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The World Summit for Social Development, held in March 1995, established the concept of

social integration to create an inclusive society, a society for all, as one of the key goals of
social development. The Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, a key outcome of
the Summit, pledged to make the eradication of poverty, full employment and social
integration overriding objectives of development. Member states made a commitment1 to
promote social integration through fostering inclusive societies that are stable, safe, just and
tolerant, and respect diversity, equality of opportunity and participation of all people, including
disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and persons

The World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen 1995) defines an inclusive society as a
society for all in which every individual, each with rights and responsibilities, has an active role
to play. Such an inclusive society must be based on respect for all human rights and
fundamental freedoms, cultural and religious diversity, social justice10 and the special needs of
vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, democratic participation and the rule of law. It is
promoted by social policies that seek to reduce inequality and create flexible and tolerant
societies that embrace all people.
There are different views in terms of how a socially inclusive society functions. Integration in
all its forms may simply imply the existence of a stable community in which people can find a
niche. (Taylor, 2007:3). This simple expression touches the heart of the definition of social
integration and social inclusion, which is: difference among members of society is acceptable.
Social integration or social inclusion does not mean a uniformity of people but a society which
has room for diversity and still fosters engagement. To achieve social integration and social
inclusion, voices of people and their needs and concerns, need to be heard. Not only some but
all members of society with different backgrounds must have a say and a stake in their shared
society. This inclusiveness of society creates and maintains stability as well as a readiness to
embrace change when necessary.

As a pre-requisite, respect for all human rights, freedoms, and the rule of law, both at national
and international levels, are fundamental. Every member of society, no matter what his or her
economic resources, political status, or social standing, must be treated equally under the law.
Legal instruments ensure the guiding principles that will guarantee equity14, justice and equal
opportunities for all citizens. Violators of human rights should be brought to justice. The
judiciary which serves to protect just societies must be impartial, accountable and inclusive to
giving weight to the opinions of those who defend the inclusiveness of the society at the local,
regional and national levels. Maintaining the security of all individuals and their living
environment is paramount in creating a feeling of inclusion and an atmosphere of participation
in society.15

To create and sustain inclusive societies, it is critical that all members of society are able and
motivated to participate in civic, social, economic and political activities, both at the local and
national levels. A society where most members, if not all, feel that they are playing a part, have
access to their basic needs/livelihoods, and are provided with the opportunity to participate in
decision-making processes that affect their lives, is a society that will best foster principles of
inclusiveness.16