to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened because of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Governments should ensure that asylum-seekers in the Government's territory have access to a fair hearing and should facilitate the expeditious processing of asylum requests, ensuring that guidelines and procedures for the determination of refugee status are sensitive to the particular situation of women;
- Governments and relevant actors should respect the right of people to seek and enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
77. To promote the equitable treatment and integration of documented migrants, particularly documented migrant workers and members of their families:
- Governments should ensure that documented migrants receive fair and equal treatment, including full respect of their human rights, protection of the laws of the host society, appropriate access to economic opportunities and social services; protection against racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia; and protection from violence and exploitation. Language training should be provided, in recognition of the centrality of language acquisition to the effective integration of documented migrants, including those not destined for the labour market, in so far as resources permit. Early integration is the key to allowing documented migrants to contribute their skills, knowledge and potential to the development of countries of destination, and involves mutual understanding by documented migrants and the host society. The former need to know and respect the values, laws, traditions and principles of the host society, which in turn should respect the religions, cultures and traditions of documented migrants;
- Governments of receiving countries are urged to consider giving to documented migrants having the right to long-term residence, civil and political rights and responsibilities, as appropriate, and facilitating their naturalization. Special efforts should be made to enhance the integration of the children of long-term migrants by providing them with educational and training opportunities equal to those of nationals, allowing them to exercise an economic activity and facilitating the naturalization of those who have been raised in the receiving country. Consistent with article 10 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child /27 and all relevant universally recognized human rights instruments, all Governments, particularly those of receiving countries, must recognize the vital importance of family reunification and promote its integration into their national legislation in order to ensure protection of the unity of the families of documented migrants. Governments of receiving countries must ensure the protection of migrants and their families, giving priority to programmes and strategies that combat religious intolerance, racism, ethnocentrism, xenophobia and gender discrimination, and that generate the necessary public sensitivity in that regard;
- Governments and relevant actors should encourage the international exchange of information on educational and training institutions in order to promote the productive employment of documented migrants through greater recognition of foreign education and credentials;
- Governments should encourage interracial harmony and cross-cultural understanding through educational programmes, where appropriate, including alternative dispute resolution and conflict prevention training in schools.
78. In order to address the concerns and basic human needs related to undocumented migrants:
- Governments are urged to cooperate in reducing the causes of undocumented migration, safeguarding the basic human rights of undocumented migrants, preventing their exploitation and offering them appropriate means of appeal according to national legislation, and punishing criminals who organize trafficking in human beings;
- Countries of destination, countries of transit and countries of origin should cooperate, as appropriate, to manage immigration flows, prevent undocumented migration, and, if appropriate, facilitate the return of migrants and their reintegration in their home communities;
- Governments are urged to cooperate to reduce the effects of undocumented migration on receiving countries, bearing in mind the special circumstances and needs of such countries, in particular developing countries;
- Governments are urged to promote effective measures to protect all undocumented migrants and members of their families against racism, ethnocentrism and xenophobia.
79. Addressing the problems created by violence, crime, substance abuse and the production, use and trafficking of illicit drugs, and the rehabilitation of addicts requires:
- Introducing and implementing specific policies and public health and social service programmes to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence in society, particularly to prevent and eliminate domestic violence and to protect the victims of violence, with particular attention to violence against women, children, older persons and persons with disabilities. In particular, the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women should be implemented and enforced nationally. In addition, the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child should be respected;
- Taking full measures to eliminate all forms of exploitation, abuse, harassment and violence against women, in particular domestic violence and rape. Special attention should be given to violence resulting from harmful traditional or customary practices and all forms of extremism, which implies both preventive actions and the rehabilitation of victims;
- Implementing programmes that channel the energy and creativity of children and youth towards improving themselves and their communities in order to prevent their participation in crime, violence, and drug abuse and trafficking;
- Improving mechanisms for resolving conflicts peacefully and reintegrating society following conflicts, including efforts towards reconciliation and confidence-building between the conflicting groups, training in non-violent conflict resolution at all levels of education, the reconstruction of social institutions that have been destroyed, the reintegration of displaced and disabled persons, and the re-establishment of the rule of law and respect for all human rights;
- Establishing partnerships with non-governmental organizations and community organizations to make adequate provision for the rehabilitation and reintegration into society of offenders, especially young offenders; measures will include efforts to maintain links with their families during detention and to reintegrate them into productive employment and social life after their release from detention;
- Strengthening international cooperation and coordination in devising strategies, policies, legislation and other measures in combating national and transnational organized crime and the use of violence and terrorism;
- Adopting effective and environmentally sound national strategies to prevent or substantially reduce the cultivation and processing of crops used for the illegal drug trade, paying particular attention to national and international support for development programmes that create viable economic alternatives to drug production and promote the full integration of the social groups involved in such activities;
- Combating drug and substance abuse and drug trafficking, corruption and related criminal activities through national and internationally coordinated measures, while strengthening integrated, multisectoral programmes to prevent and reduce the demand for consumption of drugs in order to create a society free of illicit drugs. In cooperation with the institutions of civil society and the private sector, drug abuse prevention should be promoted as well as preventive education for children and youth, rehabilitation and education programmes for former drug and alcohol addicts, especially children and youth, to enable them to obtain productive employment and achieve the independence, dignity and responsibility for a drug-free, crime-free, productive life;
- Working nationally and internationally to identify narcotics trafficking and money laundering networks, prosecuting their leaders and seizing assets derived from such criminal activities;
- Supporting comprehensive drug interdiction strategies and strengthening efforts to control precursor chemicals and firearms, ammunition and explosives in order to prevent their diversion to drug trafficking and terrorist groups;
- Combating trafficking in women and children through national and internationally coordinated measures, at the same time establishing or strengthening institutions for the rehabilitation of the victims of the trafficking of women and children.
80. The family is the basic unit of society and as such should be strengthened. It is entitled to receive comprehensive protection and support. In different cultural, political and social systems, various forms of the family exist. Marriage must be entered into with the free consent of the intending spouses, and husband and wife should be equal partners.
81. Helping the family in its supporting, educating and nurturing roles in contributing to social integration should involve:
- Encouraging social and economic policies that are designed to meet the needs of families and their individual members, especially the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members, with particular attention to the care of children;
- Ensuring opportunities for family members to understand and meet their social responsibilities;
- Promoting mutual respect, tolerance and cooperation within the family and within society;
- Promoting equal partnership between women and men in the family.