Commission for Social Development 59th Session February 8 – 17

2021! We are on the threshold of February, and about to start the annual round of Commissions at the United Nations. The first is the Commission for Social Development. The theme this year “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all.” As is usual statement writing has been completed, side events planned and even a copy of our oral statement to the commission has been sent to the Secretariate for acceptance. A new expereince this year – all the sessions are virual so immidiately we realise than anyone in the global community can indeed particiapte if they have a strong internet connection. The Civil Society engagement of the NGO Committee is also different as all is virtual and not all clustered in one day. They are spread out over the first week starting on February 5 and running through to February 12.

While the Orientation session has reached capacity the other 5 events are still open for REGISTRATION. All ae welcomet. The session on the 9th 10th and 11th may be informative from the point of view of a) Digital inclusion in Education and Social Protection for all REGISTER

b) Digital Technology and Financing for Development REGISTER

and c) Digital technolgy and Good Govenance. REGISTER

The official session of the Commission starts on Monday Morning February 8th. Watch LIVE through UN WebTV at in all six United Nations’ official languages. Closed Captioning is available. The Commission will host Five Virtual High-Level Panels:

1.     “Socially just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all”; This will address the priority theme of the Commission. The Report of the Secretary General is very informative and can be read HERE in the 6 lauguages of the United Nations. My favourite line in the report ‘Leaving no one behind means leaving no one offline.’ But this demands action, planning, resources and political will to build inclusive societies. In paragraph 20 under the heading of Alternative models of growth for sustainable development there is a hint of rcognition that a pardigm shift is need away from economic growth. Paragraph 20 beings “That shift in thinking with regard to economic activity is behind the growing body of research on metrics related to well-being that go beyond GDP. Such studies include multiple dimensions of inequality and subjective well-being to measure
national wealth, economic performance and social progress.” The report is very weak on governance measures required for inclsive digital technology for the well being of all.

2.     Ministerial Forum on “Promoting multilateralism to realize inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery from COVID-19 in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development and its social dimensions”; 2020 has come and gone, the decade of action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 is severely threatened due to the impact of COVID 19 and growing inequlaities. There is time to act but the time in now! Strong multilateralism is needed accompanied by strong actions.

3.     Emerging Issues on “Social policy to promote a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable recovery: Building back better post COVID-19 for the achievement of the 2030 Agenda in the context of the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development”;

4.     Interactive dialogue with senior officials of the UN System on the priority theme;

5.     Multi-stakeholder Forum on the priority theme.

The full programme is HERE and the list of Side Event can be seen HERE

See: Friday February 12 ‘Building Roofs and Raising Floors Through Inclusive Digital Technologies and a Global Fund for Social Protection Floors’ and Monday February 15 ‘The Role of Digital Technologies: Stop Online Exploitation of Children.’ If you are interesting in joining the conversation at these event you can register to receive the zoom link going HERE and clicking on the title of the event. The GSIJP Office has been engaged in the organizing of these two events. You may see other events that interest you depending on what area of the world you come from.

The list of written statements is available HERE We collaborated in Statement in statement NO 11 with the Maryknoll Sisters and others. The side event on February 15th continues on the same theme. We endorsed Statement No 17 calling for an end to homelessness, access to digital technologies and social protrection for all.

The CIVIL SOCIETY DECLARATION is an important Document and will be presented at the official opening of the Commission on February 8th. It has been prepared in three languages English, French, and Spanish. It remains open for sign on by individuals or organizations until February 1, 2021. If you have any question put them in the comments box.

‘Good Shepherd’ participation in the 57th Session of Commission for Social Development February 11- 21, 2019

