Social justice (civil justice) is a concept largely based in various social contract theories. Most variations on the concept hold that as governments are instituted among populations for the benefit of members of those populations, those governments which fail to see to the welfare of their citizens are failing to uphold their part in the social contract and are, therefore, unjust. The concept usually includes, but is not limited to, upholding human rights; many variants also contain some beliefs concerning more equitable distributions of wealth and resources.

The term "social justice" is generally so phrased in order to distinguish the particular concept from concepts of justice in law—some of which, according to their critics, are decidedly unjust in a social sense—and from concepts of justice as embedded in systems of morality which may differ between cultures.

"Social Justice" is one of the Four Pillars of the Green Party upheld by the worldwide green parties. As stated by several local branches, this is the principle that all persons are entitled to "basic human needs", regardless of "superficial" differences such as economic disparity, class, gender, race, ethnicity, citizenship, religion, age, sexual orientation, disability, or health. This includes the eradication of poverty and illiteracy, the establishment of sound environmental policy, and equality of opportunity for healthy personal and social development.

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See also: criminal justice