Since 1919, the ILO has been supporting countries to develop and implement social security systems for all. There has been tremendous progress since then. Then, in 1919, some forty countries were starting to build such schemes; today, all world countries have a social security system.
Further, countries continue to expand social protection coverage and benefits, as reflected in the path-breaking ILO Recommendation Concerning National Floors of Social Protection (No. 202), approved in 2012. The Recommendation reflects the joint commitment of governments, employers and workers to building nationally-defined social protection floors which guarantee at least a basic level of social security to all, encompassing access to health care and income security throughout their lives and ensuring their dignity and rights. While social protection floors are essential, the Recommendation does not stop there: it also sets out detailed guidance on building comprehensive social protection systems.
Two years after the adoption of the Recommendation, the World Social Protection Report 2014-2015 offers a comprehensive body of evidence both on the impressive progress made over the last years and on the remaining gaps that need to be filled. Based on a life-cycle approach, the report provides an overview of the current organization of social protection systems, coverage, benefits and expenditures. With its global scope and valuable statistical annexes, the report is an essential reference for anyone interested in social protection.
In recent years, the ILO has provided technical assistance on social protection to 136 countries. And we are proud to continue our support all over the world, as more and more evidence shows that social protection systems play a key role in the functioning of modern societies and are an essential ingredient of integrated strategies for economic and social development. Furthermore, experience since 2008 shows that countries with adequate social protection systems were able to respond more quickly and effectively to the crisis.
Yet about 73 per cent of the world’s population continues to live without adequate social protection coverage. In other words for the large majority of people, the fundamental human right to social security is not or is only partially realized. In 2014, it is clear that the global community needs to make greater efforts in realizing this right. This is an issue that the international community should embrace prominently in the post-2015 development agenda. Social protection can ensure that all households have the security of knowing that if they lose their job or fall ill and when they grow old, they will not face the risk of poverty and insecurity. Our modern society can afford to provide universal social protection everywhere.
I hope that this report will be a useful tool for practitioners, and provide the basis for better informed policy-making.
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