ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

270th Session
Geneva, November 1997

Committee on Technical Cooperation and Related Issues



The ILO's technical cooperation programme, 1996-97



I. Overview of the ILO's performance

II. Overall ILO priorities and the technical cooperation programme

III. Workers' and employers' activities and the technical cooperation programme

IV. International labour standards and technical cooperation

V. The technical cooperation programme and the ILO action programmes

VI. Gender issues and technical cooperation

VII. Critical issues in the technical cooperation programme

VIII. Implementation of the ILO strategy for technical cooperation

IX. Conclusions



  1. ILO technical cooperation expenditure 1990-96 (by source of funds)
  2. Expenditure by region, 1995-96
  3. Africa -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96
  4. Asia and the Pacific -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96
  5. Latin America and the Caribbean -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96
  6. Arab States, Middle East -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96
  7. Europe -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96
  8. Interregional and global -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96
  9. ILO extra-budgetary technical cooperation approvals, 1990 and 1996 (by source of funds)
  10. Distribution of ILO technical cooperation expenditure by priority themes, 1996
  11. ILO regular budget (RBTC ) and extra-budgetary expenditure for workers' activities, 1996
  12. ILO regular budget (RBTC) and extra-budgetary expenditure for employers' activities, 1996


  1. Expenditure on ILO technical cooperation programmes 1994-96 (excluding administrative expenditure), tables A, B, and C
  2. Analysis of ILO technical cooperation expenditure by type of assistance/input 1995-96 (excluding administrative expenditure)
  3. Analysis of ILO technical cooperation expenditure in 1996 by field of activity and source of funds (excluding administrative expenditure)
  4. Breakdown, by country and area, of expenditure on ILO technical cooperation in 1996 (excluding administrative expenditure)
  5. ILO technical cooperation activities in the LDCs, 1994-96: Expenditure by geographical region and by source of funding (excluding administrative expenditure)
  6. Nationality of experts
  7. International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin: Geographical distribution of training activities in 1996
  8. International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin: Distribution of training activities in 1996 by field of activity


1. Demand for ILO technical cooperation remained high during the reporting period. Employment generation and poverty alleviation remained major preoccupations, and the ILO was called upon to help find new solutions and approaches. The economic, social and political changes associated with globalization, structural adjustment and the process of democratization also generated many requests for assistance.

2. The ILO needed to rise to the challenge of demands for assistance in a fairly difficult global environment: the World Bank's 1997 report, Global Development Finance, indicated that, in 1996, official development assistance (ODA) continued to contract, dropping to $40.8 billion, well below the 1990 level of $56.3 billion, and projections are that the situation will not improve significantly in the near future. Although private flows to developing countries continued to increase, accounting for over 80 per cent of total net long-term flows, they were highly concentrated in a few countries. Moreover, such flows are generally not directed towards the social sectors.

3. Concern about the need to achieve greater efficiency in the use of ODA resources has led the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members to place greater emphasis on improved donor coordination, and to aim for a more targeted approach by focusing more sharply on poverty alleviation, social development and environmental sustainability. They are also emphasizing a partnership approach, national responsibility for setting development goals that can be supported by external partners, and the use of aid as a catalyst to increase the overall level of resources available for sustainable development. They are applying stricter criteria, based on performance, when allocating resources to various agencies. The increase in the number of providers of development services has increased competition for resources. Nevertheless, the development community's focus on issues such as poverty, social justice and democratization provided good openings for the ILO to advance constituents' objectives and its own values through the technical cooperation programme.

4. The Office was very mindful of the need to ensure that its services were efficiently delivered and relevant to changing needs, and that the confidence of constituents and other partners in development was maintained. The ILO strategy for technical cooperation, approved by the Governing Body in 1994, provided a framework for charting its approach. The resource mobilization aspect of the strategy has been a particular concern, since its success is essential to meet the demand for assistance. It has been reviewed and further developed and is the subject of a separate paper before the Committee.

5. The report first reviews the ILO's performance in 1996-97, primarily as reflected in expenditure on technical cooperation during this period (section I). Section II provides an overview of technical cooperation activities categorized in terms of their primary contribution to the three ILO priority objectives for the current biennium: employment promotion and poverty alleviation; worker protection; and promoting democracy and human rights. Workers' and employers' activities and the application of tripartite principles in technical cooperation, key elements in supporting the democratization process, are dealt with separately in section III to reflect the importance of tripartism in the ILO's approach to technical cooperation. Sections IV to VI highlight selected dimensions of technical cooperation, notably linkages with international labour standards, the regular budget action programmes, and gender issues. Section VII examines some policy and management issues which have implications for quality and sustainability. Finally, Section VIII reviews the implementation of the technical cooperation strategy.

I. Overview of the ILO's performance

6. Technical assistance was provided in the form of technical advisory services and operational activities, which were mutually reinforcing and supported by a great deal of the basic research and analytical work undertaken by the Office. The following analysis of the ILO's technical cooperation programme is based on the regular budget for technical cooperation (RBTC) and extra-budgetary resources for specific operational activities.


7. As chart 1 indicates, the technical cooperation programme contracted further in 1996, when expenditure declined for the fifth consecutive year, falling by 13 per cent to $98.2 million, from $112.9 million in the previous year. The overall delivery rate of 62 per cent in 1996 was similar to that attained in 1995. Expenditure for the period January-July 1997 is marginally higher than for the corresponding period in 1996. Improved delivery and the stabilization of approvals in 1995-96 should help to prevent a further decline in expenditure in 1997. As Appendix II shows, all categories of expenditure declined, with the sharpest drop registered in the equipment component (30 per cent). Expenditure in the least developed countries (LDCs) amounted to 31.4 per cent of total expenditure, compared with 30.2 per cent in 1995 (Appendix V). A breakdown of expenditure by country, area and source of funds is given in Appendix IV.

8. Chart 1 and Appendix I(A) show that the share of the trust fund and multi- bilateral programmes increased further, rising to 62 per cent in 1996 from 54 per cent in the previous year. The UNDP-financed programme contracted to 24 per cent, from 27.6 per cent in 1995; UNFPA expenditure fell by about 20 per cent, while there was an even sharper drop of 44 per cent in RBTC expenditure. This derived from delays in allocating initial RBTC resources on account of the uncertain financial situation at the time. The need for caution led to a two-stage release of resources for the 1996-97 biennium.

Chart 1. ILO technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96 (by source of funds)

Regional expenditure

9. There was a decrease in expenditure in all regions in 1996. Africa recorded the highest level of expenditure, and maintained roughly the same share as in 1995 (37 per cent). However, in this region expenditure fell by more than 50 per cent between 1992 and 1996. The shares of Asia and the Pacific and the Americas also dropped considerably over this period. In 1995-96, the shares of Asia and the Pacific and of the Arab States of the Middle East were fairly stable at roughly 25 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively. The share of interregional and global programmes rose, while the shares of Europe and the Americas fell. The geographical distribution of expenditure is given in Appendix I(B) for the period 1994-96. Chart 2 illustrates the relative shares of the regions in 1995 and 1996.

10. The regional trends in expenditure for the period 1990-96 are illustrated in charts 3-8 below. In Africa, a consistent decline since 1992 is evident. In Asia and the Pacific and in the Americas the process was not so continuous, while in the Arab States and Europe the trend during this period was different, reflecting their particular circumstances. In Europe there was a significant increase in technical cooperation activity in favour of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1996. Interregional and global programmes grew between 1991 and 1995, with a small drop in 1994.

Chart 2. Expenditure by region, 1995-96

Chart 3. Africa -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96

Chart 4. Asia and the Pacific -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96

Chart 5. Latin America and the Caribbean -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96

Chart 6. Arab States, Middle East -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96

Chart 7. Europe -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96

Chart 8. Interregional and global -- Technical cooperation expenditure, 1990-96

11. As Appendix IV shows, apart from the Arab States, trust fund expenditure exceeded combined UNDP/UNFPA expenditure in 1996. In Latin America and the Caribbean, trust fund expenditure amounted to 68 per cent of total technical cooperation expenditure. In Africa it reached 58 per cent, while in Asia and the Pacific it was slightly lower (57 per cent).

New approvals for technical cooperation activities

12. Approvals peaked at $165.6 million in 1990. After a four-year decline between 1991 and 1994 the approval level rose to $114 million in 1995, and this level was sustained in 1996. The stabilization of approval levels in the last two years should have a positive impact on expenditure in 1997-98. It should be noted that nearly 32 per cent of new approvals in 1996 were for the IPEC programme, the largest being the German contribution of $33.8 million.

13. As illustrated in chart 9, the composition of approvals changed over the period 1990-96: in 1990, the UNDP and UNFPA together accounted for nearly 50 per cent of approvals, but by 1996 their share had dropped to about 29 per cent, with trust funds and the multi-bilateral programme accounting for the balance. Changes in the modalities of cooperation and a tendency for the UN funding agencies to become more involved in the substantive and operational activities, rather than using the specialized agencies, contributed to the changing pattern.

