ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

276th Session
Geneva, November 1999

Committee on Employment and Social Policy



ILO relations with the Bretton Woods institutions



I. The context: Recent political, economic and social events relevant to the ILO

II. Major policy developments in the Bretton Woods institutions

III. A new window of opportunity for the ILO

IV. Proposals for further ILO action



1. Significant policy developments have occurred with regard to the ILO's relations with the Bretton Woods institutions since the last report on this subject presented to the Committee in November 1998.(1)  The present report is intended:

2. Sadly, it has been the financial crisis that hit East and South-East Asia and has spread further afield that has rung loud and clear the alarm bells on the dangers of economic and monetary policies failing to pay sufficient attention to social concerns advocated by the ILO. The ILO Governing Body Symposium on the Social Impact of the Asian Financial Crisis (Geneva, 19-20 March 1999)(3)  concluded that:

Moreover, the Symposium acknowledged that --

3. The evidence of the consequences of the crisis -- and the increasing voices of concern in both industrialized and developing countries -- has prompted a significant change in the Bretton Woods institutions' approach to financial and economic policies leading them to place poverty reduction as the core objective and to give greater recognition to social concerns. The recent annual meetings of the World Bank and the IMF, and in particular the meetings of the Interim and Development Committees (Washington, September 1999), were eloquent in this regard, and their decisions have opened up fertile ground for the ILO to become a key partner of the Bretton Woods institutions in conceiving and implementing an integrated and balanced approach to economic and social policies at the global and national levels.

I. The context: Recent political, economic and social
events relevant to the ILO

4. At the 1999 annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, held in Washington in September, their Interim and Development Committees held discussions against the background of signs of economic recovery, in particular in Japan and Europe, and of continuing growth in the United States, as reflected in the World Economic Outlook just released by the IMF. These were positive signs: the prospects for economic growth, with a 3 per cent world average, were much better than could have been foreseen one year previously. Nevertheless, the risks and imbalances remained, and uncertainty about the evolution of demand in the United States and of a possible slowdown in the near future should be taken into consideration. Emerging markets remained fragile and yields volatile.

5. In particular, the Y2K issue called for contingency plans and preparedness on the part of the banking system to minimize the possible disruption to production and to avoid any negative financial consequences. The IMF was putting into place the final stages of a special lending facility for Y2K-related problems and was prepared to assist countries in managing such problems.

6. The impact of the financial crisis had been severe for developing countries, and though many of them were starting to show new signs of growth, and investment was again being stimulated, the effects of the crisis brought out the glaring need for economic and monetary policies to crucially focus attention on poverty reduction. The lessons of experience had shown the complexity of the task and the need for the World Bank and the IMF to work closely with other international organizations to put together a comprehensive approach to sustainable development that could integrate economic and social concerns towards the overarching goal of growth for -- not and -- poverty reduction.

7. Among the important events prior to the annual meetings that had a bearing on their outcomes were the commitment by the G8 Heads of State and Government to promote effective implementation of the ILO Declaration, stated in their Cologne Communiqué of June 1999, which also urged the international financial institutions to cooperate effectively with the ILO; as well as President Clinton's address to the International Labour Conference in June 1999, in which he called on the World Bank, IMF and WTO to work more closely with the ILO, urging improved cooperation between the ILO and the international financial institutions. Speeches to the International Labour Conference by President Dreyfuss of Switzerland and other delegates included similar appeals.

8. On their part, developing countries speaking at the G24 ministers' meeting called for greater coordination between industrialized countries and greater harmonization between all international organizations. They called for greater involvement in decisions concerning their own reform processes and greater access to financial markets: they argued that cooperation by the Bretton Woods institutions with developing countries should be more conducive to progress and soften conditions that were otherwise acting as coercion. There was a need to build consensus among the developing and developed countries and for more reforms in the Fund. The G15, from its new seat as observer at the G24 ministers' meeting, stressed the importance of job creation and repeated the call for the ILO to launch a comprehensive employment strategy that was fully in line with the four key priorities of the new Director-General of the ILO, and which had been officially presented to the International Labour Conference, to ECOSOC and to the UN General Assembly during the current year.

