Regional Human Rights Instruments

Africa
The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 1981

  • The Charter has no express provision recognizing the right to social security. Certain aspects of the right may, however, be derived from Article 16, the right to health, and Article 18(4), the right of the aged and disabled to special measures of protection.

Americas 
American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Persons, 1948

  • Article 16 recognizes the right of every person to social security “which will protect him from the consequences of unemployment, old age, and any disabilities arising from causes beyond his control and make it physically or mentally impossible for him to earn a living”.

Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1988

Article 9 of the Right to Social Security, reads as follows:

  • “(1) Everyone shall have the right to social security protecting him from the consequences of old age and of disability which prevent him, physically or mentally, from securing the means for a dignified and decent existence. In the event of the death of a beneficiary, social security benefits shall be applied to his dependants. (2) In the case of persons who are employed, the right to social security shall cover at least medical care and an allowance or retirement benefit in the case of work accidents or occupational disease and, in the case of women, paid maternity leave before and after childbirth.”

Article 10, the Right to Health, reads as follows:

  • Everyone shall have the right to health, understood to mean the enjoyment of the highest level of physical, mental and social well-being. In order to ensure the exercise of the right to health, the States Parties agree to recognize health as a public good and, particularly, to adopt the following measures to ensure that right: primary health care, that is, essential health care made available to all individuals and families in the community; extension of the benefits of health services to all individuals subject to the State’s jurisdiction; universal immunization against the principal infectious diseases; prevention and treatment of endemic, occupational and other diseases; education of the population on the prevention and treatment of health problems; and satisfaction of the health needs of the highest risk groups and of those whose poverty makes them the most vulnerable.

Inter-American Convention on Protection the Human Rights of Older Persons, 2015

Article 17, the Right to Social Security, reads as follows:

  • All older persons have the right to social security to protect them so that they can live in dignity. State Parties shall progressively promote, within available resources, the provision of income to ensure a dignified life for older persons through social security systems and other flexible social protection mechanisms.

States Parties shall seek to facilitate, through institutional agreements, bilateral treaties, and other hemispheric mechanisms, the recognition of benefits, social security contributions, and pension entitlements for migrant older persons.

Everything in this article will be in accordance with national legislation.

Arab States

The Arab Charter on Human Rights, 2004

  • Article 36 provides that the States parties shall ensure the right of every citizen to social security, including social insurance.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations
ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, 2013

  • Article 28:

Every person has the right to an adequate standard of living for himself or herself and his or her family including:
a. The right to adequate and affordable food, freedom from hunger and access to safe and nutritious food;
b. The right to clothing;
c. The right to adequate and affordable housing;
d. The right to medical care and necessary social services;
e. The right to safe drinking water and sanitation;
f. The right to a safe, clean and sustainable environment.

  • Article 30

(1) Every person shall have the right to social security, including social
insurance where available, which assists him or her to secure the
means for a dignified and decent existence.
(2) Special protection should be accorded to mothers during a
reasonable period as determined by national laws and regulations
before and after childbirth. During such period, working mothers
should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social
security benefits.
(3) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and
assistance. Every child, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall
enjoy the same social protection.

Commonwealth of Independent States
Commonwealth of Independent States Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1995

  • Article 15:

For the purpose of ensuring that the right to health protection may be effectively exercised, the Contracting Parties shall, either directly or in conjunction with public or private bodies, take the appropriate measures, aimed inter alia at:
(a) eliminating the causes of health deterioration as far as possible;
(b) providing advisory services and an instructional scheme for the fortification of health and the encouragement of personal responsibility in health care;
(c) creating sanitary and hygienic conditions calculated to prevent, as far as possible, outbreaks of epidemic, endemic and other diseases.

  • Article 16:

1. Everyone shall have the right to social security, including social insurance, according to his age, in cases of illness, invalidity, loss of bread-winner and upbringing of children as well as in other cases provided for in national legislation.
2. For the purpose of ensuring that the right to social and medical assistance may be effectively exercised, the Contracting Parties shall ensure that any person lacking sufficient means and unable to obtain such means through his own efforts or from other sources, particularly in the form of benefits under a social security system, receives the necessary assistance and in the case of illness, such care as is required by his condition.
3. For the purpose of ensuring that the right of mothers and children to social and economic protection may be effectively exercised, the Contracting Parties shall take all appropriate and necessary measures to that end, including the establishment and maintenance of suitable institutions or services.

Europe

The European Social Charter, 1961

  • Article 12 requires contracting parties to establish or maintain a system of social security at a satisfactory level at least equal to that required for ratification of the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102). In addition, they must endeavour to raise progressively the system of social security to a higher level. This Article also contains provisions regarding the taking of steps by contracting parties to ensure equal treatment with their own nationals of the nationals of other contracting parties in respect of social security rights, as well as the granting, maintenance and resumption of social security rights.
  • Article 13 of the Charter recognizes a right to social and medical assistance. Article 13(2) prohibits discrimination against persons who receive such assistance, and Article 13(3) provides for such advice and help as may be required to prevent, remove or alleviate personal or family want. Special provision is made for maternity benefits with a view to ensuring the effective exercise of the right of employed women to maternity protection (Article 8). Family benefits are provided for in Article 16. Social security rights are also protected in the revised European Social Charter which opened for signature on 3 May 1996.

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, 2000

  • Article 34 provides that the European Union recognizes and respects the entitlement to social security benefits and social services providing protection in cases such as maternity, illness, industrial accidents, dependency or old age, and in the case of loss of employment, in accordance with the rules laid down by European Community law and national laws and practices. Everyone residing and moving legally within the European Union is entitled to social security benefits and social advantages in accordance with European Community law and national laws and practices. In order to combat social exclusion and poverty, the European Union recognizes and respects the right to social and housing assistance so as to ensure a decent existence for all those who lack sufficient resources, in accordance with the rules laid down by European Community law and national laws and practices. Article 35 provides that everyone has the right of access to preventive health care and the right to benefit from medical treatment under the conditions established by national laws and practices. A high level of human health protection shall be ensured in the