New ESCWA report: Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries

February 21, 2018

New ESCWA report: Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries

The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), recently released a new report, Strengthening Social Protection for Persons with Disabilities in Arab Countries. According to the most recent data collected by ESCWA, the disability prevalence rate in the Arab region is around 2.9 percent. This number is expected to steadily rise due to the ageing of the regional population and the fact that older persons are more likely to experience disability, as well as several recent and ongoing armed conflicts in the region. As with other regions, persons with disabilities (PWDs) in Arab countries are disproportionately poor and vulnerable. It is therefore critical that they have access to adequate social protection, which as ESCWA’s report shows is too frequently not the case.

The employment rate among persons – and especially women – with disabilities in the Arab region is very low, typically resulting in their exclusion from contributory social and health insurance (which is contingent on formal employment). In addition, the data indicate that even when PWDs work, they are more likely than others to do so informally.

Non-contributory forms of social protection – including social assistance and non-contributory health insurance –are increasingly distributed in Arab countries through poverty targeting, often by proxy means testing. While this has the potential to ensure that resources are more effectively channelled to the poor and vulnerable, the specific costs faced by PWDs, for example, special means of transport, are frequently overlooked by the targeting formulas. Thus, their real poverty level risks are underestimated, resulting in their exclusion from non-contributory social protection programmes. The extent to which this has been taken into account appears to vary between countries.

Furthermore, within both contributory and non-contributory social protection schemes in the region, benefits specifically related to disability are commonly contingent upon inability to work. This could reinforce the notion that having a disability is incompatible with participating in the labour market, so PWDs may have to choose between receiving the support they need and employment. At the same time, even when social protection is available to PWDs, it is often inadequate. Cash benefits are usually too low to compensate for disability-related costs. Additionally, the quality of health care is generally low in the region, and the particular forms of care needed by persons with disabilities are not provided.

The report stresses that social protection for PWDs must be an integrated part of sustainable development, which is based on the principle of leaving no one behind. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Targets are all interdependent, meaning that advancing PWDs’ enjoyment of the right to social protection is contingent on achieving other Goals. For example, in practice, they may be able to reach health care facilities only if public infrastructure and transport are made accessible. The report also highlights the ways in which harnessing the abilities and ensuring the participation of PWDs can benefit all, and is crucial to the realization of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Down the report on ESCWA’s website.

An Arabic version will be made available shortly.



Photo by Emre Gencer via Unsplash.

UN Women Releases 2018 Flagship Report

February 15, 2018

UN Women Releases 2018 Flagship Report

On 14 February, 2018, UN Women launched their 2018 Flagship Report, Turning Promises into Action: gender equality in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York. 

The adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs in 2015 signalled a renewed commitment by governments to ensure universal human rights for all, including the rights to social protection and gender equality. While there has been some progress towards reaching the SDGs, as this new report points out, this progress has been largely uneven. UN Women Director notes in the forward that the report “uncovers yawning gaps between women and girls who, even within the same country, are living worlds apart. For example, in Nigeria, women and girls from the poorest households are nearly five times as likely to be married before the age of 18 as those from the richest households”. Similarly, black and Native American women in the United States are twice as likely to live in poverty as white women.

This report calls for adding gender-specific and gender-transformative targets to each of the SDGs, and improving statistics and analysis to ensure that no woman or girl is left behind as we transform our world.

Read the press release and download the report.


Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on Unsplash.

Sign up for ILO’s short course on social protection for migrants and refugees

February 7, 2018

Sign up for ILO’s short course on social protection for migrants and refugees

The ILO is hosting a week-long course on extending human rights-based social protection for migrants, refugees and their families.





From the course page:

Although the 150 million migrant workers, out of the 244 million international migrants worldwide, contribute fully to the economies of their host and home countries, migrant workers are among the most excluded from even basic coverage by social protection instruments and schemes, in particular undocumented migrant workers. They risk losing entitlements to social security benefits in their country of origin due to their absence and, at the same time, may encounter restrictive conditions under the social security system of the host country.

