ATD Supports Global Social Protection Fund

Photo: Woman working as a porter in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo © ATD Fourth World

ATD Fourth World speaks out in favor of the creation of a global fund for social protection.

A critical lack of social protection around the world

Four billion people in the world do not benefit from any social protection, which is proving particularly tragic during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is important to think beyond emergency measures and address this challenge by putting in place sustainable systems that can cover everyone, including people living in extreme poverty.

As things stand, the fundamental rights and principles affirmed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Recommendation No. 202 on social protection remain unfulfilled for the majority of the world’s population.

An old challenge that must be met

Low-income countries may not have the necessary means to guarantee the right to social protection because their needs are high and public revenues are relatively low. This is why Olivier De Schutter, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, is proposing the creation of a global fund for social protection.

In a recent report, De Schutter recommends setting up a fund to help low-income countries establish and expand social protection systems in the form of legal entitlements. The fund would be financed by official development assistance and other sources (from international institutions, governments, etc.) including unused or new special entitlements, and would provide matching funds to help support and expand domestic resources.

Social protection that really reaches the poorest people

These social protection schemes are envisioned by the Rapporteur as permanent, rights-based, and in line with international standards.

  • The International Movement ATD Fourth World strongly supports this initiative because it could bring about significant changes in countries or regions where poverty seems to be inexorably increasing.

The effectiveness of this fund will depend on how each country designs and implements it. The process should be guided by the principles of dignity, equal treatment, inclusion, solidarity, and participation. This requires a focus on the following key issues:

  • To make sure that people living in poverty can truly benefit, they must be involved in all phases of designing and monitoring how the fund is used. Also, to make sure no one is excluded, the intended beneficiaries the fund must participate in the registration process.
  • Rather than importing a model that does not correspond to the challenges of the countries concerned, national priorities should be preserved by combining local knowledge with outside knowledge and preserving the strength of existing relationships.
  • Countries must adopt a broad conception of social protection, covering a variety of risks and also supporting access to employment and income-generating activities, because economic security is first and foremost job security.
  • Strategies for extending social protection must be designed in conjunction with adapting and strengthening health systems, as social protection and access to health care reinforce each other.
  • Strategies must take into account the hidden dimensions of poverty, highlighted in the research conducted by ATD Fourth World and Oxford University, in particular the dispossession of the power to act, the forms of resistance to poverty that must be supported, and the institutional and social maltreatment that must be overcome.
  • If specific measures to reach particular populations are necessary, they must be part of a general framework from the outset so as not to keep any citizens on the margins.
  • The fund could support trial attempts to reach populations that are far from social protection, in order to draw lessons and policy proposals to be formulated on a larger scale.

Read ATD’s full statement on the Global Fund for Social Protection

In this video below Olivier De Schutter calls for the creation of a global fund for social protection:

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