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Towards an Instrument for the Portability of Social Security Benefits in the Southern African Development Community

The right to social security is a fundamental human right guaranteed to all persons. However, non-citizens are not always granted access to social security because of discriminatory provisions in national social security laws and the ‘nationality or territoriality principle’ of social security systems (which requires a claimant to be physically present in the country to be eligible for benefits). Such principles and provisions hinder the cross-border portability of social security benefits.

This is especially the case in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, where the portability of social security benefits is limited because of the absence of a region-wide social security coordination agreement.

Internationally, such agreements regulate issues such as equality of treatment of citizens and non-citizens, aggregation of insurance periods, maintenance of acquired rights and benefits, exportability of benefits to other countries, choice of law applicable, etc.