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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Expert Commentaries

Beyond a Production- and Productivity-Centred View on Technological Progress

Technology is an important means of implementation for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, SDG Targets 17.6,1 17.72 and 17.83 highlight the importance of transferring and diffusing technology and skills from developed to developing countries. The research, development, deployment and widespread distribution of technology—and environmentally sustainable technologies in […]

Why Human Rights-Based Social Protection is Needed in Climate Change Responses: A Just Transition

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent report, Global Warming of 1.5°C, is a powerful reminder of the need for rapid climate action a transition towards low-carbon development to prevent catastrophic climate change. As each new assessment of climate change’s impacts and risks reveals more alarming information than the last, opposition to rigorous climate policies […]

Monitoring Water and Sanitation to Reduce Inequalities in Kenya

The 2015 adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Goal 61 in particular means that countries must deliberately devise inclusive and effective strategies to measure and evaluate progress on effective access to services such as safe drinking water and sanitation as part of actions to develop holistic […]

Inter-sectoral Coordination, Social Protection and Human Rights: A virtuous circle

Social protection has become an ever more important policy discussion in the social development agenda. Significant advances have been made in the social protection field in the Americas and normative and institutional frameworks have been established within the countries to further strengthen social protection policies. Nevertheless, challenges still remain in developing and consolidating integrated and […]

Mutual Reinforcement of the Human Right to Social Protection and the Human Right to Water and Sanitation

The rights to social protection and water and sanitation can and should be mutually reinforcing, particularly if the linkages are made explicit. Such linkages include both consideration of access to water and sanitation in the design of social protection systems, as well as explicit recognition of the human right to water and sanitation in legislation, […]

Challenging Assumptions: From child-focused to child-sensitive social protection

Few people would disagree that children need protection and support, and that they should receive priority in policy interventions, including social protection. These beliefs are underpinned by the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which has been ratified by 192 of 195 of the world’s countries. In the past decade, social protection […]

Adopting Comprehensive, Coherent and Coordinated Policies in Social Protection: A View from the Americas

In the context of the principles of social protection, through the Social Charter of the Americas,1 the countries of the region acknowledge they have “a responsibility to develop and implement comprehensive social protection policies and programs, based on the principles of universality, solidarity, equality, nondiscrimination, and equity that give priority to persons living in conditions […]

Legal Instruments

National Insurance and Social Security Act (No. 15)

This Act to establish a system of national insurance and social security providing pecuniary payments by way of old-age benefit, invalidity benefit, survivors’s benefit, sickness benefit, maternity benefit and funeral benefit, and to substitute for compensation under the Workmen’s Compensation Ordinance a system of insurance against injury or death caused by accident arising out of […]

Ley 22.431 De Protección Integral para los discapacitados.

Crea un sistema de protección integral de las personas discapacitadas, tendiente a asegurar a éstas su atención médica, su educación y su seguridad social, así como a concederles las franquicias y estímulos que permitan, en lo posible neutralizar la desventaja, que la discapacidad les provoca y les den oportunidad, mediante su esfuerzo, de desempeñar en […]

Legal Cases

Austerity measures that contravene Conventions by reducing social protection and increasing poverty in Greece

Recalling previous recommendations, the Committee observed that the austerity measures in conjunction with the continuous contractions of the economy, employment and public finances posed a threat to the viability of the Greek national social security system, resulting in the impoverishment of the population, thus undermining the application of all accepted parts of Social Security (Minimum […]

Reduction of pensions for condemned prisoners in Azerbaijan

The Court was requested to examine whether Article 109 para. 1 of the Law of Azerbaijan Republic On Pension Maintenance of Citizens, allowing an 80 per cent reduction of pensions for entitled persons who are incarcerated, was inconsistent with the right to social protection, contained in Article 38 of the Constitution of Azerbaijan. According to […]

Coherent Constitutions and the Right to Social Protection for Adopted Children in Taiwan

