ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

GB.270/12 and Corr.
270th Session
Geneva, November 1997


Report of the Committee on Technical Cooperation

1. The Committee on Technical Cooperation met on 10 and 11 November 1997. It was chaired by Ms. A.C. Diallo (Government, Senegal). Mr. Hoff and Mr. Mayaki, respectively Employer Vice-Chairperson and Worker Vice-Chairperson, were present.

2. The Committee had the following agenda:

1. The ILO's technical cooperation programme, 1996-97.

2. The ILO's resource mobilization strategy.

3. Further developments concerning operational activities in the United Nations system.

4. Internal measures taken to enhance the ILO's technical cooperation programme.

3. The Chairperson recalled that the technical cooperation programme and the resource mobilization strategy were implemented in the framework of the ILO's Active Partnership Policy (APP). She referred to the evaluation of the APP by the Governing Body and the programme of missions to selected countries, which had been executed by the Working Group in September-October 1997. She expressed appreciation for the support received from governments and the social partners in the countries visited and from the ILO's field structure. The Committee would review the Working Group's conclusions and recommendations in March 1998.

4. She recalled that in 1999 the International Labour Conference would hold a general discussion on technical cooperation. Discussions in the Committee would be used to provide input for the report that would be submitted to the Conference.

The ILO's technical cooperation programme, 1996-97:
Internal measures taken to enhance the ILO's
technical cooperation programme

5. Introducing these items, the representative of the Director-General (Mrs. Chinery-Hesse, Deputy Director-General) reiterated the importance the Office attached to the Committee's guidance. Since a cornerstone of the Active Partnership Policy was a constituent-led approach to the determination of objectives and the assessment of the impact of technical cooperation programmes, the Office had endeavoured to respond to the Committee's request for improved reporting so as to avoid a sterile presentation of a catalogue of activities, and particularly for reports that were more forward-looking and focused on objectives, problem-solving and results-oriented, and which reflected the integration of the lessons of past experience and strategies for the future. She drew attention to the new thematic approach adopted for the report on the ILO's Technical Cooperation Programme in 1996-97, in which the programmes were grouped according to the three priority objectives of the Office as set out in the programme and budget. This demonstrated how the technical assistance programme had been supportive of the global objectives of the Organization. An addendum to the report covered specific regional trends and issues. One concern in preparing the next report would be to find an effective way of combining the general analysis of the technical cooperation programme with a presentation of the regional trends. The Office was aware that other refinements were still required, especially as regards the presentation of financial information. She assured the Committee that the Office was working on the data repository aspects of its management of programmes and projects in order to improve this component and to facilitate monitoring and feedback.

6. As regards the priority objectives, in the field of employment creation and poverty alleviation the ILO aimed to strengthen the capacity of constituents not only to design, but also to implement employment promotion, training, labour market and poverty eradication programmes. Regarding the protection of working people, a number of major initiatives dealt with the elimination of child labour, the promotion of occupational safety and health and measures to enhance and expand social security and social protection. She was pleased to note that the expanding International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC) had made a strong contribution in improving the ILO's visibility and relevance. As regards promoting democracy and human rights, she stressed that assistance to workers' and employers' organizations remained a fundamental element in the support for democratization and that such support was extended through a wide range of technical cooperation programmes.

7. Highlighting some of the main issues in the paper, she observed that the link between international labour standards and technical cooperation continued to be a prime concern. Secondly, the link between the regular budget and extra-budgetary resources was evident in the section dealing with the relationship between the technical cooperation programme and the action programmes financed out of the regular budget. A third issue covered by the report was gender: as reflected in the paper, the Office pursued a mainstreaming strategy of integrating gender and equality issues in all activities. The paper also summarized progress made in the international programme on More and better jobs for women. Finally, she referred to some of the policy and management issues relevant to the implementation of the technical cooperation programme that had been covered.

8. She underlined the importance attached by the Office to strengthening in-house capacity for the management of technical cooperation in order to ensure the overall quality of programmes. Some of the measures taken, including staff training, were listed in the main report. The Office had also pursued the systematic decentralization of responsibilities for backstopping projects and programmes from Geneva as a way of improving responsiveness and efficiency. These and other initiatives were summarized for ease of reference in the paper submitted under the fourth item on the Committee's agenda. Assistance had been given by the Office to the tripartite evaluation exercise commissioned by the Governing Body by making available to the members the outcome of an Office workshop on the APP organized in Turin. The conclusions of the workshop had stressed the continuing importance of country objectives; the need for sound programme development in response to the identified needs; the central role of tripartism in the ILO's technical cooperation programme, and the importance of resource mobilization in order to translate the identified needs into action. However, the Office had fully respected the independence of the Governing Body's Working Party on the APP, and looked forward to receiving the conclusions of the exercise when it was completed in March 1998, in order to improve the efficiency of the active partnership approach.

