Consultancy: Paper examining the Legal and Human Rights case for Universal Child Grants, SIP Section, PD - NYHQ, Requisition #515331

from UN Children's Fund
Closing date: 24 Aug 2018

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Background and Rationale

UNICEF's work on cash transfers has expanded rapidly in recent years, and in many parts of the world, there is growing interest from governments on the potential of transfers to make a significant difference in the lives of children living in poverty, and vulnerable to poverty. Relatedly, the growing global interest in universal social protection and a Universal Basic Income is demonstrating a growing global appetite and potential for universal approaches to direct support. At the same time, debates on the effectiveness and trade-offs of alternative policy options remain very much alive. Key issues around targeting and universalism, conditionality, policy financing, 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 initiative focuses on Universal Child Grants (UCG), which typically refers to a non-contributory instrument characterised by no means-test, paid in cash or a tax transfer, without behavioural conditions, on a regular basis to the primary caregiver, up until aged 0-18 or longer if children are in full time higher education/training or have a disability. However, recognising the plurality of social protection provision, a UCG could also, arguably refer to a multi-tiered benefit approach or a mixed-system of child benefit provision (combining non-contributory and contributory schemes) offering universal coverage rather than a single tax-financed child benefit.

This initiative aims to support and promote informed policy debate and decision-making with regards to cash transfers and the objectives of reducing child poverty and improving wider outcomes for children. Through the completion of a written report, convening of an international conference and publication of a book on this topic, the UCG initiative explores the theoretical arguments and empirics/evidence on alternative cash transfer schemes and their implications for UCGs.

As part of these activities, UNICEF wishes to commission a background paper that explores the legal and human rights case for universal social protection for children and what this implies specifically for UCGs. This will help inform the written report on this subject.

The commissioned paper will perform a review and discussion of both the theoretical arguments underpinning the possible legal case for a UCG (and the pertinent legal instruments) and the evidence from the implementation of UCGs/cash transfers in practice and how they affect human rights processes and outcomes for children.

The review of the theoretical and conceptual arguments should include a brief ‘theory of change’ at the outset, outlining how and through which channels, in principle, a UCG versus other types of transfers would influence children’s outcomes (including direct, indirect channels; types of outcomes, first, second third order) with a focus on legal/human rights processes and outcomes. This would highlight the potential advantages/benefits and limitations of a universalistic/UCG approach compared with alternative cash transfer approaches in helping to meet the human rights outcomes of interest.

In the review of the available evidence, the paper should examine how specific UCGs and elements of cash transfers such as targeting, conditionality, duration of benefit, level of the transfer and so forth on how these influence processes and outcomes in terms of legal/human rights issues. Throughout, special attention should be paid to how variations in policy design and implementation features of the UCG/cash transfers shape the human rights outcomes of interest.

A discussion of what the prevailing legal case for a UCG would mean for children in very different contexts should also be covered (i.e. citizens/legally resident children and refugee/undocumented children). Moreover, if the legal case is compelling, the paper should make recommendations for how the legal arguments might be advanced and governments can be supported to realise this objective specifically.

Expected results: (measurable results)

  • Final product: a 30-35-page paper summarising the various considerations that would underpin the possible legal/human rights argument for a UCG.
  • The principal deliverable would be a zero-draft paper outline for the author to follow which ideally reflects the approach and structure (in terms of key issues) of the report. This will be agreed between UNICEF and the selected expert author as a first deliverable.
  • A first draft paper ready for review by external expert peer and UNICEF Staff.
  • The final paper reflecting comments/amendments of review process and approved by UNICEF.
  • Location: Remote Based

    Start date: 4 September 2018End Date: 15 October 2018


    Number of days

    Delivery date

    Agreed a zero-draft paper outline.


    6 September 2018

    First draft of paper


    5 October 2018

    Final paper with comment/amendments incorporated (30-35 pages).


    15 October 2018

    Key competences, technical background, and experience required Deadline

  • 15 years of experience in social protection, preferably with experience in international social protection and human rights law and a recognised expert in the field with a strong publications record.
  • A minimum of ten years of progressively more responsible and high level professional work experience with gender, research, field programming and communication in international development;
  • Excellent writing and analytical skills, especially in synthesizing complex information for multiple audiences;
  • Fluency in English required; Knowledge of another UN language an asset;
  • Please indicate your ability, availability and daily/monthly rate (in US$) to undertake the terms of reference above (including travel and daily subsistence allowance, if applicable). Applications submitted without a daily/monthly rate will not be considered.


    With the exception of the US Citizens, G4 Visa and Green Card holders, should the selected candidate and his/her household members reside in the United States under a different visa, the consultant and his/her household members are required to change their visa status to G4, and the consultant’s household members (spouse) will require an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) to be able to work, even if he/she was authorized to work under the visa held prior to switching to G4.

    At the time the contract is awarded, the selected candidate must have in place current health insurance coverage.

    Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

    UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

    How to apply:

    UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages qualified female and male candidates from all national, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of our organization. To apply, click on the following link