9. Concerns about the new trade round, expected to be launched at the forthcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle at the end of November 1999, were also audible. The World Bank expressed its willingness to work with developing countries in their preparations for the new trade negotiations, and the IMF declared itself ready to associate more with developing countries in preparing for Seattle.

II. Major policy developments in the
Bretton Woods institutions

1. Poverty and debt alleviation

10. The response of the Bretton Woods institutions -- as reflected in decisions adopted at the September meetings of the Interim and Development Committees -- is being built around two major concepts: to link debt relief more tightly to poverty reduction; and to emphasize assistance for crisis prevention and resolution. Both open important opportunities for the ILO.

11. As regards debt relief, there was a consensus that the initiative has to be deeper, faster and broader. Moreover, the crucial decision was taken to link both a newly enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Debt Relief Initiative (HIPC) and the IMF's work under the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility (ESAF) to the same poverty eradication goal, so that the IMF's concessional ESAF window will work conjointly with the Bank's concessional IDA window to contribute to the goal of poverty eradication. The ESAF has accordingly been renamed the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, and will be linked to a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) which is to replace the current ESAF Policy Framework Papers, and will contribute to HIPC decisions and form the basis for all World Bank and IMF lending to low-income countries. The common core of these new approaches includes making poverty reduction the overarching objective of development policies; adopting a more comprehensive view of development that incorporates structural and social objectives; accepting the need for ex ante assessments and continuous monitoring of the social impact of economic policies; and an emphasis on participatory approaches to policy formulation and implementation.

12. The PRSP is to be country-driven, developed transparently with the broad participation of elected institutions, stakeholders including civil society, key donors including regional development banks, and have a clear link with agreed international development goals. These are the same priorities and concepts embedded in the World Bank's Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) launched by the President of the World Bank in January 1999. The CDF stresses that economic, financial, structural and social issues must be addressed equally in an integrated framework and that countries themselves will be firmly in the driver's seat with respect to policies and programmes affecting them, and where the ultimate objective will be the eradication of poverty. National ownership of this process will be supported with assistance for improved governance and strengthened participatory approaches. CDF pilot experiences in 13 countries are now being reviewed and will be expanded soon.

13. In the words of Mr. Camdessus in his opening remarks to the Interim Committee:

Mr. Wolfensohn's remarks highlighted that despite the amelioration as regards the financial crisis, the "other crisis" remained, with poverty, unemployment and the concentration of wealth as major challenges that had to be fought together. The PRSP was to bring social aspects into balanced macroeconomic and poverty programmes, looking into sound economic policies "but not killing the patient". This was in his view "a monumental change", and the first time that a joint senior paper of such importance was being produced by the IMF and the World Bank.

14. At the Development Committee meeting, the Managing Director of the IMF spoke of the recent decisions of the Interim Committee, now renamed the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC). He reported on the endorsement of the funding package for HIPC and ESAF and on the financial arrangements being made out of gold sales and bilateral support. He asked for solidarity in funding the debt initiative so as not to compromise other IMF and World Bank funds. He recognized that the PRSP was a daunting challenge and the top priority, and that poverty reduction would require a joint effort by the entire international community. The President of the World Bank said that the IMF position was a remarkable opportunity and that the CDF and the PRSP should work together and "link the macroeconomic and financial with social issues, which represented a unique opportunity for the international community to be effective".

2. Crisis management and social policy

15. As regards the prevention and management of crisis, work in progress by the Bretton Woods institutions includes social concerns in addition to economic and monetary issues. This process has to be seen in the context of a shift of opinion towards the broader need for a new international social architecture to complement financial and economic structures. While nothing concrete has so far been adopted in this regard, there are clear signs that opinion, at least among the industrialized countries, is tilting in this direction. An indication of this is that the issue of defining a set of "principles of good social policy", which was first raised in the Development Committee at the initiative of Chancellor Brown of the United Kingdom, is still alive, though it has taken a different direction. Two papers on the Principles of Good Social Policy for consideration by the Development Committee were submitted to its meetings in April and September 1999.