9. Mr. Hoff (Employer Vice-Chairperson) felt that the Committee would be able to work more effectively as a result of the improved reporting and the approval of additional meetings. However, he requested the Office to review the meeting schedules so that the Committee did not always have the drawback of meeting on the first day of the Governing Body. He underlined the importance of the Committee's work, observing that, despite a decline in the overall availability of development assistance resources, the ILO technical cooperation programme of $200 million per biennium was still substantial and was equivalent to half the Organization's budget resources, taking administrative support into account.

10. As a member of the Working Party on the evaluation of the APP, he had had an opportunity to observe directly the translation of the policy into practical action at the field level. He was satisfied that some good efforts had been made, but noted that there was room for improvement. He commended the Office's efforts to provide transparent documentation, and the steps taken to improve efficiency, make better use of human resources, and improve donor coordination and relations. He stressed that success could only be measured in terms of positive, tangible results, which would enhance the ILO's reputation and attract financial support from the donor community.

11. He recognized the strain on regular budget resources and suggested that, despite the limited allocations for technical cooperation from the regular budget, internal competition for resources should be minimized and efforts focused on attracting external resources for the technical cooperation programme.

12. Addressing the decentralization strategy, he noted that it entailed a need for new and better management techniques. Pertinent in this respect was his support for the conclusions in the paper concerning the need for better in-house collaboration to achieve quality programming and successful resource mobilization. The time had come for an evaluation of the central management of the ILO which would help the Office to attain the objectives of the technical cooperation programme.

13. As regards the evaluation of technical cooperation programmes, he considered that, given the resources and time invested, it was important for them to be sound and for the results to be used effectively in future programming. Relevant ILO circulars should be continuously revised to reflect policy changes. Moreover, regional, area office and MDT directors should be responsible for regular staff training on the contents of those circulars.

14. He urged the Office to give greater support to the transition process in Central and Eastern European countries. He also suggested the establishment of a new area office in one of the ex-CIS countries, expressing reservations about the likely effectiveness of the new Moscow office in responding to the needs of those countries. Finally, he deplored the continued disparity between the staff levels of the Bureaux for Employers' and Workers' Activities, pointing out that this had an adverse effect on the capacity of the former to prepare sound project proposals and hence to mobilize resources for technical cooperation. He called for the establishment of two additional posts in the Bureau for Employers' Activities: in the new global political environment the Bureau should be providing the same volume of development cooperation as the Bureau for Workers' Activities, but could not do so with only one-quarter of the staff and one-third of the resources.

15. Mr. Mayaki (Worker Vice-Chairperson) congratulated the Office on the report. The changes introduced in the presentation as well as in the content were particularly welcome. A significant improvement was the regrouping of the varied technical cooperation activities under the three overall priorities of the ILO programme and budget. He noted with approval that the strategy for technical cooperation adopted in 1994 continued to guide the Office in its operational activities. However, further progress could still to be made in that direction to facilitate assessment of the results under each of the major technical cooperation programmes.

16. He shared the concerns of the Office at the sharp decline in Official Development Assistance, which at $40.8 billion had dropped well below the 1990 level of $56.3 billion. This was particularly regrettable at a time when there were no visible signs of recovery in the near future.

17. As regards the country objectives exercises, which had started in Africa some three years previously, he observed that the Governing Body had only been provided with summary information on the progress achieved in each region and the total number of completed country objectives documents. For the next session a paper should be prepared with detailed information on the needs and priorities of the ILO's constituents already detected in a number of African countries, as well as on the obstacles that had prevented the country objectives formulation in other African countries.

18. Analysing the distribution of ILO regular budget expenditure for technical activities among the global priorities, he wondered why employment promotion and poverty alleviation had received such marked prominence in resource allocation (66 per cent of the total) by comparison with the two other priorities established in the programme and budget (support to democracy and human rights -- 13.9 per cent, and workers' protection -- 15.5 per cent). There had never been any decision by the Governing Body to give priority to employment promotion and poverty alleviation; the three priorities were on an equal footing, and a better balance should be struck between them in the attribution of ILO budgetary resources. He was concerned that expenditure under technical cooperation programmes for Employers' activities had risen by 12.7 per cent in 1996, while expenditure under the Workers' activities programmes had dropped by approximately 8 per cent.

19. It would be an exaggeration to state that employers' and workers' organizations fully participated in ILO programmes other than those run by their respective Bureaux for Employers' and Workers' Activities. The Workers' group had serious doubts in that respect. The Workers had participated fully in activities of which they were the direct beneficiaries, but the participation of employers' and workers' organizations in the planning, implementation and evaluation of technical cooperation programmes at the national, regional and subregional levels was rather isolated and exceptional. There was also a need to optimize collaboration between the technical units at headquarters, and Area Offices and MDTs.

20. He welcomed the information provided on the role of international labour standards and looked forward to receiving examples of progress made in the countries that had ratified Conventions as a result of the implementation of technical cooperation activities.

21. The Worker members actively supported the global action programme on More and better jobs for women and in general all activities undertaken by the Office to promote equal opportunity between men and women in the workplace. However, he cautioned against over-optimistic expectations in the launch of the new global action programmes mentioned in paragraph 125 of the report. IPEC's success was obviously due to the unique attractiveness and worldwide popularity of the cause of fighting child labour. The new programmes should not compete with existing ones, for the already scarce available resources and that new funding sources could really be tapped. The Workers' Group expressed interest in the Committee being given the opportunity to take a closer look at all aspects of the current and future global programmes: objectives, contents, management and modality of implementation.