Chart 9. ILO extra-budgetary technical cooperation approvals, 1990 and 1996
(by source of funds)


14. Although UNDP's share of the programme has been falling, an encouraging development was the increase in new UNDP project approvals, which rose by 20 per cent from $14.9 million in 1995 to $17.9 million in 1996. Further increases are expected in 1997. Several factors accounted for this: from the UNDP's perspective, the nationally executed component has reached a level that leaves scope for an increase in agency execution; the start of programmes and projects funded with the resources of the UNDP's new cycle; and a certain complementarity between the UNDP's new focus on sustainable human development and the ILO's current programme priorities and areas of technical competence.

15. Despite the difficulties of the external environment, the Office has found that if it can offer quality services, relevant programmes and efficient delivery, there is good potential for attracting financing, expanding its programme and making a greater impact through its development assistance activities.

II. Overall ILO priorities and the technical
cooperation programme

16. The priorities for ILO activities in the current biennium, employment promotion, democracy and human rights, and worker protection, provided the reference points for the substantive content of the technical cooperation programme. If programme expenditure in the main ILO technical fields is categorized under one of these priorities as an approximate indication of the relative distribution of expenditure on each theme, it would show that about 66 per cent of expenditure was associated with employment promotion and poverty alleviation,(1)  16 per cent with worker protection programmes, and 14 per cent with democracy and human rights programmes.(2)  This is illustrated in chart 10.(3)  It must be emphasized that this can only be a rough indicator.

Chart 10. Distribution of ILO technical cooperation expenditure by priority themes, 1996


17. The International Training Centre's activities also supported the same priorities. Employment-related activities (employment and labour market policies, cooperatives, small and medium enterprises and the management of training systems and institutions) accounted for roughly 37 per cent of participant days at the Centre. At least 19 per cent of participant days concerned activities related to democracy and human rights, and at least 6 per cent worker protection (Appendix VIII).

18. The dominance of employment promotion and poverty alleviation in the ILO's activities reflects the priorities set in the programme and budget, as well as the importance of these issues to constituents, as has been emerging in the country objectives exercises.

Employment creation and poverty alleviation

19. The overall aim was to strengthen the capacity of ILO's constituents to design and implement viable employment promotion, training, labour market and poverty eradication programmes, enabling them to benefit from the opportunities created by the current economic globalization process. Many employment programmes dealt with a number of work-related social problems, such as drug and alcohol abuse in the workplace, or addressed the specific situation of vulnerable social groups, such as women, the disabled, ex-combatants and other groups affected by conflict.

20. At the policy level, activities undertaken to assess the employment effects of globalization and regional economic integration included the review and evaluation of the employment effects of structural adjustment measures and the analysis of employment policies, including research on market liberalization. Special emphasis was placed on follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development and the ILO's role as coordinator of the UN ACC Task Force on Full Employment and Sustainable Livelihoods.(4) 

21. Policy-level activities were important elements of the programmes in all regions. Some examples are highlighted below. In Africa, the fifth ILO biennial meeting of African employment planners reviewed the overall employment situation in Africa, including policies and strategies for employment promotion and poverty alleviation. A major UNDP-funded exercise to develop targeted employment promotion strategies provided the basis for the "Jobs for Africa" Programme.

22. In the Arab States, Lebanon was one example where the ILO acted as the lead agency of the Task Force on Employment Promotion and Sustainable Economic Growth, involving various UN agencies. This is intended to lead to the formulation of a strategy that will enable the UN agencies, governments, employers' and workers' organizations and others to act coherently in employment promotion, poverty alleviation and human resources development.

23. In Eastern Europe and Central Asia policy advisory services also focused on the integration of social dimensions in macroeconomic reform and on policy, institutional and investment reform leading to an adequate macroeconomic environment for employment-intensive growth.

24. An important RBTC-funded initiative in Asia (Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam) aimed to enhance the capacity of the social partners to participate in policy-making through improved understanding of the globalization and liberalization process, particularly its impact on employment and equity. The UNDP funded advisory services to India and Pakistan. Ways of dealing with labour redundancy in the organized sector without risking the creation of a category of new poor were identified in India, while in Pakistan the ILO proposed remedial measures for problems associated with privatization. In Fiji the ILO focused on helping to formulate an integrated human resource development strategy for employment promotion, and in Papua New Guinea it was involved in developing a programme on minimizing the cost of structural adjustment.

25. Employment-oriented policy advisory services were frequently provided together with complementary advisory services, for example on the extension of social protection to those likely to be adversely affected by reform. This was the case in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

26. Employment and training observatories were established in Côte d'Ivoire and Mali, with ILO and World Bank assistance, to establish the basic information systems needed to facilitate the planning, design and implementation of policies and programmes for employment promotion. The observatories bring together the various actors relevant to the employment planning process, including government agencies, the social partners, universities and representatives of the international development community. During the reporting period, preparatory work was done to extend these observatories to Portuguese-speaking countries as part of a major project on employment promotion to be funded by Portugal.

Burkina Faso: Products of a UNDP-funded poverty alleviation exercise

With UNDP TSS-1 financing, the following activities were accomplished:

  • formulation and implementation of a micro-project aimed at promoting income-generating activities for women in Ouagadougou;
  • execution of a managerial and financial audit of the National Employment Promotion Fund;
  • execution of a feasibility study to establish a social fund for poverty alleviation;
  • formulation of a programme to strengthen national capacities in vocational training;
  • assisting the Government to formulate the employment promotion and social integration component of a programme for social sector development.

27. Demand for employment-intensive programmes (EIPs) continued to be high. By the end of 1996, some 25 EIP country programmes were operational, comprising some 70 different projects, eight of which were regional in scope. The third phase of the major African subregional ASIST programme (Advisory Support, Information Services and Training Project for Labour-based Infrastructure Construction and Maintenance) started in April 1997 with funding from Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Denmark. It is worth noting that, as a result of the experience gained in this sector, more and more emphasis is placed on local capacity-building. One activity in support of this goal was ILO/World Bank collaboration to prepare general guidelines on setting up employment-intensive infrastructure projects executed by the private sector. The results will be integrated into country-specific and general training and educational materials for use by countries in project development and by teaching institutions. Links with Asian and African universities have been established for this purpose. The ILO's evaluation process helped to reinforce the promotion of ILO values in these programmes: the evaluation of a project in Laos revealed the importance of paying particular attention to the working conditions of casual workers and procedures for recruiting and paying them.

The employment-intensive programme:
Articulation of the ILO's priority objectives

The employment-intensive programme illustrates the articulation of the three priority ILO objectives in technical cooperation activities. First, the principal objective is to influence infrastructure investment policies so that they have a greater impact on employment creation and poverty alleviation. The employment objective is also served by stimulating the establishment of small enterprises capable of applying employment-intensive methodology. Secondly, the EIP projects simultaneously act as channels for promoting a number of fundamental ILO standards, for example by introducing appropriate clauses in contract documentation concerning minimum age, minimum wage, non-discrimination and insurance. Finally, the projects play an important role in the democratization process at the grass-roots level by helping people to organize themselves and negotiate with public authorities for a greater share of, and control over, national infrastructure investment resources.

28. Training for employment promotion remained a central part of technical cooperation activities. Modular training programmes which aim to develop flexible and relevant methodologies for training and retraining workers, following the ILO's Modules of Employable Skills (MES) approach, are perceived as useful tools in economies in transition. ILO inputs helped to strengthen ongoing programmes in the Russian Federation, Poland, Ukraine and Belarus. In addition, there remains high demand in other regions for assistance in developing the capacity of national vocational training systems to meet labour market demand: activities were conducted in Chad and Gabon, where work will continue with funding from UNDP and the African Development Bank (ADB) respectively. In Mali, where the ILO helped to prepare a World Bank proposal, continued ILO involvement was one of the conditions for disbursement of the loan. In East Asia, an initiative aimed at employment promotion and training in the Greater Mekong subregion (Cambodia, China, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam) was launched in November 1996 in partnership with the Asian Development Bank.

29. New training programmes are benefiting from the experience of older projects: in a project implemented in the Sudan, the evaluation results pointed to the difficulties that some training centres might have in making a transition from traditional skill training courses to those which facilitate access to income-generating opportunities and self-employment. New programmes would need to ensure that the possibility of change is perceived at an early stage, otherwise project sustainability is jeopardized.

30. Management development activities involved advisory services and the promotion of networking at regional and subregional levels. Such work was carried out mainly in countries in transition and in Africa, and was generally done in collaboration with other development partners, such as the World Bank.

31. In the area of small enterprise development, the Office continued to manage a considerable technical cooperation portfolio, particularly in the Asian and African regions and the Arab States. There were many requests, especially from the African region, for technical assistance to implement the ILO Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) training programme. Sweden has been an important contributor to this programme. French and Arabic versions of this package are being developed. Work was initiated to implement specific activities in French-speaking Africa. The MDT in Lima facilitated the translation and adaptation of the materials in Spanish and initiated training activities in Latin America. The Bureau for Employers' Activities also promoted business training using the SIYB materials in its programmes in India and certain Arab countries, while entrepreneurship development among women was a key theme in its ongoing subregional project in Asia funded by Norway.

