Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development

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Year of adoption: 1995
Year of entry into force:
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1. For the first time in history, at the invitation of the United Nations, we
gather as heads of State and Government to recognize the significance of social
development and human well-being for all and to give to these goals the highest
priority both now and into the twenty-first century.

2. We acknowledge that the people of the world have shown in different ways an
urgent need to address profound social problems, especially poverty,
unemployment and social exclusion, that affect every country. It is our task to
address both their underlying and structural causes and their distressing
consequences in order to reduce uncertainty and insecurity in the life of

3. We acknowledge that our societies must respond more effectively to the
material and spiritual needs of individuals, their families and the communities
in which they live throughout our diverse countries and regions. We must do so
not only as a matter of urgency but also as a matter of sustained and
unshakeable commitment through the years ahead.

4. We are convinced that democracy and transparent and accountable governance
and administration in all sectors of society are indispensable foundations for
the realization of social and people-centred sustainable development.

5. We share the conviction that social development and social justice are
indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within
and among our nations. In turn, social development and social justice cannot be
attained in the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for
all human rights and fundamental freedoms. This essential interdependence was
recognized 50 years ago in the Charter of the United Nations and has since grown
ever stronger.

6. We are deeply convinced that economic development, social development and
environmental protection are interdependent and mutually reinforcing components
of sustainable development, which is the framework for our efforts to achieve a
higher quality of life for all people. Equitable social development that
recognizes empowering the poor to utilize environmental resources sustainably is
a necessary foundation for sustainable development. We also recognize that
broad-based and sustained economic growth in the context of sustainable
development is necessary to sustain social development and social justice.

7. We recognize, therefore, that social development is central to the needs
and aspirations of people throughout the world and to the responsibilities of
Governments and all sectors of civil society. We affirm that, in both economic
and social terms, the most productive policies and investments are those that
empower people to maximize their capacities, resources and opportunities. We
acknowledge that social and economic development cannot be secured in a
sustainable way without the full participation of women and that equality and
equity between women and men is a priority for the international community and
as such must be at the centre of economic and social development.

8. We acknowledge that people are at the centre of our concerns for
sustainable development and that they are entitled to a healthy and productive
life in harmony with the environment.

9. We gather here to commit ourselves, our Governments and our nations to
enhancing social development throughout the world so that all men and women,
especially those living in poverty, may exercise the rights, utilize the
resources and share the responsibilities that enable them to lead satisfying
lives and to contribute to the well-being of their families, their communities
and humankind. To support and promote these efforts must be the overriding
goals of the international community, especially with respect to people
suffering from poverty, unemployment and social exclusion.

10. We make this solemn commitment on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of
the United Nations, with a determination to capture the unique possibilities
offered by the end of the cold war to promote social development and social
justice. We reaffirm and are guided by the principles of the Charter of the
United Nations and by agreements reached at relevant international conferences,
including the World Summit for Children, held at New York in 1990; 1/ the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held at Rio de Janeiro in
1992; 2/ the World Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna in 1993; 3/ the
Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing
States, held at Bridgetown, Barbados in 1994; 4/ and the International
Conference on Population and Development, held at Cairo in 1994. 5/ By this
Summit we launch a new commitment to social development in each of our countries
and a new era of international cooperation between Governments and peoples based
on a spirit of partnership that puts the needs, rights and aspirations of people
at the centre of our decisions and joint actions.

11. We gather here in Copenhagen in a Summit of hope, commitment and action.
We gather with full awareness of the difficulty of the tasks that lie ahead but
with a conviction that major progress can be achieved, must be achieved and will
be achieved.

12. We commit ourselves to this Declaration and Programme of Action for
enhancing social development and ensuring human well-being for all throughout
the world now and into the twenty-first century. We invite all people in all
countries and in all walks of life, as well as the international community, to
join us in our common cause.