This course will focus on the different unilateral and bilateral measures which exist to extend social protection to migrant workers as well as refugees and their families, both in their countries of destination and origin.

The course will take place at the ILO’s International Training Centre (ITC) in Turin, Italy, from 19-23 March. Learn more and sign up on the ILO-ITC’s course page.

The deadline to enrol is 19 February.



Photo credit: Camila Damásio via Unsplash.


The Special Issue of International Social Security Review is Now Open Access (Temporarily)!

January 23, 2018

The Special Issue of International Social Security Review is Now Open Access (Temporarily)!

The International Social Security Association (ISSA) recently published a special issue of its journal, the International Social Security Review.

The Review, which was “first published in 1948… is the principal international quarterly publication in the field of social security. Articles by leading social security experts present international comparisons and in-depth discussions of topical questions and studies of social security systems in different countries”.

The current special issue, The Human Right to Social Security, came out of UNRISD’s special session at the 5th Regulating for Decent Work Conference, which was hosted by ILO in July 2017.

This special edition is temporarily open access and features the following articles:

  1. Introduction: Reflecting on the human right to social security by Katja Hujo, Christina Behrendt and Roddy McKinnon
  2. Ensuring inclusion and combatting discrimination in social protection programmes: The role of human rights standards by Magdalena Sepúlveda
  3. Social protection and persons with disabilities by Catalina Devandas
  4. Approaches to social protection for informal workers: Aligning productivist and human rights-based approaches by Laura Alfers, Francie Lund and Rachel Moussié
  5. The rights-based approach to care policies: Latin American experience by Valeria Esquivel
  6. The politics of rights-based, transformative social policy in South and Southeast Asia by Gabriele Koehler

Access the special issue now while it’s available!



Photo credit: Nathan Anderson (via Unsplash).


UNRISD to Participate in the University of Bergen Conference

January 16, 2018

UNRISD to Participate in the University of Bergen Conference

The University of Bergen in Norway is hosting an SDG Conference on 8 and 9 February.

The event’s aim is to “engage Norway’s research and higher education communities, politicians, government officials, NGOs, and the business sector in a collective effort to take responsibility for the implementation of the SDGs”. Participants will discuss the role of universities in performing research that can lead to implementation of the SDGs, as well as how higher education can help contribute to sustainable development overall.

Panels will include representatives from governments, international organizations and academia. Experts will discuss:

  • The social, economic and ecological dimensions of development and their relevance for the SDGs
  • Universities and the role of knowledge in shaping and implementing the SDGs
  • Transformation from within: creating SDG-reformed universities
  • The way forward for the SDGs: How can universities make a difference?
  • Knowledge and politics: the science-policy interface

Katja Hujo, UNRISD Senior Research Coordinator, will present on the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to sustainable development, the importance of evidence-based research in developing sustainable social policies and present UNRISD’s 2016 Flagship Report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg will be delivering the event’s keynote address.

Stakeholders wishing to participate in the conference can do so on the event webpage before 22 January. For further information, contact the Conference Secretariat.

Follow conference developments on Twitter using #SDGbergen.



Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash.


ECLAC to Launch Social Panorama of Latin America 2017 

December 20, 2017

ECLAC to Launch Social Panorama of Latin America 2017 

Today, 20 December, ECLAC will launch the Social Panorama of Latin America 2017. This new report examines the evolution of regional poverty, analysing pension systems in the region and the social challenges arising as a result of the current demographic transition.

The launch will take place at 9.00AM in Mexico City GMT-6 (4.00PM CET) and will be live-streamed on ECLAC’s website.

Visit the report page to learn more and access the report in English and Spanish.


Photo by Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash.


