2 February 2009


2 February 2009
Economic and Social Council
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Background Release

Commission for social Development, meeting at headquarters 4-13 february,

to address integration, building of equitable society


Global Crises Emerge on Agenda as Session Plans Launch of Day for Social Justice

The social impact of the global crises, including the economic meltdown and the food crisis, will be discussed by the Commission for Social Development when it meets from 4 to 13 February at United Nations Headquarters for its forty-seventh session.

The Commission will consider new ways to further advance social integration, the goal of building an equitable and dynamic society, where all individuals can fully exercise their rights and responsibilities.  It will also review the implementation of various United Nations action plans for social groups, including disabled persons, youth, older persons, and families.

On 10 February, the Commission will launch the World Day for Social Justice.  The Day, to be celebrated worldwide annually on 20 February, is mandated by the General Assembly in recognition of the “the need to consolidate further the efforts of the international community in poverty eradication and in promoting full employment and decent work, gender equality and access to social well-being and justice for all”.

Member States are invited to devote the Day to the promotion of concrete activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 1995) and the follow-up twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly (Geneva, 2000).

As outcomes of both the priority theme of social integration and the emerging concerns on the social impact of the global economic meltdown, the Commission is expected to call on Member States to initiate policy measures both at national and international levels aimed at ensuring greater social and economic cohesion, including through full employment and decent work for all.

The NGO Committee for Social Development, the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs will hold a civil society forum on 3 February (Conference Room 4) to discuss the theme “Social Integration:  Building a Society for All”.

Side events will be organized at lunchtime throughout the 10-day session by Finland, Kyrgyzstan, the European Commission, International Labour Organization (ILO), the AARP Global Ageing Program, HelpAge International and others. (Details are available at

Social Integration

The Secretary-General’s report, Promoting Social Integration (document E/CN.5/2009/2) makes the case for going beyond addressing the special needs of certain social groups, as has been the case since the World Summit for Social Development, (Copenhagen, 6-12 March 1995) to recognizing and dealing with the new and widening spectrum of risks, vulnerabilities and exclusions.

The report reviews the notion of social integration and its related concepts, and points to the fact that social integration is both a goal and a “dynamic and principled process in which societies engage to advance social development”.

Sometimes, social inclusion is used as the equivalent of social integration, the report notes.  The opposite of inclusion being exclusion, social exclusion is often viewed as the opposite of social inclusion.  However, both concepts are not exactly contrary.  People may be excluded from society in some respects while being included in others, the report emphasizes.

The end objective of social integration -- as defined above -- and concerted efforts to reduce exclusion and promote inclusion is to attain social cohesion, the report emphasizes.  Thus, would be “a capacity of a society to ensure the welfare of all its members, minimizing disparities and avoiding polarization and conflict”.

In Africa, social exclusion appears to be the result of poverty.  In Asia and the Pacific, growing inequality, labour migration and population ageing seems to be the most important trends.  In Western Asia social exclusion is exacerbated by conflict and displacement.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, the idea of social cohesion appears to be a response to high poverty, extreme inequality and various forms of discrimination.  In developed countries, especially in the European Union, unemployment and poverty seem to be causes of social exclusion.

The growth of participatory democracies in many parts of the world brought a greater awareness of the need for more cohesive societies.  Yet, too little is being done to promote social cohesion and many forms of social exclusion are on the rise, the report warns.  Globalization seems to have led to greater exclusion while development strategies no longer include a social integration component.

The report concludes that persistence of social exclusion hinders efforts to alleviate poverty and sustain economic growth.  It calls on all stakeholders -- Governments, civil society, and all groups and individuals -- to make social cohesion a high priority.

To help advance the ultimate goal of social cohesion, the report recommends that at the national level, Governments:  develop socially inclusive policies and mainstream them into national development and poverty reduction strategies; consider promoting full employment and decent work as central instruments for social and economic inclusion and poverty reduction, with particular attention to socially and economically marginalized groups; actively pursue policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status and remove all discriminatory provisions from their national legal frameworks; and address barriers to participation and promote the creation of consultative mechanisms that provide opportunities for socially excluded groups.

To ensure that results are obtained, special efforts should be made by Governments and society at large to establish evaluation frameworks for social inclusion policies, drawing on indicators that measure outcomes and impact, rather than just inputs and outputs.

At the international level, Governments should pay particular attention to the needs of fragile societies, including those emerging from conflict, as well as subregions at risk; regional intergovernmental entities should facilitate the exchange of good policies and practices aimed at achieving equity, inclusion and cohesion; the international community should reflect on the current group-specific mandates in order to identify the links and areas of convergence between them; and the commonalities found in approaches to different vulnerable groups could form a basis for more effective implementation of those mandates.


The Secretary-General’s report, Further implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing:  strategic implementation framework, (document E/CN.5/2009/5), is intended to help Member States focus their efforts on implementing the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing through 2012.  The report draws on the lessons learned from the results of the global first review and appraisal of the Madrid Plan, which started in 2007 and concluded in 2008, at the forty-sixth session of the Commission for Social Development.

The report concentrates primarily on the interrelated and interdependent priority areas for further action on ageing, relevant policy-making procedures, and international cooperation to support national implementation activities.

It identifies the obstacles affecting older persons worldwide, including their social marginalization, age-based discrimination, disempowerment, and lack of income security.  The report also lists unsatisfactory arrangements for independent living and the lack of education for the elderly as factors that hinder full political, social, and cultural participation of older persons in society.

