Declaration on Social Development - Introduction
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 people.
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
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
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
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.
1/ See First Call for Children (New York, United Nations Children's Fund, 1990).
2/ See Report of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de
Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992, vol. I, Resolutions Adopted by the Conference (United Nations
publication, Sales No. E.93.I.8 and corrigenda).
3/ See Report of the World Conference on Human Rights, Vienna, 14-25 June 1993
(A/CONF.157/24 (Part I)).
4/ See Report of the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island
Developing States, Bridgetown, Barbados, 25 April-6 May 1994 (United Nations publication,
Sales No. E.94.I.18 and corrigenda).
5/ See Report of the International Conference on Population and Development,
Cairo, 5-13 September 1994 (A/CONF.171/13 and Add.1).