The Judicial Yuan, a body responsible for interpreting the Constitution, examined the constitutionality of provisions in the Statute for Labor Insurance preventing children adopted within less than six months of the death of their adoptive parents from collecting social insurance benefits as survivors. The Court held that despite the intentions of the provision to prevent […]

Combining constitutional and international standards for social protection resource mobilization in Latvia

Summary: In 2000, twenty Latvian parliamentarians complained to Latvia’s Constitutional Court that certain employers within Latvia were not paying social insurance premiums into a fund for their employees, and that this was a breach of the human right to social security as per Latvia’s constitution as well as Articles 9 and 11 of the International […]

Ensuring mechanisms that protect the right to life against the risk of famine in India

Summary: In 2001 the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties claimed that that recent starvation deaths that occurred in the Indian State of Rajasthan were the result of the State’s failure to release grain stocks in fact kept as a guard against famine, and that this denial amounted to a violation of the human right to […]


Universal social protection for human dignity, social justice and sustainable development: General Survey concerning the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

The ILO’s General Survey 2019 , compiled by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR). The Survey (published under the title Universal social protection for human dignity, social justice and sustainable development) focuses on the ILO’s Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202), which calls for basic income security and essential healthcare […]

International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy

Drug control intersects with much of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the UN Member State pledge to leave no one behind. In line with the 2030 Agenda, the UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021 and the HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016-2021: Connecting the Dots, the International Guidelines on Human Rights and Drug Policy provide […]

Mapping Just Transition(s) to a Low-Carbon World

Just Transition—the idea that justice and equity must form an integral part of the transition towards a low-carbon world—is increasingly being mobilized both to counter the idea that protecting the environment and protecting jobs are incompatible, and to broaden the debate to justice-related issues such as the kinds of jobs and societies we envision for […]

How to Implement Inclusive Social Protection Schemes

This is the third in a series of policy guides developed to support policymakers and practitioners in Asia and the Pacific in their efforts to strengthen social protection. This policy guide explains the  administrative processes, organizational policies and systems required to implement tax-financed social protection, focusing on schemes providing income support. For social protection schemes […]

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018: Building Climate Resilience for Food Security and Nutrition

Progress, although limited in magnitude and pace, has been made in reducing child stunting and increasing exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Nonetheless, while the prevalence of overweight in children under five years may not have changed significantly in recent years, adult obesity continues to rise and one in three women of […]

Drinking Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools: Global baseline report 2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are responsible for monitoring global progress towards water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) related Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. The global effort to achieve sanitation and water for all by 2030 is extending beyond the household to include institutional settings, such as schools, healthcare facilities […]

The role of zakat in the provision of social protection: a comparison between Jordan, Palestine and Sudan (One Pager 381)

Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam and considered a religious duty for wealthy people to support those in need. In Muslim-majority countries, zakat has a long tradition of providing income, goods for consumption and other basic services such as health care and education to poor and marginalised populations. A growing body of […]

Exploring new policy pathways: How to overcome obstacles and contradictions in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda

Building on the content of the previous reports, the Spotlight Report 2018 dives more deeply into the policies, resources and actions that will actually be necessary to implement the 2030 Agenda, based in part on proposals and ideas that have already been discussed or attempted in different parts of the world. It highlights policies and […]

Labor Institutions and Development Under Globalization

Labor market regulation is a controversial area of public policy in both developed and developing countries. Mainstream economic analysis traditionally portrays legal interventions providing for minimum wages, unemployment insurance and (often only a modicum of) employment protection as ‘luxuries’ developing countries cannot afford. After decades of de-regulatory advice, international financial institutions have recently come to […]

Building an adequate U.S. labor and social protection system for the 21st century (ESS ─ Working Paper No. 60)

This paper reviews the erosion of labor and social protections for U.S. workers and households over recent decades. It discusses the causes and the relative weight of different elements of the erosion in order to bring clarity to the discussion of needed reforms. It proposes a framework of policy objectives and principles to guide choices […]

Social Protection and Human Rights