Areas of work of the Social Protection Department

The ILO’s work on social protection over the last decade has focused on the establishment, development and maintenance of social protection systems across the world, including contributory social insurance and non-contributory (mostly tax-financed) social assistance. Guided by ILO’s social security standards, it has promoted the establishment and maintenance of social protection floors as a fundamental element of national social security systems (horizontal dimension), and pursued strategies for the extension of social security that progressively ensure higher levels of social security to as many people as possible (vertical dimension). Together, the two dimensions aim to assist member States to build and maintain comprehensive and adequate social security systems that are coherent with national policy objectives. The key means of delivering this assistance includes:
The ILO’s normative framework today includes 16 up-to-date social security standards. The Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102) guides the development of social protection systems by defining the nine branches that form the core of social security and establishing, for each branch, a minimum level of protection in terms of the population covered and the benefits guaranteed, together with core financing, organizational and management principles.

Regarding the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the ILO has been instrumental in positioning social protection as one of the means for ending poverty (SDG 1. No Poverty; Target 1.3 Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable). Since 2017, ILO has been the custodian of SDG 1.3. Social protection is also reflected in several other SDG targets, including 3.8, 5.4, 5.8, 8.5 and 10.4.3 It also co-chairs with the World Bank the Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (USP2030), co-leads with the World Bank the Social Protection Inter-agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B), and co-leads with the WHO the UN Social Protection Floor Initiative (SPF-I).

In 2016, the ILO launched a Global Flagship Programme, “Building Social Protection Floors for All” which aims to make social protection floors a national reality in target countries.