Thank you Chair. I speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The Candidate Countries the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Georgia align themselves with this Statement.
As we expressed in our opening statement: we attach great value to the Social Justice Declaration, particularly because it has very well spelled out the integrated approach to Decent Work, as a political agenda whose approach remains valid today.
The fact that the SDGs have incorporated so many references to parts of the Decent Work Agenda can already be considered as one of the achievements of the Social Justice Declaration. Nowadays none of us can imagine talking about challenges in the field of social affairs and employment without referring to the concept of Decent Work. This is why we should focus on more practical issues: How can we use the Declaration as a means of engagement with our partners? How can we tailor technical assistance to really unleash the synergies between the different pillars of the Decent Work Agenda? How can we have substantive and results-oriented discussions during the International Labour Conference on this?
The Social Justice Declaration is also implemented by regional organizations. In the European Union, explicit references to Decent Work and its components are made in amongst others the EU's social, human rights, employment, trade, development, public procurement and neighborhood strategies.
As the ILO is a standard-setting organization, there is the issue of a slowdown in the number of ratifications of fundamental and governance Conventions. After successful ratification campaigns there seem to have occurred obstacles impeding additional national ratifications that need to be overcome. The EU strongly supports that the universal ratification and implementation of these conventions remains an objective, and in fact we actively promote this through the EU trade and development policies. Now the ILO and its constituents must also look to extend the impact of Decent Work in practice.
Pivotal for this is political support. We should invest in a more structured and strategic debate around decent work and make better use of the Decent Work Country Programs to achieve decent work for all. Now that Decent Work is part of the Agenda 2030, we need to build awareness about the full content of Decent Work, including the social dialogue pillar and what all four pillars concretely mean.
The fact that most action (at least in development strategies) has focused on employment and social protection should, however, not be taken per-se as a worrying sign. Given the tremendous differences between national socio-economic contexts, we need to recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach to Decent Work is not feasible. Social exclusion factors and inequalities need to be identified for each case and their tackling must be mainstreamed in any country programme. Moreover, social dialogue is an important instrument to achieve goals relating to employment and social protection, and compliance with core labor standards are conditions sine qua non. Equally, social protection is a mechanism pivotal to support equitable and inclusive growth, which can improve social stability and in turn support the establishment of a business environment fertile for decent work. We feel that more could be done to show that an integrated approach to decent work is more efficient and yields better results.
We believe that future efforts should be based on the steps embedded in Part II of the Declaration, which remain crucial for encouraging the Member States to work actively towards the achievement of the strategic goals, enshrined in the Declaration, with the support of the ILO. We would expect that support from the ILO will take into account the interplay and synergies between the different aspects of the Decent Work Agenda and we would hope that the ILO could provide tailor-made advice to members on this. We would also like to hear from the Office what they need from Member States to be able to fulfill this role and to share how recent reform efforts have impacted on the Office delivering (as one) on the Decent Work Agenda
We can learn much from one another. We do think that the Secretariat and in particular its research department, could do more to bring interesting and scalable Decent Work initiatives to the attention of Member States. The introduction of Decent Work indicators under the SDGs might be a good reason to rethink how progress on Decent Work can be supported and informed. We would like to recall the EU-ILO project in this respect. Regional ILO Conferences might perhaps play a role in more substantive debates and exchanges on the basis of good practices, but also the recurrent item discussions could/should be tailored in a way that would allow for more interaction and exchange, possibly by involving other relevant international organizations or experts.
To conclude: we feel that the Social Justice Declaration has certainly had an impact by reinforcing and operationalizing the Decent Work Agenda. We will now have to look at how particularly the follow-up under the Declaration can be strengthened to promote the integrated approach to Decent Work mentioned in the Declaration in practice, within the context of ongoing globalization.
Thank you Chair.
*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.