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Remarks Delivered to the Opening of the 2018 Commission for Social Development

Remarks Delivered to the Opening of the 2018 Commission for Social Development

Thank you very much
Mr. Chair of the Commission for Social Development Madam President of ECOSOC
Madam Deputy Secretary General Mr. Under Secretary General of DESA
Excellencies, colleagues, ladies and gentleman: It is my honor to share, on behalf of the
NGO Committee for Social Development… a few thoughts on the concept of shared
prosperity, and the means by which it can be advanced. The global agendas adopted in recent years
– Agenda 2030 preeminent among them – are explicitly universal in nature. In them can be seen the international community’s
recognition that humanity’s collective life suffers when any one group thinks of its own
well-being in isolation from that of its neighbors. Rejection of this foundational truth leads
to ills that are all too familiar: Self-interest prevails at the expense of the
common good Unconscionable quantities of wealth are amassed,
mirrored by reprehensible depths of destitution. These extremes are then perpetuated as opportunity
gaps – in education, healthcare, employment – are exacerbated both between and within
nations. In this respect we would humbly propose that
this Commission become the home for Goal 10, to reduce inequalities within and among countries. To eradicate poverty to achieve sustainable
development for all, requires more than mere policy modifications at the margins. Coherent strategies for the establishment
of shared prosperity can only be implemented concurrent with an objective assessment of
both a program’s merit, as well as its values and incentives. One place to start would be to build on consensus
about human dignity. According to the NGO Committee for Social
Development a clear line can be drawn from human dignity to social protection inasmuch
as social protection can foster the broadest and deepest possible participation in the
economic and social life of society In recent years, social protection has emerged
as a unifying concept – at the UN, among Member States, and civil society – for an array of
measures aimed at building fairer and more inclusive societies. The concept of social protection expresses
basic precepts about which broad and strong consensus can be found around the world. Among these:
That all humans have dignity and worth, by virtue of being human. That governments have a role to play in ensuring
dignity is maintained. That there are thresholds which a community
– whether local, national, regional, or international – will refuse to let any of
its members fall below. Convictions such as these – founded on the
most basic and universal conceptions of human worth – lie at the heart of social protection, as articulated in the SDGs, ILO recommendation 202, and Civil Society’s declaration to
this Commission to be finalized after the Civil Society Forum on Friday, to which you
are all warmly invited. Steps undertaken at the national level to
provide those aspirational conditions for all citizens is but the logical conclusion
of this consensus. Of course the particular implementation of
any particular social protection scheme must be the subject of rigorous research and thoughtful
deliberation. The precise details must vary from context
to context. To be effective, they must continually take
into account not only the needs and challenges of local populations, but also their capacities,
resources, and aspirations. in this, the meaningful participation of affected
populations is a prerequisite to success. For this reason, it is important to recognize
that any given social protection scheme be it floors, pensions, cash transfers
or any other are not ends in themselves, but means to
bring about social conditions that allow for the flourishing of communities. The ends that social protection schemes might
be directed towards are many, But a few can be identified for initial consideration:
Social protection is a means of nurturing a societal ethic of reciprocity and a sense
of responsibility to one another. It is, by nature, a shared endeavor involving
a wide and continually growing array of stakeholders, protagonists of their own lives. Social protection broadens and deepens the
social contract, promoting a greater understanding that the well-being of the individual is ultimately
dependent upon, and contributes to, the well-being of the whole. Few would disagree that we live in a fraught
political period, with questions arising around the world about the functioning of political systems, the direction of society, the path toward collective
well-being. In such an environment, it will be useful
to emphasize, that social protection is not a partisan issue. It belongs neither to the north nor the south,
the right nor the left. This consensus should be the starting point
for its implementation. In fact, it is key to its success. Ultimately, the protections of individuals,
communities, and societies hinges on questions of values at the deepest levels. Social protection speaks to the sort of society
in which all fair-minded people wish to live – one in which fears of being unable to survive, thrive, and pass on a better world
to one’s children would no longer darken any person’s horizons. Regardless of the challenges we all face,
the NGO Committee for Social Development has the utmost confidence that every single
Member State wishes such prosperity and well-being for their people. And in this, Civil Society stands ready to
offer any assistance it can in ensuring that every citizen of the world is provided those
conditions by which they can make their fullest contribution to the progress of all. I thank you.

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