32. A new package of business training materials targets young people experiencing difficulties in obtaining formal employment who will have to rely increasingly on new small businesses and self-employment as employment options. The ILO and the Turin Centre jointly developed the Know About Business (KAB) training package for this target group and it was finalized for dissemination during the reporting period. It is expected that this material will be widely used, particularly in vocational training institutions and youth employment programmes. Other material is being developed by the Entrepreneurship and Management Development Branch, in close collaboration with relevant ILO units, including new modules within the SIYB training packages in areas such as working conditions and safety, banking and women entrepreneurship training. The sectoral adaptation, "Improve Your Construction Business", is being mainstreamed into the overall SIYB programme.

33. In several countries the ILO responded to requests to help establish and strengthen the institutional framework for the delivery of support services to the small enterprise sector. In Cambodia the ILO helped to establish Local Economic Development Agencies, which provide financial and non-financial services to the small enterprise sector. To achieve full sustainability, this institution is now making the transition to private banking and serves as a successful example of evolution from the informal to the formal sector.

34. Demand for services to upgrade micro-enterprises in the informal sector increased considerably over the reporting period. Although many other UN agencies, the European Union and the private sector are also active in this area, the ILO's presence and particular expertise have been highly appreciated. Several new country activities were initiated and the implementation of three interregional projects gained further momentum. These projects are particularly effective as vehicles to test innovative approaches, often in cooperation with employers' organizations, in areas such as rapid market appraisal, technology transfer and the organization of micro-entrepreneurs in self-help groups. Given the poor working conditions in the informal sector, particular attention was paid to helping micro-enterprises comply with international labour standards on occupational safety and health. The Netherlands is a major supporter of these initiatives.

35. Support for cooperative development continued to be provided through a number of cooperative programmes: COOPNET (Human resource development for cooperative management and networking, funded by Denmark); ACOPAM (Cooperative support for grass-roots development, funded by Norway), COOPREFORM (Structural reform through improvement of cooperative development policies and legislation, funded by Denmark); INTERCOOP (Promotion of East African cooperative enterprises and grass-roots organizations through the establishment of inter-cooperative relations based on commercial exchanges, funded by Germany); and INDISCO (Programme to support self-reliance of indigenous and tribal communities through cooperatives and other self-help organizations, funded by various donors including Denmark and Canada). These programmes worked at different levels, ranging from the promotion of the policy and legislative changes necessary for sound cooperative development, to the provision of direct support for grass-roots organizations.

The cooperative programme: Some lessons from evaluations, 1996-97

An evaluation of a cooperative project in Egypt highlighted the importance of establishing better links between cooperatives to increase their marketing power. In the INDISCO programme, evaluations identified the importance of involving men in income-generating activities primarily aimed at women and the need to pay greater attention to the conservation of indigenous skills and knowledge in sustainable natural resource management. Finally, it was recommended that a careful assessment be made of the situations in which cooperative principles were valid as an organizational basis. These evaluation results are used to inform new programme development.

36. Small-scale finance activities represent an important dimension of the employment creation strategy and are a component of many programmes. The evaluation of a project to assist rural women in Zimbabwe showed the soundness of combining small credit schemes with non-financial services such as basic business training. The results of its activities in this field allowed the ILO to continue building on the growing international recognition of its role, and it actively participated in the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP) coordinated by the World Bank, and the Micro-Credit Summit held in Washington in February 1997.

37. The programme obtained substantial additional extra-budgetary funding from the Netherlands to strengthen research on best practices in the use of small-scale finance for poverty alleviation and employment creation. The experience acquired was put to the service of constituents during the reporting period. In one case, help was given to the Ministry of Labour in Zimbabwe to manage a social development fund, which provides small-scale finance for the establishment of micro-enterprises to workers who have become unemployed as a result of structural adjustment programmes. Another interesting development also illustrated the direct relevance of these activities to workers' organizations: the cooperation established with workers' organizations in Central and Eastern Europe on worker ownership and access to finance was a promising example of possible developments in this field.

38. Selected social groups were the focus for targeted action on poverty alleviation and employment promotion. Ex-combatants and other groups in war-affected countries comprised one such target, and activities took place in Angola, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mali and Mozambique. Proposals are being prepared for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Of note was the ILO's participation in the UNOPS Programme for Reconstruction and Social Sustainability (PROGRESS). The ILO is responsible for promoting local economic development agencies, which bring together all local-level economic actors, such as local government agencies, NGOs and workers' and employers' representatives, to promote employment creation by identifying economic opportunities and promoting enterprise development. During the reporting period, the ILO was active in 22 selected countries in Central America and the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe and there are plans for extension to additional countries. The ILO's involvement derives from its previous successful association with the Project for Displaced Persons and Refugees in Central America (PRODERE) financed by Italy through the UNDP. PROGRESS represents the globalization of PRODERE.

39. Gender-related employment activities involved promoting tripartite national dialogue on the gender-differentiated impact of structural adjustment policies and economic reform policies and the definition of national action strategies to promote women's employment in the new socio-economic context. Countries benefiting from such activities included India, Sri Lanka, the United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe. Activities have helped to sensitize government policy-makers to more gender-sensitive macroeconomic policy-making. Studies and workshops are intended to lead to recommendations for concrete action in employment promotion with gender equality. A number of in-depth assessments on the gender dimension of social funds and social safety net programmes were carried out in Bolivia, Egypt, Madagascar, Mexico, Peru and Zambia in the framework of the ILO Action programme on economic reform and structural change: Promoting women's employment and participation in social funds. Other examples are provided in section VI.

40. A pilot project for indigenous and tribal communities was initiated in the Philippines in September 1996 with DANIDA funding, and has been showing good results. It aimed to enhance government law and practice concerning community consultations with respect to large-scale development projects, community compensation, and social and economic rehabilitation. Another aim was to strengthen the capacity of indigenous peoples to participate and negotiate. The project has generated many demands from private and parastatal mining and oil companies on the scope, content and implementation of compensation and rehabilitation packages which are in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169). The cooperative INDISCO programme, referred to earlier, also focused on indigenous peoples.

41. Community-based vocational rehabilitation programmes for the disabled were implemented in Ghana and Namibia. The latter, funded by Norway, contributed to the formulation of a white paper on disability, which was approved by the National Assembly in June 1997. In collaboration with the Inter-American Centre for Research and Documentation in Vocational Training (CINTERFOR), vocational rehabilitation assistance was also provided in five Latin American and seven Caribbean countries. The Cambodian component of a Japan-funded programme on strengthening labour administration for employment promotion and human resource development in Cambodia, Laos and Viet Nam focused on the particular needs of the disabled. Lessons from a project implemented in the United Republic of Tanzania helped to define the special considerations that should be built into such programmes, such as the importance of mobilizing, at the earliest stages of project development, the support of mainstream organizations, such as banks, which must play a role in employment initiatives for the disabled.

42. Substance abuse programmes touch on productivity issues, poverty considerations -- in view of the often significant proportion of wages associated with the habits, and worker protection concerns. Activities were carried out in more than 40 member States. The ILO cooperated with relevant UN agencies, sectoral organizations including the International Shipping Federation and the International Transport and Workers' Federation and various training institutions in implementing these programmes. One new project funded by Norway involved linking up with the Improve Your Business programmes to mobilize small businesses to prevent substance abuse.

Worker protection

43. The major initiatives on this theme involved the fight against child labour, the promotion of occupational safety and health (OSH), and measures to enhance and expand social security and social protection.

44. The fight against child labour continued to be a high priority for the Office, for constituents and for the international community. The IPEC programme is operational in more than 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The ILO has now signed a Memorandum of Agreement with 29 countries to combat child labour with IPEC support. Preparatory activities for such collaboration have started in some 30 other countries, including Central and Eastern Europe and the Arab States.

45. The key element of IPEC's strategy is to strengthen national capacity to deal with the problem, and the four main areas of action are:

(i) national policy-making and integrated policy development, focusing on identified target groups demanding priority attention, such as bonded labour, children in prostitution, and children involved in drug trafficking;

(ii) legislative reform and strengthening of law enforcement;

(iii) research data collection and analysis;

(iv) awareness-raising and mobilizing a broad social alliance of all partners concerned, including the social partners, NGOs, academic institutions, the mass media and other professional associations.

The operational aspects of the IPEC programme will be the subject of a separate report to the Committee in March 1998.

46. Internally, the IPEC programme collaborated with other relevant ILO units in pursuing these lines of action. One example was the work undertaken with the ILO's Bureau of Statistics to develop methodological surveys, which were implemented in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Turkey. Cooperation with the Bureau for Employers' Activities (ACT/EMP) was also enhanced following the resolution adopted by the International Organization of Employers in 1996 on the elimination of child labour. This led to increased cooperation with employers' organizations under the IPEC programme. Industry-specific employers' organizations were also assisted in developing sector-specific and practical action to phase out child labour while providing credible alternatives. At the field level, IPEC provided funding and technical inputs to national programmes identified by the MDTs. The field offices in turn provided critical support in all aspects of national-level programme implementation.

