World Day of Social Justice: "Preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work"

In line with the strong affirmation by the new Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the central mission of the UN system to maintain international peace and security, the ILO with member States and other key stakeholders will hold an interactive dialogue to explore the potential of integrating employment strategies, based on concrete experiences, into conflict resolution responses.

ILO web page on work, peace and resilience


  • To highlight the importance of pro-employment strategies and its contribution to international efforts to prevent conflicts, sustain peace and promote social justice;
  • To explore the intersectionality of employment and peace and justice issues as outline in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development;
  • Increase knowledge sharing and collaboration with the UN system and other key stakeholders on effective strategies for peace, justice and development;


The UN’s central mission to maintain international peace and security was strongly reaffirmed by the new Secretary-General, António Guterres, on his first day in office pledging to make 2017 a year for peace. In expressing his concern for the millions of people “suffering massively in wars with no end in sight” he stated that “peace must be our goal and our guide”.
The enormous human and economic cost of conflicts and the difficulty in preserving global stability highlights the complexity and challenges that the UN and its member States face in preventing conflict, sustaining peace and delivering on the new and ambitious development goals.

Furthermore, the efforts and resources needed to rebuild devastated communities and regions require a wide range of stakeholders and actors over many years of arduous work and is ultimately more costly than devising and putting in place effective preventative measures.

Peaceful and inclusive societies, as well as decent work and equitable growth, are key priorities of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda states that sustainable development cannot be realized without peace and security and encourages member States to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights.

Recent General Assembly and Security Council resolutions that seek to improve the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, consistently call for the entire United Nations system to work more closely together around the goal of sustaining peace.

Research has shown that generating employment is crucial to building peace. Employment and income generation are fundamental elements to prevent conflicts and to address the post-conflict challenges. For communities and individuals, job creation and regular income can provide the means for survival and recovery. Employment is also key in reaching out to young people to help build more resilient societies as well as vital in reintegrating former combatants and returnees.

This focus on young people as part of prevention strategies, particularly in regard to employment, helps tap into the positive energy and skills of youth. Youth often find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of violence, poverty, illiteracy and social exclusion. There should be a balance between priority security concerns and equity considerations, especially when targeting specific individuals or groups, such as ex-combatants.

Urban and rural areas present different challenges and opportunities with regard to employment and reintegration. The characteristics of basic labour markets, the levels of organization and training of labour, and the potential for employment programmes to generate desired results, all differ significantly between these areas.

Transitions from conflict to peace are vital opportunities for social and economic change which should be managed to benefit, to the extent possible, of the entire population. Employment creation strategies, if developed and administered equitably, can deliver the new economic benefits and peace dividends to the affected population.

Peacebuilding processes need to focus on improving the rights of the affected populations, with particular attention to reducing inequalities towards women and youth and to previously disenfranchised groups, through political, economic and labour market reforms. Substantial investments in infrastructure should optimize the use of employment-intensive and employment-friendly techniques.

Recent international analyses call for coherent and comprehensive strategies for post-conflict employment promotion and reintegration, including the provision of stable income generation and emergency employment, local economic recovery for employment opportunities and reintegration as well as sustainable employment creation and decent work.

The UN Secretary-General has pointed to the inability of the international community to prevent conflict and maintain global security as its greatest failure. To address this problem, he has encouraged the member States and the UN system to focus on building stronger institutions and contributing to more resilient societies.

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the General Assembly’s establishment of the World Day of Social Justice (A/RES/62/10), the theme of “Preventing conflict and sustaining peace through decent work” has been selected and will provide an opportunity for the UN to explore specific actions that are contributing towards this goal.

The ILO is supporting peacebuilding processes with the promotion of decent work in many countries. For example, the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2015, consisted of ILO social partners that had successfully negotiated a “social contract” between the Government and their organizations to promote major improvements in the areas of labour law and labour relations, employment policies, social protection and vocational training.

In Colombia, the ILO is supporting the creation of employment, in particular for young people, in rural areas to facilitate the transition from conflict to peace and ease the military demobilization.

To highlight the urgency for action, this event will bring together UN agencies, Member States and other key stakeholders for an interactive dialogue to explore the potential of integrating employment strategies, based on concrete experiences, into conflict resolution responses.