United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

3 September 1998


                                                      Original: English

General Assembly
Fifty-third session
Item 101 of the provisional agenda*
Implementation of the first United Nations Decade 
  for the Eradication of Poverty

     * A/53/150.

        Implementation of the first United Nations Decade for the
                Eradication of Poverty (1997-2006)

                  Report of the Secretary-General


            The present report is a response to General Assembly resolution
52/193 of 18 December 1997 on the "First United Nations Decade for the
Eradication of Poverty". The Assembly requested the Secretary-General to
report to it at its fifty-third session on progress made in the implementation
of measures, themes, recommendations and activities related to the Decade,
including recommendations for possible actions and initiatives for the rest of
the Decade, as well as proposals for better coordination of actions taken by
the United Nations system.

            The report highlights the progress and setbacks experienced in
poverty eradication and underscores the link between poverty, human rights and
development. It also stresses the importance of global targets and
international cooperation, as well as their implications for the first United
Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. Furthermore, the report
reviews the activities of the United Nations system in support of national


                                                     Paragraphs  Page

  I.  Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1-2       3

 II.  An overview of progress and setbacks in poverty 
      eradication. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   3-29      3

III.  Poverty, human rights and development. . . . . .  30-39      6

 IV.  Global targets and international cooperation and 
      their implications for the first United Nations 
      Decade for the Eradication of Poverty. . . . . .  40-63      7

      A.  Equity, poverty reduction and international 
          cooperation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  45-51      8

      B.  Partnership for integrated anti-poverty 
          efforts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  52-58      9

      C.  Coordination at the intergovernmental level   59-63      9

          1.  Commission for Social Development. . . .  59-60      9

          2.  Economic and Social Council. . . . . . .  61-62     10

          3.  General Assembly . . . . . . . . . . . .    63      10

  V.  Activities of the United Nations system in 
      support of national efforts. . . . . . . . . . .  64-116    10

      A.  Administrative Committee on Coordination . .  64-66     10

      B.  United Nations Secretariat . . . . . . . . .    67      11

      C.  Regional commissions . . . . . . . . . . . .  68-80     11

      D.  United Nations programmes, funds and 
          specialized agencies . . . . . . . . . . . .  81-116    13

                       I.     Introduction

1.   Eradicating poverty is the primary challenge facing
the international community at the eve of the twenty-first
century. In its resolution 52/193 of 18 December 1997, the
Assembly requested the Secretary-General to report to it at
its fifty-third session on progress made in the
implementation of measures, themes, recommendations and
activities related to the first United Nations Decade for the
Eradication of Poverty, including recommendations for
possible actions and initiatives for the rest of the Decade,
as well as proposals for better coordination of actions taken
by the United Nations system.

2.   The present report has been prepared in response to
those requests. Section II consists of an overview of
progress and setbacks in poverty eradication; section III
covers the theme of the year "Poverty, human rights and
development"; section IV covers global targets and
international cooperation and their implications for the first
United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty;
section V covers the activities of the United Nations system
related to the Decade. The present report should be read in
conjunction with the reports of the Secretary-General on the
implementation of the outcome of the World Summit for
Social Development (A/53/211) and on the role of
microcredit in the eradication of poverty (A/53/223).

       II.     An overview of progress and
               setbacks in poverty eradication

3.   Significant political, economic and social changes
have overtaken the world in the 1990s and there has been
renewed commitment to the eradication of poverty.
Eliminating poverty was a cross-cutting theme of major
conferences and summits and is a major challenge for the
twenty-first century. Policies aiming at a more equitable
distribution of income and wealth, more widely shared
possibilities for influencing decisions, as well as increasing
opportunities for the poor, are of utmost importance for the
eradication of poverty.

4.   The Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development 1/
has reaffirmed that the most productive economic and social
policies are those that enable people to maximize their
capacities, resources and opportunities. Social and
economic development cannot be secured in a sustainable
way without the full participation of women. Equality
between women and men is a priority for the international
community and must be at the centre of economic and social

5.   Global living standards have risen dramatically over
the past 25 years. Despite an increase in population from
2.9 billion people in 1970 to 5.8 billion in 1996, per capita
income growth in developing countries has averaged 1.3 per
cent a year, according to the World Bank's 1998 World
Development Indicators. While hundreds of millions have
had lifted from them the yoke of poverty and despair,
millions more have been added to those living in abject

6.   The global progress in poverty reduction conceals
large regional differences. Until the financial crisis in East
Asia, the proportion of people living in poverty was
declining in Asia, where most of the poor live. More than
500 million people remain in poverty in South Asia. The
number of poor is rising rapidly in Europe and Central Asia
and continuing to rise in Latin America and sub-Saharan


7.   The challenges of the coming century to eradicate
poverty and ensure sustainable development and lasting
peace will fall on today's young people. Educating the
young to meet these challenges has become a priority for
every society. Investment in education, therefore, is
fundamental for the process of enabling individuals and
countries to realize their potential and make the most of
their resources.

8.   Education is often singled out as an important policy
instrument in bringing about greater equality of opportunity.
The most important asset of people living in poverty is their
labour time. Opportunities for the productive utilization of
this asset through employment are enhanced through
education. Education raises the productivity of both
employed workers and the self-employed. Hence, it can
reduce inequalities by strengthening the opportunities for
the poor to increase their income.

9.   In many countries there is a growing realization that
education is the key to the future and that the challenges and
jobs of tomorrow will require an education of better quality
than that which most students receive today. Perceptions of
the scope of education also are changing as societies realize
the importance of life-long learning, that education does not
end with childhood and youth. In this context, the two main
strands of global educational policies are the deepening
commitment of most countries to the democratization of
education (Education for All and Education Throughout
Life) and the tendency towards a more productive view of
educational quality and purposes. Some of the signs of how
the productive view has permeated educational policies,
compared to 30 years ago, are through assessment,
adjustment, effectiveness, performance, outcomes, fiscal
constraints and of course human capital.

10.  According to the United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World
Education Report 1998: Teachers and Teaching in a
Changing World, the global patterns of student enrolments
by region and level of education have changed considerably
over the last 30 years and continue to evolve. In the
developing regions, where population pressures are still
strong and student enrolment growth rates generally have
been positive, Education for All, including an improvement
in the quality of basic education, has been the main focus
of educational policies, at least to the extent that political
and economic conditions have allowed. In sub-Saharan
Africa, and the Arab States and southern Asia region, which
include most of the least developed countries, educational
policies have been very much hostage to economic and
political circumstances.

11.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, where the
educational infrastructure is more highly developed than in
other developing regions, the 1990s have witnessed several
major initiatives towards the decentralization of once-monolithic 
State education system, e.g. Argentina, Brazil,
Colombia and Mexico. In each case, this has entailed,
among other things, complex and protracted discussions
with teachers' unions, which traditionally had negotiated
teachers' salaries and conditions of service at the national
level and were still wary of further erosion of their incomes
coming after the experiences of inflation and structural
adjustment policies in the 1980s.

12.  In spite of the progress in student enrolments in the
developing world, an estimated 140 million school-age
children, 60 per cent of them girls, do not go to school. Over
900 million adults, two thirds of whom are women, are


13.  According to the World Health Report 1998, at least
120 countries (total population above 5 billion) currently
have a life expectancy at birth of more than 60 years. The
global average is 66 years compared to only 48 years in
1955; it is projected to reach 75 years in 2025. Based on the
review by the World Health Organization (WHO) of overall
health trends in the past 50 years, remarkable improvements
in health have been due to socio-economic development, the
wider provision of safe water, sanitation facilities and
personal hygiene, and the establishment and expansion of
national services.

14.  Tragically, while average life expectancy has been
increasing throughout the twentieth century, 3 out of 4
people in the least developed countries today die before the
age of 50 -- the global life expectancy figure of half a
century ago. This year, 21 million deaths -- 2 out of every
5 worldwide -- will be among the under-50s, including 10
million small children who will never see their fifth
birthday, although most children worldwide are now
immunized against major childhood killers. Over 7 million
deaths will be men and women in what should be some of
the best and most productive years of their lives.

          Safe water and sanitation

15.  Water resources are essential for satisfying basic
human needs, health and food production, energy, the
restoration and maintenance of ecosystems, and for social
and economic development in general. Agriculture accounts
for a major part of global freshwater use. 2/

16.  The lack of basic sanitation, water supply and food
safety continues to contribute greatly to diarrhoeal disease
mortality and morbidity in the developing world. In spite
of efforts made during the International Drinking Water
Supply and Sanitation Decade, about 20 per cent of the
world population lacks access to safe water and about 50
per cent lacks access to adequate forms of sanitation.
Current trends in the provision of services remain
insufficient to achieve full service coverage in the near
future. For sanitation, in particular, the Water Supply and
Sanitation Collaborative Council meeting held in November
1997 in Manila concluded that at the present rates of
progress, the world cannot achieve full service coverage by
the year 2100. The problem of water supply and sanitation
is particularly acute in dense urban areas, where
construction has overtaken the rate at which the supply
system and sanitation services can be installed economically
and within the financial capacity of municipalities.

