Social Justice & humanitarian perspective

According to the United Nations (UN), the principles of social justice are upheld when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants; in addition we advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. On 26 November 2007, the General Assembly declared that, starting from the sixty-third session of the General Assembly, 20 February will be celebrated annually as the World Day of Social Justice.

For the UN, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of their global mission to promote development and human dignity. This year’s theme is ‘Workers on the Move: the Quest for Social Justice’.

The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation is just one recent example of their commitment to social justice. The Declaration focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work. It constitutes a compass for the promotion of a fair globalisation based on Decent Work, as well as a practical tool to accelerate progress in the implementation of the Decent Work Agenda at the country level. It also reflects a productive outlook by highlighting the importance of sustainable enterprises in creating greater employment and income opportunities for all.

The General Assembly Recognizes that social development and social justice are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations and that, in turn, social development and social justice cannot be attained in the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It further recognizes that globalisation and interdependence are opening new opportunities through trade, investment and capital flows and advances in technology, including information technology, for the growth of the world economy and the development and improvement of living standards around the world. The UN also noted that there remain serious challenges, including serious financial crises, insecurity, poverty, exclusion and inequality within and among societies and considerable obstacles to further integration and full participation in the global economy for developing countries as well as some countries with economies in transition.

Over the years, to mark this occasion, journalists around the world will bring together concrete stories and testimonies about the challenges of social justice and labour migration and to suggest possible policy responses to address these challenges. They also use the opportunity to bring to the fore, issues on labour migration by highlighting the positive contribution of migrant workers to countries of origin, transit, and destination as well as the key aspects such as their fair recruitment.

As part of the programme of activities, participants have also contributed to the UN campaign which has the purpose of encouraging global action in promoting non-discrimination and addressing the problem of rising xenophobia against refugees and migrants.

Most migration today is linked directly or indirectly to the search for decent work opportunities. Even if employment is not the primary driver, it usually features in the migration process at some point. There are an estimated 258 million international migrants. The ILO estimates that there are roughly 150 million migrant workers. The UN recognises social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations.

Here in Guyana, we have seen large influx of migrants entering the country in search of a decent life and jobs. In our case, thousands of Venezuelans entering in search of a better life. We must commend President Dr Irfaan Ali, as he has said that in Guyana’s case “we are approaching this from a humanitarian perspective.”