ILO Conference: Decent work against poverty and food crisis

More than 3,000 government, worker and employer leaders are to meet here from 28 May to 13 June for the annual Conference of the International Labour Organization (ILO) to discuss a wide range of issues including rural poverty reduction, the latest developments in labour rights and enhancing skills development. The annual meeting of the ILO will also consider strategic challenges in terms of obtaining decent work, as well as host a high-level panel discussion on 11 June on “Tackling the Food Crisis through investment, production and decent work”.

ILO Director-General Juan Somavia will provide delegates with an overview of ILO issues and concerns in an address on 9 June. The Director-General will present a new report on “Decent Work – Some Strategic Challenges Ahead” that examines the role of the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda in promoting balance and equity in a world at an economic, financial, social and environmental crossroads.

Among other special events, the plenary will mark the World Day Against Child Labour on 12 June under the theme “Education, the right response to child labour”.

The Conference will also elect new members to the ILO’s Governing Body on 2 June for its next three-year term, and discuss ways of strengthening the capacity of the ILO to assist its member States efforts to reach its objectives in the context of globalization, and enhance employment, social protection, fundamental rights and social dialogue, which are the four main pillars of Decent Work.
Working agenda

The Conference will discuss how to promote rural employment for poverty reduction, fundamental both to the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and the ILO’s Decent Work agenda. Approximately 3.4 billion people, slightly under half of the world’s population, now live in rural areas.

In another general discussion, delegates will examine recent trends in skills development and forward-looking skills policies fostering a ‘virtuous circle’ in terms of higher productivity, more employment of better quality, income growth and development.

The Conference Committee on the Application of Standards will consider information and reports supplied by governments on the effect given to ILO Conventions and Recommendations. The Committee normally discusses some 25 cases of the application of standards by individual countries. The Committee will also have a special sitting to examine forced labour in Myanmar.

The Committee will discuss a general survey on the social dimension of public procurement and review ways to promote social sustainability of public procurement, and how ILO Convention No. 94 on Labour Clauses can be used to this end.

The Conference Plenary will discuss the ILO’s new Global Report on freedom of association on 6 June. The report, “Freedom of Association in practice: Lessons learned”, says that despite a global trend towards wider recognition of civil rights, millions of workers and employers around the world still lack fundamental rights. The report is issued under the follow-up of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998.

During the discussions in the plenary, tripartite delegates will address the latest ILO report on the situation of workers in the occupied Arab territories.

The role of the International Labour Conference is to adopt and oversee compliance with international labour standards, establish the budget of the Organization and elect members of the Governing Body. Since 1919, the Conference has served as a major international forum for debate on social and labour questions of worldwide importance.

The Conference is expected to draw more than 3,000 delegates including labour ministers and leaders of workers’ and employers’ organizations from most of the ILO’s 181 member States. Each member country has the right to send four delegates to the Conference: two from government and one each representing workers and employers, each of whom may speak and vote independently.

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