ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

Twelfth Asian Regional Meeting

Bangkok December 1997

Report of the Director-General

International Labour Office   Geneva


As the major ILO forum in Asia, the Twelfth Asian Regional Meeting will review the ILO's work in the region and provide tripartite guidance on future activities. My Report is intended to stimulate and support your discussions at the Meeting. It covers recent developments in the fields of employment, poverty and human resource development, and in industrial relations and workers' protection. These developments are viewed against the backdrop of the globalization and liberalization of economies in the region, and the resulting challenges and opportuni-ties. The ILO's strategy in response to those challenges is described in terms of selected activities in Asia and the Pacific, and in the Arab States of West Asia. The points for discussion which form part of the conclusion to the Report will, I hope, assist you in formulating con-clusions on future ILO action at the Meeting.

Recent discussions at the ILO Governing Body and the International Labour Conference, as well as the positive statements made by Asian governments, among many others, at the United Nations World Summit for Social Development and the First Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization, have encouraged me to hope that international labour standards will guide your deliberations, and particularly the need for ratification and application of the fundamental human rights Conventions, including the discussions in progress concerning inscription on the Agenda of the 86th (1998) Conference of a Declaration.

A word of explanation on the Asian Regional Meeting is in order. It is the successor meeting to the Asian Regional Conference of the International Labour Organization, which last took place in 1991. Regional Meetings, which are a simplified version of the former Regional Conferences, were conceived as a way of reducing budgetary expenditure. They will be financed by the ILO budget, will last only three days and will consist of a single agenda item, to be discussed in plenary, concerning ILO activities in the region concerned. At its 83rd Session in June 1996, the International Labour Conference empowered the Governing Body to adopt a draft set of Rules for the new Regional Meetings. These Rules were adopted by the Governing Body at its 267th Session in November 1996. To allow an evaluation of the new arrangements, the Rules are to be applied on an experimental basis before being submitted to the International Labour Conference for confirmation.

This Twelfth Asian Regional Meeting is particularly important in the light of major changes in the ILO's structure and methods of work which have taken place since 1993. I refer to the introduction of the active partnership policy and the setting up of the multidisciplinary teams, and to the new emphasis on country objectives established in close collaboration with governments and the social partners in the countries concerned.

I commend this Report to you as a tool for the Asian Regional Meeting, and as a reference work on the ILO's future role in the region into the twenty-first century.



I.   Employment, poverty and human resource development

II.   Industrial relations, workers' protection and globalization

III.   The ILO response

IV.   Conclusion: Challenges for the twenty-first century


  1. Framework for analysing the impact of globalization on industrial relations


  1. Growth of employment and labour force, Asia and the Pacific, selected countries and areas, 1978-95
  2. Rural poverty in West Asia and the Pacific islands, 1988
  3. Poverty trends in selected Asian countries, 1976-96
  4. Women's economic activity rates in Asia and the Pacific, and West Asia, by subregion, 1950-2010
  5. Female-male wage gap in Asia and the Pacific, and West Asia
  6. Inflows and outflows of FDI for selected regions of the world, 1983-94
  7. Asia and the Pacific: Technical cooperation expenditure by source of funding, 1991-96
  8. West Asia: Technical cooperation expenditure by source of funding, 1992-96
  9. Asia and the Pacific: Technical cooperation expenditure by major technical field, 1991-96


A1. Socioeconomic indicators, 1995: Developing Asia, developing countries and the world

A2. Ratifications of fundamental international labour Conventions, Asia and the Pacific, as of 30 June 1997

A3. Ratifications of fundamental international labour Conventions, Arab States of West Asia, as of 30 June 1997

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