Achieving Policy Coherence

Relevant paragraph of the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization on policy coherence

603. In principle, there is congruence between the founding principles and aims of the main international organizations, and they therefore share many objectives. International law requires them also to interpret their mandates, as far as possible, in harmony with the mandates of other international organizations, and in line with the ultimate goals they have in common. They should all, irrespective of differences in economic power and influence, apply their mandates in practice in ways that do not place their members in contradiction with obligations which they have also undertaken in other international instruments and treaties.

604. In practice, the multilateral system is under-performing in terms of ensuring coherence among economic, financial, trade, environmental and social policies to promote human development and social progress. As argued earlier, international rules and policies have favoured measures for market expansion over economic and social policies to achieve a pattern of globalization that benefits all countries and all people. This has been a reflection of the greater economic power and influence of organizations dealing with trade and finance compared to those dealing with development and social policy. A key aspect of ensuring greater coherence for a fair and inclusive globalization is thus the redressing of these unbalanced outcomes.

605. Ensuring greater coherence among policies is the responsibility not only of the organizations of the multilateral system but also of the governments and parliaments which oversee their work. In particular, the international organizations need to be given a clear political mandate to achieve greater policy coherence.

606. An important means of achieving greater policy coherence so as to redress the imbalance between social goals and economic policies, and hence to shift the focus from markets to people, lies at the national level. We recommend that there should be regular national reviews of the social implications of economic, financial and trade policies. The IMF and the WTO conduct regular reviews of these latter policies but they focus on issues within their respective mandates. There is a clear need for reviews that examine the implications of these policies for decent work, gender inequality, education, health and social development. They should aim to expand the space for national policies to promote social development. These reviews should be undertaken by the ILO1 and other relevant organizations of the international system with a mandate on social issues such as the UNDP and the Specialized Agencies of the UN. National ownership of the entire process is indispensable. As far as employment is concerned, the ILO’s Employment Policy Convention provides a framework which could be used as the basis for a global approach.

607. At the international level we propose that a new operational tool be systematically developed to upgrade the quality of policy coordination between international organizations on issues in which the implementation of their mandates intersects and their policies interact. This would correct the imbalance between economic and social policies, eliminate the harm inflicted by policies working at cross-purposes, and harness the synergy from complementary policies.

608. We recommend that Policy Coherence Initiatives (PCI) be undertaken by the relevant organizations on key issues addressing the social dimension of globalization. The objective would be to progressively develop integrated policy proposals that appropriately balance economic, social and developmental concerns on specific issues. 2

609. We invite all Executive Heads of the multilateral system to consider issues for policy coherence initiatives with other agencies in which they consider that, by working together, they can make a contribution to a more fair and inclusive globalization. A number of priority issues that are cross-cutting in nature could be immediately considered. These include employment creation and the reduction of poverty, gender inequality and the empowerment of women, the integration of the informal economy into the economic mainstream, the protection of core labour rights, education, health, food security and human settlements.

610. Executive Heads of the Agencies could decide to move forward with other organizations on issues they consider appropriate for policy coherence initiatives and define in each case the best method of joint work. The understandings reached on balanced policies for achieving more equitable outcomes would be brought to the attention of their respective Boards or Governing Bodies for consideration and action. The Chief Executives Board of the United Nations, headed by the Secretary-General, and the Economic and Social Council would be kept informed of the evolution of these initiatives. This approach would significantly enhance the quality of policy making while using a methodology which is flexible and can be applied in a pragmatic manner.

611. In the first instance, we invite the Executive Heads of the relevant UN bodies, the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO and the ILO to address the question of global growth, investment and employment creation, through a policy coherence initiative. Given the questions dealt with in the Report, we consider this subject to be of the highest priority. The institutions involved could make a significant contribution by addressing this major concern to government, business, workers, civil society and people everywhere. Such an initiative would respond to a major political demand in all countries, and would demonstrate the capacity of the institutions concerned to pioneer new cooperative ways to find solutions in this critical field.

Better policy development

612. Follow-up also requires a process to further develop specific recommendations into operational policies, in the light of the views and interests of those most directly affected by them.

