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New ILO Recommendation calls for Social Protection Floor for all

Landmark Recommendation aims at extending essential health care and basic income security to millions of people around the globe.

Press release | 14 June 2012
GENEVA (ILO News) - With more than five billion people lacking adequate social security, the new international labour standard adopted by the International Labour Conference calls for providing people with essential health care and benefits, as well as basic income security (*) constituting national social protection floors.

Such basic social protection, i.e. essential health care and basic income security throughout the lifecycle reduces poverty, inequality, ill health and the number of premature deaths.

Social protection is a foundation for sustainable and inclusive economic growth."
J. Somavia
“Social protection has proven to be a powerful anti-crisis measure. It protects and empowers people, and contributes to boosting economic demand and accelerating recovery. It is also a foundation for sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said.

The Recommendation requests countries to implement their Social Protection Floors as early as possible in national development processes . There are many positive examples in Latin America, Asia and Africa where countries successfully implemented the entire floor or at least major elements of it. These examples show that some social protection for all is affordable nearly everywhere.

The new Recommendation explicitly says people employed in the informal, as well as the formal economy, should also benefit from social security. As such, it should support the growth of formal employment and the reduction of informality.

The new labour standard sends a strong message to the world to extend social protection systems despite the ongoing economic crisis. This means bringing higher levels of social security guaranteed by national laws to as many people as possible - as soon as conditions in each country allow it.

Countries are encouraged to establish social protection floors (**) as a “fundamental element of their national social security systems” and as part of their social, economic and environmental development plans. Those countries who cannot afford the basic social protection measures could seek international cooperation and support to complement their own efforts.

The new ILO Recommendation is the first autonomous one to be voted on social security in 68 years. It comes 24 years after the last legal instrument on social protection was discussed by delegates from governments, workers and employers back in 1988. Last November, G20 leaders meeting in Cannes recognized “the importance of investing in nationally determined social protection floors.”

“The Recommendation is a breakthrough in global social policy. National Social Protection Floors can be a major tool to achieve the targets of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals,” concluded Michael Cichon, Director of the ILO Social Security Department.

(*) Financed by national resources as defined in each individual country.
(**) Social protection floors are “nationally defined sets of basic social security guarantees which secure protection aimed at preventing or alleviating poverty, vulnerability and social exclusion”.