ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Copenhagen Plus Five

'The Civil Society Response from India', a document issued at the end of a recent seminar in New Delhi to deliberate on the position India should take at the forthcoming session of the UN General Assembly to review the aftermath of the UN Social Summit in Copenhagen in 1995, makes a number of recommendations which, though addressed to the General Assembly, are no less relevant to our own central and state governments.

This is the current lingo. One has to understand the politics of language to fully realise what ‘plus five’ means. In an earlier generation the term used would have been, ‘review’ or ‘appraisal’ or ‘assessment’ or any variations thereof. In short, it would have been a fair critique of what had happened in the five years following the adoption of the Ten Commitments at the Social Summit of the Heads of States and Governments in Copenhagen in March 1995, for which the UN has called a special session of the General Assembly late this month in Geneva. But in an international order where covert double-standard rules the roost, a bland, almost meaningless, term ‘plus five’ serves the interest of all non-performers and double-talkers. Strictly, the term denotes only chronology, but one can put any meaning on it to suit one’s own agenda. No offence is given, no offence is taken, creating an ambience of universal diplomatic entente cordiale.

The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action is quite a voluminous document. It is well written. Controversial issues like structural adjustment programme (SAP) have been skirted with elegance and finesse. For the facility of further discussion it is desirable to recapitulate the ‘Ten Commitments’ very briefly. These Ten Commitments have almost a biblical aura. These are: (i) to create an economic, political, social, cultural and legal environment to enable people to achieve social development; (ii) to eradicate poverty in the world; (iii) to promote full employment as a basic priority of all economic and social policies; (iv) to promote social integration by protecting all human rights and practising non-discrimination, tolerance, respect for diversity, equality of opportunity, solidarity, security and participation of all people; (v) to promote full respect for human dignity, to achieve equality and equity between women and men and to enhance participation and leadership roles of women; (vi) to attain goals of universal and equitable access to quality education, highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and the access of all to primary health care and to rectify inequalities relating to social conditions; (vii) to accelerate the economic, social and human resource development of Africa and the least developed countries; (viii) to ensure that when structural adjustment programmes are agreed to they include social development goals, in particular eradicating poverty, promoting full and productive employment and enhancing social integration; (ix) to increase significantly and/or utilise more efficiently the resources allocated to social development; and (x) to improve and strengthen regional and subregional cooperation for social development in a spirit of partnership through the UN and other multilateral institutions.

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