16. The first paper, entitled "Principles and good practice in social policy", submitted to the April meeting, was intended to cover the social dimension as part of a series of codes of conduct and good practice being considered in the reform process. As reflected in the Communiqué issued by the April meeting of the Development Committee, it was then decided that the social policy principles issue would be best pursued in a two-track approach whereby the Bank would distil lessons and best practice, while the general principles would be defined under the auspices of the United Nations system. It was decided that the Bank would prepare a best practice paper for the Development Committee in September, while development of the main social principles would be best pursued in the framework of the United Nations as part of the international community's follow-up on the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development. The Bank's position in its follow-up paper in September, entitled "Managing the social dimensions of crises: Good practices in social policy", approached labour market issues in terms of risk reduction and risk mitigation in crisis situations.

III. A new window of opportunity for the ILO

1. Observer status with the Interim
and Development Committees

17. During 1999 the ILO gained official observer status with the Interim and Development Committees. Although the ILO had been admitted as an observer institution to the IMF-World Bank annual meetings for the first time in 1994, this did not include observer status at the Interim or Development Committees. The Asian financial crisis and its social and human consequences had focused attention on the direct interaction between financial and economic policies, on the one hand, and social policies on the other, and drew international attention to the need to consider a reform of the international financial architecture.

18. Recognition of the ILO's key international role alongside the Bretton Woods institutions and the WTO was strengthened by the ongoing ILO policy dialogue with the World Bank and the Fund and other ILO action taken in response to the social consequences of the crisis, the adoption of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up, and the ILO's Governing Body Symposium on the Social Impact of the Asian Financial Crisis held in March 1999.

2. The ILO as a strategic partner: Decent work

19. The Director-General led the ILO delegation to the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank in September 1999, and participated in person at the meetings of the G24 ministers and the Interim and Development Committees. The Director-General was also invited by the Minister of Development Cooperation of Germany to an informal meeting with the participation of ministers from the G7 countries plus Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and the Russian Federation to exchange views with the Director-General on current ILO relations with, and his position vis-à-vis, the Bretton Woods institutions. The Director-General's principal message at all these meetings emphasized the role of the ILO as a strategic partner in developing a more integrated approach by the multilateral institutions dealing with financial, economic, development, trade and social issues. Building on the concepts expressed in his Report to the 87th Session of the International Labour Conference, Decent work, the Director-General underscored that the ILO was called upon to make a key contribution in promoting decent work as central to development, modernity, social justice, as well as to work for poverty eradication.

20. In his statements to both Committees, the Director-General welcomed the positive and stimulating directions taken by the Bretton Woods institutions, which would help address the many unresolved problems -- as evidenced by the fact that the benefits of a global economy were not reaching enough people. He advocated that effective poverty reduction meant that greater attention needed to be given to the world of work in the further development of an integrated framework for development policies.

21. At the same time, the Director-General stressed in his statements that respect for the notion that everyone at work has rights is key to building just and democratic societies. The international community at the highest level, at the World Summit for Social Development, had taken the political decision to endorse the core ILO standards as the social basis of the globalization process, and every institution in the multilateral system should support them. The ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up was a new instrument to assist countries in advancing towards the full implementation of the Commitments, and it was essential to promote them through dialogue and technical assistance, not conditionality.

22. In related discussions with Mr. Wolfensohn and Mr. Camdessus, it was acknowledged that there was now a new window of opportunity to build and strengthen a strategic partnership with the ILO. The Director-General of the ILO asserted that there was increasing evidence that the process of policy decision-making was as important as, if not more important than, the policy content itself, as illustrated by the successful implementation of employment-friendly policies in Austria, Denmark, Ireland and the Netherlands which, though different in content, had all been achieved through social dialogue. Therefore, in addition to its knowledge and mandate, the ILO's constituency and its tradition and expertise in social dialogue constituted a major asset for the partnership. There might be areas of policy divergence, but areas of convergence were now broader and these grounds should be further explored and developed together.

