What is the Human Right to Social Security?

The right to social security ensures that everyone, regardless of age or ability to work, is guaranteed the means necessary to procure basic needs and services. Several key human rights principles are fundamental to guaranteeing the right to social security: Comprehensiveness: Social security implicitly covers all the risks involved in the loss of means of subsistence for reasons beyond a person’s control. Flexibility: The retirement age should be flexible, depending on the occupations performed and the working ability of elderly persons, with due regard to demographic, economic, and social factors. Non-discrimination: Social security must be provided without discrimination (in intent or effect) based on health status, race, ethnicity, age, sex, sexuality, disability, language, religion, national origin, income, or social status. The Right to Social Security is protected by: Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
 Articles 9 of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights 
 Articles 26 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child 
 Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
 Articles 11 & 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women
 Article 16 of the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man In addition, there are United Nations committees (“treaty bodies”) made up of experts that oversee the implementation of particular human rights treaties. These committees oversee the treaties by, among other things, receiving government reports on the implementation of the treaties, making comments to the government reports, and issuing general comments about the treaties or specific rights contained therein. There is no general comment on the right to social security generally, but the Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights did address the right to social security within general comments on persons with disabilities and older persons: See the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, excerpt of General Comment 5 and excerpt of General Comment 6. Further Resources To learn more about the human right to social security, click here.