17.  Rural communities are generally well dispersed within
a watershed and have intimate links with small-scale
catchments and aquifers, although there is evidence that
those localized sources are becoming increasingly polluted
from latrines and waste heaps. In many developing countries
there is still a strong urban bias in access to potable water,
adequate sanitation and health clinics.

18.  It is important that considerations of equitable and
responsible use of water become an integral part of
formulating strategic approaches to integrated water
management at all levels, in particular in addressing the
problem of people living in poverty. The development,
management, protection and use of water so as to contribute
to the eradication of poverty and the promotion of food
security is an exceptionally important goal.

     Impact of the international economic environment on poverty

19.  Experiences of East Asian countries show the
powerful synergy between economic growth and social
sector investment, as well as the need to achieve balance
between growth objectives and social development with
respect to resource allocation. East Asia had achieved
remarkable development progress from the 1960s to the
mid-1990s. Absolute poverty, on the average, had been
reduced from afflicting 60 per cent of the population in the
sub-region to only 20 per cent (before the current economic
crisis). The success in alleviating poverty had been largely
due to the considerable attention paid to human resources
development, in particular, education, by the Governments
of East Asian countries.

20.  According to the World Economic and Social Survey,
1998 (E/1998/50), economic growth in developing countries
is expected to decline in 1998, due primarily to direct and
indirect consequences of the 1997 1998 Asian financial
crisis. Contractionary adjustment policies, poor business
confidence, shortage of domestic liquidity and scarcity of
external finance underlie the economic contraction in the
crisis countries in Asia. Reduced foreign direct investment
flows from the affected Asian economies is expected to have
a negative effect. Weaker international commodity prices,
aggravated by significantly reduced demand from Asia and
elsewhere, are anticipated to weaken economic growth in
commodity exporting developing countries.

21.  The recent East Asian financial crisis has slowed the
pace of poverty reduction in the region. Although precise
estimates are not available, tens of millions of people have
been dragged back to poverty. For example, as many as 50
million Indonesians face a return to poverty as a result of
the drought and financial crisis, according to a recent
assessment of the World Bank. Consequently, rice and
overall food prices rose by 50 per cent over a 12-month
span, according to an April 1998 report by the Food and
Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). As
a result, Indonesia will have to import about 3.5 million tons
of rice in 1998. Farmers, who represent more than half the
workforce, are suffering severely. Furthermore,
unemployment continues to rise in East Asia (up from 2 per
cent to about 6.9 per cent in the Republic of Korea). Social
strife is likely to intensify under pressure from growing
poverty, with effects that could include a disruption of the
economic distribution system, due to conflict in some urban
areas. Women are expected to experience a particularly
heavy burden, with a significant increase in domestic
violence and divorce as a result of joblessness and family

22.  Although most East Asian countries invested in
education and health, social safety nets were not yet
established to protect the unemployed. But under the current
circumstances, many families are financially overburdened
since the traditional breadwinners have been laid off. The
majority of the "newly poor" are unskilled workers, who
were temporarily employed during the economic boom but
have now lost their livelihoods. Specific programmes to
provide credit to those sectors most adversely affected,
including agriculture, small and medium-sized enterprises
and exporters, are of utmost importance in alleviating social
distress and poverty in the region.

23.  There is an urgent need for policies that will both
inhibit the flow of volatile short-term capital and encourage
long-term capital, especially foreign direct investment.
Burden sharing by making borrowers and lenders pay the
full costs of their risks, will strengthen the financial sector
and will minimize the adverse effects.

24.  Direct employment creation schemes, which include
labour-intensive public works schemes and credit schemes
to promote self-employment and enterprise development,
will contribute to containing the social costs. Such schemes
have been used in the past as part of poverty alleviation
programmes, mainly in rural areas. Furthermore, the
strengthening of social protection in the region is also an
important long-term need. 

25.  Despite significant economic growth in some African
countries, poverty remains pervasive, urban unemployment
is high, underemployment is common and many subsist in
low productivity, informal sector jobs in all countries.
Africa and the least developed countries (LDCs) remain
highly vulnerable to exogenous shocks, such as those related
to weather or volatile international commodity prices.

26.  According to the United Nations Conference on Trade
and Development (UNCTAD) Least Developed Countries:
1997 Report, development has proved elusive for a
significant number of LDCs during the last 10 years. These
countries have experienced a setback in development: their
economies have declined, social conditions have worsened
markedly, and they have become increasingly marginalized
from the mainstream of the world economy. There are
important differences between individual LDCs in terms of
the nature of setbacks, its scale and its causes. 

27.  Poverty in LDCs is manifested in the deterioration of
a range of economic and social indicators, including per
capita output, food availability, access to education, health
status and war-related mortality and displacement. Lack of
adequate physical infrastructure and human resources
development, declining commodity prices, adverse terms
of trade and natural and man-made disasters contribute to
negative economic growth for most LDCs. Many LDCs have
become marginalized from the mainstream of the world
economy, particularly from international trade and
investment flows. Even inflows of international aid have
fallen dramatically for some LDCs, because of the collapse
of State structures through which aid can be disbursed and
utilized. Poverty in the case of LDCs is best understood as
a process in which the deterioration of State capacities, the
weakening of civil society and economic decline interact
to reinforce one another.

28.  Equitable income growth is essential for reducing
chronic food deficiency and poverty. As the majority of the
poor are rural farmers, policies that promote agricultural
and rural development will also enhance food security by
raising incomes and reducing poverty. However, the most
effective policy for increasing food security in certain LDCs
is the promotion of peace.

29.  Of particular concern to LDCs is the decline of official
development assistance (ODA) and the prices of primary
commodities on which they rely heavily. Furthermore,
LDC's external debt burden continues to be a constraint on
their capacity to accelerate development: it limits and
dampens prospects for larger private capital inflows.

      III.     Poverty, human rights and development

30.  The Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development
reaffirmed the promotion of all human rights, including the
right to development, as a universal and inalienable right
and an integral part of fundamental human rights, and seeks
to ensure that they are respected, protected and observed.
The special theme for 1998, "Poverty, human rights and
development" was selected in recognition of the fiftieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,
which provides the occasion for taking stock and looking
at the deficits that still exist.

31.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates
that "everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate
for the health and well-being of himself and of his family,
including food, clothing, housing and medical care and
necessary social services, and the rights to security in the
event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood,
old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond
his control", the violation of which generates poverty.
Poverty and inequality are therefore violations of those
human rights and others such as the right to participate, an
effective legal system, freedom of expression and the
principle of non-discrimination. 

32.  The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights, held
in Vienna in 1993, affirmed that extreme poverty and social
exclusion constitute a violation of human dignity and that
urgent steps are necessary to achieve better knowledge of
extreme poverty and its causes, including those related to
the problem of development, in order to promote the human
rights of the poorest. 3/ To this end, it is essential for States
to support participation by the poorest in the decision-making 
process of the community in which they live.

33.  A human rights-based approach to poverty defines
beneficiaries and the nature of their needs. It also
recognizes beneficiaries as active subjects and claim holders
and establishes duties or obligations for those against whom
a claim can be brought to ensure that needs are met. The
concept of claim holders and duty-bearers introduces an
element of accountability. Increased accountability is
pivotal to improved effectiveness and transparency. 

34.  Extreme poverty involves denial of a wide range of
basic human rights and prevents full exercise of many
others. Freedom and respect for economic, social and
cultural rights go hand-in-hand. Poverty also prevents
people from assuming not only their duties as individuals,
but also their collective duties as citizen, parent, worker and

35.  The Vienna Declaration also reaffirmed the right to
development as a universal and inalienable right and an
integral part of fundamental human rights. The Declaration
on the Right to Development 4/ brings together the two
covenants, through its elaboration of a holistic vision
integrating civil, cultural, economic, political and social
rights, aiming at a constant improvement of the well-being
of the human person. The individual's active, free and
meaningful participation in development is the basis for the
implementation of the 1986 Declaration on the Right to

36.  With the globalization of the world economy,
concerns are increasingly expressed about the negative
impact on human rights of the world expansion of market
rules and the social dimensions of the liberalization of trade.
While the globalization of the world economy provides new
opportunities for all countries, it also increases the risk of
marginalization of countries, groups and individuals that are
not able to compete, and hence creates or aggravates

37.  Issues at stake comprise the growing concentration of
power in the hands of transnational economic and financial
institutions, the liberalization of economic polices reducing
the States' ability to manage growth and development, the
privatization of social policy resulting in disentitlement for
an increasingly larger number of people, deregulation at
both the national and international levels, competitiveness,
the complex challenges involved in interdependence and the
risk of instability.

