Geneva/Canadian-Media: The 109th International Labor Conference (ILC) has opened, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Image credit: © M. Crozet / ILO
For the first time in its history the International Labor Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.
Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, was elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021. He described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.
“As it is often said, the International Labor Conference is the global parliament of labor, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work,” he said.
“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”
ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, welcomed the start of the ILC and the important role to be played by the newly-elected Conference President.
“After the unavoidable deferral of this session last year, I believe that all ILO constituents – Governments, Employers and Workers – shared a common determination that this Conference should go ahead at this time because we had essential work to do and because the institutional continuity of our organization depended very heavily upon it.”
“Mr President, by conducting this Conference successfully under your leadership, the ILO will be taking one more step, and a crucially important one, in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic which has devastated the world of work over the last year and a half, and in so doing will be making a crucial contribution to building forward better.”
Three Conference Vice-Presidents were also elected during the session: Chad Blackman of Barbados, representing the Government group; Ronnie Goldberg of the United States, representing the Employers’ group; and Annette Chipeleme of Zambia, representing the Workers’ group.
The session closed following the appointment of officers to the committees and working parties. It will reopen on 3 June, when most Conference committees will begin their work, and will run over a period of two and a half weeks.
The plenary will resume on 7 June and will be in session until 19 June.
Items on the agenda in June include a special outcome document on the ILO response to COVID-19 , the discussion of the reports of the Chairperson of the Governing Body and the Director-General, the ILO’s program and budget for 2022-23 , the recurrent discussion on social protection , and consideration of the reports on the application of labor standards during the pandemic and related country case discussions.
The second segment of the Conference will take place from 25 November to 11 December, with an agenda that includes thematic discussions on inequalities and the world of work, as well as skills and life-long learning.
#UN; #EconomicRecovery, #PoorerCountries; #VaccineIneqaulity
New York/Canadian-Media: Although the outlook for global growth has improved, the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as inadequate progress on vaccination in poorer countries, are putting recovery at risk, according to the latest UN economic forecast, published on Tuesday.
A woman in Guinea turns her sewing skills into mask-making during the COVID-19 crisis. Image credit: UNDP
The World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) mid-year report warned widening inequality is threatening global growth, projected at 5.4 per cent this year.
Vaccine access critical
The mid-year forecast updates the WESP report published in January by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
It examines the performance of the world economy since the pandemic began, as well as the impact of global policy responses and post-crisis recovery scenarios.
A mixed picture
The 5.4 per cent in projected global growth this year follows a sharp contraction of 3.6 per cent in 2020, and reflects an upward revision from the original forecast.
While the world’s two largest economies - China and the United States - are on the road to recovery, growth remains fragile and uncertain in several countries in South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Many countries will not see economic output return to pre-pandemic levels until 2022 or 2023.
“For a vast majority of developing countries, economic output will remain below 2019 levels for most of 2021”, the authors said. “Amid insufficient fiscal space to stimulate demand, many of these countries will face low and stagnant growth and the prospect of a lost decade.”
Trade strong but uneven
The report also details strong but uneven recovery in global trade, which has already surpassed pre-pandemic levels due to demand for electrical and electronic equipment, personal protective equipment, and other manufactured goods.
Economies which depend on manufacturing have fared better, however countries which rely on tourism, or commodities, are unlikely to see a quick rebound.
Tourism services in particular, will remain depressed due to slow lifting of restrictions on international travel, coupled with fears of new waves of COVID-19 infection.
Women hit hardest
The pandemic has pushed an estimated 114.4 million people into extreme poverty, with women accounting for around 58 million of that total.
The report found that while women have been at the forefront of the crisis--
representing most health workers, caregivers and essential service providers—they have also been the hardest hit in several ways.
During the pandemic, labour force participation shrunk by two per cent worldwide, compared to only 0.2 per cent during the global financial crisis in 2007-8, but more women than men were forced to leave their jobs to meet family demands. Women-owned businesses have also fared disproportionately worse, according to the report.
COVID-19 has also dealt sharp blows to services for women’s health, and reproductive health, and the disruption to education has helped undermine global progress towards gender equality. There has also been a spike in gender-based violence, which UN Women has labelled a “shadow pandemic.”
Ensure inclusive recovery
As women are also underrepresented in decision-making surrounding the pandemic, and in economic policy responses, the report highlighted why recovery must be inclusive.
“The pandemic has pushed nearly 58 million women and girls into extreme poverty, dealing a huge blow to poverty reduction efforts worldwide, and exacerbated gender gaps in income, wealth and education, impeding progress on gender equality”, said Hamid Rashid, Chief of the Global Economic Monitoring Branch at DESA, and the lead author of the report.