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268th Session
Geneva, March 1997
Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards LILS


Draft UNESCO Recommendation concerning the
Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel

Final report and revised text of the draft Recommendation
adopted by the UNESCO Meeting of Governmental Experts
(Paris, 8-9 October 1996)

1. At its 267th Session (November 1996), the Governing Body received information, as it had previously requested, on further consultations between the ILO and UNESCO and on the outcome of the UNESCO Meeting of Governmental Experts which met to examine the draft Recommendation.(1) The Committee decided to await the text of the draft Recommendation before commenting on the outcome. The Governing Body took note of the relevant section of the Committee's report and of the information contained in the document submitted to it.(2)

2. By letter of 23 January 1997, the Assistant Director-General of UNESCO communicated the final report and the text of the draft Recommendation to the ILO. The report(3) contains an introduction, a summary of the discussions and adoption of the draft Recommendation, the report of the Working (Editorial) Group which was entrusted with the elaboration of a text for consideration by the meeting, and the text of the draft Recommendation. The report of the Working Group mentions the position of the Governing Body on the supervisory procedures should the draft Recommendation be adopted by the UNESCO General Conference. These views were communicated by the Director-General's letter of 6 August 1996 to the Director-General of UNESCO, and reiterated by the ILO representatives during the meeting.

3. The draft Recommendation (Annex B to the Final Report) maintains the structure which was reviewed by the Governing Body in March 1996. It consists of a preamble and 11 sections, plus an appendix listing relevant Conventions, Recommendations and Declarations of the United Nations, UNESCO and the ILO to which reference is made in the text. The substantive sections are entitled: Definitions; Scope; Guiding Principles; Educational objectives and policies; Institutional rights, duties and responsibilities; Rights and freedoms of higher-education teaching personnel; Duties and responsibilities of higher-education teaching personnel; Preparation for the profession; Terms and conditions of employment; Utilization and implementation; and Final provision. Among the initial sections it may be noted that a provision has been added (paragraph 9) to reflect the diversity of higher education institutions between and within member States, and a reference has been added (paragraph 22 (xiii)) to the accountability of higher-education institutions with regard to enhancing the labour market opportunities of their student graduates. Paragraph 24 now recommends the participation of higher-education teaching personnel in the planning of accountability systems "where possible", and that procedures for the establishment of state-mandated accountability structures should be negotiated, "where applicable", with the concerned institutions and organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel.

4. As previously, the sections of principal interest to the ILO are section VI (Rights and freedoms of higher-education teaching personnel); VII (Duties and responsibilities of higher-education teaching personnel); IX (Terms and conditions of employment); and X (Utilization and implementation). With regard to sections VI, VII and IX, the Office considers that the language finally approved by the experts continues to respect generally accepted provisions concerning these questions in the higher education community and is consistent with related international labour standards. Revisions to the previous text in section IX widen the applicability of some concepts in line with the recognition of the great legal, administrative and financial diversity of institutions and nations. Paragraphs 45 and 46 maintain the concept of tenure as central to the protection of rights and responsibilities of the profession, but refer to tenure "or its functional equivalent, where applicable" to take account of systems that do not legally recognize "tenure". Paragraph 46 preserves security of employment as an essential safeguard of higher education and its personnel, though it now accepts the possibility of higher-education teaching personnel being released for "bona fide financial reasons" provided that safeguards related to open financial accounting, institutional efforts to prevent termination and legal procedures against bias in the act of termination are respected. Paragraph 49 removes the detailed list of safeguards previously set out under the disciplinary subsection, replacing these by a reference to the standards listed in the appendix to the draft Recommendation, it being understood that the relevant criteria of international labour standards and the guidelines of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers are meant to apply.

5. One of the most contentious issues concerns references to the right to freedom of association and to the promotion of collective bargaining to determine conditions of employment, relating in particular to the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87) and the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98). The agreed language of paragraphs 52 and 53 acknowledges these principles, while adding to the concept of collective bargaining, "or the equivalent procedure". The revised text addresses the concerns of some governments, including members of the Governing Body as expressed during the discussion in March 1996, with regard to the status of higher-education teaching personnel who are civil servants or their equivalent, and though not legally entitled to collective bargaining under national law, nevertheless enjoy alternative mechanisms for negotiating their employment and working conditions consistent at least with the Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention, 1978 (No. 151). Paragraph 52, moreover, explicitly refers to ILO standards set out in the appendix to the draft Recommendation. Paragraphs 53 and 54 recommend consistency with international standards in respect of the subjects and the machinery which effectively promote the negotiation of employment and working conditions. Paragraph 60 calls for salary scales to be established in agreement with organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel "except where other equivalent procedures consistent with international standards are provided", while paragraph 62 repeats this language with respect to the negotiation of workload. Paragraph 63 recommends social security rights and measures for the protection of health and safety in respect of all contingencies, and at least as favourable as the standards set out in ILO Conventions and Recommendations. Paragraph 64 specifies that organizations representing higher-education teaching personnel should have the right to choose representatives to be part of the governance and administration of pension plans "where applicable".

6. Section X (Utilization and implementation) has been significantly modified from the text reviewed by the Governing Body in 1996 concerning the monitoring of the new instrument, if adopted. The new text no longer mentions a "regionally representative committee of independent experts" constituted by the Director-General of UNESCO. The discussions at the meeting of experts suggested that this matter should be further reviewed by the General Conference of UNESCO, and perhaps dealt with in a separate decision corresponding to the eventual adoption of the draft text. The Office has made known to UNESCO its willingness to assist in defining a suitable monitoring mechanism which is consistent with the views expressed on this question by the Governing Body.

7. As decided by the meeting of experts, the revised text of the draft Recommendation will be submitted to the 29th Session (October-November 1997) of the General Conference of UNESCO for consideration and eventual adoption. In the light of comments by some government representatives at the meeting of experts, the text may be further revised, including in areas of the ILO's competence. In view of the importance attached by the Governing Body to consultations with UNESCO at all stages in the elaboration of a text that directly concerns core areas of the ILO's field of competence, the Director-General intends to ensure an adequate level of representation of the ILO at the General Conference of UNESCO.

8. The Committee on Legal Issues and International Labour Standards may wish to recommend that the Governing Body --

(a) take note of the provisions of the draft UNESCO Recommendation which fall within the competence of the ILO;

(b)invite the Director-General to communicate the record of the Governing Body's examination of this item to the Director-General of UNESCO for consideration by the Executive Board and by the 29th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO, and to ensure ILO representation in the discussion of this item by the General Conference.

Geneva, 7 February 1997.

Point for decision: Paragraph 8.

1 GB.267/LILS/9/1.

2 GB.267/9/2, paras. 104-106.

3 Final Report, Meeting of Governmental Experts to examine the draft Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, UNESCO, Paris, 8-9 October 1996. For reasons of economy the report, which includes the text of the draft Recommendation, is not appended. Copies may be obtained on request and will be available at the Committee's meeting.

Updated by VC. Approved by NdW. Last update: 26 January 2000.