Welfare on a Global Scale?


This week on Facebook: The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations (UN) makes reference to social security and the economic, social and cultural rights of ‘the common people’¹. The UN’s writing of economic rights first is to my mind quite deliberate, in that without them any social and cultural rights look set to fall. However, finding a meaningful definition of economic and cultural rights has been difficult and resulted in my resorting to podcasts. While the podcasts have the titles ‘Economic Rights’ and Cultural Rights in the 20th Century, both lead to the question of human rights (4).

The European Union (EU) attaches great importance to the interdependence of all human rights and consider economic, social and cultural rights as part of a social welfare program that may well constrain the development of the EU (5). These issues also constrain the actions of the United Nations (UN) to a degree but are an essential part of any Group of 20 (G20) social welfare programmes, where the ratio of gross domestic product (GDP) to any social welfare programme that a G20 State has affects the forecast of future economic growth.

The UN and transnational progressives are placing pressure on businesses to fund the realization of these rights. It is possible for UN human rights treaty bodies and NGOs to globally monitor the human rights records of governments and transnational businesses through the use of internationally recognized reporting and assessment tools. At the national level transnational progressives promote the creation of national, state, and local human rights institutions and organizing communities act in support of their own notions of these ‘human rights’. These reporting and assessment tools are used very selectively and where they are used contrary to any intention by the UN it remains, for the most part, acquiescent↔ to any actions taken as a result of violations to human rights.

The UN Declaration of Human Rights promotes social security, economic, social and cultural rights in Article 22.

Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organisation and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality. Article 22 of the 1948 UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The realisation of the economic, social and cultural rights of ‘the common people’ have been put into place in the United States and elsewhere. Official human rights institutions or comparable unofficial networks and mechanisms for organizing communities have done so in support of the realization of human rights as they interpret them. It is now relatively easy to build a body of evidence showing that there are inequalities and insufficiencies regarding the realization of economic outcomes in the areas of health care, housing, education, social security, and the environment.

What will remain difficult is the question of the extent to which these shortcomings in the realization of economic rights should be remedied by higher taxation and increased government spending, through voluntary initiatives of a compassionate citizenry, or a combination of both. Building the Global Welfare State: The United Nations as Community Organizer

This difficult question of economic rights remains unanswered not only in the USA but globally, where those promoting the creation of human rights institutions have yet to agree on whatever they deem these human rights to be. Globally, the total disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts that have outraged the conscience of mankind since the UN Declaration in 1948. International co-operation in accordance with the organisation and resources of each State and the human rights of the common people, even when addressed, is never fully enforced by the UN.

The world has moved on since 1948 and whether discussing the UN or the G20² as guardians of welfare for ‘the common people’, neither is proven to be effective in this regard. It may be the G20 have a more commercial interest in a State’s economic growth than the UN purports↔ to have in the welfare state of the common people. Certainly the G20 is likely to have more impact on the welfare and economic rights of the common people than is the UN. Regarding global welfare its interesting that neither of the following extracts mention the UN as a community organiser,  though both allude to the compassion existing on a global scale within certain States while questioning the motivations of vested interests in that compassion.

Is the world on the verge of establishing a basic form of global welfare for all those offected by war and disaster? Or is the idea of fair and efficlient global welfare a non-starter a world of competing political powers, massive vested interests and imminent environmental crisis when group survival, not altruism, may become the norm? Global welfare:dream or reality?

What are the implications for welfare state reform? What constellation of welfare state policies enables us to compensate the losers from globalization without harming incentives to work and acquire skills? What are the appropriate roles of the state, firms, households and civic organizations in the provision of welfare services? Globalization and the welfare state

The preamble to The United Nations (UN) 1948 Declaration of Human Rights states that, ‘Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,…’ [sic]

Seventy years later these highest aspirations of the common people have yet to be realised³.


1. Do welfare states boost economic growth, or stunt it? Details differ, from place to place, measure to measure, and time to time. But the same basic idea links every welfare state: that the ultimate responsibility for ensuring people don’t starve on the street should lie not with family, or charity, or private insurers, but with government.

2. Strong Reasons to Be Skeptical of Welfare: In recent years, I’ve heard many libertarians expressing new-found appreciation for the welfare state. This is most pronounced at the Niskanen Center, but that’s only part of a broader trend. If the revisionist position were a clear-cut, “Sure, most of the welfare state is terrible, but the rest of okay. We should cut social spending by 80%, not 100%,” their libertarian credentials would not be at issue.

3. Does the developing world need a welfare state to eliminate poverty? Although the industrial revolution had dramatic effects on poverty in today’s rich countries, the end of extreme poverty only occurred in those countries after the creation of modern welfare states in the post-World War II period. These welfare programs raised the living standards of the most destitute citizens while establishing a “social floor” that protected all members of society.

4. Migrant Labour and the Sustainability of China’s Welfare System: By the late 1990s China’s previously privileged old working class was laid-off in the millions from state owned enterprises—the majority left without welfare benefits. In the meantime, up until 2015, civil servants had largely retained their superior social insurance benefits, funded in their entirety by the state. In contrast, having had limited or no experience of state support, most rural-to-urban migrant workers had not had a sense of entitlement to urban goods and welfare, not least because in most cases their rural hukou↔¹⋅¹ continues to deny them membership in the cities.

5. Can The European Welfare State Survive? One of the defining ideals of the European Union has been its social support system, often referred to as the European welfare state. The shared belief among EU nations that the state has a responsibility to care for its citizens has become a kind of common culture, unifying 27 different nationalities. But the European welfare system — largely put in place during the high-growth years following World War II — is under economic and demographic pressure.


Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:

  • A bold text subscript¹ above and preceding the title here, is to a link (url) that is usually free.
  • Non-bold superscripts are links (urls) to the intended context of definitions↔¹·¹.
  • Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular article (1-5).
  • A long read url* (especially below) is followed by an asterisk.
  • Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
  • JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read freely online.

¹The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (url/pdf): The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a milestone document in the history of human rights. Drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948 (General Assembly resolution 217 A) as a common standard of achievements for all peoples and all nations. It sets out, for the first time, fundamental human rights to be universally protected and it has been translated into over 500 languages.

²G20 as a guardian of global welfare (url): Some doubt whether the G20 should have ventured beyond its original mandate of fixing the global financial architecture to take up noneconomic issues such as climate change, healthcare, migration and terrorism. But under pressure to address the larger socio-economic needs of its members, the G20 began to also focus on issues such as economic inequality, jobless growth and sustainable development challenges.

³Welcome to the Audiovisual Library of International Law (url): The Historic Archives provides a unique resource for the teaching, studying and researching significant legal instrument on international law. Each entry is devoted to a particular instrument and contains an introduction to the instrument prepared by an eminent international law scholar or practitioner with special expertise on the subject, information on its procedural history and related documents, as well as the text and status of the instrument. It is accompanied by audiovisual materials, as available, relating to the negotiation and adoption of the instrument at meetings or diplomatic conferences.

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This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

TCWG Short Stories

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The Real Economy

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