Other disadvantaged or vulnerable groups


While all persons should be progressively covered by social protection systems, under human rights law, priority should be accorded to ensure the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups are protected by social security guarantees. As noted by the CESCR in General Comment 19,  “all persons should be covered by the social security system, especially individuals belonging to the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups, without discrimination”.

In the same vein, the national social protection floor is described as a system to guarantee income security and access to basic services throughout the life cycle  with particular attention to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged. ILO Recommendation No. 202 calls on States to ensure that national social security strategies “support for disadvantaged groups and people with special needs” (para. 16).

Human rights monitoring bodies often call for the extension of social security guarantees to vulnerable and disadvantaged groups such as orphans and street children, victims of trafficking, minorities and internally displaced persons.1


Photo credit: “Faces of Nepal” by www.j-pics.info (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).


Expert Commentaries

Judicial Protection of the Right to Social Security

The right to social security is enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as well as other international treaties, and has been upheld by numerous judicial bodies at the national, regional and international levels, both explicitly or implicitly through other rights including civil and political ones, and/or other constitutional and […]


Inclusion of Vulnerable Groups

As a human right that is intrinsic to all, the international community recognizes the need to design and implement social protection systems according to the principle of social inclusion, underlying the particular need to include persons in the informal economy (Recommendation No. 202, para 3e). Delivery systems should therefore be particularly attuned to the challenges […]

Legal Instruments

Decreto 839 – Ley de Protección Integral de la Niñez y Adolescencia

Este Decreto establece la protección de la niñez y adolescencia. Es el deber del Estado, como a los padres y madres, adoptar todas las medidas necesarias para proteger a la familia (art. 7). En principio de corresponsabilidad, la garantía de los derechos de las niñas, niños y adolescentes corresponde a la familia, al Estado y […]

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

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in India

 Summary:  In January 2012, up to 53 women underwent a sterilization procedure in Bihar, India, at a sterilization camp managed by an NGO which had been granted accreditation by the District Health Society, apparently without following any formal, transparent process. The women had not been given any counseling regarding the potential dangers and outcomes of […]


Implementing Comprehensive HIV and STI Programmes with Transgender People: practical guidance for collaborative interventions 

This tool describes how services can be designed and implemented to be acceptable and accessible to transgender women. To accomplish this, respectful and ongoing engagement with them is essential. This tool gives particular attention to programmes run by transgender people themselves, in contexts where this is possible. It is itself the product of collaboration among […]

Employment Failing Young People? Addressing the Supply-Side Bias and Individualization in Youth Employment Programming

International development actors increasingly focus on youth employment as a key development challenge. The recognition of high rates of unemployment, underemployment and job insecurity among young people around the world has led to a plethora of youth employment interventions, as well as often problematic discourses about youth “dividends and “bulges”, which instrumentalize young people and […]

Social Protection for LGBT People: Challenges and good practices

How does social protection address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people? How can a rights-based approach be used to ensure that their needs are fully taken into account? In this video, Andrés Scagliola from the Social Development Department of the City of Montevideo discusses challenges and successes in mobilizing human rights instruments […]

Policy Perspective: Linking Social Protection and Human Rights

How can governments fulfil their obligation to provide social protection and respect the rights of all? Andrés Scagliola from the Government of the City of Montevideo, Uruguay, describes his experience developing and implementing policy that safeguards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people’s right to social protection.

Tackling Social Exclusion

It is argued that social protection can reduce the extent to which marginalized people and groups are socially excluded. This paper investigates this thesis by considering what causes marginalization in the first place and what is needed to change the dynamics of exclusion. Using examples from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal, the paper assesses the […]

Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights

These Principles are the first global policy guidelines focused specifically on the human rights of people living in poverty. They are intended for use by governments to ensure that public policies, including poverty eradication efforts, reach the poorest members of society, respect and uphold their rights, and take into account the significant social, cultural, economic and […]