IV. Proposals for further ILO action

23. The policy and institutional developments described above have created momentum for a stronger partnership with the Bretton Woods institutions, building on progress achieved during recent years. Recent frank and direct dialogue between the Director-General of the ILO, the Managing Director of the IMF and the President of the World Bank, based on previously developed personal relations, has demonstrated that at the political level there is greater convergence and a willingness to cooperate. Nevertheless, much remains to be done at the analytical, policy development and operational levels. It was agreed that steps should be taken towards a joint analytical effort to examine the interconnectedness of the strategic approaches taken by the respective institutions; that specific technical areas of mutual concern would be identified and selected for further research and analysis; and that priority would be given to developing a new working relationship on this basis in relation to two or three issues and/or countries where such a partnership could be implemented and piloted. All of this requires a quick and substantive response from the ILO. Initial priorities for action are the following.

1. Active participation in the development
of the new policy framework

24. This would be at two closely interrelated levels:

(a) At the conceptual level, where a primary objective would be to establish a more prominent role in the new policy framework for the ILO concerns set out in Decent work. The strategy would entail a comparative analysis of the approaches reflected in the CDF, PRSP and Decent work proposals, to identify areas of common concern, complementarities, overlaps and gaps, as well as convergent and divergent policy directions. This work would be led by the International Policy Group recently created within the Bureau of External Relations and Partnerships.

(b) The second level would initially involve ILO participation in a number of country pilot exercises in implementing the Comprehensive Development Framework. This idea was raised with the World Bank at the recent discussions in Washington and would allow mutual collaboration to focus on selected substantive areas, while fully integrating employment and labour concerns into a comprehensive and well-funded approach to development at country level. The objective here would be to translate the ILO components of the new framework into operational tools and apply them in the pilot countries. A particularly important aspect is to inject social dialogue into the process of policy formulation and implementation. The main responsibility for this work would rest with the field structure, which would interact with those doing the conceptual work and policy coordination at headquarters.

2. Playing a lead role in developing the new
international social architecture

25. ILO policy in general, and the ILO Declaration in particular, are key substantive components of a new international social architecture. The ILO should monitor and interact with ongoing developments in other institutions. Our response to these developments would involve several elements:

(a) Overcoming residual doubts on the part of the Bretton Woods institutions over promoting the Declaration. A key part of this would be to address their fears that freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining could lead to what it might see as inappropriate forms of organization and negative economic effects such as inflationary wage settlements, lower output and employment growth. As the IMF's First Deputy Managing Director, Stanley Fischer, put it in his concluding remarks to the IMF Symposium on Labour Standards held in Washington during the September annual meetings: "The challenge is to find a solution to this problem within the framework of respect for fundamental rights." A related issue is the economic implications of core labour standards.

(b) Monitoring developments regarding the issue of Principles of Good Social Policy and make an ILO contribution to the issue vis-à-vis the Bretton Woods institutions. This should be done in parallel with the ILO's involvement in the development of principles of social policy in the context of United Nations follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development and its contribution to preparations for the Special Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and Further Initiatives,(4)  to be held in June 2000.

(c) Preparing for an ILO role in the evolving move towards greater international attention to "social performance". Under the new policy framework there is increasing emphasis on monitoring social indicators as the ultimate measure of developmental performance. The ILO should contribute to this process by further developing key indicators and making a greater volume and range of data available at the country level. In addition, Mr. Camdessus, in his recent meeting with the Director-General, mentioned that the IMF's Article IV analyses in the industrialized countries are extended to cover structural variables such as the functioning of labour markets. This opens a potential new area for collaboration, and the Office will need to follow developments and lend consideration to the role that the ILO can play in the process.

