ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

268th Session
Geneva, March 1997

Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee PFA


Programme and Budget proposals for 1998-99

Supplementary information requested by the IMEC group(1)

Statement by the representative of the Director-General
(Mr. Kirszbaum, Director, Bureau of Programming and Management)

During the general discussion on the Programme and Budget proposals, on 11 March the representative of the Government of Canada, speaking on behalf of the IMEC group, requested the Office to provide additional information on the proposals. I will first recall the wording of the questions asked by the IMEC group and then set out in reply the information that it has been possible to assemble in the time available. To facilitate understanding of the replies to certain questions, charts are attached.

The IMEC statement, the words of which are precisely reproduced in bold italics below, requested that during the detailed review of the major programmes the following information be provided:

"2. For those programmes outlined in sections B (50-145, 225, 230), as well as programme 100:"
2.1 "how the objectives of the programmes relate to the three priority objectives, and an estimate of the financial and staff resources that would be allocated to these priorities"

Charts 1 to 3 attached concerning the biennium 1998-99 which indicate the financial and staff resources under each major programme associated with the three priority objectives. As indicated in the Director-General's presentation of his proposals on 10 March, these figures should be viewed as very broad estimates of a purely indicative character.

2.2 "shifts of resources between priority objectives from the 1994/5,
current, and next biennium"

I shall now give broad indicative estimates for 1994-95,(2) 1996-97 and 1998-99.

Objective 1994-95 1996-97 1998-99
Democracy $84.5 33.9% $101.6 31.4% $102.5 31.9%
Employment $96.1 38.5% $132.4 41.0% $132.3 41.2%
Protection $68.9 27.6% $89.2 27.6% $86.3 26.9%
  $249.4   $323.2   $321.1  

2.3 "what are the core fixed costs in the programme (i.e. activities that are required through legal or regulatory obligations), and estimates of financial and staff resources devoted to these activities"The Legal Adviser will respond to this point in due course.(3)

2.4 "what activities have been terminated; and what new activities have been planned for completion during the 1998/9 biennium"

Labour and social issues identified by ILO constituents as requiring work by the Office are often the subject of different activities in successive biennia. For example, a research project in one biennium may pave the way for information dissemination (through publications, manuals, guidelines and country seminars) in the following biennium, or to technical advisory services, and possibly to other research in related fields. Once expertise has been developed in relation to a particular social issue there is a continuing demand from ILO constituents for advisory services; and thus a need for continuing research work to update the original information base in one way or another. For these reasons it is unusual for the ILO to terminate activities in relation to any significant social issue. If ILO activities cease for any reason, the mandate of the Organization may well lead to such activities being restarted at a later date. For example, work on the link between educational qualifications and employment formally came to an end during the financial crisis of the late 1970s, but as demonstrated in the present Programme and Budget proposals, this issue is an important one, and new work is now envisaged in relation to it.

However, certain technical activities in each Programme and Budget, including in particular action programmes and meetings, are designed to be relatively self-contained, and intended to be brought to a conclusion, as regards their own limited objectives, by the end of a biennium. Thus, the following technical activities contained in the Programme and Budget for 1996-97 should in principle be concluded by the end of the biennium:

Additional information on completed activities will be presented to the Governing Body in November 1997 in the form of an interim report on programme implementation during the present biennium, with special emphasis on impact evaluation. A further and more comprehensive report on ILO activities in the biennium will be submitted to the Conference in 1998 by the Director-General.

New activities planned for the 1998-99 biennium include:

2.5 "management structure and costs"

2.6 "how proposed research activities relate to the three priority objectives; how the proposals were identified, screened and quality checked in terms of subject and authors; how they relate to other research activities under way; and if they are in cooperation with other agencies or institutions"I shall now list the research projects contained in the 1998-99 proposals with an indication of how they relate to the 3 priority objectives. Although some of these research activities relate to more than one of the three priority themes, only the main emphasis will be indicated. Thus some of these research topics contribute to the promotion of democracy and workers' rights, although this is not explicitly indicated here (e.g. that on economic development and core labour standards):

E = promoting employment and combating poverty
P = protecting working people

E The employment and labour market impact of regional blocs
E Job creation and destruction.
E Structural adjustment, employment and role of the social partners
E Labour market flexibility and employment security
E Labour market policies for transition economies
E Economic development and core labour standards in developing countries
E Improving labour market indicators
E The role of the State and the private sector in training
P Drawing lessons from migration policy analysis
P Job retention and disability management at the workplace
E Entrepreneurship and small-enterprise development
P Workers' representation in multinational enterprises
P Improving the content and quality of work
P Public sector pay
P The changing role and responsibilities of labour inspection
P Elimination of child labour (labelling, corporate and trade union policies)
P The economic implications of action against child labour
P Safety in the use of biological agents at work
P Labour and social implications of genetic screening
P Violence at work
P Work and protection: Options for the twenty-first century
P Working time and gender
P Working time, health and safety
P The financing and delivery of health care
P Principles of social security
P Working time and productivity
P Strengthening the organizational capacity of excluded groups
E Promoting social dialogue for job creation and poverty elimination
E The future of urban employment
P Home work

Selection of research activities

Research proposals are initially prepared by all branches in the technical departments of the Office taking account of a wide range of considerations, including: requests by constituents in the Conference, the Governing Body, regional meetings and sectoral meetings; the needs of constituents as manifested in country objective reviews; the needs for comparative research identified by the multidisciplinary advisory teams; the need to pursue areas of interest identified in earlier ILO research, or to update past research; and consultations in technical meetings, formal and informal, with experts in various social fields. Research proposals are then examined from the point of view of their relevance to the three major objectives of the Organization and their consistency with the objectives of the major programme to which they relate. Checks are undertaken in order to ensure that all research proposals clearly identify the problem to be addressed, and the way in which the research will contribute to the solution of the problem at the country level. Account is also taken of past work carried out by the Office, and by outside institutions, including other UN agencies and universities. Care is taken to ensure that the research proposals finally selected are policy-oriented, building wherever possible on research carried out elsewhere, including that completed by the International Institute of Labour Studies.

Early in the programming cycle the first draft proposals of all the technical departments are circulated at headquarters and in the regions; and the corresponding first draft of all the regional proposals is also circulated throughout the Office. This makes possible a comprehensive process of consultation and cross-checking to ensure internal consistency. Members of the senior management team have the opportunity of commenting on these first draft proposals to ensure full coherence between proposals for action programmes and research programmes emanating from headquarters departments with the needs of regions, including the need for background research to support the work of the multidisciplinary advisory teams. The reports of the discussions in the Governing Body and the Committee concerning the strategic orientations of ILO programme planning are also taken into account.

"3. For the regional and active partnership programmes (245-280): how the activities in these programmes relate to the three priority objectives; and ii) flows to developing countries, in particular the poorest"

ILO activities under the regional major programmes and the Active partnership and technical cooperation major programme are designed taking account of discussions concerning the three priority objectives in the Conference and the Governing Body, and most notably the discussions relating to the development of the Programme and Budget. In pursuance of the Active Partnership Policy, ILO activities in the regions are also formulated bearing in mind the various analyses prepared at the country level by MDT specialists who carry out country objective reviews or update them in consultation with ILO constituents. These reviews identify the major problems at the country level and define ILO objectives. Programmes are then formulated which are implemented by the countries concerned with ILO assistance and/or with external multilateral or bilateral cooperation.

The distribution of the resources of major programmes 245 to 280 among the three priority objectives can only be of an indicative nature because many of these activities contribute in many instances to more than one major objective. Bearing in mind this consideration, the regular budget resources of the regional and Active partnership major programmes in the 1998-98 proposals are distributed as follows (see also chart 4 attached):

The flow to developing countries is approximately $124.2 million in constant 1996-97 costs. This represents about 84.3 per cent of the regular budget resources for the regional services (major programmes 245 to 280; total: $147.34 million). This figure refers only to the flows of resources directly associated with the provision of services to developing countries. Therefore, the resources for major programmes 245 and 280 are excluded, as are the Tokyo and Washington Branch Offices. In addition, a significant proportion of the funds allocated to headquarters departments are devoted to developing countries mainly through activities such as technical advisory services (TAS), technical cooperation project support, interregional programmes, IPEC, action programmes, dissemination of information to constituents, and service and support to field programmes. Major programme 245 (Active partnership and technical cooperation) also contributes to the flow of resources to developing countries to an extent greatly exceeding its own level of resources by mobilizing extra-budgetary resources for technical cooperation activities in developing countries. Moreover, regular budget expenditure lays the basis for the considerable flow of extra-budgetary funds which are mobilized by ILO programmes for the benefit of constituents in developing member States.

