Effective access to benefits


Human rights standards require that social protection systems are accessible, meaning that administrative and physical obstacles must not prevent the poorest and most marginalized people from benefiting.

When those living in poverty also face additional and overlapping obstacles due to age, disability, ethnicity, geographical location or other factors, they often experience further disproportionate disadvantages in accessing social protection programmes.


Photo credit: “Birmingham protest included young Thomas Bairstow, who attended with his mother Mary and his brother Aaron who has learning difficulties” by RNIB (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).


Expert Commentaries

ILO Recommendation 202 is Not a Legal Island: Explicit Links between R. 202, the ICESCR and the UDHR

ILO Recommendation 202 is not a legal island More than 18 months after the global community (184 national delegations consisting of governments, workers and employer representatives) unanimously accepted ILO Recommendation No. 202 on social protection floors in June 2012 it seems to be one of the most misunderstood documents in almost 100 years of global […]


Universality of Protection

States parties to major human rights instruments related to economic, social and cultural rights such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) have an immediate minimum core obligation to ensure the satisfaction of, at the very least, minimum essential levels of all economic, social and cultural rights such as the right […]

Ensure Meaningful and Effective Participation

Meaningful and effective participation of rights holders must be a key component of any social protection system. This is what builds trust and public support behind schemes and ensures that there is a sense of ownership. The participation of right holders is important during the social protection policy making processes but also as regards the […]

Legal Instruments

Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102)

A reference for the development of social security systems, Convention No. 102 is the flagship of the up-to-date social security Conventions since it is deemed to embody the internationally accepted definition of the very principle of social security.  Convention No. 102 is unique for both its conceptual formulation of social security, and the guidance it provides for […]

Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202)

Recommendation No. 202 is the first international instrument to offer guidance to countries to close social security gaps and progressively achieve universal protection through the establishment and maintenance of comprehensive social security systems. To this aim, the Recommendation calls for (1) the implementation, as a priority, of social protection floors (SPF) as a fundamental element […]

Maintenance of Social Security Rights Convention, 1982 (No. 157)

Convention No. 157 and its accompanying Recommendation No. 167 specifically address the issue of the maintenance of social security rights of migrant workers and complement Convention No. 118, focusing on equality of treatment and exportability. Unlike Convention No. 118 however, which allows State Parties to choose one or more out of the nine branches, Convention […]

Legal Cases

Measures to ensure equality of treatment of migrant workers in case of work-related accident in Thailand

In previous observations on the application of the Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention, No 19, the Committee of Experts had expressed deep concerns over the situation of more than 2 million migrants working in Thailand. In response to these concerns, the Thai Government argued that the Workmen’s Compensation Act B.E 2537 of 1994 (WCA) […]


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 […]

Promoting Inclusion through Social Protection: Report on the World Social Situation 2018

Universal social protection is a potent development policy tool that can alleviate poverty, inequality and social exclusion. In fact, few countries have been able to reduce poverty and improve living conditions on a broad scale without comprehensive social protection systems in place. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development underscores the importance of social protection for […]

Social Exclusion and Access to Social Protection Schemes

This study examines the causes of exclusion from social protection systems and is based on a review of relevant literature, interviews with researchers and practitioners in Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan, South Africa and Uganda.

Shaping the Future of Social Protection: Access, Financing and Solidarity

The proposals set forth in this document rest on the premise that public policy should be guided by the ownership of rights. These recommendations are therefore designed to build bridges between social rights and the policy guidelines needed to make them more enforceable through improved access, better financing and greater solidarity. To that end, an […]

Rationalizing Social Protection Expenditure in Ghana: consolidated report

This report has been prepared to support Ghana to rationalize its social protection expenditure. The report analyses expenditure in terms of its sustainability, robustness, efficiency and effectiveness in preventing or reducing poverty, social exclusion and ill health. It includes an analysis of the current structure of social expenditure and makes recommendations as to how the […]

Social Security for All: Building social protection floors and comprehensive social security systems. The strategy of the International Labour Organization

This document lays out the social security strategy of the International Labour Organization on the extension of social security. The ILO’s two-dimensional strategy provides clear guidance on the future development of social security in countries at all levels of development. Its horizontal dimension aims at establishing and maintaining social protection floors as a fundamental element […]

The Human Rights Approach to Social Protection

This report sets out to elaborate and promote a human rights framework for social protection, identifying best practices and disseminating lessons learned. It provides an in-depth analysis of the application of central human rights principles of the human rights framework – equality and non-discrimination (including accessibility, acceptability, affordability and the incorporation of the gender perspective), participation, transparency […]

Social Protection and Human Rights