First-ever virtual ILO’s International Labour Conference opens today

For the first time in its history, the International Labour Conference is taking place online and will be divided into two segments during the course of the year.

The 109th International Labour Conference  (ILC) has opened today, the first to take place virtually due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Omar Zniber, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Morocco to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva, was elected President of the Conference in its opening session, on 20 May 2021. He described his election as “a source of pride” for his country and the African region.

“As it is often said, the International Labour Conference is the global parliament of labour, affording governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations of Member States a unique opportunity to hold tripartite discussions about social and labour issues, as well as matters related to the world of work,” he said.

“This year, our Conference takes on a special format and is particularly significant, in view of its deferral last year for reasons we all know too well. Needless to say, high expectations have been placed in the work we will undertake over the next few weeks, and at the resumption of our session, later this year. I shall do my best, together with my Vice-Presidents, to guide our work in that spirit, and will spare no effort to ensure that this Conference is a success for all.”

ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, welcomed the start of the ILC and the important role to be played by the newly-elected Conference President.

“After the unavoidable deferral of this session last year, I believe that all ILO constituents – Governments, Employers and Workers – shared a common determination that this Conference should go ahead at this time because we had essential work to do and because the institutional continuity of our organization depended very heavily upon it.”

“Mr President, by conducting this Conference successfully under your leadership, the ILO will be taking one more step, and a crucially important one, in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic which has devastated the world of work over the last year and a half, and in so doing will be making a crucial contribution to building forward better.”

Three Conference Vice-Presidents were also elected during the session: Chad Blackman of Barbados, representing the Government group; Ronnie Goldberg of the United States, representing the Employers’ group; and Annette Chipeleme of Zambia, representing the Workers’ group.

The session closed following the appointment of officers to the committees and working parties. It will reopen on 3 June, when most Conference committees will begin their work and will run over a period of two and a half weeks.

The plenary will resume on 7 June and will be in session until 19 June.

Items on the agenda in June include a special outcome document on the ILO response to COVID-19, the discussion of the reports of the Chairperson of the Governing Body and the Director-General, the ILO’s programme and budget for 2022-23, the recurrent discussion on social protection, and consideration of the reports on the application of labour standards during the pandemic and related country case discussions.

The second segment of the Conference will take place from 25 November to 11 December, with an agenda that includes thematic discussions on inequalities and the world of work, as well as skills and life-long learning.

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