ILO at the 2023 Global Refugee Forum

News | Palexpo, Geneva, Switzerland | 12 December 2023
The Global Refugee Forum (GRF) is the world’s largest international gathering on refugees designed to support the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) With a constitutional mandate to protect the rights and interests of all workers, including those employed in countries other than their own, the ILO has recognized refugees and the communities that host them as needing special attention.

In 2016, the ILO held a tripartite technical meeting which led to the adoption of a set of voluntary, non-binding Guiding Principles on the access of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons to the labour market. Elements of the guiding principles were incorporated into the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation (No. 205) adopted by the International Labour Conference the following year. Both the Guiding Principles and Recommendation 205 are mentioned in the GCR as the basis of efforts to foster inclusive economic growth for host communities and refugees.

The ILO has also been closely collaborating with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), institutionalized by a Memorandum of Understanding in 2016 and currently operationalized through a Joint Action Plan for 2023-2025. One priority activity is to support implementation of the GCR, including by building on our collaboration around the GRF.

ILO involvement in the 2019 GRF

Held every four years, the first GRF took place in 2019 wherein the ILO was actively involved. The ILO became a co-sponsor of the jobs and livelihoods theme and made a pledge to intensify cooperation with the multilateral system and scale up technical support to governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations and other stakeholders to facilitate decent work opportunities for host communities and refugees, including women and youth affected by crisis. Former ILO Director-General Guy Ryder was a panelist both in the 2019 GRF’s High-Level Dialogue on Jobs & Livelihoods and the High-Level Officials Meeting in 2021.

Participation at the 2023 GRF: pledges and events

In the 2023 GRF the ILO pledged to ‘advance equality and non-discrimination in labour market access and labour protection in forced displacement contexts’. By implementing a diverse range of inclusive initiatives, the ILO  aims to  increase equality of opportunities and of outcomes in the world of work for refugees, and also migrants in mixed migration contexts, other forcibly displaced persons and host communities. Special emphasis will be placed on women, persons with disabilities, youth, and workers and enterprises in the informal economy.

The ILO is involved in several multi-stakeholder pledges. These pledges are commitments from States and other stakeholders to advance the objectives of the GCR.

The ILO is a technical co-convener of the multi-stakeholder pledge on Economic Inclusion and Social Protection led by the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative, United States, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Mexico and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development in Eastern Africa.  It is also one of the participating UN entities in the UN Common Pledge 2.0 on Refugee Inclusion alongside 50 UN Country Teams and 32 UN agencies. The ILO has committed to ‘championing the right to decent work for refugees, other forcibly displaced persons (FDPs) and host communities through their inclusion in policies and programmes at national, regional and global level, that improve labour market access, working conditions and labour protection’. The ILO is also a co-lead for a pledge on technical and vocational education and training that contributes to the multi-stakeholder pledge on Achieving 15% Enrolment by 2030 to Expanding Refugee Access to Higher Education and Self-Reliance.

The ILO is also member of various other multi-stakeholder pledges such as on Leveraging the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus, Refugee Participation, Protection for refugees and migrants at risk of or affected by trafficking in persons, and Global Multi-Stakeholder Pledge to Support Work With, For & By Young People in Displacement.