EU Global Strategy

ILC 105 - EU Statement - Committee on Advancing Social Justice - Reviewing the impact of the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization – Opening Statement

Geneva, 30/05/2016 - 09:00, UNIQUE ID: 160721_1
Statements on behalf of the EU

International Labour Conference - 105th session (30th May – 10th June 2016) - Committee on Advancing Social Justice - Reviewing the impact of the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization – Opening Statement

Thank you Chair. I speak on behalf of the EU and its Member States. The Candidate Country the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, Serbia* and Albania*, and the EFTA country Norway, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, and Georgia align themselves with this Statement.

Let me first congratulate you, Chair, on your election as Chairperson of this Committee. Our congratulations also go to the representatives of the social partners who have been elected as vice-chairs and with whom we will be working closely together over the next two weeks.

The EU and its Member States welcome this opportunity to review the impact of the Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization, one of the key Declarations of this Organization.

The Social Justice Declaration is an important political expression of support for the Decent Work Agenda and its four, interrelated strategic objectives. Furthermore, it is a Declaration that is action-oriented, with a follow-up and evaluation of its impact already enshrined in its annex. 

The Decent Work Agenda serves as important guidance for the EU and its Member States.

The EU strives to ensure that inclusive economic growth and development go hand in hand with social justice, human rights, including core labour standards, and sustainable environmental practices and policy frameworks. This objective is at the core of the EU 2020 Strategy and of several key EU policies in the areas of trade and development. In short: we seek to promote the Decent Work Agenda both within the European Union and in the EU's external policies.

We very much welcome that the ILO and the Decent Work Agenda feature prominently in the Agenda for Sustainable Development that offers a renewed opportunity to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice and address climate change by 2030.  The attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without the translation of the Decent Work Agenda into national policies. Whilst the importance of Decent Work for development will be discussed in the Plenary - based on the report of the Director-General - we will in this committee evaluate and seek to strengthen the impact of the Social Justice Declaration. We believe that the Declaration offers the perfect framework for the ILO contribution to the Agenda 2030. We do hope of course, that synergies between both discussions, as well as with the other committees of the ILC can be achieved.

Since the effective implementation of the Declaration is not only a matter of appropriate actions by the ILO and its members, the EU highly appreciates the high-level exchange with representatives from international and regional organizations being part of this review. We really feel this can add to the debate, articulating additional voices, as well as helping the  ILO in its own developments. Moreover this exchange is also a means of promoting the impact of the Decent Work agenda through the actions undertaken by these organizations.

The Social Justice Declaration was adopted at a critical moment in time and at the start of a prolonged economic crisis with severe effects on social and employment policies worldwide. We feel that the political part of this declaration is still as relevant today as in 2008. It reaffirms the mandate of the ILO and the relevance of the Decent Work Agenda in the current economic reality that is characterized by profound structural transformations of the world of work and underlines that violation of fundamental principles and rights at work cannot be used as comparative advantage for trade purposes. This remains one of the main objectives of the ILO.

This is not to say that we do not see areas for improvement, but these lie mainly with the operationalization of the Declaration, and relate inter alia to:

  1. The active role of the ILO, the Office and its constituents in promoting this Declaration;
  2. The planning and set up of recurrent item discussions; and
  3. The way in which we best meet Members’ needs in fulfilling the potential of this Declaration.

We look forward to discussing these and other issues under the heading of the four broad discussion themes over the next few days. We expect that this will probably lead to a short resolution reaffirming the relevance of the Declaration, with an annex or a set of conclusions that spell out specific actions that can be undertaken to better promote the Declaration and to render work under the follow-up more impactful and effective. In this we hope that we can differentiate  between our goals, our priorities and our means or instruments.

The timing for this ILC discussion is excellent. With discussions coming up on a new Strategic Policy Framework, biennial program and budget and the preparations for the centenary whilst at the same time taking a more longer-term perspective on Decent Work and development during this Conference, we really have the opportunity to identify a number of priority actions that can be undertaken to make this Declaration a true vehicle to promote Decent Work and ensure that the ILO serves its constituents.

With that, Chair, I would like to close, but not without wishing you and all committee members fruitful discussions over the next few days.


*The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

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