Social rights, social security and policy have been included in the Council of Europe’s agenda for decades. From 2000, when the Social Cohesion Strategy was drafted, the Council of Europe began to concentrate on social cohesion as such. The Strategy was revised in 2004.
In 2007 the High-Level Task Force (HLTF) on Social Cohesion in the 21st century - established by the Third Summit of Heads of States and Governments – drew up the report “Towards an active, fair and socially cohesive Europe”.
The report stresses that promoting social cohesion should be “one of the major elements of the work of the Council of Europe, for which it is a strategic concept, intersecting closely with the achievement of the core objectives on human rights, democracy and rule of law”. Among its main recommendations on how to promote social cohesion in the future, on the part of both member States and the Council of Europe, the HLTF states that “so as to renew and generate political commitment to social cohesion, every third year a Ministerial conference of the Ministers responsible for social cohesion should be held to consider new risks and responsibilities for social cohesion in light of globalisation and other challenges and to work towards the development of a new social contract for the future”.
The First Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Social Cohesion will take place in Moscow (Russian Federation) on 26-27
February 2009 on the theme "Investing in social cohesion – investing in stability and the well-being of society"
It focused particularly on the HLTF report as a starting point to transform its recommendations in concrete programmes and actions. It encouraged renewed political commitment to social cohesion, which is more relevant than ever as a responsibility shared by all. This requires active and integrated policies involving different levels of government, the private sector and civil society in a transversal approach. Relevant measures, including new approaches in line with High-Level Task Force report, should be foreseen to respond to present challenges and strengthen citizens’ confidence in the future.
Final Declaration of the Conference