Towards a new social justice coalition: Geneva Peace Week event explores the role of international labour standards in sustaining peace
Workshop on "Promoting international labour standards and decent work for social justice, peace and resilience".
This year’s Geneva Peace Week featured a workshop event on 3 November 2022, organised by the ILO’s Coordination Unit for Peace and Resilience in partnership with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and the Geneva Graduate Institute’s Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding.
Entitled “Promoting International Labour Standards and Decent Work for Social Justice, Peace and Resilience”, the event was part of the Geneva Peace Week’s thematic track on “Rights, Inequalities and Peace.” It featured the ILO’s Karen Curtis, Chief of the Freedom of Association Branch in the Labour Standards Department, together with Ayuba Wabba, ITUC President and National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, and Lindiwe Sephomolo, Chief Executive Officer of the Association of Lesotho Employers and Business.
Together with a diverse set of workshop participants, the panellists engaged in lively discussions centred around ILO Recommendation 205 on Employment and Decent Work for Peace and Resilience, a landmark international labour standard adopted in 2017. Panellists agreed that a multi-stakeholder approach to dealing with settings affected by crises, as championed by the Recommendation, provides legitimacy to state and societal institutions, and is essential for social dialogue to play its role in prevention and preparedness, conflict management, as well as post-conflict recovery and reconciliation.
The premise that social justice is essential to universal and lasting peace calls on us all to proactively champion decent work."
Themes discussed in detail included the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on social protection floors in conflict and disaster settings, as well as the linkages between sustaining peace, climate change adaptation policies and effective social dialogue. It was emphasized that vulnerabilities in the labour market make those most affected by crisis shocks even more vulnerable, exacerbating inequalities and grievances.
Employers have convening power… and businesses can be mediators in times of conflict."
In times of crisis, panellists agreed, international labour standards ensure employment promotion, social cohesion and the conditions for decent work. Given their convening power, social partners play a key role in disseminating information, promoting negotiation and offering guidance on implementation of these standards in their respective national contexts.
We need a new social contract and a new dialogue of peace to replace the narrative and consequences of militarisation and strategic competition."
Ultimately, today's global peace-and-security challenges require a new social contract and a social justice coalition, based on social dialogue, that will champion labour rights, promote productive jobs with minimum living wages, and that will encourage just transition measures towards greener, resilient and climate-neutral economies and societies that bear in mind the needs of workers and employers in a peace-responsive manner.