H.E. MR EDUARDO FERRO RODRIGUES
MINISTER FOR LABOUR AND SOLIDARITY, PORTUGAL
Geneva, 26 June 2000
* * *
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Central and Eastern European countries associated with the Union - Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia - and the associated countries Cyprus and Turkey, and the EFTA country Iceland, have expressed the wish to align themselves with this statement.
I take this opportunity
to express my appreciation to the Secretary-General and to the Division for
Social Policy and Development for the excellent preparatory work undertaken
before this Special Session, as well as to the Chairmen of the Prepcom and of
all the Working Groups for their untiring efforts in the negotiating process.
A word of gratitude is also deserved by the Swiss Government for hosting this
Five years ago at the World
Summit for Social Development, Heads of State and Government committed themselves
and their countries to the principle of "a society for all", placing the human
being at the centre of development. The principle remains valid although in
the last five years the world has faced a number of new challenges with impact
on social development. Globalization, economic crises and an evolving new economic
order all require rapid solutions.
The review and appraisal
of the implementation of the Copenhagen Commitments since 1995 have shown that
some progress has been achieved; however it has been uneven and further initiatives
are required. We welcome the increasingly widespread recognition, including
by the International Financial Institutions, of the critical importance of full
implementation of the Copenhagen commitments to achieving the international
In the Vienna Declaration
on Human Rights, to which the EU is deeply committed, it was recognized that
"democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms
are interdependent and mutually reinforcing". The creation of a political, legal
and economic environment that will enable people to achieve social development
is of paramount importance. Sustainable social development can only take place
within a political environment of good governance.
The Lisbon European Council
of March 2000, designated a new strategic goal for the EU in the next decade:
to become a more competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy, capable of
sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion.
The achievement of this goal requires an overall strategy to regain the conditions
for full, productive and dignified employment.
The European Union wishes
to take the opportunity to briefly underline some of the key issues for the
future and to reinforce the need for co-ordinated follow-up of the relevant
United Nations conferences and summits of the last decade, particularly of the
very recent UNGASS entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace
for the twenty-first century".
The EU wishes to stress
the fundamental contribution of women to social development and their essential
role for poverty eradication. The Beijing Platform for Action, supplemented
by the initiatives agreed at the abovementioned Special Session, together with
CEDAW, remains the cornerstone in the pursuit of gender equality. Gender equality
is a men's as well as a women's responsibility. States must shoulder their obligation
to end discrimination and violence against women and to ensure the full and
equal enjoyment by women of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.
We reiterate our commitment
to halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by the year 2015;
this must remain an overarching target of the global community and we warmly
welcome the fact that this Special Session will formally endorse it.
The respect, promotion
and realization of the principles contained in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental
Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up are a fundamental prerequisite
for social and economic development. Universal ratification
and full implementation
of the ILO core conventions concerning basic workers' rights are therefore of
the utmost importance. The EU considers the achievement of the goal of full
employment and decent work for all, as a basic priority for poverty eradication
and social inclusion.
The international community needs to identify those key aspects of social policy that underpin economic development in a globalizing world; and to begin to develop a framework of social principles to ensure that the goals of Copenhagen are integrated into national and international policy-making.
Inclusive societies, based
on non-discrimination, tolerance, respect for diversity, equality of opportunities,
solidarity and participation of all its members, should ensure universal access
to basic social services and specific protection measures for disadvantaged
and vulnerable persons and groups.
Investment in education
and health produces better socio-economic results that any other investment.
The recent Framework for
Action for Education for All, adopted in Dakar, has established goals to which
the EU is fully committed. It is also engaged to lifelong learning as an essential
tool to face the challenges of a rapidly changing world.
Health promotion and disease
prevention require the improved performance of health care systems, particularly
in fighting easily preventable epidemic diseases, such as polio and measles,
and epidemic diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other STDs, malaria and
tuberculosis; in providing information and services for sexual and reproductive
health; and in making available essential medicines.
The significant increase
and more efficient utilisation of the resources allocated to social development
require renewed national and international efforts. The EU is committed to the
internationally agreed target of 0,7% of GDP for Official Development Assistance.
Its Member States will continue to strive to fulfil that target, which has already
been reached by some Members. Recognizing the social impact of the debt burden
for many countries, the EU will strive to ensure the full and speedy implementation
of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative. Debt relief measures
should make available more local resources for poverty reduction and productive
purposes. Concerted national and international efforts to facilitate the integration
of Africa and the Least Developed Countries into the global economy and to promote
their participation in the multilateral trading system need to be reinforced
in the coming years.
In order to monitor, evaluate
and measure what we have achieved and what is yet to be achieved, we need to
consolidate a coherent set of generally accepted indicators at national and
international levels. The relevant UN bodies and agencies, specially the UNDP,
the Bretton Woods Institutions and other international organisations such as
the OECD should further support efforts in drawing up relevant social development
indicators. In this context, the Lisbon European Council reaffirmed the need
to further develop quantitative and qualitative indicators and benchmarks in
the fields of employment and social protection.
While recognizing the primary
responsibility of Governments in promoting social development, the EU considers
that the participation of civil society, including NGOs
and other actors,
in a broad based dialogue is a fundamental tool for the full achievement of
the Copenhagen goals. The EU also stresses the importance of the corporate responsibility
of the private sector in the implementation of these goals. The EU is pleased
to acknowledge that, since 1995, dialogue has been established between civil
society and UN organisations, as well as the World Bank and IMF.
The EU remains strongly committed to the Copenhagen Programme of Action as it still provides solid ground for national and international policies, in order to achieve the ultimate goal of peoplecentred sustainable development, for a more just and stable world. However, its implementation needs to be strengthened and more resultoriented and this is the challenge for us to take up in this Special Session and beyond.