Social security is defined as any social protection programs and arrangements introduced by legislation to provide individuals with income security during times of old age, survival, infirmity, disability, unemployment, or child-rearing emergencies. It may also include therapeutic care and preventive measures, as defined by the International Social Security Association. Social security can comprise social insurance programs, social assistance programs, comprehensive programs, mutual benefit plans, and national savings funds. Recognizing the significance of social security in upholding human dignity, numerous human rights instruments have acknowledged the right to social security. The 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia emphasized the expansion of social security measures to ensure a basic income and comprehensive medical care for those in need. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 recognized social security as a fundamental human right, affirming every person's right to social security and protection from distress caused by unemployment, illness, disability, widowhood, or circumstances beyond their control that deprive them of their livelihood.
Subsequently, social security was incorporated into various international and regional human rights treaties. For instance, Article (9) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights outlined the right of every individual to social security, including social insurance. According to Article (12) states parties to the Covenant are required to take effective measures, within their available resources, to fulfill the right to social security without discrimination. The drafting of Article (9) of the Covenant indicates that the scope of social security benefits should not be narrowly defined and must guarantee a minimum level of enjoyment of this human right for all individuals. In 2001, International Labor Conference, which included delegations from countries consisting of representatives of countries, employers and workers, stressed that social security is "a basic human right and a fundamental way to social cohesion."
Despite the growing importance of Social Security, only around 50% of the global population receives some form of social security, and a mere 20% has adequate coverage. Expanding social security coverage poses a significant challenge for most countries worldwide. To address this challenge, broader policy issues must be tackled, including high rates of informal employment, low female labor force participation, political instability, internal and external conflicts, displacement, and refugee crises. These factors place immense pressure on social protection systems, particularly evident in certain Arab countries like Yemen, Libya, and Sudan, which face multiple crises, including conflicts and political instability. These circumstances have severely impacted the capacity of social protection systems in these countries, hindering their ability to provide adequate protection against escalating poverty and vulnerability.
In light of these considerations, Maat for Peace, Development, and Human Rights presents this report to underscore the right to social security as a fundamental human right. This initiative is part of Maat’s 50 x 30 Human Rights for All campaign, running throughout the year 2023 and concluding on December 10, 2023, coinciding with the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.