Multi-stakeholders committee, convened by the Government and the UN, holds its first meeting to discuss integrated social protection approach in Iraq

Led by the Government of Iraq, the Social Protection Sector Coordination Committee is a new coordination mechanism to accelerate the reform of the social protection sector, with the support of the European Union.

Press release | 30 June 2022
Social Protection Sector Coordination Committee meeting in Baghdad. Photo credit: UNICEF in Iraq
Baghdad, 30 June 2022- The Social Protection Sector Coordination Committee (SPSCC) held its first meeting in Baghdad to discuss coordination and alignment among government and international partners to strengthen the social protection system in Iraq.

Led by the Government of Iraq, the SPSCC brings together various partners including United Nations’ agencies, international partners, donors and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to ensure synergies between different social protection programmes and tools. It is a coordination mechanism intended to contribute to specific social protection outcomes through coordinated and collaborative planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It serves as a consultative platform for a broad range of partners and stakeholders involved in social protection programmes, including national and sub-national authorities, and bilateral and multilateral partners, and local NGOs, civil society organizations and communities.

The SPSCC builds on a Joint Programme implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Iraq, with the support of the European Union (EU), to accelerate the reform of social protection within the collaboration framework with the Government of Iraq.

Recognizing that the growing momentum and engagement in the reform of social protection calls for stronger coordination and alignment between government and international partners, the EU supports the SPSCC as part of the implementation of its Joint Programme. The proposal of establishing a SPSCC had been agreed with the Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and Ministry of Trade.

“The European Union is pleased to support the Government of Iraq in strengthening the social protection system which is instrumental to ensure equitable access to integrated social protection for all Iraqis. The sector coordination committee established today and jointly led by the Ministries of Planning, Labour and Social Affairs, and Trade, provides an excellent Government-led platform for coordinating the reform efforts among all stakeholders. In line with the EU-funded project for social protection reform, the Committee will promote synergies between different social protection programs and enhance the effectiveness of the social protection system, ensuring the Government of Iraq reaches those in need”, said Barbara Egger, Head of Cooperation at the European Union Delegation to Iraq.

“Almost 2 out of 5 children in Iraq live in monetary poverty. The SPSCC is a cornerstone in the development of a social protection system in Iraq ensuring that no child is left behind. UNICEF will continue working with the Government of Iraq, the EU and will support a coordinating role among the UN partners to promote equitable access to an integrated social protection system that is inclusive and child sensitive”, said Ken Legins, Officer-in-Charge UNICEF Representative in Iraq.

“The ongoing global socio-economic shocks which have also impacted Iraq have served to highlight the criticality of efficient and responsive social protection systems to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people. Through the existing partnership, and engagement through the SPSCC, WFP shall continue to provide extensive support to the Government of Iraq towards social protection reforms through evidence generation, building on digitalization of social safety net programmes such as the Public Distribution System and establishing single registry with interoperable platforms,” said Ally Raza Qureshi, Representative, World Food Programme in Iraq.

“With two out of three workers in Iraq engaged in informal sector employment, addressing the decent work deficits in the informal sector is instrumental. With the support of the EU, the ILO is working with the government and social partners to close the social security coverage gap and provide protection for workers and their families against life-cycle risks, such as unemployment, maternity, old-age, work-related injuries, sickness, and disability, in line with ILO Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 (No. 102),” said Maha Kattaa, ILO Country Coordinator in Iraq.

In the first year of the implementation of EU-UN Joint Programme for the reform of social protection in Iraq, the three UN agencies - ILO, UNICEF, and WFP - have secured highest level national ownership for the Joint Programme and its implementation both at the federal and Kurdistan Region of Iraq, focusing on integrated social protection reform roadmap.

The SPSCC will ensure close linkages with the Joint Programme to reform social protection, as well as coordination between social protection and other priority sectors and ministries. It will also provide overall policy guidance on the development of social protection strategies, policies and implementation plans in accordance with the
 Government of Iraq’s White Paper for economic and financial reforms launched in October 2020 and other national strategic frameworks.

For further information, please contact:
Miguel Mateos Muñoz, Chief of Advocacy and Communication, UNICEF,
Monica Awad, Communication Specialist, UNICEF,
Nisreen Bathish, Communications Consultant - International Labour Organization,
Saif al-Tatooz, Communications Officer, WFP,