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Statement of WILPF International at Copenhagen + 5

11 Jul 2000

[Statement from Women's International League for Peace and Freedom International Secretariat]

Dear Friends,

Similar to the Beijing +5 Review Process, a Special Session of the UN General Assembly was held in Geneva from June 26 to June 30, 2000 in order to review the progress made since the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995. The negotiations lasted until July 1, 2000 when a final outcome document could be adopted which is now available on Internet under

This outcome document contains three parts: a political declaration, achievements and obstacles, and the further intiatives and actions to be taken. Governments' discussions in Geneva went according to the ten commitments made in Copenhagen, and focussed on the reduction of poverty, creation of an enabling environment, the promotion of employment and social integration. 186 countries with 117 heads of state or governments were present. The targets set for the negotiations were very ambitious and there were plenty of differences betweeb the governments, with the result that in the final round of negotiations many paragraphs were deleted due to lack of consensus. Debt relief and the effects of globalisation were among the major issues of concern and disagreement. Importantly, the Copenhagen Declaration and Programm of Action remains the framwork for social development for the years to come and NGOs can continue to work with this document.

Parallel to the official conference, the Geneva Forum 2000 took place which was organised by the Swiss Government in order to ensure the participation of 'civil society'. The attendance at the events of this Forum however was disappointing. WILPF was co-organiser to seven Panel discussions. Among others, invited speakers included Samir Amin, Francois Houtard and Loic Wacquant to discuss alternatives to the current processes of corporisation. The Forum itself was characterised by a strong participation of the Bretton Woods Institutions in the Panel discussions and workshops. Kofi Annan himself opened the Forum by directly addressing the 'private corporations' as important actors in social development.

This tendency is not really new but it has culminated in a new intensity.

It is therefore not surprising that on the evening of the first day, on Monday 26th June, 2000 Kofi Annan launched a report which he signed together with OECD, IMF and World Bank. This report, 'A Better World For All' is also available on Internet now at

The launch of the report has resulted in a wave of protest among NGOs. As WILPF we participated in these protests and hopefully, we will be able to discuss these developments further at the upcoming International Executive Committee in Berlin. Below is the statement made by WILPF at the Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole on the first day of the Session.

Twenty-Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly World Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalizing World Ad Hoc Committee of the Whole

Monday, June 26, 2000


Distinguished Delegates,

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) welcomes the opportunity to participate in this Twenty Fourth Special Session of the General Assembly. We would like to make a few observations on the outcome document and the issues to be negotiated in the coming days. Given the limited time we wish to raise a few issues of particular relevance to the activities of the Womenís International League for Peace and Freedom.

First, several speakers have emphasised in the Plenary today that pure economic growth hinders social development. In fact, the current processes of economic globalisation do not allow the implementation of commitment one of the Copenhagen Declaration. Economic globalisation aims at creating an unipolar global economic system, irrespective of the plurality of social systems existing in the world. This prevents countries to exercise the right to development for the benefit of their populations. Also, countries which oppose this global economic system and insist on their own path of development find themselves in a trap leading to economic sanctions. Economic sanctions have severe negative impact on the social well-being of the majority of the populations. Therefore WILPF strongly believes that food and medicine must not be used as a tool for political pressure.

Second, the globalisation process also increases inequalities and inequities among and within social groups leading to disintegration and exclusion, particularly affecting women and children. This is in direct contradiction to commitment four. This type of environment is conducive to the increase of racism, all other forms of discrimination and violations of human rights. These factors are responsible for the increase in the number of conflicts leading to military actions and interventions.

Therefore, WILPF strongly urges that the outcome document calls for actions to address the causes and resolution of armed and other forms of conflicts.

No economic and social development is feasible when an ever increasing number of conflicts lead to destruction of land, infrastructure, and populations. We further urge that the outcome document underlines the need for the governmentís full support for the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in South Africa in 2001.

Finally, WILPF wishes to draw particular attention to commitment nine of which paragraph (g) calls for the reduction of military expenditure, the reduction of production and trade in arms. Reducing military expenditures and thereby releasing resources for social development will be one of the most important steps to enable not only the implementation of commitment four but also the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development as a whole.

Thank you for your attention.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom International Secretariat

Economic globalisation index page


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