FIFTH ITEM ON THE AGENDA
Report of the International Consultation concerning
Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development
(Geneva, 2-4 November 1999)
1. The International Consultation concerning Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development was held in Geneva from 2 to 4 November 1999 to review and assess measures undertaken by States to give effect to their commitments under the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, and the ILO's contribution to follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development and to the 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 (Geneva, June 2000).
2. The Consultation was chaired by Ms. F. Chitauro, Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Zimbabwe. The Employer and Worker Vice-Chairpersons were Mr. A. Katz and Mr. G. Rajasekaran respectively. The meeting appointed Mr. H. Schrama (Government, Netherlands) as its Reporter.
3. The meeting had before it a report prepared by the Office, entitled The International Labour Organization and the promotion of full, productive and freely chosen employment.
4. The meeting adopted a set of conclusions, which are appended.
I. Introduction by the Director-General
5. The Director-General first noted the challenge of understanding problems through the eyes of people and of assessing policies through their impact on individuals, families and communities. At the World Summit for Social Development seven ILO Conventions had been identified as the social basis of the emerging global economy, and the principles and rights enshrined in those Conventions had become major global objectives. The ILO's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work had advanced the implementation of the decisions made in Copenhagen. The world economy needed better governance since its benefits were not adequately spread and there was a growing backlash against this fact. 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, known as "Copenhagen+5" and as "Geneva 2000", was an opportunity to develop new initiatives for social development.
II. Geneva 2000
6. Ambassador Maquieria, Chairperson of the Preparatory Committee for the Special Session of the General Assembly on the Implementation of the Outcome of the World Summit for Social Development and Further Initiatives, stated that the topics of the Summit were poverty eradication, productive employment and social integration. However, he cautioned that world economic integration could result in national disintegration if it continued to lead to an inequitable distribution of its fruits.
7. Mr. J. Langmore, Director of the UN Division for Social Policy and Development, stressed the importance of preparations for Geneva 2000. Preparatory meetings should first review the implementation of decisions taken at Copenhagen and propose concrete additional initiatives to develop further the objectives of the Summit.
8. Ambassador Stauffacher, delegate of Switzerland to Geneva 2000, gave information on preparations for the meeting and outlined some parallel activities involving civil society.
9. Ms. Ducci, Director, ILO Bureau for External Relations and Partnerships, noted that the ILO was preparing an Office-wide plan of action for Geneva 2000.
III. Discussion of the report
10. Mr. Sengenberger, Director of the ILO Employment Strategies Department, introduced the ILO report. He described ILO activities in the employment field undertaken since the World Summit for Social Development, including the country employment policy reviews and the publication Key indicators of the labour market (KILM).(1) He described the current employment situation in the majority of countries as disappointing, particularly in view of the degree of optimism that had prevailed before 1995. He asked the meeting to reflect on the significance of the Copenhagen Declaration, to examine the progress made, to consider the ILO's role in the field of employment policies, and to suggest new means whereby the ILO might contribute better to the goals of the Summit.
Statements by the Vice-Chairpersons
11. The Employer Vice-Chairperson considered that in an era of globalization the main focus for employment still had to be on achieving sustained growth. This required a trade-friendly, macroeconomic policy design with considerable microeconomic reform and underpinning, going beyond labour market reform. All this was possible to achieve without neglecting social issues. Special attention should be given to particular groups, and the ILO could help in the design of country-specific social safety nets. More could be done to help small and medium enterprises and to regulate the informal sector intelligently. Country experience in the employment field should be exchanged directly.
12. The Worker Vice-Chairperson considered that structural adjustment had removed basic protection from workers, and stressed the need for a new framework for international economic and social policy, with an improved mechanism for maintaining and supporting social development. Programmes of the Bretton Woods institutions needed to incorporate the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the ILO had to be more involved in multilateral decisions on international investment. A timetable for halving world poverty by 2010 should be set and the necessary resources found, including private-sector delivery of social services.
Statements by Government delegates
13. The representative of the Government of Thailand considered that sustainable economic growth could be considered a basis for employment creation, and that sectoral policies could make growth employment-friendly. The representative of the Government of China thought that the ILO needed to strengthen its research on the impact of globalization on employment, and by closer collaboration with other international organizations to make employment the main concern of policies at the international level. The representative of the Government of El Salvador stated that the ILO should establish country objectives that emphasized relationships between the world of work and the economy. The best way to reconcile work and family life was through flexible working hours and new technologies allowing home work.