Attending the Civil Society Forum, February 15, 2019 – See more photographs

Participation at the Commission was in the following ways – submission of a written statement, (also available in French and Spanish) attendance at panel discussions, delivery of an oral statement, sponsoring a side event, moderating a panel, attending the Civil Society Forum and contributing to the Civil Society Declaration. The keynote speaker for the forum was Philip Alston, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights. View the webcast! Start at marker 34.05 The issues being addressed are inequality, fiscal policy, wage policy and social protection which may be intimidating, boring, and uninteresting; issues to be addressed elsewhere. You may experience resistance to a discussion on fiscal policy but the reality is that the policies we care most about – the rights of girls and women, and human rights more broadly are fundamentally determined by how economic policies are evolving worldwide. Throughout the world today we are seeing the triumph of neo-liberal policy prescriptions – taxes are being cut in many countries and governments are under great pressure. Governments are less relevant, less interested and less able to respond to the sorts of agenda that are before this group. Privatization is the only option – governments cannot do it. Deregulation becomes important because we need a more conducive environment for business. This becomes problematic if the starting point is how to protect and promote the rights of girls and women or how to protect the least well off or those close to it – which is a much higher number. Policies of austerity are often anti-girls and anti-woman. He cited examples from Ghana – an African success story determined by neo-liberal policies but 1/4 of all girls are married before their 18th birthday and there are direct connections between child, early and forced marriage and poverty; and the UK where he identified that single mothers were under the greatest pressure – with a moralistic response coming from a male-dominated government and punitive policies designed to force young mothers out to work and make it difficult to get the benefits they are entitled to. We need to bring alive and create awareness that fiscal policy and austerity measures have social consequences for everyone but in particular for girls and women.

Our recommendations to the Commission are as follows: Implement national social protection floors, in line with ILO Recommendation 202 and SDG 1.3, while scaling up existing social protection policies towards universal social protection. Realize SDG 8 by protecting and promoting human and labor rights, decent work, and living wages so that people can work and live in dignity and prosperity. Achieve SDG 10 by empowering and promoting the social, economic and political inclusion of all, and by creating inclusive fiscal, wage and social protection policies that create resilience and economic opportunity among vulnerable communities. Implement progressive tax systems and end impunity for tax abuse to mobilize resources for social protection floors and other public services. Invest in financially inclusive loan programs, microfinance loans, and small business cooperatives that empower socially excluded people to reclaim their dignity and become active participants in their financial decisions. These recommendations are at the heart of our position paper for Economic Justice “The disparity between the accumulation of extreme wealth and the inescapability of extreme poverty offends the dignity of human beings, is an affront to the common good, and tends toward disastrous cyclical misery. Extreme amassment of wealth and refusal to share resources and material goods are both cause and effect of social and spiritual ills.”

Delivering oral statement (marker 0.27) on Tuesday, February 19th, 2019
Alexis Schutz, Cynthia Mathew, Winifred Doherty and Bhumika Muchhala – panel presenters at Mahila – Addressing Inequalities and Challenges to Social Inclusion in the Community Context.
Social Protection as a Strategy for Addressing Inequalities and Challenges to Social Inclusion
It’s not all serious! What about some SDG ball play! I am rooting for SDG 10!
With Molly Gerke, Maria Nicole Insuasti Torres, Alexis Schuts and Cecelia O’Dwyer.

Civil Society Declaration- 55th Session Commission for Social Development


The Declaration is available here in English, Spanish and French together with a copy of the program of January 30th and 31st.   cs-declaration-ecs-declaration-scs-declaration-fr2017-cs-forum-program

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Some reflection question in preparation for the Civil Society Forum – Jan 30 and 31st


Have you read the Civil Society Declaration to the Commission? civil-society-declaration-csocd-55th-session  The civil society declaration addresses the theme of the commission and responds in four parts: (1) Introduction (2) A strategy to eradicate poverty (3) …and achieve sustainable development …for all (4) A call to action.

The Good Shepherd Microfinace No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) in Australia is one  strategy that has been effective in implementing Social Protection policies in Australia.   Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission in English, French and Spanish

Case Study:   Universal social protection policies that benefit all of society must reach women and girls who are in the most vulnerable situations, for whom barriers tend to remain even when services and national human development averages improve. These programs must empower girls and women, strengthen their citizenship, and equip them with the knowledge, spaces and networks with which to claim their entitlements. The Good Shepherd Microfinance No Interest Loan Scheme (NILS) in Australia provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable loans for essential goods and services. Participants recognize that repaying their loan means that those funds become available to someone else in the community — consequently, the repayment rate is consistently 95-97%. Follow-up analysis shows that four out of five NILS participants are moving away from crisis and hardship towards stability and resilience — achieving economic mobility. In Australia, more and more women are turning to high cost, predatory payday loans, suggesting that a growing number of women are being excluded from the financial mainstream. NILS focuses on improving opportunities for women and girls, with women representing 67% of NILS participants. Microfinance programs promote gender equality through financial inclusion, and are essential for ensuring women living on low incomes and their families are able to enjoy improved quality of life. The NILS commitment to education and financial literacy is also empowering for women. The loan process begins a conversation about money and household finances with each microfinance applicant. These conversations lead to increased financial literacy and confidence dealing with money. This improves women ’s selfesteem, and participation in decision-making processes.