613. We suggest that our proposals be further considered and. developed through a series of Policy Development Dialogues. The dialogues would create space for communication and exchange between all actors concerned. They should be designed to bring about agreement on and concrete implementation of specific policy proposals in the medium to long term. They can also serve to initiate or deepen discussions on important policy issues that have received relatively little attention to date.

614. Such dialogues would engage administrators, politicians, parliamentarians, business, labour, civil society, and other groups under-represented in formal governance structures. They would thus bring into the process those who have important expertise in relevant fields, those whose interests are at stake, and those with responsibilities in the implementation of change

615. The nature of each dialogue, its agenda and the participants could vary, depending on the stage of the debate and the subject involved.

616. These policy dialogues could include the following areas:

Building a multilateral framework for the cross-border movement of people. A process is laid out in (para 440-444 ). The United Nations Secretariat, ILO, IOM, OHCHR, UNHCR, UNCTAD, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) should all be engaged.

Corporate social responsibility for a fairer globalization. It is proposed in (para 557) that the ILO convene a forum on this issue.The IOE and the ICFTU should play a major role.

A development framework for FDI, which balances the rights and responsibilities of investors (domestic and international), host and home countries, taking into account the social impact. (para 399). This would involve all relevant international organizations and ensure that all interests are represented.

Globalization, adjustment and social protection (para 490-91). This dialogue would build a policy agenda aimed at strengthening social protection in the global economy. It would engage UNDP, the World Bank, WTO, IMF and ILO among others.

Global capacity building on education and skills for information technology to widen the benefits from globalization (para 487). Building on the existing Education for All initiative and the outcome of the World Summit on the Information Society, this should be led by UNESCO and the World Bank, and engage the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), UNDP and others.

The contribution of regional and sub-regional integration to a fairer globalization (para 333-34). This would engage the secretariats of the regional organizations concerned, along with the UN Regional Economic Commissions, regional parliamentary assemblies, regional development banks and other regional bodies, along with relevant international organizations.

Gender equality as an instrument for a more inclusive globalization bringing together the United Nations, UNDP, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and other relevant actors.

617. We call on international organizations to promote and contribute to these dialogues on subjects that are within their respective mandates.

618. Beyond these focused policy dialogues, we believe that there is a need for a broader platform for exchange of ideas among people with different perspectives on globalization. Our experience as a Commission has convinced us that this exchange is fruitful. As individual members of the Commission we reflect views from different parts of the world, from business and labour, as policy-makers and parliamentarians, from civil society and the academic world. We have found that bringing our views into dialogue enriches our understanding, even when – as is sometimes inevitable - we differ. It is an essential step towards finding common cause and ways forward. Our national and regional consultations have likewise shown the value of dialogue in promoting broader exchange and mutual understanding, and in identifying possible actions by different social actors in the common interest.

619. For this reason, we recommend that a Globalization Policy Forum be established among interested international organizations, as part of a sustained effort to make dialogue between different points of view the foundation of a fairer globalization. It would examine the key issues relevant to the social dimension of globalization.

620. The role of the Forum will be to mobilize the collective effort of the multilateral system to create a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogues and to build public support for proposals emerging from them. Such a Forum would be a space which could bring together the agencies of the multilateral system, and in particular the UN and its specialized agencies, with other organizations, groups and individuals who are concerned with the social dimension of globalization. It would assess the social impact of developments and policies in the global economy on a regular basis. It would tap the knowledge, resources and perspectives of all participating organizations in monitoring trends on the social impact of globalization and analysing key policy issues.

621. We believe that, in the light of the experience of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, the ILO should take the initiative to follow up this recommendation in cooperation with interested international organizations.

622. Participating institutions could also make an important contribution by preparing a regular “State of Globalization Report” reflecting the experience and perspectives of their wide-ranging constituencies.

1 As pointed out in paragraph 510 above, the ILO already has an explicit constitutional mandate to oversee the social implications of international economic policy.

2 Some Policy Coherence Initiatives are already under way, involving UNAIDS, the efforts at system-wide follow-up of the MDGs and the recently created Geneva Migration Group.