IDS Short Course on Social Protection

December 1, 2017

IDS Short Course on Social Protection

The Centre for Social Protection (CSP) at the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) is offering a fifth round of its short course Social Protection: policies, programmes and evidence. It will take place at IDS in Brighton from 25-28 June 2018. This 4-day course is open aimed at those with an interest in social protection, current practitioners or those who plan to enter the field. It will focus on getting participants up to speed with current knowledge, evidence and practice of social protection and on stimulating critical thinking and debate about current policy and practice.

More information about the course can be found on the IDS website. The deadline for applications is 2 March 2018.


Photo via Thought Catalog on Unsplash

UNAIDS is Hosting a Discussion on HIV-Sensitive Social Protection

November 28, 2017

UNAIDS is Hosting a Discussion on HIV-Sensitive Social Protection

UNAIDS, ILO, The Global Fund and UNRISD will host a panel discussion, Right to Health: Right to HIV-Sensitive Social Protection, on 1 December.

This World AIDS Day event will assess the current status of HIV/AIDS-related social protection, as well as challenges and opportunities in extending coverage as part of efforts to reach Sustainable Development Goal 3, “[ensuring] healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. Experts at this event will build on the findings of the ILO’s World Social Protection Report 2017-19, specifically addressing social protection’s role in the AIDS response.

UNAIDS’ 2016-2021 Strategy and the Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2016, pay particular attention to the importance of human rights-based social protection in reaching SDG 3, and in particular Target 3.3,  “[ending] the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases”.

This event aims to contribute to better knowledge and understanding around HIV-sensitive social protection, strengthen collaboration between stakeholders, and discuss ways to ensure that people and communities living with and affected by HIV are not left behind in the sustainable development agenda.


  • Vama Jele, Executive Director, Swaziland Mineworkers Association
  • David Chipanta, Senior Advisor, UNAIDS
  • Valerie Schmidt, Deputy Director, SOCPRO, ILO

Opening Remarks

  • Luis Lourez, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS
  • Deborah Greenfield, Deputy Director General, ILO


Paul Ladd, Director UNRISD

The event will take place from 15.00-16.30 in Salle V at the ILO (Route des Morillons 4, Geneva, Switzerland).




Photo credit: “Stop HIV/AIDS” by Ikhlasul Amal (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).



Launch of the ILO’s World Social Protection Report 2017-19

November 27, 2017

Launch of the ILO’s World Social Protection Report 2017-19

On 29 November, the International Labour Organization (ILO) will launch the World Social Protection Report 2017-19: Universal social protection to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, which examines the global state of social protection. In addition to providing regional and global indicators, the report also covers specific topics, including those related to access for children, women and men of working age, older men and women, and universal health coverage.

Visit the report page for the full report and the accompanying infographics, figures by chapter and data.

The executive summary is also available in ArabicChineseEnglish, French, Portuguese, RussianSpanish and German.


Photo credit: frank mckenna (via Unsplash)


UNRISD is Hosting the Geneva Launch of Civil Society Reflection Group Report

October 20, 2017

UNRISD is Hosting the Geneva Launch of Civil Society Reflection Group Report

On 23 October, UNRISD and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Geneva will host the Geneva launch of the 2017 Spotlight on Sustainable Development: reclaiming policies for the public.

The report was written by the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which performs the crucial role of independent assessment of progress on the Agenda.

This year’s edition of the Spotlight looks at the impact of privatization, partnerships and corporations on sustainable development, concluding that government reliance on public-private partnerships (PPPs) is problematic, instead recommending greater emphasis on public policy, strengthening public finance and strong regulation of PPPs.

The event will feature experts from members of the Reflection Group, as well moderation by UNRISD.

Visit the event page to learn more and to register.


Photo credit: “2015 VWA Barbados 072” by Pan American Health Organization (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).


ECLAC Hosts Second Regional Conference

October 12, 2017

ECLAC Hosts Second Regional Conference

From 25-27 October, ECLAC, along with UNDP and Uruguay’s Ministry of Social Affairs, will host the Second Meeting of the Regional Conference on Social Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. The meeting will take place in Montevideo, Uruguay.

