Social Protection and Social Dialogue

Seoul Declaration bolsters commitment to expanding social protection and social dialogue

Key actors from around the globe pledge to promote social protection floors through social dialogue.

Press release | 12 December 2014
SEOUL -- Representatives from Economic and Social Councils and other Similar Institutions (ESC-SIs) have adopted a Declaration which reinforces their commitment to expanding social protection floors for all through social dialogue.

Over 90 participants from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and the Arab States agreed on a Declaration which will serve as a tool for extending national social protection systems in line with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Recommendation No. 202 and Convention No. 144.

Their Declaration aims to reinforce ESC-SIs efforts in bringing together governments, representative organizations of employers and workers, as well as other relevant organizations to consult on issues pertaining to the promotion of social protection floors for all.

The meeting was very timely as social protection and welfare systems are being reshaped in a large number of world countries. Most middle-income and low-income countries are boldly expanding their social protection systems, a powerful developmental lesson. However, a number of countries are reforming their social protection systems because of fiscal consolidation pressures, cutting welfare coverage, reducing benefits and limiting access to quality public services, with significant adverse social impacts.

These divergent trends were informed by a new report by ILO "Social protection global policy trends 2010-2015".

While in some countries, public welfare decisions have been shaped though social dialogue, in many other countries this has not been the case. Public policy decisions have often been taken behind closed doors, as technocratic solutions with limited or no consultation, potentially resulting in lack of public ownership, civil unrest and adverse socio-economic impacts. National tripartite dialogue, with government, employers and workers as well as academics, civil society and others, is fundamental to adopt optimal public policies.

Participants reaffirmed their commitment to ILO instruments in the area of Social Dialogue, especially the Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention No. 144, to make social and labour policies fair and sustainable even in times of economic crisis.

They also invited the ILO to initiate discussions with international financial institutions to include the fight against poverty and the promotion of social justice on their agendas.

Follow-up actions from the Seoul Conference are set to be presented at the General Assembly meeting in Moscow in 2015.

Participants at the ILO/AICESIS International Conference on November 20-21 included representatives of ESC-SIs from more than 30 countries, along with experts from international and regional institutions, including the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Employers Organization (IOE), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United National Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the International Social Security Association (ISSA) and the International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW).

The high-level event was organized by the ILO and the International Association of Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS), in partnership with the Economic and Social Development Commission of Korea (ESDC).