General discussion

22. A number of key themes emerged from the statements in the Committee. These concerned the quality of the Office report; the resource situation for the technical cooperation programme; the implementation of the Active Partnership Policy, in particular the execution of the country objectives exercises and decentralization and related management issues; dimensions of the strategy for technical cooperation; evaluation; international labour standards and technical cooperation; and gender issues.

23. Echoing the views of the Employer and Worker Vice-Chairpersons, many members considered that there had been good progress in the quality of the reporting to the Committee. Such views were expressed, for example, by the representatives of the Governments of Canada, China, Egypt, India, Italy, South Africa, Sweden and the United States. The representative of the Government of Canada felt that the report provided a good overview of the activities within the programme and progress made in implementation. She also welcomed the information on resource allocation according to the three strategic priorities; on regional issues and programmes; and on global programmes, which made it easier to understand the overall programme and to make the necessary policy and programming choices. Several members pointed to a number of information gaps on specific issues which should be taken into account in future reports.

The resource situation

24. There was widespread concern among members of the Committee at the overall decline in the level of resources available for the implementation of the ILO's technical cooperation programme. The representatives of the Governments of Argentina, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Poland and South Africa expressed such concern. Disturbing regional reductions in a context of increasing demand were highlighted by the representative of the Government of Poland and Ms. Sasso-Mazzufferi (Employer member) with respect to Central and Eastern Europe. The latter expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Turin Centre in meeting the needs of this region. The decline in Africa was commented upon by the representative of the Government of Egypt and by Mr. Owuor (Employer member). The decline in Asia and the Pacific was noted with regret by the representatives of the Governments of India, China and Bangladesh, and that in the Americas by the representative of the Government of Argentina. The representative of the Government of China urged the Office to increase the level of cooperation with her country, since assistance was required in order to safeguard the interests of labour. In the light of the difficult situation there were strong recommendations on the need to source additional financing. The representative of the Government of Poland also requested the Office to develop a new model of technical cooperation in support of these efforts. The representative of the Government of Finland called for the integration of technical cooperation into the ILO's regular budget work programme so as to ensure the predictable financing that was necessary for the successful planning of activities and sustainable results. The representative of the Government of Germany advocated that the ILO should aim for greater efficiency, doing more with fewer funds, while simultaneously aiming for donor diversification. The representatives of the Governments of Finland and Sweden referred to the desirability of enhanced donor coordination so as to facilitate development cooperation with, and the resource mobilization efforts of, organizations such as the ILO. The former also referred to the need for coordination and consultation, including tripartite consultation on development cooperation within donor countries.

Implementation of the Active Partnership Policy

25. Committee members reflected on the issue of decentralization in the context of the implementation of the APP, and the execution of the country objectives exercises as the basis of a demand-driven approach. Major concerns were the rate of implementation of the country objectives exercises and the management questions that needed to be addressed to make the decentralization policy effective.

26. Country objectives exercises: The representative of the Government of Sweden considered that the major lesson emerging from the report was the importance of working from a country perspective based on the country objectives. The apparently slow progress in conducting these exercises, particularly in Africa, was noted with concern by the representatives of the Governments of Egypt and Swaziland and by Mr. Owuor (Employer member). Mr. Diaz (Employer member) also felt that the Office had been slow to engage in the consultative process in the countries of the Andean Pact. The technical cooperation programme could not be demand-driven without contact between the MDTs and constituents at the country level. The representatives of the Governments of Egypt and Swaziland requested further information on the country objectives exercises, including information at the regional and subregional levels; on the completed exercises, with an indication of the problems experienced in conducting the exercises; and on the unfinished exercises. The representative of the Government of Egypt stressed that the work plans of the MDTs should be consistent with the country objectives. The representative of the Government of South Africa felt that, in support of the demand-driven approach, a complementary initiative would be to work with constituents to develop a broader and more sophisticated understanding of technical cooperation among constituents. The representative of the Government of Sweden pointed to the importance of bearing in mind the possible influence of the composition of the MDTs on the selection of country priorities. The representative of the Government of Finland welcomed the creation of the country objectives database in the African Region.

27. The decentralization process and related management issues: The representatives of the Government of Canada, India and Italy referred to the importance of decentralization in the implementation of the APP. The representative of the Government of Canada also endorsed the stress placed in the report on improving communications within the ILO in the framework of decentralization. Mr. Diaz (Employer member) felt that decentralization had the potential to yield good results, provided that there was effective coordination with constituents. Mr. Owuor (Employer member) considered that a better demarcation of responsibilities and streamlining of decision-making were required for effective decentralization. Mr. Owuor (Employer member) and the representatives of the Governments of Argentina and China mentioned the need to strengthen the capacity of the MDTs. The representative of the Government of Sweden observed that proposals for a common UN approach at the country level could help to overcome some of the problems identified in the report.

