Promoting Social Intergration: Voices from the Grassroots

In a survey conducted by the Non-Governmental Organization CONGO Committee for Social Development (NGO Committee for CSocD) and the Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS) in the fall of 2010, 180 civil society groups from 60 countries responded to three questions designed to reveal their awareness of the Resolution on Promoting Social Integration (E/CN.5/2011/1) and the efforts made by their national governments to implement that same resolution. The summary of the responses which follows reflects civil society’s awareness of new policies and programmes introduced by their respective governments since the adoption of the Resolution.

More than 80% of the respondents reported at least some awareness of the Resolution. Respondents report that a variety of different social protection programmes have been established but that few of them apply to those working in the informal sector.
The largest section of this summary reports the concrete suggestions made by the respondents to enhance the implementation of the Resolution. The full report contains detailed results of the survey, reporting responses from 60 countries from the five regions: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean and Western Asia. However, for the purpose of the executive summary, we will list only the concrete suggestions that were most often mentioned regardless of the regions from which they originated.
1.    Enforce existing laws and policies on promoting social integration: Many respondents highlighted concerns about implementation gaps in existing social policies and laws. They called for an increase in evaluation and monitoring by civil society rather than promoting new social policies and laws. They further called for actions to create decent employment to result in the inclusion of previously marginalized persons into the formal sector workforce.
2.    Enhance participation by civil society and grassroots: Civil society affirmed the importance of enhancing the participation of all citizens to ensure implementation of the existing policies including the strengthening of local governance structures. Citizens should be at the heart of the process of designing and monitoring the delivery of quality public services.
3.    Ensure access to information: Local media should be used to pass on information among people living in remote areas and to raise awareness about rights and social policies. This includes the exchange of information and dialogue between political decision-makers and civil society leaders.
4.    Eliminate corruption: Effective measures to eliminate corruption and address impunity among representatives of governments and development partners should be put in place including transparency in the areas of political campaign finance, resource management and programme funding.
5.    Focus on women’s equality: Respondents emphasized the promotion of women’s equality from the following perspectives: protection against domestic and sexual violence and abuse, access to land, the right to inherit, access to health care, education, and participation in decision-making. Education of the girl-child and special programmes for women soldiers returning from the violence of war were highlighted as was also the need for attention to families. Fair and gender-responsive legal systems were also identified as a need.
6.    Focus on the most vulnerable in providing basic needs and services: Special attention should be given to the provision of basic needs, services and social protection to vulnerable populations. Groups identified include indigenous peoples, the unemployed, prisoners, people with disabilities, street children, older persons, persons living with HIV/AIDS, and all those living in extreme poverty in slums or rural areas. Further, people-centred investment and job creation are essential for long-term social and economic development.
7.    Address needs of migrants and refugees:
Respondents identified a need for fair policies to protect migrant workers and their families in both sending and receiving countries.
8.    Increase efforts to address societal divisions and human trafficking: Continued efforts need to be undertaken to eliminate discrimination, based on race, caste, religion and gender. Also the elimination of human trafficking is seen as an important step to achieve social integration.
9.    Promote aid effectiveness to strengthen governance and improve development performance: Policies to tackle efficiency problems including monitoring during the execution of social projects were requested. Respondents mentioned specifically the implementation of existing agreements such as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action.
10. Address the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Respondents suggested that special focus must be given to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS and reiterated the importance of policies related to the caring for persons living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.
11. Additional Suggestions: Included were the following: programs for the reintegration of child, women and men soldiers into peacetime societies; enhanced debt relief in poor countries and promotion of microfinance as a source of employment and development; human rights- based approaches to poverty eradication and the importance of the Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights; and implementation of policies to address the impact of climate change on poverty eradication.

To download the PDF version of the complete report go to Survey report – 2011

Posted in Commission for Social Development: February 9-18, 2011 | Leave a comment

Civil Society Forum 2011

In anticipation of the 49th Commission on Social Development – please mark your calendar

Eradication of Poverty: Human Dignity Demands It!

“Poverty is the Absence of All Human Rights”
~Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laureate

The Civil Society Forum

Tuesday, February 8th 2011, 10am-6pm

Conference Room 4 NLB United Nations Headquarters, New York

Registration and Information:

Flyer Forum 49th

Posted in Civil Society Forum: February 8, 2011 | Leave a comment

Draft of 2011 Civil Society Declaration

Version 4 Jan 4, 2011 CS Declaration (Writers Committee 2.30 pm) KD[3]


Eradication of Poverty: a Civil Society Perspective 2011


The eradication of poverty has proven to be an elusive goal despite it being central to the international development agenda. Recent studies, in particular the DESA “Rethinking Poverty” report, suggest that conventional approaches are not working[1]. The dominant development model has not created a socially just world; rather it has put at risk a sustainable future by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases and overuse of non-renewable resources and has favoured the wealthy over those forced to live in poverty. It will take a shared ethical and social commitment to redirect our culture and economy toward a sustainable future. The current crises throw into bold relief a model of development that is blind to environmental and human rights issues and confuses economic growth alone with progress.

