Ministerial Declaration sets the Vision for Achieving Universal Social Protection in the Arab World

خبر | ١٧ ديسمبر, ٢٠٢١
The COVID-19 crisis has not only reaffirmed the relevance of comprehensive and inclusive social protection in the Arab States but also allowed for policy innovation and advances in the social protection field. Even before the pandemic, the region had seen noteworthy policy developments in the social protection sector, including the introduction of new contributory and tax financed schemes, the initiation of tax and subsidy reforms to ensure equity and financing, the establishment of coordination committees as well as the introduction of integrated registries.

As documented in the Regional Social Protection Report for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) the COVID-19 crisis also revealed important gaps in national social protection systems. Social protection systems in the Arab region continue to show significant deficits from the perspective of coverage, adequacy, and comprehensiveness and face profound challenges in relation to governance, coordination, and financing in the context of the economic, social, and demographic transformations across the region.

Against this background, the Regional UN Issue Based Coalition (IBC) for Social Protection, coordinated by UNICEF and ILO, in collaboration with UN-ESCWA, and with support from the International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) and the socialprotection.org platform, organised a high-level Ministerial Forum with the Ministers responsible for social protection in the Arab region. Representatives of employers and workers organisations, civil society and the international community were also invited as discussants.

The output of this meeting was a Ministerial Forum Declaration endorsed by the participants of the Forum, stating key guiding principles for post-COVID-19 social protection that will inform policy making for countries and international partners in the region.

The first of its kind in the Arab region, the declaration reinforces the commitment to achieving universal access to comprehensive, adequate and sustainable social protection, ensuring that all in need have access to basic income security and to essential healthcare as included in Global Call for Action for a Human-Centred Recovery adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2021.

Recalling the guidance and principles provided by international and regional instruments in the field of social protection, including – amongst others - the ILO Convention Minimum Standards of Social Security, 1952 (No, 102), the Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) and other international labour and social security standards, the declaration outlines government priorities around the following four axes of reforms:

• Enhanced Coverage - Delivering on the right to Social Protection for all through inclusive, adequate and comprehensive Social Protection systems that leave no-one behind. This includes ensuring access to adequate social protection for workers in all types of employment – formal and informal – and making social protection systems more inclusive and effective as enablers of national formalization strategies.

• Shock-responsiveness – Enhancing resilience of Social Protection systems for future shocks. This includes investing in strong regular social protection systems, which need to be comprehensive in the types of risks they address, inclusive, based on entitlements, well resourced, and enshrined in legislation and thereby provide a strong basis for system’s shock-responsiveness.

• Improved Financing – for comprehensive, adequate, and sustainable Social Protection systems. This includes progressively expanding the social protection financing base to fill coverage and adequacy gaps, while enhancing efficiency, sustainability and equity in financing.

• Better Governance and coordination – Integrated and coordinated social protection approaches for greater impact. This includes ensuring, through social dialogue, participation of citizens, workers, private sector employers and beneficiaries in the good governance of social protection systems.

For the Meeting Declaration adopted, please see here for the English version, and here for the Arabic version.