IMF Should Embrace UN Special Rapporteur’s Report on Social Protection

The ITUC has expressed support for the findings and recommendations of the report on “The IMF and Social Protection” written by Philip Alston, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Mr Alston will present his report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.

Noting the IMF’s financial power and influence, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said: “The Special Rapporteur is right on the mark when he states that real progress in expanding social protection to the majority of the world’s population that has none will not happen unless the IMF consistently promotes the creation of fiscal space for social protection.”

The ITUC agrees with the report’s analysis that too often the IMF has been involved in social protection issues only with the objective of limiting fiscal costs. This focus explains the IMF’s frequent hostility to universal protection and its preference for very narrowly targeted programmes, which deprive many low-income households of benefits and weaken political support for social protection.

Alston’s report also points out the IMF’s limited cooperation with the ILO and other UN agencies specialised in social protection, and the Fund’s failure to commit unambiguously to all the Sustainable Development Goals, most notably SDG 1.3 to implement nationally appropriate social protection systems for all, including social protection floors.

“The ITUC endorses the Special Rapporteur’s recommendation that the IMF should ‘engage seriously and systematically with the Social Protection Floor Initiative of the United Nations, ILO and WHO’”, said Burrow.

In light of the IMF’s initiation of a process to adopt a new “strategic framework” on social protection by February 2019, the ITUC calls on the Fund to embrace the key recommendations of the Special Rapporteur’s report: (i) work in support of attainment of the SDGs SDGs The Sustainable Development Goals were one of the outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference. The members States launched a new set of future international development goals, which will build upon the Millennium Development Goals and converge with the post-2015 development agenda. on social protection; (ii) drop its resistance to universal coverage; and (iii) work in cooperation with other agencies and organisations that support expanded social protection.