ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

Victor Tokman

Interview for the Oral Archives of the ILO Century Project by Gerry Rodgers and Eddy Lee

Document | 10 June 2008

Victor Tokman was born in Argentina in 1941. He worked with the ILO for 28 years as Director of the Employment Development Department in Geneva and Director of the ILO Regional Employment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (PREALC) in Santiago. His last post before retirement was ILO Regional Director for Latin America (1994−2001). He has also served as an Advisor to the President of Chile and as an international consultant for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Mr Tokman taught at the University of Chile and the Catholic University of Chile, and was a visiting lecturer at IDS Sussex, the Economic Growth Center of Yale University and other universities. Victor Tokman’s pioneering work on informal sector issues started in 1973, soon after the introduction of the concept. He has written numerous papers and books on this subject, as well as on poverty and employment issues.

Education
CPA degree, University of Rosario, Argentina
MA in Development Studies, University of Chile
PhD in Economics, Oxford University, UK
Doctor Honoris Causa, University of Rosario, Argentina and Pontificial Catholic University, Peru

Abstract
Victor Tokman was Director of the Regional Employment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (PREALC), and ILO Regional Director for Latin America from 1994 to 2001. In this interview he reminisces about his experience with the World Employment Programme (WEP) and with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL). Tokman traces the fast development of PREALC and its link to the WEP, and the influence CEPAL’s development approach had on the programme. He provides insight into the World Employment Conference in 1976 and the Basic Needs Strategy (BNS) in particular, which he describes as “revolutionary” and compares to the later Decent Work Agenda (DWA). Tokman also highlights the ILO’s contribution to protecting trade unionists and continuing academic work in universities and research centres threatened by the military dictatorships in Chile and Uruguay in the 1970s. He discusses PREALC’s prominent work on the informal sector and looks at Latin America as being an exception to the main ILO response to neoliberalism. He provides an overview of Hansenne’s mandate with a closer view of the 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the gradual shift in ILO experts’ mobilization. Speaking on representativity, Victor Tokman concludes with discussing the areas where PREALC has made a real contribution to the world of work, namely in the field of informality and subcontracting practices.

Key words
1976 World Employment Conference (WEC), Basic Needs Strategy (BNS), dictatorships in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay; Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO), Committee of Nine Wise Men of the Alliance for Progress, Dominican Republic, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), ILO 1972 Kenya Employment Mission, ILO 1998 Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, ILO Latin America, ILO Regional Employment Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (PREALC), informal sector, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kennedy administration, Latin American Institute of Economic and Social Planning (ILPES), representativity, social debt, subcontracted labour, United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC/CEPAL), World Bank, World Employment Programme (WEP).

Names mentioned
Emmerij, Louis; Hansenne, Michel; Lagos, Ricardo; Lee, Eddy; Nussbaumer, Marianne; Lubell, Harold; Prebisch, Raul; Thirion, Gerard; Valdes, Gabriel.

Should you wish to obtain the full transcript of this authorized oral interview or quote from it, you can obtain permission by contacting ilocentury@ilo.org. The views expressed are those of the interviewee, and the inclusion of the interview and/or its transcript, either partly or in full, on the ILO Century Project website does not constitute an endorsement of their contents by the ILO.
A A+A++  Print  Email
close

Email

Victor Tokman

To

Email address:
Separate multiple addresses with a comma (,)

Your details:

Your Name:
Your Email:
Send
Share this content
© 1996-2014 International Labour Organization (ILO) | Copyright and permissions | Privacy policy | Disclaimer