Étude de cas:  Les politiques de protection sociale universelle profitant à l’ensemble de la société doivent prendre en compte les femmes et les filles les plus vulnérables, celles pour qui les barrières ne tombent pas, y compris quand le niveau mo yen des services et du développement humain dans leur pays progresse. Les différents programmes doivent autonomiser les filles et les femmes, renforcer leur citoyenneté et leur fournir les connaissances, les espaces et les réseaux nécessaires pour revendiquer leurs droits. En Australie, le programme « No Interest Loan Scheme » de Good Shepherd Microfinance donne aux individus et aux familles à faible revenu un accès à des prêts sûrs, équitables et abordables leur permettant de bénéficier de biens et servic es essentiels. Les participants étant conscients que le remboursement de leur prêt permet de réaffecter les fonds à d’autres membres de la communauté, le taux de remboursement s’établit entre 95 et 97 %. L’analyse de ses effets montre que quatre participants sur cinq au programme « No Interest Loan Scheme » parviennent à opérer la transition d’une situation de crise et de pauvreté à une situation de stabilité et de résilience, jusqu’à parvenir à la mobilité économique. Dans ce pays, de plus en plus de femmes se tournent vers des prêts sur salaire aux conditions abusives et au coût élevé, ce qui donne à penser que le nombre de femmes exclues du système financier traditionnel progresse. Le « No Interest Loan Scheme » met l’accent sur l’amélioration des perspectives pour les femmes et les filles, les femmes représentant 67 % des participants au programme. Les programmes de microfinancement favorisent l’égalité des sexes par l’inclusion financière et sont déterminants pour permettre aux femmes vivant avec un faible revenu et à leur famille de jouir d’une meilleure qualité de vie. L’engagement du programme « No Interest Loan Scheme » en faveur de l’éducation et de la culture financière contribue également à l’émancipation des femmes. Le processus de prêt commence par une conversation sur l’argent et les finances du ménage avec chaque demandeur d’un microfinancement. Cet échange renforce les connaissances de base en matière de gestion financière et la confiance quant à l’utilisation de l’argent, ce qui a pour effet d’améliorer l’estime de soi chez les femmes ainsi que leur participation à la prise de décision.

Estudio de caso:   Las políticas de protección social universal que benefician a toda la sociedad deben llegar a las mujeres y las niñas que se encuentren en situaciones más vulnerables, para quienes las barreras tienden a permanecer, incluso cuando mejoran los promedios en materia de servicios y desarrollo humano a escala nacional. Estos programas deben empoderar a las niñas y las mujeres, reforzar su condición de ciudadanas, y dotarlas de los conocimientos, espacios y redes que les permitan reclamar sus derechos. El programa de préstamos sin interés con fines de microfinanciación de nuestra organización en Australia proporciona acceso a préstamos seguros, justos y asequibles para la adquisición de bienes y servicios esenciales a las personas y familias de bajos ingresos. Los participantes reconocen que el reembolso de su préstamo supone que esos fondos estarán disponibles para otra persona en la comunidad, por lo que la tasa de reembolso oscila sistemáticamente entre el 95% y el 97%. Un análisis del seguimiento indica que cuatro de cada cinco participantes en el programa de préstamos sin interés con fines de microfinanciación están saliendo de la crisis y las dificultades y se encaminan a la estabilidad y la resiliencia, logrando la movilidad económica. En Australia, un número cada vez mayor de mujeres están recurriendo a préstamos depredadores de alto costo a corto plazo, lo que indica que un número cada vez mayor de mujeres están siendo excluidas de las corrientes principales de financiación. El programa de préstamos sin interés con fines de microfinanciación se centra en mejorar las oportunidades de las niñas y las mujeres, y estas últimas constituyen el 67% de los participantes en el programa. Los programas de microfinanciación promueven la igualdad de género mediante la inclusión financiera, y son esenciales para garantizar que las mujeres que tienen bajos ingresos y sus familias puedan disfrutar de una mejor calidad de vida. El compromiso del programa con la alfabetización y la educación en materia de finanzas también está empoderando a las mujeres. El proceso de préstamo se inicia con una conversación sobre el dinero y las finanzas de la familia con cada solicitante de microfinanciación. Esas conversaciones dan lugar a un aumento de los conocimientos financieros y de la confianza para abordar cuestiones monetarias. Eso permite mejorar la autoestima de las mujeres y su participación en los procesos de adopción de decisiones.

