Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Frans Pennings and Gijsbert Vonk
Chapter 1: Social security as a human right: A European perspective
The concept of social security is vague and the idea of social rights as human rights is highly controversial. So, the origin of the concept of social security will be outlined and characterised as to its historical and conceptual content. In addition, during the post-World War II reconstruction of Europe and the world, human rights got an enormous momentum. It brought about the international turn in the development of human rights. This chapter deals with social security as a human right. This right found its first expression as an international legal guarantee in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights (UDHR). It gave rise to social rights as human rights of the second generation. Within an international system to secure human rights, it was established by this instrument as a non-binding declaration of principles. In the subsequent development the principle achieved the status of an enforceable human right. This approach changed the conceptual basis of human rights legislation substantially. Before this human rights’ international turn, human rights were conceived as the key domain of national legislation. It became evident that the independent national state could no longer reliably guarantee human rights protection. The human right of social security made it mandatory for the states to establish a universal and comprehensive system of social security with a wide range of substantial benefits to each human being. To respect this international human rights commitment became imperative to all states.