47. As regards child labour activities targeted specifically at employers and workers, a regional employers' seminar in Africa (Kenya, July 1997) focused on the subject and will also be discussed at a similar event scheduled for November 1997 in Latin America. An Ibero-American meeting of employers' organizations on child labour is foreseen. The Bureau for Workers' Activities (ACTRAV) initiated a project funded by Norway to assist trade unions to develop strategies to combat child labour. Under a project financed by Belgium, ACTRAV worked with selected national trade unions in Indonesia, Thailand and Viet Nam to strengthen trade union action on women workers and child labour.

48. At the international level, the ILO was requested to assist in the combat against child labour and actively participated in the Amsterdam Child Labour Conference (February 1997), the OAU Seminar on the Protection of the Child and the Elimination of Child Labour (April 1997), the Ibero-American Tripartite Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour (May 1997), and the Oslo Child Labour Conference (October 1997).

49. As regards occupational safety and health (OSH), three major lines of action were pursued: assistance in improving national laws and regulations; the strengthening of national capacity, including through the development of national tripartite safety and health structures, training and the provision of information services; and support for the ratification and implementation of basic international labour standards in this area.

50. Tripartite national workshops on the elaboration of national OSH policies were organized in China, Botswana, Kazakstan, Malawi, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The workshops led to concrete recommendations for improvements in national policy. Assistance on national OSH legislation was provided in Belarus, China, Malawi, the Russian Federation, South Africa and Ukraine. An RBTC-funded programme covering China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Thailand aimed to establish a best practice approach to OSH for Asia. In Lesotho, four out of seven pieces of OSH legislation prepared with ILO assistance were approved by Parliament. A specially designed pilot programme on OSH training for miners in small mines was initiated in China. Two OSH information projects in Asia and Africa continued to disseminate OSH information and develop national services capable of distributing and using the information effectively, and to develop networking in this field. The fight against occupational disease was advanced through a series of activities to promote national strategies and infrastructure targeted at the early identification, prevention and control of work-related diseases. Denmark was an important source of funds for the OSH programme, this being one priority theme in the ILO/Denmark technical cooperation programme.

51. The social security programme dealt directly with worker protection and poverty alleviation objectives. The programme gave priority to assisting member States to extend coverage to more people over a broader range of social protection benefits, and to the improvement of the governance and efficiency of social security schemes. Technical cooperation expenditure in this field increased by 6 per cent in 1996, one of only two technical fields for which an increase was registered.

52. To date in the current biennium, social security assistance has been provided to more than 40 countries. Although not in terms of expenditure, policy studies accounted for the bulk of technical cooperation activities, and helped member States to make decisions on social security issues. Such studies were made in Botswana, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Honduras, Pakistan, Gabon, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Panama and Ukraine. Of note has been a shift away from providing pure actuarial advice on individual social security schemes to more comprehensive analyses of the general financial and fiscal status of national social protection systems, and advice on both the micro- and macroeconomic implications of proposed reforms. The studies were financed by UNDP, RBTC or by the governments themselves.

53. Other social security activities involved institution-building, funded mainly by multi-bilateral donors, for example in Viet Nam with funding from the Netherlands, and in Namibia with funding from Norway. The UNDP tended to use the ILO for very specific inputs, as in the case of the restructuring of the Zambian National Provident Fund to include a national pension scheme. The ILO was also involved in a project with both policy and institution-building components in Laos (funding from Belgium and UNDP). Specialist advice was provided on highly specific topics, for example, reconciling national legislation with international labour standards in Latvia. A series of regional tripartite meetings has been taking place focusing on pension policy issues to prepare for an action programme on this subject in the next biennium.

54. An interesting initiative to extend social protection involved collaboration between the cooperative ACOPAM programme, the ILO's Social Security Department and the Turin Centre. This responded to the need for an organizational basis to extend protection in rural areas and the informal sector. The main outputs were manuals and guides on mutual health-care benefit systems, which have been well received by development practitioners. The materials are being used by agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Red Cross, USAID, UNICEF, the Belgian NGO World Solidarity and the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.

55. Demand for assistance in the field of labour administration also remains high. Some examples of the ILO's response are highlighted below. The ILO assisted the Ministry of Labour of South Africa with a comprehensive audit of its labour administration system, particularly its employment and labour inspection services. The recommendation to introduce a single comprehensive service to allow labour inspectors to deal with most basic issues of labour protection, was accepted by the Government. Assistance in strengthening public employment services was provided in Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The ILO assisted the Palestinian Authority in the process of establishing a ministry of labour capable of developing and implementing a national labour policy. Labour inspection reform was the theme of a programme in Central and Eastern Europe. In the Baltic States, the project could claim a share of the credit for the visible progress made in this field in an atmosphere of good cooperation with the social partners. Finland and France supported programmes in those regions. The Japan-funded labour administration project in Cambodia and Viet Nam was launched during the biennium and has a strong employment promotion focus. Japan maintained its support for a fellowship programme on labour and employment policy administration in Asia.

56. Conditions of work in specific sectors were also addressed. In the maritime sector, the ILO helped member States to deal with problems of labour inspection on board ship and promoted the application of maritime labour standards. The final evaluation of the Netherlands-funded Portworker Development Programme (PDP: Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania), developed to deal with the dangerous working environment, indicated that the training materials produced were of very high quality and widely relevant. The materials are now being used in other courses, and have also attracted the interest of some industrialized countries. The evaluation suggested that the ILO could generate revenue from the sale of the materials to industrialized countries to help support its use in developing countries. The ILO has outlined a strategy for the worldwide dissemination of PDP materials.

57. In the forestry sector, the ILO continued to implement the women fuel-wood carriers project in Ethiopia, which addressed both the OSH hazards of this work and its environmental consequences. The evaluation revealed the initial failure to define the linkages, roles and responsibilities of all the main institutions concerned with the project. However, the establishment of the Former Women Fuelwood Carriers' Association (FWCA) was an important step in ensuring sustainability on account of its potential for continued advocacy and assistance to women fuel-wood carriers.

58. In the logging industry in Pakistan and Zimbabwe, the ILO helped to demonstrate the possibility of increasing labour productivity and quality while simultaneously improving working conditions through a work study approach. The results have been well received. In Zimbabwe, the Forestry Commission now employs four trained work study officers who provide services for public and private enterprises. An ex-post evaluation of a Fijian logging project showed that the activities had been a catalyst for sustainable forest management. The participatory method used to formulate and revise the Code of Logging Practice and the fact that it was made legally binding were key factors in project success.

59. In the hotel and tourism sector (which falls under the technical responsibility of the Employment and Training Department), the main focus of activities during the reporting period was on promoting sound labour relations and the ratification of the Working Conditions (Hotels and Restaurants) Convention, 1991 (No. 172). These activities were conducted mainly in Africa.

Promoting democracy and human rights

60. The ILO's programmes of assistance to workers' and employers' organizations remain fundamental elements in supporting democratization, and are discussed in a separate section. Also making major contributions to this objective were projects on industrial relations and labour legislation activities, the promotion of tripartite consultation, collective bargaining and workers' rights, combating discrimination and the protection of vulnerable groups. Some of the activities undertaken are summarized below.

61. Technical cooperation programmes in labour relations and labour legislation sought to bring the social partners together to deal with political changes, such as the trend towards democratization and free markets, the globalization of production, and the impact of structural adjustment programmes. Expert assistance in drafting, revising or codifying labour legislation was provided to more than 20 countries, while substantial technical comments were made on nationally prepared draft texts from more than 13 countries. RBTC-funded national and subregional tripartite seminars, meetings and workshops were organized to discuss the law, practice and problems in member States. The ILO continued to cooperate with the World Bank on labour law reform through an ILO/World Bank seminar on this subject in French-speaking Africa. The resulting conclusions and recommendations are expected to serve as a point of reference for future activities of the Bank, the ILO and its constituents in this field.

62. Labour-management activities focused on strengthening national labour relations frameworks, promoting sound labour relations, workers' participation, the settlement of labour disputes and ensuring effective participation by employers and workers in economic and social policy formulation. Particular emphasis has been placed on promoting social dialogue to reconcile diverging interests of the social partners. In South Africa, under a project funded by Switzerland, the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration was established with over 500 staff members and nine provincial offices. Through the publication of the Conciliation/Mediation Training Manual, the experience of the project has been made available to social partners in other countries and regions.

63. In Asia, Phase IV of the Japan-funded regional project on industrial relations and globalization commenced in 1996. It aims to help ILO constituents to develop effective workplace relations and an industrial relations environment supportive of the increasing integration of national economies into regional and world markets.

Promoting social dialogue in Africa

A pilot project in Benin, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire, funded by Belgium, reviewed existing practices and identified the problems encountered. It led to greater awareness by the governments and social partners of the need to develop such dialogue on economic and social issues and to the reinforcement or establishment of the frameworks for such consultation.

