World Day of Social Justice

Although the designation of World Day of Social Justice by the United Nations is fairly recent, the objectives it promotes tackle the issues that give birth to underdevelopment and social strife. February 20 was designated by the UN General Assembly as the World Day of Social Justice on November 26, 2007. The decision came after a long process starting with the World Summit for Social Development organised in Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1995. At this summit, subjugation of poverty, abolition of paucity and full employment were recognised by over a hundred countries as the basic ingredients for a peaceful and prosperous coexistence of communities and nations. Social justice entails ensuring gender equality and the rights of minorities. Governments and societies that strive to provide everyone equal opportunity for development regardless of their gender, age, race, religion, culture, disability or ethnic affiliation, are pursuing social justice. In many countries, including our own, we see discrimination against migrants or indigenous populations, denying them a fair share of opportunity, which keeps them underdeveloped. This not only impacts the overall development of societies, it has in many cases led to conflicts and even insurgencies. Separatist struggles or demands for regime change are the result of social injustice that people of a particular area, ethnicity, culture or religious affiliation face.

Many communities and groups are engaged in such struggles throughout Asia — the Kurds in Iran, Iraq and Turkey, the Kashmiris and Maoists in India, the Baloch in Pakistan and Iran, and the Tibetans in China. The wave of regime change unleashed in several countries in the Middle East was sparked by the suicide of a youth who was being denied the right to a decent livelihood by a repressive regime.Governments are expected to take measures to alleviate poverty, unemployment and strengthen social security networks for all sections of the population. In socially unjust societies, this cannot be achieved without political engagement and dialogue with alienated sections. In today’s world, where advances in communication technology have obviated the need for traditional and risky methods of mass mobilisation and facilitated organisation by private citizens, failure to recognise the need for social justice by unjust societies will sooner or later result in popular revolt – Dailytimes