The Legal & Policy framework for social protection in Uganda

The Legal & Policy framework for social protection in Uganda

In March 2016, the Government of Uganda launched the country’s National Social Protection Policy. The Policy is premised on the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, laws in the country that address issues of risks and vulnerabilities as well as Regional and International Instruments the country has signed onto. The Policy is also consistent with other national policies and development planning frameworks.

 Legal Framework

The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda under the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, stipulates as follows:-

  • Objective VII: “The State shall make reasonable provision for the welfare and maintenance of the aged”.
  • Objective XI (i): “The State shall give the highest priority to the enactment of legislation establishing measures that protect and enhance the right of the people to equal opportunities in development”.
  • Objective XIV (b):  “All Ugandans shall enjoy rights and opportunities and access to education, health services, clean and safe water, work, decent shelter, adequate clothing, food security and pension and retirement benefits”.

Chapter four of the Constitution provides for the protection and promotion of fundamental human rights and freedoms. In particular, the Constitution enjoins the State to take affirmative action in favour of marginalized groups, protect the unique and natural maternal function of women, the rights of children, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities and economic rights of every Ugandan. The Constitution further provides that a public officer shall upon retirement receive such pension as is commensurate with his or her rank, salary and length of service.

There are several specific laws that provide for various aspects of social protection in Uganda (see Background to the National Social Protection Policy for details)

 Policy Framework

The country’s long term development framework, Uganda Vision 2040, underscores the importance of social protection to address risks and vulnerabilities. The Government of Uganda recognises the need to provide assistance to people who are vulnerable either by age, social class, location, disability, gender, disaster or who do not earn any income. The country’s Vision 2040 envisages a social protection system that includes a universal pension for older persons, public works schemes for vulnerable unemployed persons and social assistance to vulnerable children, persons with disabilities and the destitute. The Vision also identifies universal health insurance as one of the key strategies for alleviating the high cost on health care by households and enhancing access to affordable health services for all.

The National Development Plans (NDP) 1 & 11- the first and second of six 5- year development plans to achieve the Vision 2040- also highlight social protection as one of the key strategies for transforming Uganda from a peasant society to a modern and prosperous Country.

Uganda also has a raft of other related policies that are to social protection in nature (See national Social Protection Policy background for details)

 Regional and International Frameworks

  • The East African Common Market Protocol (2010) permits workers to move freely within the territories of the partner states for the purpose of employment and guarantees them the rights and benefits of social security as accorded to the workers of the host partner state.
  • Uganda endorsed the Ouagadougou Declaration and Plan of Action on Employment and Poverty Alleviation in Africa (2004). The Plan calls for improvement and strengthening of the existing social protection schemes and extending it to workers and their families currently excluded.
  • Uganda is also a signatory to the Livingstone Call to Action (2006), which obliges African States to put in place costed plans for the implementation of Direct Income Support (DIS) programmes.
  • The African Union Social Policy Framework (2008) calls on member States to recognize that social protection is a state obligation, with provisions in national legislations.
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides for everyone’s right to social security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old-age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond ones control.
  • Other international instruments that commit the Government of Uganda to provide social protection include the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (1966), the Convection on Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), the ILO Convention on Employment Policy No. 122 (1976), the ILO Convention on Public Contracts, the ILO Convention on the Prohibition of the Worst Forms of Child Labour No. 182 (1999).
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