As a result of the positive results, there will be a further phase with coverage extended to Togo and Niger. Similar activities are planned for Guinea, Mali and Senegal (West Africa); Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad and Equatorial Guinea (Central Africa). A Portuguese-funded project will cover the Portuguese-speaking countries (Angola, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe). Other governments in Africa have expressed interest in receiving ILO assistance in this field.

64. In Central Europe, as part of the ILO's programme of assistance to provide the countries seeking accession to the European Union with impartial, high-quality and internationally comparable factual information, quantitative analyses and exchanges of experience, components focused on reform of labour legislation, social dialogue, fostering the collective bargaining spirit, the settlement of labour disputes, and the role of the State and of the social partners. These elements constitute the backbone of the ILO's assistance to transition economies.

65. Assistance in promoting effective and equitable pay policies was provided in several countries. Under a UNDP-funded national wage reform project in Albania, the ILO participated in drafting a Decree establishing the National Labour Council, which included a Committee on Wages. In that project, the ILO cooperated with OECD experts in the public sector pay reform component. In Madagascar, employers and trade unions concluded an agreement on the revision of minimum wages in November 1996, having received ILO assistance on appropriate methods of determining and adjusting minimum wages.

66. The Director-General's campaign for the ratification of the fundamental Conventions on human rights was reflected in technical assistance programmes for the implementation of international labour standards. RBTC funds were used to finance tripartite national seminars to provide advice and assistance to help meet the requirements of unratified fundamental Conventions in China, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam. A subregional African tripartite seminar on equality was held in La Réunion. Brazil was helped to set up mechanisms to overcome discrimination in the workplace. Technical assistance was also provided to the Islamic Republic of Iran for the implementation of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111).

67. Equality issues were a general concern in all technical cooperation activities. Some aspects, particularly those concerning gender and indigenous and tribal peoples, are reviewed in other sections (see sections II and VI). Work continued on the Affirmative Action in Employment project in Namibia, funded by Norway, which assisted the Government in preparing a draft Bill on affirmative action. In the course of implementing this project, there has been a noticeable increase in the level of participation by workers' and employers' representatives, as well as representatives of disabled and women's groups in project activities and a growing appreciation of the relationship between the affirmative action policy and ratifying the ILO's fundamental human rights Conventions and other international instruments on equality. Projects on migrant workers were supported, inter alia, by Belgium, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Spain. In Asia, the particular situation of women migrant workers in the Philippines and Indonesia was the subject of an RBTC-funded programme, which might be extended to other countries depending on the evaluation results. ACTRAV organized RBTC-funded seminars in Africa on migrant workers.

III. Workers' and employers' activities and the
technical cooperation programme

68. The programme and budget underlined the importance attached to supporting workers' and employers' organizations as a means of promoting continued progress towards democracy and consolidating progress already made. As Appendix III shows, expenditure on the employers' technical cooperation programme increased by 12.7 per cent in 1996, but dropped by about 8 per cent on the workers' programme; the delivery rate (extra-budgetary funds only) increased by 33.6 per cent and 14.5 per cent respectively. The source of funding for these programmes is illustrated in charts 11 and 12, which show that, for both the workers' and the employers' technical cooperation programmes, trust fund financing is critical.(5)  There was a small UNDP component in the workers' programme, but no financing from this source for employers' programmes. Workers' and employers' organizations also received support from, and/or were involved in other ILO programmes implemented in specific technical fields.

69. The major themes of the workers' education programmes were:

70. Two major regional seminars on contract labour were organized in Asia and Latin America, and national seminars on globalization, economic integration and structural adjustment were given in Latin America. ACTRAV also collaborated with the Turin Centre to conduct a number of courses on the use of new technology to enable the unions to take advantage of the new technological possibilities in public relations, communication and access to useful information.

Chart 11. ILO regular budget (RBTC) and extra-budgetary expenditure for workers' activities, 1996

Chart 12. ILO regular budget (RBTC) and extra-budgetary expenditure for employers'activities, 1996

The Workers' Education Programme: Some evaluation results 1996-97

Evaluations of selected workers' education activities showed that involving trained trainers in the development of teaching materials increased identification with them and promoted subsequent use. It was also found that the degree of autonomy of participating organizations sometimes varied inversely with the quality of training materials which they produced. This suggested that the Office might need to review how effective quality control measures could be combined with a high level of autonomy for counterpart organizations in technical cooperation activities. The evaluation process also highlighted the benefits of cooperating with other projects with the same technical focus, even when different social partners were being targeted. Achieving such synergy for maximum efficiency and impact is a major concern of the ILO's technical cooperation strategy.

71. The Bureau for Employers' Activities (ACT/EMP) pursued its strategy of assisting employers' organizations to develop services to match the identified needs of their membership. This was done on the premise that, in order to be strong and effective partners in development, employers' organizations have to be able to attract and retain members. A strategic planning approach was promoted, and after the groundwork done in earlier periods, several organizations have adopted strategic plans, some of which were developed with technical support from the ILO (for example, in Mongolia). National and subregional training exercises in strategic planning for employers' organizations were organized in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

72. Major themes for technical cooperation programmes with employers' organizations in all regions were industrial relations, human resources development and regional integration. Another emerging priority were information services, and assistance was given to Pakistan and Mali in this field. The involvement of the Bureau for Employers' Activities in activities concerning child labour and enterprise development has already been noted.

73. Employers' organizations in countries in transition received special attention, particularly on the operation of institutions in a market economy. The initial activities focused on awareness raising in Ukraine, Slovenia and Slovakia, Mongolia and Central Asia (subregional level) where country-level technical assistance activities are now being developed. In Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, Laos and Viet Nam, preliminary work was done for the development of technical cooperation programmes appropriate to their specific conditions.

74. Apart from the programmes organized by the Bureaux for Workers' and Employers' Activities, the technical programmes provided further financial support for workers' and employers' organizations and/or involved them in various ways. The occupational safety and health programme, for example, regularly supported workers' and employers' activities, including a programme with the Employers' Federation of Pakistan; a seminar programme run by the All Pakistan Federation of Trade Unions; a training and seminar programme with the Trade Union Federation of Tanzania; six fellowships to Australia for trade unionists from Lesotho; and support for a project on OSH in the construction and fishing industries in Viet Nam run by a trade union institute.

75. The Development Policies Department (POL/DEV) supported seminars for trade unions to enhance their capacity to address population, poverty and sustainable human development issues, including a subregional seminar for trade union representatives from ten countries of Central America and the Caribbean; and a regional consultative meeting in the Philippines. It also cooperated with the Bureau for Workers' Activities to produce modules on reproductive health issues for rural workers in Africa and to support a number of seminars promoted by international trade unions, including the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF) and the International Federation of Building and Wood Workers. Those seminars focused on trade liberalization and its repercussions on employment levels and job quality.

76. The social partners were also involved in technical cooperation programmes through tripartite participation in various meetings. Tripartite participation was also standard practice in many of the meetings organized under the technical cooperation programme. Programmes such as those implemented by the Development Policies Department organized special tripartite meetings to disseminate the results of country-level projects. The Employment Intensive Programme has increasingly paid attention to involving the social partners in implementation so as to obtain the widest possible consensus on policies, legislation and practice in these programmes. In the port sector, it is generally the case that training programmes are requested by the employers; workers' organizations are consulted at the design stage and during implementation. A study on the prevailing situation regarding child labour in the West Bank and Gaza was conducted in full consultation with all the social partners. This is also being done for similar studies in Lebanon, Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen.

77. Another mechanism to involve employers' and workers' organizations in projects where the main counterparts were government or other structures, was through their participation in project steering committees and/or project advisory committees. This was the case, for example, in the national IPEC programmes; the Namibia community-based rehabilitation project; the project on the dissemination of women workers' rights; and the Palestinian Employment Programme. The Tripartite National Advisory Council on Occupational Safety and Health in Lesotho was created within the framework of a technical cooperation project. In Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, there was very active participation by the employers' and workers' organizations in developing technical cooperation activities, including through tripartite brainstorming sessions and high-level tripartite meetings.

78. As regards international labour standards, the MDT standards specialists and the International Labour Standards Department sought to obtain the full participation of governments and employers' and workers' organizations in the supervisory system. Closer involvement in the process places employers' and workers' organizations in a better position to use the supervisory system to draw attention to labour and social problems and seek solutions in cooperation with the ILO.

79. These examples illustrate the widespread involvement of, and collaboration with, workers' and employers' organizations in programmes other than those organized by the respective Bureaux. However, what may be required are mechanisms to ensure that collaboration between technical units and the Bureaux is more systematically pursued. This will allow the advantages of the ILO's tripartite structure and its accumulated technical expertise to be fully exploited. It will also provide the basis for a concerted effort to be made to extend the partnership for social justice.

IV. International labour standards and
technical cooperation

80. International labour standards (ILS) provide both a general framework for technical cooperation activities, and specific targets for such activities. As a general framework for action, the ILO guidelines for designing, monitoring and evaluating technical cooperation projects and programmes require relevant ILS considerations to be elaborated, for example, the role that the project could play in strengthening the capacity to ratify Conventions. This requirement helps to focus technical cooperation activities on relevant international labour standards. On the other hand, the entire focus of some technical cooperation activities is the promotion of a particular Convention or Conventions.

