UN labour agency seeks to help Latin America cope with economic crisis

10 December 2002

The United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) today opened a meeting in Lima aimed at fostering solutions to Latin America’s current economic crisis.

The ILO meeting is being held in a regional context of low economic growth, high unemployment and the growing “informalization” of the labour market as more and more people work without social protection.

Urban unemployment in Latin America and the Caribbean rose in the third quarter of this year to 17 million – the highest figure in the past 22 years, according to the ILO, which warned that this would likely continue to rise as an additional 1 million people lose their jobs.

The four-day meeting brings together more than 400 delegates, representatives of governments and workers’ and employers’ organizations from 35 countries. They are considering the impact of globalization, gender and discrimination, the social and labour dimension of regional integration and the region’s lack of jobs and income.

“We are faced with populations in despair who cannot understand how their own countries can have come to such a pass and who in many cases feel themselves to be the true pariahs of globalization,” ILO Director-General Juan Somavia said.

In a report to the meeting, he blames the crisis in part on “serious shortcomings in the functioning of democratic institutions,” widespread corruption, and society’s loss of confidence in the independence of those in power, their institutions and the judicial system.

Faced with the seriousness of the economic crisis and the worsening of social and labour conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Director-General calls for measures “not only to return to high and sustained economic growth, but also to incorporate social objectives into economic policy, democratize and modernize institutions, prevent corruption and violence and – the final goal – to achieve development with freedom, equity, security and human dignity.”

 

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