The Conference, which will be attended by government officials from throughout the region, as well as representatives from international and civil society organizations, will provide a space to discuss how to strengthen policies and institutions for social development in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.

Several panel discussions will take place. Topics will include:

  • Social policies with a rights-based approach throughout the life cycle
  • The double challenge of social and economic inclusion
  • The road map for developing public policies on social and economic inclusion
  • Social achievements and sustainability

ECLAC will also be launching a new report, Linkages Between the Social and Production Spheres: gaps, pillars and challenges. This report reviews progress and challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean in overcoming poverty and reducing inequality.



UNAIDS and OHCHR Co-Hosted the Human Rights Council Social Forum

October 5, 2017

UNAIDS and OHCHR Co-Hosted the Human Rights Council Social Forum

The 2017 session of the Human Rights Council Social Forum took place in Geneva from 2 – 4 October. The event, co-hosted by UNAIDS and OHCHR, and co-chaired by the Governments of Brazil and Belarus, focused on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of HIV and other communicable diseases and epidemics (agreed upon in Human Rights Council resolution 32/27).

UNAIDS’ mission of helping people enjoy the right to social protection across their life cycle, independent of the HIV benefits of social protection, is essential to attaining the goal of ending AIDS. In this context, the Social Forum provides a space for open and constructive dialogue between member States, civil society, intergovernmental organizations and other stakeholders on issues linked to promoting a national and international environment for the enjoyment of all human rights by all.

Over the course of the three day event, experts discussed topics including:

  • implementing health-related SDGs using a human rights-based approach;
  • discrimination and the realization of the right to health;
  • civil society’s role in the context of epidemics;
  • community-led health programmes;
  • health care workers on the frontline;
  • engaging diverse partners;
  • international cooperation for global responses and national implementation; and
  • access to medicines, diagnosis, vaccines and treatment in the context of the right to health.

The Forum was opened by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, along with the co-chairs and the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Maza Martelli of the Permanent Mission of El Salvador. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé and Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Director-General of the World Health Organization, were among the high-level UN representatives who gave keynote speeches.

On the final day of the Forum, a session was devoted to identifying ways forward in promoting and protecting human rights in the context of HIV, malaria, Zika, Ebola, hepatitis, tuberculosis and other communicable diseases, and formulating recommendations (which will subsequently be included in a report to be submitted to the Human Rights Council).

Overall, the event included over 40 speakers from around the world; including heads of international organizations, experts, activists, affected populations, members of academia, lawyers, government representatives, private sector leaders and other stakeholders.

The event also provided an opportunity for UNAIDS to launch a new report, Confronting Discrimination: overcoming HIV-related stigma and discrimination in health-care settings and beyond. This report compiles evidence and highlights best practices on confronting stigma and discrimination to ensure access to health services.

All sessions were broadcast and are now available to view in the WebTV archive. A Facebook Live video with Christine Stegling from the International HIV/AIDS Alliance and Kene Esom, from the AMSHeR Board is also accessible here.

Read more about UNAIDS’ work in championing health and human rights in their Feature Stories series.


Photo credit: UNAIDS.


FAO and UNICEF Host International Conference on Social Protection, Fragility and Forced Displacement

September 30, 2017

FAO and UNICEF Host International Conference on Social Protection, Fragility and Forced Displacement

FAO, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and other development organizations and governments hosted a conference on 28 and 29 September in Brussels, Belgium. The event, the International Conference on Social Protection, Fragility and Forced Displacement, was attended representatives from international organizations, governments and bilateral institutions.

Conference participants discussed the role social protection plays in contexts of extreme fragility and forced displacement; particularly in improving the living conditions, livelihoods and social inclusion of affected populations including children, rural populations, refugees and people who are internally displaced. The conference also highlighted the opportunity for humanitarian responses to help create or expand existing social protection systems.

