Social protection across the humanitarian-development nexus
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Relevant Policy Commitments

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Zena Mouawad17 May 2019

Map of the Central African Republic

In 2018, 68.5 million people worldwide were displaced by war or violent conflict, with little evidence suggesting the number will decrease in 2019. Photo © EU/ECHO/Martin Karimi

Despite global development gains, one in every 70 people around the world is caught up in crisis and urgently needs humanitarian assistance and protection. More and more people are also being displaced by conflict in countries like Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and Iraq.

The latter, for instance, though finally on the path to recovery, has yet to find the means to accommodate nearly 2 million internally displaced people and 4 million returnees.

Overall in 2018, 68.5 million people worldwide were displaced by war or violent conflict, with little evidence suggesting the number will decrease in 2019.

As the gap between funding and needs continues to grow, humanitarian interventions are becoming more frequent, severe, complex and protracted, with the average crisis now lasting more than nine years - up from 5.2 years in 2014.

Humanitarian interventions are becoming more frequent, severe, complex and protracted

This has led to a growing consensus that donors and aid organisations must work increasingly together. Here we list few of them.

 

Global Commitments

The Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all include: 

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere, which Target 1.3 is to ‘Implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors, and by 2030 achieve substantial coverage of the poor and the vulnerable.’ 

The 2016 World Humanitarian Summit Grand Bargain commitments include:

  • Commitment 2: More support and funding tools for local and national responders: Increase and support multi-year investment in the institutional capacities of local and national responders…especially in fragile contexts...Make greater use of funding tools which increase and improve assistance delivered by local and national responders.
  • Commitment 3: Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming. This includes commitments to use, link or align with local and national mechanisms such as social protection systems.
  • Commitment 10: Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors. Working collaboratively across institutional boundaries based on comparative advantage…increase social protection programmes and strengthen national and local systems and coping mechanisms in order to build resilience in fragile contexts. 

The New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 2016, calls to improve the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance to those countries most affected and, where appropriate, develop national strategies for the protection of refugees within the framework of national social protection systems, as appropriate. It lays the foundation for the development of a global compact on refugees, which is to be proposed by the High Commissioner for Refugees for consideration by the General Assembly in 2018.

Recommendation 205 concerning employment and decent work for peace and resilience, adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2017, recognises the need to promote decent work, social protection and employment opportunities for refugees and host communities.

Recommendation 202 concerning national floors of social protection, adopted by the International Labour Conference in June 2012, reaffirms the right to social protection for all.

The Joint statement of the members of the Social Protection Inter-Agency Cooperation Board (SPIAC-B) to the World Humanitarian Summit calls on governments, development and humanitarian actors to:

  • In extreme fragility and protracted crises, invest in the development of ‘nascent’ safety nets or social assistance delivery mechanisms, while further strengthening and developing technical and analytical capacity at national and sub-national levels; and
  • In contexts of forced displacement, strengthen the effective reach and design of social protection systems to mitigate forced displacement due to shocks and crises and ensure that host communities, IDPs and refugees are equitably assisted in the event of crises.

 

European Union´s Commitments

The New European Consensus on Development (2017/C 210/01) acknowledges the role of social protection in providing a strong foundation for sustainable development and recognises its contribution to addressing inequality, preventing extreme poverty and building resilience. 

The European Agenda on Migration (COM(2015) 240) and the new Partnership Framework with third countries under the Agenda announced a new fund for external investments for leveraging additional funds from Member States and other donors. Investment in social infrastructure, which may include social protection administrative structures and instruments, is mentioned in particular.

The Joint Communication on a Strategic Approach to Resilience in the EU’s External Action, (JOIN (2017) 21) and the Council conclusion of 13/11/2017 recognise ‘the need to move away from crisis containment to a more structural, long-term, non-linear approach to vulnerabilities, with an emphasis on anticipation, prevention and preparedness […]. The traditional linear division of labour between humanitarian aid and development cooperation has been changing […] The EU should […] prioritise and enhance close cooperation of EU political, humanitarian and development actors on protracted crises and protracted displacement, while respecting the distinct mandates established by the Treaties, and humanitarian principles.’

The Communication on Forced Displacement and Development (COM(2016) 234), the Council conclusions of 12/05/2016 and the accompanying staff working document call for greater synergies between humanitarian and development actors regarding shared analysis, programming and flexible funding fostering self-reliance. The Communication describes social protection as imperative for empowering the forcibly displaced and giving them long-term, regular and predictable support to address chronic vulnerability. Investments in informationsharing systems and tracking of benefits, as well as contingency and finance planning between EU humanitarian and development actors and public authorities are identified as crucial.

The Action Plan on the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (SWD(2016) 205) recommends, within Key Area 4 on the development of a holistic disaster risk management approach, support to ‘the long term development and neighbourhood assistance programmes in prevention, preparedness, early warning system and risk information capacity building activities, including through the support of appropriate social safety net mechanism and social protection systems.’

The European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) for the period 2014-2020 (Regulation (EU) 235/2014), in its article 1 (b-xii) concerning human rights and fundamental freedoms, promotes ‘economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living and core labour standards.’

The Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) for the period 2014-2020 (Regulation (EU) 233/2014), covering the geographical and thematic programmes, defines decent work as a cross-cutting issue (Art. 3 point 3), which in the Agenda for Change (COM(2011) 637) is formulated as a need to support the decent work agenda, social protection schemes and floors.

The Communication on Social Protection in EU Development Cooperation (COM(2012) 446) and the related Council Conclusion advocate, in particular, the development of nationally owned social protection systems requiring the common pursuit of the values and interests of the stakeholders concerned. The Communication also affirms the EU rights-based approach to social protection.

The European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid (2008/C 25/01) states that ‘humanitarian aid and development cooperation […] will be used in a coherent and complementary fashion especially in transitional contexts and situations of fragility, in order to use the full potential of short- and long-term aid and cooperation.’ It goes on to state, ‘it is important to ensure that humanitarian, development and other relevant aid instruments work better together, in particular in situations of fragility and where communities are seeking to recover from the effects of crisis.’

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