Adequate Legal and Institutional Framework and Long-term Social Protection Strategies

A human rights-based approach to social protection requires grounding social protection systems in a strong legal and institutional framework. This should ensure both programme stability and the recognition of beneficiaries as rights holders. The need to provide for strong legal frameworks that clearly lay out entitlements, rights and obligations is provided for in Recommendation No. 202 (paras 3b and 7).

In particular, enshrinement in law along with a long-term national action plan for social protection greatly increases the guarantees of social protection for all, and especially for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. It also helps ensure that social protection measures are guarded from political manipulation and that they receive lasting commitment from state authorities, regardless of change of government leaders. An adequate legal framework is one that includes:

  • precise eligibility requirements for social protection programmes;
  • mechanisms to ensure transparency and access to information about available programmes;
  • definition of the various roles and responsibilities of all those involved in implementing the programmes at different levels of government;
  • articulation of the long-term financial requirements, ensuring adequacy and predictability of benefits;
  • accessible complaints and appeal mechanisms; and
  • participation channels for beneficiaries.

A clear institutional framework is essential to enable rights holders to identify duty bearers in charge of specific responsibilities. The institutional framework should facilitate the adequate delivery of social security systems and be administer in a sound, transparent and accountable manner in particular in such a way to allow for financial sustainability in the long-run (ILO Convention No. 102, Articles 71 and 72 and Recommendation No. 202, paras 3j, k, and n).

One key element of an effective institutional framework is a functional financial governance structure. Based on the principles of good governance, set out in ILO Convention No. 102 (Art. 71), the following principles have been identified by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (2011, pp. 180-199):

  1. Social security financing should be sustainable, based on the principle of sustainable financing, and under the general responsibility of the State.
  2. Social security funds should be protected to the best extent possible against mismanagement, cyclical fluctuations and market failures.
  3. The purchasing power of benefits in payment should be maintained by adjusting them to the costs of living.
  4. Financial deficits in relation to social security should be obviated in the long term, through the establishment by the State of a funding plan to assure such solvency.

ILO Recommendation No. 202 (paras 3j, 3k, 11, 12) further specified that national social protection floors should be financed by national resources, yet countries with insufficient economic and fiscal capacities may seek international support to guarantee a basic level of social security for all.

For more on the obligation to adopt and implement a national social security strategy and plan of action under Article 9 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), see General Comment 19 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

Expert Commentaries

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Ghana: The role of Parliament

After adopting the International Conference on Population and Development’s 1994 Programme of Action1 and the 2003 Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa2, how has Ghana fared in realizing access to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHRs)? International and regional human rights law enshrines […]

Universal Basic Income – Necessary but not Sufficient?

The world of work is in the early years of a radical technology-driven transformation. In many ways this is not new – technology has always been a key factor in driving productivity, making some jobs obsolete and new ones necessary. Yet the pace of change has sped up since the First Industrial Revolution, with inventions […]

Beyond Addis: Financing social protection in the 2030 Agenda

 In 2015, both the Third International Conference on Financing for Development and the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit resulted in a renewed global commitment to development and poverty eradication. Following the Summit, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This new global development […]

Legal Instruments

Ley de Servicio civil y carrera administrativa.

Establece que todo funcionario o empleado tendrá derecho a gozar de licencia con sueldo por enfermedad, hasta por sesenta días cada año, por calamidad doméstica hasta por ocho días.

Reglamento General de la Ley de Servicio civil y carrera administrativa.

Entiende calamidad doméstica del servidor público el fallecimiento, accidente o enfermedad grave de su cónyuge o de sus parientes hasta el segundo grado de consanguinidad o afinidad, e igualmente los siniestros que afectan la propiedad o los bienes del servidor, gravemente.

Ley 1.145

Crea el Sistema Nacional de Discapacidad (SND), entendido como el conjunto de orientaciones, normas, actividades, recursos, programas e instituciones que permiten la puesta en marcha de los principios generales de la discapacidad.

Decreto núm. 6.690

Dispone que serán beneficiarias del Programa las servidoras públicas federales de la Administración Pública Federal Directa, Autártica y Fundacional. Establece que dicha prórroga se garantizará hasta el final del primer mes después del parto y tendrá una duración de sesenta días.

Employment Act No. 27

Act No. 207 of 2001 to provide for the fixing of wages of workers, the hours of work, their leave and generally for matters pertaining to the welfare of workers in the Bahamas.  

Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102)

A reference for the development of social security systems, Convention No. 102 is the flagship of the up-to-date social security Conventions since it is deemed to embody the internationally accepted definition of the very principle of social security.  Convention No. 102 is unique for both its conceptual formulation of social security, and the guidance it provides for […]

Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

Recommendation No. 202 is the first international instrument to offer guidance to countries to close social security gaps and progressively achieve universal protection through the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive social security systems. To this aim, the Recommendation calls for (1) the implementation, as a priority, of social protection floors (SPF) as a fundamental element […]

Legal Cases

Austerity measures that contravene Conventions by reducing social protection and increasing poverty in Greece

Recalling previous recommendations, the Committee observed that the austerity measures in conjunction with the continuous contractions of the economy, employment and public finances posed a threat to the viability of the Greek national social security system, resulting in the impoverishment of the population, thus undermining the application of all accepted parts of Social Security (Minimum […]

Combining constitutional and international standards for social protection resource mobilization in Latvia

Summary: In 2000, twenty Latvian parliamentarians complained to Latvia’s Constitutional Court that certain employers within Latvia were not paying social insurance premiums into a fund for their employees, and that this was a breach of the human right to social security as per Latvia’s constitution as well as Articles 9 and 11 of the International […]

Ensuring mechanisms that protect the right to life against the risk of famine in India

Summary: In 2001 the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties claimed that that recent starvation deaths that occurred in the Indian State of Rajasthan were the result of the State’s failure to release grain stocks in fact kept as a guard against famine, and that this denial amounted to a violation of the human right to […]

Special protection in pension programmes for women in South Africa

Summary: Four male applicants, above the age of 60 but below 65, mounted a constitutional challenge to Section 10 of South Africa’s Social Assistance Act 13 of 2004 and the relevant Regulations, which set the age for accessing an old age grant at 60 for women and 65 for men. The four men contested the […]


The Inclusive Development Index 2018

The Inclusive Development Index (IDI) is an annual assessment of 103 countries’ economic performance that measures how countries perform on eleven dimensions of economic progress in addition to GDP. It has 3 pillars; growth and development; inclusion and; intergenerational equity – sustainable stewardship of natural and financial resources. The IDI is a project of the […]

Arab Horizon 2030: Prospects for Enhancing Food Security in the Arab Region

Food security is universally recognized as paramount to human well-being. But what exactly does it mean, and what is required to achieve food security? A comprehensive definition put forward by the World Food Summit in 1996 holds that “food security [is] a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and […]

World Employment Social Outlook (2018)

This report analyses key job quality indicators, devoting particular attention to informality, underemployment and temporary employment. It also takes stock of structural sectoral shifts and ageing, two long-term trends likely to add further pressures on the labour market.

Social Protection Floors Calculator

The ILO’s Social Protection Floors Calculator makes it possible to estimate the costs of child and orphan allowances, maternity benefits, public works programs for those without jobs, disability and old-age pensions. Link to calculator

Overcoming Extreme Poverty by Social Protection Floors – Approaches to Closing the Right to Social Security Gap

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development contains a very ambitious poverty reduction schedule: According to Sustainable Development Goal 1 extreme poverty shall be completely eradicated within the next 15 years (SDG 1.1), and also other forms of poverty shall be reduced within the same period at least by half the proportion of men, women and […]

Rethinking Transitions: economic and social justice in societies emerging from conflict

Transitions bring the opportunity to rewrite the social contract between state and society, to restructure institutional architecture and tackle the political, social and economic deficits that contribute to social exclusion and deprivation. In transitions, economic and social rights have the potential to translate people’s social justice claims into normative and enforceable entitlements through constitutional processes […]

The Future of Work We Want: A global dialogue

More than 700 people participated in the two-day event, “The Future of Work We Want: A Global Dialogue”, which took place at the International Labour Office in Geneva on 6–7 April 2017. In addition, more than 2,000 people throughout the world followed the event and contributed via live video streaming and social media. The Global […]

An International Labour Organization Instrument on Violence against Women and Men at Work: the Australian influence

Violence in and out of work, both domestic violence and sexual harassment, are violations of human rights and impact heavily in the workplace. All forms of violence result in a high cost for workers, employers and society in general, in lost time, injuries, complaints, staff turnover, loss of skills, and reputational risk. The International Labour […]

The Political Economy of Income Distribution: industry level evidence from 14 OECD countries

This article presents an econometric estimation of the determinants of the wage share, using sectoral data for 14 OECD countries for the period 1970- 2014. We present estimations for the wage share of high- and low-skilled workers and within manufacturing and service industries. We augment sectoral data with input-output tables and union density data to […]

Building a Favourable Environment for Institutional Food Procurement Programmes: contributions from Mozambique

The efficiency of institutional food procurement programmes (IFPPs) depends on a series of interconnected conditions to reach their stated goal of linking smallholders with institutional markets and demand (e.g. school meals). These programmes rely on governmental will and the availability of public demand. Furthermore, they require institutional changes and the close coordination of policies and […]

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