81. The formulation of country objectives has been an important stage in the process of integrating the standards and technical cooperation aspects of the ILO's work. It has provided an opportunity for constituents to review their own priorities and for the Office to examine with them the means by which the priorities could best be achieved in the light of the Organization's own principles and standards, the commitments already made by member States in terms of the ratification of Conventions, and the difficulties of implementation noted by the supervisory bodies. MDT standards specialists and the International Labour Standards Department were systematically involved in country objective exercises. Efforts have been made to ensure consistency in the Office's approach, so that the best possible services can be offered and member States are enabled to fulfil their own aspirations and undertakings in terms of international labour standards. The Office could help find solutions to the comments of the supervisory bodies on policy issues and on more specific problems of legislation and practice relating to ratified Conventions. Practical guidelines on this subject are being finalized to assist future efforts.

82. The Director-General's campaign, launched in May 1995, has brought more ratifications, and has heightened awareness of the need to take practical measures and of the possibilities offered by collaboration with the ILO. Technical cooperation activities aimed to bring more complete implementation of these Conventions.

83. At the operational level, the International Labour Standards Department, MDT standards specialists and relevant ILO offices collaborated to run a series of national ILS seminars in various regions. In Latin America a programme was organized for constituents in some 15 countries. RBTC resources were used to finance this work, which could lead to multi-bilateral support in 1998, as well as funding from national governments. Tripartite RBTC-funded national seminars on unratified core Conventions were also organized in Viet Nam, China, Mauritius and Sri Lanka, and subregional seminars on equality were offered in Africa, Pakistan and Arab States. They were intended to help those countries overcome perceived obstacles to ratification and resulted in advice and assistance in meeting the requirements of the Conventions concerned. A technical advisory mission to Lebanon was fielded to review proposed amendments to labour law in response to the Government's interest in ensuring consistency with ILS.

84. Another link between ILS and technical cooperation emerged in response to the Governing Body's decision in 1996 for the preparation of new international labour standards on child labour, with a focus on the most intolerable forms of child labour. This has led IPEC to promote the immediate elimination of certain practices worldwide.

85. The promotion of the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169), was the focus of a DANIDA-funded project. One output was a guide on the scope and implications of the Convention, especially for development policies and programmes. A Canadian NGO has financed all publishing costs and contributed to its wide dissemination. The Affirmative Action Programme contributed to Namibia's ability to fulfil the requirements necessary for the ratification of the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111). As noted earlier, ACTRAV implemented a project to promote basic international labour standards for rural workers' organizations in Latin America. Using RBTC funds, the Bureau also financed national and regional seminars on international labour standards concerning workers' rights, which covered export processing zones.

86. ILS have assumed particular significance in countries seeking accession to membership of the European Union. The relationship between ILS and the European Code of Social Security was a salient issue, and technical cooperation activities in Latvia focused on legislative reform to ensure conformity with standards.

V. The technical cooperation programme and the
ILO action programmes

87. The relationship between the technical cooperation programme and the action programmes being implemented in the current biennium illustrates the links between regular budget activities and technical cooperation. The 13 action programmes contained in the ILO's Programme and Budget for 1996-97 deal with issues of widespread concern to constituents. They are expected to lead to results that are of direct use to constituents by the end of the biennium. The outputs of most of the programmes, such as those on social security, youth unemployment and skills and entrepreneurship training for countries emerging from armed conflict, will be useful in preparing future technical cooperation activities. For the ILO, they will also support its technical advisory activities.

88. However, the implementation of the action programmes has benefited from the ILO's past technical cooperation experience. This was evident in the case of the social security programme on planning social protection reform and another involving the production of best practice manuals on governance, for which technical cooperation activities provided essential material to achieve the programme outputs. Where action programme and technical cooperation project objectives coincided, the coverage of the former could be extended. This was the case with the chemical safety and youth unemployment programmes. Another linkage was the analytical process required for the action programmes, which also provided and will continue to provide inputs for the development of technical cooperation projects. In this respect, it is important to underline the importance of internal communication between technical departments responsible for the programmes and MDTs so as to ensure that full benefit is derived from the work of the action programmes.

VI. Gender issues and technical cooperation

89. The Office has been pursuing a policy of mainstreaming gender concerns in all ILO policies, programmes and other activities. The Office of the Special Adviser on Women Workers' Questions (FEMMES) plays a central role in promoting this policy, collaborating with headquarters technical departments, the Bureaux for Workers' and Employers' Activities and the field structure to ensure effective implementation. FEMMES collaborated directly with technical departments and Bureaux, including ENT/MAN, COOP and ACTRAV, to help them implement the mainstreaming approach and provide inputs for the action programmes, such as those on the promotion of gender equality through labour inspection, and on labour and social issues in export processing zones. FEMMES is also reviewing the effects and impact of technical cooperation activities on women.

90. The network of focal points at headquarters and the field is being strengthened with the filling of the vacant posts for senior specialists and the recruitment of associate experts on women and gender questions in the regions. The network has helped to ensure that there are adequate mechanisms within departments and field offices to support mainstreaming and to give due attention to gender concerns.

91. The mainstreaming policy was also supported through gender training. Additional ILO funds have been allocated for gender training in the field and external support has come from the Netherlands. Three one-week gender training courses were organized for headquarters staff, while a second round of training activities on gender equality is taking place in the field, sometimes with the participation of other UN agencies. Courses are tailored to meet specific needs of ILO staff and constituents.

92. A recent technical meeting of national project coordinators for the project on training and information dissemination on women workers' rights, funded by the Netherlands, confirmed the positive response to the project. It has mobilized constituents and NGOs to promote gender equality actively in the world of work. Tripartite national steering committees have been set up. As a mechanism for sustainability, groups of core trainers from its member organizations are being trained to function as resource persons in the future.

93. The mainstreaming policy was complemented by targeted gender-specific activities aimed at promoting women's economic empowerment. Some of these activities included the work focusing on the impact of structural adjustment on women workers and on the gender perspective of social funds and social safety net programmes; strengthening the organizational and managerial capacities of women's groups in Gabon; the expansion of employment opportunities for women in Asia; employment promotion for women in Bangladesh; training for women jobseekers in Latin America; the integration of women in rural workers' organizations in Africa; and integrating women in private sector development (all regions).

94. Of note was the launch in 1997 of a major new global programme initiative, More and Better Jobs for Women.

International Programme on More and Better Jobs for Women

The Governing Body at its 265th Session approved a proposal for an international programme on women as a priority for technical cooperation. This programme is the ILO's specific contribution to the successful implementation of the Platform for Action adopted by the Fourth World Conference on Women and the gender dimensions of the World Summit for Social Development. At the same time, it represents a concerted effort to reinforce the ILO's long-standing priority of promoting full, productive and remunerative employment in conditions of equality of opportunity and treatment.

At the national level, the programme aims to enhance national capacity and strengthen legal and institutional frameworks for providing more and better jobs for women. At the international level, it aims to sharpen global concern for women's employment issues and to promote a comprehensive and integrated approach to improving the quantity and quality of employment for women, based on the systematic accumulation and dissemination of information and experience between countries and regions.

95. Some additional regional initiatives are highlighted in the following paragraphs. In the Arab States, an ILO/ICATU seminar on the participation of women workers in the world of work and trade unions was held in Tunisia with the participation of Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon, Morocco, Yemen and Palestine). A regional seminar held in Amman in September 1996 to follow up on the recommendations of the Beijing Conference will help to define ILO technical cooperation assistance in this field. The Regional Office and the technical department at headquarters financed fellowships for two women to participate in the Forum for Women with Disabilities in the United States in June 1997.

96. In Latin America, emphasis has been placed on enhancing constituents' capacity to treat gender as a mainstream issue through a comprehensive training strategy, including the institutionalization of tripartite dialogue and the adoption of national action plans for the promotion of equality in the world of work. National machinery concerned with women's issues has been actively involved in this strategy. Comprehensive studies on the legal status and employment situation of women have been prepared in several countries, and have been used as training materials for a series of workshops. In addition, training and information workshops have been held with the staff of ILO area offices and MDTs.

97. In the African region, the situation of women is a particular concern on account of the persistence of inequalities in the labour market and in access to education and training, their greater vulnerability to unemployment, the feminization of poverty and the weight of domestic responsibilities falling on women. The launch of More and Better Jobs for Women has therefore been seen as particularly significant in this region. Regional RBTC funds have already been allocated for the development of national action plans in Burkina Faso and the United Republic of Tanzania within this programme framework.

98. In Asia and the Pacific, an RBTC-funded programme was started to develop innovative approaches to improving the performance of women in micro and small enterprises as a means of contributing to the economic empowerment of women. It is building on past initiatives in this field and will lead to the development of national programmes that can attract donor support. Another RBTC-funded programme in that region is aimed at diversifying training and employment opportunities for women in Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

VII. Critical issues in the technical cooperation programme

99. This section examines some management and policy issues that affect the overall quality and character of the ILO's technical programme, and hence also affect how the ILO is perceived as a development partner by constituents, other national groups and the international development community.


