Social security 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 security 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 security 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 security 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 security.
The ILO promotes a rights-based approach to social security 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 security 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.
Learn more about Why Social Security
Over the past several years, the ILO has adopted a number of measures designed to promote social security coverage for the vast majority of the world’s workers who currently lack coverage. Yet, in a world marked by rapidly spreading financial and economic fluctuations, the capacity of individuals to cope alone with economic risks is even more limited than before. It is in this context that the 100th Session of the ILC in June 2011 discussed the strategic objective of social protection and specifically focus on social security. Visit the space dedicated to this work.
Social Security Summer School, from 26 September to 7 October 2011