38.  In its resolution 1998/25, adopted on 17 April 1998,
the Commission on Human Rights decided on the
appointment of an independent expert to address the
question of human rights and extreme poverty. The
independent expert will: (a) evaluate the relationship
between the promotion and protection of human rights and
extreme poverty, including through the assessment of
measures taken at the national and international levels,
taking into account in particular obstacles encountered and
progress made by women living in extreme poverty; (b)
make recommendations in the sphere of technical assistance
and report on these activities to the Commission on Human
Rights at it fifty-fifth (1999) and fifty-sixth (2000) sessions,
making those reports available to the Commission for Social
Development and the Commission on the Status of Women;
(c) contribute to the General Assembly's special session in
the year 2000 on the follow-up to the World Summit for
Social Development; and (d) make suggestions to the
Commission on Human Rights at its fifty-fifth session on
the main points of a possible draft declaration on human
rights and extreme poverty, for consideration by the
Subcommission in 1999 and submission to the Commission,
and for possible adoption by the General Assembly.

39.  The basic link between democracy, development and
human rights requires that all human rights be viewed as
universal, indivisible and interdependent. The right to food,
adequate housing, health, education, access to gainful
employment, respect for international labour standards
(including freedom of association and collective bargaining
in the area of labour, freedom from discrimination in labour,
elimination of forced labour and child labour) are all linked
to poverty eradication.

       IV.     Global targets and international
               cooperation and their implications
               for the first United Nations Decade
               for the Eradication of Poverty

40.  Poverty eradication has remained a major concern in
the work of the United Nations since the establishment of
the Organization. The mandate of United Nations work
against poverty is embedded in international agreements,
declarations and covenants, dating back to the Charter of
the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of
Action provides the substantive framework for the current
drive for eradicating poverty and for planning the efforts of
the United Nations system in support of the first United
Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty.

41.  Recognizing the multidimensional characteristics of
poverty, the international community has set for itself a
range of interlocking development goals which, taken
together, address the overarching challenge of poverty
eradication. These goals include: achieving a substantial
reduction of overall poverty and the eradication of extreme
poverty by a date set by each country; reductions in infant
and child mortality; reductions in maternal mortality and
child malnutrition; improvements in life expectancy; and
access to basic social services, especially among women.
These goals provide a powerful set of objectives for all
development partners to marshal resources and eradicate

42.  A growing number of countries have formulated
national strategies and action plans to fight poverty, in
response to the World Summit for Social Development
commitment to reduce overall poverty and eradicate
absolute poverty through decisive national and international

43.  The United Nations reforms, announced in 1997 by
the Secretary-General, provide a framework for
collaborative action by the different organs and bodies of
the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods
institutions, which can support and encourage country-by-country 
efforts geared towards the goals of accelerating
poverty reduction and the eradication of the worst aspects
of poverty during the next two decades. The executive heads
of the organizations of the United Nations system, including
the Bretton Woods institutions, adopted a Statement of
Commitment for Action to Eradicate Poverty, in May 1998.
They stressed that the current global environment provides
a real chance to qualitatively improve the conditions of life
for the vast majority of the people who live in poverty, and
affirmed their collective commitment to the goal of
eradicating poverty.

44.  This collective commitment to eradicate poverty is not
limited to governmental and intergovernmental institutions.
Civil society all over the world is also determined to combat
poverty and its root causes. A wide array of national and
international organizations, including many non-governmental 
organizations (NGOs), have put the fight
against poverty at the centre of their own strategies and

        A.     Equity, poverty reduction and
               international cooperation

45.   There is a continued perception that globalization is
a powerful force leading to new opportunities and
challenges. For a large number of countries as well as
people, it has brought definite benefits, but for others, it has
brought further marginalization. Many argue that the
inequity inherent in the current prevailing model of
development has been the main cause of social, economic
and cultural degradation experienced in many societies, and
that it is the cause of the increasing vulnerability of many
social groups.

46.   Equity, in a broader sense, encompasses equality of
opportunity and access, as well as the distribution of
income, consumption and wealth. Improvements in health,
education, nutrition, and the equity of land ownership can
enable individuals to participate more fully and more
productively in the economy.

47.   Equitable access to the economic and social benefits
of development in both developed and developing countries
are key elements for eradicating poverty. International
cooperation is key to ensuring that the benefits of
globalization are shared equitably.

48.   Promoting economic and financial stability depends
crucially on political stability, but the same is true in
reverse. Developing countries are particularly vulnerable
to such instability, and it is important that there be a 
well-managed set of international mechanisms to support
beneficial regulation and stability. The East Asian crisis has
had devastating effects on the poor and vulnerable groups.
The most seriously affected groups are the less educated,
the unskilled, the migrant workers, women, and those who
depended on government social programmes. The
international community has an essential role in contributing
to the financial stability of East Asian countries. Equitable
burden-sharing and reduced social costs are therefore of the
utmost importance.

49.  External debt burden continues to be a constraint to
many developing countries, especially in Africa and the
least developed countries. Debt servicing payments
contribute to poverty when public revenue is diverted from
productive sector expenditure, such as education, health and
physical infrastructure to debt servicing. The most
important recent development in debt relief for LDCs is the
heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) debt initiative. This
initiative provides a framework for implementing a strategy
of burden-sharing among all creditors to reduce HIPC debt
to a sustainable level.

50.  Linking global goals and targets to the issues of
financing and assistance in achieving the commitments of
the World Summit for Social Development and other
conferences is of particular importance. Poor countries will
need major external financing to alleviate poverty. Globally,
ODA has fallen to just 0.25 per cent of gross domestic
product in 1996 -- the lowest level since foreign aid was
institutionalized with the Marshall Plan about 50 years ago.
So far, only Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden
have met or exceeded the 0.7 per cent target. It is
noteworthy, though, that the United Kingdom and Ireland
have begun increasing aid as a proportion of gross domestic
product (GDP). With declining ODA and the breakdown in
some countries of national economies and social welfare
systems, resource availability becomes more crucial for
promoting development. The 20/20 Initiative mentioned at
the Summit provides one innovative way of increasing
resources for basic social services from ODA and national
budgets of interested countries. It is imperative for the
international community to find new and innovative ways
of mobilizing resources for social and economic

51.  The most important challenge facing the international
community is to enable the poorest developing countries,
especially those in Africa and the least developed countries,
to develop capacities, integrate better into the global
economy and thereby benefit from the opportunities offered
by globalization. Debt relief, additional and well-targeted
resources, access to markets, information and technology,
as well as better trade opportunities are all crucial to
poverty reduction and eradication. 

     B.     Partnership for integrated anti-poverty efforts

52.  Partnership may be established at different levels:
local, national, regional, or international. In its resolution
1996/7, the Economic and Social Council reaffirmed the
need to ensure an effective partnership and cooperation
between Governments and the relevant actors of civil
society, the social partners and the major groups as defined
in Agenda 21, including NGOs and the private sector, in the
implementation of and follow-up to the Copenhagen
Declaration and Programme of Action.

53.  It is of utmost importance to encourage the
establishment of mechanisms to facilitate partnership for
poverty eradication and development both at the national
and international levels among Governments, the private
sector and organizations of civil society. The idea of
partnership is to unite efforts for social cohesion rather than
shifting burdens.

54.  The World Summit for Social Development
recognized that poverty eradication requires the promotion
of sustained economic growth, in the context of sustainable
development, and social progress, requiring that growth be
broadly based, offering equal opportunities to all people.
Good governance, macroeconomic balances, opening spaces
for individual, local and business initiatives and effective
human development programmes are all key elements of a
national poverty eradication strategy.

55.  A proper balance between the State and the market is
crucial for social progress and development. The State has
a key role to play in supporting economic arrangements
which encourage human development, stimulate enterprise
and saving and create the environment necessary to mobilize
domestic resources and to attract foreign investment.
Sustainable development to eradicate poverty rests on
economic growth that is not only stable and vigorous, but
which also embraces people living in poverty and allows
them to share the fruits of development. A dynamic private
sector requires a government that fosters economic growth
and is more responsive to the needs of people living in
poverty. In order to benefit and promote the participation
of people living in poverty, economic growth must
incorporate a sound and open macroeconomic framework,
in which resources are used productively and which
facilitates the development of income- and employment-generating 
activities that include poor people, particularly women. 

56.  A strong and fruitful partnership between developed
and developing countries is essential for the eradication of
poverty. A vital step towards this end, is the economic 
well-being and poverty reduction proposal of the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Development
Partnerships Strategy   with the specific goal that the
proportion of people living in extreme poverty in
developing countries should be reduced by at least one half
by 2015. Progress reports for the DAC high-level meeting
in Paris (8 and 9 April 1998) show that the hardest work for
donors now will be in helping make it possible for
developing-country partners to take full ownership and
leadership of their development efforts, backed by better
coordinated aid and other international support. OECD
members are challenged to assure pro-development impacts
from policies in areas such as aid-procurement
liberalization, sustainable development and the mobilization
of financing from all sources for development.

