The quest for social justice

According to the United Nations, the principles of social justice are upheld when countries promote gender equality or the rights of Indigenous peoples and migrants. Additionally, countries advance social justice when they remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture, or disability. On November 26, 2007, the General Assembly declared that starting from the 63rd session of the General Assembly, February 20, 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 its 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 Organisation (ILO) of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation is just one recent example of its 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 recognises 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.
Further 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. Today, 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.
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 will 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 will also contribute to the UN TOGETHER campaign, which has the purpose of encouraging global action in promoting non-discrimination and addressing the problem of rising xenophobia against refugees and migrants.
In his message, Secretary General of the ILO, Guy Ryder emphasised that migrant workers, like all workers, are entitled to fair treatment; however, he also pointed out that many migrant workers end up trapped in jobs with low pay and unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, often in the informal economy, without respect for their labour and other human rights.
He further outlined that good governance will foster strong cooperation across migration corridors and regions, which should be guided by international labour standards, in particular the fundamental principles and rights at work and the relevant ILO and UN Conventions.
The ILO is, therefore, encouraging the adoption of fair labour migration governance frameworks at all levels – global, regional and national. These include a comprehensive, integrated and “whole of government” approach that engages labour ministries together with business, and employers’ and workers’ organisations – those on the frontlines of labour markets.
February 20, 2010, marks the annual commemoration of World Day of Social Justice, which recognises, in the words of UN General Assembly Resolution that “social development and social justice cannot be attained… in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms” .
Most migration today is linked, directly or indirectly, to the search for decent work opportunities. While there are many Guyanese who seek employment in other countries, there are also immigrants who have opened businesses locally who are also deserving of fair treatment. On this day, therefore, all Guyanese should join in the global call for social and economic justice and demand that the Government promote inclusive development for all citizens.