ILO Launches a Flagship Course for Social Partners to Boost Interaction with UN System

On 8-24 September 2021, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Training Center in Turin (ITCILO) organized an online training for social partners under the title of “Making the voices of social partners count in UN processes”. The course sought to build the capacities of the social partners in the sub-region to actively participate in the UN reform processes at the national level and meaningfully contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

News | 25 September 2021

The reform of the United Nations (UN) was initiated in 2017 by the UN Secretary-General with the aim to improve the fulfilment of the UN mandate as a whole and to make the UN Development System fit for purpose to support member states in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda and reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The COVID-19 crisis and response to it have accelerated the operationalisation of the reform at the national level, introducing new multi-stakeholder response and recovery frameworks and revisiting existing joint planning instruments and processes at the country level.

The UN reform has had a significant impact on the operational and programming activities of the ILO and its constituents at the global, regional and national levels. It opened up new opportunities for the ILO to demonstrate its unique mandate and added value of tripartism, action policy and social dialogue - as well as to broaden the influence and engagement of its constituents to promote decent work and international labour standards.

“The DNA of social dialogue will make the UN system better equipped and capable to tackle any issue. In the context of the UN reform, it will help the UN to become “more nimble and effective”, as the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has put it,” said in his welcoming speech Heinz Koller, Assistant ILO Director-General and Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia.

This message was echoed by Christophe Perrin, Director of the ILO Multilateral Cooperation Department: ”The UN reform has been initiated to foster cooperation. If we want to tackle all the COVID-19 related challenges, address the socio-economic gaps identified in the 2030 Agenda and fill in decent work deficits, it is important to work together, and to go beyond cooperating with governments only. In we want to recover better, we need to expand the scope of actors, and the ILO social partners have a solid role to play in this regard.”

In the context of the course, the ILO social partners learned about ongoing UNDS reform at global level, its impact of on national planning and programming processes and their role in the reform process at the country level. The social partners also discussed the importance of decent work agenda for the implementation of the SDGs and 2030 Agenda processes at the national level. Furthermore, the course helped social partners get first-hand experience with practical tools enabling them to effectively participate in the SDGs and UNDS national processes, as well as advocacy and awareness raising techniques to streamline their pathways to a better engagement with the UN system.

The course offered a variety of learning opportunities such as technical webinars, meetings with the ILO experts, panel discussions with the UN Country Team members from the sub-region, self-guided modules and online dialogue hosted on the ITC-ILO’s e-Campus. Workers’ and employers’ organizations from the same countries were also offered a unique opportunity to develop practical recommendations to the UN Country Teams in their respective countries on how to boost interactions and how to make cooperation between the social partners and the UN agencies efficient and meaningful for all, in the context of the UN reform.

As Khagan Hummatzade, Head of Legal and Social Partnership Department, National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan put it: “The sub-regional training served as an effective platform for sharing knowledge and best practices. It is not only an opportunity to see what your colleagues are doing in other countries. As always, it has led to a generation of new ideas and has prompted us to consider how we could improve our daily work.”

The suggestions varied from having more practical trainings for social partners and the UN agencies on social partners’ role in the UN reform processes to establishing regular consultations between workers’ and employers’ organizations and the UN Country Team members. Nevertheless, all recommendations referred to a cross-cutting role the ILO should continue playing in gluing together these parts of the UN reform and ensuring the voices of social partners are distinctly heard.

One more essential point to highlight is that the course helped to increase networking of stakeholders. According to Anton Alekseyev, Advisor to the Department of Social and Labour Relations and Social Partnership, Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia (FNPR), “the course was very informative. I think we were able to learn whatever was possible in such a short time. In addition, we now have a wider list of contacts and we know whom to approach if we want to get advice on issues where the ILO has the word to say”.

Olga Koulaeva, Director of the ILO Office for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, is satisfied with the course results: “This course is an essential step towards building specific interaction mechanisms between the ILO social partners and the UN system in our sub-region. Taking into account the scale of the tasks of post-crisis recovery, the well-coordinated interaction of our social partners with other agencies of the UN system will organically integrate our tasks into the general UN agenda and bring them into national political agendas.”