7 July 2010
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference on International Labour Organization’s Global Jobs Pact


As the world continued to adjust to changed circumstances in the wake of the economic and financial crisis — sluggish economic growth, tight-fisted lenders and wary investors — a senior International Labour Organization (ILO) official suggested at Headquarters today that Governments seize the opportunity to craft policy measures to boost incomes, create new jobs and provide broad social protection.


“The crisis provides good momentum to revise the global development system so that it prioritizes social protection and investment in job creation,” said Assane Diop, Assistant Director-General and Executive Director of ILO’s Social Protection Section, said at a press conference on the Global Jobs Pact initiative, created to help realize the Millennium Development Goals amid the economic and financial crisis.


Mr. Diop said that, unless more forceful and targeted decisions were taken immediately to accelerate employment recovery in step with an economic pick-up, the worldwide job shortage could linger even as the economic and financial crisis began to ease.  The Global Jobs Pact, a policy instrument adopted by the International Labour Conference in 2009 to address the social and employment impact of the economic crisis, had been one of the key topics of a panel discussion in which Mr. Diop had participated as part of today’s coordination segment of the Economic and Social Council’s 2010 substantive session on the theme “Operationalizing the United Nations system’s short- and long-term responses to the economic and financial crisis:  Progress towards implementing the Social Protection Initiative and the Global Jobs Pact”.  (See Press Release ECOSOC/6437.)


“Just before the crisis, we lived in a world of rich countries that were growing richer while poverty was growing elsewhere,” Mr. Diop said, stressing that some 80 per cent of people — large swaths of populations in emerging and developing economies — were without social protections.  In those countries, inadequate social services and precarious employment were “the rules of the game”.  After the meltdown in the financial markets, he continued, the world had become one of “doubts”, and as labour markets had begun collapsing and financial institutions closing their doors, the international community had learned that countries with solid social protection schemes were the ones weathering the downturn and beginning to see glimmers of recovery.


It was in such a context that the ILO had elaborated and presented the Global Jobs Pact, he said.  Indeed, it was now well known that sustainable development for all would never be achieved unless quality jobs and long-term employment were created on a regular basis.  Such job-creation policies must focus on youth employment and training, and be backed up with strong social protection measures, he said, especially steps for realizing the Millennium Development Goals.


The ILO was pleased to see that countries like El Salvador and Argentina had developed job creation strategies based on the Global Jobs Pact and the social protection floor, said Mr. Diop, who was accompanied by Carlos Acevedo Flores, President of the Banco Central de Reserva of El Salvador, who had also participated in the panel discussion.


Highlighting several of his Government’s socio-economic polices, Mr. Acevedo said the new Administration had taken office at the height of the crisis and had immediately begun working hard to tackle social issues.  One of its first moves had been to stabilize the economy in such a way as to preserve jobs, create new ones and promote social protection.  The Government had also launched a five-year medium-term development plan, as well as a “horizon plan” (through 2024) on social and economic development.  Most of the policies to overcome the crisis were fully consistent with United Nations-backed initiatives such as the Global Jobs Pact, he added.


Mr. Acevedo went on to say that among the unique features of those plans was the inclusion of legislation on holding broad social dialogues among all sectors of society whenever any laws or policies were under consideration.  That was a sure way to promote an effective democracy, he said, adding that his Government was committed to jump-starting growth and ensuring quality jobs, especially since El Salvador had been hit hard by the crisis and its economy was expected to grow by only 1 or 2 per cent this year.


Responding to questions, Mr. Acevedo said the main short-term goal of the Government’s plan was to cushion society from the crisis’ fallout.  The employment sector had been struggling and the poverty rate had skyrocketed to levels similar to those seen during the 1990s.  In addition, El Salvador now had the world’s second highest rate of violent crime after Iraq, most of it perpetrated by unemployed and disaffected youth, he said, stressing that it was clear that job creation and employment were a priority and the Government was pressing ahead to that end.


Mr. Diop said that, while El Salvador was the Global Jobs Pact’s first pilot programme, the ILO was also working with Argentina and Brazil, while negotiating with South Africa and other African nations.


Asked about the Pact’s criteria, he said the ILO was open to working with any country, and that a volunteering Government must evince a willingness to implement its aims.  The ILO would work with national authorities, as well as civil society on implementation.  There was a need to invest in the real economy and target youth employment as a high priority.  The agency would also work with countries to mobilize resources and build capacity for job creation, he said, adding that the ILO was keen to cooperate with Governments and other United Nations agencies to help countries bolster social protections for women, elderly people and others.


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For information media • not an official record