research papers

  • POST-2015: A right to productive employment and decent work?
    Reflections on MDG 1 “decent work for all”: Where Do We Stand?
    by Gabriele Köhler, download
  • Shifting Parameters. The Post-2015 Process and the Future of International Cooperation for Development, Workshop Report – sef Expert Workshop 2013, download 
  • Social protection. Political reform and poliy innovations in South Asia.
    Gabriele Köhler. In: Katja Bender, Markus Kaltenborn, Christian Pfleiderer. Social Protection in Developing Countries. Reforming systems. London and New York. Routledge 2013. pp. 185-194
  • Myanmar: Demokratie am seidenen Faden. 
    Köhler, Gabriele. in: Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik. Berlin. Heft 2/2013. S. 31-34
  • Insecurities and human security in the United Nations´development discourse
    Koehler, Gabriele, Riga, Dec. 2012. Zinatne Publishing House. pp 359-380.
    As a chapter in a volume on human security edited by Zaneta Ozolina, the piece traces the history of the concept of human security, starting from the origins of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its attention to the notions of freedom from fear, freedom from want and the right to live in dignity. Human security as a term first appeared in a UNDP Human Development Report in 1993, but has been used continuously ever since. It informs national debates on development in several countries, and could be of interest as a complex notion to influence the scope of a universal development agenda for the decade beyond 2015. download
  • Human Security and the Next Generation of Comprehensive Human Development Goals
    Koehler, G. Gasper, D. Jolly, R. and Simane, M. – May 2012
    This paper makes a case for extending the MDGs beyond 2015 but significantly reshaping them, so that economic and social equity and environmental sustainability are prioritised, and to be explicit about policy recommendations – one of many lacunae of the MDG agenda. The paper proposes using the notion of human security to develop a new post 2015 development framework. Download document at or buy a printed version at
    Also see the revised and published version at
    There is a related discussion at  ids-launches-paper-on-human-security-and-next-generation-of-development-goals and a policy briefing Using Human security Principles to Develop a Post-2015 Framework by Corbett, H. (2012)
  • Social Protection in Myanmar: Making the Case for Holistic Policy Reform,
    Yoshimi Nishino and Gabriele Koehler – 2011
    download or buy a printed version at
    Myanmar is a country with a very low per capita income and distressing failures in nutrition, health, education, and others areas of social development. Currently, there appears to be some political softening, and in the realm of policymaking, a series of adaptations have been gradually introduced over the past three years. This paper examines vulnerability and poverty dynamics in the country and its evolving social protection framework. Building on pertinent regional examples, the paper makes the case for holistic social protection policy responses in the domains of social transfers for livelihood support and access to finance, education and health access, child protection, protection from exclusion, and as an emergency response. The outlook argues that comprehensive inclusive and ultimately transformative social protection needs to be introduced and could be within reach, as an integral part of deeper systemic reform in Myanmar.
  • Human security – a framework for deepening the MDGs November 2011 by Gabriele Köhler(IDS), Des Gasper(ISS), Richard Jolly(IDS), Mara Simane(LAPAS) 
    download documentdownload presentation or visit the website The Millennium Goals and Beyond: Reflections on an international development policy agenda after 2015
    2015 marks the “target year” of the MDGs, triggering reflections on whether the MDG agenda (UN General Assembly 2000) should at that point be considered completed, or rather carried forward – and if so, how. In this connection, MDG performance assessments, progress reviews and conceptual reflections are underway in many fora.  The fact that the MDGs are not “on track” for many of the targets and in many countries (UN 2011) supports a case for a two-step approach.  The first step needed is to examine the reasons for the often disappointing performance, and the second is to argue for an extension of the MDGs in a revised format that would overcome the shortcomings, where the reasons are conceptual and design-related, and would address the obstacles, where the reasons are due to adverse political or economic situations or lack of political will.This note makes a case for maintaining the MDGs, but making them more explicitly rights-based and participatory, prioritising economic and social equity and environmental sustainability, as well as insisting on the centrality of employment and decent work. It proposes using the notion of human security both as a conceptual approach and as a framework to synthesise this sort of policy approach which would address and redress the complex vulnerabilities facing communities, households and individuals, boldly and with a social justice vision. Thus it argues for a deepening of the MDG agenda, in the sense of giving it a clearer conceptual basis,  making it more explicitly policy-oriented and taking  a bolder, more openly progressive policy stance.
  • Social Protection for Social Justice, IDS Bulletin 42.6
    Edited by Stephen Devereux. Christopher Bene, Deepta Chopra, Gabriele Koehler, Keetie Roelen, Rachel Sabates-Wheeler and Dolf te Linto. The articles of this IDS Bulletin emerged from a conference hosted at IDS by the Centre of Social Protection in April 2011.
  • New CROP Poverty Brief: The MDGs and Social Policy Innovations from South Asia, October 2011.