Read more at Good Shepherd Micro Finance



Some Reflection of Commission for Social Development 52nd Session

Today is the third day of the Commission for Social Development and despite yet another snow storm in New York the UN is open. Today’s agenda focuses on the United Nations plans and programmes of action pertaining to the situation of social groups – persons with disabilities, youth, aging and the family.  It is the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family.  If you are interested in following specifically any of these groups because your ministry is centered around building capacity and creating enabling and empowering environments for any of these groups please look at the Secretary Generals Reports as they relate to your specific social group.  You can access the documents here in English, Spanish and French.

Tomorrow Friday there will be a high level panel on the social drivers of sustainable development.  The concept note is in English, French and Spanish Concept note   A few points that I would like draw your attention to.  The new development agenda known as the ‘Post 2015 Development Agenda’ seeks the integration of  economic growth, social justice and environmental stewardship. The discussion of sustainable development has tended to focus on environmental sustainability while neglecting the social dimension. Integration calls for clarifying what the social dimensions are and how they can be addressed.  The concept note in paragraph two refers to social conditions that influence processes of change.  Another term is ‘social drivers’.  What are these ‘social drivers’ in your experience?   They are social structures that shape people’s behavior and opportunities.  These social structures also affect the capacity of individuals and groups to influence change.   Social drivers are about how individuals and groups respond and adapt to circumstances, including how they cope and organize in defense of their interests or their rights. Remember the ‘Arab Spring’, or the ‘Occupy’ movement.  Yesterday I heard Mr Abdul-Kareem Al Eryani, former PM of Yemen, Club de Madrid Member remembering how the Arab Spring began in Tunisia which was one of the best countries in the region economically. Marginalized people were the leaders and women took a significant role.  There was a 10 month period of national dialogue.  Mr Abdul-Kareem Al Eryani noted that when human dignity is violated people are not content. Economic development without social development leads to conflict and tension.   The former Prime Minister went on to say that sustainable development must be balanced with good governance and implementation of human rights.  The Club of Madrid promote the idea of ‘shared societies’. Social development is as critical as economic development.  The mega programmes of the 20th century based on ‘trickle down effect’ to end poverty have not worked. People have not been empowered.

What about class, ethnicity, gender and location (rural vs urban) both informal and formal institutions, including the norms and values that pattern behaviour, and the way people and organizations interact in networks. Here I think back to the panel I moderated at the Civil Society forum and the experience shared my Mr. Jose Nunez  (See posting on February 11 and the presentation of Fabio Palacio posted on February 12)  Some tweets of February 11 quoting from Jose Nunez illustrate the point.  “Just accessing social protection can be disempowering because of ‘put downs’…  Giving people money is not enough …it’s not transformative… I believe that without empowerment we cannot end poverty…True empowerment is about how you carry yourself not how much you own… Empowerment is not about making more money or having more power than someone else.”

In our Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission for Social Development we quoted the following definition of empowerment “Empowerment happens when individuals and organized groups are able to imagine their world differently and to realize that vision by changing relations of power that have kept them in poverty, restricted their voice and deprived them of their autonomy.” (Rosalind Eyben’s paper in Pathways Policy Paper Brighton, 2011)  This definition places empowerment squarely in the minds and hearts of persons and communities living in poverty, seeking a proper balance between enhancing their own sense of agency and making the structural changes to institutions and policies that are needed for emancipation. What do you think of the three aspect of power, ‘power within’, ‘power to’, and ‘power with’ as elaborated in our statement?  How do we facilitate structural and systemic change?  Our direction statement of 2009 called us to  “confront unjust systems and take a “corporate stance” when appropriate.”

See paragraph 52 of Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation Click here Page 44 “In our time humanity is experiencing a turning point in its history, as we can see from the advances being made in so many fields.  We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications.  At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences.  A number of diseases are spreading.  The hearts of many people are gripped by fear and desperation, even inn the so-called rich countries.  The joy of living frequently fades, lack of respect for others and violence are on the rise, and inequality is increasingly evident.  it is a struggle to live and, often, to live with precious little dignity.  This epochal change has been set in motion by the enormous qualitative, quantitative, rapid and cumulative advances occurring in the sciences and in technology, and by their instant application in different areas of nature and life. We are in an age of knowledge and information, which has led to new and often anonymous kinds of power.”

