World Summit for Social Development

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World Summit for Social Development

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about World Summit for Social Development


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Employment and social policy > Employment and social policy: international dimension and enlargement

World Summit for Social Development

On the occasion of the World Summit for Social Development, the European Union highlights the need to work towards balanced and sustainable economic and social progress at international level.

Document or Iniciative

Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament of 21 December 1994 – the European Union’s priorities for the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995) [COM(1994) 669 final – Not published in the Official Journal].


Social development cannot be dissociated from democracy; the respect for human rights implies the participation of the whole of civil society, including via dialogue between employers and workers.

Structural measures, at national as well as international level, must take their place in economic policy-making with a view to ensuring the sustainability of growth and preventing the development of excessive inequalities.

The EU’s main objectives are as follows:

  • all countries should set and phase in social development objectives in accordance with their level of development;
  • advancement of social rights by encouraging countries to ratify ILO conventions and ensuring compliance with them;
  • reduction of excessive inequalities should be a specific objective of social development policies;
  • better coordination of cooperation and development policies;
  • explicit inclusion of social development in the policies recommended by international institutions such as the IMF and World Bank;
  • international free movement of capital, which is vital to development.

On a bilateral level, the EU should undertake to:

  • give priority, in development cooperation programmes agreed between the EU and its partners, to job creation and the fight against poverty;
  • give priority, in granting aid and trade preferences, to countries which adopt genuine and effective social development strategies.

Cost/efficiency and targeting of official development aid (ODA) need to be improved.

The issue of development resources needs to be looked at in a wider context, on the basis of the following priorities:

  • adoption of domestic policies geared towards efficiency and fairness (by ensuring proper access to productive resources and markets, redirecting public spending towards precise social development objectives, etc.);
  • encouraging the flow of capital and the transfer of technology and know-how to developing countries and economies in transition.

The EU will continue its efforts to eradicate poverty and integrate all sections of society (massive creation of jobs, prevention of social exclusion, overhauling of social protection systems).

The EU, as the major provider of development aid, is determined to continue to make a substantial contribution to international action.

Related Acts

Commission Recommendation 2000/581/EC of 15 September 2000 on the ratification of International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No 182 of 17 June 1999 concerning the prohibition and immediate action for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour [Official Journal L 243 of 28.09.2000].

ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, 1998

The Declaration confirms the core labour standards as identified by the Copenhagen Summit and states that all ILO members, even if they have not yet ratified the basic conventions, are required by virtue of their ILO membership to promote and to comply with the principles related to the fundamental rights set out in the ILO Conventions.

In order to promote the universal application of core labour standards, a control mechanism, a monitoring system and technical assistance were introduced.

Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, March 1995 (Declaration and Programme of Action)

The Summit provided an opportunity to identify universal core labour standards for the first time: freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining, elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labour, effective abolition of child labour, elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

The Commission for Social Development is responsible, within the United Nations Economic and Social Council, for the follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development, and in particular for examining the application of the Copenhagen Declaration and the Summit’s Programme of Action.

On 14 February 1997 the Commission adopted a Communication to the Council and the European Parliament on the European Union’s follow-up to the World Summit for Social Development [COM(96) 724 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

As the policies introduced in Europe already broadly cover the undertakings given in Copenhagen, the aim of the Communication is to consider what specific follow-up action the European Union should take in the five areas identified.

A. Developing the social dimension in the international institutional framework: globalisation reduces the autonomy of policies, which means that greater international cooperation is required in the major forums (UN, ILO, IMF, World Bank, WTO, G7, etc.).

B. Incorporating respect for basic social rights and promoting social and human development in bilateral agreements: in its bilateral relations and when granting aid and trade preferences, the Community should give priority to the countries which take specific measures to meet the Copenhagen commitments (promotion of workers’ basic rights, application of the ILO conventions or compliance with their principles). The Commission proposes granting, by common accord, at least 20% of public Community assistance to the development of basic social programmes, with at least 20% of public expenditure in the developing countries being earmarked for the same aims.

C. Incorporating the fight against poverty into development action and continuing efforts to combat marginalisation within the Community: in the dialogue with the developing countries, the Community could, as a matter of course, consider an analysis of the poverty situation and assess national political action to combat inequality. It is also important to ensure that, in the Union, everyone benefits from economic progress.

D. Keeping employment as the top priority for economic and social policy: it would be helpful to pass on the priority given by the Union to combating unemployment and to compare it with other initiatives in a wider international context (ILO, G7, etc.).

E. Ensuring respect for and protection of immigrants and combating racism and xenophobia: the Community intends to take other measures as part of the European Year against Racism (1997).

In the spirit of the Copenhagen Summit, the Commission consults civil society on a whole series of social issues in a forum organised every 18 months.

An assessment of the internal and external aspects of Union policies will be presented in the year 2000.

The Medium-term Social Action Programme adopted by the Commission on 12 April 1995 (COM(95) 134 final) includes a large number of proposals responding to the commitments made at the Copenhagen summit.

On 3 February 1995 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the European Union’s priorities for the World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, March 1995).

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