Social Development : Statement by Mr. Lauris Beets at the Fiftieth session of the Commission for Social Development
Mr. Lauris Beets
Director International Affairs Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Fiftieth session of the Commission for Social Development
agenda item 3 (a) poverty eradication
New York, 1 February 2012
Eradicating poverty by employment and social protection
The Netherlands fully aligns itself with the statement made by Denmark on behalf of the EU. In addition, I would like to take this opportunity to elaborate on the views of The Netherlands on combatting poverty. Poverty is unacceptable. The Netherlands is dedicated to the eradication of poverty through our development cooperation policy.
Over the decades, the Netherlands managed to mitigate the more severe forms of poverty. This was a long process in which we learned from mistakes and pitfalls. Over a period of more than 60 years, we gradually built a system which prevented citizens from falling into abject poverty. Poverty because of old-age, death of the breadwinner, disability and health costs. Unemployment and sickness schemes were put in place for employees. Finally, a safety net was established to provide those who were not covered under the social security system with an income at the minimum subsistence level. This safety net forms the social protection floor underpinning our social security system. The system was expanded gradually, made possible by expanding fiscal resources. Nowadays, social security is an integral part of our society and of public expenditure. Important part of the integral approach to combat poverty, is investing in the education of the children and in employment for parents and adult children. This is a vital factor to influence the longer-term perspective of the families in the right direction.
Integration is really a key-word in this context. At the same time, the public discussion about the future of the system is still going in finding the right balance. A central condition for social protection is employment. After all, the best social protection a government can provide is a good working labour market. People who have jobs, decent jobs, and access to social protection when they need it. The Netherlands are very much in favour of an activating role of social security: ‘The best form of social security remains a decent job’ . There is no ‘one size fits all’-model for employment policy and social security. Employment policy and social security systems should be developed in a tailor-made approach, taking into account historical, economic and cultural differences between countries. For the design of a sustainable social security system, it is essential to link the protection level and the protection instruments to the national level of socio-economic development. And to build a social security system with a solid financial basis. Good governance of such a system is needed, at both the policy and implementation level. In this process, it is essential that states can learn from each others experiences, best practices and pitfalls. Within the European Union the so-called open method of coordination and the principle of ‘peer review’ play an important role in the learning process regarding national employment and social protection policies. Effective incentives for people to get a job, combatting ‘jobless households’. And making it more attractive for employers to hire people.
We can only stress the importance for states to gradually build social protection floors for their further development. In this respect we see a clear role in the years to for the ILO and for the Commission for Social Development. At the International Labour Conference in June 2012, a Recommendation on Social Protection Floors will be negotiated . And an ILO-Plan of Action on the technical assistance for member states in the field of social security will be implemented. We would like the UN at large and in particular the Commission for Social Development to acknowledge these developments.
A last development I would like to mention is the fact that we observe rapid policy convergence among organisations in the UN-system and other international organisations. They are all moving in the same direction regarding policy-views in the field of employment policy, decent work, the combat of child labour, social security and the social protection floor. All these organizations should intensify cooperation: not only on the policy level, but also, and in our view most important, on the level of practical policy implementation ‘in the field’. The Commission for Social Development should certainly play a role in the promotion of such an integral approach. The theme of ‘poverty eradication’ in this meeting of the Commission for Social Development comes at the right moment. Let us join forces to eradicate poverty. It’s not an easy, but it’s certainly a challenging job. It can be done.