Today the WYA Advocacy Team and interns attended the Civil Society Forum, “Social Integration: Building a Society for All,” in accordance with the Commission on Social and Economic Development that is taking place at the United Nations from February 3 through the 13th. We were able to listen and ask questions as speakers from around the world discussed their experiences of social inclusion within their organizations and home countries.
As the interactive panels on social inclusion ended, the entire group from WYA and all other remaining NGO attendees split into small groups to discuss the Civil Society Declaration. The staff and interns were prepared with several important language change proposals to the document. First, WYA sought to “protect” rather than “pursue” human dignity, since dignity is inherent and not something that can be pursued. Secondly, in a section recommending systemic analysis, WYA aimed to either eliminate a list of classes not to be discriminated against, since no lists can be exhaustive, or change the language in the document so that only forms of “arbitrary discrimination” invite closer analysis. Lastly, WYA wanted to seek “full access to employment,” rather than “full employment.” Our recommended changes were accepted by nearly every discussion group, and will now go to the writing team as they make a final Civil Society Declaration. We also had the opportunity to voice our individual discussion group’s recommendations, and we believe that WYA will have an impact on the language used in the final version of the declaration.
While these changes might seem minor, WYA believes they are essential to actually achieving the goals of the Civil Society Declaration. It is fundamentally through recognition of the dignity of each human person that people will become more socially aware, and that social inclusion, and hence solidarity, will occur.