As we mark the World Day of Social Justice on 20 February, the United Nations remind us that “Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.” On this important point, the international community speaks with one voice, and focus is now on delivering universal social protection by 2030.
Social security is a fundamental right. International human rights instruments define the legal basis for access to this right, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966, and other human rights instruments adopted under the auspices of the United Nations.
“It is important to reiterate that there can be no social justice without social security. In this regard, the position of the International Social Security Association (ISSA), with over 320 member organizations in over 150 countries, is unequivocal”, said ISSA Secretary General Marcelo Abi-Ramia Caetano on the occasion of the UN World Day of Social Justice.
Support for the realization of the legal right to social security come from a number of Conventions and Recommendations of the International Labour Organization. While the ISSA Guidelines on social security administration help direct the practical day-to-day delivery of social security services and benefits.
For all people – irrespective of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability – to realize their fundamental right to social security, the onus lies with social security policy-makers and administrators. Empowered and modern social security institutions, ISSA member organizations, are key to the implementation. The World Day of Social Justice is an indispensable call to all those responsible for national social security programmes to commit to making their essential contribution to the realization of global social justice.
The global challenge
For an important majority of the world's population, the guarantee of universal effective access to an essential basket of cash and in-kind benefits and adequate health care remains unmet. Framed by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, one of the commitments of the global community is to work towards universal social protection by 2030.
How might national social security systems contribute better to achieving the wider goal of global social justice? For social security systems, realizing social justice first implies innovating in the institutional design, policy objectives and financing of social policy in response to significant socio-economic, demographic and labour market transformations. Importantly, the ISSA supports policy-makers and social security organizations in this process and has compiled innovative approaches to meet the key ten global challenges for social security in a series of recent reports. Importantly, the professional tools and services provided through the ISSA's Centre for Excellence have a guiding role to play in helping to drive administrative improvements, as well as to reduce inefficiencies.
To continue positively on this path, and to accompany and strengthen the economic security conventionally offered by social security benefits, other forms of in-kind support and universal access to adequate health care, as well as the promotion of prevention, rehabilitation and employability, and linkages with education and training are no less necessary.
Herein lies the broad pathway to realize the human right to comprehensive social security – and thus social justice for all.