ILO is a specialized agency of the United Nations

86th Session
Geneva, June 1998



Report of the Resolutions Committee

Committee report

Submission, discussion and adoption

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- The first item on the agenda this afternoon is the report of the Resolutions Committee, which is contained in Provisional Record No. 14.

I call on Mr Castillo Cardona, Chairperson and Reporter of the Committee, to submit his report.

Original Spanish: Mr. CASTILLO CARDONA (Government delegate, Colombia; Chairperson and Reporter of the Resolutions Committee) -- I have the honour of presenting for your approval the resolution adopted in our Committee on a strategy and activities to promote youth employment throughout the world.

For reasons of time this was the only one of the eight draft resolutions submitted to our Committee that could be discussed in depth in our sittings.

Throughout the world, the subject of youth employment is becoming a major concern for developed and developing countries alike. The entry of young people and of women into the labour market in search of economic opportunities and of ways of earning a living increases the total numbers seeking employment at a time when national economies, particularly the economies of developing countries, cannot absorb them.

The youth of many developing countries are setting up home at an increasingly early age, and thereby assuming responsibilities which, a few decades ago, they would not have envisaged until they were older. Young people are coming into the labour market without sufficient experience, and frequently with a low level of education because they have not completed schooling, or, if they have done so, without acquiring the skills necessary to do the jobs which are available. Frequently, when young people do get a job, they are subjected to exclusion, with low levels of social security protection, little job security and low wages. It is logical that, in many of these cases, young workers are very dissatisfied and frustrated by their situation. In countries and within social groups where the income of young people is not so sorely needed at such a young age, many leave their jobs and seek subsequently to re-enter the labour market.

The Committee has thoroughly analysed many of these aspects and, as a result, the resolution which I am submitting for your consideration is well-founded and identifies the responsibilities of governments, employers and workers towards our young people. The Committee would request the parties concerned to make a particular effort to adapt and adjust the educational system to the reality of the labour market, to facilitate the access of young people to this market, to support young people's organizations and their full participation in society, and to guarantee full protection for young workers.

Likewise, the resolution requests decisive action to be taken by the ILO to support policies promoting youth employment, to publicize such policies, to continue to conduct research in this area, to establish a database on the subject and to circulate information on successful experiences.

We are convinced that the subject of youth employment has a very important future in the ILO and will ultimately benefit governments, employers and particularly young workers and their organizations. It is therefore important that, in accordance with its mandate, the ILO should adopt policies and engage in activities which reconfirm its fundamental role in fashioning a world without exclusion which provides equal treatment and equal possibilities for all.

I would now like to comment on the nature and quality of the work carried out in the Committee.

It was not easy to find a point of agreement to which all three parties at the meeting could subscribe. However, the tolerance shown by the parties, the dialogue between them and a deep belief in democracy allowed us to overcome the difficulties without any of the parties feeling that they were negotiating away or surrendering their principles. I am happy to tell you that we reached agreement on the 84 amendments and many, many sub-amendments tabled without once having to proceed to a vote. Clearly, the three parties are well aware of the importance of this subject, the urgent need to find appropriate solutions to the problems it raises, and the fact that it is possible to deal with the subject on the basis of consensus, understanding and mutually shared interest and concern.

Therefore, I would particularly like to express my thanks for the spirit of cooperation between the representatives of governments, employers and workers that helped me to carry out my task. The cooperation of Mr. Servais and the Office team was very considerable, very prompt and very efficient. I shall always remember Mrs. Patricia O'Donovan and Mr. Steve Marshall, the Vice-Chairpersons of the Committee. They were stalwart champions of their own ideas and principles in defence of the cause of young people, each of them from their own standpoint. They have demonstrated that tripartite consensus and agreement is possible, necessary and indeed the only way to achieve progress.

Mr. MARSHALL (Employers' delegate, New Zealand; Employer Vice-Chairperson of the Resolutions Committee) -- The Employers' group is pleased that the Resolutions Committee has been able to complete one resolution on the important issue of youth employment for consideration by Conference.