The role of social protection in saving lives and livelihoods was discussed throughout the conference, as well as the need for a comprehensive approach which ensures effective between with social services and livelihood promotion. Participants also discussed the challenges of ensuring adequate support for displaced and host communities.

Conference attendees affirmed their commitment to the sustainable development agenda’s goals of “leaving no one behind” and “working towards bridging the gap between humanitarian aid and development programming” through social protection.

All sessions are available on’s YouTube channel.  A press release is available here. Follow #SPConf17 for future updates.


Photo credit: “2017_06_12_Doolow-6” by UNSOM Somalia (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).


UNRISD and the University of Geneva are Hosting a Side Event at the Human Rights Council

September 11, 2017

UNRISD and the University of Geneva are Hosting a Side Event at the Human Rights Council

UNRISD and the University of Geneva will host an official side event at the 36th session of the Human Rights Council on 20 September. The event, Overcoming Refugee and Migrant Precarity: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy?, will explore the role of SSE in:

  • promoting the human rights of migrant and refugee populations
  • fostering the social inclusion and sustainable livelihoods of migrant and refugee populations
  • supporting the developmental and human rights-related aspects of the Global Compact for Migration

Speakers include experts from international organizations, governments and civil society.

This side event is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Greece to the United Nations Office at Geneva.

The event also serves to introduce Social and Solidarity Economy, Urban Communities and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups, a new UNRISD project in collaboration with the University of Geneva (funded by Swiss Network for International Studies), and to network with stakeholders who wish to be kept abreast of this research.

For more information event page on the UNRISD website.


Photo credit: Max Pixel.


ILO Launches Commission on the Future of Work

September 6, 2017

ILO Launches Commission on the Future of Work

On 21 August, the ILO launched the Global Commission on the Future of Work, the second phase of its Future of Work Initiative.

The Commission has been tasked with producing an independent report examining how to ensure decent and sustainable work for all as the context of work changes due to globalization, advances in technology, climate change and changes in demography.

The Commission’s  research will focus on four key areas:



  • Work and society
  • Decent jobs for all
  • The organization of work and production
  • The governance of work

Learn more about the Global Commission on the Future of Work (French, Spanish).

Watch the trailer.



Photo credit: “Modern Workshop” by Maresa Smith (via Death to the Stock Photo).


UNRISD and are Hosting a Webinar on Universal Health Care

July 24, 2017

UNRISD and are Hosting a Webinar on Universal Health Care

On Thursday, 27 July, UNRISD and will host a webinar on expanding and universalizing health care systems in the Global South.

In recent decades, the rise of neoliberalism has led to the erosion of once-commonplace universal health care systems in favour of privatized health care in many developing countries.

However, not all developing countries followed the trend of privatization. This webinar, based on UNRISD’s recent book, Towards Universal Health Care in Emerging Economies: Opportunities and Challenges, will examine the outcomes in emerging economies that have pursued the expansion of universal health care. The cases of Brazil, China, Thailand, Russia, South Africa, India, Indonesia and Venezuela will be discussed.

Visit the event page to learn more and register.


The High-Level Political Forum Took Place from 10-19 July

July 21, 2017

The High-Level Political Forum Took Place from 10-19 July

The United Nations High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) took place from 10-19 July in New York.

The Forum, convened annually by ECOSOC, conducted an in-depth review of six of the Sustainable Development Goals under the theme Eradicating poverty and promoting prosperity in a changing world. The Goals reviewed for this year’s HLPF were:

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation and
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

During the Forum, international organizations and civil society organizations held side events. Among the side events were:

Accelerating Sustainable Development: Regional Assistance for Translating the SDGs into National Action, hosted by the Regional Commissions (ESCAP, ECLAC, ECE, ECA and ESCWA); Science – Technology – Innovation: Closing the Gender Gap to Meet the SDGs, hosted by WIPO, UNESCO and UN Women; the ILO event Global Partnership on Universal Social Protection: Ending Poverty by 2030; and Bringing Children to the Table: Children’s Contribution to the Implementation of the SDGs, hosted by Permanent Mission of Chile, Save the Children, World Vision, Plan International, SOS Children’s Villages and Child Fund.