14. The representative of the Government of Bulgaria considered that regional information banks should be created on employment issues, skills and social dialogue. The representative of the Government of the United Kingdom stated that priorities should include the worldwide implementation of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, the sustainable growth of jobs, with a focus on the knowledge-based economy, better coverage of social protection systems, and the dissemination of information on good practice. The representative of the Government of Peru stated that the ILO should contribute to solving the problem of youth employment by presenting examples of good practice in many countries. The ILO should analyse labour markets for young people. The representative of the Government of the Russian Federation stated that the conclusions of the meeting should stress the close interdependence between economic and social policies.
15. The representative of the Government of Bangladesh felt that the trickle-down from the growth process was insufficient to meet the objectives of the Summit; social intervention was necessary and the State, with the social partners, could redress market imperfections. The representative of the Government of Côte d'Ivoire observed that very few poor countries had been able to tackle problems of poverty since they were unable to mobilize resources effectively. The representative of the Government of India stated that the ILO should continue its consultations with the Bretton Woods institutions in order to minimize the social costs of their programmes. It should also prepare a comprehensive employment strategy with national and regional action plans for full employment. The representative of the Government of Slovakia considered that lifelong education was an efficient adjustment measure to promote workers' skill flexibility and employability.
16. The representative of the Government of Egypt stated that the ILO should work on a global strategy for employment and produce reliable indicators on skills and training worldwide. The representative of the Government of Denmark stated that unemployment needed to be tackled constructively and reliance on passive support should be discouraged. The representative of the Government of Kenya stated that the ILO should continue to assist member States in country employment reviews and the design and implementation of job-creating programmes. The representative of the Government of Chile felt that flexibility and deregulation were not identical, and flexibility was an opportunity, and not a threat. The representative of the Government of Nepal believed that the economy should be oriented around globalization, but the link between globalization and social development was not automatic. The representative of the Government of Nigeria stated that the proliferation of casual and self-employment was a significant problem; and that developing countries could not make progress without debt relief. The representative of the Government of the United States considered that, in formulating and implementing policies to enable workers to adjust rapidly to changes in labour markets, the specific needs of disadvantaged groups had to be taken into account. The gender impact of policies should be taken into account: gender-segregated labour market data were essential, and women should be made more aware of the gender aspects of labour laws.
Statements by Employer participants
17. Employer participants stressed that what small and medium enterprises sought from the authorities were reasonable policies and simple, unbureaucratic rules. The guiding principle for labour market practices should be subsidiarity and negotiation at the enterprise level (Mr. Mantilla). A paradigm shift was taking place from organization-dependent employees to employee-dependent organizations. Different forms of work and new forms of employment were emerging rapidly. Achieving a balance between work and family life should be a shared responsibility of all social partners, needing creative thinking as regards adequate childcare and retraining for returning women workers (Mr. Dangerfield). Low quality jobs were better than no jobs, and could be improved. Globalization and flexibility improved professional performance and workers' employability through training (Mr. Kaboré). Because of Japan's severe unemployment problems a national dimension had been added to the country's traditionally enterprise-based industrial relations system (Mr. Yano). Wage determination could create new jobs through a prolonged system of wage restraint. The ILO should analyse country experience on this issue further (Mr. Hess). Job creation and employment reduction would follow an increase in aggregate demand and the establishment of a vibrant market economy (Mr. Zain Majid). Different countries required different approaches to employment policies; no global integrated approach could be effective. The ILO should arrange exchanges of information on good national practices. Programmes of temporary work in the public sector were obstacles to employment growth in advanced countries (Mr. Castren). Employment-intensive projects allowed the local population to acquire new skills (Mr. Doshi). Careful planning of employment-intensive projects allowed long-term benefits (Mr. Meyer). The ILO should prepare a Recommendation on illegal migrant workers to ensure that they were treated with at least a minimum degree of dignity (Mr. Kaboré).
