Comprehensive, Coherent and Coordinated Policies
The interdependence, indivisibility and mutually reinforcing nature of human rights necessitates a holistic approach to social protection. As such, under international human rights law, social protection programmes should be one element within a broader strategy aimed at overcoming poverty and realizing all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights such as the rights to education, adequate food and housing. Indeed, ILO Recommendation No. 202 (para 3(l)) recognizes the need for policy coherence to increase the government’s ability to achieve desired development goals with limited resources and to ensure that social and economic policies reinforce each other. In other words, the State should ensure coordination and complementarity with other social, economic, development and employment policies.
Fragmented social protection programmes and lack of sufficient coordination and cooperation between actors increase the likelihood that the rights of people living in poverty will be infringed. This is in part due to the weakening of the ability of rights holders to identify who is accountable for certain aspects of programme implementation. Incoherent policies can be a disincentive to action and a serious impediment to the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, especially of most vulnerable and/or least represented people. Additionally, ineffectively coordinated programmes can leave gaps in coverage, induce exclusion errors, or increase the risk that activities in one sector have unforeseen effects in another.
The responsibility to ensure programme and policy coordination remains with States even when programmes are funded by international assistance or private actors. Political commitments by the donor community to improve aid effectiveness were established with the Paris Declaration, the Accra Agenda for Action and the Busan Partnership Document. These reiterate the commitments of developing countries and donors to ensure that their respective development policies and programmes are designed and implemented in ways consistent with human rights principles and obligations. The State retains its status as primary duty bearer regardless of the source of funds, and it is further obliged to progressively reclaim its financial and administrative responsibilities from external actors when international assistance is relied upon. A rights-based perspective requires states to make an institutionalized commitment to progressively resource a comprehensive national social protection system (ILO Recommendation 202, para. 3(g)).
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