UNRISD is Hosting an Event at the 2017 Regulating for Decent Work Conference

June 30, 2017

UNRISD is Hosting an Event at the 2017 Regulating for Decent Work Conference

On 5 July, UNRISD will host Linking Social Protection and Human Rights, a special session of the ILO’s Regulating for Decent Work (RDW) Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Experts from civil society, academia and international organizations will present on the linkages between social protection, decent work and human rights, drawing on concrete examples from different regional contexts.

Presentations topics will include:

  • social protection for persons with disabilities;
  • issues related to the future of work;
  • care, gender equality and the rights of women and girls in social protection systems; and
  • migrants’ labour and human rights.

Visit the event page to learn more and register to attend on the Conference website.

About the Conference

The Fifth RDW Conference, taking place from 3-5 July, is organized by the ILO in collaboration with the Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies, University of Amsterdam. Over the course of three days, experts will discuss the implications of rapid technological change for decent work in.

For the Conference agenda and further information, visit the RDW website.




Photo credit: “Man in Green Polo Shirt Driving a Motorcycle during Daytime” by Sven Scheuermeier (via Pexels).


The University of Amsterdam is Hosting a Workshop on Social Protection & Inclusive Growth

June 23, 2017

The University of Amsterdam is Hosting a Workshop on Social Protection & Inclusive Growth

On Friday 30 June,  the University of Amsterdam, the International Centre for Sustainable Development of the  Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg are hosting a workshop, Social Protection for Inclusive Growth in Africa?

Workshop Objectives:

The purpose and scope of this workshop is to present findings from a two-years study on the impacts of social protection in Ghana and Kenya and to exchange knowledge and ideas with policy experts on the translation of these findings into policy and practice. In particular, the study findings will discuss the medium-term and interaction effects of different social protection instruments and consider policy alternatives in light of the political economic context in each country.

It is envisioned that through this joint discussion and reflection by social protection policy and research experts, the study recommendations can be strengthened before international publication.

The workshop is open to researchers, students, and professionals engaged in policy and advocacy around social protection in developing countries.

Time: 9.00am-12.30pm

Venue: University of Amsterdam, Roeterseiland Campus, Room: C3.05

09.00-09.30: Welcome, coffee & registration
09.30-09.45: Opening by Frank van Kesteren (Include/The Broker
09.45-10.30: Presentation 1: Social Protection and Inclusive Growth in Kenya and Ghana – Dr Nicky Pouw (UvA)
10.30-10.45: Roundtable discussion
10.45-11.00: Coffee/tea break
11.00-11.45: Presentation 2: Insights into the political economy of social protection reforms – Prof Katja Bender (Hochschule Bonn Rhein-Sieg)
11.45-12.15: Roundtable discussion
12.15-12.30: Closing remarks

Participation: free (lunch will be provided)
Click here to register.


Photo credit: “Beans in Burundi: Fighting Malnutrition” by CIAT (CCBY 2.0 via Fickr).


The ILO Hosts the 106th Session of the International Labour Conference

June 16, 2017

The ILO Hosts the 106th Session of the International Labour Conference

The 106th International Labour Conference took place from 5-16 June 2017. This year’s conference focused on three major items, which all include important references to social protection:

  1. A standard-setting discussion on a potential Recommendation concerning employment and decent work for peace and resilience, which would revise the Employment (Transition from War to Peace) Recommendation, 1944 (No. 71).
  2. A discussion of labour migration, focusing in particular on current trends and the importance of addressing governance challenges in a changing labour migration landscape
  3. A discussion on fundamental principles and rights at work

Visit the Conference page to learn more.


Photo credit: ILO.


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