This is to highlight the importance of yesterday's launch, calling world leaders to move away from targeted safety nets to universal social protection systems.
Many in this list have been fighting for universal systems for years, like UNRISD, OHCHR, UNICEF, ECLAC, ESCAP, CROP, ITUC, FES, Helpage, People's Goals, and many others (all of you are welcome to contribute!).
But it is the first time that a World Bank President calls on world leaders for universal social protection.
Precisely, the international financial institutions have been the main supporters of minimal, temporary, targeted safety nets since the 1980s.
Up to the 1980s, developing countries were gradually constructing universal systems, linked to nation-building, development processes and a country's social contract. But many of these pre-1980s universal policies were weakened as redistributive policies were sidelined by market-oriented reforms and critical attacks on state interventionism. The structural adjustment programmes launched after the 1982 debt crisis severely curtailed social expenditures. Social security was given lesser importance and funding, and was often centred on short-term targeted measures to the most vulnerable, to mitigate natural disasters or economic restructuring.
This minimal approach was insufficient to achieve balanced social and economic development. After having been pared to a minimum, social protection has been reconsidered since the 2000s with the renewed attention to poverty reduction and human rights.
In the 2000s, universalism also re-entered the development agenda. First it was education: universal primary education became a Millennium Development Goal in 2000.
Then it was health: in December 2013, the World Bank and WHO committed to universal health coverage.
Now it is time for universal social protection.
Director Social Protection
International Labour Organization (ILO)
4 Route des Morillons
CH-1211 Geneva 22 Switzerland
Tel. +41.22.799.6226; firstname.lastname@example.org