107th International Labour Conference

World of Work Summit: Background information

The International Labour Conference is holding a World of Work Summit to discuss the importance of employment and decent work for peace and resilience, with a specific focus on tackling the realities on the ground and on partnerships that can achieve real results.

The century-long history of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is closely connected with the global quest for peace. As World War II was drawing to a close, the International Labour Conference (ILC) signed on 10 May 1944 the Declaration of Philadelphia, and two days later, on 12 May 1944, adopted the Employment (Transition from War to Peace) Recommendation (No. 71), which focused on the employment reorganization and economic reconstruction required after the war. The concept of lasting peace flowing from social justice was the most evocative expression of the ILO’s role in contributing to peace, and the ILO received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969 on the occasion of its 50th anniversary.

The continued relevance of its mandate and the central role of employment and decent work in responding to contemporary crisis situations have been prominent in recent times, especially in the context of the recent refugee crises in many countries around the world.

The importance of this issue led the ILO’s constituents to devote their attention at the 2016 and 2017 sessions of the ILC to the discussion and negotiation of a new international instrument in the area, and at the last ILC in June 2017 the ILO adopted the Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience Recommendation, 2017 (No. 205). To respond to the growing requests for strengthening employment and decent work in peace building programmes, the ILO has further launched a Jobs for Peace and Resilience (JPR) Flagship Programme and entered into new strategic partnerships, in particular with UNHCR and with the United Nations PBSO (Peacebuilding Support Office).

The 2016 resolutions on Sustaining Peace adopted by the General Assembly and the Security Council (A/RES/70/262 and S/RES/2282 (2016)) mark the start of a new approach to peace based on a more balanced humanitarian and development nexus. There is now a global consensus about putting prevention first and addressing the root causes of conflicts and crises, which often lie in poverty, inequality, acute decent work deficits and serious violations of human rights.

The recent World Bank and United Nations report “Pathways for peace : Inclusive approaches to preventing violent conflict” (2018) estimates that, for every one US dollar spent on prevention, up to seven dollars could be saved – over the long term. This means seven dollars which, instead of being spent on conflict response, can go towards actually developing, and advancing, societies. In other words, investment in prevention pays off in human lives, in financial savings and in development gains.

The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustaining Peace agenda converge toward tackling the root causes of conflicts and creating a momentum for inclusive growth, employment generation and decent work as core components for conflict prevention, post-conflict recovery and sustaining peace.