ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

271st Session
Geneva, March 1998

Committee on Employment and Social Policy



Preparations for the 1999 International
Consultation concerning Follow-up on
the World Summit for Social Development

(b) Progress report on the implementation of the
ILO country employment reviews

1. The ILO is currently conducting a series of country-level employment policy reviews (CEPRs) as part of its actions to give effect to the Declaration and Programme of Action adopted by the World Summit for Social Development (WSSD), in particular to promote the goal of full, productive and freely chosen employment with full respect for basic workers' rights. These reviews are being conducted, as requested by the Committee at its meeting in March 1997, within the framework of the issues and modalities set out in the paper submitted to the Committee in March 1996.1  The selection of countries for review is largely based on considerations of regional balance and of issues and concerns related to various levels of development. The CEPRs are being implemented, as discussed by the Governing Body, with the full consent of the governments concerned and in close cooperation with the social partners. Eight to ten country reviews are envisaged in the current biennium, as stated in the Programme and Budget for 1998-99. At its meeting in November 1997, the Committee discussed an Office paper which provided a brief account of the ILO's initiative in carrying out the CEPRs, expressed its continued interest in the subject, and asked the Office for a further progress report on the implementation of these reviews. This paper provides a summary of events and progress made in respect of the CEPRs since January 1998.

2. Among the country reviews initiated so far, that in Brazil is in a relatively advanced phase. It began in the second half of 1997 and several technical papers have been prepared by the MDT in Santiago, headquarters officials and leading experts from Brazil. A variety of issues have been explored in depth, including the current macroeconomic policy options for stabilization and growth; various dimensions of labour market developments, including segmentation and the growth of the informal sector; active labour market policies; and an evaluation of various local employment policy initiatives. A technical workshop was held in Brasilia from 4 to 5 December 1997 to review the background papers and assess their implications for employment policy, attended by senior government officials and advisors, representatives of trade unions, employers and international agencies, and academic experts. The government and the social partners welcomed the CEPR and emphasized the importance it attached to the objective of employment generation through skill upgrading, competitiveness and the improvement of working conditions. The draft papers are currently being revised and, along with an ILO synthesis paper, will be submitted to the employers' and workers' organizations in Brazil for written comments and contributions. The review exercise, which may entail some additional analysis of issues identified at the workshop, is expected to be completed by September this year.

3. In Ukraine, the terms of reference of the CEPR have been developed largely based on the conclusions of a national tripartite conference on employment policies, held in Kiev in October 1997. The conference provided an appropriate forum, with tripartite representation from all the 26 regions of the country, to discuss the current disturbing trends in unemployment, labour market conditions and social protection. The terms of reference were designed to address these pressing concerns, and to develop policy guidelines to strengthen moves towards employment generation, enterprise development and workers' protection. The review exercise will involve a series of background studies on the effects of the current economic reforms on employment and labour markets; incomes and wage policies; labour market developments, especially the growth of "hidden" employment; constraints affecting small enterprise development; wage arrears and workers' protection; and the functioning of labour market institutions and labour market information systems. A draft report is expected by the end of April 1998.

4. The CEPRs are also under way in Kenya and Barbados. In Kenya, an exploratory mission was undertaken to discuss the ILO framework paper with the government and the workers' and employers' organizations, who have welcomed the ILO initiative. Background papers are being prepared, and an employment policy review mission is expected to be fielded in May for extensive consultations with government officials and with workers' and employers' representatives and researchers. A draft report is expected by the end of August 1998. In Barbados, during an exploratory ILO mission in July 1997, a tripartite meeting chaired by the Minister of Labour endorsed the ILO proposal to carry out a CEPR. Draft terms of reference for the CEPR have since been prepared. An ILO employment mission has been scheduled for February 1998 to discuss the terms of reference with the social partners and with other public and private agencies and researchers. The review will involve the preparation of several background technical papers, which will be synthesized by the ILO's MDT in Port of Spain.

5. The Government of Côte d'Ivoire has formally consented to the ILO's undertaking a CEPR, and steps are being taken to initiate a comprehensive review there. Discussions on conducting a CEPR in Pakistan are at an advanced stage.

6. As regards the OECD countries, contacts have been established with the Governments of the Netherlands, Ireland, Austria and Denmark. They have agreed to participate in the CEPR exercise, within a comparative framework. A preliminary round of ILO missions is envisaged to establish closer cooperation with the social partners, and to engage local experts to prepare technical reports. The primary objective of the comparative CEPR in these countries is to analyse the nature of, and the policy explanations for, their success relative to many OECD member countries in either reducing the level of unemployment and creating jobs or in maintaining comparatively low unemployment rates. An employment policy seminar grouping these countries is envisaged at the end of the review exercise. National seminars may also be held if the countries so desire. Among the key issues that the reviews in these countries will discuss are the following: the employment intensity of growth and the sources of demand for labour; action to improve employment prospects for unskilled labour; reintegrating the long-term unemployed and improving access to employment for disadvantaged groups; means of reconciling labour market flexibility with employment and income security; and how social dialogue has contributed to the formulation and implementation of employment policies.

7. The primary focus of the CEPRs in the above countries is to contribute to the pursuit of full employment, and the review exercises are intended to support the ILO's social partners in designing and formulating appropriate policies and programmes. While the individual CEPRs naturally address country-specific issues and policies, there are some core issues and concerns that are reflected in all the CEPRs, especially their conformity with the Copenhagen Declaration, and respect for universal values such as those contained in the ILO's fundamental labour standards. At the end of the review exercise, a national tripartite seminar would be held to provide public exposure to the review and to discuss a set of policy recommendations for national action. These reviews are expected to provide substantial input to the preparation of the Office report to the International Consultation concerning Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development in October 1999.

Geneva, 15 February 1998.

1  GB.265/ESP/1.

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