57.  Development of indicators is also essential to monitor
and assess progress achieved in eradicating poverty. Work
by DAC, with experts from United Nations agencies, the
World Bank and developing countries, has yielded
substantial results in preparing for international
consideration a manageable, working set of indicators of
development progress, covering the goal of reducing
extreme poverty and many of the main global goals agreed
upon by the international community. At the same time, the
United Nations system is promoting the synergies of this
approach with its own Development Assistance Framework
and the Minimum National Social Data Set.

58.  With a political will, partnership and solidarity,
poverty eradication is a reachable goal given the tremendous
resources and wealth in the world.

    C.     Coordination at the intergovernmental level

        1.     Commission for Social Development

59.  The Commission for Social Development considered
"Productive employment and sustainable livelihoods" and
"Promoting social integration and participation of all
people, including disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and
persons", respectively, at its thirty-fifth 5/ and thirty-sixth
sessions. 6/ Expansion of productive employment is an
essential means to eradicate poverty, which is one of the
major causes of social exclusion. Furthermore, social
integration is best promoted in close harmony with efforts
to expand productive employment and eradicate poverty,
given their mutually reinforcing interrelationships. In this
context, the Commission's agreed conclusions stressed
actions and policies that could contribute to the expansion
of productive employment, as well as the promotion of
social integration at the national and international levels.

60.  The Commission will be discussing in February 1999
the important issue, social services for all, and the impact
of globalization on national revenue and the capacity to pay
for social services. Its conclusions could be of paramount
importance to the objective of the United Nations Decade
for the Eradication of Poverty.

        2.     Economic and Social Council 

61.  The Economic and Social Council, at its 1998 session
on the integrated and coordinated follow-up to major United
Nations conferences and summits, stressed that poverty
eradication and improving living conditions of people
everywhere should be the overriding objective of the
Council's efforts to ensure an integrated and coordinated
follow-up to conferences, in particular the World Summit
for Social Development. The coordination and management
role of the Council, particularly with regard to its functional
commissions and the executive boards of the funds and
programmes; inter-agency coordination, national and
regional level follow-up; and the vital importance of
developing a coherent set of basic indicators to assess
progress in social and economic development were the focus
of the Council's coordination segment. The Council decided
on the theme "Development of Africa: implementation and
coordinated follow-up by the United Nations system of
initiatives on African development" for its 1999
coordination segment. The Council also decided that the
role of employment and work in poverty eradication would
be the theme of the high-level segment of its 1999
substantive session.

62.  At the high-level segment of the Council's substantive
session of 1998, it was noted that trade liberalization and
market access should be seen in the context of poverty
eradication, the ultimate goal of development efforts. In this
context, ensuring the provision of basic services, creating
adequate infrastructure and investing in human development
were all necessary prerequisites of a developing country's
benefiting from any enhancement of global market access
for its goods. It was noted that numerous tariff--  and non-tariff
-- barriers remained, as well as tariff peaks and
escalation, which affected developing countries' exports.
It is, therefore, essential that the future multilateral trade
agenda should aim at broad-based liberalization of trade.

        3.     General Assembly

63.  By resolution 50/161, the General Assembly decided
to hold a special session in the year 2000 for an overall
review and appraisal of the outcome of the World Summit
for Social Development, and to consider further initiatives
to achieve the commitments adopted at Copenhagen. At its
organizational session held in May 1998, the Preparatory
Committee for the Special Session held two panel
discussions on the implementation of the outcome of the
Summit. Among the issues addressed were the need to
promote better integration of all aspects of development in
the analysis and formulation of policies of poverty
eradication, and the need to target the poorest of the poor
and the "floating" populations such as the homeless,
squatters, the rural indigent, urban slum dwellers and
persons with disabilities. With regard to further initiatives
to be considered by the special session, topics related to
poverty reduction and eradication will inevitably be
included, such as equity and distributional issues, which will
be addressed in the Report of the World Social Situation

        V.     Activities of the United Nations
               system in support of national efforts

        A.     Administrative Committee on

64.  The Administrative Committee on Coordination
(ACC) has called upon organizations of the United Nations
system to maintain sustained support to countries in
translating the commitments made at conferences, including
the World Summit for Social Development, into concrete
national policies and programmes. In October 1997, ACC
reaffirmed that the eradication of poverty remained a
fundamental goal of the United Nations system that required
its sustained and coordinated effort. At its first regular
session of 1998, ACC also provided guidance for the inter-agency 
work to identify key areas, with a view to promoting
collaboration and synergies among them at the country
level. ACC stresses accelerating and sustaining economic
growth that is equitable, employment-intensive and pro-poor. 
But action against poverty needs to go beyond
economic factors. It requires special measures to increase
the access of the poor to productive assets, including credit
and land, and to make them also productive in the social and
civil spheres.

65.  ACC also stresses that empowerment, participation
and strengthening of social capital are important means for
action against poverty, as well as ends in themselves.
Strengthening and mobilizing social capital calls for policy
and institutional changes that support empowerment of the
poor and the full realization of their rights as citizens. It
demands changes that promote the political, social and
economic advancement of women, and of disadvantaged or
marginalized groups. Special programmes may be required
to address the needs of excluded groups, such as indigenous
peoples, those living in remote areas and refugees. ACC
also calls upon all countries to take these considerations and
needs fully into account in their national development
strategies, and expresses its determination to extend full
support to such strategies, with a view to achieving
development and peace by addressing the root causes of

66.  The United Nations system assists countries, where
requested, in the formulation of national plans and
programmes for the eradication of poverty in line with
government priorities and with the commitment to an
integrated and coordinated follow-up to recent conferences,
including the World Summit for Social Development. The
resident coordinator system has been active in promoting
a broad policy dialogue with Governments through a
number of mechanisms linked with the programming of
operational activities for development, notably inter-agency
thematic groups.

        B.     United Nations Secretariat

67.  Several departments of the United Nations support the
work of the intergovernmental bodies in the area of poverty
eradication, through the collection and dissemination of
information, analytical and normative work, panel
discussions and expert group meetings, and by encouraging
the contribution of civil society. The Department of
Economic and Social Affairs was designated by the General
Assembly, in its resolution 48/183, as the preparatory body
for the International Year for the Eradication of Poverty
(1996). The Department, in particular the Division for
Social Policy and Development, acted as the focal point for
the Year within the system, as well as for the preparations
for the Decade for the Eradication of Poverty, proclaimed
by the Assembly in its resolution 50/107. A report entitled
"Observance of the International Year for the Eradication
of Poverty (1996) and recommendations for the rest of the
Decade" (A/52/573) was submitted to the Assembly at its
fifty-second session.

        C.     Regional commissions

68.  The regional commissions have a mandate from the
General Assembly to follow up on conference goals. They
provide, inter alia, advisory services and regional technical
cooperation activities to assist Governments in developing
a range of policies and programmes for poverty alleviation
in various development sectors.

69.  The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has been
involved for the last three years in initiating a process to
examine the requirements of a broad-based development
strategy that reduces poverty in the continent, and in
implementing the elements of such a strategy. In this regard,
ECA prepared a thematic programme with an elaborate
agenda on the eradication of poverty in Africa, as a long-term 
objective of development. The elements of the
programme, as they relate to the policy analysis dimension,
include (a) capacity-building in the analysis of poverty,
where several training modules on poverty and public policy
were adapted to suit African conditions in collaboration
with the World Bank; (b) activities related to the United
Nations System-wide Special Initiative on Africa; (c)
organizing a regional follow-up conference to the World
Summit for Social Development; and (d) research and
publications related to poverty.

70.  ECA organized two training workshops on poverty
and public policy, which were held respectively in Addis
Ababa in June 1997 and in Johannesburg, South Africa, in
February 1998, and were attended by more than 90
participants from 26 African countries. Participants were
drawn from central and local governments, NGOs, academic
and research institutions and the media.

71.  Under the auspices of the United Nations System-wide
Initiative, ECA, in collaboration with the World Bank and
the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), organized
a high-level policy forum on "Cost-sharing in the social
sectors" in June 1997, in Addis Ababa. The objective of the
forum was to take stock of recent country experiences with
cost-sharing in health care and education. The outcome of
the forum provides, among others, one of the main
background documents to be presented at the upcoming
regional follow-up conference to the World Summit for
Social Development. The proposed date for the regional
follow-up to the Summit is early December 1998. It will be
hosted by the Government of Kenya, and is designed to
exploit maximum collaboration with the Department of
Economic and Social Affairs, the International Labour
Organization (ILO), the Organization of African Unity
(OAU), the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP), UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank.

72.  Moreover, ECA's work programme features a number
of recurrent and non-recurrent publications dealing with
issues of poverty. For example, in collaboration with
UNICEF and OAU, a report on African children will be
produced, starting in 1999. A status report on poverty in
Africa is also planned in collaboration with the World Bank
at a future date. Non-recurrent publications are planned to
deal with issues relating to the "gender dimension of
poverty" and the "ethnic dimension of poverty".
Furthermore, future activities of ECA include a planned ad
hoc expert group meeting on "Integrating quantitative and
qualitative poverty data for policy analysis" to be held in
October 1999 and a planned regional conference on "Anti-poverty 
policies and programmes in Africa" to be held in
December 1999 in Addis Ababa. Collaboration with the
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
(ECLAC), the Statistics Division of the Secretariat, the
World Bank and other regional commissions is envisaged.

