Decent work for peace and resilience

ILO addresses EU-UN consultation on Conflict Prevention, Peace and Stability

News | 13 January 2021
The EU is in the midst of its programming exercise for the next seven years. The EU External Financing Instruments will be consolidated to a large extent under the new Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI). As part of the consultation process related to the Peace, Stability and Conflict Prevention Thematic Programme of the NDICI, UN and EU actors involved in peace and security exchanged on policy orientation and their respective priorities for programming during a virtual conference.

In fragile countries, the COVID-19 pandemic can instil mistrust and a sense of injustice regarding access to decent jobs and secure livelihoods. “These are potential drivers of conflict which could undermine development, peace and social cohesion,” said Nieves Thomet, Jobs for Peace Specialist at the ILO. Yet, humanitarian development and peace actors often work in silos, and employment is not always considered in the nexus.

The ILO Recommendation on Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience advocates for employment and decent work to be mainstreamed into the humanitarian development and peace nexus. It also pleads to recognize the key role of social dialogue and to ensure that non-traditional actors such as the private sector and trade unions participate.

The importance of these three elements is also underlined in a recent recommendation paper by ILO, WHO, Interpeace and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (DPPA/PBSO): From Crisis to Opportunity for Sustainable Peace – A joint perspective on responding to the health, employment and peacebuilding challenges in times of COVID-19.

The joint paper also recognizes that employment interventions in conflict-affected countries are key to tackle the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in the short and long-term, to foster social cohesion and a sense of justice, and to build trust and peace.

The ILO’s approach to crisis response is firmly grounded in the Decent Work Agenda, which is an essential element of the humanitarian-development-peace nexus where employment, decent working conditions and social dialogue can contribute to peace and resilience.

In conflict and fragile settings, employment and decent work initiatives have to be designed and implemented properly so that do not harm already volatile environments. Moreover, these programmes and projects need to go further, and identify how they will contribute purposefully to build peace and social cohesion.

First, when populations of working age have access to livelihoods and decent employment opportunities with adequate social protection coverage, they may be less prone to political and armed violence.

Second, by bringing together different population groups, including the government, workers’ and employers’ organizations, employment programmes may break down stereotypes, increase understanding and trust, and enhance social cohesion.

Third, many of today’s violent conflicts relate to group-based grievances arising from inequality, non-respect of human and labour rights, exclusion, lack of participatory mechanisms and dialogue as well as feelings of injustice. Inclusive and transparent employment and social protection programmes, which aim to improve equality in opportunities, livelihoods, as well as the quality of jobs, could reduce the risk of conflict by addressing these grievances.