Iraq and the International Labour
Organization (ILO) have signed the first Iraq Decent Work Country Programme
(DWCP), as the country recovers from decades of conflict.
The Programme, which runs from 2019 to 2023, supports national initiatives to promote decent work and strengthen Iraq’s capacity to mainstream decent work in social and economic policies. It will be implemented through close partnerships between the ILO and employers’ and workers’ representatives in the country.
The agreement was signed on 5 December by ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat, Director General of Labour and Vocational Training Department of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs Raed Bahedh, President of the Iraqi Federation of Industries Ali Sabeeh al-Saadi, and President of the General Federation of Trade Unions in Iraq Satar Denbous on behalf of the Trade Union organizations.
Also in attendance at the ceremony in Baghdad were the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Bassem al-Rubaie, Minister of Planning Nouri al-Dulaimi, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamad Alhakim, as well as heads of government departments and agencies, employer representatives, trade unionists, ambassadors and representatives of UN agencies.
“The ILO has a long history of close cooperation with the government and social partners of Iraq, and today’s event marks the comprehensive re-engagement of the ILO in the country,” said ILO Regional Director Jaradat.
“We look forward to providing our partners in Iraq with the required support to address labour market challenges and raise employment rates, strengthen social protection, boost growth rates, and decrease fragile and informal labour. The new Programme establishes a firm commitment between all partners to strengthen decent work in the country in a holistic, coherent and integrated manner, to ensure that decent work is at the heart of Iraq’s recovery and reform processes,” she added.
DWCPs are the ILO’s main vehicle to promote decent work as a key component in national development strategies. Under the programme, the ILO will work with government, worker and employer organizations in Iraq to support national initiatives on employment promotion, rights at work, social dialogue and social protection.
Based on extensive consultations between the ILO and Iraqi constituents, the Programme in Iraq will focus on three priorities:
- Ensuring that private sector development supports the creation of new jobs.
- Extending and strengthening social protection, and addressing child labour.
- Improving social dialogue in order to promote rights at work.
Iraq has been a member of the
ILO since 1932 and has ratified 68 ILO Conventions , including all eight fundamental Conventions.
Since 2004, the ILO and Iraq’s government, workers’ and employers’ organizations have worked closely as part of the post-war reconstruction effort to bolster Decent Work and develop the labour market across different areas of the country.
Recent achievements include the adoption of a new Labour Law to improve Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work ; The ratification of ILO Convention 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize and ILO Convention 187 on the Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health ; A roadmap for public employment services in Iraqi Kurdistan has also been designed.
African nations leading the way on ‘food systems transformation’
African countries are at the vanguard of a vital transformation of food systems to simultaneously address food security, nutrition, social and environmental protection – all while boosting resilience – said the UN chief on Thursday.
António Guterres was addressing the start of a high-level policy dialogue at UN Headquarters in New York, part of the Africa Dialogue Series 2022, convened to strengthen resilience in food supplies across the continent, at a time when “decades of progress on hunger are being reversed.”
He said for too long, nutrition, food security, conflicts, climate change, ecosystems and health have been treated as separate concerns, “but these global challenges are deeply interconnected. Conflict creates hunger. The climate crisis amplifies conflict”, and systemic problems are just getting worse.
He noted that after more than a decade of improvements, one in five Africans were undernourished in 2020, while 61 million African children are affected by stunting. Women and girls bear the brunt, and when food is scarce, “they are often the last to eat; and the first to be taken out of school and forced into work or marriage.”
Mr. Guterres said that UN humanitarians and partners were doing their utmost to meet Africa’s needs amidst crisis, but aid “cannot compete with the systemic drivers of hunger.”
Other “external shocks” were exacerbating the situation, such as an uneven recovery from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, with African countries among the most heavily impacted by grain shortages and rising debt.
Climate crisis frontline
Building resilience also requires addressing the climate crisis.
“African farmers are on the frontlines of our warming planet, from rising temperatures to droughts and floods,” he said.
“Africa needs a massive boost in technical and financial support to adapt to the impact of the climate emergency and provide renewable electricity across the continent.”
He added that developed countries must deliver on their $100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries, with the help of international financial institutions, so African countries, in particular, can invest in a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, on the tide of renewable energy.
Food systems, said the Secretary-General, “connect all these challenges”, as highlighted at last September’s UN Food Systems Summit.
“Many African Member States led the call for fundamental change, through inclusive transformation pathways, which aim to address – simultaneously – food security, nutrition, social protection, environmental conservation and resilience to shocks.”
He welcomed the African Union (AU) decision to designate 2022 as the Year of Nutrition – a pledge to act on the strong commitments made at the Summit.
“Through national, regional and global cooperation, we must build on lessons learned and harness collective expertise. Together, we must deliver on these pathways”, Mr. Guterres added.
“The international community must rise to the occasion”, he declared, adding that scaling back support when demand is at an all-time high, was “not an option.”
Official Development Assistance, or ODA, based on a percentage of available public funds, is more necessary than ever, he said.
“I urge all countries to demonstrate solidarity, invest in resilience, and prevent the current crisis from escalating further.”
