Icon Our WorkExploring the importance of good governance in effective social protection

It is widely recognised that good governance of social protection systems is one of the preconditions for effective social protection programming and, therefore, the realisation of fundamental human rights. As part of a project with UNDESA and the International Labour Organisation, Development Pathways’ team of experts have produced several insightful reports examining governance in social protection from global and national perspectives. These reports complement other initiatives, for example Development Pathways’ participation at recent UNDESA and ILO technical webinars. In addition to the three background studies, Development Pathways has collaborated with the ILO and ISSA to develop a learning module on the theme of “Coordination” in social protection.

Our Global Overview report seeks to understand how ‘good governance’ can contribute to realising the universal right to social security. It emphasised the importance of governance as a concept that pervades all stages and aspects of the social protection policy and delivery process, concluding that respecting the principles of good governance requires grappling with the complexity of existing systems whilst mapping a vision for a more streamlined future. This broad overview is supplemented by several individual national case-studies, each chosen because the country has achieved noteworthy expansion in social protection in recent years, facilitated at least in part by governance decisions or structures.

Each national case study offers a unique perspective on this larger topic. For example, Argentina offers an interesting example of how coverage can be gradually expanded, and contributory and tax-financed systems integrated, in a context of a strong rights-based tradition and longstanding institutional stability in social protection provision, despite political and economic instability. In contrast, Kenya’s social protection system has rapidly transformed from a system characterised by a high degree of fragmentation and low national ownership, toward a more inclusive, lifecycle-based system. Governance was decisive in this transformation, particularly given the importance of greater institutional coordination and a robust Single Registry.

Across the papers, a common theme is that achieving universal social protection requires thinking about governance from a whole system perspective and that individual components — even if well-governed — only contribute to universal social protection if they operate within a broader, well-governed system.

Read the Argentina paper here.

Read the Mauritius and Fiji paper here.

Read the Kenya paper here.

Other Resources:


– Achieving Universal Social Protection Through Governance of National Social Protection Systems

– Governance of Social Protection Systems: A Learning Journey


– Learning Module: Governance of Social Protection Systems: A Learning Journey. Module #1: Coordination

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