We strongly endorse the call to rethink and refocus our efforts to eradicate poverty through policies and programmes at all levels that are equitable, integrated and that address the systemic roots of inequality.

Poverty is multidimensional

Poverty is a complex human reality.  Poverty is not the condition of a fixed group of people; everyone is at risk of experiencing poverty at some point in their lives. Lack of income by itself can never adequately measure or explain poverty. Because it is multi-dimensional, poverty encompasses all aspects of human life. Such factors as geography, a vulnerable environment, the limitations that age, disability or illness impose, all contribute to the experience of poverty. Structural limitations such as social exclusion, lack of access to the tools that enable a person to participate in social, economic and political life, characterize extreme poverty which leaves people marginalized in their own society. The powerlessness flowing from these causes, damages a person’s spirit and capacity to relate with others.

The new indices proposed in the 2010 Human Development Report the Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, the Gender Inequality Index and the Multidimensional Poverty Index expand our current understanding of poverty and offer us some tools to measure it.[2]

Cumulative impact of multiple crises

The recent crises: climate, financial, economic, food and energy, have culminated in increasing levels of poverty in many areas of the world. Massive investment, both consistent and long term, is called for in researching, developing and making technologies available to mitigate and adapt to the changes we are facing. Unwavering political will is needed if we are not to squander the progress already made in addressing poverty.

The Climate crisis is increasingly recognized as a cross-cutting issue which exacerbates poverty and threatens the achievement of the MDGs as a whole. Although it is a global phenomenon, its negative impacts are more severely felt in poor countries and by people living in poverty.[3] To name one example: agriculture and fisheries in climate sensitive areas can suffer drastic economic effects from extreme variations of temperatures. This in turn puts at risk the provision of basic services to people living in poverty.

The global financial and economic crisis has strained some governments’ ability to meet the social, educational and health needs of their citizens. Governments require the policy and fiscal space to allocate resources according to the priorities of their development plans. All illegitimate and odious debt and the debts of the poorest countries should be cancelled. We support the establishment of a sovereign debt workout mechanism under UN auspices to ensure equitable arbitration of debt that is enforceable.[4]

The food and energy crises have had a direct negative impact on people living in poverty, particularly small scale farmers, among whom women farmers predominate. Crops that have traditionally met the nutrition needs of rural communities have been converted to the production of biofuels and other cash crops.

Because these crises present challenges that are closely linked the global community has a window of opportunity to address them in a unified and holistic way.

This is highlighted in the Secretary General’s words in Cancún:[5]

“I am deeply concerned that our efforts have been insufficient … that despite the evidence … and many years of negotiation … we are still not rising to the challenge. Now, more than ever, we need to connect the dots between climate… poverty … energy … food … water”.

Addressing the root causes of poverty calls for:
A fundamental shift from the dominant development model.

Efforts to tackle the multiple crises have uncovered some basic deficiencies in the current model of global partnership for development. Key among these deficits are the absence of a human rights framework and the subordination of social and ecological needs to the demands of economic growth.

“The norms and values embedded in the Millennium Declaration and international human rights instruments must continue to provide the foundation for engagement, in particular the key human rights principles of non-discrimination, meaningful participation and accountability”[6] If policies and programmes to eradicate poverty are to be effective, the active involvement of people living in poverty as essential partners is crucial.

Basic reform of the international financial architecture.

The current economic system is based on the unrealistic belief that never-ending growth is possible, despite growing evidence of both its economic and environmental failures. The Bretton Woods institutions are not serving the needs of the global community. A growing consensus indicates that global imbalances in savings and consumption must be addressed. It is urgent that the architecture for international aid and global trade agreements be re-examined.[7] The wisdom of maintaining a single currency as the major reserve currency ought to be closely examined in reforming international financial architecture.

An integrated approach to poverty eradication will lack credibility if the issue of military spending is not addressed. This calls for a revolutionary change of attitude by government decision makers to fund human rights-based development over war. Secretary-General Ban’s recent comments to youth suggest the difference such a change would make to the task of poverty eradication.[8]

“Every year, the world spends $1.4 trillion dollars on weapons. With a fraction of that we could cut poverty, fund schools, provide health care, and protect the environment. One year of global military spending could pay the UN’s budget for 732 years”.

