Read: 1994 Aug 22, Toward a Development Paradigm for 21st Century

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Comments on the Draft Declaration and Draft Programme of Action for Social Development (A/CONF.166/PC/L.13) presented at the second session of the Preparatory Committee for the World Summit for Social Development

New York, USA
22 August-2 September 1994

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The World Summit for Social Development is testimony to the failure of our current development paradigm to provide for the security and well-being of the peoples and nations of both the North and the South. At the heart of this failed model is a deeply materialistic view of the purpose and fundamental nature of the individual and society.

Meeting material needs; providing all with education; fashioning democratic institutions and legal codes at every level of our world society to promote economic and social justice -- all these are essential elements of a universal development paradigm for the 21st century, but they are not sufficient.

Until both the material and the spiritual needs and aspirations of individuals are acknowledged, development efforts will largely continue to fail. Human happiness, security and well-being, social cohesion, and economic justice are not mere by-products of material success. Rather, they emerge from a complex and dynamic interplay between the satisfaction of material and social needs and the spiritual fulfillment of the individual.

By linking material progress with fundamental spiritual aspirations, by appealing to those universal values which enable the individual to transcend narrow self-interest, the peoples of the world can be empowered to translate high-minded ideals and principles into constructive, sustained actions for their own well-being and the betterment of their communities.

Thus, a paradigm of development that seeks to promote global prosperity must take into account both the spiritual and material natures of the individual and society, while responding to the increasing interdependence of the peoples and nations of the planet. The Baha'i Writings anticipate the emergence of a new development paradigm as the regions of the world "unite to give each other what is lacking. This union," we are assured, "will bring about a true civilization, where the spiritual is expressed and carried out in the material."

The Baha'i International Community believes that the Declaration and Programme of Action can contribute significantly to true social development for the 21st century if they address both the material and the spiritual needs and aspirations of the people of the world.

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