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The noble vision of a just and fair society

15 Feb 2020 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

Social justice is so vital that Pope Francis has for the past few years taken bold initiatives for all Christian denominations and indeed all world religions to come together in dismantling the structures that prevent poverty alleviation and a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources, to win the battle against climate change, to bring about nuclear disarmament and peaceful conflict resolution without resorting to war or violence. He has stressed that this should be an important part of our spirituality, whatever the religion we may belong to, and we need to go beyond our comfort zones of merely attending religious services. 

We need to leap in to the deep to bring about a just and fair society. The pontiff has been holding a regular dialogue with leaders of other Christian denominations and other religions because the battle is against huge multinational corporations and mafias including the heroin and drug mafias.   

While we individuals could play a small part by saving water or electricity and planting a tree, mega groups are involved in massive multinational operations to promote solar energy, wind energy and other renewable or clean energy projects. This is being done amid warnings that if the climate change battle is not intensified, many islands including our neighboring Maldives will disappears within the next few decades because the Antarctic ice mountains are melting and sea levels may rise by as much as three feet. Even in Sri Lanka we will lose large parts of our coastal belt and hundreds of thousands of people will need to find shelter, food, clothing, educational and health facilities in other areas. If we do not take an active interest in this, we are indeed selfish or self-centered and someday we will pay the price for it. That is why this battle needs to be avital part of our spirituality. 

On February 20, the United Nations marks the World Day of Social Justice with the theme being, “Closing the Inequalities Gap to Achieve Social Justice”. In a statement the world body says Social justice is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. The UN says we uphold the principles of social justice when we promote gender equality or the rights of indigenous peoples and migrants. We advance social justice when we remove barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, culture or disability. According to the UN, the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of our global mission to promote development and human dignity. 

The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN System’s 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. 

The ILO unanimously adopted the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization on June 10, 2008. This is the third major statement of principles and policies adopted by the International Labour Conference since the ILO’s Constitution of 1919. It builds on the Philadelphia Declaration of 1944 and the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work of 1998. The 2008 Declaration expresses the contemporary vision of the ILO’s mandate in the era of globalization.   

This landmark Declaration is a powerful reaffirmation of ILO values. It is the outcome of tripartite consultations that started in the wake of the Report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization. By adopting this text, the representatives of governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations from 182-member States emphasize the key role of our tripartite Organization in helping to achieve progress and social justice in the context of globalization. Together, they commit to enhance the ILO’s capacity to advance these goals, through the Decent Work Agenda. The Declaration institutionalizes the Decent Work concept developed by the ILO since 1999, placing it at the core of the Organization’s policies to reach its constitutional objectives.   

 Social justice encompasses economic justice. Social justice is the virtue which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. 

Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development, according to the Centre for Economic and Social Justice