Statements by Worker participants
18. Worker participants considered that current economic policies had a deflationary bias, as did structural adjustment policies. The United States experience had demonstrated that unemployment could fall without causing wage inflation. There was a need to coordinate expansionary macroeconomic policies, and also a need for closer regulation of financial markets. Wage moderation had led to corporate profitability and it was an open and country-specific question whether the final result would be better jobs or stagnation and deflation (Mr. Jackson). Poverty should be tackled at its root cause, and the international financial institutions should adopt more imaginative policies (Ms. Koffi). The ILO should provide assistance to conflict-prone countries (Mr. Tanaka). Structural adjustment programmes should be accompanied by active labour market policies on vocational training, job placement and the reduction of working time to offset their negative effects on employment (Mr. Ahn). There was a critical need to examine management failure in SMEs that resulted in job losses. In Africa the exploitation of vulnerable groups was clearly discernible in export processing zones (Mr. Padenga). The proper role of public services had to be addressed with such basic concepts as the conditions for proper governance, freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining (Ms. Batut). Skill upgrading in developing countries was imperative, and the ILO should assist with the promotion of vocational training (Mr. Raghavaiah).
Statements by other participants
19. The representative of the World Health Organization echoed the Director-General's view that sectoral solutions to multidimensional problems were a thing of the past.
20. The representative of the European Union stressed that good employment policies needed a process of learning from other countries and identifying best practice. Indicators of performance were critical.
21. The representative of the World Bank stated that in Asia the need for employment-intensive programmes and strong safety nets was obvious. The World Bank was anxious to work with the ILO in increasing the attention given to the needs of workers with disabilities.
22. The representative of the OECD noted the tendency for employment to become concentrated in certain households. Policies should encourage the employment of both male and female household members.
23. Representatives of various non-governmental international organizations emphasized the importance of participation in productive work as crucial to the inclusion of poor and marginalized groups in society. Gender issues were also crucial, especially the role of women as entrepreneurs.
Geneva, 10 November 1999.
International Consultation concerning Follow-up on
the World Summit for Social Development
(Geneva, 2-4 November 1999)
1. The International Consultation concerning Follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development was held in Geneva from 2 to 4 November 1999 to review and assess measures undertaken by States to give effect to their commitments under the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, and the ILO's contribution to follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development and to the 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, as requested by the General Assembly to take place in June 2000.
2. It took note of the ILO's regional consultations on follow-up on the World Summit for Social Development, held in Bangkok, Budapest, Abidjan, Geneva and Beirut, the country employment policy reviews undertaken on a tripartite basis by the ILO and constituents in 14 countries, and various other ILO programme initiatives at the global, regional and country levels.
3. It considered that the ILO has, and should play, a central role in the global campaign for the achievement of full employment, as specified in Commitment No. 3 of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. In fulfilling this role the ILO should be guided by the values of the Organization as reflected in its instruments. As discussed in the background report, "The International Labour Organization and the promotion of full, productive and freely chosen employment", particular attention should be paid to the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
4. It reaffirmed that the commitments of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action, with regard to employment generation and the reduction of poverty, remained as valid today as they were four years ago, and called for their full implementation.
5. Based on reports of the ILO, it noted that while in a few industrialized and newly industrializing countries progress with regard to job creation and the reduction of unemployment and underemployment had been registered, the employment situation and progress in alleviating poverty in many parts of the world, particularly among developing countries and countries in transition, remained unsatisfactory and in some countries had even worsened.
6. The International Consultation underscored that the basic policies for attaining the employment goals set in the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action were still fully relevant, but required renewed efforts and the political will to implement them effectively:
(a) the creation of employment and the reduction of unemployment should be at the centre of the policies and strategies of every member State; the key to greater employment generation is sustained, employment-friendly economic growth and the continuous adjustment of economic structures;
(b) a judicious combination of macro- and microeconomic policies needs to be formulated and implemented, taking into account country-specific situations. The economic environment resulting from such policies should promote greater investment, foster greater competitiveness and enterprise development favouring employment growth, and promote the growth of small and medium enterprises;
(c) fostering international cooperation in macroeconomic policies and the liberalization of trade and investment so as to promote sustained economic growth and the creation of employment;
(d) integrated national strategies to reduce poverty are needed which address all its causal factors by measures including the use of minimum wages set at appropriate levels, supplements to earned income and social expenditures on education, health and housing and social insurance; these efforts should be supplemented by international cooperation and increased flows of international resources (including through debt reduction and foreign direct investment), and striving for the fulfilment of the agreed ODA target of 0.7 per cent of GNP as soon as possible; and directing a larger share of these resources to the generation of higher levels of employment and to social development.
