Social, Labour and Productive inclusion from a human rights perspective

High rates of youth unemployment are one of the main causes for which thousands of young people end up abandoned in poverty, drugs, prostitution, and crime groups. Many of these young people have seen committing suicide as an option, as a solution to all the problems they have to face daily. Unemployment leaves them trapped in a “cage” from which they feel they can not leave. Escaping from this cage is not just a matter of “choice” taken by an agency as economists are willing to understand, it is rather an inability to get out of a complex and dark world in which they have no hope (due to various factors such as lack of motivation or skills – “to know how to get out of the cage” and “to want to get out of the cage”). In this cage young people feel isolated, frustrated, distracted, insecure and discouraged. Thousands of them also are desperate not only to survive but also to develop their creativity, achieve their dreams and turn their goals into reality. Many of these young people, their own children and their families lack the minimun subsistence levels. They are forced to face humiliations almost on a daily basis because they do not have a decent job that might provide them with the necessary means of survival. This feeling of discouragement and depression in young people is generated by the lack of opportunities caused by economic crisis, the failure of States to fulfill their obligations and the social and economic circumstances that surround them. To illustrate this current situation, we might provide the example of many young people who are currently living in extreme poverty in slums or ghettos in Colombia. These youth get on the buses daily in Bogotá asking for help in order to survive. In Brazil and Mexico, also many of the youth who work in the informal sector end up engaging in delinquency and organized crime. It is important to highlight that within this group of unemployed young people it is precisely the group of youth that has not finished their primary and secondary education who are the most vulnerable and at high social risk. If this situation continues, millions of young people accross the world will be facing an uncertain future.

However, governments and the international community still maintain that escaping from this cage is the responsibility of the individual, they argue that the young adult is the one who has to be blamed, “they should stop being lazy, instead of watching TV all day and spending all their time looking at their mobile phone at Facebook or Whatsapp, young people must endeavor to find a job and opportunities which will allow them to develop their capabilities”. However, it is clear that they fail to recognize the enormous effort that these young people make every day. Many of these young people feel discouraged, frustrated and resigned because they are not seeing concrete results, this has led many to give up. What is even more serious, is the failure of international community to understand that many of them have not even finished primary and secondary education and many of them were born in contexts of extreme poverty and misery. There is a total belief that the agent knows how to get out of this state, and also that they have support from their family and community. Their argument is that the State’s role should be limited only to create fair equality of opportunity through a meritocratic system that includes new institutions and new programs that will enable those vulnerable to compete for jobs. Although they partly recognize that the role of the State includes strengthening education institutions in deprived areas and to develop programs to improve human capital, however, for most government the measures to be adopted should always be minimal.

States have an obligation to protect immediately the Vital Minimum

International Human Rights Law has established a set of principles some of which must be implemented immediately by States while others are considered progressive obligations. The obligations of States that must be implemented Immediatly include to mobilize the Maximum Available Resources to protect the vital minimun. The different measures adopted by the State to fulfill its obligation must not discriminate between different social groups and must integrate and operationalize procedural principles such as Participation and Transparency. On the other hand, the principle of “Progressive Realization” recognises that States may not fulfill the realization of human rights in a short period of time, however, States parties have an obligation to move as expeditiously and effectively as possible towards the achievement of this goal. This implies that in order to comply with this obligation States must prove they are using the maximun available resources and have established plans which show evidence of the commitment to guarantee the human rights gradually.
The principle of Non-regression includes the prohibition of government inaction and regressive measures, this entails that governments must not adopt measures that aim to reduce the protection and fulfillment of human rights. Governments must not aggravate the human rights situation, by adopting austerity measures, cutting budgets or decreasing a situation of human rights. This means that when the State has made significant progress in guaranteeing a particular right, governments cannot move backwards. i.e through suspension of services, price increases, cutting of benefits, or denial of services. The principle of non regression is intertwined with the specific obligations to Respect, Protect and Fulfill since the objective of the latter is precisely to promote Progressive Realization. States have the responsibility to prove not only the reasonableness and proportionality of the measure adopted (Adequacy, Necessity and Proportionality in strict sense) whenever there is violation of human rights that might be caused by a regressive measure, but also, States have to prove that have used up the maximum available resources to protect the vital minimum of the most vulnerable. States must also prove that it is committed to progressively realize the human rights through the establishment of plans and must provide evidence that it has evaluated all the available options (this entails the obligation to prove that the measure is Necessary, Adequate, Proportionate and Reasonable). States must also provide a justification of the measures they have enacted and establish a system to provide all this information to the citizens so that they themselves might decide their own future. If the Maximum Available Resources are not mobilized in order to protect the vital minimum and ensure the Progressive Realization of rights, States would be sponsoring a serious and impermissible violation of human rights. The principle of Non-discrimination involves removing measures that directly or indirectly exclude particular groups that are protected by international law and, finally, the principle of Vital Minimum or essential levels entails providing support and protection immediately in order to guarantee the survival of human beings and their dignity. In the context of the Social, Labour and Productive inclusion this implies that governments must ensure that unemployed young people has immediate access to:
– Adequate housing, clothing, shoes and toiletries and personal care products
– A Minimum cash transfer to meet the requirements of employers as photocopying, printing resumes or cvs, documents, and access to technology (computers, internet and telephone)
– Transport
– Health and medicine
– Food
– Water
In the case of young people raising children, States have an immediate obligation to provide childcare. Young people must have access to a minimun cash transfer that allows them to live with dignity at the same time that it enables them to seek a decent job. States must then ensure that all the unemployed young people, especially the most vulnerable, complete their basic cycle of primary and secondary education and join an articulated labor activation program in which they might strengthen their human capital and their capabilities. It is urgent that young people have access to Social security benefits throughout all the stages of the job search process and until they can demonstrate that they are able to protect their welfare.

The Right to Social Security is the means to immediately protect the Vital Minimum as an end in itself

Human Rights are interrelated and interdependent. When there is a violation of the Right to work, this event causes a catastrophic reaction, thus, impacting other rights. While analysing a violation of human rights, the principle of Indivisibility must be taken into account. This implies that researchers must analyze the interaction of the rights that has been immediately violated and their relation with other rights (Interdependence) with those rights that has been primarily violated (indivisibility). This entails that in a situation of high youth unemployment especially among vulnerable groups, the right immediately affected and at risk is the Right to a vital minimun in relation to the Right to a decent life with dignity, and the right that is primarily violated is the Right to work. The Right to Social Security represents the means to fulfill the Right to a vital minimum as an end in itself, especially when traditional family structures such as the community and the church fail to contribute to the welfare of the person. This means that the Right to Social Security or Social Protection must be understood as an immediate duty of States in order to ensure the survival of the person and promote strategies of job search, while the Right to Work constitutes a progressive obligation.
Social, Labour and Productive inclusion strategies must recognise the interdependence and interrelatedness of many rights of young people such as the Right to Social Security, Food, Health, Education, Housing, Employment and others. All these rights have been recognized in various international instruments and mechanisms at the international level.


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