Technical Cooperation and Development: Interview with Enrico Cairola

Press release | 15 April 2011

ACTRAV INFO: What role can the constituents play in ensuring aid and development effectiveness?

Enrico Cairola: Trade unions play a key role in the development process. Their democratic structures provide legitimacy to represent the interests of workers with governments and employers’ organizations. By their involvement in social dialogue, trade unions are key actors for shaping labour and social policies. Development effectiveness also means strengthening democracy. Free trade unions and the extension of collective bargaining in developed and developing countries are two essential pillars for building democracy, and for ensuring a fair and sustainable model of development. By organizing workers, including those working in the informal economy, trade unions can play a critical role in advancing social dialogue and social justice. A more coherent development policy should consider the capacities of workers’ organizations as a key asset for the development of social dialogue. Building the capacities of the social partners and their ability to work together around labour and social issues (the agenda of decent work) has been demonstrated to be the best way to ensure social progress, democracy and inclusive growth. The notion of development effectiveness in the labour movement is also based on the exchange of practices and experiences from partner organizations where priorities, such as the design and the effective implementation of development cooperation initiatives, are carried out by respecting the receiving partner’s primary accountability in these tasks. Development effectiveness is also a means for the labour movement to further develop partnership agreements. These are usually based upon equal relationship and operate through collaborative learning and the extensive use of social and learning networks. A partnership approach is based on sharing experiences and good practices between “equals”. It is based on mutual respect, trust, understanding, and diversity, and differences are recognized as added values.

Another key dimension of development effectiveness is the sustainability and viability of the development process. Sustainability comprises the capacity for institutions such as the social partners to operate with a clear mandate, a degree of independence/autonomy, ownership of policies and accountability (particularly in membership of workers’ and employers’ organizations).Tripartite constituents are key actors for putting in place a system of governance at the country level. They simply need to be there. If they are not there it means a lack of democracy and repression of core labour rights. A new model of development effectiveness needs the social partners to be fully empowered for shaping national development policies and to make the labour market viable and efficient.

Capacity development is an important asset for achieving sustainability via the empowerment of the social partners and, at a later stage, the self-financing of workers’ and employers’ organizations by membership dues.The democratic ownership of development strategies by the people through representative institutions such as trade unions, is the main instrument for achieving development effectiveness. The social partners are the key actors for promoting the principle of democratic ownership, and they must have a say in defining development strategies.

ACTRAV INFO: How can development effectiveness serve its purpose?

Enrico Cairola: Rethinking development policies means tackling the issue of reducing inequalities at national level with national development policies, and at the global level with fundamental reform in the internal governance of organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organization (WTO).Collective bargaining, progressive fiscal policies, minimum wages, high-quality public services, and improved social protection are the fundamental components for the design of a new development model. The ILO’s Global Jobs Pact (GJP) captures all these elements and it tries to include them in the design and delivery of DWCPs. With the adoption of the Global Jobs Pact the ILO is providing the social partners with a new model for shaping new national development policies to overcome the current crisis and, at the same time, the GJP helps identify a new model of globalization based on decent work, a rights-based approach, fairness and equality.

ACTRAV INFO: In your view, how can fundamental principles and rights at work objectives be effectively integrated into country-owned development priorities?

Enrico Cairola: Workers’ rights are human rights and member States and the international community must ensure their full, universal respect, and their enforceability. For ACTRAV, development effectiveness should be rooted and grounded on a rights-based approach. The notion of democracy is based on key ILO Conventions and it would be difficult to promote a change in the development model without putting at the core of this process a rights-based approach. The development of a new model of development effectiveness also depends on the degree of coherence of the international financial institutions, and the WTO in particular, where the promotion of fundamental workers’ rights should be an explicit objective of their work, and where the mandate of the ILO should be fully recognized with the full use of the ILO’s supervisory system. The inclusion of fundamental principles and rights at work into country-owned development frameworks (preparation and delivery of DWCPs) is a priority for the labour movement. This dimension should be further strengthened within DWCPs, and in particular within UNDAF’s.

ACTRAV INFO: Another dimension is the south-south cooperation between the member States. In your view, how can the ILO strengthen its engagement with south-south cooperation and aid to fragile member States?

Enrico Cairola:
South-south cooperation should reflect a new economic and social model of development. Most of the priorities of the labour movement highlighted above are reflected in south–south cooperation.Countries from the south will continue to play a greater role in the international development and aid cooperation agenda because there is a need from developing countries to share good practices, knowledge and experiences reflecting their particular history and development path. In addition, they have already become important components of the international community, and key political players for shaping the new aid architecture.

Finally, south-south cooperation should not only indicate a geographical concept, but a change in the economic and social paradigm, as well as the transition from a model based on aid into a model grounded in development effectiveness. ACTRAV encourages the Office to continue its efforts to further develop and support south-south initiatives with the development of new agreements where the ILO could further promote its mandate and the agenda of decent work.

For more information, contact:

Specialist in Workers’Activities
Tel:+41 22 799 62 79
Email: cairola[at]