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