In June 2011 the International Labour Conference (ILC) adopted a Resolution and Conclusions setting out the Organization's new social security strategy, which aims at supporting Members in building and maintaining comprehensive social security systems on the basis of a two-dimensional approach: (1) (“horizontal” dimension) establishing – as a priority – nationally-defined sets of basic social security guarantees to provide a floor of protection to all in need as soon as possible; (2) (“vertical” dimension) extending the scope and levels of social security coverage as guided by Convention No. 102 (1952) and other existing social security standards to as many people as possible and as soon as possible. In June 2012, the ILC completed this strategy with a new international labour standard: Recommendation concerning national floors of social protection, 2012 (No. 202). The Recommendation is deemed a breakthrough in global social policy, whereby the establishing of national social protection floors may close prevailing gaps in social security coverage and help countries to effectively address poverty and vulnerability. This special double issue offers analysis of the process that culminated in the Recommendation's adoption and addresses practical fiscal, legal, political and institutional challenges that must be addressed if the Recommendation's goals are to be successfully implemented.