100. Decentralization of responsibility for projects and programmes from headquarters to the field structure, implemented within the framework of the Active Partnership Policy (APP) was designed to improve the Organization's responsiveness and efficiency. The process continued during the reporting period and worked fairly smoothly in many cases; it was more problematical in others for various reasons, including the lack of adequate field/headquarters interaction, and delivery rates were adversely affected. Specific efforts have been made to deal with the problems and continued improvements in the decentralization process should be seen. In Europe, the process will be strengthened and Central Europe and the CIS countries better served with the creation of a new MDT and an expanded Area Office in Moscow.

101. Generally, a pragmatic approach has had to be adopted to decentralization, based on capacity available in the field and headquarters, the stage of implementation of ongoing activities, and the situation in each sector and region. This is illustrated in the following examples. For cooperative activities, headquarters backstopping support retained its importance on account of the limited number of cooperative specialists in the MDTs. In highly specialized fields of social security, headquarters' inputs were sometimes necessary to complement the general social security competence and knowledge of the MDT specialist. Elsewhere, the absence of social security specialists required made it necessary to draw on the services of specialists in other MDTs or headquarters. This situation prevailed in Central Asia and the CIS countries, West and South Asia, the Arab States and East Africa, and resulted in delays in responding to requests, weaknesses in relationships with member States on this subject, and generally lower levels of involvement in social protection development. In the Arab States, logistical difficulties often made it necessary to provide support to certain projects from headquarters.

102. The period under review has seen a better exchange of views and collaboration between field and headquarters to find solutions, within the prevailing financial and human resource constraints, for the delivery of an effective technical cooperation programme. A number of mechanisms have helped this process. First, regional decentralization focal points have been appointed to ensure proper coordination and adherence to criteria for the decentralization of projects and programmes. Secondly, annual regional meetings bring together area office and MDT directors and senior managers from headquarters, permitting exchanges on a broad range of issues including those related to technical cooperation and regional priorities. Thirdly, field/headquarters interaction has also been promoted by some technical departments which regularly organize technical discussions with MDT specialists.

103. One mechanism used by the ACOPAM project to ensure coherence in the context of decentralization was the creation of an internal project coordinating committee. The committee met periodically during the reporting period, bringing together a range of technical and programming personnel from the field and headquarters to discuss technical and programming issues related to the project. It is also a way of involving project staff and directly integrating their experience into the programming process. This approach is relevant for other large programmes and projects.

104. The smooth functioning of the decentralization process will be an important factor in enhancing the ILO's credibility with national partners and the international development community. Although short-term solutions have been found to some of the problems, sustained efforts are required in the following areas to improve performance:

(i) strengthening the various parts of the ILO structure, including through the provision of additional human resources and training; this might also involve reviewing the composition of the MDTs to ensure that their composition corresponds with constituents' identified needs;

(ii) improving information systems and management tools;

(iii) adopting common programming, monitoring and evaluation tools for the technical cooperation programme as a whole, inter alia, in order to assess the overall impact (as opposed to project-by-project impact) of technical cooperation as a means of ILO action at the country and regional level;

(iv) continued strengthening of internal cooperation and coordination.

105. The evaluation results of technical cooperation activities provided some lessons for the management of technical cooperation: the evaluation of a project on tripartism funded by Norway revealed the importance of defining clearly the various roles and responsibilities in project implementation, including those of the CTA, MDTs, other parts of the field structure and headquarters. It also pointed to the importance of ensuring that appropriate arrangements were made to ensure that the institutional experience of technical cooperation activities was not lost through rapid staff turnover. These observations have been taken into account in developing measures to improve efficiency.

National execution, national capacity-building and national ownership

106. Another issue that had to be taken into account in developing technical cooperation activities was the policy of national execution and national ownership endorsed by the international development community and by the Office itself. However, while the concept is fairly clear in the UNDP context, this is not the case with other donors, and there is some confusion as to how it relates to the latter. Often, it was found that it was still necessary to strengthen national capacity in order to make national execution fully operational. There has hence been a sharper focus on this element.

107. To strengthen national capacity, the Office and the Turin Centre collaborated to develop training programmes in various technical fields. Social security was one new area of collaboration: in response to the high demand, a social security training post was also established at the departmental level, and a social security expert was based in the Turin Centre.

108. Other strategies for national capacity-building included creating and strengthening partnerships with national organizations, providing support while ensuring from the outset that their viability was not dependent on continued project assistance. One example is in Mali, where an NGO initially established with assistance from ACOPAM is now self-financing and is engaged by other agencies, notably the European Union, to provide training, including in the use of ACOPAM methodology. In Madagascar a training centre on employment-intensive infrastructure maintenance methodologies was established. It will be autonomous and is already used by various agencies, including the European Union and a German agency (GTZ), for their training programmes in this field.

109. Other programmes minimize the use of external expertise and focus on the use of national consultants. The programmes implemented by the Bureau for Employers' Activities, for example, rarely use international CTAs, relying on counterparts in employers' organizations supplemented by national consultants for project implementation as a means of developing national competence and project sustainability. In the DANIDA-funded occupational safety and health programme, in order to help ensure the development of national expertise, one specific condition for the annual release of funds by the ILO to cooperating organizations is the actual assignment of the national counterpart to the project activity. Although this is a long-established mechanism, all too often the national counterpart is simply not assigned in practice. In the field of social security, a new format for national capacity-building is being tried in the Ukraine, where a social budget project is being executed by a team of national experts and supported by ILO and World Bank technical expertise working in collaboration.

110. During the reporting period, the sharper focus on national capacity-building, together with the partnership approach of the APP, can be seen in many cases to have had a positive impact on the emergence of a sense of national ownership of programmes and to be gradually breaking down the traditional donor/recipient relationship. These are positive developments for the ILO in its relations with social partners, other national partners and the donor community.

Design, monitoring and evaluation of operational activities

111. Efforts continued to focus on ensuring that evaluations were carried out regularly throughout the Office as an integral part of the management of all ILO activities.

112. First, the follow-up computerized system (PILS) has been further enhanced and is now fully operational for the effective planning and conduct of evaluations.

113. Between January 1996 and June 1997 some 142 evaluations were planned, covering multi-bilaterally financed projects and programmes for a total budget of US$183,261,044. Over the same period 100 evaluation reports were indexed in the computerized database of evaluation results (PROG/EVAL). Of these, 72 were related to multi-bilateral projects and programmes and 28 covered UNDP-funded projects.

114. In the first half of 1997, the PROG/EVAL database was made available on the ILO's Intranet and the Internet, which will be accessible to an increased number of ILO staff, ILO constituents and the public at large in the course of this year.

115. The new Guidelines for the preparation of independent evaluations of ILO programmes and projects was published earlier this year, thus filling one of the remaining gaps in the application of ILO evaluation methods. The publication of the last of the planned guidelines concerned with the promotion of complementarity between standard-setting and technical cooperation activities is near completion and is expected to be ready for distribution before the end of 1997.

116. An ILO circular was also issued in 1997, updating the procedures for the design, monitoring and evaluation of ILO programmes and projects, which is expected to strengthen their application. Those procedures can be summarized as follows:

117. Training workshops on the design, monitoring and evaluation of ILO programmes and projects were again held in cooperation with the Turin Centre for ILO staff at headquarters. These workshops were also open to other UN agencies. Similar workshops were also organized for ILO field staff, constituents and MDT specialists. The latter included MDTs in Budapest, San Jose, Lima, Harare and New Delhi. The above workshops were attended by more than 250 participants. The slides of the ILO training manual have also been made available on the ILO's Intranet and the Internet, facilitating their widest possible use.

118. Several projects complemented the standard ILO evaluations with evaluations done by the project beneficiaries themselves, with positive results for project performance and self-confidence. This has been done in the INDISCO project and in a project in Mali on the management of forest resources through employment-intensive methods.

VIII. Implementation of the ILO strategy
for technical cooperation

119. The ILO strategy for technical cooperation was designed to ensure that the ILO's activities would be demand-driven, promote the ILO's values, and allow the Organization to be a centre of excellence. It emphasized the strengthening of constituents' capacity to identify and solve problems falling within the ILO's areas of competence and to engage effectively in social dialogue. The role of technical cooperation in promoting the ILO's message with the other social actors and in broadening the partnership for social justice was also highlighted. The strategy provided for the establishment of a management system capable of delivering sound and more coherent programmes, responsive to the needs of constituents and capable of attracting financing.

120. Some of the relevant measures taken to give effect to the strategy have been discussed in other sections, such as measures to improve internal coherence and coordination within the framework of the decentralization process, the ILO's responses to national capacity-building, emphasis on sound evaluation and the integration of international labour standards. Highlighted below are some other relevant aspects of the delivery system.

Enhancing the delivery system

121. The Active Partnership Policy continued to provide the framework for adopting a demand-driven approach, and its implementation will be the subject of a paper to be submitted to the Committee in March 1997. Generally there has been greater multidisciplinarity, although improvements are still necessary. The process of formulating country objectives, their periodic review and updating provide occasions for interaction and for strengthening the multidisciplinary approach, as does the process of preparing work plans, progress reviews and self-evaluation reports.