Key leverage points for addressing poverty eradication:

I. Education

Wide consensus exists that education is a critical tool in poverty eradication. Each state must provide the education needed by its citizens to address the moral, social, cultural, spiritual, political and economic dimensions of poverty. Universal access to primary education is the starting point. Lifelong education that provides skills and increases the potential for meaningful employment, responsible citizenship and successful social integration in a changing world is essential.

If education for all is to succeed as a tool of transformation to bridges the inequality gap, states must allocate sufficient budgetary resources to make this possible. Classrooms without books or teachers without sufficient training limit the effectiveness of a national education policy. Other barriers such as lack of access to clean water and basic sanitation have consequences not only for health, but for education too.

II. Gender equity

In many countries of the world legal, economic and political rights enjoyed by men are often denied to women. Furthermore, poverty and the consequences of climate change exacerbate already existing gender inequalities. Discrimination and violence against women and girls is a daily occurrence. Many women, particularly rural women, are denied the right to inherit property and own land, preventing them from enjoying economic independence and security. Legal empowerment of people living in poverty is especially urgent for women.

Poverty eradication begins with the legal registration of all births and extends to implementing women’s legal rights to land ownership and inheritance. Women’s access to human rights and social justice empowers and ensures them a means of livelihood, income and freedom from discrimination and violence.

It is only when women and men, supported by gender sensitive legislation, work together to change social customs and cultural practices that discriminate and condone violence against women and girls, will gender equity be achieved.

III. Invest in agriculture

Seventy percent of the world’s poorest live in rural areas.  Some 2 billion farmers, the majority of whom are women, engage in small-scale agriculture which feeds the majority of the world’s population. Investment in this sector has decreased by almost 20% in recent years. An ambitious increase in investment in small-scale agriculture is urgently needed.  This would also help to slow the rate of departure from the land for the city.

Government policy is a major determinant in moving towards solutions. If a state is to improve its potential for development through a viable agricultural sector, the first place to look is to the farmer in rural communities. Examples from such countries as Malawi, Tanzania and Rwanda show how policies that make it easier for small farmers to obtain seeds and fertilizers  produced greater harvests, addressed food insecurity and led to impressive economic growth.

Governments should facilitate dialogue between small farmers, scientists, agribusiness and NGOs to explore sustainable agricultural practices to improve productivity while restoring the soil and the natural environment. Developing equitable partnerships between small farmers and others in the supply chain would benefit all.

IV. Productive employment

Jobless growth based on the single economic bottom line is unacceptable. Progress must be measured by the triple bottom line: social, environmental and economic benefits. To promote full employment and decent work for all, appropriate national policies must insure the protection of labour rights of all workers in both the formal and informal sector, including domestic and small-farm workers, especially women. A universal social protection floor to ensure services that respond to the basic needs of workers and their families, including those who work in the informal sector or who are unable to work, is essential for all workers, especially in times of crises.[9]

V.         Strategies for social inclusion

Well-being, material and non-material, depends on a socio-political structure in which people live. People living in poverty often experience a sense of powerlessness because of discrimination, lack of access, lack of representation and lack of voice. Active involvement of these men and women, at all levels, in planning and implementing development strategies has proven effective in poverty reduction and sustainable care of the environment.  Vigorous effort is needed to transform structures of exclusion and create new social norms more conducive to social inclusion. We applaud those countries that have already recognized that social inclusion is essential to a more equal society and have created ministries of social inclusion.

Best Practices

Our experience with community involvement has shown us that the most effective programmes focused on poverty eradication are characterized by the following elements:

  • Multiple benefits for the whole community
  • Community-based assessment, planning, execution and evaluation
  • Participation of those most directly affected by the program or policy
  • Design and implementation is able to be replicated
  • The programme or practice is sustainable.


Research by UNRISD[10] indicates that countries that have successfully reduced poverty have focused on state-directed strategies linking economic development goals with active social policies so that they reinforce rather than compete with each other.

There is no one right way to reduce poverty. Countries must be allowed the policy space to develop different models of development where the aspects of food security and livelihoods, land reform, cultural rights, gender equity, social policy and participatory democracy are key ingredients.

A key to success in turning back the scourge of poverty is governance that is transparent and open to scrutiny and a justice system that is fair, restorative and equally available to all. The energetic involvement of governments is essential. So also, involvement of civil society and the local community is not optional, but an essential ingredient in the struggle to overcome extreme poverty and imagine a new more civilized and humane world.

