2023 – 61st Session of the Commission for Social Development

The World of Work

It’s that time of the year, approaching February and the first of the functional Commission of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations starts on Monday February 6th. The theme this year is ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ SDG 8 decent work and economic growth and SDG 10 reduced inequalities link specifically with the theme. The Commission will be live steamed on UN Web TV and is accessible after the event. This is the first in person event of the Commission since February 2020.

Report of the UN Secretary General

The report of the Secretary General, available in 6 languages on the theme, gives a good overview of the theme. There is a section on current and future trends in inequality and the labour markets. Between 1993 and 2017 inequality declined by 34% but we are now experiencing increasing levels of inequality, some due to the pandemic but the reversal of trends has started prior to the pandemic. It is distressing to read that a ‘return to pre-pandemic levels of decent work is very unlikely in the coming few years.’ This is now further exacerbated by the impact of the war.

Section A of the report outlines ‘Inequalities in the labour market and structural barriers faced by different categories of workers and disadvantaged groups.’ Groups mentioned include women, indigenous peoples, youth, international migrants and people with disabilities. Unpaid care work and domestic work shouldered mostly by women is noted.

The section effective strategies to create full and productive employment and decent work for all has three headings: (a) focus on policies and regulations for inclusion. Within this Universal Social Protection for all (including floors) is a key tool towards upholding all human rights and overcoming inequalities. It is startling to re-read in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights written 75 years ago this year ‘(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment. (2) Everyone, without discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for themselves and their families an existence worthy of human dignity and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection. (4) Everyone has the right to form and join trade unions for the protection of their interests.’ In effect, the commission will be addressing the theme from these principles. The outcome of the negotiation on the theme in the form of a resolution will point to the strength of political will and the level of trust within the multilateral system to achieve these principles.

(b) Transitioning from informal work to formal work is also seen as an effective strategy as informality of work is a major contributor to working poverty and inequality. (c) A third strategy calls for universal, comprehensive, gender-responsive and sustainable social protection systems, including floors, for all categories of workers. This has been an on-going advocacy approach of the GSIJP office over the years.

Section B of the report focuses on ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work in new, sustainable and growing sectors. Paragraph 48 ‘The social and solidarity economy encompasses co-operative, mutual societies and not for profit and community owned and other social enterprises that recognize the primacy of people and social purpose over capital in the distribution and uses of surpluses and/or profits, as well as assets.

Advocacy Points

Civil Society Declaration

The NGO Committee for Social Development has prepared a civil society DECLARATION elaborating points of concern while seeking to influence policy. The Declaration is open for signature and individual signatures are welcome SIGN HERE. A signature is an advocacy act in support of the issues outlined.

Civil Society Forum

During the Commission Civil Society have their own processes – orientation, delivering the message and thematic session discussing various aspects of the theme. This process is the Civil Society Forum taking place on February 5, February 6 and February 10. The session on February 6th and 10th will be webcast live on UN TV You can keep updated by going to this PAGE.

Side Events

The many side events taking place during the Commission can be accessed HERE on the Team Up Calendar. All events of the NGOs are virtual and can be joined via the link to a specific platform – some Zoom, some Webex etc. Explore the different titles and do attend some of the events. These event highlight innovation, successes and challenges experienced by NGOs in reaching for our goals. Member States and UN Agencies may have selected to have in-person events. In-person or virtual is indicated on the Calendar. Good Shepherd are co-sponsoring an event with the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors entitled ‘On the the Road to 2025: A new social contract implementing Universal Social Protection, ensuring Full Employment and Decent Work for all.‘ The date is Wednesday February 8 from 1.15 p.m – 3.00 p.m. EST. We are co-sponsoring a second event with the IBVM and the Red Dot Foundation entitled ‘Decent Work for all: Ending vulnerability through education and economic empowerment.’ See the Calendar for updates link to register, flyer etc. for these and other events.

Resolution on the Priority Theme

The NGO community will be following closely the resolution from the Commission on the priority theme ‘Creating full and productive employment and decent work for all as a way of overcoming inequalities to accelerate the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’ We are hoping for a forward looking document which will actualize a way forward in resolving the multiple global issues impacting people and planet. Trust coupled with political will, expressed from within the multilateral system, together with dedicated finances to begin walking the talk is what is required. Divert resources currently dedicated to death and destruction towards enhancement of life for people and planet.

Strong UN Better World

Enjoy this song ‘Strong UN Better World’ sung by The UNRocks Music Group, composed of the Ambassadors of Denmark, Kingdom of Thailand, Kingdom of Tonga, Republic of Korea, Republic of Serbia, and the Representative of UN Secretary-General and Head of United Nations Office in Belgrade. Composed and arranged by Emmy Award-winning composer Gary Fry, with lyrics written by H.E. Ms. Simona- Mirela Miculescu, the single was produced in honor of the United Nations’ 70 years of service and commitment to addressing the world’s greatest challenges.

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