28. Dimensions of the technical cooperation strategy: Statements focused on various aspects of the technical cooperation strategy, such as the substantive priorities and themes of the programme, programming issues, national capacity building and national execution and the role of training in supporting the implementation of the technical cooperation programme.

29. The substantive priorities and themes of the technical cooperation programme (employment promotion and poverty alleviation, worker protection and the promotion of democracy and human rights) were endorsed by the representative of the Government of Egypt. She also felt that strong emphasis should be placed on employment creation and poverty alleviation, given the adverse impact of structural adjustment programmes on employment. In this regard she referred to a conclusion adopted at the recent Oslo Child Labour Conference concerning the role of poverty as the root cause of child labour. The representatives of the Governments of Argentina, Bangladesh and India also underlined the importance of employment creation and poverty alleviation. The representative of the Government of Germany considered that the subject of social banking was important, and was pleased to see that activities in this field were foreseen under the regular budget: the ILO had an important role to play in countries emerging from conflict. The representative of the Government of the United States recommended that the ILO should cease working in areas such as reproductive health and focus instead on its core mandate. In terms of geographical priorities, the representative of the Government of Bangladesh endorsed the focus on the LDCs.

30. Programming issues were another major concern of Committee members. The representative of the Government of Canada strongly urged the Office to develop an overall programming framework to guide all technical cooperation activities: such a framework would have a positive impact in areas such as decentralization, programme development and delivery (including the development of the global programmes), implementation of the APP and evaluation. She cited the case of IPEC to illustrate how a focused programme framework could be developed for a complex and wide-ranging topic. The representative of the Government of Sweden endorsed this recommendation.

31. The proposed global programmes were the subject of several observations. There was considerable support for these initiatives. The representative of the Government of Italy believed that they would facilitate resource mobilization. However, the representative of the Government of Germany cautioned that it might be unrealistic to expect the new global programmes to attract the same level of funding as the IPEC programme, which had mass appeal. The representative of the Government of Bangladesh expressed satisfaction with the implementation of IPEC activities in Bangladesh and suggested that the Office could develop a global programme on employment creation as follow-up on the Social Summit, and complement it with a strong resource mobilization effort. The representative of the Government of Finland stressed the importance of establishing institutional structures within the Office to provide effective support for the global programmes.

32. The representatives of the Governments of Argentina and Sweden highlighted the need to strengthen national capacity to make national execution fully operational. Mr. Owuor (Employer member) suggested that the ILO could play a major role in strengthening national institutions to meet the requirements of this modality by providing technical assistance in areas such as backstopping, monitoring and evaluation. The representative of the Government of Egypt called on the Office to make greater use of national expertise.

33. The need for effective training in support of the implementation of the technical cooperation strategy was noted by the representative of the Government of Italy and by Mr. Beye (Employer member).

34. Evaluation: This subject elicited many observations by Committee members. The representative of the Government of Canada welcomed the emphasis on evaluation in the report: one key task was the development of an evaluation methodology to assess the overall impact of the ILO's technical cooperation programme as a means of ILO action at the country and regional levels. This was supported by the representative of the Government of Finland, who also suggested the inclusion in the report of more concise information on the evaluation results of individual programmes. Mr. Beye (Employer member) asked for the Committee to be kept fully informed on evaluation matters. The representative of the Government of Sweden suggested that it would be useful for the Office to provide further information on the evaluation procedures outlined in the document, for example the number of evaluations executed in relation to those planned and the number of evaluations which contributed to identifying the lessons learned, as well as how the evaluation procedures related to the budget cycle and the needs of the Governing Body and its committees. She sought clarification on the definition of independent evaluations, and asked whether the evaluation process showed if projects actually succeeded in helping the ILO to attain its three broad priority objectives cost-effectively. Similarly, the representative of the Government of Italy, while welcoming the evaluation information provided, felt that the Office needed to give a more complete and organic picture of the evaluation-related aspects of the programme. The representative of the Government of Germany considered the evaluation information sterile and sought more concrete information. The representative of the Government of the United States also pointed to missing elements in the material provided on evaluation: in the cases cited she would have welcomed information on the numbers involved, the degree of success, failures within the projects, the reasons for the results obtained, and the applicability of the experience to other regions. Mr. Owuor (Employer member) requested the Office to provide synopses of reports on project evaluations, as had been done in the past. The representative of the Government of South Africa pointed out that evidence of impact could have been included, for example, from the project on labour dispute settlement in South Africa, referred to in the report: the settlement rate of disputes had increased from 25 per cent to 60 per cent. He also felt that it would be useful to have information on the stage of the project cycle of the activities mentioned.

35. International labour standards and technical cooperation: The representative of the Government of Sweden drew attention to the need to integrate normative work with technical cooperation activities. The representative of the Government of Egypt suggested that the Office should assist countries to set up the national infrastructure and environment that would facilitate the application of standards. In this regard, she emphasized the importance of the availability of standards specialists in the MDTs. The representative of the Government of India feared that the decline in technical cooperation resources would entail less assistance for normative work in member States: his country would appreciate ILO assistance in overcoming certain obstacles to the ratification of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87). The representatives of the Governments of China and Germany pointed to the importance of linking normative work with gender equality issues.