The commission for Social Development and the Post 2015 Development Agenda in its multiple discussions are desiring to analyze and  understand these ‘anonymous kinds of power’ that have created growing inequalities and the empowerment of peoples.

IMG_1967Read the statement of the Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development (Margaret Mayce) to the Commission.  Access statement by clicking here  See in particular page 4 and I quote “In a globalized world too often driven by economic and financial engines, it is easy to lose sight of people, and of the Planet which serves as our one, common home.  When wealth and power are sought as ends unto themselves, there is a the danger that society can be reduced to a collection of nameless, faceless individuals, and the common good is reduced to fit the outcome achievable by private, for profit firms.   The market based approach to development has tended to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few, while countless numbers of our brothers and sisters have seen their economic power, and their real power to influence decisions that affect their lives diminish.  In this regard we turn to the words of Pope Francis, who spoke of “the scandal of poverty in a world of plenty as a piercing moral challenge for the whole human community.”  He continues, “A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth, and not simply to close the gap between the affluent and those who must be satisfied with the crumbs falling from the table…there must be a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill, or worse, promised which all to often have not been kept.” 

Commission for Social Development Opened on Tuesday morning.

The sessions are webcast and can be viewed Here   The Chair of the NGO Committee for Social Development addressed the Commission.  Move the slider to 1.10 to hear the statement. If your prefer to read the document click here

The third session of the commission was a panel on the theme of ‘Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all’

The webcast is available here  Two panelists have provided their papers: one  Dr John Gaventa (Paper is here) and the second Mr Fabio Palacio of ATD 4th World.  Fabio’s presentation is a Powerpoint and will be of interest to all of us. Click here  If watching the webcast Dr Gaventa’s presentation begin at 1.01 on the slider and Fabio’s presentation continues.  

Does empowerment make a difference?  

How does this compare with the Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission on our ministry in DRC and empowering people … Read here  What do you think are the elements of an empowering environment?  Start a conversation by writing in the comment box.

NGO Committee for Social Development – Civil Society Forum

IMG_1952[1]The link to the webcast of the NGO Committee for Social Development Civil Society Forum – February 10, 2014 has been posted.  Following the official opening of the forum Winifred Doherty was moderator of the first panel on the priority theme      “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all“. This was a very interesting panel and you will hear much about the social protection floor.  Also listen to the presentation from Lilly John, Presentation Sister from India and to the third panelist Mr Jose Nunez speak about what empowerment is.

IMG_1936[1]      IMG_1938[1]     Civil society Forum 2014     IMG_1942


 IMG_1912       IMG_1911

After lunch there was a second panel focusing on women.  2nd panel   Do listen to Ms. Lakshmi Puri, Deputy Executive Director, Intergovernmental Support and Strategic Partnerships Bureau Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. Lakshmi lists the priority areas of UN Women  – ending violence against women, political participation and gender responsive budgeting and stated that gender equality is the biggest transformation that we must seek to achieve!  UN Women is calling for a transformative stand-alone goal on achieving gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment: Imperatives and key components in the new post 2015 development agenda. Access the full document here.

There is also a presentation on older women.  You might find this interesting.

The day ended with the adoption of the Civil Society Declaration.  Read the Civil Society Declaration

Commission for Social Development 52nd Session

The 52nd Session for Social Development starts on Tuesday February 11, 2014.  The priority theme of the commission is  “Promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all“.   You can read more here

In these two weeks it would be great if you could read Chapter 2 and 4 of ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis.  Access the full document here  Chapter 2 is entitled ‘Amid the Crisis of Communal Commitment’.  It runs from paragraph 50 to 109.  Some challenges of today’s world are found in paragraphs 52 – 75 .  Pope Francis says in paragraph 51 ‘… I do exhort all the communities to an “ever watchful scrutiny of the signs of the times”. This is in fact a grave responsibility since certain present realities, unless effectively dealt with, are capable of setting off processes of dehumanization which would then be hard to reverse.’  These very processes are the issues address in the Commission for Social Development – the dehumanizing condition of living in poverty, of being excluded, of being unemployed or exploited for labor as a slave.  Pope Frances lists some of the challenges in these words ‘No to an economy of  exclusion,(53-54);  no the the new idolatry of money,(55-56); no to a financial system which rules rather than serves (57-58); no to the inequality which spawns violence (59 – 60).

