ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

International Labour Conference
85th Session

Address by His Majesty
King Hussein Ibn Talal
of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
13 June 1997

In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Peace be upon you, and God's mercy and His blessings.

It is a pleasure and an honour for me to be among you here today on the occasion of the 85th International Labour Conference, in response to the kind invitation of my dear friend, His Excellency Mr. Michel Hansenne, the Director-General of the ILO, who has my deep respect and appreciation for his hard work, renowned experience and wisdom in carrying out his global responsibilities.

It is also my pleasure to congratulate Her Excellency Mrs. Olga Keltošová on her election as President of this Conference, and I wish her every success in this session of the Conference. Greetings also to their excellencies, the heads and members of all participating delegations, at this unique gathering of the three pillars of production: government, employers and workers. This tripartite structure, is indeed, the essence of the strength of the ILO and its continuity in an ever-changing world.

During the past few decades we in Jordan have made great strides at all levels of life, whether political, economic, social or legislative. Our infrastructure forms a solid base for our development effort. We have always taken time to re-examine our policies and undertake the necessary steps to reform in accordance with the needs of the day, and in response to even greater strides in technological innovation and to the changing regional and international environment. Our economic restructuring programme is a manifestation of our economic adaptability and of our willingness to achieve the highest possible degree of self-reliance within a well- balanced, flexible and competitive environment to ensure a smooth transition to higher levels of economic activity.

Understanding, full comprehensive and gentle democratic dialogue were the hallmarks of creating a consensus amongst us. By ensuring that all interests are catered for, we have managed to lessen the impact of inconsistencies and imbalances. This approach is the only alternative to confrontation and strife. We have always recognized that the individual is Jordan's first real resource which has been the compensatory factor for the deficiency of our natural resources. Our policies were geared towards improving the standard of living of the average Jordanian and to provide the necessary social welfare.

The Jordanian Constitution laid down, over 45 years ago, the noble values of work and protected the rights of workers in unambiguous terms of clarity and justice. Since the promulgation of our Constitution and our accession to the ILO back in 1956, we were always inspired, and continue to be, by the principles of the ILO in our legislation in employment, vocational and technical training, as well as social security.

My Government has ratified six of the seven main Conventions concerning basic human rights. The most recent Convention ratified by the Cabinet was Convention No. 138 concerning minimum age. This Convention is undergoing the necessary constitutional procedure for its final adoption and application thereafter. As to Convention No. 87 concerning freedom of association and the protection of the right to organize, existing Jordanian legislation already stipulates the protection of freedom and labour rights, as well as the right to organize in professional and labour associations. That Convention shall certainly have my Government's consideration and attention.

I take this opportunity to emphasize the excellent relations Jordan enjoys with the ILO and its various components, and I look forward to even greater levels of cooperation in the future.

It is not a coincidence that the entire world in 1994 joined this Organization in the celebration of two important events: the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the ILO and the 50th anniversary of the famous Philadelphia Declaration. It is also not a coincidence that the ILO received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969 on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. This took place in recognition, and in appreciation, of the importance of the role of this Organization as a unique international organization with its tripartite composition, and historical roots based on a philosophy centred on the individual, wherever he or she may be, and in total disregard of origin, colour, nationality or belief, always emphasizing world peace and achieving justice as well as the social, spiritual and material welfare of mankind. Therefore, such an institution deserves all respect and appreciation and merits our entire support, be it nationally, regionally or internationally, to go together towards a bright new future.

Our world witnesses a new era today -- a real revolution in all forms, that of science and globalization. It is a revolution that has established new dawns of excellence and innovation, adding new dimensions to industry, production and communications and fresh aspects to knowledge, which has transformed the world into a global village -- removing borders, bringing down walls, dismantling psychological as well as material barriers among peoples and nations, and thus ending the era of isolation and the remnants of the cold war. It has imposed on us all and on the world community new realities on the ground, with fresh challenges and problems of a nature never seen before by mankind.

Such a revolution comes at a time when the world still suffers from so many worrying social and labour problems: increasing poverty, rising unemployment, weakening means of production, the ever-increasing requirements of vocational and technological training, worsening conditions of employment, issues of labour immigration, employment of women, children and youths, as well as those with special needs, and numerous other issues at the workplace. Additionally, those problems prevailing in developing and the less developed countries in particular -- such as chronic slow growth, scarce natural resources, low financial and investment capabilities, their ever-increasing indebtedness, as well as the dangers of isolationism, inequality and, finally, their economic and political marginalization -- all affect their adjustment and integration into the world economy.

In view of such changes, it has become clear that nations as well as international organizations have embarked on an unfair competition, leading to a situation where economic might wins over social matters, thus adversely affecting the gains of development and social welfare that were achieved by millions of workers in the world through hard work over so many years. In this respect I would like to emphasize that democratic dialogue among the concerned parties is the only course whereby conflict can give way to harmony leading to a just, balanced and fair solution to all problems.

It is a good omen that for a number of years the entire United Nations and all of its specialized agencies (of which the ILO is one) now not only take a more pragmatic and objective look at world affairs but have also acquired a clarity of vision and a sense of responsibility that are deeply heightened. We are very optimistic that the ILO is closely following up the positive outcome of the World Summit for Social Development held in March 1995. The Summit's Copenhagen Declaration should eventually pave the way to the emergence of a fair, open and efficient world order which will balance the costs and benefits of globalization among all the nations of the world.

By its diligent and active participation in peacemaking, Jordan translated its long held and total belief in a just, comprehensive and durable peace in the Middle East by signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1994. We have totally fulfilled the conditions, obligations and requirements of that treaty, for we have always believed that true peace requires that all concerned parties honour fully their signed agreements in letter and spirit. What is required now, for the continuation of the peace process, is a complete cessation of disconcerting policies and practices that contradict international legitimacy, such as the policies of settlement, land confiscation (especially in Arab Jerusalem) and demographic manipulation which, in their totality as well as in their individual aspects, breach obligations entered into in good faith to discuss all these areas in the current and in the final-status negotiations; for such policies and practices would endanger hopes and detract from the aim of achieving a lasting, just and comprehensive peace. Such policies would also have an adverse effect on endeavours to revive the other peace tracks still lagging behind.

For our part, we shall continue to work for the achievement of such a peace in which we believe. A peace that is just, comprehensive and durable is one that will provide the future generations of the children of Abraham with the opportunities they have always longed for, one in which Jerusalem will be the symbol of harmonious consistence among the followers of the three monotheistic religions, and of piety in worshipping God and God alone.

Under such a peace, Jerusalem will also represent the achievement of an Arab-Israeli peace, and more particularly a Palestinian-Israeli peace in an open city constituting in its eastern and western parts a capital of both Palestine and Israel, or in any such manner that the Palestinian and Israeli parties may -- within the parameters of the rules of international law -- agree upon in negotiating a final-status settlement.

Let me conclude by saying that we recognize the ILO as the beacon of light which leads the world's future generations -- who long for security and real economic and social stability -- towards a new dawn of just, righteous and equitable peace.

I wish you every success in your deliberations.

May God's peace and His blessings be upon you.

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