Thank you, Chair.
I am speaking on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
I would like to begin by congratulating you on your appointment as Chair of this Committee and wish you success in guiding our deliberations. Our congratulations also go to both representatives of the social partners elected as vice-chairpersons.
We thank the Office for the excellent report and the proposed Conclusions put forward for discussion during this Committee. We appreciate as well the efforts made by the Office to prepare this Committee through informal consultations among the constituents.
We fully support this timely initiative, also in the context of the global refugee crisis affecting millions of people worldwide. In recent years the frequency and severity of natural disasters and conflict have increased, affecting in particular people living in poverty. This longer trend is likely to continue given the impacts of climate change and root causes that exacerbate poverty, fragility and vulnerability; according to estimates, 25% of the global population is living in conflict-affected or fragile States. In many cases these protracted crises are at the origin of terrible human tragedies.
It is fundamental to discuss concrete guidance for measures to improve the resilience of societies and economies affected by crises. The extension of the scope of the existing ILO Recommendation N°71 to ILO-related fields of action in crisis situations arising from conflict and disaster will help to better address their impact on societies.
The ILO, by its mandate and past work, is a legitimate actor that can provide an indispensable contribution to the existing international responses to crises. In recent years, unemployment has affected large groups of the population, especially 40 percent of the global youth population, and was often seen as a trigger to social unrest contributing to major conflicts. As such fighting poverty, addressing inequalities and fostering decent job creation to establish inclusive economic systems are surely all part of the solution when planning for short, medium and long term economic and social development.
The EU and its Member States, belonging to the main global providers of humanitarian relief and development assistance, have been facing emergency situations themselves and have thus acquired relevant experience that we hope could be beneficial to the discussions. We could share in this regard our findings of the EU approach to resilience and the EU approach to forced displacement and development. We strongly believe that better linking humanitarian assistance and investment in longer term development goals, is key to improve resilience and help societies withstand crises, in order to deliver sustainable solutions to populations most in need, and hopefully, to breaking the cycle of conflicts. In addition, social protection and social dialogue remain important factors to strengthen resilience.
The global "refugee crisis" is a source of major concern to us. It also strongly affecting Europe. ILO’s role in this respect is essential in order to provide guidance to host countries, on policies for labour market integration of refugees, so that the skills of refugees, alongside those of the host communities, are used to their full potential, specifically including young people. Besides access to housing, healthcare, education, also an assessment and recognition of skills and qualifications, training, as well as early access to the labour market for those who are granted a status and thus remain in the host country, are necessary. For that reason we appreciate having the opportunity to discuss, reflect and learn from other constituents about specific measures aimed at the inclusion of refugees that respect human dignity and international human rights, within the framework of the ILO mandate.
The discussion on the integration of refugees in labour markets and society is of particular importance and relevance. We look forward to the ILO tripartite expert meeting on this subject to take place in July. The proposed associated measures aimed at providing support to host communities and offering income generation opportunities for all are very welcome. The principle of solidarity at national, regional, and international level is crucial in order to alleviate the burden borne by some countries.
We are looking for a revised instrument that will provide very practical guidance to constituents, stimulating them to take the appropriate steps in a context of emergency and fragility, while respecting international law. Priorities should include a prominent role for host governments, tailored approaches to local contexts, and strong support to small businesses and to the establishment of inclusive business climates. They should also ensure a gender and child-sensitive approach, foster self-reliance for forcibly displaced persons, including internally displaced persons, ensure protection of livelihoods and income and prevent conflict of interest with host communities.
We would particularly strive to agree on measures fitting the ILO mandate and making sure that these are coordinated with the United Nations agencies and other Regional and International Humanitarian organizations and responses.
Inclusive, sustainable and equitable growth, as well as decent work and fundamental principles and rights at work should be at the centre of the ILO strategy to address crises and disaster resilience. Investing in institutions, building the rule of Law and developing civil society should be as well building blocks to prevention as well as long-term responses to crises.
We believe that the gender perspective is important to our discussion when shaping the Recommendation, knowing that women face multiple disadvantages in crisis situations. In order to build inclusive and peaceful societies in the aftermath of crisis it is also important to promote women’s economic recovery and access to resources. This calls for a comprehensive and multidimensional approach taking into account this specific dimension.
We look forward to working together with the Chair and to the Office guiding our work as well as with other governments, employers’ and workers’ representatives to fulfil our tasks in the Committee, and we will put all our effort into contributing to a fruitful discussion.
Thank you Chair