We were of course disappointed that the speed at which the Committee worked did not permit the conclusion of a second resolution, particularly given that the second priority selected by the Committee was a proposed resolution considering another important and practical issue. That is the revision and reform of our processes and procedures in respect of the development and application of international labour standards.

The Employers' group was very appreciative of the support given to their proposed resolutions, particularly the support from the Government group. Their selection, as the first and second priorities of the Committee, confirmed our belief that both subjects are critically important, deserving of special and prompt attention by the Conference by the Governing Body and the Director-General.

Although we were unable to complete a resolution on labour standards, we were able to have a very useful general discussion on the subject. The record of this discussion in the Committee's Report will provide us all with a useful base resource in our ongoing endeavours to improve the efficiency of ILO activities and to enhance the credibility of the ILO by making it more responsive to members, ensuring its relevance in a rapidly changing world and confirming its commitment to the application of sound principles.

The resolution before us today will, the Employers' group believes, provide the Governing Body and the Director-General with guidance as to practical ways in which constituents can work towards improving the opportunities available to young people in their transition from education to the world of work.

We are all concerned at the serious situation, social and economic, that will come about if too many of today's or tomorrow's young people are not given the opportunity to reach their full potential in life.

The resolution highlights the importance of the application of policies for economic growth as the first critical need, recognizing the major role of international trade and foreign direct investment in this respect.

Similarly, the resolution recognizes the dependency of sustainable employment growth on governments creating the right conditions for a competitive and viable private sector and an efficient and effective public sector. While recognizing that the role of legislation and regulation in providing employment protection, the resolution also calls for member States to identify the obstacles to hiring young people and, where possible and desirable, to remove those obstacles.

Education and training are fundamental areas when considering the easing of that difficult transition from school to work. The resolution therefore addresses these issues in some depth, calling for greater cooperation between state authorities, employers, workers and their respective organizations in curriculum development and implementation, the design monitoring and assessment of qualifications systems, and the fostering of cooperative relationships with education providers.

The promotion of enterprise, entrepreneurship and self-employment among young people and the recognition of the role of small and medium-sized business is important in this regard.

One of the very positive benefits of globalization has been the increasing development of a global labour market, opening much wider employment opportunities for our young people.

With this in mind, the Employers' group is pleased to endorse the Committee's call for inclusion of an item for general discussion on youth employment on a future agenda of this Conference, and among other things the creation of a database on youth employment available for use by the constituents, as well as the dissemination of best-practice information and research on employment initiatives for youth.

The Employers' group would like to thank all the members of the Committee for their constructive approach to discussions, and in particular the Chairperson for his guidance. Special mention must be made of the professional support that was provided to the Committee by the secretariat.

The Employers' group commends the proposed resolution on youth employment to the Conference for adoption.

Ms. O'DONOVAN (Workers' delegate, Ireland; Worker Vice-Chairperson of the Resolutions Committee) -- The Workers' group fully supports the adoption of the report of the Resolutions Committee and the text of the resolution concerning youth employment.

As has been pointed out by our Chairperson, Mr. Castillo Cardona, the resolution concerning youth employment is the only one adopted by the Committee. The Workers' group deeply regrets that there was not a majority on the Resolutions Committee in favour of giving top priority to a resolution marking the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87). The Workers' group in the Committee had hoped that such a resolution would receive widespread support, as it would have presented an important opportunity to all the constituents of the ILO to reaffirm and renew their commitment to the most fundamental of all workers' rights -- the right to freedom of association. We hope that the fact that this did not happen will not be interpreted in any way as a lessening of support for this core Convention.