“We can only praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications.  At the same time we have to remember that the majority of our contemporaries are barely living from day to day, with dire consequences.”  In the Good Shepherd statement to the Commission for Social Development  we name those people as the people in the mines in Kolwezi in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission NGO 32  We choose one community to focus on but each of you in your ministries can put in your community’s name as all our ministries address the dire consequences of living from day to day.  In Pope Francis words “it is the struggle to live and, with precious little dignity.”  Further our Pope talks of the development of “new and often anonymous kinds of power.”(52)  Do you see these powers at work in your community?  Empowering people is I think one way to approach this.  Paragraph one of the statement offers a suggested definition. Can you see any parallel between the situation in Kolwezi and the words of Pope Francis in paragraph 53 “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality.  Such an economy kills. How can it be that is is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion.”  Aging is one of the issues that the Commission addresses and you can see that numerous statements from NGO’s that focus on that issue.  “Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving?  This is a case of inequality.  Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful are fed upon the powerless.  As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human being are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded.  We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading.  It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new.  Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even part of it.  The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.”

These words of Pope Frances are at the heart of the priority theme for the Commission for Social Development. Read up to the end of Paragraph 60 in the Pope’s apostolic letter.  Hear the Pope echo concern for the family – also an issue of the Commission.  Chapter 4 is the Social Dimension of Evangelicalism.  In paragraph 202 Pope Francis writes “the need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of it urgency for the good order of society but because society need to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises.  Welfare project, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses.  As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attaching the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter to any problem.  Inequality is at the root of social ills.”    (A note – in the NGO community we no longer use the phrase ‘the poor’ but rather  ‘persons living in poverty’.

Paragraph 203  “The dignity of each human person and the pursuit of the common good are concerns which ought to shape all economic policies.  At times, however they seem to be a mere addendum imported from without in order to fill out a political discourse lacking in perspectives or plans for a true and integrated development.  How many words prove irksome to this system! It is irksome when the question of ethics is raised, when global solidarity is invoked, when the distribution of goods is mentioned, when reference is made to protecting labour and defending the dignity of the powerless, when allusion is made to a God who demands a commitment to justice.  At other times these issues are exploited by a rhetoric which cheapens them.  Casual indifference in the face of such questions empties our lives and our words of all meaning.  Business is a vocation, and a noble vocation, provided that those engaged in it see themselves challenged by a greater meaning in life; this will enable them truly to serve the common good by striving to increase the goods of this world and to make them more accessible to all.  …. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth: it requires decision, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and the integral promotion of people living in poverty which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality.  … the economy can no longer continue ‘to increase profits by reducing the work force and adding to the ranks of the excluded.”

Pope Francis reiterates over and over again the same points and prays in paragraph 205 for more politicians capable of sincere and effective dialogue aimed at healing the deepest roots – and not simply appearances of the evils in our world!  Politics, though often denigrated, remains a lofty vocation and one of the highest forms of charity, inasmuch as it sees the common good. … It is vital that government leaders and financial leaders take heed and broaden their horizons, working to ensure that all citizens have dignified work, education and healthcare.”  Don’t you hear social protection floors in those words!

This I believe is also the raison d’etre of the Commission for Social Development where 46 member states (see the Commission Bureau and Members) on behalf of the whole  enter into dialogue on these same issues desiring poverty eradication, social inclusion and full employment and decent work. The emphasis this year is on ‘Empowerment of people’ and maybe what is lacking is an emphasis on the structural and systemic change necessary.  Good Shepherd Recommendations to the Commission are calling for the implementation of already agreed commitments – human rights based commitments,  nationally owned and designed floors of social protection, strong government regulation of mining companies; full compliance with CEDAW and ensuring the allocation of public resources to the achievement of the of aims of the commission as outlined in the World Summit for Social Development in Copenhagen in 1995 but going right back to the foundation of the United Nations – this being its 52nd meeting.

Is your country a member of the Commission for Social Development?  Are you praying for these representatives that they take courageous decisions for structural and systemic change?  What is your country doing to promote empowerment of people?  Is your country implementing Social Protection Floors?  Please share in the comment box.


Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission for Social Development

States have opportunities for real leadership in facilitating a global paradigm shift through the incorporation of the guiding principles on extreme poverty and human rights into national laws, policies and programmes and the implementation of ILO recommendation 202 on national floors of social protection. These are giant steps towards creating an empowering environment and achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all. We support the Commission towards this end.   Read the full Good Shepherd Statement to the Commission for Social Development – available in the 6 languages of the United Nations.  ngocsocd2012