26. The Office is prepared to undertake this effort, which will entail Office-wide contributions in order to deliver substantive inputs for continued and consistent dialogue and partnership with the international financial institutions, both at the headquarters and field level. The new Bureau for External Relations and Partnerships, reporting direct to the Director-General, has responsibility for policy guidance and coordination of this dialogue. The Bureau has been strengthened with the creation of the International Policy Group, which will provide analytical backing for international partnerships, drawing on research, experience and expertise throughout the Office.

Geneva, 3 November 1999.


Current collaboration between the ILO
and the Bretton Woods institutions

1. Promotion of core labour standards

1. The approach of the different Bretton Woods institutions to labour standards, so far, has not been identical. The IMF has been supportive of fundamental labour standards, and has recently promoted them in countries affected by the Asian financial crisis, such as Indonesia and the Republic of Korea. Most recently, during the World Bank-IMF annual meetings in September 1999, the IMF invited the ILO to a special seminar entitled "A Role for Labour Standards in the New International Economy", where the Fund once again confirmed its support for fundamental labour standards.

2. The World Bank has been supportive of the standards it considered to be justifiable economically, such as those relating to harmful child labour, forced labour and gender discrimination, while continuing to debate freedom of association and the right to bargain collectively, which in its view involved broader economic and political implications. However, there has been continuing external pressure on the Bank to accommodate core labour standards more effectively in its work. The common policy adopted by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in connection with the MIGA capital increase, which was reported to the Committee last year,(5)  was followed in December 1998 by the International Development Association (IDA) Twelfth Replenishment decision, which emphasized further collaboration with the ILO on core labour standards, possibly including the exploration of core labour standards in a conference with broad participation. The IDA-12 Action Plan for the fiscal year 2000-2001 required that the Bank's Country Assistance Strategies improve their diagnostic treatment of core labour standards, and where these were identified as priority issues, they should be addressed in the operational programme.

3. The Bank has continued to examine this issue and, drawing on ILO support and participation, has continued to organize related learning events, including a World Bank-ICFTU-ITS workshop on core labour standards in January, and another conference on international labour standards in May, also with the participation of the ICFTU. For the second year in a row, as part of the programme of seminars organized during the World Bank-IMF annual meetings, a seminar on international labour standards with substantive participation by the ILO was included. This year's theme was "Labour Standards: Complementing Public Standards with Market-Driven Initiatives". Both occasions provided positive opportunities for the ILO to convey its message to a wide audience.

4. As part of this process, the Bank has taken steps to increase and improve its interaction with the social partners, alongside its broader outreach to civil society. In this regard the staff of the Bank's Social Protection Unit has been strengthened to include a capacity to promote better cooperation with workers and employers. In addition to the events referred to above, the Bank, together with the ILO and the ICFTU, initiated a series of joint training seminars for leaders of teachers' unions, with the ILO contributing US$60,000 to this joint project and participating in the first seminar in Mauritius in February. In June, the ILO led the discussion on tripartism and social dialogue in a World Bank training programme for Bank staff in Washington, where the ICFTU also participated, on developing effective partnerships with trade unions.

2. Meetings

5. The ILO Governing Body Symposium on the Social Impact of the Asian Financial Crisis of March 1999, involving high-level and active participation by both the Bretton Woods institutions,(6)  demonstrated their commitment to carrying forward their dialogue with the ILO, and enabled the members of the Governing Body to engage them in a direct dialogue which resulted in clear statements on their part about certain aspects of collaboration. For example, the IMF representative stated that the Fund was promoting freedom of association in its dialogue with governments and would welcome more dialogue with labour and employer representatives in developing its programmes. The representative of the World Bank, while endorsing the need to pursue credible macroeconomic policies by finding the correct mix between macroeconomic and structural reforms and social and environmental agendas, stressed the particularly valuable contribution made by the ILO's tripartite approach to bringing complex social and economic issues into public debate, and emphasized the role of the ILO as an excellent forum in which to seek the necessary balance between economics and social and human needs.

6. The Conclusions(7)  of the Reporter of the Symposium, inter alia, called for greater integration of economic and social policies and the minimizing of trade-offs between economic and social objectives; and for closer cooperation between the ILO and other agencies with a social mandate, as well as the international financial institutions, in order to be better prepared to deal with future crises.

