1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development

Building National Social Policies: Progress and Lessons Learned

Date: 14 Feb 2007



A consensus is beginning to emerge that social policy is one of the primary functions of the state; that is, state intervention that directly affects social welfare, social institutions and social relations. It involves overarching concerns with redistribution, production, reproduction and protection, and works in tandem with economic policy in pursuit of national social and economic goals. Transformative social policy must be more than a limited set of safety nets and services.

UN-DESA, UN-ESCWA and UNRISD co-hosted this side event during the 45th session of the Commission for Social Development. Speakers highlighted opportunities to enhance equity through the implementation of inclusive, transformative social policies in national development strategies.

The side event was chaired by Johan Schölvinck, Director of the Social Policy and Development Division, UN-DESA.

UNRISD Director Thandika Mkandawire begun with an overview of social policy in a development context, providing some examples from Asia. Isabel Ortiz, Senior Interregional Advisor, UN-DESA based her remarks on the UN-DESA/UNDP social policy guidance note, and cited specific examples from Latin America. François Farah, Chief of Social Policy, UN-ESCWA, did then present a regional perspective, with the view from the Middle East. The side event ended with a concrete national case, South Africa, which was discussed by Vusi Madonsela, Director-General of the Department of Social Development, South Africa.