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 Opening Statement by H.E. Mr. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, Prime Minister of 
Denmark President of the Summit

 Thank you. Mr. Secretary General, distinguished delegates, ladies and 

 The American astronaut, James Lovell, had no doubts about the qualities of 
the planet Earth, when in 1968 on board Apollo 8 he described the Earth as 
a grand oasis to the vastness of Space.

 But we have not treated our planet in a way that warrants this 
description. Man has often treated nature unwisely and short-sightedly. We 
are gradually beginning to do things better. But man has treated man even 
worse. In this century alone we have lived in the shadow of two World Wars 
and of totalitarian regimes not to mention the nuclear bomb.

 Security of the state has been more important than security of the people. 
We have now learned that real lasting security is based upon the security 
of people.

 We have come to a turning point for mankind: At last we recognize that the 
security of people is the main topic of the international agenda.

 Let this Summit focus on the security of people.

 The Summit is the first of its kind: A world Summit for Social 
Development. We will provide leadership and direction.

 I wish to thank the General Assembly of the United Nations for having 
chosen Copenhagen for the World Summit for Social Development. The 
Government and people of Denmark are proud of hosting this Summit.

 I welcome you to Copenhagen and Denmark. I hope that you will find time to 
get to know this country, its people, its culture and its social 

 I wish to express my deep appreciation to the Summit for having elected me 

 My task is made easier through the tremendous work done by the Secretary 
General of the United Nations, his collaborators in the Secretariat, and 
the Preparatory Committee.

 In particular, I wish to pay tribute to the chairman of the Preparatory 
Committee, Ambassador Juan Somavia of Chile. For years he has worked hard 
and dedicated to make this Summit come true. Let us use the Summit to turn 
the analysis of problems and possibilities into concrete commitments and 
actions as we did in Rio.

 If we are to shape the future we must have goals, ambition and decisions. 
These we have. We are gathered here to promote social development and 
social justice placing the needs, rights and aspirations of people at the 
centre of our decisions and joint actions. We want to open a new era of 
international cooperation between governments and people based on a spirit 
of partnership.

 The core issues to be discussed at the Summit - poverty, employment and 
social integration - are well chosen. At this Summit we are discussing the 
real problems, which concern all people. Therefore this Summit is at the 
very heart of all political work and governance.

 We need to focus on human security. Human security and social progress 
must be maintained by ensuring proper living conditions.

 Each person's security has to do with adequate income and employment, 
education and training, health and housing, equality and legal protection 
and the exercise of human rights.

 The key word is solidarity. The means are political power and economic and 
sustainable growth used for the right purposes. It is not a question 
whether we can afford it. It is a question of priorities and determination.

 We must find new answers to these well-known, fundamental questions.

 Poverty is linked to lack of access to resources, including knowledge. 
Poor people are easily neglected by policymakers. Anti-poverty programmes 
alone are not sufficient. Democratic participation is necessary to ensure 
equal access to opportunities, public services and political life.

 All governments should undertake policies geared to a better distribution 
of wealth and income. We must offer social protection and opportunities for 
those who cannot support themselves. We must assist people in social 
distress. In short: We must empower people to become genuine partners in 
developing our societies.

 For the poorest countries we must extend the national effort to include 
international actions of solidarity.

 For many years the international community was divided in ideological 
blocs. This Summit is historic as it gives us the chance - for the first 
time after the Cold War - to share a common vision on how to solve the 
social problems of the world. Let this summit of hope result in better 
opportunities for exchange of experiences. No country can claim to have 
solved its social problems. Some are rich. Some are poor. The acuteness of 
the problems varies. But they have one thing in common: They are an offence 
to human dignity and a threat to mankind if not attended to in time.

 Social problems are of a size and a complexity that call for new 
solutions, new alliances and new values. Many nations have welfare systems 
that could be an inspiration to others. It is our task to encourage people 
to take an active part in creating the new societies.

 We have learned that social progress will not be realized simply through 
the free market forces. Nothing short of political will to invest - 
nationally and internationally to invest in people's well-being will 
accomplish the objective of social security.

 The private sector, businesses and enterprises, must assume a co-
responsibility for the solution of social problems.

 This new partnership for social development must include actions that 
enable poor and disadvantaged people to participate fully and productively 
in the economy and society.

 This Summit is a historic and unique platform for global social 
development. But we must not give the impression that the Summit alone will 
dramatically change daily life. We still have to put actions behind the 

 The true significance of the Summit will therefore have to be measured by 
what happens after the Summit. This is only the beginning of a new, global 
process. But the difference between last week and next week should be the 
increased awareness and mobilization of resources for social development.

 Distinguished delegates, We gather here in Copenhagen for a Summit of 
hope, commitment and action.

 Let us transform hopes into action. That is what people expect from us.

 I am confident that we can forge a new partnership for social development. 
The Copenhagen Summit will make a difference.

 Because we have decided so.

 Thank you. 

The electronic version of this document was prepared at the World Summit for Social Development by the United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with the United Nations Department for Public Information.This version has been posted online by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA). Reproduction and dissemination of the document - in electronic and/or printed format - is encouraged, provided acknowledgement is made of the role of the United Nations in making it available.

Date last posted: 25/01/2000 15:35:30
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