Relevant Policy Commitments

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

Humanitarian interventions are becoming more frequent, severe, complex and protracted. The issue of linking humanitarian assistance and social protection has gained significant importance in the last decade. This has led to a growing consensus that donors and aid organisations must work increasingly together. 

Here we list a few of the global commitments orienting this work and the instruments the European Union has put in place that support this consensus. Since 2020, the current global crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the importance of these commitments. A wiki page dedicated to this particular crisis can be found here.

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.

The Global Partnership for Universal Social Protection to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals - USP2030, joins forces of all actors who want to turn this right into reality. Its Call to Action urges countries and international partners to support the global commitment to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems and measures for all, including floors (SDG 1.3) by 2030, through the following actions, centred around the core principles of universal social protection: protection throughout life cycle,universal coverage, national ownership, sustainable and equitable financing, participation and social dialogue. 

European Union´s Commitments

The European Union, with its Member States, is the world’s biggest donor of development assistance and among the first global trading partners and foreign investors. As a Union promoting peace, stability and a rules-based global order, it is faced with many challenges as well as opportunities in an increasingly complex and inter-connected world. Prosperity and peace in the EU’s Neighbourhood and beyond are crucial for the EU’s own stability and security. Below you will find a non-exaustive list of commitments guiding EU´s international cooperation. 

The Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument - Global Europe (NDICI - Global Europe) for the period 2021-2027. This broad instrument will remove artificial barriers between previous instruments, reduce administrative burden and streamline management structure. In line with the close interlinkages between the 17 SDGs, the ambition of the new integrated architecture is that individual actions are not just addressing one separate issue, but respond to several goals at the same time. It is a modern long-term budget that increases effectiveness and visibility of the EU’s external policies, strengthen their coordination with internal policies and give the EU the necessary flexibility to provide a faster response to new crises and challenges. This includes helping EU partners to cope with the health and socio-economic impact of COVID-19. The NDICI-Global Europe earmarks €79.46 billion (in current prices) for cooperation with third countries outside the European Union for 2021-2027 (except for pre-accession beneficiaries and Overseas countries and territories, which are subject to specific instruments), representing a 12% increase compared to the previous long-term budget 2014- 2020. NDICI-Global Europe is organised around three key pillars: Geographical: The geographical component promotes partnerships through cooperation with partner countries in the following regions: the European Neighbourhood, sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and the Americas and the Caribbean. Thematic: The thematic programmes – for which €6 358 million is allocated – will fund actions linked to the Sustainable Development Goals at global level, including support for civil society organisations. Thematic programmes will therefore focus on human rights and democracy, civil society, stability and peace, as well as on global challenges such as health, education and training, women and children, work, social protection, culture, migration and climate change. Rapid response: The rapid response component, amounting to €3 182 million, is dedicated to financing the quick response capacity for crisis management, conflict prevention and peace building. Actions financed within this component aim to strengthen the resilience of crisis-affected countries, link humanitarian and development actions and address foreign policy needs and priorities.

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 New Pact on Migration and Asylum is a comprehensive set of legal and political documents, explained and kept together by the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions on a New Pact on Migration and Asylum (COM (2020) 609 final) of 23 September 2020. In the Communication, it is stressed the importance to develop "mutually beneficial" partnerships with partner countries, to continuing assisting origin and transit countries in managing migration and addressing the root causes of migration, to step up our assistance for persons in need of international protection and their host countries. Migration is indicated as a priority that needs to be "built in" "as a core issue" in the comprehensive partnerships the EU establishes with third countries, "based on an assessment of the interests of the EU and partner countries". Countries of origin, transit and host countries, as well as State and non-State actors, need to work together in a balanced and human rights compliant approach.

The Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the EU´s Humanitarian Action: new challenges, same principles - 10 March 2021. The Communication proposes a series of key actions to expedite the provision of humanitarian aid by expanding the resource base, supporting a better enabling environment for humanitarian partners and addressing the root causes of crises through a `Team Europe approach´. Its objective is to ensure that humanitarian, development, peacebuilding and other policies all work together to better link urgent relief and longer-term solutions, aiming at reducing needs and tackling the root causes of conflicts and crises. Key actions include: `EU joint analysis of the risks, needs, vulnerabilities and structural drivers of crisis´ and the `support for cashed-based, shock-responsive social safety nets´.

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 EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2020-2024) is a key tool in addressing the protection of human rights and supporting democracy in EU's external action. It aims to reinforce the implementation of the EU's human rights policy with a special emphasis on strengthening ownership by local institutions, mechanisms and civil society actors, and on offering rapid support to Human Rights Defenders in need. The current Action Plan responds to the new challenges posed by a rapidly evolving environment for global governance, new technologies and climate change. The operational measures will be implemented at country, regional and multilateral level, taking account of local circumstances and specificities. The proposed Action Plan provides strategic focus on:

  1.   Protecting and empowering individuals;
  2.   Building resilient, inclusive and democratic societies;
  3.   Promoting a global system for human rights and democracy;
  4.   New technologies: harnessing opportunities and addressing challenges; and
  5.   Delivering by working together.

The Farm to Fork Strategy - for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system points out the EU international cooperation focus on the prevention of and response to food crises, particularly in fragile contexts. The COM (2020) 381 Communication, item 2.2 `Ensuring food security´, states that `the considerations of workers´ social protection, working and housing conditions as well as protection of health and safety will play a major role in building fair, strong and sustainable food systems.´

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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last update
22 February 2022

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