It is within our power to eradicate poverty if we are willing to address the root causes of poverty and inequality. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, based on the inherent dignity of the human person, is a firm foundation on which to construct a life free from poverty for all people.

The UN Human Rights Council’s “Draft Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights“[11] which highlights the indivisibility and interdependence of cultural, civic, social, political and economic rights of all people and names discrimination and stigmatization as roots of inequity, is also integral to the way forward as are the three pillars of Copenhagen: social inclusion, decent work and full employment, along with the eradication of poverty.

[1] Rethinking Poverty   http://www/

[2]UNDP:  Human Development Report 2010. The Real Wealth of Nations: Pathways to Human Development
Synthesis Report of the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC (Rethinking Poverty, p.4)

[3] Synthesis Report of the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC (Rethinking Poverty, p.4

[4] African Forum and Network on Debt and Development; “Call for Establishment of a Fair and Transparent Arbitration Mechanism on Debt” Policy Brief No. 1/2002

[5] Secretary General Ban-Ki-Moon’s words at Cancun meeting, Dec. 8, 2010, UN News 6 Keeping the Promise, p 28

[7] Policy Brief UNU Number 2, 2009, The Global Economic Crisis after one Year: Is a New Paradigm for Recovery  in Developing Countries Emerging?

[8] Secretary-General’s remarks to Security Council “informal informal” Youth Session, New York, 21 December 2010


[10] Combating Poverty and Inequality, UNRISD Research and Policy Brief 10

[11] A/HRC/2/2, p29 and A/HRC/15/41

Posted in Civil Society Declaration: January 4, 2011, Civil Society Forum: February 8, 2011 | Leave a comment

Survey on Social Integration

The NGO Committee for Social Development, with the support of the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (NGLS),has completed its survey 0f Social Integration in Action.  The main purposes of compiling these examples were:

  1. To provide examples of Social Integration in Action to UN Permanent Missions, UN staff and members of civil society
  2. To provide recognition and feedback to the individuals and organizations who provide support and aid to needy members of society around the world
  3. To raise the profile of these grassroots activities
  4. To provide input to the Secretary General’s report to the 2010 Commission for Social Development
  5. To provide input to the Civil Society declaration to the 2010 Commission for Social Development
  6. To provide the evidence for a possible side event (or events) at the 2010 Commission for Social Development

To download the pdf version of the final report of the survey please click on the following link: Social Integration in Action-Stories from the Grassroots To view or download the complete results of the survey (404pp.) click on the following link: Master 1 original _Nov 24th 2009_-revised To check out some examples of good practices, please view the following documents: Example of Survey from India Example of Survey from Vietnam We know that there are many thousands of people providing help and benefit to those in poverty and need throughout the world and we believe that these efforts should be widely disseminated and receive the recognition that they deserve.  With your support we will increase awareness of this outstanding work.

Posted in Commission for Social Development: February 9-18, 2011, Survey on Social Integration: November 24, 2009 | Leave a comment

Follow-up to Resolution on Social Integration

In preparation for the 2011 Commission on Social Development, the NGO Committee is looking for input regarding last year’s resolution on the priority theme of social integration. Are you aware of the resolution? Has your national or local government initiated any new programs to promote social inclusion? Please go to the appropriate site below, by language, to complete a short survey. You can find the English version at, the Spanish version at and the  French version at

Posted in Commission for Social Development: February 9-18, 2011, Survey on Social Integration: November 24, 2009 | Leave a comment

Draft Declaration for Civil Society Forum 2010

The Draft declaration of the NGOs for the 48th Session of the Commission on Social Development is now available for review. It will be finalized during the Civil Society Forum at the UN Headquarters, 2 February 2010. Please click the link below for download in Word.

Civil Society Declaration Drft 26 Jan 10

A draft of policy recommendations is also now available:

NGO Recommendations 26 Jan 10

Posted in Civil Society Declaration: January 4, 2011 | Leave a comment

Survey on Impact of Global Crises on CSOs

The NGO Committee on Social Development has been part of the Steering Committee to guide a UN sponsored project to assess the impact of the Economic Crisis on Civil Society organizations and the people they serve. The final report, a shorter executive summary, some case studies and a PowerPoint presentation is now available for download:

Full Study on Impact of Global Crises on CSOs 2-25-10 – the full report in pdf


ANNEX VI Questionnaire

Summary Global Crises and Impact on CSOs – Shorter Summary in pdf

Survey Summary on Impact of Crises on CSOs – Second Summary

Case studies 23-2-2010

Presentation Impact of Crises on CSOs 23-2-2010 – PowerPoint Presentation on Survey

Posted in Survey on Impact of Global Crises on CSOs: February 25, 2010 | Leave a comment