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Social protection

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Only 20 per cent of the world’s population has adequate social security coverage, and more than half lack any coverage at all. They face dangers in the workplace and poor or non-existent pension and health insurance coverage. The situation reflects levels of economic development, with fewer than 10 per cent of workers in least-developed countries covered by social security. In middle-income countries, coverage ranges from 20 to 60 per cent, while in most industrial nations, it is close to 100 per cent.

Access to an adequate level of social protection is recognized by International labour standards and the UN as a basic right of all individuals. It is also widely considered to be instrumental in promoting human welfare and social consensus on a broad scale, and to be conducive to and indispensable for social peace and thus improved economic growth and performance.

Social Protection is one of the four strategic objectives of the Decent Work agenda which define the core work of the ILO. Since its creation in 1919, the ILO has actively promoted policies and provided its member states with tools and assistance aimed at improving and expanding the coverage of social protection to all members of the community across the full range of contingencies: basic income security in case of need, health care, sickness, old age and invalidity, unemployment, employment injury, maternity, family responsibilities and death. Many activities will also be designed to improve the social protection of migrant workers.

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