‘A trusted voice’ for social justice: Guterres celebrates 100 years of the International Labour Organization

World Bank/Samson Worker pruning fruit trees in South Africa.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


The International Labour Organization (ILO) has been “a trusted voice” to “ensure social justice in every corner of our world”, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday, at a high-level meeting to commemorate the centenary of what was the first ever United Nations agency.

The ILO was born out of the rubble of the First World War, as the victors met to draw up the Treaty of Versailles, where they affirmed the need for social justice in the service of a “universal and lasting peace”.

The UN chief painted a picture of a time of upheaval, when newly-emboldened labour unions in many parts of the world, demanded fair treatment, dignity at work, adequate wages and an eight-hour working day.

“The nations of the world knew they must cooperate to make it happen”, Mr. Guterres said, adding that despite being the oldest UN family member, “ILO remains to this day one of the most unique gathering spaces in the international system”, as well as “a source of strength and legitimacy”, where workers, employers and governments can seek solutions through dialogue.

“Through conflict and peace, democracy and dictatorship, decolonization and the Cold War, globalization and turbulence”, Mr. Guterres said that ILO has had its “finger on the pulse on people’s concerns”, and “played a central role in the struggle for social progress”.

Noting that now is “a time of profound uncertainty, disruption and technological transformation”, Mr. Guterres warned that “tremendous” labour market disruption lies ahead.

“Even the concept of work will change – and the relationship between work, leisure and other occupations” he continued. “We are not yet prepared for that”.

Since the digital economy operates in a world without borders, he stressed that “more than ever”, international institutions “must play a vital role in shaping the future of work we want”.

“Let us make the most of this pivotal anniversary to renew our collective commitment to international cooperation, peace and social justice”, concluded the Secretary-General.

ILO’s ‘transformative impact’ on society

General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa commended ILO for its many “firsts”, including “the need to give workers a stake in decision-making that matches their essential contribution to lasting peace and prosperity”.

“So, it is fitting that the General Assembly – the most representative body of the United Nations – celebrates the transformative impact of the ILO on the fabric of our societies, and on our daily lives” she said.

Citing decent work as one of her own priorities, she affirmed that it makes the UN “more relevant to people”, by demonstrating the “everyday impact of international agreements like the 2030 Agenda, and multilateral bodies like the ILO”.

Acknowledging ILO’s more than 180 conventions and implementation programmes “on everything from gender equality to forced labour”, she lamented that “injustice is still a reality for millions of people”, higlighting the predicament of child workers, forced labourers and those trafficked into prostitution.

“Over 40 million people today are victims of modern forms of slavery – more than twice the number involved in the transatlantic slave trade”, she said, commenting that 190 million people are unemployed; 300 million are working poor; and some two billion are engaged in informal work, “often without social protections”.

‘A time to reflect’ on ILO

Dubbing ILO “the most positive and enduring product of the Treaty of Versailles”, the Organization’s Director-General Guy Ryder called it “the first step in the construction of the multilateral system, and a forebearer of today’s United Nations”.

“It was empowered to negotiate and supervise the global rules of labour and to do so by the joint action of governments, workers and employers” he explained.

“ILO’s journey has not always been a straight path” he admitted. “From the outset the Organization has been tested by the turbulence of history and the economic and social realities of its times”.

“More than a cause of celebration, the Centenary that we commemorate today is a time to reflect on our purpose, and on the course we chart for the future”, he stated.

Noting “great uncertainty” surrounding multilateralism and “widespread disillusion” regarding social and economic progress, he said that “many citizens doubt the capacity of the leaders and institutions” to respond to their needs.

Mr. Ryder saw the first 100 years as “a prelude to the future we construct together now”, urging everyone to “set about that task with the same courage and urgency, and moved by the same sentiments of social justice and humanity which first gave life to the ILO”.

“History tells us what we can achieve”, he said. “But it also tells us what the cost of our failures would be”.

