Thematic areas

Flagship Thematic Area: Legal

Building rights-based social protection systems


  • Strengthening the capacities of constituents to design, sustainably finance and implement national social protection policies and legal frameworks that are gender-responsive and aligned with the vision and objectives established by ILO social security standards, and in coherence with national social, economic and environmental development objectives.
  • Launching a campaign to systematically promote the ratification and effective implementation of up-to-date ILO social security standards, including Convention No. 102.

Key resources

Approach and Technical Support

The ILO actively supports governments and social partners to effectively formulate and implement national social protection policies and legal frameworks that contribute to the progressive achievement of universal social protection in line with SDG targets 1.3 and 3.8. This work is firmly grounded in the international standards adopted by ILO’s tripartite constituents, in particular the landmark Convention No. 102, Recommendation No. 202 and other up-to-date ILO social security standards.

Given that pursuing a rights-based approach is a major element conducive to the achievement of universal social protection, ILO’s support seeks to equip its Member States with tailor-made solutions for the development of social protection systems that are firmly anchored in law and at the same time are responsive to each country's social and economic circumstances and to the priorities determined at the national level, while remaining aligned with the core principles of international human rights instruments and ILO social security standards.

In particular, the ILO assists national counterparts in progressively designing and maintaining universal social protection systems, including by building the awareness of those involved in policy and legal development processes. In addition, given that international social security standards define the principles and minimum benchmarks that are the basis for building comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection systems, the ILO relies on these world standards, which represent its key comparative advantage to guide the establishment, maintenance and reform of these systems, including as regards the definition of coverage parameters, affiliation modalities and good governance.

Supporting the development of rights-based social protection systems also implies that the ILO should provide hands-on legal assistance for the revision and development of draft social protection legislation with the objective of promoting effective, adequate and sustainable systems that are based on clearly defined rights and obligations in line with the principles enshrined in international standards.

Finally, the ILO contributes to the development and enhancement of national capacities through technical workshops on international social security standards and legal drafting strategies, with a view to ensuring national ownership of social protection systems and legal frameworks.

Standards advice on the design of social protection policies and strategies

  • Supporting Governments and social partners in the formulation and implementation of comprehensive and rights-based policies and strategies that are in line with the vision and principles enshrined in international social security standards and human rights instruments.
  • Providing an overview of the applicable international legal framework (including ratified and non-ratified instruments) and comparative practices in selected countries to guide iterative policy processes.
  • Assessment of the social protection systems and their linkages with employment support and ALMPs, programmes and institutions with a view to defining the institutional set of the unemployment protection scheme and its linkages with activation programmes;
  • Formulating policy and parametric recommendations to guide social security reforms that are in line with ILO social security standards (including ratified and non-ratified instruments), in particular in the context of policy-related and technical reports (such as institutional reviews, actuarial evaluations and so on).
  • Building capacities of ILO constituents and other stakeholders in their efforts to ensure the effective realization of the human right to social security, including through tripartite workshops and consultations, guidelines and other capacity-building activities.

Supporting legal reforms and development to ensure alignment with up-to-date social security standards

  • Analysis of the proposed social protection measures or developments or of their compatibility with ILO social security standards and principles and other possible legal implications, while recommendations are formulated to align the measures contemplated with ILO social security standards and good country practice.
  • Article-by-article commentaries on the compatibility of draft legal provisions with international and regional social security law and principles (such as ILO standards, international human rights instruments, regional instruments and their interpretation by the competent supervisory bodies, ISSA guidelines and so on) and comparative practice from other countries, as well as proposals for modifications to align draft provisions with international standards, principles and good country practice.
  • Hands-on support for the development or reform of social protection legal frameworks (framework laws, codification, legal harmonization, laws and regulations to implement new schemes or new governance structures and so on).
  • Developing and enhancing national capacities through technical workshops on legal drafting strategies.

Technical assistance for the ratification and effective application of up-to-date ILO social security standards

  • Contributing to the development and enhancement of national capacities through technical workshops on ILO social security standards: requirements, ratification process, reporting obligations and follow-up and so on.
  • Conducting assessments of existing national social protection law and practice against the parameters and principles established by up-to-date international social security standards with a view to promoting the ratification and application of Conventions and Recommendations.
  • Providing technical advice on the conclusions and recommendations of such assessments with a view to possible ratification, including to address obstacles such as regarding parametric adjustments or other legislative amendments or modifications.
  • Supporting the organization of and participation in tripartite workshops to validate the conclusions of such assessments, present ILO recommendations and define a road map for further action with constituents.
  • Supporting governments in completing ratification formalities, including in finalizing instruments of ratification and accompanying declarations, liaising with the ILO’s International Labour Standards Department or Office of the Legal Adviser/Office of Legal Services and so on.
  • Developing capacity-building material on the principles and parameters set out in international social security standards, including technical reports, comparative analysis and policy briefs, as well as country briefs documenting good practices to guarantee the human right to social security.


Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection (USP2030)
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

Latest ILO Projects and Programmes

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Indicators of results and impact

  1. Number of countries supported whose policies and parametric reforms are in line with up-to-date ILO social security standards;
  2. Number of countries supported that enact a new legal instrument or implement a reform in line with up-to date ILO social security standards;
  3. Number of countries whose national legislation and practice is assessed vis-à-vis the principles and parameters set out in up-to date ILO social security standards;
  4. Number of countries that have ratified an up-to-date ILO social security Convention.

Key Results


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ILO Experts

Luisa Fernanda Carmona Llano
Legal Officer
Kroum Markov
Maya Stern Plaza
Social Protection Legal and Standards Officer
ILO standards , legislation Building rights-based social protection systems