7. While greater job creation is necessary to reduce unemployment and poverty, concerns for job quality have gained increasing significance, and there is a need to promote it, in particular through the ratification and implementation of the ILO's core Conventions(1) and follow-up on the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
8. In the light of rapidly changing technology, training is needed throughout working life which responds to the rapid change in the demand for labour market skills, raises the average level of skills, reduces the inequality in their distribution, enhances workers' employability, and increases the incentive for employers to provide, and workers to demand, additional training without excessive reliance on subsidies. Skill formation should also be facilitated by the dissemination of new technologies.
9. In order to respond effectively to, and to prevent, financial and other economic crises, international action is required to promote stability in international financial markets. National policy measures should include social dialogue to ensure the inclusion of a social dimension in structural adjustment programmes. Recent crises also clearly underlined the need to fully integrate economic and social policies in order to maintain social cohesion and protect against future economic and social risks.
10. Collective bargaining has a role to play in improving income distribution. Partners to collective bargaining should give due weight to the promotion of employment growth.
11. Constructive social dialogue plays a major role in support of employment generation as a priority item on the national agenda, in particular as a measure helping to reconcile employment protection and the promotion of high quality jobs on the one hand, and adaptability and changing labour demand, on the other.
12. The International Consultation stressed the need for specific national policies and programmes to mainstream gender equality and for other programmes targeted at assisting disadvantaged groups, including migrant workers and workers with disabilities and providing job experience to young people and the long-term unemployed.
13. The International Consultation stressed the need for an appropriate balance in policies affecting work and family life, responding to the family needs of children, allowing men and women workers to reconcile work and family life by negotiating work schedules that meet both the operational requirements of enterprises and the individual and social needs of workers, and which seeks to reduce excessive hours of work.
14. Recognizing the importance of health in general and of paying particular attention to safety and health in the workplace, future policies to promote full employment should incorporate specific provisions for protecting and improving health.
15. The International Consultation called on the ILO to develop, in collaboration with the tripartite partners and the UN-system agencies, new operational initiatives to give better effect to the commitments of the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action. These operational activities should be implemented in the framework of an employment strategy with global and national dimensions. The ILO should mobilize resources, both internal and extra-budgetary, for the implementation of the elements of the Copenhagen Programme of Action falling within its mandate. Such initiatives should include --
(a) the formulation and implementation of comprehensive employment strategies to stimulate employment generation and to improve labour market and employment services according to country-specific circumstances as guidelines for operational activities by member States and multilateral agencies;
(b) technical assistance and advisory support for the worldwide ratification and implementation of the ILO's core Conventions, the promotion of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work; and the promotion of the ratification and implementation of the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182);
(c) devising new policies and programmes to meet the challenges of a fast developing knowledge-based economy and society, which requires the comprehensive revision of education and training culture and policies, for example lifelong and distance learning;
(d) supporting member States in designing and extending social safety nets, in accordance with country-specific circumstances;
(e) recognizing the problems created by the growth of the informal sector, and helping member States extend a range of support measures to informal sector workers, including legal rights, social protection and access to credit;
(f) devising new approaches to overcoming growing social exclusion, especially for vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, and particularly women among them, e.g. older workers, workers with disabilities, youth and migrant workers, through non-discrimination policies and improved access to training and jobs.
16. The International Consultation called on the ILO, as well as other UN agencies, the Bretton Woods institutions, the OECD and regional organizations, to organize and develop a coordinated process of mutual learning and sharing of experience with regard to successful employment and labour market policy outcomes through a continuing process of ILO country reviews and, inter alia, the creation of an information base, coordinated website dissemination, and regional and international conferences.
1. In the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action the core Conventions are those covering the prohibition of forced and child labour, the freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively and the principle of non-discrimination (see p. 17).