    The MDG, with the ultimate aim of improving human rights and human development, have been in place for a decade. Since 2008, massive financial and food price crises, and the recent resurgence of fiscal austerity politics, coupled with the accelerated frequency of natural disasters and political conflict, are reasons for the shortfalls in their implementation. But the deeper shortcoming lies in the lack of analytical and policy depth in the initial MDG design. As the moment to rethink or extend their approaches, policy makers are taking a renewed look into the structural causes of poverty, deprivations, vulnerabilities, and exclusions and becoming more attuned to the need to formulate comprehensive policies for structural reform. In South Asia innovations include policies to create employment and wage incomes, policies addressing income poverty, social exclusion, and policies for access to information. These policies have in common that they are rights based and government-led and -funded. If these policy innovations are twinned with progressive, employment-oriented economic policy and coupled with redistributive tax reform, they can serve to accelerate the systemic reform needed to achieve the MDGs.
    cropkoehlerpovertybriefsouthasiaor see or
  • Social Protection and Socioeconomic Security in Nepal, August 2011.
    Nepal, with a population of 27.6 million people, is a ‘least developed country’ in many ways. The country is characterised by significant socio-economic insecurity, comprising structurally-generated income poverty, a politically and socially fragile post-conflict situation, threats to the environment, and deeply entrenched forms of social exclusion. At the same time, it is a country characterised by interesting socio-political policy innovations, triggered by the end of a ten-year violent conflict. Building on a discussion of the country’s challenges, the paper explores the policy responses in the domain of social protection devised by the interim government to address the various dimensions of insecurity, and to show their novelty as well as their limitations. The final section offers some ideas on policy areas which would be needed to improve socio-economic security.
    Download or see
  • Conference on Human Security presentation Gabriele Koehler. June 2011. This paper discusses the “advantages” of the human security concept, which captures all the MDG areas; casts these in a more interconnected and systematic fashion; integrates the impact of violence and conflict as well as ecological destruction and climate change;  integrally includes human rights dimensions and the notion of human dignity and choice; acknowledges the importance of good governance; includes  the impact of income and wealth inequalities  and social exclusion and can thus address poverty and exclusion in an integrated, multidimensional fashion, thereby responding to the more sophisticated discourse on poverty that has emerged; examines objective situations and also subjective perception; and applies to all societies, and can  thereby function as a global approach to human development. download
  • The challenges of delivering as one: overcoming fragmentation and moving towards policy coherence. How to achieve better coherence between the economic and social policies pursued by the agencies of the UN system? This paper looks at the concrete experience of two employment and social protection initiatives in two countries in South Asia, Nepal and Maldives, to illustrate some of the main factors that enabled some UN cooperation as well as the constraints deriving from policy differences and organizational boundaries. It makes suggestions for steps to enhance system-wide coherence, arguing the need to shift the focus of inter-agency debates from the efficiency of programming and operations to the policy levers to achieve development outcomes. The paper was prepared for the Policy Coherence for Growth, Employment and Decent Work project under the ILO-Norway Cooperation Agreement. ILO Working paper number 100. 2011.–en/WCMS_153043/index.htm
  • 2010 – A Year of Innovations in the Global Poverty Reduction Agenda. with Timo Voipio.
  • Südasien: Ansprüche und Elemente von Wohlfahrtsstaatlichkeit? Working paper 5/2010, Insitute for World Society Studies, University of Bielefeld. with abstract in English.
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  • Wohlfahrtsstaatlichkeit: Kein Privileg des Nordens. Wirtschafts- und Sozialpolitik in Südasien. Weltwirtschaft und Entwicklung.September 2010
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  • Moving towards human development and human security. From the UNDP Cambridge Conference on Human Development. January 2010.  [download]
  • Südasien. Wie die dreifache Krise Frauen und Kinder betrifft. Aniruddha Bonnerjee. in: UNICEF-Report 2010. Kinder – die Vergessenen der Finanzkrise. Fischer
  • Social Protection and Developing Countries: A view from South Family Policy in a Changing World: Promoting Social Protection and Intergenerational Solidarity. UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Social Policy and Development, New York and Doha International Institute for Family Studies and Development, Qatar Foundation, Doha 2009. p. 121 ff.
  • The social services sector in the Maldives: Overview and policy ideas. With Aniruddha Bonnerjee. UNICEF Regional Office South Asia. Kathmandu 2009. [download]
  • Rethinking Poverty and Social Exclusion Responses in Post-Conflict Nepal: Child-Sensitive Social Protection, with Marta Calì and Mariana Stirbu in: Child and Youth Environments, 19(2), Boulder, Colorado, 2009 download
  • The 3 Fs Crisis and Impact on South Asia. With Aniruddha Bonnerjee. Published as Matter of Magnitude. UNICEF Regional Office South Asia. Kathmandu 2009. www.unicef/rosa
  • Social Protection in South Asia: An overview. With Marta Cali and Mariana Stirbu. UNICEF Regional Office South Asia 2009. Kathmandu 2009. UNiCEF 
  • The Impact of the Crises on Children: A Policy View from South Asia. With Daniel Toole. Global Social Policy. Vol 10 (2). Sage Publications. London 2009
  • Policies towards Social Inclusion. Global Social Policy Vol 9 (1). Sage Publications. London 2008
  • Reaching the MDGs in South Asia: An Inventory of Public Policies to Overcome Social Exclusion. UNICEF Division of Policy and Practice, New York, 2008. UNICEF publication
  • MDG-based Planning for Development: Policy Interface and Synergies of Outcomes for South Asia. With Mariana Stirbu. Report of Millennium Development Goals-related Policy and Programme Review, July 2007. UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA.