UN-sponsored conference seeks to tackle Iraq’s unemployment crisis

13 December 2004

With 30 per cent of Iraq’s adult workforce and 50 per cent of its youth jobless, a United Nations-sponsored international conference today adopted a declaration underlining the crucial role of employment in the reconstruction and development of the war-torn country.

The two-day meeting in Amman, Jordan, organized by the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) in response to a call by the Iraqi Government, brought together more than 60 representatives of government, employers and workers in Iraq, as well as representatives of local authorities, civil society, UN agencies, the World Bank and international donors.

Given Iraq’s precarious employment situation with around 2 million unemployed, the participants issued a Declaration and a Plan of Action declaring that addressing the problem “could certainly make an independent contribution to peace and stability in Iraq.”

The Action Plan, with its immediate, medium and long-term objectives, set three major action programs, including “maximizing the employment impact of reconstruction efforts, and strengthening the institutional capacities of the concerned government agencies and the social partners.”

The Amman Declaration called for a “commitment of resources by donors to strengthen labour market institutions to provide employment services which facilitate job creation and lead to an equitable and efficient labour market.”

In closing remarks ILO Regional Director for Arab States Taleb Rifai reiterated the agency’s commitment to support key ministries and social partners in Iraq in integrating employment in economic and social decision-making.

He called on other UN specialized agencies and the international donor community to join the ILO in a more coordinated and concerted endeavor to tackle Iraq’s massive unemployment and address related issues.


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