73.  An important activity of the Economic Commission
for Europe (ECE) related to poverty elimination is the
Programme for the Development of Small and Medium-sized 
Enterprises (SMEs) in countries in transition. SMEs
play a significant role in creating employment and can be
regarded as a major vehicle for combating unemployment
and poverty. Within the framework of this programme,
ECE's activities include providing technical assistance in
the development of national SMEs, development of
legislation to promote entrepreneurship, providing
statistical data, preparing discussion papers and information
material, as well as organizing workshops on SMEs.

74.  The Fifth Asian and Pacific Ministerial Conference
on Social Development organized by the Economic
Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) at Manila
in November 1997 reviewed progress made towards poverty
alleviation in the ESCAP region. The Ministerial
Conference, inter alia, identified priority issues and related
actions for strengthening national capacities for formulating
and implementing effective policies and programmes for
poverty alleviation in Asian and Pacific countries. ESCAP
provides assistance in the formulation of policies and
programmes to strengthen the role of the informal sector.
A recent regional seminar examined the problems and
constraints faced by the informal sector and made
recommendations on policies and programmes for
enhancing the productivity and income of informal sector

75.  The Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the
Pacific, 1998 stressed the fundamental objective of long-term 
development, namely, growth and equity, despite the
current East Asia crisis. To that end, the Survey examines
trends in the distribution of income and the incidence of
poverty and offers a number of suggestions including
enhancing agricultural productivity, human resources
development, the development of small and medium-sized
enterprises, education for women and child health care.
ESCAP will also organize a regional workshop on poverty
statistics in 1999, involving users and producers, in order
to make further progress in developing standard approaches
and methodologies for measuring poverty and for improving
the availability of data.

76.  ECLAC organized the first Regional Conference on
the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development
in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from 6 to 9 April 1997. The ECLAC
secretariat prepared a background document entitled "The
Equity Gap: Latin America, the Caribbean and the Social
Summit" (E/LC/G.1954 (CONF.86/3)), which analyses
existing conditions of poverty, employment and social
integration; reports on the developments that have proven
most relevant to the aforementioned commitments; and
proposes a few additional guidelines on the content and
scope of policies designed to facilitate the full realization
of those commitments.

77.  ECLAC organized jointly with the Organization of
American States (OAS) and the Chilean Ministry of
Planning and Cooperation (MIDEPLAN) a workshop on
"Social Institutional Framework for Overcoming Poverty
and for Achieving Equity", in Santiago on 16 and 17 May
1997. ECLAC also continued with the publication of the
Social Panorama of Latin America (1996 and 1997
editions), an annual assessment of the most relevant aspects
of social evolution in the region, with particular emphasis
on poverty, employment and income distribution.

78.  The Economic and Social Commission for Western
Asia (ESCWA) commenced its work on poverty alleviation
in 1995 and has progressed in three distinct but related
phases: (a) measurement, characteristics and determinants
of poverty; (b) policies to eradicate poverty; and (c) tools
to eradicate poverty.

79.  During the first phase, ESCWA undertook a number
of technical studies on the concept, measurement and
determinants of poverty in Western Asia. The research
focused on an approach that poverty is a multi-dimensional
phenomenon that results from complex inter-linked
determinants including social, economic and political
conditions and the disabling environment. On a country
level, ESCWA undertook poverty profiles for several
countries and areas in the region including Iraq, the West
Bank and the Gaza Strip and Lebanon. After the completion
of the country profiles and sectoral studies, emphasis shifted
to the second phase, that is, the evaluation of policy
measures adopted by ESCWA member States to combat

80.  A meeting on improving standards of living in the
Arab Mashreq countries was convened in Cairo during
November 1997, to lay the ground for ESCWA's future
work in formulating policies and strategies to eradicate
poverty in the ESCWA region. During the current biennium,
work is concentrating on policies required to alleviate
poverty. The issues of poverty and youth and the role of
income generating activities in eradicating poverty and
improving the standards of living in local communities will
also be investigated. The third phase (2000 2001 biennium)
will be devoted to proposals of operational policies aimed
at eradicating poverty in the region. Work will concentrate
on three major tools for poverty eradication, namely social
funds, micro-credit lending, and community development.

        D.     United Nations programmes, funds and
               specialized agencies

81.  Poverty eradication has become a major cooperation
focus of the programmes, funds and specialized agencies
of the United Nations system, including the Bretton Woods
institutions, both at policy and operational levels. The
combined effort, based on agreements reached at the World
Summit for Social Development, is to assist Governments,
particularly in developing countries, to develop policies and
programmes to implement the conference outcomes,
involving both the creation of an enabling environment and
the provision of technical assistance.

          United Nations Children's Fund

82.  In developing countries, children are
disproportionately represented among the poor. Globally,
UNICEF estimates that children account for at least half of
the poor, which implies that more than 700 million children
in the developing countries live currently in conditions of
extreme poverty (on less than $1 a day). Moreover, their
number has been rising by some 4 per cent per annum in
recent years in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. It is
estimated that, at present, a staggering 40 per cent of the
children in low- and middle-income countries live in
poverty. UNICEF acts to overcome the worst manifestations
of poverty through its support to national Governments for
providing all children with access to basic social services
and ensuring that their rights are met. UNICEF's
programmes of cooperation are guided by the Convention
on the Rights of the Child 7/ and the specific goals and targets
agreed to at the World Summit for Children. Within those
frameworks, UNICEF undertakes actions in support of basic
education, primary health care, nutrition, and low-cost water
and sanitation. Actions are also targeted to reduce maternal
mortality, child labour and sexual exploitation, which are
all either a manifestation of or contribute to absolute
poverty in developing countries.

83.  Government expenditure on basic social services is
a major instrument for the reduction of poverty. UNICEF
promotes the 20/20 Initiative as a mechanism for mobilizing
additional resources for children. Studies are being
undertaken in several countries to determine the scope and
extent to which budget and aid restructuring and efficiency
gains can contribute to achieving universal access to basic
social services in the shortest possible time span. UNICEF
is working with UNDP, the World Bank and the United
Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to bring to the forefront
the results of these studies and mobilize actions to meet the
objectives of the 20/20 Initiative, and is working with co-sponsors 
(the Netherlands and Viet Nam) in preparing an
international meeting in Hanoi in October 1998 on the
implementation of the 20/20 Initiative.

          United Nations Development Programme

84.  As a follow-up to the World Summit for Social
Development, UNDP launched a multi-donor programme
to assist programme countries in the formulation of national
strategies and action plans to fight poverty. With funding
of approximately $20 million, this initiative is providing
catalytic support to country anti-poverty efforts by:
(a) raising public awareness of the extent, distribution and
causes of poverty, and creating political space for a debate
on national development priorities; (b) strengthening the
capacity of government agencies and civil society to gather,
analyse and monitor social indicators and to review public
policies, budgets and programmes that impact on people's
well-being; (c) defining national goals and targets for the
reduction of overall poverty and the elimination of extreme
poverty; (d) improving coordination among agencies
dealing with social and economic policy; and (e) building
a consensus among public, private and civil society actors
on the most effective means to tackle poverty in their
country. The Initiative was formally launched in late May
1996 and is now being offered in nearly 100 countries.
UNDP is also supporting the implementation of the 20/20
Initiative in collaboration with other agencies in more than
20 countries.

85.  The 1997 UNDP's Human Development Report 1997
focused on poverty from a human development perspective
and introduced a new indicator, the "human poverty index",
which seeks to combine poverty as conventionally measured
by income and other indicators of deprivation. Despite
remarkable gains made in all regions in the past 50 years,
more needs to be done, according to the report's authors,
who offered a six-point plan for eradicating poverty in
developing countries in one generation. UNDP is also
producing a global report on poverty, which will review its
experience in helping programme countries fight poverty. 

     United Nations International Drug control Programme

86.  The activities of the United Nations International
Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) in the area of
alternative development, i.e. the provision of alternative
sources of livelihood for those currently dependent on
income from the illicit cultivation of opium poppy or coca
bush, are per se poverty alleviation measures. Illicit
cultivation takes place in remote rural areas, with an income
level substantially below the national average, which have
attracted neither national nor international assistance. The
populations in question are often marginalized and belong
to the poorest of the poor. In these efforts UNDCP is
strongly encouraging the support of other development
agencies of the United Nations system in order to provide
sustainable infrastructures and raise the general
development level of the areas concerned. The necessity of
a gender-sensitive approach in such endeavours is
recognized, and UNDCP is currently developing guidelines
on systematic gender mainstreaming. 

