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Cablegate: Ecosoc High Level Segment Adopts Ministerial


DE RUEHGV #1699/01 1921139
R 111139Z JUL 06





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) held its High
Level Segment in Geneva July 3-5 to discuss the linkage
between employment and economic development. A 40-paragraph
Ministerial Declaration was adopted after protracted
negotiations, drawing attention to the needs of the world's
unemployed and working poor, and to the importance of
creating conditions to attract private sector investment as
well as setting up limited follow-up steps. The Deputy
Secretary-General, the Prime Ministers of Pakistan, Norway

and Mozambique, the Tunisian Minister of Laor and Youth
Employment, and Juan Somavia, Director-General of the
International Labor Organization (ILO) all spoke at the
opening session on the topic of "Working out of Poverty."
UN, UNCTAD, WTO, World Bank and IMF representatives
discussed developments in the world economy in relation to
employment. In addition to the General Debate, the High
Level Segment also included discussion of the proposed new
ECOSOC Annual Ministerial Review and the Biennial Development
Cooperation Forum, as well as several roundtables on issues
related to employment such as job creation, poverty
reduction, labor migration, and rural underemployment. Many
from developing countries stressed their disappointment with
the failure of the Doha Round of trade talks and described
the problems created by so-called "jobless growth." In
general, countries acknowledged the responsibility of
governments to take action at the national level to create an
environment conducive to better jobs and better working
conditions, enhance the skills of youth, empower women and
promote small and medium-sized enterprises, all within an
international system that would support their efforts. END

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2. The High Level Segment of ECOSOC on the theme "Creating an
environment at the national and international levels
conducive to generating full and productive employment and
decent work for all, and its impact on sustainable
development" took place July 3-5, launching the month-long
ECOSOC substantive session. Deputy Secretary-General Mark
Malloch Brown spoke first, touching on themes which were
reiterated by others throughout the Segment. He noted that 3
billion people worldwide earn less than two dollars per day,
creating a vast number of "working poor", and that half of
the world's unemployed are young people. Youth unemployment
will continue to be of concern, as 1.2 billion people are
projected to reach working age in the next decade. A paradox
highlighted by Malloch Brown and others, aka "jobless
growth", is that economic growth does not necessarily lead to
the creation of more jobs; increased productivity and
increased employment were both vital.

3. Building on these themes, Prime Minister Aziz of Pakistan
stressed the importance of "development with dignity."
Drawing an analogy between globalization and a tidal wave,
Aziz warned that countries can "either ride it or get swept
away." He pointed out that good governance and
well-implemented economic reforms could help attract
investment and open opportunities for entrepreneurship.
Governments themselves, he underlined, have the primary
responsibility for taking holistic, home-grown reform
measures. He encouraged movement away from "donor-client"
relationships to "partnerships" between developed and
developing countries, greater technology transfer, and
greater access to markets. Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg
of Norway extolled the creation of the "welfare state" and
the workers' protections it provides, as well as the
advantages of active participation of women in the economy.
Stoltenberg argued that social equity would in the long run
generate growth, so that it need not be the last set of
reforms countries consider adopting.

4. Turning to the UN's functionality, he called for less
duplication, more results, and more emphasis on activities in
the field instead of at headquarters. Prime Minister Luisa
Dias Diogo of Mozambique underscored the importance of
agriculture, especially in Africa. Without improvement in
the agricultural sector, there can be no meaningful progress
in poverty reduction. She cited three pillars for economic
development: human capital, private sector agriculture, and
good governance. Taking a slightly different tack, the Labor

Minister of Tunisia, Chadli Laroussi, called on the UN and
its multiple agencies to promote employment opportunities in
developing countries, and looked towards follow-up to the
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to bridge the
"digital divide." WTO Deputy Director General Rugwabiza
shared his view that although the recent high level WTO talks
made no progress, the situation was not hopeless.

5. Rounding out the opening session, Director-General of the
International Labor Organization (ILO) Juan Somavia, pointed
out that the world's labor force would increase by 430
million in the next ten years, and that countries would not
be able to provide jobs for these new workers without action.
He argued that the "dignity and value of work" has to be
recognized, and that decent work is "the route out of
poverty," a theme echoed by many others. Noting that
solutions would vary based on local capacities, Somavia
called for better national policies to exploit local markets
and greater cooperation among multilateral institutions.


6. The World Bank, IMF and WTO presented their views on the
opening morning, bringing attention to previously unmentioned
topics. World Bank senior vice president Bourguignon related
that international migration was a win-win situation,
benefiting both countries of origin and recipient countries,
and noted the importance of controlling climate change for
sustainable development. IMF New York representative
Munzberg pointed to the risks of high oil prices and avian
influenza, as well as the challenge of rectifying imbalances
brought on by globalization while maintaining robust growth.


7. Ambassador Terry Miller, head of the US delegation, took
part in two ministerial roundtables -- one on "Decent Work
and International Development Cooperation" and one on
"Expanding decent rural work opportunities: What role can
secure land rights play?." Other roundtables, held
simultaneously, covered youth employment in LDCs, urban
poverty, migrant worker remittances in Africa and LDCs, the
role of information and communications technology (ICT) in
employment creation and poverty reduction, and the gender
dimensions of labor migration. Non-ministerial roundtables
dealt with productivity, job creation in Africa and LDCs,
globalization and migration, and gender equality. The
Roundtable on job creation in Africa was noteworthy for the
inclusion on the panel of a representative of an African
private sector business association.


8. U/SYG Ocampo began the General Debate, summarizing the
SYG's report on full and productive employment and decent
work for all. He explained that the UN has moved beyond its
historic focus on "full employment" to take account of new
realities and trends. Among the points Ocampo made were: 1)
the rising rate of unemployment during the past decade,
despite the world economy's robust growth, signaling that
growth alone cannot ensure job creation or a reduction in
extreme poverty. 2) Many workers in developing countries do
not earn sufficient income from their jobs, especially in the
agricultural sector and in the urban informal economy. This
"underemployment" keeps over half the world's labor force
mired in poverty. 3) Youth are severly affected by
unemployment. While young people comprise one-quarter of the
world's working population, they make up half the world's
unemployed. 4) Income gaps between skilled/unskilled
workers, rural/urban workers, male/female workers are
widening, within countries, as well as between countries. 5)
Social protection is weak or absent in many countries,
leading to serious problems for workers who lose their jobs
due to structural changes, globalization, etc. 6)
International labor migration has an impact on unskilled
laborers in receiving country which can lead to xenophobia.
Ocampo recommended that, in keeping with their responsibility
to create conditions for productive employment, national
governments should adjust their monetary and fiscal policies
to emphasize job creation, not just anti-inflationary
policies, and spend on infrastructure and human development,
social security systems, rural development, and promotion of
micro and small enterprises. He asked the IMF to put

employment at "center stage", remarked on the central role of
the ILO, and encouraged UN funds, programs and specialized
agencies to make employment strategies and essential part of
UN Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs).

9. Subsequent speakers picked up on the themes Ocampo
enumerated. U.S. Head of Delegation Ambassador Miller
stressed the need for countries to create a climate conducive
to private sector investment as the key to increasing job
creation. He noted that the U.S. Millennium Challenge
Corporation assesses the bureaucratic obstacles to small
business as a criterion for providing assistance to
countries. Ambassador Miller drew attention to the need to
respect fundamental principles such as freedom of association
and the right to bargain collectively, and to avoid
exploitative child labor and forced labor. The EU
representative, Finnish Foreign Ministry Deputy Director
General Anneli Vuorinen, described the "Lisbon Strategy" for
investment in human capital and social protection within the
EU, and underlined the extent of poverty among rural women in

10. South African Labor Minister Mdladlana, on behalf of the
G77, harshly criticized the failure of the WTO Doha Round and
"trade distortions" brought on by "unfair agricultural
subsidies." He derided "flexibility" of the labor market as
a misguided goal, and accused globalization of favoring the
developed world and enlarging the gap between rich and poor.
Mdladlana characterized migration as a brain drain of skilled
workers from the developing world, without any mention of the
benefits of remittances which some other speakers noted. He
voiced the G-77's call for a "universal rules-based, open,
non-discriinatory and equitable multilateral trading system."
All subsequent G-77 members who spoke associated themselves
with Mdladlana's statement, but none were as vehemently
critical of or singlemindedly focused on the global trading
system. Most developing countries referred to the impact of
the problems Ocampo cited on their national conditions.
Countries in transition, such as the Czech Republic,
Azerbaijan, and Bulgaria, gave examples of dislocations and
adjustments in employment from their own national
experiences. UAE noted that 90 percent of their work force
is foreign, but they have no migrants. Venezuela focused on
microcredit, cooperatives, and jobs for youth, and concluded
with the suggestion that men, as well as women, should be
able to take time from their jobs to help raise their


11. Agreement on the Ministerial Declaration text
(E/2006/L.8, sent to IO/T and IO/EDA) was reached late July 5
after intervention by ECOSOC President Hachani to close the
remaining paragraphs. The Declaration was adopted at 8:00
pm, a few hours after the High Level Segment would normally
have ended. Venezuela, Cuba, Mexico and the EU gave
Explanations of Position noting specific problem areas with
the final text -- in the case of Venezuela the paragraphs on
good governance were problematic. Cuba's Deputy Foreign
Minister supported this position. Mexico complained loudly
that its views on migration-related workers' rights issues
were ignored (Mexico had earlier disrupted several informal
sessions over this issue). The EU noted its displeasure that
the final language on the subject of "corporate social
responsibility," something the Finnish EU Presidency had
promoted agressively, was not stronger. The negotiations on
this declaration suffered from five major problems.
Initially the work was poorly timed -- almost in parallel
with the last weeks of negotiations in New York on the GA
Development follow-up resolution. This complicated all
phases of the New York negotiations on the declaration as
delegations were uncertain of the outcome on development
policy issues until June 30. In the end, a number of
paragraphs were imported from that text. The four
substantive disputes which delayed closure over three days of
negotiations in Geneva dealt with trade policy, corporate
social responsibility, good governance concerns and Mexico's
insistence on inserting specific language to cover their
national perspective on migration issues. Regarding
outcomes, ECOSOC will use its subsidiary bodies to keep
implementation under review, and ECOSOC also requests the ILO
to follow-up on implementation of commitments for the
promotion of full employment and decent work for all.

Initial requests to proclaim a "decade for full and
productive employment," supported strongly by the ILO and
some delegations throughout this negotiation, were deleted
after sustained effort.

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