Ten points in favour of universal social protection and social commons

  1. To fight child poverty, to promote good health care or quality education, to guarantee labour rights and all other economic and social rights is not possible without a fully-fledged system of social protection. It is obvious that poverty and unemployment have serious consequences on physical and mental health and on children’s well-being. In other words, all economic and social rights are interlinked.


  1. It is also very obvious that the promotion of health care and of social protection is useless without the guarantee of other rights, more particularly environmental rights: the right to water, to land for farmers, non-toxic food, etc.


  1. This set of rights should allow for reflecting on systemic change, because healthy food or a clean environment are difficult to achieve within the current dominant economic system.


  1. Several initiatives have been taken recently at the global level, such as the recommendation for social protection floors of the ILO, or the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Even if these actions are rather limited, they would mean a tremendous progress for people if they could be realised. Therefore they deserve to be fully supported.


  1. Nevertheless, it is important to know that at the global level, the major principles of social protection and of fighting poverty and inequality are defined by the financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the IMF. An analysis of their projects shows that a new social paradigm is being put into place. It is different from the past in that social protection is now fully at the service of the economy and of the market. It is still based on the deregulation of labour markets and the privatisation of public services. As for universalism, it is formally accepted but not yet achieved in practice. The World Bank continues to promote a targeted approach for poor people.


  1. Therefore it is important to go beyond the current initiatives and to propose progressive alternatives that take into account the new needs of the 21st century (due to precarisation and robotization, e.g.) as well as climate change.


  1. Taking into account the necessary transversality – the interlinkages between economic and social rights, environmental rights, the need for emancipation – leads to a re-conceptualisation of social protection in terms of commons. These ‘social commons’ imply in the first instance a democratisation of social protection so as to define rights according to people’s needs. They also need the involvement of social movements, next to the State, for the implementation of social policies and the taking into account of other sectors, such as the economy and the environment.


  1. With all this in mind, we have drafted a Global Charter for Social Protection Rights. It goes beyond the abovementioned global initiatives and should allow for social transformation while pursuing social justice in an as broad way as possible.

9. The objective of this charter is worded as follows: “Our main objective therefore is to promote a different philosophy on social protection, one that goes beyond the traditional rights, that encompasses environmental needs and bridges the unacceptable gap between production and reproduction. In our perspective, social protection is a commons, emerging from the democratic and participatory actions of citizens with demands for public authorities. Social protection is not a correction mechanism for the economic system, but should be transformative, that is, contribute to a better productive system and to the sustainability of life. We see social protection as a collective and democratic endeavour for achieving a life in dignity for all. This is not a text with demands, but with principles.”


10. In this context we humbly ask your support for this initiative. It is still a draft and we hope to formally adopt it at the Asia-Europe People’s Forum end of 2018.


Having read this draft Global Charter for Social Protection Rights, I want to endorse this initiative. This support does not concern all the different and detailed points of the twenty principles, which have to be adopted in a national or local context according to the needs of people, but the process to work on social commons in a democratic and participatory way, aimed at contributing to social justice, social transformation and the sustainability of life.


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