International Labour Organization
Topic A - Technology and Structural Unemployment
Topic B - Regional Efforts for Promoting Decent Work for all
The International Labour Organization (ILO) was founded in 1919 as part of the League of Nations, and since then it has the objective of promoting social justice among workers, businessmen and States. Nowadays, the ILO is one of the agencies of the United Nations (UN), with 185 Member-States. It is the only UN organization with a tripartite constituency, which means that, besides the representation of each State, the committee also involves representatives of the employers and workers organizations (ORGANIZAÇÃO INTERNACIONAL DO TRABALHO, 2008).
The organization is responsible for promoting decent work internationally, which is based on the four ILO strategic objectives: “I- Promote and make sure that standards and fundamental principles and rights at work are being enforced; II- Create greater opportunities for women and men of decent employment and income; III- Enhance the coverage and effectiveness of social protection for all; and IV- Strengthen tripartism and social dialogue” (ORGANIZAÇÃO INTERNACIONAL DO TRABALHO, 2014).
For the ILO, the achievement of those objectives may be accomplished in a variety of ways, including, for instance, the formulation of international policies and programs, the creation of new international labor standards and the development of advanced research on the subject (INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION, 2013).
Therefore, the debate proposed by this committee will discuss two topics regarding jobs and employment that are of extreme relevance to the contemporary international scenario: A - Technology and Structural Unemployment; B - Regional Efforts for Promoting Decent Work for all.
Topic A - Technology and Structural Unemployment
Technological advancement is not only essential to the material development of a society, but it is also a progressively worrisome problem, since the improvement of the globalized technology means the impairment of labor force. The introduction of new technological patterns of work organization has produced a substantial increase in productivity without hiring people (PERCHE, 2012). These technological innovations have altered the relationship between capital and labor, because while they can contribute in a variety of ways for social welfare, they also involve the substitution of many workers by machines, resulting in a structural issue (“THE ONRUSHING…”, 2014).
This process refers to the concept of structural unemployment, which means, in simple terms, unemployment as a consequence of the capitalist structure. The issue is not new, as observed by many authors back in the I and II Industrial Revolutions, when, for the first time in history, human work could be systematically substituted by machines, as the result of a more efficient production (“THE ONRUSHING…”, 2014).
Image 1 – Charge on the impact of technological innovation upon people’s lives.
The III Industrial Revolution, marked by the information technology, artificial intelligence and robotics technologies, had a great impact on structural unemployment. A new crescent phenomenon is calling the attention of the international community: not only the industrial, but also the services sectors are now being automated. Considering that services sector is the one that most employs people all over the world, its automation will strongly affect employment rates, especially in the long term (“THE ONRUSHING…”, 2014).
Thus, what should be done in order to overcome this issue, keeping and promoting employment worldwide in the long term? In this sense, this committee encourages representatives to write a report that encompasses the international community concerns, and possible efforts on what should be done regarding the presented issue. What we should see in this report is probably a structural evaluation of the employment status by sectors and regions, and how they are affected by technological innovation. Some possible actions to minimize the unemployment effects of this phenomenon and to prospect areas where new jobs can be created, especially in a crisis period, should also be discussed.
Topic B - Regional efforts for Promoting Decent Work for all
In the 21st century, there are obstacles that still constrain the promotion of decent work in many different regions of the world, and they must be overcome. These issues have much to do with the conflict of interests among the three actors involved in the tripartite constituency of ILO – the Workers, the Businessmen and the States. In this sense, the ILO aims at the promotion of cooperation among these actors in order to provide decent work for all and combat poverty.
The ILO Decent Work Agenda is being actively seized on this matter, and is focusing its attention on different areas regarding regional specificities. Some examples are: the recent findings that in Latin America many migrants are being explored in textile industries (NIDECKER, 2013); it has been verified that in European countries, there is the strong presence of sexual abuse and exploration of work, and forced prostitution among women and children (ORGANIZAÇÃO INTERNACIONAL DO TRABALHO, 2006); in Asia, the compulsory labor related to the industrial production, and the absence of efficient labor rights are worrisome (ORGANIZAÇÃO INTERNACIONAL DO TRABALHO, 2012); and, in Africa, the strongest and cruelest ways of labor explorations among all kinds of people, including children, must be addressed (INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION, 2014).
Image 2 – The overcome of child labor is part of ILO Decent Work Agenda.
These examples demonstrate that each region has particular problems, one different from the other. Thus, regional efforts to combat those specific issues are fundamental. In this sense, the ILO committee requests a declaration from the representatives with the focus on regional cooperation in order to manage the problems related to work conditions and human rights. The representatives may discuss the establishment of regional support, social protection and social dialogue mechanisms, and more efficient labor laws in order to effectively promote decent work conditions for all.
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Accessed on: 07mar.2014.
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<http://www.oitbrasil.org.br/sites/default/files/topic/tip/pub/trafico_de_pessoas_384.pdf>. Accessed on: 15.abr.2014.
“THE ONRUSHING wave”. In: The Economist, 18 de janeiro de 2014. Available at:
<http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21594264-previous-technological-innovation-has-always-delivered-more-long-run-employment-not-less>. Accessed on: 07.mar.2014.
Sources of the images:
Image 1 - KAMBAYASHI, Satoshi. “The onrushing wave”. The Economist. 18 de janeiro de 2014. Available at: <http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21594264-previous-technological-innovation-has-always-delivered-more-long-run-employment-not-less>. Accessed on: 07 mar. 2014.
Image 2 - “GOP Member Wants to Bring Back child labour”. 1-800-Politics, January 08, 2014. Available at: <http://www.1800politics.com/gop-member-wants-bring-back-child-labor/>. Accessed on: 18/05/2014.