          United Nations Population Fund

87.  In recognition of the multidimensionality of poverty,
UNFPA actively promotes the widening of choices and
opportunities in the various population and reproductive
health programmes it supports. In this way it contributes
towards the achievement of the broad development goals
of the international conferences, particularly those
contained in the Programme of Action of the 1994
International Conference on Population and Development. 8/
UNFPA is the main advocate for the goals of the Conference
and encourages Governments to invest in human capital,
since such investments have high rates of return and help
to raise the productivity of the poor. UNFPA supports
measures that help individuals meet their reproductive
health needs, through the provision of universal access to
a full range of safe and reliable family-planning methods
and related reproductive health services and information.

88.   UNFPA recognizes that poverty has a significant
influence on, and is influenced by, demographic parameters,
such as population growth. There are important linkages
between population pressures, natural resources, food
security, the environment, ill-health and poverty. UNFPA
accords highest priority in its programmes and resource
allocation to the poorest countries and segments of the
population, and advocates priority attention and allocation
of domestic resources for poverty alleviation. UNFPA fully
subscribes to the 20/20 Initiative in its programming, urging
Governments to designate 20 per cent of domestic allocation
to basic social services, focused on the poorest.

89.   In line with the Programme of Action, UNFPA
recognizes that women and children bear a disproportionate
burden of poverty and that eliminating discrimination
against women and securing their empowerment are
preconditions for poverty eradication. UNFPA actively
promotes expanded access to basic education, especially for
girls and disadvantaged sub-groups. Poverty tends to be
associated with low access to information, services and
community participation. Reaching the poorest and most
disadvantaged groups requires political resolve, imaginative
policies and innovative approaches, which UNFPA supports
through advocacy efforts. Hence, UNFPA programmes
target poor sub-groups, for example through campaigns to
disseminate culturally sensitive information about the
linkages between human sexuality, family planning and the
transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, the
availability of reproductive health services, and details
about how and where these can be obtained.

          International Fund for Agricultural Development

90.  Since its creation, the mandate of the International
Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been
directed at alleviating rural poverty and thus improving
livelihoods on a sustainable basis. IFAD has played a
unique role in the United Nations system, as a leading
institution with financial assistance focused strictly on the
rural poor-smallholder farmer, the landless and, in
particular, rural women in low-income countries. Drawing
on past experience, IFAD addresses poverty from the
perspective that the key to viable poverty eradication lies
with the poor themselves and their own underutilized talents
and capacities.

91.  IFAD's approaches include: (a) engaging in policy
dialogue with member Governments in order to achieve a
favourable macroeconomic and institutional environment
which stimulates the rural poor to mobilize their productive
capacities and provide them with greater bargaining position
vis-a`-vis the market, the State and other civil society
organizations; (b) targeting of assistance and recognizing
that the poor are a heterogeneous group with different
economic bases and different needs for enhancing
production and income; (c) improving household income
generating opportunities by diversifying household income-generating
activities and creating linkages between the
agricultural economy, value-added activities such as small-scale
agro-processing and markets outside the community;
(d) strengthening the capacity of the poor to organize
themselves; (e) promoting beneficiary participation;
(f) encouraging private sector linkages; and (g) protecting
the environment.

92.  UNFPA has maintained a significant portfolio in the
1997 1998 period, which is fundamental to innovation in
rural poverty alleviation in developing countries. In total,
196 projects were under implementation at the end of 1997,
with a total loan amount of $398 million for 29 projects
approved in this same year. In 1998, 33 projects are
expected to be approved for a total of $426 million for an
average loan size of $13 million. UNFPA also will provide
Technical Assistance Grants (TAGs) for an amount of $32
million to support project development and design activities
initiated by NGOs, and research as well as training at the
start-up stages of projects.

93.  Furthermore, with the aim of sharing lessons learned
with the international development community, IFAD made
available a PC-based Internet version of Evaluation
Knowledge System (EKSYST) in 1997 -- a unique database
that enables project evaluation to be shared among strategic
planners and project designers. This initiative is part of an
experimental evaluation website, IFADEVAL, which
provides 62 lessons learned from the various field projects,
including credit and rural financial services, farm
technology generation and institutional frameworks for
project implementation.

               World Food Programme

94.  The development work carried out by the World Food
Programme (WFP) is consistent with the assistance
framework for poverty eradication elaborated in the World
Summit for Social Development and other major United
Nations conferences. The WFP addresses hunger, a key
constraint to the eradication of poverty. Hunger denies its
victims the use of opportunities to move out of poverty and
traps them in a vicious cycle of hunger-poverty-hunger. The
WFP helps people living in poverty to get out of the hunger
trap and make lasting changes in their lives. For example,
in 1997, WFP reached 53 million people, handling 41 per
cent of global food aid. Twenty-four million of these people
benefited from projects aimed at helping the chronically
poor achieve self-reliant growth. At present, WFP supports
151 development projects of this kind, representing a
commitment of 1.8 billion dollars.

95.  Proper targeting of development assistance is regarded
as the key to the eradication of poverty. WFP aims at
reaching the poorest people in the neediest countries. In
1997, WFP allocated over 90 per cent of its development
assistance to low income food deficit countries (LIFDCs)
and over 50 per cent of such assistance to LDCs.
Furthermore, WFP helps build assets, and promotes self-reliance 
of people in poverty. In poor rural areas, WFP uses
food-for-work projects, especially during periods when
hunger is most prevalent -- the agricultural lean season.
Food-for-work projects assures short-term food security to
the poor in ways that also create community assets that
support self-reliant growth. These projects build rural roads
and irrigation facilities, protect land from soil erosion and
floods, develop markets, build public amenities, and
enhance forest resources. An improved productive base
gives the poor a better chance of escaping from poverty. On
the other hand, improved nutrition gives them a chance to
use the opportunities provided.

96.  The empowerment of women is a critical factor in
poverty eradication. In this regard, WFP targets 60 per cent
of programme resources to women in regions where gender
inequalities are most serious. WFP's supplementary feeding
programmes target pregnant and lactating mothers, and
infants and children. Often, they complement other
programmes for nutritional monitoring, nutritional
education, immunization and the promotion of proper health
and nutrition practices. WFP works in partnership with civil
society to better reach people living in poverty and promote
a partnership with them in decisions that affect their lives.
It has established links with over a thousand international
and local NGOs to help improve the effectiveness of its
food aid operation. These partners build local capacities,
especially in community organizations, by emphasizing
participatory development and the empowerment of people
living in poverty.

               United Nations Environment Programme

97.  Environmental sustainability and resource use in
developing countries are closely linked to social
development, poverty reduction and management of
demographic pressures. The role of the United Nations
Environment Programme (UNEP) in promoting poverty
reduction needs to be seen in the context of its primary
functions of assessment and analysis of global and regional
environmental trends; providing early warnings and
coordinating emergency environmental assistance;
developing international environmental law; fostering
international environmental norms, policies, principles and
agreements; promoting coherent implementation of the
environmental dimension of sustainable development in the
United Nations system; advancing environmental awareness
and cooperation; and providing policy and advisory services
in key areas. UNEP's contribution to action for poverty
eradication stems from its advancement of international
environmental policy and cooperation in relation to sectors
such as health, human settlements, agriculture, forestry,
fisheries, industry, energy, transport and tourism, and from
its promotion of global and regional environmental
cooperation in regard to, for example, land, water,
biodiversity, climate, hazardous wastes and chemicals. Its
partnership with organization and programmes of the United
Nations system facilitates such links. With the recent reform
and refocusing of UNEP's work, its contribution to the
United Nations system-wide work addressed to eradicating
poverty should become stronger. 

          Food and Agriculture Organization of the
          United Nations

98.  In line with the activities of the first United Nations
Decade for the Eradication of Poverty and the Plan of
Action adopted by the World Food Summit, held in Rome
in November 1996, FAO, through its normative and direct
technical assistance to member countries, continues to
support efforts to eradicate poverty and food insecurity. As
the Secretariat of the Committee on World Food Security,
FAO plays a key role in supporting the monitoring of the
implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action
by member Governments and in stimulating action at
national, regional and international levels to eradicate
poverty and food insecurity. FAO plays a catalytic role in
the United Nations system by developing a food insecurity
and vulnerability information and mapping system (FIVIM)
at national and international levels to identify the food
insecure (their location and number, and the causes of their
poverty and food insecurity). At national levels, FIVIM is
expected to enable targeted action to enhance the productive
and income-earning capacity of the poor, and to follow up
the impact of such actions on the eradication of poverty,
undernourishment and food insecurity. FAO is also
undertaking policy studies on ways and means of increasing
rural income through off-farm income to tackle poverty in
developing countries. Other normative work for providing
policy advice to developing countries includes assessing
cost-effective modalities of targeted food assistance for the
poor and effective emergency prevention and disaster
preparedness systems, with a view to ensuring optimal
linkages between relief and development in situations where
emergencies occur.

