Track 2: Social Security and Social Protection: Developing Discourses

Social security and social protection are topical issues globally but more so in developing countries given the high levels of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. The terms social security and social protection are often used interchangeably. However, it is now generally accepted that social protection is broader than social security. Developed countries are faced with the challenge of addressing the impact of demographic changes and financial crises on the provision of social security. Developing countries, on the other hand, are grappling with the problems of low coverage of social security systems and lack of comprehensive social protection systems.

Of particular concern is the fact that workers in informal employment are generally not covered by contributory social security systems. This has led many scholars and policy-makers to question the appropriateness of the Western concept of social security in addressing the problem of income insecurity in developing countries. Similarly, the relevance of social security global standards in developing countries has also been questioned. This perhaps explains the low ratification of important conventions such as ILO Convention 102. It is, however, acknowledged that some countries have managed to extend social protection to persons operating outside formal employment in innovative ways. There is thus need to learn from the experiences of such countries.

For many years, social insurance was seen as the preferred form of social security and social protection. However, the reality in developing countries is that only a small percentage of the labour force is employed in the formal economy. This then explains why coverage rates are low in most developing countries.  The absence or inadequacy of formal social security forces many to rely on informal support systems. There is now realization that in order to extend social protection to the majority of the population, governments need to introduce or expand non-contributory forms of social security, which has led to the introduction of, among others, comprehensive non-contributory schemes in many Latin American and some African and Asian emerging economies. This is underpinned by a human rights discourse that sees socio-economic rights as basic human rights. It is, therefore, not surprising that the Social Protection Floors Agenda was adopted. The assumption is that every country can afford to provide basic social protection to its people.

In view of the above, the World Congress invites papers focusing on any of the following (Note: There is some overlap here with Track 1 on informal employment, in particular social protection for informal workers):

  • Impact of demographic and other changes on the provision of social security
  • Innovation in social security protection and provision world-wide, with particular emphasis on the post 2015 MDG Agenda and the developing world
  • Relevance and ratification of global standards, as well as the import and impact of the Social Protection Floor Agenda
  • Moving beyond benefits and compensation: The role of preventive, (re)integrative, promotive, and transformative measures
  • Scope, interaction and role of formal and informal social protection mechanisms, in particular for those  at the margins of labour law and social security protection
  • Human rights protection, including equality (non-discrimination), social protection and social justice, as well as gender and disability issues
  • Social protection and adjudication and dispute resolution
  • Responsibility for provision of social protection: the state, business, trade unions, community or family?