Since its foundation in 1919, the ILO has supported countries hit by conflict and disaster through a variety of policies and approaches and has gained practical experience and gathered many lessons and good practices from various interventions in situations of fragility, conflict and disaster. The ILO supports constituents and labour market actors to prevent, mitigate or recover from the impact of adverse shocks on employment and decent work.
Fragile countries or fragile areas within countries often lag behind in the achievement of internationally established development goals despite considerable efforts by national and international actors. Although fragility is experienced differently in different country contexts, a common trajectory appears to be the combination of high poverty rates with weak societal and state capacity to absorb the exogenous and endogenous shocks. According to the World Bank, two billion people live in countries affected by fragility, conflict, and violence. By 2030, the share of global poor living in fragile and conflict-affected situations is projected to reach 46%, up from 17% today. 95% of refugees and internally-displaced live in developing countries, originating from the same 10 conflicts since 1991. Conflicts drive 80% of all humanitarian needs”. Projections of the OECD show that over 1.6 billion people currently leave in fragile contexts. This population is anticipated to increase to 3 billion people by 2050. A large proportion of these societies is composed of young persons.
Fragility occurs across a range of income groups and different levels of economic development. Of the 56 fragile contexts, 27 are low income, 25 are lower middle income, and 4 (Angola, Venezuela, Iraq and Libya) are upper middle income. Left unattended, fragility and its negative consequences can destabilize entire regions and have global repercussions, in developed and developing countries alike.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development identifies the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies and decent work and growth as key priorities. Leaving no one behind – a key aspiration of the Agenda – requires special attention to fragile and conflict-affected countries. At the same time, recent General Assembly and Security Council resolutions on the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture, adopted in April 2016, highlight the need for the entire United Nations system to work more closely together around the goal of sustaining peace.
The International Labour Conference adopted in June 2017 a new standard, the Recommendation number 205 on “Employment and Decent work for peace and resilience”, an innovative normative instrument providing guidance to member states, organizations and practitioners dealing with employment and decent work in fragile situations. The R205 provides a framework employment and decent work characterizing contemporary crisis situations arising from conflicts and disasters. It also widens the focus of the standard on reconstruction and recovery to include prevention and preparedness, in line with the sustaining peace agenda of the Secretary General. The recommendation recognizes the specific situations of young persons and invites Member states to provide them with income-generation opportunities and stable employment.