GENEVA (ILO News) - The Director-General of the International Labour Office has called on multilateral organizations and people everywhere to join in a global campaign for the eradication of the worst forms of child labour.
Delivering an introductory statement at the opening of the high level segment of the 12 th meeting of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) this morning in Geneva, Mr. Juan Somavia said that "in a world truly lacking in causes to defend, the fight against the worst forms of child labour is a cause around which everyone can rally." "I invite everybody", he added, "to become part of this global effort."
Discussing international strategies to eradicate poverty, promote productive employment and achieve gender equality, Mr. Somavia outlined three proposals. "First, we need to ensure that markets work for everybody (...). The benefits of the global economy seem to be blocked somewhere and are not reaching enough people", he said warning that, as a result, the entire process ran the risk of losing legitimacy in the eyes of the public, in spite of its enormous potential for generating wealth. It is essential, he suggested, that more attention be paid to the manner in which markets and societies interact.
Secondly, said Mr. Somavia, "we have reached the limit of the search for sectoral solutions to integrated problems." Policy today, he explained, "is organized sectorally". But society, like the human body, is an integrated whole. Pointing to the sectoral efforts to design a new international financial architecture and a comprehensive development framework, to the new round of trade negotiations about to begin, to the new UNCTAD Conference, to the follow-up process to the United Nations Conferences in Copenhagen and Beijing, to the up-coming Millennium Assembly and to the ILO's promotion of "decent work", Mr. Somavia stated that "the sum of these activities does not produce a whole." We need an integrated analytical framework, he said, based on the decisions reached at the large UN Conferences of the 1990s.
Third, he said, "we must expand the notion of productivity beyond economics." Defining domestic work, voluntary work, and the free use of the environment as "hidden subsidies", which are not acknowledged statistically and not costed, Mr. Somavia called for the development of a "wider framework for the notion of productivity. We need a framework for social productivity. How do you measure gender mainstreaming? How do you measure the protection of the environment, the recognition of basic rights or the participatory process?", he asked. "It is totally impossible to have a notion of economic productivity that is not incorporated with the notion of the stability of a society."
The worst forms of child labour continue to exist, in part because "we do not have an integrated approach to zero in on that issue(...). If the multilateral system is to work together on something, why don't we choose the eradication of the worst forms of child labour as a cause that we can all embrace?", Mr. Somavia proposed. "This is not just an issue for the multilateral system. This is a cause around which everybody in the world can gather", he concluded.