The right to social protection
Updated by Krzysztof Hagemejer , Emmanuelle St-Pierre Guilbault on 10.06.2015
Social protection is a human right and is enshrined as such in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), and in other major United Nations human rights instruments.
The achievement of social protection for all is at the core of the ILO's Constitution and mandate. The Declaration of Philadelphia (1944), which is an integral part of the ILO Constitution, recognizes that the extension of social protection worldwide is one of the Organizations' main objectives. More precisely, it recognises the solemn obligation of the ILO to further among the nations of the world programs that will achieve, inter alia, "the extension of social security measures to provide a basic income to all in need of such protection and comprehensive medical care", as well as "provision for child welfare and maternity protection", thereby extending the protection from workers to all those in need.
To this end, the ILO has adopted Conventions and Recommendations on social protection that lay down obligations and guidelines for States. These international standards have greatly contributed to the development of international social security law and to the definition of the human right to social protection.
The ILO promotes a rights-based approach to social protection with ILO standards as its principal means of action for assisting member states towards the realisation of this right.
The ILO also adopts further initiatives to support international efforts aimed towards the realization of social protection for all:
The Social Protection Floor Initiative (SPF-I), launched in 2009, is also grounded in a rights-based framework. Its concept is based on shared principles of social justice and reflects the call of the Declaration of Human rights for adequate life standards, access to health, education, food, housing and social security. Moreover, the SPF-I enables the concrete realization of human rights. The results of ILO research shows that a social protection floor can be afforded by virtually all countries and that it would constitute an effective tool in the fight against poverty and in reaching the Millennium Development Goals.