The Social Forum

Sub-Commission on Human Rights resolution 2001/24


The Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights,

Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the indivisibility, interdependence and interrelated nature of economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights,

Recalling also the reports and studies on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights submitted by several special rapporteurs to the Sub-Commission and the Commission on Human Rights, in particular those submitted by Mr. Danilo Türk, Mr. Asbjørn Eide, Mr. Mustapha Mehedi, Mr. Leandro Despouy, Mr. El Hadji Guissé, Mr. Joseph Oloka-Onyango and Ms. Deepika Udagama, Mr. David Weissbrodt and Mr. José Bengoa,

Taking into account Commission on Human Rights resolution 1999/53 of 27 April 1999 and decision 2000/107 of 26 April 2000, and Sub-Commission resolutions 1999/10 of 25 August 1999 and 2000/6 of 17 August 2000 on the establishment of a forum for economic, social and cultural rights, to be called the Social Forum,

Taking into account Commission on Human Rights decision 2001/103 of 25 April 2001 authorizing the Sub-Commission to hold the Social Forum during its fifty-third session,

Welcoming the preparatory panel meeting on the Social Forum held during the fifty-third session of the Sub-Commission (see report of the panel meeting, …), in which all the participants unanimously recognized the need for a new process/mechanism within the United Nations system with broad participation, responding to the current structure of international society,

Considering the new challenges of globalization, of the changes in the international order and of the emergence of new actors in the international, regional and national economic and financial area,

Concerned at the need for a new social architecture to complement the financial architecture,

Considering the need to listen to the most vulnerable and their advocates, and to ensure a meaningful and effective participation of those who are not heard,

Bearing in mind that poverty reduction remains an ethical and moral imperative of humankind, based on respect for human dignity,

1. Requests the Commission on Human Rights to authorize the holding in Geneva of a pre-sessional forum on economic, social and cultural rights before the fifty-fourth session of the Sub-Commission, to be known as the Social Forum, for two days, with the participation of 10 members of the Sub-Commission, taking into account regional representation;

2. Decides that the Social Forum will meet every year with the following mandate:

(a) To exchange information on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights and their relationship with the processes of globalization;

(b) To follow up on situations of poverty and destitution throughout the world; bearing in mind that they amount to complete and permanent denial of human rights;

(c) To propose standards and initiatives of a juridical nature, guidelines and other recommendations for consideration by the Commission on Human Rights, the working groups on the right to development, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the specialized agencies and other organs of the United Nations system;

(d) To follow up the agreements reached at the major world conferences and the Millennium Summit, and to make contributions to forthcoming major international events and discussion of issues related to the mandate of the Social Forum;

3. Recommends that the Social Forum address the following themes, inter alia:

(a) The interaction between civil and political and economic, social and cultural rights;

(b) The relationship between poverty, extreme poverty and human rights in a globalized world;

(c) The effect of international trade, finance and economic policies on income distribution, and the corresponding consequences on equality and non-discrimination at the national and international levels;

(d) Analysis of international decisions affecting basic resources for the population, and in particular those affecting enjoyment of the right to food, the right to education, the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right to adequate housing and the right to an adequate standard of living;

(e) Analysis of the impact of international trade, finance and economic policies on vulnerable groups, especially minorities, indigenous peoples, migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, women, children, older persons, people living with HIV/AIDS, people living with disabilities and other social sectors affected by such measures;

(f) The impact of public and private, multilateral and bilateral international development cooperation on the realization of economic, social and cultural rights;

(g) Follow-up of agreements reached at world conferences and international summits, particularly the Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development, and in other international bodies, concerning the link between economic, commercial and financial issues and the full realization of human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights;

(h) Social and economic indicators and their role in the realization of economic, social and cultural rights;

4. Decides that the Social Forum before the fifty-fourth session of the Sub-Commission, in 2002, will address the following theme: “The relationship between poverty reduction and the realization of the right to food”;

5. Requests Mr. José Bengoa, member of the Sub-Commission, to draft a preliminary working paper outlining the methodology and work of the Social Forum;

6. Decides to extend an invitation to participate in the Social Forum to non-governmental organizations in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and other non-governmental organizations outside Geneva and particularly newly emerging actors in the South, such as smaller groups, grass-roots organizations, voluntary, youth associations, community organizations, trade unions and associations of workers, representatives of the private sector, United Nations agencies, the relevant functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council, the regional economic commissions, international financial institutions and development agencies;

7. Invites United Nations bodies and specialized agencies, the relevant functional commissions of the Economic and Social Council, the regional economic commissions, the international financial institutions, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, special rapporteurs and independent experts, non-governmental organizations, scholars, trade unions and associations of workers to participate in and to submit studies to the Social Forum;

8. Requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to seek effective means of ensuring consultation, including electronic consultation, with the most vulnerable on the theme selected for discussion at the Social Forum;

9. Invites the Social Forum to submit to the Sub-Commission at its fifty-fourth session a separate report, containing a comprehensive and detailed summary of the discussion;

10. Invites the Social Forum to submit recommendations, including draft resolutions, to the Sub-Commission at its fifty-fourth session;

11. Requests the Commission on Human Rights and the Economic and Social Council to endorse the holding of the Social Forum and to authorize the provision of all the necessary secretariat facilities for the preparation and servicing of the event;

12. Invites the Commission on Human Rights to consider the establishment of a voluntary fund to facilitate the participation of grass-roots groups and similar disadvantaged organizations in the Social Forum.



27th meeting
16 August 2001
[Adopted without a vote. ]


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