36. Gender issues: In elaborating on the theme of gender equality, the representative of the Government of Germany felt that the link between international labour standards and gender equality in technical cooperation was often overlooked: the obstacles to the employment of women needed to be assessed and greater attention to country-specific circumstances in relation to international labour standards would help find solutions. He cited the Maternity Protection Convention (Revised), 1952 (No. 103), which might require some flexibility in its application so as to allow maternity provisions to be suitably implemented. The Workers with Family Responsibilities Convention, 1981 (No. 156) was a similar case. Ms. Sasso-Mazzufferi (Employer member) expressed the view that gender issues were equally important to men and women, and asserted the importance of women's participation in all ILO activities.

37. The representative of the Director-General (Mrs. Chinery-Hesse, Deputy Director-General) stated that the Office was heartened by the many positive reactions to the revised report format. The Committee's constructive suggestions for further improvement would be immensely useful: the Office would continue to endeavour to make the report more analytical and more impact-oriented, with greater use of graphical data. She observed that several speakers had focused on the important role of evaluations in drawing lessons from experience, and recalled that the subject of evaluation would be covered by a separate agenda item at the Committee's next meeting. She also mentioned the Office-wide application of a management-by-objectives system (MERS) for self-evaluation covering all ILO activities, including even those outside the technical cooperation programme. She assured members that the 1997 circular on evaluation was being followed by training programmes for both headquarters and field staff. Concerning the types of evaluations conducted in the context of the technical cooperation programme, the Office also made use when necessary of external evaluation consultants in order to bring an objective perspective in judging the performance of all players responsible for implementing programmes and projects.

38. As regards the implementation of the Active Partnership Policy and the country objectives exercises, she was pleased to report that the actual situation was better than was apparent from a first reading of the report. In Africa, for example, many country objectives exercises reported as uncompleted had been undertaken and were, in fact, only awaiting final tripartite endorsement. Concerning decentralization, she noted that many speakers had focused on the importance of proper management of the process as a necessary precondition for success. This was a key concern for the Office: one initiative planned was a symposium on the different facets of managing the decentralization process, to be held in December for the African region, which would be replicated in other regions.

39. Concerning the decline in expenditure on technical cooperation in Europe and the CIS countries in 1996, the Turin Centre had seen a corresponding expansion in programmes in support of countries in this region in response to their capacity-building needs, which had compensated for the reduction in activities for 1996-97.

40. Mr. Hoff (Employer Vice-Chairperson) reiterated his earlier request for emphasis to be placed on evaluation findings at the Committee's March 1998 meeting. He was particularly interested in follow-up by the Office on evaluation findings.

41. Mr. Mayaki (Worker Vice-Chairperson) repeated his request for the presentation of a detailed status report on the country objectives exercises at the next meeting.

42. The representative of the Government of Panama drew attention to the fact that, although the addendum to the report noted that Central America was a prime beneficiary of the extra-budgetary resources tapped in the Americas, the overall level of support was declining, and he urged the Office to mobilize additional resources for this subregion.

43. The representative of the Director-General assured the Employer Vice-Chairperson that his concerns regarding the use of evaluation results would be fully taken into consideration in March 1998. Referring to the Worker Vice-Chairperson's request, she indicated that the detailed status of country objectives would be provided at the special discussion of the conclusions and recommendations of the Working Party on the Evaluation of the Active Partnership Policy to be held in March 1998. She took note of the specific concerns expressed on Central America.

Further developments concerning operational activities
in the United Nations system

44. The representative of the Director-General (Mrs. Chinery-Hesse, Deputy Director-General) introduced the Office paper, which focused on the UN reform process and highlighted some elements having important implications for the ILO and its field activities. The major element of the reform of significance to the ILO at the moment was the creation of a UN Development Group in New York -- comprising the UN Funds and Programmes such as UNDP, UNICEF, UNFPA, WFP and other UN entities -- with the aim of enhancing coherence and developing complementarity and synergy. The development group was to be replicated at the country level with the UNDP Resident Representative or UN Resident Coordinator as the senior ranking UN-system representative in the country and leader of the UN development efforts. There was pressure for common UN premises and common services so as to lead to greater cost-effectiveness and enhanced collaboration, as well as to a unified UN-system image in the field. This new system would aim at common programming and resource planning, which should eventually include all UN institutions at the country level. This would lead to a unified programme framework -- the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) -- for the UN funds and programmes. The specialized agencies had already been invited to participate on a voluntary basis.

45. Commenting on the wider UN reform process, Mr. Hoff (Employer Vice-Chairperson) stated that a broad and critical review of the whole UN system was needed, as there was scope for slimming and decentralizing the UN system to make it more efficient and responsive. The Employers were in favour of measures to improve coordination, and he remarked that UNDP, with its changing mandate, already performed an effective coordinating role at the country level. UNDP Resident Representatives, with whom he had held discussions during the field visits of the Working Party on the Evaluation of the Active Partnership Policy, had often mentioned the good quality of the ILO's technical services, which should be seen as a platform for improved collaboration with the UN system. Finally, he expressed the wish that future reports on UN system operational activities should include data that would allow the Committee to compare the ILO's performance with that of other UN partners and to analyse the overall role of the UN system in the various recipient countries.

