Financing Social Protection: A National and International Responsibility

briefingThe Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural  Rights has elaborated the right to social protection’s normative content, as well as the core obligations governments have in respect of social protection. Furthermore, the ICESCR (International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) states that the full realisation of the rights recognised in its Covenant on ESCR should be achieved -inter alia -through international assistance and co-operation. It follows from this that the provision of social security for everyone is also an international responsibility.

National societies and their governments are the first in line to implement and finance social protection, but in particular low-income countries may need the support from the global community to eradicate extreme poverty and establish social protection systems. Against this background, the debate on international financing options should be intensified.

Given that national economies worldwide lose significant financial resources as a result of illicit financial flows, for example through money laundering and tax evasion, the international community should put more effort into controlling tax havens and tax exemption systems designed for international investment. Global cooperation is central to combating international tax avoidance and evasion. The lack of an international agenda in tax matters costs all governments a great amount of resources that could be invested into social protection.

In addition, new and effective taxes will have to be applied to the financial sector, such as taxes on financial transactions and financial activities. These resources could be budgeted for national social protection systems.

At present, there are no effective ways to manage debt rescheduling and debt relief. Debt service competes with development spending even in countries that do not suffer from an acute debt crisis. The possibilities of debt reduction and cancellation have to be explored to end the debt crisis and to allow countries to spend resources for i.e. social protection and poverty eradication.

In particular for low-income countries the financial support of other countries is indispensable, possibly at a progressively decreasing rate. Some countries may also need additional outside financing in times of crisis. This could be in the form of a special financing window within the context of existing global or regional institutions, or through the establishment of a specific fund for the financing of national social protection floors. A fund could provide re-insurance for countries where shock-related risks currently make it difficult for states to stick to their development trajectories.

In this context, any engagement of private institutions, particularly actors of “philanthrocapitalism”, has to be transparent, closely monitored, regulated and controlled by national governments, civil society and the international community.

The financing of social protection should eventually be based on sustainable and sufficient national resources, and a fair international trade and financial system.

Moreover, new approaches have to be elaborated that correspond to the global migration of labour. This development cannot easily be challenged by nationally defined systems, and it needs more intensive international cooperation such as the portability of entitlements for migrants.

Finally, further analysis is needed to ascertain the root causes of the structures and processes that lead to the rapid accumulation of wealth. It is not enough to create redistribution mechanisms, such as through social security, but it is necessary to challenge both the accumulation of wealth and the idea of infinite economic growth. Inequality is a major barrier to sustainable human development, as it has detrimental effects on both individuals and societies, and it makes it difficult to reduce poverty overall.

 Luise Steinwachs, Brot für die Welt, Germany

See the full briefing paper Winning the Fight against Poverty and Inequality

72_SOLIDAR_Briefing_Cover_webSocial security is a human right. More than 60 years ago, article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declared ‘Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security’.

Nevertheless, the everyday life of billions of people around the world, from North to South and from East to West, shows that access to adequate social protection remains a privilege for the few. This is not just a reality in developing countries, but in Europe as well. Those groups with the highest risk of exclusion – such as the 20.1 million non-EU citizens living in the EU or the so-called NEETs (young people between 15 and 24 years not in employment, education or training) – are more likely to lack access to adequate ‘social protection floors’ (access to essential services and measures that guarantee income support).

The ongoing negotiations on the post-2015 international development cooperation framework aimed at setting global goals will provide a unique opportunity to push for the full realisation of the right to social security for everyone by 2030.

The European Council Conclusions on post-2015 to be adopted on December 12 will be a step in this direction.

In this context, the Briefing paper Winning the Fight against Poverty and Inequality - developed by SOLIDAR, Brot für die Welt, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in cooperation with the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors - calls national Governments to

  • Recognise that social protection is a human right which enables the fulfilment of other rights.
  • Support the inclusion of an implementation target, by 2030, of universal and comprehensive social protection systems and quality nationally-defined social protection floors (such as outlined in ILO Recommendation 202), in the post-2015 development cooperation framework ’.
  • Support the CSO’s role in the design, monitoring, evaluation and, where relevant, the implementation of universal social protection systems and floors (including the design of legal frameworks).

The Briefing echoes the demands (full version demands can be found here72_SOLIDAR_Briefing_Fighting Poverty and Inequality_Final ) raised by more than 30 CSOs to EU Governments representatives sent in November this year.

Let us all work together for Universal and Comprehensive Social Protection!

Civil Society Call for a Global Fund for Social Protection

Over 200 civil society organizations and trade unions unite to call for a Global Fund for Social Protection to protect the most vulnerable during COVID-19 and beyond.

Read the Call

SP&PFM Programme

The programme Improving Synergies Between Social Protection and Public Finance Management provides medium-term support to multiple countries aiming to strengthen their social protection systems at a national level and ensure sustainable financing. The programme aims to support countries in their efforts towards achieving universal social protection coverage.

This initiative is implemented jointly by the ILO, Unicef, and the GCSPF.

Read more

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