Edited by Rebecca Surender and Robert Walker
Chapter 7: Social security: risks, needs and protection
Social security is a basic human right and has been recognized as such internationally since 1919 when it was included as one of the core pillars of the constitutional mandate of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Article 22 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights further lays down that: ‘Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.’ The reality, however, is that the majority of people who enjoy this right live in the global North, while the mass of individuals living in developing countries generally have no or limited access to any social security other than that provided by family and friends. Twenty per cent of people in developing countries live in abject poverty, which is arguably the antithesis of social security (ILO 2010a). It should be recognized that social security is both a goal and the mechanism (increasingly a range of mechanisms that offer cash and cash-like provisions) by which the goal of social security is achieved. The goal of social security, it is usually argued, requires provision to protect persons against inadequate income caused by sickness, disability, maternity, employment injury, unemployment, old age, the death of a family member, or by insufficient family support, leading to the risk of poverty.
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