|Trade Unions in Conflict-Affected Countries: Experiences and Roles in Peace Negotiation, Social Healing, Reconstruction and Development (International Labour Organization, 1997, 30 p.)|
With many ILO member States being conflict-affected, the Consultative Meeting provided a valuable and fruitful opportunity for the Workers delegates at the International Labour Conference to share their observations on the conflict-affected context, the situation of trade unions and their roles and on specific areas in which the ILOs assistance is needed. The interventions clearly demonstrated that: workers and their unions suffered in the conflict-affected countries, workplaces were destroyed, unemployment soared, wages were reduced, exploitation and social injustices against workers were committed, migration and poverty increased. Trade union members were harassed, threatened, tortured and even killed in some instances. Conflicts weakened unions in terms of membership, resources, capacity, unity and services provided by them. Some unions were forced to fight alongside militias and other combatants. The unions in this context felt a sense of isolation being without support and opportunity for interaction with their counterparts in similar situations. It was stressed that the trade unions had an important role to play in the conflict and post-conflict environment. They could, for example, contribute to the promotion of reconciliation, peace education and negotiation, counselling, advocating democracy, good governance and disarmament, promoting income-generating activities for some of the conflict-affected groups like women and the displaced, linking up with other relevant bodies of civil society to contribute to the reconstruction efforts and the social healing and peace-building needs of the country.
It was repeatedly emphasized that the ILO had an important role to play in the conflict-affected context. The ILO could contribute to enhance the capacity of the unions and awareness of the roles they could play in the conflict-affected context. The unions in this context needed training. Other numerous specific requests for the ILOs assistance and coverage by the Action Programme were expressed which needed to be followed up. The interventions demonstrate that the conflict-affected context is an important area for the ILOs work. The ILOs response to the needs of workers, their unions and other conflict-affected groups as well as to the other needs and adverse consequences of war identified by the Action Programme will greatly enhance the pursuit of peace, reintegration, reconciliation and reconstruction in its member States which are conflict-afflicted.
In general, the wealth of information and insights as well as the concrete areas for ILOs assistance in the conflict and post-conflict context, generated by this Meeting, show incontestably the need for a major follow-up to the Action Programme. For this, a political decision by the relevant organs of the Organization was required together with mobilization of resources to facilitate its implementation.