Monday, February 20 is World Day of Social Justice on the theme, ‘Preventing Conflict and Sustaining Peace Through Decent Work’. For Sri Lanka’s National Government it is a day of deep significance because restoring social justice by creating a just society was the key promise when it won an historic victory on January 8, 2015. In the economic strategy outline for this year, the Government says it will pursue a process of sustainable development that will be eco-friendly and all-inclusive by providing several hundred thousand jobs, mainly to youth in rural areas. Through this the Government hopes to restore the dignity of impoverished families, now existing on the dole. The Government believes that when one or two members get productive and well paid jobs their families would be able to play a key role in the sustainable development process.
However. for all this to work effectively and to be sustained, it is vital that Government leaders and other politicians renew their commitment to sincerely and selflessly work for the people without trying to do big business in politics. President Maithripala Sirisena has repeatedly committed himself to live in a simple and humble way while being the chief servant leader of the people. We hope Government politicians and officials will follow this example. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is at the steering wheel of the economic development strategy, has given the highest priority to the creation of highly-paid jobs and if this works out Sri Lanka could find itself on the path of becoming a developed country. Overall for politicians and others the commitment to sincere and hard work is vital.
The United Nations in a statement to mark Social Justice Day says this concept is an underlying principle for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. The UN says the world upholds 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. The UN also says that the pursuit of social justice for all is at the core of its global mission to promote development and human dignity. The adoption by the International Labour Organization of the Declaration on Social Justice for Fair Globalization is just one recent example of the UN’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 UN says.
The UN General Assembly in 2007 proclaimed February 20 as World Day of Social Justice, inviting Member-States to devote the day to promoting national activities in accordance with the objectives and goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the 24th session of the General Assembly. Observance of World Day of Social Justice should support efforts of the international community in poverty eradication, the promotion of full employment and decent work, gender equity and access to social well-being and justice for all.
According to the UN, the world has changed dramatically. We no longer live in a world relatively empty of humans and their artefacts. We now live in the “Anthropocene era” in a full world where humans are dramatically altering their ecological life-support systems. Our traditional economic concepts and models were developed in an empty world. If we are to create sustainable prosperity, if we seek “improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risk and ecological scarcities,” we are going to need a new vision for the economy and its relationship to the rest of the world that’s better adapted to the new conditions we face.
“We are going to need an economics that respects planetary boundaries, that re-continues the dependence of human well-being on social relations and fairness, that recognises that the ultimate goal is real, sustainable human well-being, not merely growth of material consumption,” the UN says.
Latest figures worldwide show the monstrous reality that eight of the world’s super billionaires own more wealth and resources than half the world’s population of more than 3,750 million. This must change and that is why all countries including Sri Lanka, on this World Day of Social Justice need to recommit themselves to poverty alleviation, the battle against climate change and a peaceful resolution of conflicts.