Is Montenegro a Social Justice State?

Regarding the International day of Social justice, Centre for Civic Education (CCE) points out that poverty trends in Montenegro, caused by high unemployment rate, endemic corruption and underdeveloped culture of human rights, significantly encumber the democratic development in overall, and therefore calls on competent institutions to invest more efforts in order to secure dignified conditions of life.

Social justice society implies that every citizen enjoys equal rights and opportunities in order to live up to his/her full potential and participate in every aspect of the life. Nowadays, numerous social groups are marginalised in Montenegro due to the inadequate implementation of policies focused on the improvement of their rights and position.

Latest Monstat’s data shows that poverty rate in Montenegro is 8.6% In other words, this means that some 54 000 persons are living with less than 184 euros per month. According to the reports of Employment Agency of Montenegro, 41 410 Montenegrin citizens are without any job (17.85%). Mobbing and grey economy, whereby taxes and contributions for health and pension insurance are not being paid, pose a challenge for a large number of citizens, without any support from the institutions which task is to supress these occurrences.

Average salary in Montenegro is around 480 euros, while the consumer basket amounts 800 euros. Consequently, significant number of citizens is not able to meet the minimal level of existential, cultural and social needs. Also, as a consequence of poverty, citizens are exposed to other problems, such as poor housing conditions, inadequate health protection, as well as the obstructions in education and satisfaction of other needs. And without the adequate satisfaction of economic, cultural and social rights, as basic norms of developed societies, room is created for various forms of manipulation, blackmail and corruption, even free political participation and decision-making of citizens as essential guidelines of functional democracy.

Finally, access to fundamental rights can be restricted because the person living in poverty is more vulnerable, often discriminated and deprived of life with dignity, all of which is contradictory to concept of social justice. Hence, the state is obliged to work continuously on the improvement of economic, social and cultural rights of citizens in line with its capacities. Fact is that Montenegro is not able to do so, thus we would like to emphasise the necessity of rational use of funds, or to intensify the fight against corruption and organised crime on all levels, which place social funds in the function of private, instead of public interest, thus producing poverty.

Fight against corruption must become an integral part of protection of human rights and fight against poverty. Constitution defines Montenegro as a social justice state which derives the obligation of state bodies to work on the implementation of concept of social justice under the Constitution, laws, international obligations which Montenegro assumed and obliged to conduct in a proactive, responsible, multidisciplinary and tangible manner, but also through the provision of conditions for civic society to freely explore the implementation of public policies, and without the pressure in doing so.

On the other hand, all of us, as responsible citizens, should contribute daily to the development of concept of social justice characterised by values of honesty, equality, respect of diversity considering the fact that society without poverty can be built only on the foundations of solidarity and mutual responsibility.

UN General Assembly declared 20 February as World Day of Social Justice which marking should contribute to the improvement of 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