Eligibility criteria and entitlement conditions (including conditionalities)

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In accordance with human rights standards, complying with the principle of non-discrimination means  that all eligibility criteria must be objective, reasonable, and transparent. Targeted social protection must be implemented with the intention of progressively providing universal coverage.

Under international human rights law, States have an obligation to immediately meet minimum essential levels of the rights of food, health, housing, education and social security. The enjoyment of these rights, by all individuals, is not conditional on the performance of certain actions or the meeting of requirements. Rather, these are inherent rights which are essential to the realization of human dignity.


 Photo credit: “MORNG HONG LY” by Exceed Worldwide (CCBY 2.0 via Flickr).

Expert Commentaries

Securing a Dignified Old Age for All

Access to adequate social protection in old age remains a luxury [...]

Protecting the Right of Access to Social Security Benefits

States must ensure the right to social security for all without discrimination of any kind. Article 2(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Article 26 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child oblige States Parties to take effective measures, within their maximum available resources, to fully realize […]

Do Targeting Techniques Tend to be Incompatible with the Human Rights Standards of Transparency and Access to Information?

Targeting Techniques and Human Rights Standards of Transparency and Access to Information Poverty targeting presents many problems in terms of accuracy and reliability, but common methods for identifying the poor are also problematic in terms of human rights standards of transparency and access to information. Let us look from this perspective at each of the […]

Biometrics Use for Social Protection Programmes in India Risk Violating Human Rights of the Poor

Usha Ramanathan, Independent law researcher on poverty and rights


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 […]

Legal Instruments

Social Security Act 1991

This act was established to regulate the payment of certain pensions, benefits and allowances, and for related purposes. The Social Security Act (SSA) replaces the Social Security Act 1947. Link to act

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 […]

Legal Cases

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 […]


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 […]

Welfare Conditionality: Sanctions, Support and Behaviour Change

This overview summarises the final findings of the Welfare Conditionality project (2013-2018). It presents analysis on the effectiveness, impacts and ethics of welfare conditionality, and the sanctions and mandatory support that underpin this approach. Discussion draws on analyses of qualitative data generated in interviews with 52 policy stakeholders, 27 focus groups conducted with practitioners, and […]

Pro-poor or anti-poor? The World Bank and IMF’s approach to social protection

In recent years, the World Bank and IMF have played an influential role in shaping national social protection policies. Social protection comprises a significant share of World Bank loans, reaching almost 10 per cent of lending to low-income countries in 2017, while around 10 per cent of IMF loans include conditionality linked to social protection. […]

From Protection to Production (PtoP)

The From Protection to Production (PtoP) project is a multi-country impact evaluation of cash transfers in sub-Saharan Africa. The project is a collaborative effort between the FAO, the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office and the governments of Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. PtoP activities are mainly funded by the Regular Fund, the […]

IMF Conditionality and Development Policy Space, 1985-2014

In recent years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has re-emerged as a central actor in global economic governance. Its rhetoric and policies suggest that the organization has radically changed the ways in which it offers financial assistance to countries in economic trouble. We revisit two long-standing controversies: Has the policy content of IMF programmes evolved […]

Conditional Cash Transfer Programmes in Latin America and the Caribbean: Coverage and investment trends

This document analyses the evolution of the population coverage and investment of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes, which are poverty reduction initiatives, in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean over the past 20 years. The analysis is based on up-to-date, detailed information from the database on non-contributory social protection programmes in Latin America […]

Gender and Cash Transfers: A human rights-based approach

This Issue Brief explores some key gender dimensions of conditional cash transfers through the lens of the human rights-based approach to social protection. In many cash transfer programmes around the world, women are the principal beneficiaries on the assumption that this not only improves the nutrition, health and education of children, but can also enhance […]

Evaluation of the Uganda Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment Programme (One Pager 354)

This brief evaluates Uganda’s Expanding Social Protection programme.

Exclusion by Design: an assessment of the effectiveness of the proxy means test poverty targeting mechanism (ESS Working Paper No. 56)

This paper assesses the effectiveness of the proxy means test (PMT) targeting methodology. It brings together international evidence to show that it is both inaccurate and arbitrary. The mechanism suffers from high in-built design errors, additional errors introduced during implementation, and infrequent surveys, meaning that it cannot respond to the dynamic nature of household incomes. […]

Cash transfers: what does the evidence say? A rigorous review of programme impact and of the role of design and implementation features

Cash transfers have been increasingly adopted by countries worldwide as central elements of their social protection and poverty reduction strategies. A growing number of studies provide rigorous evidence on the impact of cash transfers, and the role of specific cash transfer design and implementation features in shaping outcomes. This rigorous review of the impact of […]

Social Protection and Human Rights