46. Mr. Mayaki (Worker Vice-Chairperson) referred to the declining resources available for UN-system development cooperation. The implications of the proposal to tap new and untraditional sources, including from the private sector through a new office in the UN for development financing, would need to be carefully examined. The ILO's specificity and the needs of its constituents should continue to be given the necessary attention.

47. Mr. Beye (Employer member) expressed concern at the proposal by the United Nations to create an Office for Development Financing and a foundation for private donations: such institutions could only restrict the ILO's scope for seeking potential resources from the private sector. However, if this initiative was in fact launched, it should avoid any monolithic approach that could reduce the ILO's scope for initiative and innovation. It should also be borne in mind that the ILO operated in a competitive system and that every effort should be made to safeguard its specific identity deriving from tripartism, unique skills and experience in certain social fields and its decentralization, seen at its most complete in the policy of responsiveness implemented by the multidisciplinary teams through the Active Partnership Policy. However, he was in favour of a common system of United Nations services, which would help reduce overheads. He also supported the approach proposed in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, since this was aimed at rationalizing budgetary choices, enhancing efficiency, and bringing a form of decentralization based on complementarity and synergy with other United Nations system agencies. Another Employer member, Mr. Arbesser-Rastburg, referred to the reform and reorganization of UNIDO, which had clarified its mandate and suggested that the ILO should examine the division of responsibilities between itself and UNIDO, since both organizations were active in a number of similar fields.

48. The representative of the Government of Italy, while supporting the overall thrust of the reforms, called for greater unity and integration of UN operations at the country level, supported by the ILO through the UN staff college at the Turin Centre. However, the ILO should retain its own authority and an independent profile because of its tripartite structure and mandate. Mr. Anand (Worker member), referring to proposals to strengthen ECOSOC in relation to the governing bodies of the agencies, cautioned on the need to preserve the autonomy of the ILO Governing Body as a tripartite body.

49. The representative of the Government of Sweden recalled the very active support of her country for the UN reform process, and in particular to improved coordination at the country level; she urged the ILO to take a positive attitude in this process. The representative of the Government of Mongolia stressed that the needs and priorities of the country should be the starting-point for the programming of UN-system technical cooperation, and that the ILO needed to coordinate its activities with other UN agencies, focusing on capacity building in institutions responsible for labour matters.

The ILO's resource mobilization strategy

50. Introducing the Office paper the representative of the Director-General (Mr. Trémeaud, Assistant Director-General) stated that the strategy outlined was intended to be an important contribution to the Office's process of change. As such it was also to be seen as a further definition of the overall strategy for technical cooperation adopted in 1994.(1)  The most important external developments that the Office had to face were the decline in official development assistance, the more competitive environment and more demanding donors. An important factor for the strategy from the point of view of internal developments was the introduction of new structures as part of the Active Partnership Policy and the resulting increase in demand for ILO services, mainly formulated in the ILO country objectives. In this context the resource mobilization strategy should not be considered as an end in itself; its overall objective was to promote the ILO's mandate and its normative principles. Tripartism would continue to be the basis of the technical cooperation programme, which was to be more closely linked to the overall work programme of the Office. The changing nature of the dialogue with donors should be recognized, in particular their wish to participate more and more in the elaboration of programmes. This called for a new and intensified dialogue with existing partners, as well as the deliberate initiation of discussions with potential new funding partners, including in the private sector. It should be possible to raise the level of funding for the ILO's technical cooperation programme, provided it was successful in its efforts to develop sound projects and programmes, especially the new global programmes mentioned in the Office paper. The aim should be to enhance the good reputation of the Office with high-quality and efficient programmes that would contribute in a pragmatic way to the normative work of the ILO. He reaffirmed that resource mobilization could not be a matter of a few particular units or individuals in the Office, but should be a shared responsibility of the Office as a whole, with the active participation of headquarters and field staff. He invited the members of the Committee to respond to the last paragraph of the Office paper and endorse the strategy.

51. Mr. Hoff (Employer Vice-Chairperson) welcomed the resource mobilization strategy and expressed his appreciation for a good and easily comprehensible document. The strategy should allow the Office to achieve better results in the area of sales promotion. He confirmed the overall changes in development assistance described, especially the increased insistence of donors on efficiency and good results. In this context, he suggested that the Office go along with donors and meet their requirements as long as the ILO's overall targets were met. He emphasized the competence and good reputation of the ILO's technical cooperation, with its practical and down-to-earth approach in meeting the needs of constituents. He called on the Office to increase the number of its multibilateral contributors and the number of the relatively small group of four most important donors. He recommended a tailor-made approach to each donor country with a particular effort to trace allocation pockets in the countries' aid budgets. On the other hand, the regular budget technical cooperation allocations should remain at their present level. As regards programming for resource mobilization, it was extremely important to strengthen the Office's capacity for programme development, as mentioned in the paper. Resource mobilization and the accompanying sales promotion were absolutely necessary. He wished the Office success and endorsed the point for decision.

