A systems perspective on Universal Social Protection: Towards life-long equitable access to comprehensive social protection for all (Long version)

In 1948 the Universal Declaration of Human Rights promised comprehensive social protection for each human being: ‘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.’ Seventy years later, this pledge is far from fulfilled: An estimated 71% of the world’s population – some 5.2 billion people – lack adequate social protection, while 55% have no coverage at all (ILO, 2017). Coverage gaps are highest in sub-Saharan Africa, in Asia and in the Middle East and North Africa (ILO 2016). By a tragic paradox, it is those with the greatest need who have the least access to social protection. 

Universal Social Protection (USP) aims to cover all people against all risks, and thus contribute to individual, social and economic development. German development cooperation promotes social protection as an overarching, universal system in partner countries, supporting the integration of different interventions such as social assistance, social insurance and labour market instruments in view of ensuring comprehensive, life-long protection for the entire population.