Social security standards of the International Labour Organization

The ILO has developed a substantial body of international legal standards to give effect to the right to social security. Subsequently, over 50 conventions and recommendations have been adopted jointly by governments, employers and workers within the ILO. These social security standards have often been used by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) to substantiate the right to social security, specifically referring to the Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102).

The adoption of the Minimum Standards Convention is considered a milestone in the history development of social security systems. It is unique for both its conceptualization of social security, and the relevant guidance it provides for establishing comprehensive social security systems. According to the convention, social security systems should provide the following benefits: medical care, sickness, old age, unemployment, employment injury, family and child support, maternity, disability and protection for survivors.

In 2012, the ILO adopted the Social Protection Floors Recommendation (no. 202) to assist governments in providing social protection for the 72% of people worldwide without access to comprehensive coverage. The recommendation calls on member States to establish and maintain comprehensive social security systems through two-fold strategy: States should first achieve universal coverage by guaranteeing social protection floors (comprised of at least basic levels of income security and access to essential health care); and continue to ensure higher levels of protection, guided by ILO social security standards.

Last updated: 13/7/2015