Multilateral cooperation

ILO and UNESCO reconfirm commitment to joint work in new agreement

Text covers training youth for employment, women's employment and equal rights, child labour, human rights, social protection floors, poverty eradication and South-South and triangular cooperation.

Press release | 08 July 2014
Guy Ryder and Irina Bokova in New York sign the MoU
NEW YORK - ILO Director-General Guy Ryder and Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have signed a new agreement consolidating existing joint work by the two agencies in a wide range of areas, and setting the scene for future collaboration. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by the two Directors-General during the High-Level Segment of ECOSOC currently in progress.

In line with the call by the UN General Assembly for closer collaboration within the UN system, the text recognizes the complementary roles of the two agencies in such key areas as child labour, human rights, social protection floors, technical and vocational training and education (TVET), development cooperation, youth employment, poverty eradication and South-South and triangular cooperation.

ILO Director-General Guy Ryder stated: “our core mandate of creating opportunities for decent work speaks directly to the challenges of today’s youth in having the right skills for quality jobs. Our partnership with UNESCO, given their leadership in intercultural dialogue through education, adds a tremendously important component to our efforts that will benefit many young people as they search for a good job.”

The two agencies agree to cooperate to support national efforts to eliminate child labour and the social exclusion to which it contributes, in line with UN and ILO standards and the work of the Global Task Force on Child Labour and Education for All. The right to be free of child labour will be upheld in educational policies and systems.

The MoU provides for joint initiatives to support countries in their efforts to achieve internationally agreed development goals, including the future post-2015 development goals; and to make progress on national priorities in the areas of culture, the sciences and education; communication and information; the implementation of norms of common interest to underpin operational activities; and decent work.

“Our collaboration is an essential part of the UN’s ongoing efforts to achieve international development goals and shows what is possible as the UN discusses the post-21015 development agenda. By providing educational and skills support, entrepreneurship training and facilitating gender equality in career development we are ultimately helping people live better lives,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

ILO and UNESCO will cooperate in the development and expansion of national social protection floors in line with the ILO’s recent Social Protection Floors Recommendation, 2012 (No. 202) and will contribute to efforts to promote policies that ensure income security and access to essential social services, in particular universal access to education.

The ILO and UNESCO will increase their support to the UN System-wide Action Plan on Youth (Youth-SWAP) and internationally agreed priorities for youth development. These include initiatives in the areas of youth employment and entrepreneurship, as well as education and rights at work and civic education.

As regards TVET, the agreement pledges to share good practices and lessons learned in employment generation, education, and vocational training, with the aim of poverty eradication, working in this direction to promote systems and policies that promote social inclusion and social justice through better matches between general education and the world of work, and expanding quality apprenticeship systems that link classroom and workplace learning and ease the school to work transition. The ILO will address aspects concerning labour markets, employment policy, training and lifelong learning for employability and the productivity of enterprises, while UNESCO will focus on educational systems in order to prepare young people and adults for occupations in various sectors of economic and social life, as well as for lifelong learning.

Existing partnerships and coordination bodies will continue, with specific reference to coordination on TVET indicators and activities concerning green and sustainable development, workplace learning and entrepreneurship training, and the harmonization of terminology and common definitions of indicators on TVET and skills development, as well as participation in the Human Resource Development Pillar of the G20 Development Working Group. Other provisions relate to joint research and policy advice, as well as the sharing of knowledge, statistics, information systems, and efforts to develop capacity in these areas at national level.

The agreement provides for joint efforts to promote equal opportunities for women and men to quality education, training and decent work, particularly in education, culture, the sciences and the communication and information sectors, and the provision of policy advice to governments in these areas.

The ILO and UNESCO will support international, regional and national efforts to eliminate the social exclusion of persons with disabilities, by promoting access to information and knowledge, in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

Other issues addressed in the agreement concern statistics on employment in the education sector, sustainable enterprises, the safety of journalists, the workplace response to HIV and AIDS, improving occupational safety and health, cooperation to promote the International Decade for the Rapprochement of Cultures (2013-2022), bioethics-related issues concerning discrimination in employment and occupation, and work on the development of water utilities in the urban informal sector.

The ILO and UNESCO have a long history of collaboration, including the 1966 Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers and the 1997 Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, and related work of the Joint Committee of Experts on the Application of those Recommendations. Other areas of joint work include the status and rights of artists, journalists, and performers; disability, culture and development; the ILO Human Resources Development Convention, 1975 (No. 142) and Recommendation, 2004 (No. 195); the ILO Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention, 1983 (No. 159), and its accompanying Recommendation (No. 168); the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions; the 1961 ILO-UNESCO-WIPO International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations; and the 1980 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of the Artist.

The two specialized agencies will be guided by the mandates of their governing bodies and by the 2012 General Assembly Resolution on its quadrennial comprehensive policy review and related Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Resolutions that call on the UN development system to promote “greater coherence” and effectiveness, to draw on “the comparative advantages of individual entities of the UN system at the country level” and “to share good practices” and “lessons learned” in several areas, including “employment generation, education, vocational training … which aim at achieving poverty eradication”.

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