7. The joint ILO/World Bank Seminar on the Economic Crisis, Employment and the Labour Market in East and South-East Asia (Tokyo, 13-15 October 1999), co-sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Labour and the Japan Institute of Labour, discussed the labour market response to the financial crisis, examined the policy options for the future, and the roles of governments, trade unions and employers' organizations in the Republic of Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The seminar provided an excellent platform for reflecting the convergence of views between the two organizations on many issues, while demonstrating the distinctive role of the ILO, particularly in promoting social dialogue and emphasizing social protection. There was a consensus that the World Bank and the ILO should continue this model of collaboration in the future. Two areas for future meetings were singled out:

(a) an assessment of active labour market policies and their relevance to Asia;

(b) an assessment of the viability of income security schemes, especially unemployment insurance, and particularly the question of finance and the extension of coverage to workers, especially in the informal sector.

8. Other meetings featuring significant cooperation are detailed in the Annex.

3. Collaboration at the regional and country levels

9. The table in the Annex details various activities at the regional and country levels. For a number of reasons, collaboration at the field level has been scattered and uneven. In Asia, the ILO has been actively involved in World Bank operations in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Viet Nam. In Africa activities have made progress. In Europe, interactions with the Bretton Woods institutions appear to have slowed by comparison with the earlier transition period, and complementarity and agreement have sometimes been difficult to achieve, for example, with the Bank in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with the Fund in Croatia. The ILO has been in close contact with the Bank in connection with the Kosovo crisis, especially in addressing the social dimensions in the affected countries.

10. In Latin America, cooperation has been slower to evolve. One reason for this may be that in this region the Inter-American Development Bank plays the leadership role in the area of social development. The participation of the IMF's First Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Stanley Fischer, in the opening panel on "The impact of the crisis and the employment responses" at the ILO's recent Fourteenth American Regional Meeting (Lima, 24-27 August 1999) was an important step in opening policy dialogue in the regional context.


I. Meetings involving ILO-Bretton Woods participation and collaboration

ILO meetings

ILO/UNDP round table on job creation and poverty alleviation in Egypt

November 1998

Regional Tripartite Seminar on Termination of Employment

November 1998

Regional Consultation concerning Follow-Up on the World Summit for Social Development

January 1999

ILO Governing Body Symposium on the Social Impact of the Asian Financial Crisis

March 1999

Tripartite Asian and Pacific Consultative Meeting on Human Resources Development and Training

June-July 1999

Regional Tripartite Seminar on Industrial Relations and Globalization

August 1999

Fourteenth American Regional Meeting

Lima, August

Tripartite High-Level Conference of ILO Constituents in South-Eastern Europe on Employment, Labour, and Social Policy

October 1999

Joint ILO/World Bank Seminar on the Economic Crisis, Employment and the Labour Market in East and South-East Asia

October 1999

Regional Consultation concerning Follow-up on the Beijing Platform of Action in the World of Work -- Progress and Challenges

October 1999

International Consultation concerning Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development

November 1999

ILO sectoral meetings:

Joint Meeting on Human Resource Development in the Public Service in the Context of Structural Adjustment and Transition

December 1998

Tripartite Meeting on Social and Labour Issues
in Small-scale Mines

May 1999

Symposium on the Social and Labour Consequences of Technological Developments, Deregulation and Privatization of Transport

September 1999

World Bank meetings

Regional Meeting on Social Issues arising from the East Asia Crisis and Policy Issues for the Future

January 1999

ICFTU/ITS/WB Meeting on core labour standards

Washington, DC
January 1999

WB-ILO-ICFTU-Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) seminar on leadership training for leaders of teachers' unions

Washington, DC
February 1999

International Conference on Democracy, Market Economy and Development

March 1999

International Advisory Panel on Child Labor (first meeting)

Washington, DC
March 1999

Human Development Week

Washington, DC
March 1999

Conference on international labour standards

Washington, DC
May 1999

Conference on labour market policies (urban labour adjustment)

