27 July 2011


Social security is a basic human right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), and in other major United Nations human rights instruments.

Knowing that more than 1.4 billion people still struggle to live on less than $1.25 a day, it is obvious that much more must be done to eradicate the scourge of extreme poverty.

In 2009 the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the Social Protection Floor Initiative as a joint UN effort to build a global coalition committed to supporting countries in building national social protection floors for their citizens.

A Social Protection Floor is the first level of a comprehensive national social protection system that helps to realize human rights for all through guaranteeing:
- Universal access to essential services (such as health, education, housing, water and sanitation and other services as nationally defined);
- Social Transfers in cash or kind to guarantee income security, food security, adequate nutrition and access to essential services.

The results of ILO research shows that a social protection floor can be afforded by virtually all countries and that it would constitute an effective tool in the fight against poverty and in reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

Visit the Global Extension of Social Security (GESS) website to sign a petition to show your support for the Social Protection Floor Initiative.


"Already the MDGs have helped lift millions of people out of poverty, save countless children’s lives and ensure that they attend school" said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the launch of the Millennium Development Goals Report 2011 in Geneva earlier this month.

"They have reduced maternal deaths, expanded opportunities for women, increased access to clean water, and freed many people from deadly and debilitating disease. At the same time, the report shows that we still have a long way to go in empowering women and girls, promoting sustainable development, and protecting the most vulnerable from the devastating effects of multiple crises, be they conflicts, natural disasters or volatility in prices for food and energy" he went on to say.

Some of the significant achievements highlighted in the report include:-
- The world is on track to achieve the poverty reduction target
- The number of deaths of children under the age of five declined from 12.4 million in 1990 to 8.1 million in 2009, which means nearly 12,000 fewer children die each day.
- Deaths from malaria have been reduced by 20% worldwide
- New HIV/AIDS infections have dropped 21% from their peak in 1997
- An estimated 1.1 billion people in urban areas and 723 million people in rural areas gained access to an improved drinking water source over the period 1990-2008

Progress, however, has been uneven, and there are still too many people being left behind, the report notes. Despite major improvements, large gaps remain between and within countries, and efforts need to be intensified.

Those who have supported campaigns such as the Jubilee campaigns and Make Poverty History over the years can derive some satisfaction that their voice has contributed to bringing about this progress. However much still remains to be done and as many developed countries encounter their own financial difficulties, calls can be heard to reduce foreign aid budgets for example.

All of this indicates that there is still a need for ongoing action in the fight against poverty and injustice Beyond 2015


In a clear rejection of the concept of nuclear deterrence, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, the Representative of the Hoy See (Vatican) to the UN stated that "Viewed from a legal, political, security and most of all - moral - perspective, there is no justification today for the continued maintenance of nuclear weapons."

Speaking to a diocesan gathering in Kansas City, USA, the Nuncio drew attention to the unresolved problem of 20,000 nuclear weapons located at 111 sites in 14 countries. He pointed out that more than half the population of the world lives in a nuclear-armed country and that each year,nations spend $100 billion on maintaining and modernizing their nuclear arsenals.

"With development needs across the globe far outpacing the resources being devoted to address them, the thought of pouring hundreds of billions of additional dollars into the world's nuclear arsenals is nothing short of sinful" he said.

The full text of Archbishop Chullikatt‘s speech can be found at the website of the National Catholic Reporter


The past months have seen many countries formally endorse and promote financial transaction taxes, (sometimes termed the 'Robin Hood' tax). In an important development José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, recently announced the introduction of legislation to the European Union for the implementation of financial transaction taxes. The legislation is expected after the European summer and after the Commission tables its feasibility study on the tax in the coming weeks. Barroso has stated that it is appropriate to introduce it at the European level, and then follow it up at the G20.

In June 2011, the French and German Parliaments voted in favour of introducing legislation for financial transaction taxes at the EU level and the EuroZone.

On 15 June, the Brazilian parliament adopted a resolution calling for the Brazilian Government to support a financial transaction tax.

At the UN climate negotiating session in Bonn in early June, the Bolivian government call for an international financial transaction tax to cover the costs of the impacts of climate change, protect forests and finance the clean low carbon future for developing countries.

The Belgium Senate voted in favour of a resolution to support a financial transaction tax at the European level in lieu of a global agreement. The funds raised are to go to development and climate change.

The Australian government has not endorsed the tax up to this time. To learn more about the tax and sign an online petition visit the website of the Ronbin Hood Tax

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