On the occasion of the World Day of Social Justice, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) expresses its concern regarding the increasing trend of poverty in Montenegro, caused by endemic corruption which erodes institutions, but also by the lack of quality and responsible decisions of authorities. CCE urges the authorities, as well as other political and social actors, to open an argument based dialogue concerning manners in which this situation could be overcome in order to contribute to overall development of Montenegrin society.
Citizens can experience a variety of additional problems due to the poverty, such as unemployment, poor housing conditions, inadequate healthcare, barriers in education and satisfaction of cultural needs. This leads to further isolation of the ones who are poor from participation in political life of community, but also from social, economic and cultural activities, regarded as norms for democratic societies. Finally, the access to fundamental rights can be restricted, because the person who lives in poverty is more vulnerable, often discriminated and deprived of decent life, which are all negations of concept of social justice.
According to official data, absolute poverty rate of Montenegro for 2013 was 8,6%, more precisely 54 000 of citizens had 186,45 EUR at their disposal, on a monthly level, and the negative trend is continuing. Total unemployment rate is 15,12%. Average salary for 2014 was half of the value of minimum consumer basket, meaning that a significant number of citizens is not able to meet the minimal level of basic existential, cultural and social needs. In that kind of situation, ample room is left for various forms of manipulation, blackmailing and corruption, whereby the realisation of these rights is important both for the improvement of life of those who are affected the most, and for the higher level of functional democracy.
Economic, social and cultural rights are not guaranteed, and the state respects them in accordance with its capabilities. The fact that Montenegro is less and less able to guarantee them, hence, the need for rational and responsible use of existing recourses should be emphasised, which also implies a more intensified fight against crime and corruption on all levels. Namely, precisely due to corruption and crime, social resources are in service of private interest, instead of public, thus enhancing poverty. Suppressing corruption has to become an integral part of protection of human rights and of fight against poverty, in order to create essential conditions for Montenegro to practice implemented constitutional category of social justice.
The concept of social justice is defined by the Constitution, laws and international obligations which Montenegro assumed. State should conduct this concept in a more proactive, responsible, multidisciplinary and measurable manner, but also through the provision of conditions that allow civil society to freely and without pressure, research and monitor the application of policies that contribute to its realisation and constant improvement. Therefore, it is the obligation of us all, and especially of decision makers, to contribute on a daily basis to development of concept of social justice, characterised by values of respect, equality, appreciation of diversity, while also having in mind that a society without poverty can be built on the foundations of solidarity and mutual responsibility.
In 2007, UN General Assembly declared February 20 as World Day of Social Justice, which marking should contribute to the improvement in fight of international community against poverty, promotion of right to work, gender equality and realisation of equal opportunities and social justice for all.
Petar Đukanović, programme coordinator