ASEAN and ILO to cooperate in addressing labour and employment issues

The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the International Labour Office (ILO) signed a Cooperation Agreement today to strengthen their collaboration and partnership.

News | 20 March 2007

GENEVA - The Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the International Labour Office (ILO) signed a Cooperation Agreement today to strengthen their collaboration and partnership.

ASEAN Secretary-General Ong Keng Yong and ILO Director-General Juan Somavia signed the Agreement in Geneva, Switzerland. The Agreement signals the commitment of both organisations to address labour and employment issues in the ASEAN region and promote social progress.

Mr. Ong noted, "The Agreement paves the way to continue the momentum established through joint ASEAN-ILO efforts and highlights the complementarities between ASEAN’s community building initiatives and the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda."

Mr. Somavia said, "The Cooperation Agreement is of strategic importance to the realization of the Asian Decent Work Decade launched at the ILO’s Regional Meeting last year. It provides a strong basis to work together in an effort to ensure that regional integration contains a strong social dimension and leads to a fair globalization."

Under the Agreement, the ASEAN Secretariat and the ILO will deepen their collaboration in the implementation of programmes and projects, including in the areas of occupational health and safety, HIV/AIDS and the workplace, the employment implications of trade liberalization, youth employment, vocational training, social security and labour migration. The two agencies will also cooperate in the exchange of information, research studies, and representation at working level meetings.

ASEAN, comprised of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, has a population of more than 560 million, spending more than US$ 400 billion every year, and a labour force of 330 million. Between 2000 and 2006, the ASEAN region performed at an annual average real GDP growth rate of 5.7 per cent. The region’s unemployment rate, however, has increased from 5 per cent 6.6 per cent during the same period. Exports from ASEAN totalled US$ 650 million in 2005, accounting for around 22 per cent of Asia’s total exports.

The ASEAN Secretariat is the Secretariat of ASEAN, whose objectives are (i) to promote economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership in order to strengthen the foundation for a prosperous and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations, and (ii) to promote regional peace and stability through mutual respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship between countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.

The International Labour Office (ILO) is the Secretariat of the International Labour Organization, which is the UN agency devoted to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity. Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues.

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