ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

276th Session
Geneva, November 1999

Committee on Technical Cooperation



Effect to be given to the conclusions concerning the role
of the ILO in technical cooperation, adopted by the
International Labour Conference at its 87th Session
(June 1999): Implementation plan

1. In June 1999, the International Labour Conference reviewed the role of the ILO in technical cooperation. In its conclusions, the Conference renewed its commitment to technical cooperation as one of the ILO's fundamental means of action for the achievement of its mission. However, it emphasized the major changes in the social, political and economic environment which had occurred since it had last discussed the ILO's technical cooperation programme in 1993, and pointed to a number of areas in which the ILO's programme of technical cooperation needed to be strengthened. These include the following:

2. The Conference requested the Office to provide the Governing Body, at the present session, with an implementation plan, including a timetable for:

3. The implementation plan responds to this request. It addresses not only the specific issues mentioned by the Conference, but also the other measures required to take the technical cooperation programme in the direction set by the Conference. It reflects the outcome of extensive internal consultations and consensus on the action to be taken.

4. The Conference also called on the Director-General to take its conclusions into account when finalizing the Programme and Budget for the 2000-01 biennium. This Plan should therefore be read in conjunction with the programme and budget. Together, they form the framework for implementing the Conference's recommendations on technical cooperation.

Presentation of the implementation plan

5. The implementation plan is appended in tabular form for easy reference. The issues to be addressed (in the first column) are basically extracted from the text of the Conference's conclusions. The context and main lines of action to be taken on each issue are set out in the second column. A time frame for action is given in the third column.

6. The plan outlines the general directions for future action. It should be borne in mind that the plan will require fine-tuning following the finalization of the Programme and Budget for 2000-01 and discussions in the Committee on Technical Cooperation. Adjustments will also have to be made over time to respond to changing circumstances. Finally, more detailed action sheets are being prepared for internal use.

Structure of the implementation plan

7. The implementation plan is divided into three parts, which reflect the principal themes of the Conference's conclusions.

Part I: Enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of
ILO technical cooperation

This part sets out the steps to be taken to achieve:

Part II: Improving the quality, visibility, efficiency and
impact of ILO technical cooperation

This part outlines measures to strengthen:

Part III: Strengthening partnerships and resource mobilization

This part lists activities, founded on the core partnership between the ILO and its constituents, to establish and strengthen substantive partnerships with a number of partners, including:

Reporting on progress

8. As requested in the conclusions concerning the role of the ILO in technical cooperation, the Office will report on the progress made in implementing the recommendations set out in an interim mid-term report to the Governing Body.

9. The Committee may wish to decide on the modalities of the supervisory role that it intends to undertake.

Geneva, 28 September 1999.


Part I -- Enhancing the relevance and effectiveness of ILO technical cooperation

Issues to be addressed

Context and elements for action

Time frame

1. A coherent programme

1(a) Ensuring that technical cooperation is coherent in its focus, supports the four strategic objectives and the two cross-cutting themes of development and gender, and pursues their implicit goal of promoting fundamental principles and rights at work and international labour standards

To be effective and coherent in its focus, all technical cooperation must be guided by a shared vision, as expressed in Decent work, the Report of the Director-General to the 87th Session of the International Labour Conference, and on an understanding of the ILO's four strategic objectives, as well as its cross-cutting themes. While there have been good examples of technical cooperation activities covering several areas of ILO concern in the past, these must become the rule in the future. The guiding principles of technical cooperation will therefore be set out more clearly and internal communications and partnerships improved through:

  • a policy statement on technical cooperation, communicating the guiding principles for technical cooperation, which will be disseminated throughout the Office;

Completed by April 2000

  • regular field/headquarters consultations on general technical cooperation issues;

Annually or at least biennially

  • systematic communication between the field and headquarters, sectors and InFocus programmes resulting in action plans for collaboration;

Continuously by e-mail etc. and periodic meetings

  • the exploration of incentives to promote a sound technical cooperation programme, in particular through the distribution of RBTC resources, programme support income and personnel policy measures.

By end 2000

1(b) Establishing a common programming framework

The ILO's programming mechanisms (and particularly the programme and budget) have tended to focus mainly on regular budget activities, with the result that the technical cooperation programme has been somewhat independent of the regular budget programme and has often lacked the minimum level of regular budget resources required to ensure effective delivery and development. The Office's activities -- whether funded from regular budget or extra-budgetary sources -- therefore need to be placed in a single framework, particularly through the international focus (InFocus) programmes:

  • the regular budget operational objectives, indicators and targets will be integrated into the work programmes of the regions;


  • the programme and budget will be further developed as a single programming framework linking regular budget (including RBTC) and extra-budgetary resources;

Completed by November 2000 for 2002-03 P&B

  • systematic cooperation on technical cooperation and resource mobilization between the Office and the Turin Centre will be developed.

