The human dignity and value of every human being: what does it mean for Morocco today?

By Driss GUERRAOUI
from Global Newsletter - August 2016

The theme of dignity seems abstract on the surface but in fact it is at the heart of what should be the central concern of public policy not only in our country, Morocco, by also playing a decisive role on the agenda of all regional and international organizations concerned with human condition. It has direct relevance for the world development in the XXI century. It is also of the utmost importance to try to see the interaction of these two fundamental concepts: the dignity and value of the human being.

Indeed, dignity is a value and a legal principle, it plays a key role in equality law. The quest for dignity is universally accepted, but interpretation what constitutes a life with dignity differs in national contexts. Dignity is upheld when people have guaranteed access to basic human rights in the context of equal opportunities without discriminatory treatment based on sex, age, social status, place of residence and physical conditions of individual (whether they are healthy or are burdened with mental or physical disabilities). Dignity is also upheld when in society there is effective access to education, training, access to knowledge and technology, including information technology, where the right to health care and at least basic medical coverage is protected. We could also list a minimum subsistence income and food security, access to decent work, housing, culture, recreation, the opportunity to live in a healthy environment, with support for families and old age, support to people with disabilities, guarantees of a fair trial, freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom of movement, participation in the life of the community, guaranteed security, plus rights to basic social services, be it drinking water, electricity or transport.

In other words human dignity will be definitely strengthened in the future with the completion of the post-2015 agenda and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Human dignity is the basis for human rights, and various important international documents, beginning with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and such landmarks as the Millennium Development Goals, numerous statements in connection with human rights, and initiatives such as the Universal Social Protection Floor and the Sustainable Development Agenda represent a movement in the right direction.

As for the value of the human being in society, it necessarily involves three concurrent actions: the recognition, consideration and involvement of all citizens in decision-making and participation in community affairs. Along with the above we could mention democratic governance, competence, responsibility, fairness, justice, equality and social inclusion, socio-cultural and socio-professional characteristics that constitute the fundamental criteria. In this context the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (CESE) of Morocco has developed a social framework where dignity and human value are given special attention; this approach is shared today by members of many economic and social councils and similar institutions around the world.

Indeed, immediately after the establishment of the CESE by His Majesty the King Mohammed VI on 21 February 2011, the Council launched various activities to develop a new Social Charter. This work was accomplished, bringing on board many stakeholders from around the country and also encouraging internal debates among the Council members. Thus nearly 70 actors representing all segments of society (government, trade unions, associations and professional organizations, civil society and national advisory bodies) were heard by the Council. The outcome of this participatory approach was a joint report prepared through collaborative effort. This report was adopted at the General Meeting of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) at the 9th session on 29 November 2011. The report represents a repository of enforceable fundamental rights as enshrined in the new Moroccan Constitution and the international treaties, charters, covenants and conventions to which Morocco subscribed.

The Charter combines three integrated parts; it includes economic, social, cultural and environmental aspects, where basic human rights are on top. The rights are guaranteed so as to ensure human dignity, maintain cohesion of society and promote coherent, comprehensive and harmonious human development on a sustainable basis. Part two of the document reviews the procedural goals that embody the principles and rights, while the third part specifies the necessary indicators for monitoring the achievement of these objectives.

This body of reference contains 39 fundamental principles and guaranteed rights. Divided into 92 operational objectives with 250 indicators for monitoring progress, the Social Charter is divided into six integrated components: 1 / access to essential services and social welfare; 2 / education, training and cultural development; 3 / inclusion and solidarity; 4 / social dialogue, civil dialogue and innovative partnerships; 5 / environmental protection; 6/ governmental accountability and the promotion of economic and social rights and democracy.

Embracing the presentation of the individual and collective freedoms, the first five sections cover the indispensable foundation for achieving social cohesion as well as social progress in Morocco. The sixth section reviews the implementation process and covers its basic pre-conditions.

The parties to the contract, who are stakeholders, are responsible for translating the agreements into practice and achieving the objectives of this framework; it is understood that any goal or a stipulated right may be subject to one or more contracts. In this sense the Charter -- a major social contract -- represents a genuine cement for social cohesion and sustainable human development and the most appropriate institutional framework for strengthening the national foundation for universal social protection -- the essential guarantor of the dignity and value of human beings in Morocco in the 21 century.