'No One Should Live Below A Certain Income Level,' U.N. Secretary-General Says

By Susan Jones | February 21, 2011 | 10:48 AM EST

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addresses a press conference at the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010. (AP Photo/Jon Black)

(CNSNews.com) - The United Nations, which marked a "World Day of Social Justice" on Sunday, Feb. 20, is calling for a "new era" in which all the people of the world have access to basic services and "decently" paying jobs.

According to the U.N., 80 percent of the world’s people lack “adequate social protection.”

To eliminate the problem, the U.N. is trying to establish what it calls a global "social protection floor."  Such a “floor” would guarantee food security, health services for all, and old-age pensions for the 80 percent of the world’s people believed to lack such protections.

In his message urging “social justice for all,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “No one should live below a certain income level, and everyone should have access to essential public services such as water and sanitation, health and education.”

Juan Somavia, the U.N.’s International Labour Organization (ILO) director-general, said the recent protests in the Middle East show the linkage between social justice and national stability: “As Tunisia and Egypt are showing us, jobs and justice, bread and dignity, protection and democracy, national and global security are not unrelated demands,” Somavia said in his message ahead of World Social Justice Day. “What happens in the future will very much depend on whether the connections are recognized and acted upon.”

Somavia said “decent employment opportunities” are a “vital plank” in achieving social justice. He noted that more than 200 million people are unemployed worldwide, including nearly 80 million young people.

The ILO says it would “only take 2 percent of global GDP” [gross domestic product] to provide security systems for all the world’s poor.

Delegations from all 183 ILO member nations are scheduled to meet in June to draw up a long-term strategy for establishing a “social protection floor.”

That floor would rest on four “entitlements,” the U.N. said, as follows:

-- basic income security for children;
-- access to some social assistance for people of working age that prevents them from falling into absolute food poverty;
-- a basic old-age pension for people over a certain age;
-- and essential health services for all.