Starting immediately

2. A relevant programme

2(a) Integrating tripartite involvement at all stages of technical cooperation

To ensure that it is as responsive as possible to constituents' needs, the ILO's technical cooperation programme has to be built firmly on the Organization's tripartite foundation. While much progress has been made in this respect since the implementation of the Active Partnership Policy (APP) in 1994, the APP and the country objective exercises will provide the framework for stronger and more consistent involvement of constituents in the programme. This will involve:

  • strengthening the involvement of constituents in the formulation of and follow-up on country objectives, where possible through such mechanisms as tripartite national ILO committees;

Started, to be continued

  • the development and revision of guidelines and training for ILO staff on tripartite involvement in technical cooperation and the use of country objectives as a programming instrument;

First outputs by September 2000

  • evaluating the implementation of country objectives at the national level.

At the end of periods appropriate to specific situations

2(b) Integrating regional/ subregional perspectives

As regional and subregional integration and cooperation mechanisms take on steadily greater importance, the technical cooperation programme must become more responsive to regional and subregional needs and to the emerging economic and social requirements of regional and subregional integration and cooperation based on:

  • the formulation of regional/subregional strategies that need to be charted, and of operational plans with key support from the ILO's regional offices;

Biennially (each P&B) and updated periodically

  • the provision of support to constituents to strengthen their capacity to promote a social dimension in regional integration processes, particularly through their participation in dialogue.

Continuously, as feasible

2(c) Focusing on enterprise promotion

Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be promoted as major engines for employment promotion within a framework of creating an enabling environment for the promotion, realization and implementation of international labour standards. This will be done through:

  • the further development of the ILO's wide range of enterprise-related programmes, taking into account, inter alia, the role of employers' organizations and the services they can provide to their constituents in this area;

Starting January 2000

  • the International Small Enterprise Development Programme (ISEP), which will become a major vehicle for integrating quality dimensions in SME development;


  • strengthened collaboration between all InFocus programmes, including SafeWork, IPEC and other relevant programmes, such as the global programme on Strategies and Tools against Social Exclusion and Poverty (STEP), to promote quality SME development;


  • the expansion of the Turin Centre's SME programmes.


3. International labour standards and technical cooperation

3(a) Providing effective technical cooperation assistance as a means of ensuring the implementation of the Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its Follow-up

The adoption of the Declaration as a promotional instrument provides the ILO with a unique mandate and opportunity to develop a technical cooperation programme focusing more coherently on strengthening awareness and observance of its basic principles and values, within the framework of the InFocus programme on the Declaration and its Follow-up and the development of IPEC as an integrated programme, combining knowledge, advocacy and service functions. For this purpose:

  • technical cooperation assistance will be guided by the reports issued as part of follow-up on the Declaration;

Starting March 2000 for annual reports; November 2000 for global

  • the technical cooperation programme will be designed to contribute to the campaign for the ratification of core Conventions launched in 1995, including the new Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182).


3(b) Helping to create an enabling environment for the promotion, realization and implementation of international labour standards through technical cooperation, with a view to assisting countries to ratify and implement international labour standards

Technical cooperation has proven a powerful tool in helping constituents apply international labour standards more effectively in practice. Its contribution in this respect will be strengthened by developing a more substantive linkage between international labour standards and technical cooperation based on:

  • more direct use in the technical cooperation programme of the comments of the ILO's supervisory bodies on the application of international labour standards, taking into account national priorities and country objectives;

On a regular basis

  • the integration of more standards-related objectives in country objective

By September

  • the establishment of a focal point on international labour standards to facilitate internal communication and interaction on international labour standards and technical cooperation.

By March 2000

4. Cross-cutting issues

4(a) Mainstreaming a gender perspective in all technical cooperation activities

The gender perspective is being mainstreamed throughout the ILO's activities. Gender issues will therefore be taken effectively and coherently into account in all technical cooperation activities, as a major contribution to the ILO's objective of promoting equitable development. This process will be reinforced through:

  • the provision of guidance, within the context of the Office's integrated gender strategy, on the integration of gender issues in technical cooperation;


  • the training of ILO staff and constituents in the mainstreaming of gender concerns in the development and implementation of technical cooperation.

Starting January 2000

4(b) Reflecting development concerns in all ILO activities

The ILO's technical cooperation programme is one of its most practical contributions to development at the national and regional levels. The ILO's overall contribution to development will be improved by feeding back more systematically the lessons learnt in technical cooperation into the overall work programme of the Office, particularly through:

  • the development of more direct and systematic operational linkages between technical cooperation, policy actions, research, standard-setting and advocacy activities.



