Ensuring Inclusion and Combatting Discrimination in Social Protection Programmes: The role of human rights standards  

Author: Magdalena Sepúlveda
Year: 2017

Recent years have witnessed the significant expansion of social protection programmes around the world. Yet, a vast number of poor and vulnerable people, including children, women, ethnic minorities, and persons with disabilities, remain uncovered, especially in lower-income countries. This article argues that a better understanding of the principle of equality and non-discrimination, as defined under international human rights law, can guide practitioners and policy-makers to design and implement more inclusive social protection systems. Compliance with this principle is also necessary under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the International Labour Organization’s social security standards. The article first analyses the scope and content of the legal principle of equality and non-discrimination, giving attention to the standards commonly used to assess compliance with it. It then applies these standards as analytical tools to assess how and when discrimination may occur in the implementation of non-contributory social protection programmes. Finally, it explores the challenges that social protection practitioners face when applying the principle of equality and non-discrimination in social protection programmes.

Related Principles

Equality and Non-discrimination

Non-discrimination and equality are core elements of the international human rights normative framework. Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that every human being is entitled to all rights and freedoms “without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, […]

Social Protection and Human Rights