|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by France on Its Priorities for G-20 Presidency
At a Headquarters press conference today, Xavier Bertrand, the Minister of Labour, Employment and Health of France, outlined his Government’s priorities during its presidency of the G-20, which would emphasize strengthening the social dimension of globalization to ensure that the worldwide movement towards integration was better aligned with popular concerns for employment, prosperity and social security.
“Our citizens, who endure austerity measures put in place to reduce budget deficits, will not forgive if we ignore social dimensions,” he said, and thus, “the strengthening of social rights and access to employment must be part of durable solutions to the crisis”. In that vein, as the world slowly edged back from the precipice of recession, a major lesson learned was that while Governments must work harder to keep their financial houses in order, they must likewise remain keenly aware of social issues such as youth unemployment, overall job creation, social welfare and environmental protection.
Having just briefed an informal session of the General Assembly on France’s G‑20 priorities — the collective is set to meet in Cannes in November under the leadership of President Nicolas Sarkozy — Mr. Bertrand said his Government was working to ensure that there was a “convergence of action between an inclusive G‑20 and the United Nations”. The French presidency would emphasize employment and vocational training as the keys to ushering all nations out of the crisis.
During today’s meeting, Member States had encouraged the establishment of a working group on employment, which would participate in upcoming meetings of the G‑20, he said. Such a group could be based on or drawn from the work already under way by the Advisory Group on the Social Protection Floor, launched in 2010 by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and currently chaired by Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
He said that the working group could, among other things, address pressing social issues such as youth unemployment, the need for pension funds and other matters regarding the promotion of social rights. In all that was the need to include and draw on the expertise of international organizations such as ILO, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, the latter of which was set to increase its funding to social programmes by 21 per cent in the coming year.
In response to a question, Mr. Bertrand said that one of the main lessons of the global economic and financial crisis was that international organizations had a key role to play to collectively advance solutions. Indeed, fundamental rights, health education, social protections, pensions, sustainable development and green growth were all matters that should be tackled by the entire global community.
“The [G-20] is not a club,” he told another correspondent, adding that under France’s presidency, the Group would expand its cooperation. “It would be foolish to ignore other actors or stakeholders, including the United Nations,” he said.
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