WATERTOWN–A global conference organized to accelerate the momentum toward people-centered development took place in Geneva–Switzerland from Monday–June 26 to Friday–June 30–2000–announced the Armenian Relief Society Central Executive Inc. office.
The special session of the General Assembly–officially titled the "World Summit for Social Development and Beyond: Achieving Social Development for All in a Globalizing World," followed up on 10 international commitmen’s made in Copenhagen in 1995 aimed at eradicating poverty–achieving full employment and strengthening social integration.
Among more than 500 Non Governmental Organizations accredited to attend the conference–the Armenian Relief Society was the sole Armenian organization present.
Representing the ARS were Helen Merjanian of France–Rosanna Schumecz of Sweden–Garine Hovsepian of Canada–Penelope Giragosian and Valentine Berberian of the United States. In collaboration with representatives of the Republic of Armenia–the ARS delegation worked towards the actualization of commitmen’s made in 1995–namely: universal and equitable access to quality education and health services; equality and equity between woman and man and international cooperation for social development.
The General Assembly concluded the Special Session by calling for reducing to half–by the year 2015–the number of persons living in extreme poverty; for the achievement of free and universal primary education by the same year; for avoidance of ‘unilateral measures’ affecting the health and well-being of women and children; and for greater steps to ease the debt burdens of developing countries.
Calling the Special Session a success–General Assembly President Theo-Ben Gurirab said–"Let us now turn away from this hallowed place of ideas and recommitment–and act." In assessing the overall impact of the Special Session–Nitin Desai–United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs–drew attention to the greatly strengthened framework of cooperation for poverty eradication–the clearer connection between globalization and its social impact–and the focus on the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
John Langmore–Director of the United Nations Division of Social Policy and Development called the outcome "an international policy pact that can make the world economy less turbulent–less cruel–and much more fair." He concluded by stating–"Although governmen’s disagree on many issues–there is a broadening and deepening political consensus that governmen’s must look out for the weaker members of society–and that strong nations have a comparable responsibility to pay much closer attention to the needs of weak ones."