Even though the resolution concerning youth employment is the only one produced by the Committee, I believe that it is a significant contribution to the work of this Conference. The Workers' group in the Resolutions Committee recognized from the beginning the importance of this topic and worked constructively to build on the text of the Employers' resolution. Through the valuable process of tripartite discussion and negotiation, which this forum uniquely provides, the text of the resolution as adopted by the Committee is, I believe, a balanced text which takes fully into account the different perspectives of the tripartite constituents on this important topic. The Resolutions Committee had the benefit of an excellent presentation from Mr. Sengenberger, the Director of the ILO's Employment and Training Department, who informed the Committee of the important work of the ILO on youth employment and in particular on the Action Programme on Youth Unemployment. The findings of the policy studies and research undertaken by the Office provided some valuable insights and I believe ensured a very productive discussion in our Committee.

The resolution before you recognizes that youth employment is but one dimension of the global unemployment problem, which is experienced in different ways in all regions of the world. The resolution provides clear policy guidance to the tripartite constituents of the ILO on the topic of youth employment. The Workers' group wished to emphasize that education and training are integral to any effective strategy to tackle youth unemployment and that basic education and training must be freely accessible to all young people. We successfully introduced amendments to the text to cover these points.

The Workers' group in the Committee also sought to introduce into the resolution recognition of the diversity of the needs of young people and the need to focus in particular on disadvantaged youth. The experience in many of our countries is that the most successful training and employment programmes are those which are designed for and targeted at specific groups of young people, such as early school leavers, young women, youth from ethnic communities and youth from migrant families. I am very pleased that this concept is now contained in the resolution.

Operative paragraph 1 of the resolution contains a long list of issues on which governments, the ILO and its constituents are asked to act, both at national and at international level. It calls on all governments to implement a balanced economic growth strategy which will boost job creation. It further calls for more development assistance and technical cooperation for the poorer countries and recognizes the particular difficulties created for developing countries by structural adjustment programmes and the burden of international debt. Importantly, the resolution recognizes that supply-side measures are not sufficient on their own to solve the problem of youth unemployment.

The Workers' group was particularly concerned that some of the language in the original text of the resolution could be interpreted as implying the need to reduce the legislative and administrative protections in place for young workers. We are very pleased that the Committee accepted amendments from the Workers' group which stress the need for each country to develop a legislative and administrative framework to provide employment protection for young people; to reaffirm the relevance of ILO standards for the successful promotion of youth employments and to restate the importance of the right to freedom of association and protection against discrimination, particularly for young people.

The resolution underlines the importance of the ILO's activities on youth employment and conveys broad support for a further strengthening of its role. It calls for the creation of a database and the collection and dissemination of information on best practices in the area of youth employment initiatives. In operative paragraph 2 it urges the ILO to elaborate an international strategy for youth employment and to cooperate with other international organizations to ensure its effective implementation.

This resolution recognizes that young people, in both industrialized and developing countries, must be valued for their capacity to enrich the social, cultural, civic and economic life of all our countries. We all share the responsibility to ensure that this important resource is facilitated and encouraged to realize its full potential. If we fail to do that, we will all be the losers. Pushing back the tide of youth unemployment is one of the most effective ways of opening up opportunities for young people to play a positive and valuable role in society generally and in economic life in particular.

In conclusion, let me say a special word of thanks to Mr. Castillo Cardone, the Chairperson of our tripartite Committee, for his enduring patience and the calm and efficient manner in which he guided the proceedings of the Committee. Our appreciation in the Workers' group also goes to the governments which actively participated in the discussions. I would also like to thank Mr. Marshall and the Employers' group for their spirited presentation of the Employers' position, which was always challenging but I believe also open to persuasion and reaching an accommodation on important issues.

I would also like to record the appreciation of the Workers' group for the expert and highly skilled Office staff who worked with our Committee and ensured that the outcome of our joint efforts are reflected in this high-quality report which is before the Conference for adoption today.

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- The general discussion on the report of the Resolutions Committee is now open.

Mr. LIATO (Workers' delegate, Zambia) -- After two weeks of hard work by the Resolutions Committee, I must say we now have a good resolution covering youth unemployment.