99.  FAO is convinced that greater attention must be given
by Governments, civil society and United Nations system
organizations to strengthening the capacity of people living
in poverty to help themselves. In its People's Participation
Programme, FAO has successfully introduced more
effective strategies for strengthening the collective self-help
capacities of the rural poor. In this scope, specific policy-related rural
poor household level research is now being
conducted in Africa and Latin America, which aims at
developing more appropriate rural poverty eradication
strategies. At the field level, FAO's technical assistance is
being provided to member countries to establish and/or
strengthen national early warning and food security
information systems, with a view to providing advance
information on impending food emergencies and in the
development of emergency prevention and disaster
preparedness national programmes. Furthermore, through
its Socio-Economic and Gender Analysis Programme, FAO
aims at empowering rural women through improved
technical capacities for the betterment of their socio-economic 

          United Nations Educational, Scientific and
          Cultural Organization

100. UNESCO's strategy for the eradication of poverty is
centred on human resources development and capacity-building 
and designed to empower specific disadvantaged
and vulnerable groups, particularly women, youth, the
marginalized and the unemployed. Activities are undertaken
at both the conceptual and operational levels and
implemented at grass-roots, community and country levels.
In this context, one of UNESCO's most important lines of
action was to support the design and delivery of integrated
policies and programmes, especially in the field of
education and training, aimed at empowering individuals
and communities through a participatory approach.

101. At the conceptual and policy level, UNESCO assists
Governments in identifying needs, setting up priorities and
drawing up educational strategies and action plans in
support of national poverty alleviation programmes. At the
operational level, UNESCO supports a large number of
activities and innovative projects in all regions of the world,
developed on the basis of the orientations contained in the
Framework for Action on the role of "Education in Poverty
Alleviation", which is currently being finalized. They often
entail the use of innovative modes of educational delivery
and aim at encouraging community involvement and
integrated services and providing literacy and post-literacy
training, as well as basic life skills in such areas as health,
sanitation, environment and intensive skills training in
various occupational fields tailored to the specific needs and
circumstances of the target groups. The major projects
include, for instance, the "Guidance, counselling and youth
development programme for Africa", which addresses the
poor communities especially through teachers, non-formal
educators and social workers in more than 22 countries with
financial support from various agencies -- including
DANIDA, the Rockefeller Foundation, UNFPA and
UNICEF; the 6-year project, commenced in 1996, on
"Enhancement of learning opportunities for marginalized
youth", launched in some 15 countries across the world to
encourage both attitudes (empowerment, self-confidence,
participation and solidarity) and vocational aptitudes to
equip marginalized youth for social and economic survival,
and a number of specific projects designed to meet the
specific educational needs of the disadvantaged people  
including out-of-school children and unemployed young
people living in conditions of extreme poverty -- and
implemented in various countries in Africa, Asia and the
Arab States.

102. The implementation of research into the causes of
poverty in specific cultural and social settings and the
strengthening of research infrastructures, as well as
awareness-building among policy-makers and partners
concerned, including at the community level, constituted
another main line of UNESCO's action. Through
publications and surveys -- some of them prepared in
collaboration with the International Social Science
Council's Comparative Research Programme on Poverty -- 
as well as country studies and projects undertaken within
the framework of the Management of Social
Transformations Programme, UNESCO contributes to the
advancement of empirical research on poverty issues and,
at the same time, provides policy-makers with reference
materials, including information on the best practices on
poverty eradication and combating social exclusion.

     United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat)

103. The contribution of the United Nations Centre for
Human Settlements (Habitat) (UNCHS) to the United
Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty focuses on
programmes and projects to assist developing countries
reduce urban poverty at the level of slums and squatter
settlements, in line with the recommendation of Habitat
Agenda. In accordance with its mandate, UNCHS provides
targeted assistance to local authorities, non-governmental
and community-based organizations to improve the living
conditions of the urban poor, including access to land and
security of tenure, housing, water supply, sanitation and
other infrastructure and social services. Furthermore, and
specifically within the Africa region, UNCHS has over the
past years been engaged in a major effort to strengthen local
research capacity on urban poverty and to promote the
exchange of information thereon, with the support of the
Ford Foundation. As a follow-up to the first international
conference on urban poverty as well as Habitat II, the
International Forum on Urban Poverty was launched in
Florence, Italy, in November 1997. The central mission of
this Forum is to provide international, national and local
level support to partnership action aimed at the reduction
of poverty in the areas of shelter and employment, transport
for the urban poor, and urban violence. All of these
activities represent practical contributions to the objectives
of the United Nations International Decade for the
Eradication of Poverty.

          United Nations Industrial Development

104. Within its mandate of promoting sustainable industrial
development in developing countries and countries with
economies in transition, the United Nations Industrial
Organization (UNIDO) continues to make significant
contributions to the international community's efforts to
eradicate poverty. Its ongoing programmes of assistance in
the areas of micro-, small and medium enterprises, agro-based and 
agro-related industries, the integration of women
in industrial development and rural industrial development
have been designed specifically to address the needs of the
poor in developing countries, particularly those in the least
developed countries. At the policy level, UNIDO places
emphasis on the creation of a business environment that
encourages the initiatives of existing and potential micro-
and small-scale entrepreneurs by promoting dialogue and
partnerships between the public and private sectors. A large
part of UNIDO's technical cooperation activities is devoted
to building institutional capacities to effectively deliver
business support services to the micro- and small-scale
industry sector. Some of the recent projects aimed at
poverty eradication include the provision of technical and
managerial training for some 1,300 micro- and small-scale
entrepreneurs in Mozambique, 20 per cent of whom were
women and over 30 per cent of whom were demobilized
soldiers; and strengthening a handmade paper industry in
India by applying new technologies. UNIDO also assisted
14 Latin American countries in the establishment of a
regional network of 28 subcontracting and partnership
exchanges linking small- and medium-scale enterprises and
promoting various forms of business cooperation that have
stimulated business activity and created new jobs.

               International Labour Organization

105. The three major objectives of ILO are to support
democracy and fundamental workers' rights, to promote
employment and combat poverty, and to protect working
people. Within the scope of the first United Nations Decade,
and in pursuance of these objectives, the ILO, in close
cooperation with agencies of the United Nations system and
Bretton Woods institutions, enhances the capacity of -- and
provides assistance to -- its constituents in the design,
formulation and implementation of (a) policies; and (b) anti-poverty
strategies based on job creation and the application
of labour standards. Anti-poverty strategies based on job
creation and the application of labour standards incorporate
(i) the design and implementation of interventions to
increase demand for high quality employment, (ii) the
development of investment programmes, and (iii) the design
and implementation of policies for the inclusion of social
groups such as women and youth. Such policies also involve
targeted micro-level interventions addressing the
interrelated problems of poverty, unemployment and social
exclusion, particularly among unorganized groups of the
population in the urban informal and rural sectors.

106. The creation of an enabling environment for poverty
alleviation through employment-intensive growth at the
macro- and sectoral levels, as well as on specific target
groups, figures prominently in policy advice services
provided by ILO in cooperation with UNDP in Tunisia,
Egypt and Uzbekistan. Furthermore, to provide an
alternative policy framework for employment-intensive
growth and to design a programme of action for job creation
for poverty alleviation, the Programme on Employment
Generation for Poverty Reduction -- better known as "Jobs
for Africa" -- is being implemented, with the support of
UNDP, as ILO's contribution to the United Nations System-wide 
Special Initiative on Africa. ILO's work on improving
the tools for poverty monitoring include the preparation of
compendia of data on the incidence of poverty and on
income distribution. The second edition of the compendium
came out in 1996, and the third edition is expected to be
published in 1999. As part of its response to fighting
unemployment and under-employment and reducing poverty
in developing countries, ILO's Employment Intensive Work
Programme (EIP) aims at maximizing employment
generation through public investments. More particularly,
EIP has promoted private sector development (small- and
medium-sized local contractors) and improvement of
working conditions in the infrastructure and construction
sectors (roads, buildings, irrigation and drainage systems,
etc.), which account for two thirds of public investment in
most developing countries. The programme promotes
community-based investment programmes, with emphasis
on improving the organizational and bargaining capacity of
the grass-roots associations in both the rural and the urban
informal, weakly organized areas. Such programmes seek
to reduce poverty directly through high labour content
technologies and indirectly through productivity enhancing
infrastructure. The programme has been operational in
about 30 to 40 countries, with an average expenditure of
$23 million per year. Over the last 10 years, 80 per cent of
EIP expenditure was in Africa, and 12 per cent in Asia. 

               World Health Organization

107. WHO's network on Poverty and Health aims at
enabling health professionals and the health sector to play
an effective role in poverty reduction. It also contributes to
the public debate on poverty and health, and provides
collective support to political commitments to reduce
poverty and improve the health status of populations. WHO
ensures that all its programmes identify highly vulnerable
economic groups and provide the means to improve and
evaluate their health status. In its specific approach to
poverty eradication, WHO's activities are oriented towards
countries in greatest need. In this regard, WHO focuses its
work at both the country and global levels.

108. WHO's activities at the country level include
(a) reviewing national policies through in-depth analysis,
and assisting in their implementation; (b) ensuring that
health sector reform strategies provide for secure access of
the poorest to health care and basic social services;
(c) supporting Governments in advocating for the
integration of health concerns into overall national
development policies; and (d) creating partnerships with
civil society groups, including the private sector. 

