Prevent poverty, tackle inequalities, change the system

The crisis of the coronavirus is a terrible reminder of how vulnerable people and societies have become in times of neoliberal policies and austerity.

The theory was known, the reality is shocking: old people left dying, in spite of their rights; informal workers left without any insurance and health care; homeless people having to chose between dying from hunger or from the illness; migrants lost without any rights in the middle of nowhere; overcrowded hospitals lacking capacity and protection; care workers risking their lives helping the sick, governments without a clue on what they should be doing  … Not to speak of the irrespective treatment awaiting the dead and their beloved ones.

If ever the need for protection was made clear, the current situation leaves no alternatives: people, all people, need protection, in a very broad sense.

That is why the Asia Europe People’s Forum and its Social Justice Cluster have been promoting a new and innovative concept of social protection, based on old principles and new ways for implementation.

The old and relevant principles are human rights, universalism, solidarity and public responsibility.

Our innovative approach implies:

  • Enlarge the concept of social protection to social security, labour rights, social assistance and public services
  • Make ‘social justice’ the explicit objective of social protection, away from social investment requiring a ‘return’ and subordinating the social to the economic
  • Make explicit links to other societal topics of great importance: the environment, democracy and ultimately peace. We have proposals for making social protection a policy contributing to sustainability.
  • Make social protection a participatory policy, make it a ‘social common’ with shared responsibilities for the State and for citizens

In this way we not only say goodbye to the neoliberal ‘safety nets’ for the poor, but we also go beyond the better but limited proposals of the ILO and the UN. We go beyond redistribution to look at wealth creation in general.

Our social protection is not a corrective mechanism for a failed economic system, but it is emancipatory and transformative, in other words, it contributes to political, economic and social transformation.

Our Charter is not a binding text. It is meant as an inspiration for all movements working on social justice. It contributes to the sustainability of life, of people, of societies and of nature.


Summary of the Global Charter

(For the full text of the charter see

The Charter recalls the international instruments for promoting human rights, several UN Declarations and the ILO Constitution stating that peace is not possible without social justice.

The Charter considers social protection as a , intrinsically linked to a social process of structural solidarity.

The Charter considers that social protection goes beyond poverty reduction and is aimed at eradicating and preventing poverty as well at reducing inequalities. It consists of social security, social assistance, labour rights and social services. It is a primary responsibility of States and has to come about in a participatory and democratic way. Therefore, work begins at the local level where direct solidarity between people is the basis for structural measures at national and global levels.

The Charter deplores the current economic and social crisis as well as the negative consequences for existing social protection systems of neoliberal and conservative policies.


Social protection should be rights- and solidarity-based, embedded in legislation.

Social protection should be organised on a non-profit basis.

Social protection should be sustainably funded through contributions, taxes and/or international solidarity.

Social protection systems should be universal, for all residents, not based on national citizenship.

Social protection mechanisms should minimally respect ILO Convention 102 of 1952.

Social protection mechanisms should also consist of a series of social services, defined by local needs.

States should adopt the decent work programme of the ILO and the core labour standards.

States should adopt living minimum wages.

States should adopt adequate social assistance measures with minimum income guarantees. 

States should eliminate the gender gap.

States should ensure non-contributory pensions for people who are not or have not been on the labour market.

States should eliminate all forms of discrimination.

States should take the necessary measures to avoid social dumping, reduce informality and precariousness.

States should take the necessary measures as to guarantee everyone’s livelihood.

States should provide social protection during humanitarian crises and assist refugees and migrants.

States have to involve representative social partners in the development of their social protection mechanisms.

In order to promote citizen’s participation, political education and training are needed.

States should organize the financing of social protection in such a way that all income categories contribute in an equitable way.

In their international trade, investment and other agreements, States should include binding social and tax rules.

Social protection should lead to social and economic transformation, fair and sustainable societies, preserving human and natural life.


1 Response to Summary

  1. Sur la relation entre protection sociale est commun.
    Je note dans les objectifs:”Dans notre perspective, la protection sociale est un commun qui émerge des actions démocratiques et participatives des citoyens qui ont des revendications à l’égard des autorités publiques.”
    Cependant, pour pouvoir participer pleinement aux débats et prises de décisions politiques, il faut faire partie de l’espace public d’action politique et pour cela être assurés des droits fondamentaux et des droits sociaux individuels et collectifs. Ceci revient à dire que la protection sociale est une condition de possibilité d’un commun .
    Il faudrait donc rajouter à la phrase “Elle devra comprendre un ensemble d’initiatives et de mesures collectives et structurelles, basées sur la solidarité, afin de garantir les droits individuels et collectifs.”
    ” et permettre une participation pleine et entière aux débats et prises de décisions dans l’espace public d’action politique”

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