International Social Security Association

International Social Security Association

The International Social Security Association (ISSA) [] is the principal international organization bringing together national social security administrations and agencies. Founded in 1927, the ISSA has 350 member organizations in 149 countries. It has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, in the International Labour Office (ILO). The ISSA President since 2004 is Ms. Corazon de la Paz-Bernardo (Philippines) and the Secretary General since 2005 is Mr. Hans-Horst Konkolewsky (Denmark).

Social Security

The recognition of social security as a basic human right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). The development of social security programmes is one of the most significant social achievements of the international community, but its enhancement and extension remain one of the main challenges of the 21st century.

As per the ISSA Constitution, the term "social security" means any scheme or programme established by legislation, or any other mandatory arrangement, which provides protection, whether in cash or in kind, in the event of employment accidents, occupational diseases, unemployment, maternity, sickness, invalidity, old age, retirement, survivorship, or death, and encompasses, among others, benefits for children and other family members, health care benefits, prevention, rehabilitation, and long-term care. It can include social insurance, social assistance, mutual benefit schemes, provident funds, and other arrangements which, in accordance with national law or practice, form part of a country's social security system.

At the First World Social Security Forum held in September 2007 in Moscow, the ISSA Secretary General Mr. Konkolewsky called for increased political efforts and a broader concept of social security to tackle the challenges of ageing populations, healthcare coverage and deepening inequality.


The constitutional mandate of the ISSA is "to co-operate, at the international level, in the promotion and development of social security throughout the world (…) in order to advance the social and economic conditions of the population on the basis of social justice."

The ISSA's aim is to promote dynamic social security as the social dimension in a globalizing world through supporting excellence in social security administration. To face the evolving needs of the world’s population, the ISSA advocates that social security must increasingly adapt and innovate to foster integrated, coherent, proactive, and forward-looking social security policies with the aim of better ensuring universal access to social security.


Founded with the support of the International Labour Organization (ILO) on 4 October 1927, in Brussels (Belgium), as the International Conference of Sickness Insurance Funds and Mutual Benefit Societies - "Conférence internationale des unions nationales de sociétés mutuelles et de caisses d'assurance-maladie". The name was changed in 1936, in Prague (Czechoslovakia), to the International Social Insurance Conference - "Conférence internationale de la mutualité et des assurances sociales" (CIMAS). The present name was adopted in 1947, in Geneva (Switzerland), together with a new Constitution.


The ISSA organizes a World Social Security Forum and General Assembly at the end of each triennium (the next will be in Cape Town, 2010) and during each triennium organizes four Regional Social Security Forums (in Africa, the Americas, Asia/Pacific and Europe); convenes topic-related technical seminars in various regions; hosts international conferences - on information and communication technology in social security; social security actuaries and statisticians; and international policy research; and is the co-organizer of the World Congress on Occupational Safety and Health every three years. The ISSA collects and disseminates information on social security programmes throughout the world; undertakes research and policy analysis on the social security issues and distributes their results; encourages mutual assistance between member organizations; facilitates good practice collection and exchange; cooperates with other international or regional organizations exercising activities related to the field; communicates with its constituency and media and promotes social security through advocacy and information; and forges partnerships between the ISSA and other international organizations active in the area of social security to advance common strategies, including the ILO, the OECD and the World Bank [] .


"The priority issues on which the ISSA is working are:"

Governance and social security

Risk management and leadership in social security

Project on information and communication technology (ICT) as a strategic management tool

Compliance and contribution collection

Regular monitoring of major trends in social security worldwide

Identifying and analyzing forthcoming social security challenges

Establishment of an international barometer on social security administration

Examining the existing knowledge and establishment of a task force on the extension of coverage

In-depth monitoring of social security reforms responding to sustainability challenges caused by demographic changes

Demographic changes and social security – innovations, good practice and lessons learned

Raising the profile of social security at the international level, including the creation of a Web portal on social security

Organization of the World Social Security Forums and Regional Social Security Forums.


The ISSA publishes the world's foremost international quarterly journal in the social security field, the "International Social Security Review" in English, French, German, and Spanish, in collaboration with Blackwell Publishing [] It co-publishes the series "Social Security Programs Throughout the World", in co-operation with the US Social Security Administration [] . In partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) [] and the International Organisation of Pension Supervisors (IOPS) [] , the ISSA produces "Complementary and Private Pensions Throughout the World". The ISSA also issues an electronic newsletter; social security policy briefs; books on specific topics; and CD-ROM compendia of conference reports. The ISSA documentation service provides information search services and comprises a large collection of publications. The ISSA maintains several databases in English, French, German, and Spanish on social security covering: an overview of social security systems worldwide; a monitor of social security reforms; summaries of complementary and private pension systems; social security legislation; a comprehensive bibliography; and a thesaurus of social security terminology. Databases are available via the ISSA Website [] .

Governance structure

The main statutory bodies of the ISSA are the General Assembly (meets every 3 years) that consists of delegates appointed by member organizations; the Council (normally meets at each session of the General Assembly) that comprises one titular delegate or one substitute delegate from each country where there is at least one affiliate member organization; the Bureau (meets twice annually) that comprises the President, Treasurer, Secretary General and elected representatives of the 4 geographical regions.


The ISSA's affiliate membership includes government departments, institutions, agencies and other entities and (non-international) federations of these. Associate membership includes (non-international) organizations with objectives compatible with those of ISSA but not qualified to become affiliate members.

See also

Social Security

Social Protection

Further information

ISSA Website []

McKinnon, R. 2004. "Promoting Social Security Worldwide: The Role of the ISSA", "International Social Security Review", Vol. 57, No. 3.

McKinnon, R. 2007. "Dynamic Social Security: A framework for directing change and extending coverage", "International Social Security Review", Vol. 60, No. 2/3.

Guinand, C. 2008. "The creation of the ISSA and the ILO", "International Social Security Review", Vol. 61, No. 1.

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