Part II -- Improving the quality, visibility, efficiency and impact of ILO technical cooperation

Issues to be addressed

Perspectives and elements for action

Time frame

1. Making the field structure more coherent and efficient and capable of responding flexibly and rapidly to constituents' needs

It is widely recognized that the introduction of the APP and the multidisciplinary advisory teams (MDTs) has brought the ILO closer to its constituents. The present field structure will be reviewed with the active assistance of the national authorities involved, with the major objective of improving the service provided to constituents. The review will identify, in particular:

  • improved arrangements for the delivery of services as part of a broader review of the field structure, dealing, inter alia, with roles and responsibilities in the field and headquarters and location and coverage of offices and MDTs;

Planning of review to begin January 2000 and to finish end 2000

  • possibilities for having ILO representation where there is no ILO presence;
  • the technical expertise required in the field.

2. Improving the delivery of technical cooperation through the development of more efficient management processes and procedures

Efforts will be made to improve delivery. An examination will be carried out to determine the major causes of delivery problems and, together with the review of the field structure referred to above, will identify:

  • additional functions that could be decentralized, while maintaining the cohesion of the programme and sound financial management;

From January 2000 -- as part of review of field structure

  • weaknesses in administrative, financial and personnel procedures;

Done by April 2000

  • technical cooperation project design flaws.

Done by April 2000

In parallel with this exercise, the continued improvement of technical cooperation management and delivery will also be promoted through:

  • the development of a technical cooperation monitoring system to provide reliable management information and facilitate preventive action, including the construction of a database showing trends and identifying bottlenecks;

First results by July 2000

  • the streamlining and synchronization of reporting (internal and external, including to donors);

First results by October 2000

  • the reinforcement of training for support services, with emphasis on problem solving and a service orientation;

Linked to review of field structure

  • the compilation of a manual to guide the technical cooperation implementation process and serve as a reference source for technical cooperation documentation.

First part done by January 2000

3. Improving human resources

Within the framework of the Office's human resources development policy, a concentrated effort will be made to improve the quality and efficiency of technical cooperation through measures including:

  • the examination of problems impeding the timely recruitment of field staff and the adoption of the necessary remedial measures;

May 2000

  • the adoption of a policy decision that newly recruited MDT officials work for an appropriate period at headquarters before assignment in the field;

May 2000

  • greater use of local expertise and experience in the ILO's technical cooperation programme, for example, by creating a pool of local technical expertise trained in ILO concerns;

As required

  • the improvement, where appropriate, and regular provision of, mandatory induction courses covering topics such as ILO values and principles and major technical fields of ILO work for all officials engaged in technical cooperation, including chief technical advisers and experts;

May 2000

  • the improvement of technical cooperation briefing programmes and of the debriefing process;


  • the strengthening of technical cooperation skills, inter alia, through a training programme covering such areas as programme development, monitoring and evaluation, reporting, financial procedures, international labour standards, resource mobilization and communication.

To be integrated in the field restructuring process

4. Technical cooperation evaluation

Current evaluation processes and procedures will be improved and new approaches developed to assess performance and ensure that the lessons of experience are taken into account more effectively in future activities. The measures to be taken will include:

Improving current arrangements and developing new approaches

  • the assessment of current design and appraisal processes, taking into account the new organizational framework, strategic and operational objectives, InFocus programmes, and cross-cutting issues such as gender and international labour standards;

Action on these initiatives to start January 2000

  • a review of the application of existing project and programme evaluation arrangements and the development of new evaluation methodology for areas not covered by existing arrangements, including ex-post evaluations;
  • the strengthening of capacity in the regions to undertake evaluations;
  • greater emphasis on defining and selecting evaluation options at the design stage so that stakeholders (including financial partners) can agree on the most appropriate choice;
  • better coordination with donors on the execution of independent evaluations.

Learning from experience

  • the improvement of systems for collecting and disseminating information in headquarters and the field on good practices and lessons learned as a basis for future programme development;
  • the increased use of good practices and lessons learned by technical sectors and programmes for the generation of methodological tools, reference manuals and training materials in each technical field.

The Governing Body and the evaluation process

  • the Governing Body will be kept informed of new developments in evaluation strategies and approaches and the results of major evaluation studies;
  • the Governing Body may wish to decide on the modalities of the supervisory role which it intends to undertake.

5. Improving visibility and communication

A communication strategy will be designed to promote the ILO's technical cooperation programme and ensure that it contributes effectively to securing increased public recognition, support and commitment for the ILO's work. Activities will include:

  • a review of current ILO promotional/information materials on its technical cooperation activities;

Completed by end 2000

  • the dissemination of well-presented information on topics of public interest and greater use of promotional events, such as tours of ILO projects for journalists;


  • the introduction of in-house training on communications for technical cooperation purposes.