May 1999

Annual Conference on Economic Development -- Europe:
Governance, Equity and Global Markets

June 1999

Seminar on labor standards: Complementing public standards with market-driven initiatives (during annual meetings)

Washington, DC
September 1999

WB/WCWL (World Council of Women Leaders) meeting of high-level women in finance and economics

Washington, DC
September 1999

Lawyers' Forum on Comprehensive Development through Law (including a workshop on core labour standards)

Washington, DC,
November 1999

Joint World Bank-ADB Forum on Social Policy Issues

November 1999

WBI Conference on Social Security Policy: Lessons for India and South Asia

New Delhi,
November 1999

Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Initiative (SAPRI):

    National Fora: Hungary and Zimbabwe


    European Forum (Bonn)


IMF meetings

Special seminar: A Role for Labour Standards in the New International Economy (during the annual meeting)

Washington, DC,
September 1999

High Level Conference on Second Generation Reforms

Washington, DC,
November 1999


II. Highlights of ILO-Bretton Woods collaboration at the regional and country levels


ILO participation in World Bank social safety net adjustment loan mission covered the component on labour-based emergency employment programmes.

A technical assistance project is under way, financed by the Government of the Netherlands, on Trade Union Monitoring of the Social Safety Net Programme. Coverage includes the programme financed under the Bank's US$600 million Social Safety Net Adjustment Loan; the Bank participated in the practical training of trade union representatives, and actively supported ILO's prospecting for funds with the donor community.

An ILO Employment Strategy Mission (April-May 1999) worked in close consultation with the Bank, the IMF and the ADB to incorporate an assessment of the employment implications of the ongoing and proposed structural reform programmes of these agencies.

Republic of Korea

The ILO has built on its work on active labour market policy of 1998 in the context of IMF and World Bank social sector reform, where ILO advice has been given on planning for unemployment policy measures in relation to training systems evaluations, the restructuring of public employment services, and the establishment of a social safety net.

The ILO provided financial and technical support for an evaluation and analysis of training policies and programmes for the unemployed, supporting the Government's commitment to the Bank and Fund for an evaluation of retraining programmes as a precondition for loan disbursement.

Tanzania, United Republic of

The ILO provided advisory services on employment issues in relation to the new IMF ESAF arrangements.


The ILO is contributing to the development of the Bank's Country Assistance Strategy (CAS), and is chairing the Inter-Agency Working Group on employment and sustainable livelihoods.

Cameroon, Congo, Gabon, Rwanda

The ILO is cooperating closely with the Bank in relation to a number of social security reform projects, and on the extension of social protection.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The ILO and the World Bank are cooperating on the issue of the reintegration of ex-combatants.

Côte d'Ivoire

The ILO cooperated closely with the Bank and the UNDP in the context of the jointly funded support project for the programme on strengthening management and coordination capacities ("Projet d'appui au programme de renforcement des capacités de gestion et de coordination"), and held consultations with the IMF on the development of the ESAF Policy Framework Paper which identifies the ILO as the principal source of technical assistance for the new Labour Code.

Senegal, Mali, Zimbabwe

Seminars on structural adjustment, employment and the role of the social partners developed substantive contacts concerning employment and training, illustrative of the ILO Addis Ababa multidisciplinary team's close working relationships with World Bank staff on labour market indicators.

Joint ILO-World Bank Tripartite Meeting on Labour Law Reform in French-speaking Countries of West Africa (1997)

The World Bank Institute, in cooperation with the ILO, published a book on the meeting.


III. ILO-Bretton Woods collaboration in technical fields

Child labour

The ILO has provided advice and information: the ILO participated for the second time in the Bank's Human Development Week child labour programme, and in its International Advisory Panel on Child Labour.

The joint ILO-World Bank-UNICEF research project on child labour and globalization has not made substantial progress owing to administrative difficulties and competing priorities.

IPEC's Statistical Information and Monitoring Programme on Child Labour (SIMPOC), in cooperation with the Government of Norway, participated in an ILO-World Bank-UNICEF workshop to develop inter-agency cooperation in the areas of research, data collection, data analysis strategies and monitoring.

