Full employment key to sustainable development, ministers declare at UN meeting

5 July 2006 –

Ministers at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva today adopted a Ministerial Declaration recognizing that full and productive employment and decent work for all as key elements of sustainable development for all countries, and therefore a priority objective of international cooperation.

The Declaration came after Ministers and Heads of Delegations from a diverse range of countries along with representatives from various UN and other organizations, gathered in Geneva to discuss how best to attain full and productive work.

“We recognize that full and productive employment and decent work for all, which encompass social protection, fundamental principles and rights at work and social dialogue, are key elements of sustainable development for all countries, and therefore a priority objective of social cooperation,” the Declaration stated.

“We reaffirm that an employment strategy which aims to promote full, freely chosen and productive employment as well as decent work for all with full respect for fundamental principles of rights at work under conditions of equity, equality, security and dignity should constitute a fundamental component of any development strategy.”

The strong statement by the Council followed ECOSOC’s President Ali Hachani’s (Tunisia) call for countries to seize upon the momentum generated by last year’s 2005 World Summit, where world leaders put the employment issue firmly back onto the world’s development agenda.

“We must now respond in an effective and innovative manner to the high expectations that have been raised by the Summit,” Mr. Hachani said, “by making decent work a global objective and a national reality.”

According to International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General Juan Somavia, the more than 20 per cent increase in official unemployment in the last 10 years and the accompanying growth of informal work as been accompanied by policies during the last decades that have tended to consider job creation as an outcome of macro policies, rather than a specific objective in itself. “Yet, when problems emerge and crises appear labour is the main adjustment factor,” he pointed out. “The real effect of these trends is that the dignity of work has been devalued.”

Today’s Declaration comes as ECOSOC, the UN’s principal body for coordinating and advancing development policy, holds its annual session which runs until 28 July.

ECOSOC coordinates the work of the 14 UN specialized agencies, 10 functional commissions and 5 regional commissions, receives reports from 10 UN funds and programmes and issues policy recommendations to the UN system and to Member States. The 54-member Council meets every year, alternating between New York and Geneva.

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