52. Mr. Mayaki (Worker Vice-Chairperson) commended the report, which presented innovative proposals for ILO resource mobilization. The paper offered highly appropriate follow-up on the technical cooperation strategy approved by the Governing Body in 1994. In order for the resource mobilization strategy to be as efficient as possible it was important for the ILO to analyse the changes in the external environment while at the same time recalling the fundamental values of the Organization. The decline in external resources forced the ILO to review its resource mobilization strategy in order to profit from new developments and ensure its important role as a development partner. He welcomed the positive trend whereby donors focused more on social issues, such as democratization and the protection of workers' rights. Political and economic stability, necessary for investment and creation of employment, could only be ensured through respect for trade union and human rights.

53. The Worker members subscribed fully to the emphasis in the Office paper of the need to have a quality programme. Indeed, in view of the ILO's values, it was important to measure not only the quantity of technical cooperation projects: the quality of the technical cooperation undertaken by the Organization was equally important. It was also through the technical cooperation programme that member States would be in a better position to respect the values and the principles of the ILO. On global programmes, he expressed concern that the mobilization of resources for these programmes should not be at the cost of other programmes; in particular it should not negatively affect the programmes of direct support to workers' and employers' organizations. He also fully supported the suggested establishment of tripartite committees at the national level. This was a fundamental condition for the implementation of the Active Partnership Policy. With regard to the five major lines of action for the development of a marketing campaign, these had the full support of the Worker members. The Workers endorsed the point for decision.

54. The representative of the Government of Bangladesh stated that, although the ILO's technical cooperation strategy had been endorsed by the Governing Body in 1994, it had not been able to halt or reverse the decline in expenditure on technical cooperation activities. He expressed concern at this, and was not sure whether it indicated the inadequacy of the strategy or the inability of the Office to implement it properly. It would be a challenge for the ILO to prove its worth vis-ŕ-vis donors in a more and more competitive external environment. Technical cooperation could not be entirely demand-driven: the priorities of donors, as well as the ILO's own priorities and the recipients' needs must all be taken into account, and they all played a role in deciding what was funded. The highest priority for Bangladesh, in the area of technical cooperation, was in the field of job creation. In view of the fact that job creation had received the highest priority at the Social Summit and the ILO had the necessary technical competence in the area, there was no reason why a programme similar to IPEC, in the field of job creation, could not be established. He endorsed the Office paper and emphasized that the technical cooperation programme allowed the Organization to advance its values while providing practical support for development efforts. Technical cooperation activities were therefore to be regarded as central and not subsidiary aspects of its work.

55. Mr. Beye (Employer member) considered that since the ILO was about to embark on an innovative resource mobilization exercise, it should first carry out a number of tasks and respect certain principles. A market survey was needed with the following objectives: to compile a list of the major assets and fields of excellence of the ILO's technical cooperation services; to identify key factors affecting the success of the ILO's technical cooperation products and the handicaps involved; to determine the structure of the potential market for the ILO's technical cooperation services and identify the market segment currently occupied by the ILO, as well as the potential for the future through implementation of the right strategy. On this factual basis the ILO could then structure its approach and the action to be taken in the field of technical cooperation. Consideration should also be given to a number of principles that must be respected and criteria that must be applied. These were: to regard the Organization's constituents as both partners and clients entitled to expect quality and follow-up of the services provided by the Organization; to respect the criterion of transparency, to accept evaluations, and to improve communications affecting technical cooperation products that are likely to improve the ILO's image in general; not to lose sight of the objective of strengthening constituents' institutional capacity; to adopt different approaches for different potential donors (European Union, World Bank, etc.); to maintain the country programming approach while strengthening such interdisciplinary projects as IPEC; to enhance the impact of RBTC resources used as seed money so as to obtain more substantial extra-budgetary resources; to conduct an adequate evaluation of the results achieved by the projects in general; and to improve control over the mobilization and management of resources.

56. The representatives of the Governments of Egypt and Brazil regretted the fall in official development assistance and welcomed the Office's strategy for resource mobilization. A special effort should be made to ensure that sufficient funds were available for the priority areas of ILO concern. The experience of IPEC was an interesting example of attracting resources for such a priority area, in which it was also encouraging to note the very positive response from multibilateral donors. The tripartite discussions in the context of the APP and the preparation of country objectives had been an interesting and worthwhile experience in Brazil.

57. Mr. Anand (Employer member) stressed the need for efforts to attempt to make full use of locally available resources and ideas in recipient countries. He considered the scope for such national contributions significant, and encourages the Office, in particular the field offices, to work on this aspect of resource mobilization. Another Employer member, Mr. Marshall, called for a deliberate move to seek more private funding for the ILO's programme of technical cooperation: the Office had been too careful so far, even though in the context of IPEC some progress had been made. There was a clear need for reflection and a more vigorous approach.