As part of the commemoration, a 24-hour marathon of events from Fiji to Philadelphia, is planned across the globe.     

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Professional practices of primary health care for Brazilian health and gender inequality

UN chief of peace operations honours fallen Chadian ‘blue helmets’ serving in northern Mali

European Investment Bank to borrow €70 billion in 2013

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

Anti-vaccination movement affecting youth in Europe

International Day of Cooperatives sets stage for long-standing production and consumption

Germany and France only care about keeping their borrowing cheap

Copyright: European Union , 2017; Source: EC - Audiovisual Service; Photo: Frank Molter

EU hits deadlock on the future of glyphosate a month before deadline

Indonesian tsunami death toll climbs over 400 as Government-led relief efforts are stepped up

In Tanzania, UN refugee chief praises ‘regional peacemaker’ role, and efforts to welcome neighbours on the run

The Swiss will pay dearly for voting out fellow Europeans

For Africa, ‘winds of hope are blowing ever stronger,’ Guterres declares at conference on development

Record-high number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan: UN Report

The UN’s unyielding effort to tackle sexual abuse and exploitation: our quarterly update

The challenges of Chinese investment in Latin America

State aid: Commission opens investigation into proposed public support for Peugeot plant in Spain

Revolutionary technologies will drive African prosperity – this is why

European Parliament approves new copyright rules for the internet

Euronest: delivering reforms is the best way forward for EU’s Eastern Partners

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

Every bite of burger boosts harmful greenhouse gases: UN Environment Agency

What the world will look like after the Iran and 5+1 deal; the US emerges as major power broker in Middle East

Deal on tightening the rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

Migrant caravan: UN agency helping ‘exhausted’ people home

These are the cities where people work the longest hours

Commissioner sings “Volar-e” but the European driver no “Cantar-e”

Why is the EU launching a doomed policy in stopping immigrant waves? What are the real targets?

The recipe for creativity involves a lot of ideas, and a short break

The decline of our oceans is accelerating, but it’s not too late to stop it

Aid funding for Occupied Palestinian Territories at ‘all-time low’

How will the NATO-EU competition evolve in the post Brexit era?

How to unleash the enormous power of global healthcare data

UN human rights office urges Egypt to immediately release detained protestors

A shocking new report reveals what we’ve done to the natural world

Want a fairer society? This economist says he has the answer

5 ways to #BeatAirPollution

China is winning the electric vehicle race

UN and partners call for solidarity, as Venezuelans on the move reach 4.5 million

Why AI will make healthcare personal

This start-up is making a palm oil alternative from used coffee grounds

Austrian Presidency priorities discussed in committees

These countries are pioneering hydrogen power

Implementation of EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey: EU mobilises €663 million in humanitarian assistance

Korea should improve the quality of employment for older workers

Half of the world’s population lack access to essential health services – are we doing enough?

DR Congo: ‘New waves of violence’ likely, UN warns, unless State acts to prevent intercommunal reprisals

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: the final sprint of the Final Agreement Negotiations

How to have a good Fourth Industrial Revolution

Now is the time to seize ‘unprecedented opportunity’ of the Sustainable Development Forum, says ECOSOC President

Afghans entitled to live ‘free from fear, intimidation’, says UN chief, condemning suicide attacks

Fighting cybercrime – what happens to the law when the law cannot be enforced?

This is where people work the longest – and shortest – hours

How Africa and Asia are joining forces on universal healthcare

At last a good price for the Greek debt!

Libya detention centre airstrike could amount to a war crime says UN, as Guterres calls for independent investigation

Africa must become more resilient to climate risk. Here’s how

Merkel: Nationalism and egoism must never have a chance again in Europe

EU Directive makes haircut on uncovered deposits a standard in bank bail-ins

These are the pitfalls of a cash-free society

Human rights breaches in Hong Kong, Russia and at the US-Mexican border

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s