2021 marked the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially there were hints of a gradual return to normality. However, the labour market recovery stalled, with growing disparities between advanced and developing economies.
© Fahad Abdullah Kaizer / UN Women
The year began with the opening of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour. Data released in June showed that for the first time in 20 years the number of children in child labour rose, to 160 million worldwide, with millions more placed at risk because of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Forced Labour Protocol achieved 50 ratifications in March – reaching the target set by the 50 for Freedom campaign. The Protocol commits governments to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, protect its victims and ensure access to justice and remedies, including compensation.
For the first time in its history, the International Labour Conference took place online, due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. It was divided into two segments – in May/June and November/December and involved more than 4,000 virtual participants from 187 Member States.
Delegates at the International Labour Conference in June adopted the Global Call to Action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that is inclusive, sustainable and resilient. It prioritizes the creation of decent jobs for all, addresses inequalities caused by the crisis and encourages international cooperation.
Convention No. 190, the first international treaty on violence and harassment in the world of work, came into force on 25 June 2021. It recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment and provides a common framework for action. The ILO launched a global campaign to promote its ratification and implementation.
© Andrey Popov
The International Labour Review celebrated its 100th anniversary in July. Established in 1921 by the ILO Governing Body, the multidisciplinary journal brings together original thinking by academics and experts to advance research, inform policy debate and support decision-making in all fields related to the world of work.
The UN and the ILO established a ‘Global Accelerator’ in September, to help finance the creation of 400 million jobs and extend social protection to 4 billion people currently without coverage. It aims to tackle deeply diverging recoveries that may make the world more vulnerable to future crises, including climate change.
© Wayne S. Grazio
The leaders of the G20 group of nations, meeting in October, committed to human-centred policy approaches in their COVID-19 pandemic recovery plans, echoing the ILO’s Global Call to Action for a human-centred recovery. They pledged to ensure safe and healthy working conditions, decent work for all, social justice and social dialogue.
© Vickie Murphy
In November, the UN Climate Change Conference in Scotland adopted a Just Transition Declaration. It reflected the ILO’s 2015 Guidelines for a Just Transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies, decent work for all, social inclusion and the eradication of poverty.
© Tariq Saeed / IRIN