What’s on the agenda at this year’s International Labour Conference?

Janine Berg, Senior Economist

Greg Vines, ILO Deputy Director-General for Management & Reform

The 105th Session of the International Labour Conference gets under way in Geneva, Switzerland from 30 May – 10 June. Here’s a primer on the main issues that will be discussed.

Progress on poverty

Poverty rates have been falling steadily for over two and half decades, but a new ILO report shows that the rate of progress has slowed significantly. In fact, in some developed countries, poverty levels have even begun edging upwards since the economic crisis.

The issue of poverty will take centre stage when Director-General Guy Ryder rises to the podium during the opening session of the ILC (30 May) to deliver his annual report.

His message: without a concerted effort to create more and better jobs, the goal of eradicating global poverty by 2030 could be out of reach.

Decent work in global supply chains

A general discussion on global supply chains will offer a unique opportunity for the ILO’s constituents to better understand how engagement on the issue could contribute to sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, employment and decent work for all.

In addition to the general discussion, a special event on World Day Against Child Labour (June 8) will explore how a deeper understanding of global supply chains can help contrast child labour.

The future of work

The world of work is in the throes of rapid transformation. New technologies, shifting demographics and the blurring distinction between production and employment are just a few of the forces driving this change.

At last year’s ILC, Guy Ryder launched the “Future of Work Initiative” with the goal of better understanding these challenges and their implications for ILO’s mandate to advance social justice.

This year, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann will address the Opening Session of the ILC with an appeal to help prepare the world’s economies for the changes in store.

Youth employment

Youth unemployment rates have plateaued at the unacceptably high level of 13 per cent. At that rate, roughly two in five young people in the labour force are either unemployed or working but living in poverty.

The situation is especially dire for young migrant workers, who are all too often the victims of deceit and exploitation.

The World of Work Summit (June 9) will feature a discussion on youth unemployment, with the floor being given to youth to voice their aspirations and fears in today’s labour market. High-level speakers will also intervene during the course of the day, including European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Zambian President Edgar Lungu.

Decent work for peace, security and disaster

As armed conflicts continue uprooting families and destroying lives, while climate change threatens ever more frequent natural disasters, the importance of decent work to a safer, more resilient world has never been clearer.

With this in mind, a general discussion on decent work for peace, security and disaster will revisit the Employment (Transition from War to Peace) Recommendation, 1944 to determine how this historic labour standard should be updated with modern humanitarian crises in mind.

ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization

In 2008, as the turmoil of the global financial crisis was just beginning, the 97th International Labour Conference adopted the landmark ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization—a powerful affirmation of the ILO’s values and role in the creation of a more equitable global economy.

This year, the International Labour Conference will review the impact of that Declaration and of the both the ILO and its member states’ commitments towards advancing decent work and social justice.

The tip of the iceberg

As anyone who’s been to the ILC will tell you, it’s impossible to sum up in a list of six points. But you can still get a sense for what it’s like to be there by following along on social media.

The hashtag on Twitter is #ILC2016 (#CITrabajo and #CITravail in Spanish and French). On Facebook, look out for live interviews with the experts, which we’ll be hosting almost daily for the full duration of the conference.

Questions or comments? Share a tweet with the hashtag and be sure to let us know.

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