122. In Africa, nine out of the 53 country objectives exercises to be carried out have been finalized. Ten were suspended or delayed on account of political unrest. Among the 21 member States of the Asian and Pacific region, ten exercises have been completed. In the Americas, 16 exercises have been completed, including a subregional exercise for Central America. In addition, national programmes have been defined for Cuba and Haiti. It is projected that by the end of 1997, approximately 26 of the 33 possible exercises to be undertaken in this region will have been completed. Among the countries covered by the Regional Office for Europe, two exercises were conducted and concluded in 1997 for Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan, and two are planned for Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine. Even where country objectives have yet to be finalized, the ongoing consultations have helped to identify priority areas for action within the ILO's mandate.

123. The APP framework facilitated the approach of strategic selectivity proposed in the technical cooperation strategy, whereby key criteria for the ILO's engaging in technical cooperation activities are relevance, impact and sustainability. Two problems might be noted: (i) in Latin America and in Asia and the Pacific, old projects in some cases do not correspond to the new priorities set under the country objectives, and this is quite likely the situation elsewhere; (ii) the field structure is not consulted in the development of interregional projects. In the first case, projects nearing completion may need to run their course. If a fairly long period of implementation remains, the situation may need to be reviewed with all concerned, including donors. In the second case, action is being taken to ensure that all headquarters-led programme development initiatives have field inputs and support from the outset. Similarly, it is also necessary to ensure that technical initiatives in the field are not done in isolation from headquarters so that issues of institutional memory, synergy, quality and consistency of policy are addressed.

124. One weakness that has emerged in some country objectives exercises is the difficulty of identifying technical assistance needs in areas that are within the ILO's mandate but which are not the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour. Another possibility is that the priorities set may reflect the technical specializations available in the MDTs. This means that certain areas of real need can be overlooked. Strengthening the social partners so as to make them better attuned to the scope of the activities that need to be covered in the exercise and to mobilize the involvement of other relevant agencies in the process could help to address this problem.

125. As regards new programme development, a major focus was the development of the global programmes initiated to deal with certain widespread concerns of constituents and/or as an ILO contribution to the follow-up programmes of various international UN conferences. These are: (i) the International Small Enterprise Programme; (ii) the Occupational Safety, Health and the Environment Programme; (iii) the Programme on More and Better Jobs for Women; and (iv) a programme on social exclusion.

126. The global programmes are guided by a broad vision and an integrated approach to maximize impact and efficiency. National activities will benefit from the synergy obtained in activities such as research, evaluation and dissemination of experience. Headquarters plays a lead role in developing the global programmes with the involvement of various departments and the Bureaux for Workers' and Employers' Activities. Great importance is attached to involving the field structure, which will generally assume the main responsibility for country-level programme development and implementation within the framework of the overall programme. In the implementation process, headquarters will provide broad support. These new programmes have benefited from the successes and mistakes of older programme approaches, particularly the IPEC programme. RBTC allocations have been committed to the development of national plans in Burkina Faso and the United Republic of Tanzania under the More and Better Jobs for Women programme, and the Government of Belgium has expressed interest in contributing to the social protection programme.

127. Other major new programme initiatives had a regional focus. Examples are the UNDP/ILO Programme on Employment Generation for Poverty Reduction or "Jobs for Africa" which responded to regional priorities and to follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development. The next stage will focus on implementing the Policy Framework and the Programme of Action. In Latin America, negotiations began with the European Union for a large project on the social dimension of economic integration. The employment-intensive programme focused on developing subregional support programmes (East and southern Africa, West Africa and Asia and the Pacific) to strengthen field and national capacity in order to enable them to meet the demand for such services. During the next biennium, and following a Governing Body decision concerning follow-up on Habitat II, an interregional urban employment programme will be launched.

128. These major new initiatives were complemented by a range of other projects operating at different levels and of varying scope, depending on the subject and the need to which they were responding. The Bureaux for Workers' and Employers' Activities, continued to develop projects to strengthen workers' and employers' organizations in specific fields. Such assistance would prepare such organizations for more effective participation in, and cooperation with, other programmes, including the global programmes.

129. Another initiative was a staff seminar on technical cooperation, held in headquarters in April 1997 to promote internal coherence in technical cooperation and ultimately quality. The focus was on some successful technical cooperation initiatives and on a number of major issues in technical cooperation (policy and institutional issues; international labour standards and technical cooperation; and financial and personnel issues). The process was useful in identifying measures required to strengthen technical cooperation. The Workshop on the Active Partnership Policy, held in April 1997, reviewed some aspects of the implementation of the policy. These events are highlighted in a separate paper before the Committee.

130. Various training activities also took place in the field, with headquarters support, to strengthen the capacity of staff to contribute to growth in the volume and quality of technical cooperation activities. The training delivered on the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of technical cooperation programmes was described earlier. Regional workshops were also organized for programming, financial and administrative staff. In Asia, training activities included upgrading technical skills for Professional and General Service staff, management training for programme managers, a workshop for librarians and documentalists, and computer training in specific technical fields.

131. As indicated in the previous section, it is a high priority to have better information flows on technical cooperation and to continue to work with the field programming units to improve overall monitoring and reporting on technical cooperation, including at the country level. The Regional Office for Africa has started work on developing a country objectives database in order to facilitate the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of action plans resulting from the country objectives. It will establish the link between the country objectives, the programme and budget, national development plans, the UNDP's country strategy and the priority areas for intervention identified by the major donors.

Resource mobilization

132. The resource mobilization strategy was an important component of the Technical Cooperation Strategy and is the subject of a separate paper before the Committee.(6)  It is hence not reviewed in this paper. With progress made in improving the delivery system, the document on resource mobilization envisages a strong resource mobilization effort to ensure that the Office is well placed to secure the resources required to meet the needs of constituents and to permit the full realization of technical cooperation as an effective means of action for the ILO.

133. It may be noted that the ILO welcomed initiatives on the part of some donor countries to work with each other to improve coordination in their programmes with the ILO and to enhance technical exchanges. The Office is very keen to do its part to support such initiatives. It is particularly interested in working with groups of donors to streamline administrative and financial procedures so as to allow a more concentrated focus on promoting substantive exchanges on technical cooperation issues.

Inter-agency collaboration

134. There was considerable inter-agency collaboration at various levels. The following examples illustrate such cooperation with the agencies indicated at the operational level:

Reference is made above to the various areas in which operational cooperation with the World Bank has developed. These include: employment and gender issues, labour law reform in French-speaking Africa, employment observatories in Africa and social security.

135. The regional and area offices were instrumental in maintaining relations with UNDP and with regional organizations such as the African Development Bank, Caribbean Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank, participating in coordinating meetings and promoting ILO perspectives in exercises such as the UNDP's Country Strategy Notes. As noted above, the MDTs also developed important working relationships, for example with the Inter- American Development Bank in the Americas. The Bureaux for Workers' and Employers' activities maintained contacts with relevant organizations in donor countries, which contributed to resource mobilization efforts. The Turin Centre also plays an important role in promoting field coordination in its role as implementing agency of the UN Staff College project.

IX. Conclusions

136. Sound programme development, efficient implementation, demonstrable results and making constructive use of the lessons learned from a continuous evaluation process to improve future outputs are critical elements in ensuring that the ILO emerges as a centre of excellence and in attracting the necessary financing for its programmes. This paper has indicated that programme development and delivery were sometimes adversely affected during the decentralization process: lack of clarity about roles and responsibilities in the new framework, a lag in the internalization of the new approaches, lack of capacity and experience in the new teams, and lack of support capacity in the field offices were some of the pertinent factors. However, it was noted that the situation was gradually improving as the result of concerted efforts to achieve better in-house coordination and coherence. The experience during the reporting period has underlined how important it is for all parts of the ILO structure -- field, headquarters technical departments, bureaux and support services -- to work together, fully exploiting the advantages of the ILO's tripartite structure to achieve quality programming and successful resource mobilization. With sustained efforts in this direction, the Office is confident that it will be able to respond successfully to the challenges of the prevailing environment for development assistance for the benefit of its constituents, and to work with them in a broad partnership for social justice.

Geneva, 10 October 1997.

1.  Combined expenditure in the technical fields of EMP/FORM, POL/DEV and ENTREPRISE. A breakdown of expenditure for each technical field is given in Appendix III. All technical cooperation activities and related expenditure, whether backstopped by the field or headquarters, are recorded under a technical field defined by the coverage of the different ILO departments.

2.  Combined expenditure in the technical fields of ACTRAV, ACT/EMP, REL/PROF and NORMES.

3.  Miscellaneous small activities in support of various technical fields comprise approximately 4 per cent of activities.

4.  See GB.270/ESP/1/1.

5.  These figures reflect expenditure registered under the Bureaux for Workers' and Employers' Activities. Additional support for workers' and employers' activities by the various technical programmes is not included.

6.  GB.270/TC/2.

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