To be integrated in the field restructuring process


Part III -- Strengthening partnerships and resource mobilization

Issues to be addressed

Context and elements for action

Time frame

1. Strengthening partnerships for technical cooperation

If the ILO's values and principles are to be promoted more widely and broader support fostered for its operational activities, the ILO will need to extend and diversify partnerships for development cooperation more systematically. This outreach must be founded on the core partnership between the Office and its primary constituents, governments, employers and workers, who can use their resources, networks and experience to support ILO technical cooperation and promote it with other partners, including for resource mobilization purposes. To achieve this objective, the following action will be taken:


  • contacts will be made with existing and potential partners, including, for example, ministries of finance and planning, to foster a better understanding of the contribution that the ILO can make to development cooperation;

Starting immediately

  • high-level contacts will be stepped up with actors in development cooperation, such as ministers of development cooperation, OECD/DAC and regional organizations;

Starting immediately

  • regular flows of information on ILO technical cooperation and research activities will be established to promote the integration of international labour standards in the policies and activities of the ILO's partners;

Starting January 2000 and continuing

  • information on partners and on resource mobilization possibilities will be collected and widely circulated in-house;

Starting 2000

  • more initiatives will be taken in the Office's work with organizations such as the Bretton Woods institutions, regional development banks, and multilateral and bilateral agencies to encourage them to promote the ILO's core values and international labour standards in general through their policies and operational activities.


(a) With the United Nations system

The ILO needs to seek improved operational cooperation, coordination and funding within the United Nations system through:

  • the identification of possibilities for enhanced relationships with UN entities and the establishment and/or strengthening of cooperation agreements;

First initiatives first half 2000

  • the organization of high-level meetings with UNDP to improve the current frameworks for cooperation by clarifying roles and focusing on the ILO's comparative advantage;

First initiatives first half 2000

  • the organization of technical meetings to discuss and plan joint activities to promote the Declaration and international labour standards and to follow up on events such as the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women;

First initiatives first half 2000

  • the active engagement of the ILO in UN reforms, especially the UNDAF exercise, so that it can contribute to strengthening the multilateral system and ensure that ILO values and concerns are integrated into UN-system programming;


  • the exploration of possibilities for joint work with relevant UN organizations in rapid response to crisis situations;

As necessary

  • the improved use of existing mechanisms such as the Resident Coordinator's annual report, to promote the ILO's activities.


(b) With the Bretton Woods institutions and regional development banks

Enhanced collaboration on technical cooperation will be pursued in the broader framework of the Office's initiatives to strengthen relations with the Bretton Woods institutions and regional development banks. This will include:

  • the conclusion of understandings on enhancing collaboration in technical cooperation;

First initiatives first half 2000

  • a review of past experience in working with these organizations;

Completed by end 2000

  • identification of the adjustments needed within the ILO to support stronger operational collaboration, including through the bidding process;

Completed by end 2000

  • monitoring of the Comprehensive Development Framework (CDF) and assessment of its implications for ILO technical cooperation.


(c) With multi-bilateral partners

Multi-bilateral partnerships need to be consolidated, reinforced and expanded through:

  • improved policy dialogue and technical exchanges, for example through thematic meetings at headquarters and in the field;

Starting immediately

  • the further development of the programme approach to facilitate a more substantive focus;

Started, to be continued

  • the holding of regular review meetings with ILO multi-bilateral partners where such meetings are not yet a feature of the cooperation.

By end 2001, meetings started with five additional donors

(d) With the European Union

The ILO will continue to work towards more effective engagement with the EU on technical cooperation through:

  • the continuation of discussions on collaboration through technical cooperation with institutions such as the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Economic and Social Council;

First initiatives by December 1999

  • the development of proposals for mutually acceptable modalities for operational collaboration;

Under negotiation

  • the continued use of a pragmatic approach in the short term when possibilities for cooperation arise;

As required

  • exploration of the possibility of establishing an ILO bidding capacity.

By June 2000

(e) With the private sector, foundations and other non-traditional partners

The ILO will also endeavour to forge more effective partnerships with foundations, funds and private sector organizations without compromising the Organization's principles. The action to be taken will include:

  • a review of experience of cooperating with such partners;

Starting January 2000

  • the identification of potential partners for substantive cooperation in areas of interest to the ILO;

Starting December 1999

  • as part of the overall UN initiative to promote cooperation with the private sector, the use of the Turin discussions between the Prince of Wales Business Forum and the UN to identify opportunities for cooperation with the private sector;

Starting January 2000

  • the preparation of guidelines on private sector partnerships, funds and foundations.

Completed by December 2000


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