World day of social justice on 20 February 2010

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By Dr. Eugene D’Souza, Moodubelle

20 February 2010: The term ‘Social Justice’ has variety of meanings and none of them can be considerd as precise.  It is based on the idea of a just society in which individual and groups are given fair treatment and a just share of the benefits of the society.  Codes of morality prevailing in each culture have been the basis of social justice. Thus, social justice means justice that is applicable to the entire society.  It can be said that the values of social justice are rooted in religious principles as well as law and politics. One can trace reference to social justice in writings from the major branches of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. According to these religions, before God all people are equal and must treat each other with respect.  In brief, social justice is concerned with equal justice, not just in the courts, but in all aspects of society. This concept demands that people have equal rights and opportunities to everyone. That is, from the poorest person on the margins of society to the wealthiest deserves an even playing field.

The lack of social justice, especially in developing and underdeveloped countries had prompted the United Nations Organisation (UNO) to devise means and ways to promote this noble ideal of social justice in order to make the world a better place to live in for all human beings irrespective of their nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, race or economic disparity. 

In November 2007, at its sixty-second session, the General Assembly of the 192 members United Nations proclaimed 20 February as World Day of Social Justice, to be observed worldwide every year beginning from 20th February 2009.

Observance of World Day of Social Justice can be traced back to the awareness of the world leaders towards growing disparity among people in different parts of the world in terms of social development. Earlier, two world summits were held to chalk out programmes in order to promote social justice throughout the world. These were: World Summit for Social Development, held at Copenhagen in March 1995, and the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly, entitled “World Summit for Social Development and beyond: achieving social development for all in a globalizing world”, held at Geneva  in June 2000.

The Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Programme of Action and the further initiatives for social development adopted by the General Assembly at its twenty-fourth special session constituted the basic framework for the promotion of social development for all at the national and international levels.

As recognized by the World Summit, social development aims at promoting national and global economic systems based on the principles of justice, equity, democracy, participation, transparency, accountability and inclusion. To achieve “a society for all” governments made a commitment in the World Summit to full and productive employment and decent work for all, including for women and young people, as a central objective of relevant national and international policies as well as national development strategies, including poverty reduction strategies, as part of the efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.  They also pledged to promote the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality and opportunity for all. The governments recognized as well that economic growth should promote equity and social justice and that “a society for all” must be based on social justice and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

It is important to remember that social development and social justice are very important for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among nations. On the other hand, social development and social justice cannot be achieved in the absence of peace and security or in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Meanwhile, it also should be borne in mind that broadbased and sustained economic growth is necessary to sustain social development and social justice.

In the modern age of globalization and interdependence, new global opportunities have been opening up 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. However, at the same time there are serious challenges, including serious financial crises, insecurity, poverty, exclusion and inequality within and among societies and also there are considerable obstacles to further integration and full participation in the global economy for developing countries as well as some other countries whose economies are in transition.

Under these circumstances the world community should be aware of the need to consolidate efforts in eradication of poverty and in promoting full employment and decent work, gender equality and access to social well-being and justice for all.

World Day of Social Justice is being observed for the second time on 20th February 2010. In India, this day should enable the government agencies to focus on the various ways and means to promote social justice. Social justice in a real sense of the term can be achieved if the poor and marginalised in the society can avail the benefits of the economic progress; if people are allowed to move freely in search of employment and means of livelihood; if people are treated equally by the law enforcing agencies;   if rampant corruption in the administrative machinery is rooted out; if people can have easy access to education and healthcare; and if the fundamental rights of the people are not tampered with.


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Comments on this Article
Victor D Souza, Moodubelle / Doha Sat, February-20-2010, 11:14
The article is informative and gives important message. Thank you Dr. Eugene.
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