This question-and-answer document by Development Pathways and Human Rights Watch examines the human right to social security, and how universal social security can help protect people from economic shocks and other emerging threats, including climate-related hazards, while building just societies where all rights are realized. It also explains why policymakers should orient their policies toward establishing universal social security systems and avoid narrowly means-tested programs.

Social security is a human right, dating back to the 1948 Universal Declaration, and enshrined in a range of treaties and constitutions. It is closely linked with the right to an adequate standard of living and other economic, social and cultural rights.