There is no doubt that the resolution has addressed many issues including those in education and training which will be quite useful in dealing with the problem of youth unemployment in ILO member countries.

This problem of youth not having adequate education, training and employment may be a problem in many countries today, however, I wish to state here that it is a bigger problem in developing countries, especially those in Africa where I come from.

The situation in Africa is compounded by the economic reform measures our governments have embarked upon through structural adjustment programmes. These measures are characterized by major cuts in government expenditure, mainly in social services including education and training.

In their desperate attempt to minimize and reduce expenditure, they have cut jobs in the public sector, a move which has aggravated the unemployment situation, particularly for young people entering the labour market.

The other factor contributing to the difficulties of expenditure in the social sector is the debt problem in Africa. Governments are compelled to repay their debts at the expense of social services such as education, training and vocational counselling for young people. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that the resolution calls for an increase in assistance to poor countries in the fields of education and training in order to promote and prepare young people for meaningful employment.

May I take this opportunity to thank the chairperson, his two Vice-Chairpersons and all members of this Committee for having produced a balanced and positive resolution on youth employment.

Ms. WALSH (Workers' adviser, United States) -- The resolution on youth employment recognizes that although no single solution exists for the problems of youth unemployment, it is possible and necessary for the social partners and governments to take significant steps to brighten the job prospects for young people throughout the world. This tripartite resolution lays down a marker for these tasks, and it is not at all shy about recognizing and upholding the human rights and aspirations of young people.

Two weeks ago, ILO delegates personally witnessed the eloquence of children as they marched across the globe to our global meeting place, bringing us their banners and dreams and songs. They literally formed a moving tableau that moved so many of us, no matter how little or great our experiences were with these sessions of the International Labour Conference.

We recognize that sooner than we can imagine, those children will become the youth that our resolution addresses. The Workers' group wanted to be sure that the words we used showed our respect for these young people. We know that for them to participate in the economies of our world they must believe and feel that they too have a stake in it. After all, it will be their world long after we in this hall have left this place, so we were determined that this resolution should not focus on how young people can best serve and adapt to the market-place in what is increasingly a global jobs auction. It is young people themselves who must come first, and so we wanted the resolution's language to recognize their deepest, life-felt concerns, even as we recognize that no single resolution can or should say everything about youth.

The leader of the Global March told this body two weeks ago that poverty must not be used as an excuse to exploit children, and that goes for the youth that this resolution addresses. Indeed, in a few years those children will be the youth our resolution hopes to help find and retain meaningful work.

As the delegates of this session of the Conference walk these corridors, they cannot escape the sounds emanating from the sound recordings. These cries are powerful reminders to us all that human dignity is indivisible, and never is it more poignant than in the voices of children.

Our resolution recognizes that those youth who have just left behind their childhood have rights too -- the right to organize and freedom of association. Indeed, it would make no sense to adopt a resolution on youth the same year we start discussion on a child labour Convention, and the same year we have the Global March Against Child Labour and fail to recognize these basic rights.

The ILO did a careful study recently on the causes of youth unemployment, entitled The challenge of youth employment, and it notes that the basic cause of youth unemployment is insufficient aggregate demand rather than high youth wages or the size of the youth population. In other words, it is not their fault -- the fault does not lie with the young people.

The same study does not find a strict pattern in the relationship between male and female unemployment rates, but more often than not, women face higher youth as well as adult unemployment rates than men do, although this varies certainly from country to country. In my country, youth below the age of 19 continue to have the highest unemployment rate at 14.2 per cent, and that figure rises to more than 30 per cent for certain groups of youth -- and if I could correct a typographical error on page 6 of our Resolutions Committee report which omitted a decimal point -- the unemployment figure for youth under 24 years of age in the United States is 2.2 million young people.

Speaking of young people in my country, in the United States labour movement we have a programme that is primarily aimed at young people, it is called "Union summer". It is in its third year and it allows youth to work in voter registration drives, community coalition-building, and the organizing campaigns throughout the country.

