International conference on Universal Child Grants

6 - 8 February 2019
Children at the Protection of Civilians (POC) Site 3 in Juba, which is run by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Universal Child Grants (UCGs) are increasingly discussed as a policy instrument to achieve universal social protection and progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. At present, 385 million children live in extreme poverty. This has negative short-term and long-term consequences, including on children’s longevity and quality of life as adults. Social protection has proven an effective instrument in addressing poverty. However, social protection coverage of children worldwide is low and highly uneven.

Cash transfers have been increasingly adopted by countries worldwide. There is growing interest in the potential of transfers to make a significant difference in the lives of children. In addition, the global discussion on universal basic income demonstrates a growing appetite for universal approaches to direct support. At the same time, debates on the effectiveness and trade-offs of alternative policy options remain alive. Key issues around targeting and universalism, conditionality, policy financing, the positioning of cash transfer schemes within wider social and fiscal policy, variations in cash transfer core design features (such as the level of transfers, duration of participation) and their implications for policy impact on children's outcomes and policy sustainability are widely debated. 

This conference, convened by UNICEF, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), brings together national governments and policy practitioners, researchers and the international community to explore the arguments and the evidence emerging from the implementation of alternative cash transfer schemes and their implications for UCGs. It aims to promote informed policy debate and decision-making with regards to cash transfers, social protection and the objectives of reducing child poverty and improving wider outcomes for children.

The conference is one component of a larger UNICEF and ODI-led project on UCGs. It will take place at the ILO's headquarters in Geneva (ILO, 4 Route des Morillons, CH-1211, Genève 22, Switzerland). The event is invitation only.

Call for papers: 

We welcome the submission of paper abstracts based on evidence from the implementation of cash transfers and/or related theoretical considerations and their implications for Universal Child Grants. The experience of countries worldwide including, high-, middle- and low-income countries, is of interest. Paper abstracts should relate to the following themes:

  • Programme and policy design and implementation (e.g. universalism and targeting; conditionality; administration; benefit duration and amounts; supply-side support/accompanying in-kind services; legislation and regulation).
  • Outcomes (e.g. child outcomes such as monetary poverty, health, education, child labour and dignity and shame; outcomes for adults, including work and labour-related, and their implications for children’s outcomes).
  • Wider policy context (e.g. political economy; legislation, legal framing and human/child rights; affordability and financing; progressive realisation and the relationship to other transfers and services).

 Abstract submissions have now closed. To contact the conference organisers please email the UCG conference secretariat: [email protected].

Abstracts submitted will be reviewed by a panel of ILO, ODI and UNICEF researchers and social protection specialists. Decisions about acceptance will be communicated by October 30th 2018. The deadline for submission of full draft papers is January 11th 2019. All submitted abstracts and papers should be in English. 

A selection of papers presented at the conference will be considered for publication in a book following the conference.

Download the full call for papers below.