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107th International Labour Conference

President of Ireland: Global solidarity dedicated to social justice and equality for all is key to building peace

President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, made a passionate call for an approach to work that could meet the contemporary demands of social justice. He made the remarks in an address at the World of Work Summit of the International Labour Conference that discussed “Employment and Decent work for Peace and Resilience”.

News | 07 June 2018

Watch the full statement here

GENEVA (ILO News) – Setting out the challenge of peace-building in this century, President Higgins pointed to the need, in ever-changing conditions, to craft the experience of work within a sustainable, ethical global citizenship.

He looked back to historic moments – also milestones in the ILO’s history – in 1919 and 1944, when the global community was resolved to build a more just and equal economic order built on the dignity of labour, underpinned by recognition of their duties to the common good.

On the theme of the World of Work Summit, he spoke of the experience of the Northern Ireland Peace process and the central role of the principles of reconciliation and international solidarity; the need to combat discrimination and the recognition of human rights in bringing it to fruition.

He traced the linkages between the quest for peace and the role of decent work and social dialogue and told delegates at the ILO’s International Labour Conference (ILC) that, 

“Expanding economic opportunities, ensuring the recognition of fundamental social and economic rights, advocating, advancing and achieving decent work, and facilitating social dialogue between workers, employers and civic organizations are critical components of recovery from conflict and the prevention of any return to war.”

He pointed to the ILO’s milestone 1944 Declaration of Philadelphia, which states that all human beings have the right to pursue material well-being and spiritual development “in conditions of freedom and dignity, or economic security and equal opportunity.”

“In affirming that principle, we the Members of the International Labour Organization accept a moral, political, social and economic responsibility, not only to the peoples of our own nations but to the peoples of other nations, and, may I emphasize, for future generations as well, for there can be no social justice that is not unlimited, no peace that is not universal, and no solidarity that is not open to all,” Higgins said.

In his wide-ranging address, the President welcomed the ILC’s commitment to put an end to violence and harassment in the workplace: “These daily acts of aggression against women are a global outrage, they know no national barriers.” He called for a global response beginning in every workplace.

He also touched on several topics that the ILO is deeply involved in, including social protection, the gender pay gap and the future of work.

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, introducing President Higgins, called him “a most passionate advocate for social justice.”

“And we have seen – and we have seen it many times – your boundless energy in applying those convictions to the cause of peace and democracy in Ireland and elsewhere – from Nicaragua and Chile to Cambodia, Iraq and Somalia, and more recently in Colombia and Syria.”

Earlier in the day, Ryder told delegates that the shocking images broadcast from battlefields or natural disasters “must not inure us to the human costs that they involve, rather, I believe, they should move us to solidarity and to action. And that is why the ILO is, and must, be present in such situations… and why we are here today: because of the very straightforward demand of hundreds of millions of women and men living in fragile and conflict-affected countries and disaster situations, and the plea that we hear time and again for jobs, for bread, for freedom and dignity and education for the children.”