Key aspects of the right to social security

The CESCR, which monitors the implementation of ICESCR, has developed the content of the right to social security beyond the cross-cutting concerns for all economic, social and cultural rights in its General Comment 19. Specifically, it provides a definition of the right to social security, describes the obligations resting on States and third parties, illustrates what constitutes a violation and explains how to implement the right at the national level.

Key aspects of implementing the right to social security include:

  • Viewing the right to social security as interdependent, indivisible and interrelated with all other human rights;
  • States’ obligation to implement a sustainable social security system through a legislative framework that provides benefits for the nine principle branches of social security namely: health care, sickness, old age, unemployment, employment injury, family and child support, maternity, disability, survivors and orphans;
  • States’ obligation to provide benefits that are adequate in amount and duration; and
  • States’ to ensure the financial and physical access of benefits to all persons, with special attention to vulnerable or marginalized groups.

States are also obligated to guarantee that this right is enjoyed by everyone without discrimination, in a manner that promotes equality between men and women, and responds to the needs of migrants and workers in non-traditional forms of work (such as in the informal economy). This is captured explicitly in complementary international and regional legal instruments.

Last updated: 13/7/2015

Social Protection and Human Rights