This platform began in 2013 as a collaboration between the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) and the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda to enhance awareness of, and develop the capacity to, implement a human rights-based approach to social protection.
The result of this collaboration was a web platform, Linking Social Protection and Human Rights, which was developed as part of the UNRISD website with the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The objective was to provide a space to convene leading thinkers around the complex challenges of implementing social protection from a rights perspective, as well as practical guidance for policy makers and practitioners.
The original website included an explanatory framework based on reports to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council, a key case-law depository where social protection issues have been discussed by regional and domestic courts and other forums, expert commentaries on common issues and easy access to external resources targeted toward policy makers, development practitioners and human rights advocates.
Once the platform was established, reactions from stakeholders confirmed the growing need for the type of interdisciplinary support provided by the platform, as well as more knowledge about the tools available to help operationalize a rights-based approach to social protection. This provided the basis for moving to its current independent web platform.
Following the early success of the platform, the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Social Protection Department became a partner in 2014 to help to strengthen the platform’s legal and operational content, assist in its dissemination, and meet the needs stated by stakeholders; including the implementation of the current standalone website. Subsequently, additional partners have joined the initiative: the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).
While the fields of social protection and human rights are being driven closer together thanks to increasing awareness of inequality and vulnerability, there are still gaps in designing and implementing effective programmes that provide comprehensive coverage. Although social protection is an internationally recognized right, implementing a rights-based approach to social protection involves a range of overlapping and interdependent rights, which means that assumptions about approaches in both the human rights and social protection fields need to be challenged.
The Social Protection and Human Rights platform was designed to provide policy makers and practitioners with the tools to challenge these assumptions and bridge the gaps: a clear explanation of fundamental principles and relevant instruments, examples of jurisprudence, and an inclusive space for engagement around experiences, best practices and innovative solutions. This is a unique combination of resources that won’t be found elsewhere.