ILO in the Arab States
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is the only tripartite UN agency – bringing together government, employer and worker representatives to elaborate labour standards and policies and promote decent work in different parts of the world.
The ILO Regional Office for Arab States covers Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the UAE and Yemen. Two area offices are located in Kuwait and Jerusalem.
The ILO Regional Office for Arab States was established in Beirut in 1976, and re-opened after the end of the Lebanese civil war in 1995.
Several Arab states on the African continent are covered by the ILO Sub-Regional Office in Cairo including: Egypt, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
Mission and Objectives
The promotion of decent work throughout the region is the primary objective of the ILO Regional Office for Arab States. Decent work sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives: their aspirations for opportunity and income; rights, voice and recognition; family stability and personal development; fairness and gender equality. The focus of support to ILO constituents in the region is based on the following objectives:
- Supporting decent employment, sustainable growth and recovery
- Building adequate social protection systems and protecting people
- Strengthening International Labour Standards and workers’ rights
- Enhancing social dialogue and tripartism
- Promoting sustainable enterprises for job creation and retention
The main socio-economic challenges confronting Arab States are employment creation for a rapidly expanding labour force, the improvement of living and working standards, ensuring respect for the fundamental rights of workers, and the strengthening of social dialogue. The region has the highest unemployment rate in the world, with youth unemployment at almost four times the adult rate. In recent decades, Arab countries have also suffered from persistent inequality, poor social protection regimes, weak institutions for social dialogue, and a considerable decent work deficit.
In October 2009, representatives from governments and workers’ and employers’ organizations from 22 Arab countries gathered at the first-ever Arab Employment Forum and endorsed a regional agenda for action to mitigate the impacts of the global financial and economic crisis.
In line with the Global Jobs Pact, the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalization and the Arab Decade for Employment (2010-2020),the Arab Action Agenda for Employment constitutes the overarching framework for ILO interventions in the Arab region.
A tripartite technical committee was established with the support of the Arab Labour Organization and the ILO to advance the AEF Action Agenda, to promote social dialogue on employment issues, and to share knowledge and expertise between Arab countries. The AEF Tripartite Committee convened its first bi-annual meeting in Cairo in May 2010; and met for the second time at the Regional Conference on Social Dialogue in the Arab States in Rabat in December 2010.
The Regional Office has launched and consolidated strategic partnerships with a number of international and regional organizations and institutions including: the Arab Labour Organization (ALO), the Arab Trade Union Confederation (ATUC), the General Union of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture in the Arab states (GUCCIA), the Executive Bureau of the Council for Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs in the Gulf Cooperation Council States, the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia - ESCWA.