109. At the international level, WHO (a) promotes wider
international attention towards countries in greatest need
and towards the vicious cycle of poverty and ill health, and
advocates for increased technical and financial support; and
(b) develops network of strategic allies by collaborating
with institutions, groupings of low-income countries, such
as the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries, NGOs,
professional associations and business enterprises, that can
improve the health of the most deprived.

               International Maritime Organization

110. The contribution of the International Maritime
Organization (IMO) to the eradication of poverty is through
its work regarding the safety of navigation and the
prevention of pollution from ships, the twin fundamentals
governing international maritime transport, which is in large
part a direct input to economic development through
poverty alleviation by facilitating the liberalization and
globalization of international trade and commerce. The
IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme
(ITCP) objectives are to assist developing countries in
strengthening their institutional, legal, managerial, technical
and training capabilities to implement global rules and
standards uniformly. The established priorities are
articulated on a regional basis and targeted towards
capacity-building which leads to self-reliance in the
maritime industry while also generating and sustaining mass
employment in the fishing, recreation, tourism and export-led 
industries, etc., particularly of primary agricultural
products. In addition to the innumerable shore-based
personnel engaged in the shipping industry, there are some
1.2 million seafarers, most of whom are drawn from
developing countries.

               International Civil Aviation Organization

111. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
sees the development of civil aviation as an increasingly
important factor in the future alleviation of poverty in
developing countries. In fact, civil aviation is having a most
significant impact on the economies of most developing
States and is affecting, both directly and indirectly, the
standard of living of the citizens of those States. The
positive effects of air transport on the immediate living
conditions of the very poor can readily be seen in the
emergency distribution of essential foods, medicine and
other commodities, and in the transport of health and social
workers to remote locations where traditional means of
transport are often impractical or impossible. These relief
services, however essential in the short term, do not have
a significant long-term effect on poverty alleviation. Rather,
it is the utilization of air transport that serves as a
mechanism for trade and communication, a significant
employer and a conduit for technology transfer, as well as
a powerful engine for economic development.

        International Research and Training Institute
        for the Advancement of Women

112. The activity of the International Research and
Training Institute for the Advancement of Women
(INSTRAW) regarding the first United Nations Decade for
the Eradication of Poverty is in the context of research on
gender-specific poverty. In this context, INSTRAW has
elaborated a project proposal to examine "Women's Poverty
in Rural Africa" in its 1998-1999 biennium. This project,
which entails research and an expert group meeting, aims
to test the "feminization of poverty" thesis, which appears
to be hypothetical in most cases. Through the
implementation of the project, INSTRAW would undertake
research, using rapid rural appraisal methods, to identify the
structural determinants of female poverty in rural Africa,
develop quantitative poverty indicators, typologize poverty
in terms of degrees of vulnerability, and establish policy
guidelines for gender-aware poverty alleviation and
eradication strategies. To better understand the structural
causes of poverty, the research will be carried out in rural
communities of three countries chosen from stratified
categories of low-, medium- and high-income African
countries. INSTRAW will initiate actions to secure the
collaboration of ECA and UNDP, the United Nations
Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United
Nations Research Institute for Social Development
(UNRISD) in elaborating the research design, identifying
the study sites, as well as in designing a joint anti-poverty

               United Nations University

113. The United Nations University (UNU) has been
undertaking activities of research, capacity-building and
networking in the developing countries that are not designed
to address poverty eradication directly, but contribute to
eradicating poverty and hunger, which is a fundamental
form of poverty. Some of UNU's selected activities include
its contribution to Africa's development, food and nutrition
and environmental issues. UNU, for example, is carrying
out a research and capacity-building programme oriented
toward development in Africa from the perspective of the
United Nations New Agenda for the Development of Africa
in the 1990s and the United Nations system-wide Initiative
on Africa. The programme is contributing to the Second
Tokyo International Conference on African Development
(TICAD II) in October 1998, which is intended to produce
an action-oriented agenda for African development towards
the twenty-first century.

114. The current UNU Programme on Food and Nutrition
has also made a widely recognized contribution to the
solution of the major nutrition problems of developing
countries and to increasing the competence of developing
country institutions to deal with national food and nutrition
problems. The programme continues to focus on the
functional consequences of iron deficiency; the damaging
influences of chronic dietary energy deficiency; the
introduction of anthropological methodologies for the
evaluation and compilation of nutrition and health-related
interventions; the generation and compilation of food
composition data in all regions and countries of the world,
bringing advanced information technologies to the
developing countries; and the collection of all dietary intake
studies in each country over the past 30 years as a basis for
epidemiological studies of diet and disease and other uses.
These activities and findings of research in progress are
reported in the UNU Food and Nutrition Bulletin, a widely
read nutrition journal in developing countries. Many
activities of the programme are jointly organized with or
supported by other United Nations organizations, including
WHO, FAO, UNICEF, the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA), the World Bank and UNESCO. The
programme puts  UNU in a leading and mediating role of
the ACC Subcommittee on Nutrition, and is seeking further
collaboration and better coordination in the United Nations
system. Furthermore, the People, Land Management and
Environmental Change (PLEC) programme of UNU is a
demonstration and capacity-building project concerned with
the conservation of biological diversity in agricultural lands
located in priority ecosystems and managed by farmers and
pastoralists. The objective of the project is to develop
sustainable and participatory approaches to biodiversity
conservation within agricultural systems, which also
contributes to achieving world food security. 

               World Bank

115. The Bank's fundamental objective is to help its
partner countries reduce poverty and improve living
standards. The Bank's progress in implementing its poverty
strategy is documented in the report on poverty reduction
and the World Bank. The Poverty Reduction and Economic
Management (PREM) Network was formed in July 1997 to
ensure that the Bank makes the greatest contribution that it
can to poverty reduction. The Network has a Poverty
Reduction Board that has identified two shifts in
implementation strategy that focus on formulating poverty-focused 
strategies and assessing the impact of Bank projects
on the poor. Poverty assessments, the main vehicle for
analytical work on poverty, have been completed for the
majority of member countries and periodic updates are
planned. The Bank's country assistance strategies have
come to rely more closely on the analysis and
recommendations of the poverty assessments. In addition,
new guidelines are being developed to ensure that country
assistance strategies are more poverty-focused, participatory
and results-oriented. Poverty-targeted lending continues to
be monitored, and operational guidelines are being updated
to better reflect current practices. The Bank is working with
Governments and other agencies to establish effective and
sustainable poverty monitoring systems as well as analytical
capabilities in client countries. The greater use of
participatory approaches in Bank work has also helped to
ensure that the poor are heard in the formulation of
strategies and projects. Furthermore, empowerment,
participation and social capital are recognized as important
means for action against poverty. The World Development
Report, 2000 will be on poverty and will involve a highly
collaborative process. It will also be a major organizing
force for new work in the study of poverty and the goals of
social inclusion and more equitable economic growth. 

116. In collaboration with UNICEF and UNDP, the Bank
is working on a poverty monitoring methods programme.
Among the programme's activities is an ongoing exchange
of view on approaches for monitoring the social outcomes
of development, with the goal of developing a core
monitoring instrument. At the last meeting held in April
1998 in New York, the UNICEF/World Bank/UNDP
Working Group on Monitoring Poverty Alleviation
Activities exchanged information on working plans for
poverty research and analytical studies, discussed follow-up
plans for poverty monitoring activities, and agreed on next
steps. Moreover, the World Bank, the donor community,
and partner countries are working on ways to strengthen
their partnerships in order to meet the basic development
goals to be achieved by the year 2015. Among the
objectives is halving the incidence of extreme poverty. As
part of the effort to track progress in achieving goals, the
Bank is taking a leading role in defining Strategy 21
indicators. The Bank has organized informal groups to
define poverty and environment indicators and, with UNDP
and OECD, organized meetings to decide on a set of core
indicators, which have been incorporated in the 1998
edition of World Development Indicators. The Bank has
also been involved in follow-up meetings with OECD/DAC
on how achievable the goals are and on the informal
network on poverty reduction.


          1/   Report of the World Summit for Social Development,
               Copenhagen, 6 12 March 1995 (United Nations publication,
               Sales No. E.96.IV.8), chap. I, resolution 1, annex I.

          2/   Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1998,
               Supplement No. 9 (E/1998/29).

          3/   A/CONF.157/24 (Part I), chap. III.

          4/   General Assembly resolution 41/128, annex.

          5/   Official Records of the Economic and Social Council, 1997,
               Supplement No. 6 (E/1997/26).

          6/   Ibid., 1998, Supplement No. 6 (E/1998/26).

          7/   General Assembly resolution 44/25, annex.

          8/   Report of the International Conference on Population and
               Development, Cairo, 5 13 September 1994 (United Nations
               publication, Sales No. E.95.XIII.18), chap. I, resolution 1,



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