Ensure Meaningful and Effective Participation

Meaningful and effective participation of rights holders must be a key component of any social protection system. This is what builds trust and public support behind schemes and ensures that there is a sense of ownership. The participation of right holders is important during the social protection policy making processes but also as regards the involvement of relevant stakeholders in the governance of social protection schemes.

The right to participate in public life is enshrined in several human rights norms, such as Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (General Comment 19) has recommended that beneficiaries participate in the administration of social protection programmes and that the system be established under national law. The ILO’s social security conventions and recommendations also specify that national social security strategies should be formulated and implemented on the basis of national consultations through effective social dialogue and participation (Recommendation No. 202, para 13) and for that participation of social partners and other stakeholders in the administration of social protection systems, especially where this is not entrusted to a public authority (Convention No. 102, Article 72; Convention No. 168, Article 29).

As well as being an inherent right, participation has the additional advantage of allowing authorities to improve the design and delivery of services. In order to ensure meaningful and effective participation, participatory channels should take into account existing asymmetries of power, patterns of marginalization and gender inequalities that exist within the household and the community. The adoption of specific measures to encourage the inclusion and participation of women, persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples, ethnic minorities, older persons and other groups that experience structural discrimination is often necessary to ensure that stakeholders are able to exercise their rights. For example, mechanisms such as sex quotas in participatory channels, timelines for consultation that take into consideration time restrictions imposed on those who undertake care work such as childcare may facilitate the participation of more women. Demonstrating that inputs and perspectives are valued in decision-making, design and implementation processes may also be useful to generate positive incentives for rights holders to participate.

Expert Commentaries

Overcoming Precarity and Ensuring Social Protection: What Role for SSE?

Every person is inherently a rights holder “regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status”, citizen or non-citizen. This is one of the main principles derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines the right to social security (Art 22) and an adequate standard of living (Art 25). […]

Organizing Civil Society and Promoting Universal Social Protection Systems: Perspectives from the Middle East and North Africa

Fragmented Social Protection Systems and Shrinking Civil Society Space The rationale for social protection policies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region varies greatly across countries. Countries such as Tunisia and Morocco have relatively a well-developed rights-based approach to social protection in national policies, while in Yemen and Lebanon, the provision of social […]

Strengthening Universality for Youth-Centred Development: The Pacific approach

The Pacific Youth Development Framework (PYDF) 2014–20231 uses human rights principles and social protection approaches to promote inclusive and targeted investment in key youth populations to improve universal access to basic services and opportunities for young people in the Pacific. The PYDF comprises four priority outcomes for youth across the development sectors in the areas […]

Legal Instruments

Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation and Decision Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters  was adopted on 25 June 1998 in the Danish city of Aarhus (Århus) at the Fourth Ministerial Conference as part of the “Environment for Europe” process. It entered into force on 30 October […]

Legal Cases

The Right to Decent Work and Freedom of Association in Peru

This is the first judgment delivered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that recognizes the direct enforceability of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR) under Article 26 of the American Convention on Human Rights. In this case, a labor leader successfully asserted a claim against Peru for violating his rights to work, to freedom […]


The causes of falling wage share: sectoral and firm level evidence from developed and developing countries – what have we learned?

The last four decades have been characterised by drastic changes in the distribution of income between wages and profits in both OECD countries and emerging economies. We have recently analysed the causes of the decline in the wage share in the developed and developing countries for a project titled The Causes of Falling Wage Share […]

The Aarhus Convention: an implementation guide

The Aarhus Convention, which is open for global accession, offers powerful twin protections for the environment and human rights. It provides an effective model for ensuring public input in defining and implementing green economy programmes, in choosing the most appropriate road maps to sustainability and for increasing transparency and Government accountability, thereby putting Principle 10 […]

Operating an Employer Reputation System: Lessons from Turkopticon, 2008-2015

In November 2005, Amazon launched Mechanical Turk (AMT), a website where “requesters” can post tasks, called “Human Intelligence Tasks” or “HITs”, for workers to complete for pay. Workers are required to agree that they are independent contractors, not employees, and that they are therefore not entitled to minimum wage or other employment benefits. Requesters post […]

Income Security in the On-Demand Economy: Findings and policy lessons from a survey of crowdworkers

This article assesses the validity of many of the assumptions made about work in the on-demand economy and analyses whether proposals advanced for improving workers’ income security are sufficient for remedying current shortcomings. It draws on findings from a survey of crowdworkers conducted in late 2015 on the Amazon Mechanical Turk and Crowdflower platforms on […]

Digital Labour and Development: impacts of global digital labour platforms and the gig economy on worker livelihoods

As ever more policy-makers, governments and organisations turn to the gig economy and digital labour as an economic development strategy to bring jobs to places that need them, it becomes important to understand better how this might influence the livelihoods of workers. Drawing on a multi-year study with digital workers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South-east […]

Organizing On-Demand: Representation, Voice, and Collective Bargaining in the Gig Economy

This paper examines challenges to freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining for workers in the gig economy, and explores the broad range of strategies that gig-economy workers are using to build collective agency, and to promote effective regulation of gig work.

World Inequality Report 2018

The World Inequality Report 2018 relies on a cutting-edge methodology to measure income and wealth inequality in a systematic and transparent manner. By developing this report, the World Inequality Lab seeks to fill a democratic gap and to equip various actors of society with the necessary facts to engage in informed public debates on inequality. Link to […]

Behavioural Insights in Poverty Reduction Policies

This Policy Research Brief presents some elements that should be carefully considered in the design of policies and programmes to overcome poverty, based on evidence from the field of behavioural economics. A growing number of international experiences point to the fact that, in many situations, government policies and programmes suffer from compromised results and wasted […]

Social Return on Investment: accounting for value in the context of implementing Health 2020 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Social return on investment (SROI) is a concept to account for social value when evaluating investments. It goes beyond traditional economic evaluation tools, by considering value produced for multiple stakeholders in all three dimensions of development: economic, social and environmental. This discussion paper reviews the main features of SROI (stakeholder engagement, the theory of change […]

The Rise of Homegrown Ideas and Grassroots Voices: new directions in social policy in Rwanda

At the core of Rwanda’s social policy renaissance is the emphasis on the home-grown and grassroots centred generation of intellectual and material resources, utilized with the aim of ensuring a local population familiar with and favourably disposed to government social policy. In the past decade and a half, Rwanda has gradually but consistently charted this […]

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