- 286th session -

Committee on Employment and Social Policy

Item 1: : Review on the core elements of the Global Employment Agenda

Remarks by Mr. Petru DUMITRIU, the Governmental Delegation of Romania

Geneva - 18-19 March 2003

Mr. Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of Belarus, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia and Montenegro, and Slovenia.

1. We would like to start by thanking the Secretariat for the excellent work done in preparing the paper on the Global Employment Agenda, based on the contributions from its own staff and intellectual resources, and taking into account previous discussions in the Governing Body, as well as the consultations with various groups, including the Central and Eastern European Group.

2. On a very general note, we believe that the elaboration and the discussion over this paper is highly relevant at a time when the situation of the world economy indicates that one of the most immediate effects of the economic recession is inflicted upon the employment, both in quantitative and in qualitative terms. From that perspective, the Global Employment Agenda should attempt not only to generate enhanced awareness and a better place for employment at the heart of economic and social policies, but also a sense of immediacy in terms of catalyzing efficient action and shared responsibilities by governments and social partners.

3. We appreciate the quality of the paper and its comprehensive nature. By and large, we also find the ten core elements quite appropriate in profiling the Global Employment Agenda. As to the grouping of the ten elements in relation with the economic environment and the labor market, otherwise very useful, we believe that a more adequate positioning of the elements may come from the assessment of the degree to which the mandate and specificity of ILO may make them even more relevant.

With respect to the seven "pillars", we believe that we may want to continue using them as reference principles, but further debates ought to be focused on the core elements.

4. There are some important aspects in the paper on which we would like to comment:

I. The human perspective

We support the emphasis on the distinction between the functioning of the labour markets as compared with other markets, in particular as to the human motivations, the decency of work, as well as the profound social implications of any major shift in employment and social security. This assessment is very much in line with new findings of economists. The most recent Nobel-prize winners for economics were awarded for works that increasingly identify new perspectives on the functioning of markets. Thus, Daniel Kahneman was prized for "a theory that can capture behavioral patterns in human decision better than traditional economic theory" and Vernon Smith for "experiments on the interaction among individuals and markets". The human perspective should be therefore a constant concern in our own work and in relation with other organizations.

II. The regional dimension

We welcome the insertion in the draft paper of the conclusion of the rapporteur of the Global Employment Forum on regional groupings. However, we believe that the issue of the effects of regional integration on labour markets, labour rights, competitiveness, investments, needs a much deeper analysis. Further discussions in future should take into account in particular the unprecedented changes that are taking place in Europe.

III. The employment consequences of policy choices

We fully converge with the essential proposal made by ILO while envisaging global alliances, based on the need to examine the employment consequences of policy choices and options of the international financial and other institutions. In that specific context, the call for policy integration is fully justified. Indeed, ILO should use its resources to persuade policy-makers to confer a more central role to employment as a concern in examining economic and social policies to follow.

IV. Democracy and good governance

Although the paper makes reference, here and there, to corruption, lack of adequate accountability or non-transparent policies, no prominent place is given to overarching notions like democracy, good governance and participation. We believe that these elements should be, however, fundamental pre-requisites in implementing a Global Agenda for Employment. Such an understanding will not only respond to the spirit that lies behind the Millenium Development Goals, but also to the lessons that the economic and social realities try to teach us.

V. Implementation of the Agenda

We hold that the paper we may want to adopt is just a first important step to describe the need for governments, social partners and other actors to re-orient policies so as to render them more employment friendly. We need to have this appeal easily understood by its addressees. The message that the Global Agenda for Development will carry upon should be concise and clear. That is why we would suggest that the agenda be preceded by an executive summary with clear and sharp language as to make it punchy and action oriented.

In the follow up, the main criterion of assessing the merit of the Agenda should be just its capacity to create an impact in policy making and in the real life. Any progress review on the implementation of the agenda should identify and consolidate those directions that may turn a conceptual agenda into a working one.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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