Labor rights and economic progress can go together, says Arab official

Bahrain’s minister Jameel Humaidan elected the Vice Chair at ILO’s Asia-Pacific meet

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The importance of focusing on labor welfare as part of national economic and social progress was underlined by an official representing Arab states at the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) 16TH Asia and the Pacific Regional Meeting (APRM)being held in Bali, Indonesia, on Tuesday.

ILO Regional Director for Arab States Ruba Jaradat told delegates: “Our Arab States region is one in which many countries are mired in conflict and war, and in which worker’s rights have been largely ignored. This meeting offers us a valuable opportunity to discuss how to put workers and labour issues at the heart of economic development and social progress.”

“It also offers a valuable opportunity to strengthen labor ties between the Arab States and the Asia and Pacific countries,” she said.

Jaradat was speaking at the opening session of the APRM. The four-day meeting is discussing issues affecting employment and the world of work in the Asia, Pacific and Arab States region, which together account for 60 percent of the global workforce.

The ILO is the United Nations specialized agency dealing with work-related issues. The APRM is being attended by more than 400 delegates – including 22 ministers – representing governments, workers’ and employers’ organizations from almost 40 countries.

The conclusions of the APRM will help to shape the national labor and employment policies of the ILO’s member States, as well as the ILO‘s work in the region.

Some 70 delegates are attending from the Arab States of the Gulf and Middle East, including four ministers from Bahrain, Oman, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Qatar.

Delegates elected Indonesia’s Minister of Manpower Hanif Dhakiri to Chair the APRM, while Bahrain’s Minister of Labor and Social Development Jameel Humaidan became the Vice Chair representing government delegates.

“Asia and the Pacific has demonstrated its leadership in the world in so many areas – why not in labour standards and social dialogue too?,” Director-General Guy Ryder asked while speaking at the opening session.

Ryder reminded delegates of the need for “strong inclusive, balanced and sustained growth for the people of this region.” While remarkable progress had been made in raising incomes during the last decade, important challenges remained.

“The quality of everyday life cannot be fully captured just by macroeconomic aggregates and generalities,” he said. “It is striking that the region’s economic dynamism has not been fully translated into social progress.”

“Of paramount importance is focusing on positive developments and working together to realize decent work, and meet the aspirations of workers and employers, who ultimately share similar needs and concerns,” Indonesia’s Vice President Mohammad Jusuf Kalla told delegates at the opening.

The meeting will set world-of-work agendas in Asia, Pacific and Arab States region for the next five years.

The last such regional meeting took place in Kyoto, Japan, in 2011.

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