Despite obstacles that may be amplified in particular countries and regions of the world, the report states that priorities are likely to be universal, and include the development for sustainable systems for social protection to guard against poverty in old age; ensuring the participation of older persons in labour markets; meeting the demand for quality, accessible health care; and protecting the rights and participation of older persons in society.  Lack of political will, a deficit of human and financial resources and weak national capacity on ageing have also proved to be barriers to the implementation of the Madrid Plan of Action on Ageing.

The report establishes that among the common goals of Member States should be an increase of awareness and education for both the public and policymakers in regards to issues that affect the ageing population, and evidence-based and participatory approaches to policymaking.

The report advises that the advancement of the implementation of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing includes the empowerment of and comprehensive promotion of the rights of older persons.  It recommends that Member States adopt legislative measures to guarantee the basic rights of older persons to increase the potential for policy action while the United Nations system should take steps to strengthen its capacity to support international action on ageing.


The Secretary-General’s report Implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth:  progress and constraints with respect to the well-being of youth and their role in civil society (document A/64/61 – E/2009/3), reviews 11 priority actions contained in the World Programme of Action for Youth to the Year 2000 and Beyond.

The report finds that progress has been made on many of these issues since the adoption of the Programme of Action in 1995.  However, youth continue to face challenges both old and new.

Under the theme:  “Youth and their well-being”, the report takes a critical look at how young people are dealing with issues contained in the action plan such as health, HIV/AIDS, drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, girls and young women and armed conflict.

On health issues for instance, the report notes that progress was made worldwide in improving the health of young people, particularly in the area of reproductive health.  Nevertheless, inequalities persist between rural and urban areas.

“Unintentional injuries”, the report says, is the leading cause of death of young people worldwide.  Homicide, war and interpersonal violence follow closely behind.  HIV/AIDS remain an area of concern as 45 per cent of new infections worldwide are among those aged 15 to 24 years.  Drug use, violence in armed conflict and juvenile delinquency are also areas of concern.

Under “Youth in civil society”, the report covers other issues contained in the action plan such as environment, leisure activities, full and effective participation of youth in society and in decision-making, and intergenerational issues, as well as information and communications technology.  In regards to information and communications technology, the report warns of the persisting digital divide between rich and poor regions and points to the challenge of ensuring that “all young people have access to [information and communications technology] regardless of location and social economic status”.

While the report identifies 23 specific goals and targets to help advance the implementation of the World Programme of Action for Youth, it makes the case that identifying goals and targets is not sufficient.  It is essential for Governments, United Nations entities, civil society, the private sector and young people to take action to ensure that the goals and targets become integral parts of national planning in all sectors and in all countries.

The recommendations to the General Assembly include adopting the proposed goals and targets, encouraging regular data collection at the national and international levels, encouraging Governments to work together with youth-led organizations and other relevant stakeholders, urging countries to learn from each other to achieve the proposed goals and targets, and emphasizing the need for the international community, Governments and the private sector to support youth-led organizations.

Other issues before the Commission are introduced in the following:  report of the Secretary‑General on the social dimensions of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (document E/CN.5/2009/3); report of the Secretary‑General on the implementation of the draft resolution entitled “Promoting full employment and decent work for all” (document E/CN.5/2009/4); note by the Secretary‑General transmitting the report of the Special Rapporteur on the monitoring of the implementation of the Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities (document E/CN.5/2009/6); note by the Secretary‑General on the nominations of members of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (document E/CN.5/2009/70); and a note by the Secretary‑General transmitting the report of the Board of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (document E/CN.5/2009/8).

Overview of Commission

Established in 1946, the Commission is a functional body of the Economic and Social Council.  Its 46 members are elected for terms of office of four years on the following basis:  12 from African States; 10 from Asian States; 5 from Eastern European States; 9 from Latin American and Caribbean States; and 10 from Western European and Other States.  As a result of the World Summit for Social Development ( Copenhagen, 1995), the mandate of the Commission was reviewed and its membership expanded from 31 to 46 members in 1996.

The Commission has been the key United Nations body in charge of the follow‑up and implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action.  Each year since 1995, the Commission has taken up key social development themes as part of its follow-up.  Past themes have included social services for all; social integration and participation of all; productive employment and sustainable livelihoods; reducing vulnerability in a globalizing world; integrating social and economic policy; national and international cooperation for social development; improving public sector effectiveness; and eradicating poverty and enhancing social protection.

In resolution 2005/11, the Economic and Social Council decided that, beginning with its forty-fifth session (February 2007), the Commission for Social Development would be organized in a series of two-year action-oriented implementation cycles, which will include a review and a policy segment, and that the Commission would continue to review plans and programmes of action pertaining to social groups.

Commission Membership

The current members of the Commission with their terms of expiry are:  Andorra (2011), Angola (2009), Argentina (2012), Armenia (2012) Bangladesh (2009), Benin (2011), Bolivia (2009), Cameroon (2011), China (2009), Cuba (2011), Czech Republic (2009), Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (2009), Democratic Republic of the Congo (2009), Egypt (2011), El Salvador (2012), Finland (2009), France (2012), Germany (2012), Ghana (2012), Guatemala (2012), India (2011), Italy (2009), Jamaica (2011), Japan (2012), Mexico (2011), Monaco (2009), Myanmar (2009), Namibia (2011), Nepal (2011), Netherlands (2009), Nigeria (2012), Pakistan (2012), Paraguay (2009), Republic of Korea (2012), Russian Federation (2012), Senegal (2012),  Slovakia (2011), South Africa (2009), Spain (2011), Sudan (2012), Turkey (2011), Ukraine (2009), United Arab Emirates (2011), United Republic of Tanzania (2009), United States (2012), Venezuela (2009).

Additional information on the session is available at

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.