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UNNGO Briefings: Presented by the Department of Public Information of the United Nations:
“Achieving Social Protection for All”
(In Observance of the World Day of Social Justice – 20 February)
Dated: Thursday, 17 February 2011, United Nations, Conference Room 2, NYC.

"Social protection policy is the most powerful tool to combat poverty."

Michelle Bachelet, Under-Secretary-General, Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women; Chairperson, Social Protection Floor Advisory Group- key note speaker
Michael Cichon, Director, Social Security Department, ILO (right)
Maher Nasser, Moderator, Department of Public Information of the United Nations

Presently, 80% of the global population does not enjoy a set of social guarantees
that allow them to deal with life's risks.

Report by Haldun ARMAGAN
Lightmillennium.Org, Main Rep. to the UNDPI

In November 2007, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted resolution 62/10 proclaiming 20 February as the World Day of Social Justice. The resolution calls on Member States to devote the day to the promotion of concrete activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development which was held in Copenhagen in 1995.

The pursuit of social justice for all is at the heart of the United Nations’ mission to promote development and human dignity. It is based on the principles of fairness, equality, respect for diversity, access to social protection, and the application of human rights in all spheres of life. For a large portion of the world’s people, however, social justice remains, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has noted, an “elusive dream”.

Presently, 80% of the global population does not enjoy a set of social guarantees that allow them to deal with life's risks. Ensuring basic social protection for these people, many of whom are struggling just to survive, is a necessity. The notion of a Social Protection Floor is very clear: No one should live below a certain income level and everyone should be able to access at least basic health services, primary education, housing, water and sanitation and other essential services. The United Nations Social Protection Floor Initiative was launched in 2009 as a mechanism to accelerate the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and also as an important factor in combating poverty, reducing inequalities and building social inclusion.

This briefing, which was organized by NGO Relations, DPI in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations, examined the concept of the Social Protection Floor and other key social protection mechanisms as well as the extent to which their main objectives are being implemented. Source: UN DPI-NGO Relations

Panel discussion moderator was Maher Nasser, Director of UNDPI. The panelists included Ibragim Djunusov, Deputy Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan; Michael Cichon, Director of the ILO Social Security Department; Richard Morgan, UNICEF Director of Policy; Michelle Bachelet, Under Secretary General of UN Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment, and former President of Chile (from 11 March 2006 to 11 March 2010).

Mr. Nasser explained the value of social protection and called it "investing in people." Deputy Prime Minister Djunusov detailed his country's experience in social welfare and social protection.

Ms. Bachelet highlighted the measures taken by Chili since 2001 to cope with the ramifications of global economic crisis. "Chili's response to social injustice has been a success story" Bachelet said. She also brought up some concrete examples from Chili in her presentation such as subsidizing salaries, providing 50$ a month for the unemployed, and reopening major factories to create new jobs. "International Labor Organization" praised the Chili's story on social justice" she maintained, adding that "other countries can learn from this experience."

On global scheme, women are the most suffered ones from social injustice and unfair social representation, Michelle Bachelet emphasized.

Michael Cichon of ILO said that "social protection policy is the most powerful tool to combat poverty" and explained the role of civil society as well as elaborated on government responsibilities in achieving a working social protection policy for any given country. During his power-point presentation, Cichon emphasized the following outcomes:

The rationale of the UN social protection floor initiative:

- With an investment of about 4% GDP for basic social transfers, we can reduce the "food poverty" rate in low income countries by about 40%; a major contribution to achieve MDG targets.

- With an investment in essential health care for all, we can probably reduce "food poverty rates" by another 10 to 20% points.

- Investments in basic social protection is a sine-qua-non condition for national, social and economic development.

Emphasizing the relevant provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights along with other international conventions, Richard Morgan shed light on legal framework for the establishment of social justice for all countries around the world. "When we talk about social protection in a global scheme, we have to give a particular focus on women and voices of children" emphasized Morgan.

Donald Clarke, presented some facts and figures about social protection implementations in India.

During the Briefing, also a short documentary was screened about the success story of Arjantina's "jobs protection" program.


The panel has come to a close with a vivid Q & A session. Questions from audience underscored the following three aspects:

1. How can we achieve social protection and eliminate social injustice while many governments in the world allocate more money on military spending than social services? Can the United Nations play a facilitative role in initiating a dialog among countries regarding the value of social justice and the necessity of cutting military budget?

2. The social gap between rich and poor are on a rise globally. What can be done to narrow it down?

3. Importance of gender equality in order to achieve social justice. What can be done to eliminate gender discrimination when it is happening even in professional arena? (Examples are given that academic and technical jobs are still considered as "jobs for males" in many countries. Thus even the well educated women are left out of empowerment.)

- Event summary by Haldun Armagan, Lightmillennium.Org

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