58. The representatives of the Governments of Finland, Sweden, Germany, Peru, Italy and the United States expressed support for the outlined strategy. Resource mobilization should indeed be based on priority needs in developing countries. In this context, the ILO should link its technical cooperation programme even closer to its standard-setting work. The increased coherence envisaged in the overall work programme of the Office was obtained including both funding under the regular budget and from extra-budgetary sources. The plan outlined in the Office paper to concentrate on a number of priority areas in the form of global programmes was welcomed. The representative of the Government of Canada highlighted the conclusions of the paper submitted under the first item on the agenda: sound programme development, efficient implementation, demonstrable results and making constructive use of lessons learned from a continuous evaluation process to improve future outputs were critical elements in attracting the necessary financing for its programmes. In this context, evaluation was considered particularly important and it was stressed that the Office should make the results of evaluation better known and make more use of them in the promotion of its technical cooperation programme.

59. The representatives of the Governments of Finland, Germany and Italy, while welcoming the plan to increase the donor base, in particular among multibilateral donors, requested the Office to provide further information on the status of the agreement between the ILO and the European Union. The signing of this agreement had been pending for a considerable time, which was regrettable, as closer collaboration with the EU offered good scope for increased resources for the ILO's technical cooperation programme.

60. The representatives of the Governments of Sweden, Canada and the United States requested clarification about the role of the interdepartmental task force responsible for developing a detailed plan of action for technical cooperation which was to be established at the end of 1994. They also requested the Office to provide further information on the resources available for the resource mobilization strategy in the biennium 1998-99, since the point for decision was not clear in this respect. The representative of the Government of the United States expressed support for the resource mobilization strategy, but stressed that its financing should not lead to increases in the ILO's regular budget in future biennia.

61. Mr. Trotman (Worker member) was not convinced that there would be sufficient interest in funding ILO activities for workers' and employers' organizations. Although the UNDP and other donors were providing more financial support to NGOs, this did not necessarily imply a more positive attitude towards funding of the programmes in support of the social partners. The ILO's tripartite principles should continue to be fully reflected in its technical cooperation programme.

62. The representative of the Government of Senegal emphasized the importance of making full use of up-to-date methods for producing its promotional materials and the overall marketing campaign. The visibility of the ILO's work and that of both recipient and donor countries should be an important feature of the overall strategy. The representative of the Government of Panama expressed support for the strategy outlined in the Office paper and emphasized the importance for the ILO of training and human resource development in its implementation.

63. The representative of the Director-General (Mr. Trémeaud, Assistant Director-General), replying to the observations made on the resource mobilization strategy, was encouraged by the wide support for the resource mobilization strategy and by the appreciation expressed for the Office paper. He assured the Committee that the ILO would continue its efforts to increase its number of donors, which had already risen over the last years. It was indeed now equally important to increase the number of larger donors, especially among the multibilateral partners, and at the same time to start a campaign for funding from private sources. Donor countries currently not contributing to the ILO's technical cooperation programme would be individually encouraged to do so through quality proposals. A clear policy would have to be defined that would govern the ILO's relationship with the private sector and foundations. He was pleased to announce that the long negotiations with the European Union were expected to bear fruit in the coming months with the signing of a general agreement. He emphasized the need to mobilize financial resources and at the same time strengthen relations with donors on substantive issues. It was good to note that there was a lot of good will towards the ILO, and that its expertise in a wide number of technical sectors was irrefutable. It was also important to bear in mind that, unlike other organizations, the ILO had its unique tripartite structure and mandate.

64. It was now important to concentrate efforts and develop sound initiatives. It would be especially important to motivate ILO staff and provide appropriate incentives for the development of a solid and relevant technical cooperation programme. The decentralized structure of the Office put in place as part of the APP was now well established to play its role in this respect. A key element in the months ahead was the preparation of a marketing plan, with the assistance of external expertise in the field of resource mobilization. The Office would be concentrating on innovative but proven practices to expand its efforts in the mobilization of resources, fully recognizing today's competitive environment.

65. In reply to questions on the interdepartmental task force set up as part of the 1994 Technical Cooperation Strategy, he informed the Committee that it had met several times, but that assembling such a large group of departmental experts on a regular basis had proved too ambitious. Smaller meetings on specific topics had been found to be a better alternative. In response to the request that the Committee be kept informed of the progress made in implementing this strategy, he indicated that the Committee would receive a factual report at its next meeting in March 1998. He reassured the Committee that implementation of the strategy would begin immediately and that the necessary resources for 1998-99 would be found within the overall approved regular budget. This might imply some minor shifts in budget provisions under the funds for service and support to technical cooperation and in the regular budget for technical cooperation (RBTC).

* * *

66. The Committee endorsed the ILO's resource mobilization strategy and recommends that the Governing Body approve the necessary financial provision for the promotion of technical cooperation in future programme and budget proposals.

67. In accordance with the usual practice, it was decided that the agenda for the Committee's next meeting would be drawn up by its Officers in consultation with the Office.


Geneva, 13 November 1997.

(Signed) A.C. Diallo,



Point for decision: Paragraph 66.

 1. GB.261/TC/2/5.

Updated by VC. Approved by NdW. Last update: 26 January 2000.