The UN chief said that during his recent visit to Senegal, Niger, and Nigeria, he had been inspired by the resilience and determination of the people he met.
“Women and young people in particular were committed to lasting, sustainable solutions that enable them to live in peace with their neighbours and with nature.”
The ambitious goals, he concluded, of ending hunger and malnutrition by the fast-approaching 2030 deadline, were realistic, and achievable.
“The United Nations stands by your side, every step of the way.”
World’s richest countries damaging child health worldwide
Over-consumption in the world’s richest countries is creating unhealthy, dangerous, and toxic conditions for children globally, according to a new report published on Tuesday by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
“Not only are the majority of rich countries failing to provide healthy environments for children within their borders, they are also contributing to the destruction of children’s environments in other parts of the world,” said Gunilla Olsson, Director of the UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti.
Urgent policy shift
The latest Innocenti Report Card 17: Places and Spaces compares how 39 countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Union (EU) impact children’s environments.
Indicators include exposure to harmful pollutants, such as toxic air, pesticides, damp and lead; access to light, green spaces and safe roads; and countries’ contributions to the climate crisis, resource consumption, and e-waste dumping.
The report states that if the entire world consumed resources at the rate of OECD and EU countries, the equivalent of 3.3 earths would be needed to keep up with consumption levels.
If it were at the rate at which people in Canada, Luxembourg and the United States do, at least five earths would be needed, according to the report.
Not in your own backyard
While Spain, Ireland and Portugal feature at the overall top of the list, all OECD and EU countries are failing to provide healthy environments for all children across all indicators.
Based on CO2 emissions, e-waste and overall resource consumption per capita, Australia, Belgium, Canada and the United States are among other wealthy countries that rank low on creating a healthy environment for children within and beyond their borders.
Meanwhile, Finland, Iceland and Norway are among those that provide healthier environments for their country’s children but disproportionately contribute to destroying the global environment.
“In some cases we are seeing countries providing relatively healthy environments for children at home while being among the top contributors to pollutants that are destroying children’s environments abroad,” attested Gunilla Olsson, Director of UNICEF Office of Research
In contrast, the least wealthy OECD and EU countries in Latin America and Europe, have a much lower impact on the wider world.
Over 20 million children in this group, have elevated levels of lead – one of the most dangerous environmental toxic substances – in their blood.
In Iceland, Latvia, Portugal and the United Kingdom, one in five children is exposed to damp and mould at home; while in Cyprus, Hungary and Turkey, that number rises to more than one in four.
Many children are breathing toxic air both in and outside of their homes.
More than one in 12 children in Belgium, Czech Republic, Israel and Poland and are exposed to high pesticide pollution, which has been linked with cancer – including childhood leukaemia – and can harm vital body systems.
“We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to create better places and spaces for children to thrive,” Ms. Olsson said.
Improve children’s environments
Children in poor families tend to face greater exposure to environmental harm –entrenching and amplifying existing disadvantages and inequities.
“Mounting waste, harmful pollutants and exhausted natural resources are taking a toll on our children’s physical and mental health and threatening our planet’s sustainability,” said the UNICEF official.
As such, UNICEF has urged national, regional, and local governments to improve children’s environments by reducing waste, air and water pollution, and ensuring high-quality housing and neighbourhoods.
Children’s voices count
Governments and businesses must immediately honour their commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. And climate adaptation should also be at the forefront of action across various sectors – from education to infrastructure.
Child-sensitive environmental policies must ensure that children’s needs are built into decision making and that their perspectives are considered when designing policies that will disproportionately affect future generations.
UNICEF’s report outlines that although children are the main stakeholders of the future and will face today’s environmental problems for the longest time, they are the least able to influence the course of events.
“We must pursue policies and practices that safeguard the natural environment upon which children and young people depend the most,” Ms. Olsson said.
UNICEF urges leaders to keep schools safe following deadly Texas shooting
Governments must take greater action to ensure school remains a safe place for boys and girls, the head of the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, said on Wednesday, following the latest deadly school shooting in the United States.
At least 19 children and two teachers were killed on Tuesday when 18-year-old gunman Salvador Ramos opened fire at Robb Elementary School in the small city of Uvalde, Texas, located near the border with Mexico.
How many more?
“Tragedy after tragedy, shooting after shooting, young life after young life: how many more children will die before government leaders act to keep children and their schools safe? Because until they do, these horrors will continue,” she said in a statement.
Ms. Russell emphasized that outside of their homes, school is the one place where children should feel safest.
She noted that in addition to the lives lost, “many more children, teachers and school staff who witnessed the carnage will bear the emotional and psychological scars for the rest of their lives.”
Shock and sadness
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was deeply shocked and saddened by “the heinous mass shooting”, saying it was particularly heart-wrenching that most of the victims are children.
Mr. Guterres has extended his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and to the entire community, his Spokesperson said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed expressed her outrage in a post on Twitter.
“When children go to school, they should only be concerned about learning,” she wrote. “Children should not go to school fearing for their lives!”
Ms. Mohammed said her heartfelt prayers are with the families, classmates and teachers who are mourning this “devastating loss”.
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