Geneva Peace Week 2021

Sustaining peace through decent work: The role of social partners and social dialogue

The virtual event is organized by the ILO in collaboration with the PBSO and the Graduate Institute's CCDP in the context of the Geneva Peace Week 2021, which will take place from 1 to 5 November.


The ILO is contributing to this year’s edition of the Geneva Peace Week, titled “From seeds to systems of peace: Weathering today’s challenges”, with a Digital Series video exploring the role of social partners and social dialogue for peace.

Various UN agendas – including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDG16 in particular) and the Sustaining Peace resolutions – and discussions around the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus recognize the importance of working with non-traditional peacebuilding actors, including social partner organizations, and recognize that “the scale and nature of the challenge of sustaining peace calls for close strategic and operational partnerships between the United Nations, national governments and other key stakeholders, including international, regional and sub-regional organizations, international financial institutions, civil society organizations, women’s groups, youth organizations, and the private sector, taking into account national priorities and policies”. Social partners are key actors in promoting good governance, peace and stability and can boost economic and social progress. Wider awareness on the unique and complementary role that social partners play in assisting enterprises and workers, and contributing to achieving solutions and building social cohesion during times of crises would benefit not only ILO constituents but other UN agencies and stakeholders leading the peacebuilding space.

This Digital Series offers an opportunity, in line with Recommendation 205 “Employment and decent work for peace and resilience”, to highlight that long-term sustainable peace and inclusive societies, social and economic stability needs to be promoted through social dialogue - negotiations, consultations or exchange of information between or among representatives of governments, Employers and Workers organizations. To be effective, social dialogue must be based on political will, supporting institutions, and the fundamental rights of freedom of association, peaceful assembly and expression.

Social partners have an inherent interest in peace – for both employers and workers’ organizations, it is critical to play a role in harnessing stability and a predictable business and work environment to protect livelihoods, business interests, and workers’ rights.

Promoting freedom of association and social dialogue in conflict-affected situations enables valuable interchange and contributes to participative democratic and political processes, inclusive societies and good governance. The existence of strong and independent organizations of employers and workers have played a significant role in transitions to more democratic systems and sustainable peace in various countries. Furthermore, in order to serve as an effective strategy for bridging various divides in societies, as well as humanitarian crisis response and longer-term peacebuilding and development, there must be consistent engagement with national and local labour institutions and with the private sector to ensure local ownership, enable national policy support and break aid dependency

In line with ILO’s Recommendation 205, governments need to adopt a multi-track approach to implement coherent and comprehensive strategies for promoting peace, preventing crises, and enabling recovery and building resilience – and this needs to be done in active participation with employers’ and workers’ organizations. Dialogue between social partners brings people together and gives them a voice – and this leads to social cohesion.

The Digital Series is available below as well as on the Geneva Peace Week portal and YouTube channel.

Structure and speakers of the Digital Series video:

1. Intro: How can the world of work contribute to peace? Motion graphics video

2. Panel discussion: Sustaining peace through decent work: The role of social partners and social dialogue
  • Introductory Remarks: Ms Martha Newton, Deputy Director-General for Policy (DDG/POL), International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • Panellists: Mr Henk-Jan Brinkman, Chief of Peacebuilding Strategy and Partnerships, Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO)
  • Ms Jacqueline Mugo, Director of Federation of Kenyan Employers
  • Mr Owen Tudor, Deputy General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
  • Moderator: Mr Oliver Jutersonke, Graduate Institute - Centre on Conflict, Development & Peacebuilding (CCDP) 
3. Social dialogue for peace, in practice: voices from the field
  • Mr Douglas Opio, Executive Director, Federation of Uganda Employers
  • Mme Aline MBONO, Executive Director, Employers’ Association of Cameroon (GICAM)
  • Mr Omar Faruk Osman, General Secretary, Federation of Somali Trade Unions (FESTU)