Development cooperation

High-Level Panel on Decent Work in Fragile States

"If you want peace, cultivate social justice." This was the topic of discussion at a high-level panel event held at ILO headquarters following a discussion by the ILO Governing Body on its technical cooperation programme in fragile States.

Globally, an estimated 1.5 billion people live today in countries affected by fragility. State fragility is a complex phenomenon with multiple causes, and hinders the achievement of the MDGs. In fragile States, many of which are least developed countries, social institutions are unable to absorb and adapt to internal and external shocks, such as staggering rates of youth unemployment, rapid migration and urbanization, worsening climate disruption, and increasing poverty and inequality.

Highlights of the High-Level Panel

Fragility is central to international humanitarian, development and security agendas today, and is an emerging priority for post-2015 discussions. The group of self-defined fragile States, “ g7+”, and the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda advocate reforming the way the international community engages in such countries. Laying the economic foundations to generate employment and improve livelihoods as part of the wider peace building and state building paradigm is considered key.

Since its foundation in in 1919, the ILO has been at the forefront of facilitating peace building and recovery through targeted socio-economic programmes and policies. Lack of employment opportunities and livelihoods, (youth) unemployment, inequalities and lack of participation can be catalysts for conflict. Conflict, natural disasters and fragility aggravate poverty, unemployment and informality, which initiates a vicious circle leading to even greater fragility. The Decent Work Agenda – the creation of jobs and livelihoods, the provision of basic levels of social protection, the promotion of social dialogue, and the enforcement of fundamental rights can be a critical factor in breaking this circle.

Laying the foundations for decent work in fragile States


From 2004 to 2013, the ILO implemented 159 technical cooperation projects in 18 fragile States, together with governments and with employers' and workers' organizations, and mostly in partnership with other UN agencies. Today, Haïti, Somalia and Timor-Leste are among the ten countries with the biggest portfolio of ILO technical cooperation projects which are funded thanks to voluntary contributions by other ILO member States.

Haiti: Entrepreneurial spirit rebuilds out of the rubble
Once a symbol of misfortune, the debris created by Haiti's earthquake on 12 January 2010 is now a symbol of hope. Haitian entrepreneurs, with ILO training, are recycling the debris and using it to rebuild their neighbourhoods. In fragile states, affected by conflicts and natural disasters, the ILO contributes to create employment and support resilience.
Organized jointly with the g7+ and the Permanent Representatives of New Zealand and Timor-Leste to the United Nations in Geneva, the event on 20 March 2014 was opened by the Director-General of the ILO, Mr Guy Ryder. The High-level Debate was moderated by Ms Muriel Siki (Radio Télévision Suisse) and included the participation of H.E. Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister of Somalia; Ms Rabiatou Diallo, Honorary President of the National Confederation of Guinean Workers; Ms Emilia Pires, Minister of Finance and Chair of the g7+, Timor-Leste; Mr Albert Yuma, President of the Congolese Employers’ Federation.

The event followed the signing, by H.E. Mr Abdiweli Sheihk Ahmed, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia, of a Decent Work Country Programme for Somalia, and three of the ILO's fundamental Conventions: the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949. (No. 98), and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).

The event concluded with the signing of an agreement between the ILO and g7+.