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Poverty targeted schemes could face legal challenges, warns former UN Special Rapporteur


The recording of the launch of the new report on targeting effectiveness

If countries continue to use targeted social protection schemes that fail to reach those in poverty, they may face legal challenges.

This comment came from former UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Magdalena Sepúlveda after new research revealed that poverty-targeted schemes miss between 44% and 97% of their intended recipients. In addition, Sepúlveda said that the evidence demonstrated that targeted schemes were in violation of both national laws on non-discrimination and international human rights treaties.

“Everyone entitled to support must be reached,” she highlighted (see video, rightafter Development Pathways Senior Social Policy Specialist outlined the failure of the vast majority of targeted schemes to reach even half of their intended recipients. Her expert advice was that policy-makers implementing schemes with such discriminatory results had no defence on the grounds of having a “reasonable justification,” “legitimate aim,” or even on the grounds of proportionality. 

“Such exclusion errors are incompatible with human rights principles,” Magdalena Sepúlveda said. She was speaking at the official launch of the research into the effectiveness of targeting, and after Stephen Kidd underlined that while the use of algorithms to select recipients had been banned in the EU, “Europeans are still using them in Africa and Asia”.

Development Pathways’ work, supported by the Church of Sweden, found that of all selection mechanisms, universal schemes had the lowest exclusion errors and were the most effective in reaching both their intended recipients and those living in extreme poverty.

Andrew Fischer, Associate Professor of Social Policy and Development Studies, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, also sounded the alarm over the implications of the ineffectiveness of targeting. “What does it do for social cohesion if some people receive support, & others in a similar situation do not?”

The recording of the webinar is available above, and Hit and Miss: An assessment of targeting effectiveness in social protection is available for download by clicking here. 




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