The social protection floor The social protection floor approach has been developed by the ILO, drawing on the recent experiences of extending protection, mostly in developing countries. It was endorsed by the United Nations Chief Executives Board and by the Heads of State and Government in the 2010 Millennium Development Summit as an integrated set of social policies designed to guarantee income security and access to essential social services for all, paying particular attention to vulnerable groups and protecting and empowering people across the life cycle. It includes guarantees of: basic income security, in the form of various social transfers (in cash or in kind), such as pensions for the elderly and persons with disabilities, child benefits, income support benefits and/or employment guarantees and services for the unemployed and working poor; universal access to essential affordable social services in the areas of health, water and sanitation, education, food security, housing, and others defined according to national priorities.
The 2011 International Labour Conference undertook an extensive discussion of social protection, and in the process of defining its view of the social protection floor concurred with a unified approach to income security and access to essential goods and services set out as follows: … social protection floors, containing basic social security guarantees that ensure that over the life cycle all in need can afford and have access to essential health care and have income security at least at a nationally defined minimum level. Social protection floor policies should aim at facilitating effective access to essential goods and services, promote productive economic activity and be implemented in close coordination with other policies enhancing employability, reducing informality and precariousness, creating decent jobs and promoting entrepreneurship. (ILO, 2011a, para. 9)
The extent of the global social challenge 1.4 billion people are still living on less than US$1.25 a day (World Bank, 2010a). 1.75 billion people experience multidimensional poverty with deprivations in heath, economic opportunities, education and living standards (UNDP, 2010a). 925 million suffer from chronic hunger (FAO, 2010). 2.6 billion people do not have access to improved sanitation and 884 million people do not have access to improved sources of drinking water (UN-HABITAT, 2010). 828 million people in developing countries live in slums with no or inadequate basic infrastructure such as all-weather roads, drains, piped water supplies and electricity or sewers (UN-HABITAT, 2010).
The extent of the global social challenge 828 million people in developing countries live in slums with no or inadequate basic infrastructure such as all-weather roads, drains, piped water supplies and electricity or sewers (UN-HABITAT, 2010). 796 million adults are illiterate (UNESCO, 2011). 8.8 million children under the age of five die every year from largely preventable health problems (UNICEF, 2010a; WHO, 2010a). About 75 per cent of the population is not covered by adequate social security (ILO, 2010c). 150 million people suffer financial catastrophe annually, and 100 million are pushed below the poverty line when compelled to pay for health car (WHO, 2010a).
The right to social security and social protection in international instruments Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.” (Article 22) “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.” (Article 25)
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: “The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to social security, including social insurance.” (Article 9) The Covenant also emphasizes other important features pertinent to the social protection floor such as “the continuous improvement of living conditions” (Article 11), the development of essential services such as medical services (Article 12) and the right to education (Article 13). Convention on the Rights of the Child: “States Parties shall recognize for every child the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance, and shall take the necessary measures to achieve the full realization of this right in accordance with their national law.” (Article 26)
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: “The right to social security, particularly in cases of retirement, unemployment, sickness, invalidity and old age and other incapacity to work, as well as the right to paid leave… and the right to protection of health and to safety in working conditions, including the safeguarding of the function of reproduction.” (Article 11) Note: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights represents an unchallenged statement, to which nations subscribe by virtue of their membership in the United Nations; the International Covenant, on the other hand, has the quality of a treaty, open for ratification by States. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been signed and ratified by 194 countries and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women by 186 countries.
The social protection floor: Integrated social policies to protect and empower people across the life cycle Children Working-age population unable to earn an income/sufficient income in the labour market, including the unemployed, underemployed and working poor Elderly and people with disabilities Income support (pensions, child benefits) Health Education Housing, water and sanitation Food security and nutrition Policies supporting entrepreneurs and access to productive employment
To develop skills and qualifications, the essential employment services that can be associated with national social protection floor policies include the following: c Job search assistance and guidance: Defining an employment profile and working skills, and counselling beneficiaries about the labour market. c Creating labour market exposure with public and private sectors: Facilitating apprenticeships and opportunities to gain experience in the working field. c Technical and financial assistance for individuals looking to start new business ventures and independent activities: Provision of inputs and management tools for developing micro-enterprises, including activities for learning to trade. c Development of skills: Development of basic and specific technical qualifications and skills that are recognized by the labour market but not provided by formal education. c Assistance for completing and furthering formal education: Completion of formal education for young people and adults. c Subsidies providing labour inclusion incentives: This encourages wage-earning opportunities in the private sector and creates opportunities for beneficiaries to apply their skills.