Since 2007, World Day of Social Justice has been observed annually on 20 February. Through this, the United Nations hopes to mobilse all national governments to implement measures to eradicate any forms of discriminations, inequalities and barriers that people face because of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, disability or culture, so that one’s income, education opportunity, rights to basic care, decent job, shelter, water, and political participation will not be determined by their birth, residence, gender, religion or race; and that one can be free from threats and physical violence.
Globally, the ever widening wealth gap has become increasingly alarming, both within and among nations. The issue is not just limited to poor and developing nations. As inequality deepens, the basic structure of a society will be shaken and its economy and political situation will also become unstable, which could result in riot outbreaks in extreme cases. In fact, the causes of many violent conflicts are entrenched inequality, discrimination and poverty.
In last year’s World Day of Social Justice, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pointed out in his address that social justice and social development are necessary for peaceful and prosperous coexistence within and among nations. If human rights and basic freedom are not respected, without peace and freedom, there will also not be social development and justice. In the era of globalisation, we can’t rely solely on economic growth. The adoption of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June 2008 is one recent example of the commitment to social justice. The Declaration highlights the need for a sound social dimension of globalisation, and focuses on guaranteeing fair outcomes for all through employment, social protection, social dialogue, and fundamental principles and rights at work. All nations must strive to empower individuals through employment and decent work; provide suitable support through social protection policies, as well as amplifying the voices of the poor and marginalised groups. [World Day of Social Justice, The Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization]
Meditation on Scriptures:
Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor.
While we ask for God’s mercy upon the poor and the helpless, let us pray as well for those in power and authority:
- May God keep the hearts of all leaders that they may rule according to justice, show grace and compassion to people, especially the weak and marginalised groups
- Grant them wisdom to handle national and civil matters with fairness and righteousness