The popular uprisings that have swept through the Middle East and North Africa since 2011 serve as a reminder that social justice is at the heart of peoples aspirations for a better life.
Social dialogue – which is any form of negotiation, consultation or exchange of information between and among representatives of governments, workers and employers – is key to fostering social and economic progress and achieving decent work for all, more productive and effective enterprises, better wages and working conditions, as well as peace and social justice. As the only tripartite United Nations agency, the ILO promotes dialogue among and between governments and the two “social partners” to jointly shape labour standards, policies and programmes. Social dialogue between these three parties underpins the ILO’s work, and the ILO helps to develop the capacity of its constituents in order to effectively engage in this process.
ILO response in the Arab States
In the Arab states, the ILO fosters social dialogue by:
- Promoting international standards concerning social dialogue, including ILO Conventions 87 and 98;
- Helping to reform national labour legislation and strengthening labour administrations as per the international labour standards;
- Strengthening independent workers’ and employers’ organizations through technical capacity building and access to information;
- Strengthening the established tripartite structures and promoting bipartite dialogue;
- Promoting tripartism and social dialogue in each of its programmes and activities;
- Elaborating social dialogue indicators as part of the overall indicators of decent work;
- Organizing bipartite and tripartite meetings in many technical and sectoral fields.
The Arab Labour Organization with the support of ILO, hosted the first Arab Regional Conference on Social Dialogue in 2010, which concluded with an agreement to build new, and bolster existing, national frameworks for social dialogue. In 2013, the ILO and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released “Rethinking Economic Growth: Towards Productive and Inclusive Arab Societies”. The report notes that the Arab region’s greatest deficits are in the areas of social protection and social dialogue.
For more on the ILO’s support to social dialogue in the Arab states, visit our areas of work pages on Workers’ Organizations and Employers’ Organizations.