The flow to the least-developed countries (40 ILO member States) represents some $47.2 million, or 38 per cent, of the total flow to developing countries indicated above. The estimates for the LDCs should also be regarded as indicative. This disaggregation of the total flow to developing countries is a forecast based on the expenditure of extra-budgetary resources for technical cooperation activities in 1995.

Geneva, 14 March 1997.

1 This document will be appended to the third report of the Programme, Financial and Administrative Committee.

2 The figures for 1994-95 became available after this statement was made. The lower total figure for 1994-95 is due to differences in the exchange rate.

3 See Appendix.


"Core fixed costs in the programme"
Note by the Legal Adviser

The question asked concerns the portion of fixed costs of certain programmes under section B, as well as Programme 100, which could not be reduced on account of legal or regulatory obligations, as well as an evaluation of the financial and staff costs assigned to these activities.

The following does not seek to provide a definitive reply, but rather simply to provide a framework in which replies could be given.

These replies will obviously depend on the exact phrasing of the question, and in this regard it appears that there has been some fluctuation in the terminology used. References have been made to "activities related to constitutional, legal and regulatory functions", "activities to meet constitution, legal and related functions" and even to "activities that are required through legal or regulatory obligations". The replies to these different questions vary considerably.

The first two formulations seem to have been abandoned. It is clear that speaking of activities "related to" constitutional functions would cover all the activities of the Office to the extent that it may undertake only activities that correspond to the functions that are assigned to it in article 10 of the Constitution. It also clear that although a function may be mandatory (for example to issue publications pursuant to article 10(2)(d)), their content would depend on instructions given by the Conference and the Governing Body, in particular in relation to budgetary provisions. Posed in this way, the question is largely circular.

It therefore seems that the question should be interpreted as referring to non-discretionary activities, that is those arising from constitutional or other legal obligations which neither the Conference nor the Governing Body has the power to evade. Under this interpretation, the general list is relatively easy to draw up.

First, this would include activities linked to the existence of the various institutions of the Organization and their meetings: the Conference, the Governing Body and the Director-General. Activities relating to these organs appear, however, mostly in section A of the Budget (as do Legal Services).

Then there are activities linked to constitutional functions that the Organization is required to fulfil in relation to standards already adopted by the ILO (since the Constitution does not require the Organization to adopt new standards). These include:

The activities corresponding to the above functions (including the Committee of Experts, although it is not foreseen in the Constitution) are performed by the International Labour Standards Department with technical contributions from the departments concerned as needed and from JUR as required.

In addition to constitutional obligations, some activities relate to contractual obligations which are not necessarily untouchable but from which the Organization could not withdraw as it pleases. This category involves contracts of all types, for the implementation of technical cooperation projects, for leases and for loan agreements (the headquarters building).

A final category could be grouped under the heading of obligations arising under international law. In application of article 12 of the Constitution, the Organization has concluded a number of agreements with international organizations and on occasion has undertaken technical cooperation programmes that imply activities from which the Organization could not withdraw without prior notice. These activities are distributed across the various technical programmes. Also falling into this category is the agreement concluded with the Government of Italy in 1983, article 1 of which contains certain engagements concerning the financing of the Turin Centre.

* * *

If the Governing Body so wished, a more detailed picture could be painted of costs that may not be reduced or which could be reduced only after respecting certain notice periods. However, the somewhat artificial nature of such an exercise should be stressed. On the one hand, the majority of such activities do not fall within section B. On the other hand, the Organization could theoretically withdraw, by various contrivances, from most of these obligations, including the supervision of standards (by their abrogation or by spacing reports). The only thing that would remain irreducible would be the existence of the institutional bodies of the Organization. But this is not an end in itself: and obviously, it would only be justified in relation to the promotion of the objectives of the ILO.

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