The strength of this youth resolution is its tripartite character in calling for increased education and training to position youth best for society and the economy. All of us know the severe social consequences of unemployment. We know painfully the destructive ways powerlessness can be expressed. We do not want to leave youth detached and rudderless, without skills or prospects and without a stake in the social order. We do not want to leave them without hope. Our resolution seeks to commit the engines of society to training and education. It takes into account that all young workers are exploited in the absence of opportunities and labour rights. The resolution recognizes that young people need the freedom to associate and the right to organize.

Original Arabic: Mr. ABDELMONEIM (Government adviser, Egypt) -- The Egyptian delegation participated last week in the meetings of the Resolutions Committee. During those meetings we examined a large number of important draft resolution concerning issues which fall within the purview of the International Labour Organization and which reflect the interests and concerns of the three parties. The report of the Resolutions Committee to the International Labour Conference shows that the draft resolution concerning youth employment was one of the priority draft resolutions put before the Committee.

I should point out that the resolution submitted to the Conference by the Resolutions Committee differs from the one which was originally discussed by the Committee and submitted by the Employers' group. This draft resolution is the result of consensus and it highlights the dimensions of the problem of youth employment and the ways in which this problem can be tackled. I would also like to say that the discussions which took place in the Resolutions Committee were fruitful, and were held in an atmosphere of understanding and interaction amongst the three parties, thus making it possible for the Committee to adopt the draft. Many amendments to the resolution, in particular those tabled by the Workers' group, made it possible to achieve a balance in the wording of the resolution reflecting the priorities of the social partners and presenting their points of view with regard to the problem it causes and the ways in which it should be tackled.

The preliminary paragraphs of the draft resolution outline the difficulties which many countries have encountered as a result of restructuring programmes, and the adverse impact of these difficulties on providing training and education and creating job opportunities for young people. The resolution recognizes the fact that youth unemployment is one aspect of a more general and widespread problem: that of partial unemployment and underemployment. It reflects a serious economic situation which can only be improved if there is an acceleration of socio-economic growth and an increase in employment opportunities at the international level. The resolution also attaches particular importance to public and private education and vocational training, in order to help young people enter the labour market.

The resolution contains two paragraphs which clearly establish the ways and means with which the problem of youth employment can be tackled, and initiatives to be undertaken by governments, employers and workers, as well as by the Governing Body of the ILO, in order to overcome this serious problem which today affects the young people who will be the workers of tomorrow.

The Egyptian delegation therefore endorses the report of the Resolutions Committee and the resolution concerning youth employment. We hope it will be adopted by consensus, thus confirming the credibility and conscientiousness of the ILO in its approach to employment and unemployment in general and underemployment of young people in particular, and with a view to bringing about the development of the individual and of all of society.

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate Mr. Cardona, the Chairperson of the Committee, for the very positive way in which he guided the discussions.

I would like to thank Ms. O'Donovan, the Worker Vice-Chairperson, and Mr. Marshall, the Employer Vice-Chairperson, for their positive participation and the efforts which they made together with the Governments to bring about this result based on the consensus.

I would also like to thank the secretariat for the considerable efforts that they made. Without their efforts, we would not have been able to complete our work successfully.

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- We will now proceed to the adoption of the report and of the resolution submitted by the Committee.

I begin with the adoption of the body of the report. May I take it that paragraphs 1 to 282 are adopted.

(The report is adopted -- paragraphs 1 to 282.)

Resolution concerning youth employment

Original French: The PRESIDENT -- I would now like you to consider the adoption of the resolution concerning youth employment. If there are no objections, may I take it that the resolution on youth employment is adopted?

(The resolution is adopted.)

I would like to congratulate the Chairperson, the Vice-Chairpersons and all the members of the Resolutions Committee, as well as its secretariat, for the work that they have completed.

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