Right to Social Security


The concept of the “Right to Social Security” is recognized as a fundamental human right that ensures individuals have access to basic necessities and protection against social risks. This right is enshrined in various international treaties, prominently in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR).

Article 9 of the CESCR addresses the right to social security, affirming the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance. It emphasizes that states should take measures to achieve the full realization of this right, ensuring access to social protection and assistance for those in need, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, persons with disabilities, and unemployed individuals.

Other international treaties and instruments that address the right to social security include:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) acknowledges the right to social security in its recognition of the right to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being.

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions, such as the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, aim to establish basic principles for social security systems and protection against various social risks.

Key aspects of the right to social security include:

  • Access to Basic Needs

Social security ensures access to essential goods and services such as healthcare, housing, food, and basic income for individuals and families.

  • Protection Against Risks

It provides protection against various social risks, including unemployment, illness, disability, old age, maternity, and loss of a breadwinner.

  • Non-Discrimination

The right to social security should be accessible without discrimination based on race, gender, religion, disability, or any other status.

  • Adequacy and Dignity

Social security measures should provide an adequate standard of living and maintain human dignity.

States that are parties to these treaties are obligated to take steps to progressively realize the right to social security by implementing comprehensive social protection systems, ensuring that everyone has access to social security benefits, and providing assistance to those in need, particularly vulnerable and marginalized groups.

Constitution of Pakistan

The Constitution of Pakistan does not provide detailed specifics of social security schemes or systems, however Article 38 of the Constitution emphasizes the state’s responsibility to provide for the social and economic well-being of the people, ensuring social security to all citizens, particularly those who are unable to maintain themselves due to infirmity, sickness, or unemployment. In addition, Article 38(d) highlights the state’s obligation to provide basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education, and medical relief, to all citizens irrespective of their means.

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