Inclusive Social Protection in Latin America

A Comprehensive, Rights-based Approach

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This publication examines the main debates under way on social protection and co-responsibility transfer programmes. It identifies the role played by these programmes and considers the conceptual elements, needs and the challenges that will have to be overcome to consolidate comprehensive social protection systems in Latin America. The authors argue that these should be solidarity-based systems that provide universal coverage and are essentially egalitarian in the guarantees established as citizens' rights. Citizenship as a whole is thus becoming part of protection policies as the region moves towards all-encompassing social policies that combine the complementary principles of targeting as the instrument and universality as the end.

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Owing to continuing severe problems in Latin America, including poverty, inequality, vulnerability, unemployment and informal employment, which worsened during the crisis of late 2008 and early 2009, Latin American countries must be urged strenuously to strengthen their social protection systems and to extend them to include those that are currently excluded, as advocated by previous ECLAC documents. Boosting social protection helps to build fairer and more inclusive societies where all citizens can enjoy their economic, social and cultural rights. To achieve this, it is necessary to influence income distribution and invest in human capability. When countries succeed in harnessing the human capability of their citizens throughout their lifetimes, the gains in terms of productivity and social cohesion can be enormous.

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