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Proposed UN fund for workers in occupied Arab territories under discussion in Geneva

Proposed UN fund for workers in occupied Arab territories under discussion in Geneva

Institutionalizing financial support for workers in the occupied Arab territories is one of a host of measures aimed at employment creation, which ranks high on the agenda as the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) opened the current session of its governing body in Geneva today.

Discussions are expected to touch on progress regarding plans to establish a Palestinian Fund for Employment and Social Protection. ILO Director-General Juan Somavia has submitted the idea of the Fund to the diplomatic “Quartet” on the Middle East – the UN, European Union, Russian Federation and United States – and the agency says a number of donors have expressed interest in the concept. A donors meeting to be held next month will bring together both multilateral and Arab development funds.

Participants at the Geneva meeting will also take up worker’s rights in a number of specific countries, scrutinizing Myanmar’s compliance with the ILO’s Forced Labour Convention and reviewing developments in Colombia, where reports indicate some 100 trade unionists have been killed this year. Participants are expected to consider extended funding for “Project Colombia,” an initiative to secure the rights of the country’s trade unionists, promote the right to organize, and further social dialogue as a means of stopping violence.

Other issues to be covered during the session, which runs through 22 November, include the ILO’s Global Employment Agenda, which places productive jobs at the centre of pro-poor development policies, as well as the feasibility of establishing a “Global Social Trust.” The fund would be based on donations from richer countries with the objective of reaching, within the next two decades, 80 to 100 million people in the least developed and low-income countries who are today excluded from effective social protection.

The Governing Body, which meets three times a year, has 56 principal members – 28 representatives from governments, 14 from employers' organizations and 14 from workers’ groups.