The UN supports global social security

Monday, February 14, the UN Commission for Social Development met for a week of preparation for a Summit, this June, during which governments, private companies and unions of 183 UN members’ states will a common basis for a social protection worldwide.

The UN has started to lay down a strategy to ensure global social security. Before the press, Director of the Department of Social Security of the International Labour Office (ILO), Michael Cichon, enumerated four pillars which form the foundation to create a comprehensive social protection system, namely: basic income security for all children, access to social support for people of working age, old age pensions, and basic health services for all. But the key to effective action is the political will to combat the tendency of countries in cutting back expenditures on social security.
In the current global economic crisis developed countries are looking to cut deficits and public expenditure, consolidate budgets and finance fiscal stimulus package by cutting back on social expenditure. But that should not be the case.  Mr. Cichon warned that the result of this wrong political choice is that the old, the disabled, the sick and the poor are going to pay for the crisis for the next few years.
He is encouraging the continuation of the project first and foremost because social security is a human right and that “social transfers are the most powerful tool that a country has to redistribute income and combat poverty. And what’s a real scandal is you only need 2 per cent of global GDP [gross domestic product] to basically give security systems to all of the world’s poor,” he told in a news conference in New York. For instance, Brazil has made an enormous difference in poverty and inequality reduction when it spent .5 per cent of its GDP on social protection. With a mere fraction of national wealth, Brazil was able to reach out to 25% of its population.
“80% of world population has no access to social protection, and this seriously compromises the ability of developing countries enjoy a solid and steady growth”, Mr Cichon added. Currently the world spends 17% on social protection, but that is 19% in developed world and only 4 to 4.5% in developing countries.
“Without investing in basic social protection you can’t grow at all. People that are hungry, people that are unhealthy, kids that haven’t been educated well and haven’t been nourished well will never be able to be productive and will never be able to have productive jobs and well-paid jobs in the formal economy. Without a basic investment in their health, their nutrition, and their well-being you will never be able to unblock economic growth to the extent we could.”
(UN News, February 14 and 17, 2011; <>)