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Solidarity-based social protection, BY all, FOR all

Included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights since 1948, social protection can rightly be called a universal right. Nevertheless, 73% of the world’s population does not enjoy comprehensive social protection. At the same time, inequality is increasing almost everywhere. Presently, the top 1% of the world population owns more then 50% of global wealth.

As a signatory of this manifesto, I state that social protection must:

  • ensure for every person, during his/her entire life cycle, a sufficiently large income and access to quality basic services, to make sure they are able to cope with the risks and events of life (in case of unemployment, sickness, loss of revenue, etc.).
  • consist of a coherent set of solidarity based, structural and collective initiatives and measures.

As a consequence, social protection may not be commercialised. It’s an individual right and a collective and shared responsibility for all actors in society.  

To realize the right to social protection for everyone worldwide, and to reduce inequality, we demand to:

1. Embed the right to social protection in laws and treaties 

Many countries have approved international treaties and conventions for social protection, such as ILO Convention 102 and Recommendation 202. But not all countries apply those principles consistently.
All countries must strive for comprehensive social protection for everyone.

2. Guarantee sustainable and solidarity-based financing for universal social protection

Calculations show that social protection is affordable, if there is sufficient political will. Therefore sufficient means to implement a well-developed social protection system should be provided at the national and the international level. To make this possible everywhere, firstly international cooperation should help developing countries to collect taxes efficiently. It should assist them to develop fair social contribution systems, but also advocate and build fair international tax systems.

3. Involve social actors in the development and governance of social protection

Social organisations like trade unions, health mutuals, organisations of farmers and small businesses and organisations of actors in the informal economy are in the best position to understand the problems people are confronted with when no social protection is available. They also take initiatives where governments fail.  That is why governments must involve them in the social protection policy of their country.

4. Conduct a coherent policy to strengthen social protection at national, regional and international level

International policy often has a big impact on countries’ capabilities to build comprehensive and universal social protection. Both at national and international level health, work, trade, tax, nutrition, agriculture, energy, housing and education policies, as well as all other policies, must be coherent with the right to social protection. Our governments’ positions on trade and investment treaties, on World Bank and IMF policies or within the World Trade Organization must encourage social protection instead of weakening it.