In the field, cooperation has taken place principally in Africa and Asia, with a focus on enhancing mutual support, increasing efficiency and avoiding duplication, as well as on cooperation in carrying out surveys and analyses.

Key publications

Exchanges of views on: the spring and autumn issues of the IMF's World Economic Outlook; the World Bank's World Development Report for 1999-2000; and ILO's World Labour Report, 1999-2000.

Social security and pension reform

Institutional dialogue and debates continue on the relative merits of fully funded as opposed to pay-as-you-go schemes. Some differences in concrete policy advice remain, particularly relating to the balance between public and private sector roles, but these appear to be diminishing significantly in the light of the pragmatism necessary in a concrete reform process.

The ILO has pursued a broad-based and comprehensive analytical approach to analysing a country's social protection system that takes into account the general socio-economic environment, including factors such as population, the labour market, economy, social protection legislation, etc., the interdependencies between different social protection schemes and the links to the general government budget. These interrelationships are numerically modelled. This approach has proven its merits, and it is increasingly acknowledged by national social policy planners as a rational and effective concept that allows for the preparation of well-balanced decisions when related to social protection reforms.

ILO employment-intensive programmes

These have continued to develop in French-speaking West Africa, in association with AFRICATIP (an umbrella organization of 15 country-specific AGETIPs [Agences pour l'Exécution de Travaux d'Intérêt Public pour l'Emploi] set up with financial support from the World Bank) and with financial support from DANIDA, as well as with the Bank's Sub-Saharan Africa Transport Programme. The focus is on supporting small and medium enterprises and promoting labour-intensive techniques and decent work opportunities in the construction industry and the roads sector.

In Madagascar the ILO has been associated with a Bank programme aimed at mobilizing marginalized population groups for the rehabilitation and maintenance of basic infrastructure in the suburbs of the capital, Antananarivo.

In Asia, regular working relations have been established between the World Bank and ASIST, an ILO regional project, in Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. Technical advice on employment-intensive investment policy is also provided to Bank-funded programmes in Laos and Cambodia.

Social finance

Cooperation developed particularly with the World Bank to design policies and institutional changes that facilitate the access of the poor to essential financial services.

The ILO actively participates in the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP), an international network of 27 international and bilateral agencies on microfinance based in the World Bank, and in the Donors' Working Group on Financial Sector Development, also based in the World Bank.

The ILO is managing a US$5 million research programme on the impact of financial sector liberalization on the poor in Africa.

The ILO and the World Bank are also cooperating in this field in a number of countries, including United Republic of Tanzania and Madagascar; however, views on optimal and viable support strategies have not always coincided.

ILO sectoral meetings

Increasing World Bank participation in ILO sectoral meetings and related activities, including those on artisanal and small-scale mining; the social and labour consequences of technological developments and the deregulation and privatization of transport; and human resources development in the public service in the context of structural adjustment and transition.

International Training Centre of the ILO, Turin

An active programme of practical cooperation is conducted by the Turin Centre, especially with the World Bank. There has been long-standing and strong collaboration between the Centre's Procurement Management Programme and the World Bank and the World Bank Institute (WBI). The curriculum was developed in cooperation with Bank procurement specialists, some of whom act as resource persons, and a large number of staff of Project Implementation Units from World Bank-funded projects participate in the courses.

The Centre makes full use of materials developed by the Bank, and staff are in regular contact, exchanging information and ideas for improving evaluation capacity and distance learning, as well as for the design of the Centre's management information system.


1. GB.273/ESP/6 and Add.1.

2. A review of current collaboration is presented in the Appendix.

3. GB.274/4/4.

4. GB.276/ESP/3.

5. GB.273/ESP/6, para. 14.

6. The IMF was represented by its First Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Stanley Fischer; the World Bank by its Vice-President for External Relations and UN Affairs, Mr. Mark Malloch Brown.

7. GB.274/4/4.

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