Introduction: Reflecting on the human right to social security

Christina Behrendt
Katja Hujo
Roddy McKinnon

Volume 70 (2017), Issue 4

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The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 asserts that social security is an inalienable human right. Realizing this human right is often considered, simply, as a matter of political will and of administrative aptitude. In these terms, the progressive realization of the human right to social security may be viewed as the outcome of an appropriately-resourced political and bureaucratic process. Such a perspective, however, is clearly inadequate. Characteristically, bureaucracies are designed to cater to the needs of all, based on common procedures and common deliverables designed for the “typical” case. Yet such approaches often lack the necessary flexibility and resources to make a distinction between individuals, which acknowledge their respective differences and needs. To meet the international commitment to progressively realize universal social security coverage, social security administrations are key actors. However imperative this role may be, if the pursuit of this commitment fails to respect people’s differences this will put at risk the meeting in full of what is envisioned by the human right to social security. To this end, this special issue aims to foster an understanding that the goal of universal coverage must necessarily also respect and respond to the individual needs of each and every person.

Extension of coverage
social security administration
legal aspect
human rights